Friday, 15 April 2016

No longer other

I am writing this post, with an incredible sense of hope for the future.

When I started this blog in 2013, I was a different person. I was the other girl.

At the time, I wasn't a journalist, and having a blog was the only way I could publish my writing.
It also served as platform to express my concerns, emotions, and dreams. It's a virtual record of my adolescent experiences. All the awkward moments and the mind blowing conclusions included.

It was a doorway to my thoughts, a glimpse of my life. In a way, it helped my friends understand me better. Heck, I got to know me better.

I will be 25 in over two months. I'm approaching this new year without fear. Sure I'm nervous, but I am excited for the unexpected. I feel like a balloon filled with helium and the only direction I'm going is up.

As I enter my mid-twenties, I want to be present in every moment. Soaking it in, not racing forward to the future or reliving the past.

I don't want to get caught up making plans. I want to take hold of what God has for me now. I want to be a good steward of what He has given me.

To do that, I need to clear my mind of all distractions. If I'm going to draw closer to Him, then that means letting go of the things that keep me from Him.

Over the past few months God's voice has become much louder in my life. I've learnt to tune into Him. It's been a journey of faith, and it's been rewarding and refreshing to my spirit. I'm getting used to the idea of tapping into the supernatural - I'm getting used to the idea that my spirit is more real than my flesh.

I had an encounter with Him, which really shifted the way I think about myself. I believe the things He says about me. He has convicted me of many things. He is constantly correcting my imperfections, sanctifying me. Coming to terms with my brokenness is probably the best thing that has happened to me. I am more conscious of His grace upon my life now.

As I reach new levels of intimacy in my relationship with Him, I'm truly seeing myself as His daughter, and not the other girl.

This has been a life-long work in progress, but more so in the past three years as I authored this blog. I'm grateful for this period in my life and this blog has helped me process the realities of this season. I have been vulnerable in this space. That's what writing did for me - it laid out abstract things tangibly.

Ever watched a really good movie, and hated that it had to end? That was my experience of ‘Definitely, Maybe’ (the best romantic comedy of all time). I decided to get the film and every time I re-watched it the ending grew on me. I looked forward to it, in the same way I looked forward to the parts that made me laugh.

So think of the end of the Other Girl in the same way.

Sure, endings suck, but the good thing about the internet is that you can always come back to the blog and re-read the posts that made you laugh and the ones that made you go WTF? And hopefully the ending will grow on you too. 

To every reader (whether you read one post or all of them) you've shared some of the most important memories of my life. I hope you learnt a few things. I hope you smiled, especially on the days when you had nothing to smile about.

At this stage, I need to get back to a place where my writing is a true form of worship. As a daughter, writing to her Father.

There’s an awesome testimony that led to this, but I’m choosing not to write it down this time. I’m saving it for the day when I bump into one of you and can share it with words from my mouth.
I want to be in a place where I actively share the Gospel with the people I engage with daily, and not anonymously on the internet without accountability.

For now, know that my soul is content, I am at peace. There is no overthinking, or wrestling with reality. My faith is built on something everlasting. If things fail, that's alright. If things work out, that's alright too. My joy is found in the Father. My belonging in Christ trumps all life's worries and woes. I have the love of the Saviour of the world. I am His daughter.

Thank you for reading. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2016


Me. Submerged in water.
Sinking deep. Pulling down.
But I am not afraid.

Relief. Refreshed and cleansed.
Feel the wet. Feel alive.
It pushes me upward.

Breathe. Floating on the waves.
No gasping. Only rest.
You. Are living water.

Walls. Cannot be broken.
My hands. Bloodied and bruised.
Dust is suffocating.

Beat. Leaving only cracks.
No strength. Only despair.
Desperate surrender.

Quake. Ground begins to shake.
Walls tumble. No more fear.
Free. No more chains on me.  

Fire. Set in my soul.
Your presence. Your power.
Taste and see Your goodness.

Sweet. Anointing fills me.
Peace and grace. Love poured out.
Changed by an encounter.

Me. No longer a slave.
Born to grace. Spirit rise.
You. Supernatural.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Soup snakes and autocompletion

I recently found out what “soup snakes” means. I was so chuffed about it, the first person I told was a good friend of mine who shares a mutual love for Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak. (The best comedy writers of our time).

Even though I made the discovery, five years after the phrase was first used, I’m sure there are people out there who also don’t know what “soup snakes” means.

Basically, Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak used to write for a show called The Office (which is bloody brilliant by the way). In season five (the show has nine seasons because it’s so darn good) the character Michael Scott (portrayed by Steve Carell… If you don’t know who that is, then we can’t be friends, seriously) declares his love for a woman named Holly.

He carries on about why they’re so good together, because they’re “soup snakes”. Which doesn’t make sense right? What’s a soup snake? And then he realises that the whole time he’s been misreading the phrase “soul mates” as “soup snakes”. (I know, let’s take a moment to appreciate the awwww-ness in that).

So here’s where Mindy and BJ come in (isn’t it great how I’m talking about them like they’re people I know). Mindy and BJ have an on-again, off-again relationship. They’re both writers and sometimes they have conversations on Twitter where they talk candidly about their relationship on social media, for strangers like me to see. They’re always calling each other “soup snakes”. In one particular tweet - BJ tells Mindy that she “autocompletes” him. (I know, time to awwww again).

Anyway, “soup snake” is my new favorite word. It’s not anything special, Shakespeare didn’t write it. It’s probably not the most romantic thing I will ever hear. In fact one of the most romantic things I have read is a poem written by BJ in his book, 'One More Thing':

The Literalist’s Love Poem

Roses are rose.
Violets are violet.
I love you.

The frankness in that message is refreshing. It makes me consider the expectations I have of love.

As a Christian I try to live a purposeful life. When I do choose a spouse one day, I want my marriage to fulfil a kingdom purpose.  I think I’ve become so obsessed with this idealistic expectation of what I want marriage to look like that I haven’t left room for anything else. I haven’t left room for romance.

I feel so strongly about not getting caught up with romance, that I have omitted any inclination of it in this marriage picture I’m painting. I used to think seeking autocompletion is a weakness. Or seeking a “soup snake” is pathetic. I know, it’s crazy, but I swear I’m not a robot.

I’ve grown up repressing my emotions and handling my feelings sensibly (Jane Austen, that’s for you). Once I told a friend that I had a crush on a guy (and it took much courage to admit that to another human being). She was so surprised to hear that I was capable of having romantic feelings for anyone. I probably thought that too, like I was "above" that or something. 

I’ve realised that I haven’t considered the real parts of love. The parts where my humanity comes in and the rawness of me and whoever my spouse is, falls short of the bigger calling God has placed on us.

I don’t think God hates romance. But I’ve been acting like He does. Yes, a marriage should fulfil a kingdom purpose, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to be wooed. It’s okay to feel like there are butterflies in your stomach, or that you’re weak in the knees. It's okay to say things like: "You're my soup snake". It’s okay to consider your feelings. It’s taken a long time for me to accept that.

Here’s to Mindy and BJ, they’re not a model couple, but they’re great writers. 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Letter for my brother

Sometimes I imagine what my life would be like if I was a boy.

I think I would be more athletic. Maybe I’d have more friends because I’d be more likeable. I believe I’d be more resourceful, confident and laid back. I’d probably take more risks and have fun. I would be like you, my brother.

Over the past 18 years I’ve watched you grow into the smart, capable and God-fearing young man you are today. Sometimes I wish we could go back to the days when you were a toddler, fighting me for the remote so that you could watch Teletubbies. If I knew then what I know about you now, then I would’ve let you win the remote, and every fight we’ve ever had.

I can’t be an older brother to you. That’s a shame, I’m sure we would’ve shared some good times and inside jokes as brothers. But going forward, I want to do my best to understand you better so that we never have to waste our lives fighting about things that don’t matter. I hope that you would truly think of me as your keeper.

Brother, as you bid farewell to adolescence, and the comfort of living under our parents’ roof, there are a few things I believe you should learn before entering the new age of adulthood.

1. Don’t be in a hurry to leave your childhood behind.
The best years of your life await you, but nothing will ever be like your childhood. Don’t let go of the laughter, the amusement and fascination you can only experience and appreciate as a child. Don’t let the worries of adulthood crush your spirit. We are all still children, pretending to know what we’re doing. So keep your childhood alive, because you will find on days when your problems overwhelm you, the memories of your childhood will put a smile on your face.

2. Make mistakes.
You don’t have to be perfect, and that’s okay. Now is the time you will truly use your freedom to choose. You won’t always make the right decisions. But don’t beat yourself up about it, because that’s how you learn. Don’t despise your mistakes, they become funny stories you can tell at parties.

3. Meet new people, and treat everyone with the greatest respect.
Use every opportunity to meet new people, you never know what you might learn from them. Whether it’s the car guard or an investment banker, everyone can teach you something.

4. Keep your friends close.
Don’t throw away good friends, they are hard to find. Hold onto your childhood friendships, you will find that they withstand the test of time. These are the people who will share your interests, and understand you.  Cherish them, pour into them. Pray for them, constantly. Set aside time to have fun with them. Make the effort to meet with them.

5. Sing, always.
Because there is no better way to express your joy. Sing in your car, sing in your bedroom, sing in the shower and sing in the aisles while you’re buying groceries. Do it at the top of your lungs, or hum it while you fall asleep. Everyone loves music and no one will have a good reason to tell you to stop.

6. Find new ways to express your creativity.
Write, take up dance classes, learn to play a musical instrument, paint, sculpt, take photographs, sketch and learn how to be a ventriloquist. You can never find enough ways to worship and glorify God.

7. Listen to mum and dad, but not always.
Sure, they know what they’re doing, most days. But on other days, you’ll have to make your own decisions and take responsibility for your own happiness. Always honour them and God will honour you. Appreciate the time you can share with them, because there isn’t enough of it. Respect them, respect how they live. But explore new ways you can live. You define your destiny. You determine how you finish the race.

8. Hang out with old people.
They’re like troughs of wisdom. You want to be there when they start spewing out truths, their stories are invaluable. Let them share about their histories. Allow them to impart what they’ve learnt to you.

9. Add value to the world.
Your life is not your own, you don’t live for yourself. Surrender yourself to kingdom purposes. You can make a difference. Volunteer at animal shelters, hang out with orphans, raise money to pay for someone else’s university fees, join a protest, and denounce racism and other prejudices. The power to put an end to the injustices of this world is within you.

10. Take pride in your appearance.
Unfortunately, you live in a world where first impressions last. People might tell you that they don’t care if you iron your shirts, but you should. Think of every new encounter with someone as a potential job interview. If you don’t want to lead a mediocre life, start with your appearance. Be neat, respect yourself.

11. Never stop reading.
No matter how busy you get. I know that throughout varsity you’ll be reading endless papers, but sneak in a novel. Find books that challenge you, teach you and simply entertain you. Writers read. Also, books make for great talking points and pick-up lines.

12.  Be kind to girls.
Treat them as if they were your sisters, only better. Tell every girl you like that you have a crush on her. She’ll laugh, and that’ll make her day. Choose one to love. But don’t mislead her. Do your best to guard your heart and hers, know that love will always be a risk. Only share your feelings with her until such time arises where you are certain that you are willing to commit to spending the rest of your life with her. And then make your intentions clear by boldly asking her parents for their blessing.

13. Work hard
There are no short cuts. Everything out here is hard to do. It requires discipline, tenacity and perseverance. You won’t make lots of money immediately after graduating, so don’t expect it to fall into your lap. The reward is in the doing, so savour the experience because it builds your character and that is where your true wealth lies.

14. Try your best to have fun.
You have limited time on your hands but try make each day an adventure. See the joy of the Lord in everything. You don’t even have to spend too much money to do it. Appreciate the little things. Stop and smell the roses - literally. Walk in the rain and splash in the puddles. Recite Shakespeare in Whale. Dress up like a superhero, because you can. Laugh at yourself, enjoy your company.

15. Don’t be yourself.
Instead, be who Jesus Christ is in you. He’s a better person anyway. Deny yourself and choose His righteousness daily. Pick up your cross, because then you will live a life that truly counts for something greater. Be the person who does the things no one else wants to. Be His vessel, let Him use you as He pleases and mould you into the man He has called you to be.

16. Pray.
That’s how you communicate with God. Don’t just pray for yourself, pray for your friends and the communities you’re are involved in. Pray for the economy - even if you don’t know what’s going on, pray for our nation, pray for our president, whoever he may be. Be burdened by the problems of our world and pray for change. And then listen to hear what God wants you to do. Let Him share His vision with you and ask Him for the courage and strength to act.

17. Reread the Gospel.
This is the truth. It changes lives and transforms societies. You can never hear it enough. Let it consume you. Fall in love with Father again, and again, and again. Hunger for Him, obsess over Him. Rediscover His crazy love for you.

18. Proclaim the Gospel.
After allowing the truth to wash over you, let it overflow and spill into the other areas of your life. Have the urgency of Paul to share the gospel. My prayer for you is that you would desire this: “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” - Ephesians 6:19 (NIV).

Dearest brother, in many ways you have made me. I hope that others will experience the joy and pleasantness of knowing you, and appreciate the person you are.

Live without fear, draw strength from your faith. Walk in His grace forever.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Small Town

I’ve been living and working in the city for roughly 11 months. Most of my time has been devoted to settling into adulthood, adapting my lifestyle from a student to a young professional and meeting people along the way. Of all the things I’ve learnt about myself, one thing that rings true is that I am not cut from the same cloth.

I’m small town. Dead set in my methods and there’s no way I’m going to unlearn these prudent habits. And truthfully, I’m not vying to be a city slicker either… I simply don’t want to.

Singer-songwriter Aron Wright’s lyrics to a song called Home, have captured my experience in the past few months perfectly:

I have seen all I care to see of this world it has no more for me
I need the call for giving peace
That only comes from my family.
I wanna go home. I wanna go home.
I’m following the lead of the setting sun.
And I’m going back where I came from.

Ironically, in my last few years of high school, I was so desperate to break free from the limitations of the town in which I was raised. I wanted to smash all the boxes in which people classified me. Now that I live in the city, I have found that people still put you in boxes. They’re just a little bigger, creating an illusion of freedom.

But there are things about the city I cannot deny that I love. There’s an energy about it that constantly drives you to be extraordinary.  A small town keeps you comfortable. A city never runs out of thrills. A small town deprives you of growth. The only way to survive in a city is to grow. A small town is stagnant. A city is constantly moving, and if you stop you’ll get left behind, unable to gain ground.

But this city is not my maker. It’s just an enabler. The small town made me. The city just unlocks who that person is. Now that I have that revelation, I am more determined to confidently run the path God has set for me.

People born and raised in the city just seem to be more street smart. They know the hustle. There’s an expectation of imperfection and a general sense of acceptance. Enter me: Anxious workaholic. Likes peace but seeks adventure. Wants to change the world, but scared of what that may involve. A good night out involves spending quality time with people you care about, in moderation, followed by eight hours of sleep. Values tradition, a fact I wasn’t aware of until two weeks ago. Treads with caution. Learning to do things alone. The city as a setting: Deceptively brave, bold and beautiful.  

Put more simply, if I was Alice, after falling down the rabbit hole I think I would be pretty disappointed with what I would have found once I reached the bottom.  

I follow Humans Of New York posts on social media. They’re basically street portraits of people who share their stories. It’s a social phenomenon which has extended across the world. There’s even a book with a collection of these stories and portraits (adding that to my Christmas wish list).

One story I’ve been mulling over the past few days is about a man, raised in a city. He moved to a small town, fell in love with a woman and they started a family together. He always wanted to be a musician, so his wife agreed to move to New York with him to see if he could make something of his music career. After moving, they had to take on extra jobs to pay rent, he hardly spent time with his family and wasn’t working on his music at all. He and his wife were fighting more and at one point he became abusive. She left him, and took their children with her. Now he’s alone in the city, with no music career, doing a job he hates just so that he has a means to live.

I know that won’t happen to everybody, but that’s the gist of a city- You’re constantly chasing your dreams, or finding the means to. I don’t think I have a great quality of life here. But I can’t go back to a small town either. 

I wasn’t raised in a city. I don’t always understand how it works. Sure I want to be successful and make it to the top, but what happens after? 

If I moved to a forgotten town, then yes, maybe I would be happier, have a comfortable life and be a great something. But the city appeals to your ambition while offering you some kind of anonymity. You can fail here, and then try again without anyone making a big deal about it.  You can be who you are here, without anyone passing judgments (to your face at least). You can be forgotten here, without anyone caring. No one is great here.

You can live in a city and still be trapped in boxes. You can live in a city and still do yourself an injustice. You can live in a city and still be a small town girl.

Sunday, 29 November 2015


When I was growing up, all I wanted to do was be a hero. At age four, I wanted to be a Power Ranger. By the age of seven, I wanted to be my grade one teacher. At age 11 I wanted to become a well-known author like Roald Dahl. At 14, I wanted to be famous, like the movie stars. And by the age of 18, I just wanted to be me.

Now that I’ve got to know myself and come to terms with my shortcomings and my abilities, the 24-year-old me just wants to become who my parents are. I’ve spent my whole life trying to be someone they can be proud of, but now I want to be somebody I can be proud of. If I can embody their compassion, their authenticity, their tenacious audacity to do what is right and their steadfast leadership then I know my life will count for something greater.

My parents are teachers. Teachers do not get enough recognition for the work they do in raising generations, supporting communities and transforming society. I didn’t become a teacher because I thought it was a boring profession. But in retrospect, I would rather have a career that imparts value into people’s lives, leaves a positive mark on the world and shapes humanity for the better.

When we walk through malls or shopping centres, people my parents taught decades ago stop to greet them. My mother doesn’t always remember their names but she recognises their faces. The conversation always goes something like this: "You were a good teacher. I always remember what you taught me. Thank you for always encouraging me."  

The simple explanation for such gratitude is this: My parents are heroes. Oftentimes the good things they do may be overlooked and underappreciated. But today I want to acknowledge the work they have done. I am grateful that they raised me. I am one of the many who came from the works of their hands. But I am most privileged because they were the ones God gave to me.  

They have taught me to love God and love people. As Jesus taught His disciples in Luke 10: 27, the greatest commandment is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,” and, “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.” I have seen my parents serve God faithfully and be kind to complete strangers. They carry a heart for humanity, because above all things, their hearts are devoted to God.

My father is a cornerstone in his community. I remember on countless occasions, having sat down for dinner, a member from the community would pass by our house, yelling from outside our gate. Asking my dad if he could help type out a letter, or fill in an application form, clarify the meaning on a formal document, help find someone a job or even just help out with food or loan some money. My parents wouldn’t hesitate to help. They would leave their warm plates of food and see to the needs of someone else. I thought all families did this kind of thing. Unfortunately, as I have come to know the world, and all it has to offer, it is disappointing to see that such selfless kindness doesn’t happen everywhere.

My parents have made so many sacrifices for our family. Making sure my brother and I have a comfortable life, a secure home, and protection from the ills of this world. Sometimes we did not understand their methods. We thought they were unfair, unreasonable and not understanding. I remember arguing with my dad one day, to go and see a movie. I said: “But everyone is going”. His response was: “You are not like everyone else.” Those words have entrenched a sense of identity that cannot be questioned or taken from me. It has propelled me towards my destiny. 

I wish I could mention all the other things they taught me. But perhaps the greatest lesson is this: To be faithful with the small things. Collectively, the small things make a significant impact. So mum and dad, I know you sometimes feel that the things you do aren’t always great or glamorous. But they are significant. And for 50 years, you have blessed the world because of the good things you’ve done.
You are planet shakers. You are history makers. The generations that will follow you, will be different. They are not like everyone else because you are not like everyone else.   

Colossians 1: 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (NIV)

Monday, 2 November 2015

Space and time

Part of my job as a content manager for a website involves altering the dates or time-frame in which posts are published. Essentially, I get to defy space and time, creating a new reality in a virtual place.

Outside of work though, my skills are bound by the only reality that matters. Where real life happens- where hardships, sadness and inevitable abandon happens- when friends leave you behind.

I recently found out that another one of my friends is fighting Cancer. This time it is Leukaemia. I had no intention of writing about Cancer. I have no right to. I am not the one who has to decide to go through undetermined rounds of treatment. Nor am I weighing up the pros and cons of different methods.  

But I am the friend of someone who is going through this. I am the friend of someone who has to make difficult decisions about her future. She has chosen to be positive despite this unfair card life has dealt her. She is relentlessly fighting to fulfill her calling and she won’t let Cancer stop her.

My friend, who’s known about her condition much longer than I have, is hell-bent on making her life count. She has taught me that life is meant for living. We had spoken to each other before I found out, no word of Cancer. Then again, people don’t go around announcing that they have Cancer. 

She could only talk about her plans to study further and her passion for social justice and equality. Surely, someone who is ill wouldn’t sound as strong-willed as she did?

That’s where I am wrong. A paradox- death drives people to live. Do I have to find out that I’m about to die before I start becoming intentional about living or find a cause to lead? 

When this bombshell dropped, obliterating reality, all I wanted to do was fall through the ground. Shifting back to a year before, when we were delivering newspapers and Cancer was something that happened to other people. Maybe push back even further before I met her, perhaps making different decisions that would never lead me to meet her. Or just fast forward to the future when this would all be over and I’d be so many years ahead to remember this even happened.  

If I avoid being here in the present, then I would miss my calling. I could abandon this space of destruction and cheat this collapsing time, but I would miss the blessing of being part of the unfolding of God’s good and perfect will. I would miss what He is teaching me.

If I stop living here, then I am no good for squandering the space and time I have been granted. Unable to account for it, I will become unworthy of humanity. The privilege of friendships and the ability to fight for a cause that adds value to this world, it would be foolish to waste it. 

"Don't waste your life"- that's a title of a book authored by John Piper, which I've never read- those are also the words that have been running through my mind for the past three days. 

I fear that in two weeks, when this news is no longer fresh in my mind, that I would forget these very words and the things I have questioned about the way I live.  

I fear that I will zone out of this current space and time, and embed myself in the future where there are only fragments of this present and no time for recollection.