March Favourites [Video]


The year is going by so fast, I must document the memories before they all fly away just as quickly.

Here are my march favourites.



What phase have you recently discovered that you're in?

How I Identify as a HSP


First off, you're probably asking what's a HSP? That's Highly Sensitive Person. At least 1 in every 7 people are highly sensitive to the world around them and experience life with heightened responses compared to the rest of us. That can be a good thing, that can also make things more overwhelming.

Here's some of the things it affects in my life.

Colour Psychology
It works on me almost too well. Colour psychology is the science of colours having particular effects on mood. For instance, red raises the heart-rate a little making you either anxious or excited. Pink is calming while light green sustains that calm. Yellow and purple paints are successfully used in shops to decrease shoplifting. That very theory of purple not allowing ideas of taking anything on with you stopped me from doing well in a particular classroom that had purple walls. It's a colour that actually makes me uncomfortable and very fidgety.

Sounds
I have always had a strong distaste for balloons. Loud noises hit through my whole body with a rush of new chemicals and it always changes how I was feeling before. I will start off in a party mood and then BANG, good mood gone and tension here to stay. It's not fair.

Smells
I prefer not to wear certain perfumes again after they've been associated with a location or situation. Nivea Night-time moisturiser reminds me of a dingy student hall I stayed in while I was in London, the day we went shopping. My Victoria's Secret body mist reminds me of the time I played my first concert and that was a stressful occasion. Every time I smell these things I'm am taken right back there.

Busy rooms
Two conversations at once is also overload for my mind to process and I'll immediately feel heavily sleepy. I have mentioned before that I'm an introvert, but I think perhaps being HSP is what makes me so introverted. It's typical that I will experience disassociation in shops to. Stores have so much in them, so many racks and shelves and the busyness of all that I disassociate from the space around me and feel like I'm dreaming.

This is a mental illness if it persists, disassociation. It's the third most commonly diagnosed mental health problem after depression and anxiety. In the same way that if you constantly feel anxious for no reason is a real problem called anxiety. So I'm not saying I have disassociation but I have moments of it when a room is too busy. And I don't think that would be the case if I wasn't HSP.

ASMR
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It's euphoric tingling shivers from the back of the head and if strong enough down the entire body. Some people won't understand this sensation, they never feel it. Other's need a head massage from another person to trigger it, while there are thousands of YouTube videos with different sounds to help you feel it. I am very sensitive to ASMR. A lot more things trigger me and I can actually trigger it on demand by recalling other times I've felt it.

Pain
I can't ignore it. Maybe I've just got it bad but there have been times I've been curled up on the floor literally asking God to end my life, and this was because I had my period. If something in my body hurts it has my full-attention. Plus my flesh, if touched with just a moderate pressure, aces excruciatingly. It's typical of women to feel more sensitively than men, but being HSP intensifies it even more.

Drugs
The night I first took an anti-depressant medication I thought I had the flu. I crawled from my room to the bathroom, and through-out my flat till my back was against the freezer. Then for the next couple weeks I had a bleeding nose a few minutes after I took it. Bloody noses are not even a known side-affect of that medication. And you'll know if you're a woman what antibiotics can do to your body; I have no chance of avoiding that dreaded skin condition.

Alcohol
I'm a light weight, there's no question. But I'm talking heavy drowsiness after just a couple mouthfuls. It's not a placebo. There are particular drinks, especially vodka, that I can't have at all or I'll feel sick immediately. I wish I could be back to normal after the first drink, when others don't usually feel so horrible till after drink number 3. If I take a single sip of wine on my wedding day, that 'perfect day' will actually be over.

Caffeine
If I drink coffee after noon I'll be up until 5am. It's as simple as that. I can't have caffeinated drinks without really weighing the pros and cons and ultimatly I have chronic anxiety anyway so I can't really risk it. Coffee will just make that worse.

Love
Love languages, heard of those? There are five major revenues that different people feel cared for and loved; touch, gifts, words, quality time, acts of service. I always know my love-tank level and I know when my love-tank if filling; I'm hyper aware of when something is truly bring new life and appreciation into myself. And having a low love-tank has extreme affects on my behaviour and attitudes.

Music
Where I live there is a culture we kept from our Scottish ansestors; stoicism. As a musician and performer it is quite hard to get any sort of reaction out of an audience. They'll clap after every song out of habit, but there's no screaming, cheering or moving. But as an audience member my own body refuses to remain still as I listen to music. My feet have to tap with the beat and I have to sing harmonies and I feel the tension in the music through my body like a drug. 

Horror films
I don't like to see people hurting. I feel music strongly. If you put these two things together I'm not going to have a good time. Thank God, I have a different relationship with fear than what I had a few years ago but I also know my limits when it comes to watching stuff that is meant to be scary.

Other
More things that come along with my case of being highly sensitive;
- I startle easily
- Charity advertisements make me cry
- Just seeing a police car makes me incredibly unnerved
- Closer to a deadline I become only focused about the assignment
- I automatically take on the moods of people around me
- certain rooms are particularly uncomfortable to be in; even if it's related to the arrangment of the furniture, 

So in a vibrant, noisy and broken world it's hard feeling like you're the only one that feels everything. This is me on a journey to understanding myself and discovering I'm HSP is one of those things that are going to help I move forward. 

Why I'm Not Using Hormonal Birth Control


When I was recently trying out a new birth control pill, I immediately started showing symptoms that I could not deal with on a daily basis. Then I got to thinking about the long term effects  this drug could have and it was then, at 4 days into my pack, that I remembered the dreadful dark depression that I suffered the first time I was on the pill.

That season of depression was now 5 years ago, but it brought to light some on going mental health issues that I still have to live with today. That depression that was either brought on by my first few months on GINET, or my pre-existing poor mental health was catalysed by the drug; turning from chronic anxiety to very suicidal depression.

I only wish I knew that I had a history of anxiety. Instead I put the daily bats in my belly down as morning sickness, or butterflies due to a boy I liked. Back then I had no idea that mental health and mental illnesses were a thing, or that other people in my family were medicated for such problems.

I've been meaning to write a post about my depression for a while. Why? Because this is the place where I can share whatever I want, it's a lifestyle blog, and I find writing things down to be the best way to explain things. Maybe, this is to be that post.

The depression I had in 2013 drove me to fail my final year of high school. I felt totally alone, helpless if ever I didn't understand the assignments, and it made me very sensitive to criticism. So when a friend one day said,"You are so annoying," I spent the rest of the day with thoughts of a murder/suicide. That was the worst day of my life.

My doctor, of course, would have seen this as a problem. Any significant changes in your health and state of mind are things they want to know about. But when I went on ginet I was unaware of what could possibly be monitored. If I knew my situation was so critically unhealthy I would have asked for help much earlier.

The reason I was on 'ginet' was my chronic cystic acne. Yea, I know, gross. It was my mother who was actually more concerned about how bad it looked. I didn't care that when I stopped taking the pill the spots came back. I wasn't insecure about my skin, it had never stopped me from having friends at school. I stopped believing it would go away and I learned to ignore it completely. When my skin temporarily cleared up, I went off the pill. In my mind, I had no reason to keep taking it. Ultimately, it turns out my last year of high school was just the worst time to work on clearing it up. 

I now have, not full blown depression but a theory. My depression, though I was on the pill at the time, was also during the winter season. My depression might in fact be Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and I am already bracing for winter.

The things I know for sure about my suggested S.A.D. are:
In the winter of 2013 I had depression.
In the winter of 2014 I spent a month in Europe in July, in the sun.
In the winter of 2015 My mental state took me to the park in the middle of the night to cry and hope that someone might attack me.
In the winter of 2016 I would legitimately lose my will to live whenever I had assignments to do.
In the winter of 2017 it was the same; a wonderful concoction of perfectionism, procrastination, anxiety, and a quarter-life crisis.

I know that this year I will get more time in the sun on my honeymoon. If July here means snow while California is the golden coast, I guess that's one of the best reasons to have a winter wedding. But 'honeymoon' also means I need to start thinking about birth control.

I made up a list of 16 reasons why I don't want to go back on the pill. I made this list because I thought I needed to convince my fiancé. It turns out I was making this list to convince myself, and the man I'm marrying is ultimately supportive of anything I need to do to stay healthy and sane.

This is some of my list, incase I need to justify it to anyone else out there; or if you're looking for support yourself.


11 Reasons Why I'm Not Using Hormonal Birth Control

#1 - My General Sensitivity to New Medications
When I first took escitalopram for my depression, I thought I had the flu, I wanted to vomit and crawled through the flat trying to find a cool wall to put my back against. Then the bleeding nose 10 minutes after taking it came in the next few weeks. That is my general sensitivity to new medications.

The same sensitivity came in to affect when I recently tried going  on the pill; migraines throughout the day followed by bawling my eyes out every single night over nothing. As if I were in my first trimester of a pregnancy. Well that's what the pill does, it is designed to trick your body into thinking it is already pregnant so it will not do so a second time. I cannot live like that, a hormonal mess every day of the year, of every year until I actually want to get pregnant. And still it will not be over.

#2 - My Unstable Mental Health
Going on the pill will very likely force a relapse in my depression. I do not want to go there ever again.

#3 - Conviction From God
I simply had a strong feeling that I knew was God telling me not to put synthetic hormones into my body so I won't get pregnant. He's not saying I have to have kids as soon as I'm married, but I also feel like if he wanted to give me a baby this is a slap in the face for him. It's just a bit too much taking it into my own hands, when I have said I want to trust him with every part of my life.

Taking the pill would get in the way of who I was designed to be and that's counterproductive while getting closer to the person God wants me to be is literally my purpose on this planet.

#4 - Potential Change In Psyche
Because the pill makes you think you're already pregnant there's something very interesting that happens to the prospects of men you'd consider as a partner. Usually you are unconsciously looking for a good mate who will provide strong, healthy offspring with more variety in the gene pool, but women that are pregnant prefer someone who will help in looking after the children.

Firstly I don't know what that could do to the feelings I have for my partner, and secondly what else might change? The truth is I don't know what else might change. I know who I am, or I've almost worked it out and I don't want to lose myself again to another drug.

#5 - The Daily Task of Oral Admission
When you're on the pill you need to take it every day and at the same time. I didn't get that right for only 4 days. I've been on medication for my mental health since that winter in 2015, coming up on 3 years. I know I mess up all the time.

The fact is if you miss a pill, you may have your period early. I can at least guarantee that if you stop after 4 days like I did, your period will definitely come early. So it's just a hassle.

#6 - The Disruption of my Normal Cycle
My normal period brings on bloating, failure to lose weight and a few spots and tears. Then my stomach will stop puffing up and my skin takes time to heal. Around ovulation my libido is raised and my temperature probably goes up (haven't tried tracking it yet). And then when I'm about to have my period again I will dream of kittens. True story.

These are the tell-tale signs of my cycle. The bad ones are so manageable compared to being overweight, having chronic acne, and major depression. All things I am very familia with on a larger scale so I welcome these minor symptoms with loving arms.

If I'm on the pill, this all goes out the window. No change; every day the same, just not able to get pregnant. And I like my normal cycle, synthetic hormone free.

#7 - Month Long Disruption vs 6 days of being Fertile
You know how I just said "every day the same, just not able to get pregnant,"? Well there are usually only 6 days out of your cycle where you can actually get pregnant anyway. I just feel like changing your body with synthetic hormones for everyday of the month just so you don't ovulate and become fertile for 6 days out of the month is over kill.

#8 - The Effectiveness of Fertility Awerness
Women cannot get pregnant on just any day of the month, and if you don't have STDs to worry about then you don't even need protection every day of the month. If you knew when those 6 days were, the days when you are able to make a baby, you could try fertility awareness as a method of contraception. If you're careful this can be up to 99.4% affective.

Luckily there are ways to know when you are fertile and when you're not.
- I've been using the app Clue for 3 years and they have an estimate of when I should be ovulating compared to the typical cycle.
- Your basal body temperature typically goes up a few tenths of a degree during this time and stays up until your next period.
- Cervical mucus also changes consistency and becomes thicker.
Ovulation tests can prove when you are ovulating as they detect an increase of luteinizing hormone in your pee.

#9 - Risk of Weight Gain
I have been working hard to lose weight for my wedding. Why would I allow this to be jeopardised?

#10 - Control Over the Entire Body just to Affect Fertility
I've already said I think it's over kill to take a pill everyday so you can't get pregnant in the 6 days you usually could. I also think it's insane to put synthetic hormones into my body and risk my mental health, my weight, my psyche, and every other part of my body just so I can eliminate my fertility.

My fertility is one small part of my body and the pill is not yet designed to target only that small part of my body. I think it's more worth it to work around my fertile days than to switch it off at the risk of affecting the rest of my body.

#11 - Shorter Cycles
My cycle is usually 5 weeks long. 30 days without a period. The typical birth control pill pack has 21 hormone pills in it and 7 sugar pills, this means my 30 days without a period is cut down to 21, and I would have more periods. Seriously, that's a sure candidate for the worst deal a woman in the first world could make.


I hope by sharing this others can learn from my experiences. Know that you are not alone. I'm certainly not saying anyone should be too scared to take the pill but I sure am. I know I'm going to run into other problems now that I haven't got hormonal contraception to back me up but that's another story for another time.

My Favourite Marriage Advice Resources




In the last couple weeks I've been getting through a large quantity of marriage related resources and that was because I was excited and passionate to keep reading and taking note of what other people have said.

But one of the lessons I've been learning is that sometimes you are ripe to hear a certain message and grow in a particular way when others may not be at the same time. My fiancé was probably not as ripe for all of the messages shared in these resources in the same time as myself and so I share this with you to warn against showing these books down your partner's throat. 

It can come across quite forceful when you are passionate about the advice a resource has and want your partner to know it too. Just make sure you are asking nicely for them to join you in reading books like this and that they don't end up taking on a lot of pressure from you.

With that out of the way here are my recommendations:

How Do You Know if Someone Is "The One"?
Video by Jefferson Bethke
Something a lot of people worry about before they actually get engaged is if their partner is 'the one.' The truth is this concept was created by Hollywood; it is not from God. In this video Jeff breaks down the concept of free will when you're looking for your future husband or wife.

Love & Respect
Book by Dr. Emerson Eggriches, 336 pages
Audiobook read by the author, 9 hours

The best non-fiction book I've ever read. The differences between men and women from the way we are coded to function is an incredible display of God's image. The realisation that men are blue, women are pink, coming together to make purple; the colour of royalty was something I also came up with in 2013 but that's how this book concludes. 

The Meaning Of Marriage
Book by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller, 288 pages
Audiobook read by James Loyd, 8 hours

There are heaps of ideas in here that if given the chance I'd shove them down everyone's throat. This book could be responsible for cleaning up the entire world's view of marriage from a self-centred celebration of the love they already have (which I don't agree with as the purpose of having a wedding) to a covenant of best friends who choose to help each other become more like christ.

Marriage is the most challenging and rewarding relationship you could ever have with another human, however the world's idea of living together first is like knowing the questions before going into an exam. This book explains those rewards and helps you form the right mindset that will have you facing the challenges in the right way.

Laugh your way to a Better Marriage
Seminar by Mark Gungor

I'll link you to the official wed page where you can order the dvd, but I have found it on YouTube saved it in downloads and listened to it in the car. I don't actually recommend listening without watching because you end up missing a lot of jokes.

Mark's performance shows training in voice and drama, and comedy. This recording is over a decade old but the humour and the truth bombs that go off every minute may just be timeless. Pop it on and watch this one together with your spouse, or better yet the whole family.

Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married
Book by Gary Chapman, 161 pages
Audiobook read by Chris Fabry, 4 hours long

This is one that I find best to read a single chapter when you're ready to improve yourself. This is 12 chapters talking about very different elements of married life and perspective to help you prepare for it. We all have dreams and expectations of what it will be like when we get married but it's important to have perspective of what is realistic and actually fits in with the character's of yourself and your partner.

The 5 Love Languages
Book by Gary Chapman, 203 pages
Audiobook read by the author, 5 hours

I haven't read this one in a long time but I know it's a good one to pick up every once in a while to read the chapter that will most help you love on your spouse. It turns out that different people have different ways of showing their love and different things others can do for them will have more impact on making them feel loved even if they are meant with the same intention of love.

Through years of marriage counselling Garry chapman has found it useful to categorise the ultimate ways people receive and express love into 5 categories; touch, quality time, gifts, serving and words. It's important to help your partner and your self in loving each other by working out which of these can make the best impact on your heart for feeling cared for and loved.




11 Massively Important Things You Want To Be Doing before your Wedding



When you are getting married and having a wedding the moments can come when you wish the day was here already. But aside from the decorations and the invitations and the flavour of the cake there are plenty of things to get through that take more time than it takes to decide "silver or blue?"


Here is a list of things to make sure you spend your engagement wisely preparing as best you can.



Praying

I feel like there are people out there who pray even if they aren't into everything about the christian lifestyle and church stuff. And being one of those people who is quite involved with it I still want you to be encouraged to pray even if you don't think there's anyone listening.

I do happen to have a close relationship with God and I know he wants to bless anyone who goes to him for answers and opportunities to be opened. Marriage was something that I believe he designed and if you go to the source asking for assistance to have the best marriage you could, then he's going to be more than willing to show you things you haven't thought of before.

Things to pray for are Peace among your families, Favour over the weather, Joy that everyone really have a great day, Patience for yourself as you try to make decisions with your partner, Self-Control for those who might say something stupid over the microphone, and Protection from the enemy as he make his attempts to get in the way; he's an asshole and he hates people having great marriages, but God is so much bigger.


Apply for your marriage licence

This one is just too important for you to miss; yes it's directly part of sorting out the wedding and that's not what this list is meant to be about so I'm just giving you a quick reminder.

Getting a licence isn't something you typically see people focused on in the movies, and that's where most of our ideas about marriage and weddings come from, at least it is for me, so if you don't know how to do this at all. In NZ it takes a number of days to process and a number of working days to be returned in the post. It will also expire in a few short months. So you don't want to do it too soon, and you defiantly cannot leave it to the week of the wedding.


Pre-Marital Counselling

Even If you are not involved in church you can find one for this. Your pastor is likely to have a course they want to take you through, just so they know they did their part to prepare you for your new marriage. But I also highly recommend it because I know I haven't got it all together, and if fact I never will.

You and your fiancé might end up talking to a married couple for a number of weeks. You might go through a course designed to teach you communication skills, or God's design for marriage.

On the other hand, you might simply have mediated discussions on hard topics and get through a lot of your own ideas so the two of you are on the same page. Topics like finances, children, house-keeping, and how you will do Christmas with or without your extended families.


Growing your hair

Those incredible photos of wedding hair styles on Pinterest probably won't work so well if you are currently rocking a lob. That's what I had this time a year ago and it was very hard to do anything with it.

Seriously I went to my best friend's wedding looking like a mad lady with a bird's next on her head. So to make it easier for the hairdresser to do your hair up on your wedding day and for it to stay in place more securely, try to grow a few more inches yet.

The same goes for your bridesmaids if they have long long hair and that's something you want to work with you are allowed to say to them 'Please don't cut that all off.'



Reading Books about Marriage

Here's a list of my favourite resources to get you started.

As Nikki Schumacher said in one of her videos, you shouldn't let there be an such an extreme unbalance between the number of books you read and media you consume that is for fun and the number of books you read and the resources you go through to improve your skills and knowledge of marriage.

As we go through life we slowly learn and are ripe for learning certain lessons. We mustn't forget to learn more about marriage even after we've been doing it for a number of years.


Figgureing out Who Your Married Friends Are

The pressure to do marriage well can be a huge weight on our shoulders. The truth is you and your spouse can not do it alone. You need friends who are also married and have experienced the same changes as you are about to.

It's important to establish some sort of agreement between those people that they will always be there for dinner and a chat about what you're going through. It would be good to have at least one pair of married friends each. One who is your friends, and one who is your partner's friends. I promise this does not mean they will automatically take your side or your partner's; in fact you'll be in for some enjoyable and unpredictable moments of support and advice.


Sorting Out Your Contraception

Are you going to use hormones or not? If getting married is the first time you are going to be doing what could get you pregnant (which I recommend and have zero regrets about) then you'll be after a plan for avoiding pregnancy.

If you are going to go on the pill you should go on it for a couple of cycles before you can be sure to have stopped ovulation altogether. This is what I tried to do but I baled after 4 days and believe me: that will bring on an early period. So much crying and other serious risks was just too much to handle.

The best way to prevent pregnancy without using hormones is to track your cycle and ovulation. Your body temperature rises very slightly as is gets ready to release an egg. It's very helpful to know when this happens so you can be extra carful around this time, say with the assistance of spermicide and barrier methods.

Either way you need to take time to get to know your own body.


Renew your passport

This is something I'm currently stuck on. Remember you need a referee, someone you aren't related to but has known you for a year and has their own passport. The application can take time to fill and then process, so if you are honeymooning in another country you must give do this early enough to work out the kinks.

Also I've learned to enter America and to enter Canada one must have a visa. That sounds scary and not work the effort because I won't be there for more than 2 weeks, but the travel agent will handle it for me. That is, once my passport arrives brand spanking new.


Getting Dancing Lessons

Your first dance at the reception should looks spectacular, and it is totally possible if you take the time to learn and practice a waltz or other ballroom dance.

So look online or through the phone book for dance coaches and set a time for you and your fiancé to have fun together out on that floor.


Reaching out to Friends & Family

When you draft a list of people who should be at the reception you will come across people who you are not sure you want to really be there. Time and distance changes people and even when we try to deny it, this changes our relationships with others.

Sometimes the relationship changes so much we'll wonder if we're even still friends. Maybe they've forgotten all about us. I'm just being real, this happens. I'll link a video by Absolute Motivation that points out the danger and anxiety around this situation.

In the time leading up to your wedding you should work on these relationships. Make a commitment to get through the awkwardness now and repair the relationship. That awkwardness should not have a place in your special day. Yes, weddings bring people closer, but so should the months that lead up to it.


Assisting in Leaving your family in a good place

Something that God has recently put on my heart is the strain the environment of our family is for some individuals. One of my siblings are not feeling loved like they should and the same for one of my parents.

Something incredible that might happen quite often is that as I prepare for going into my own new family the people I'm leaving behind become guinea pigs for me to test the advice I've been reading. What's particularly shown through is the message from my new favourite book of all time; love and respect. The information in this book has the power to totally transform marriages and families.

So if there's anything you can do to encourage your family, spend time doing that before you are no longer so on the inside.


Got any pre-wedding advice? Leave it in the comments for everyone down below.

xxoBeka

Marriage & Wedding Roundup


Things to Do When You're Engaged

When the excitement grows it's easy to wish the day was already here, but have you done these yet?

My Favourite Marriage Advice Resources

With a message to be careful when you want to go through it all at once.

Thoughts from our Pre-Marriage Counciling

Coming in 8 weeks.

Research Project; Songwriters and Writer's Block



Are Songwriters Immune to Writer’s Block? Diagnosed with Professional Creativity.
Rebekah E. Tripp, 2017 


Abstract 

This study measured the phenomenon of physiological writer’s block among professional and recreational songwriters in the attempt to detect a trend in its occurrence at different stages of the songwriters’ progression of skill mastery. Writer’s block is "defined as a distinctly uncomfortable inability to write" (Huston, 1998, P. 93), it is when the mind is blank of thought when a person attempts to create an original work. This study makes attempt at defining what is the type or types of ideas that songwriter’s are looking to form when they face writer’s block, which would better allow the songwriter to know how to find it. This research is intended to make ideas easier to discover. The data provided by 22 survey participants was used to determine this, as well as to discover if more education is generally necessary for songwriters to combat writer’s block, and whether such combat should be foundational prevention or a short-term solution. This paper makes note of other key studies including Rideout, 2014 Creativity and Songwriting, Huston, 1998 Resolving Writer’s Block and Flaherty, 2004 The Midnight Disease. Through analysis and discussion of the data provided by a survey and research drawn from other sources, Tripp concludes that writer’s block is inevitable as a hobbyist songwriter or professional songwriter. There are no particular conditions that prevent writer’s block entierly, but there are things one can do to reduce it’s liklihood. After certain stages in a songwriter's educational progression and professional growth creative blocks do decrease significantly due to practice and education.

Keywords: songwriting, writer’s block, creative blocks, prevention, optimal conditions for creativity and original thinking




My Christmas / Birthday Wishlist


A wishlist for a 20 something year-old.

Secrets for The Mad by Dodie Clark
Dodie has been a huge inspiration for me over the last couple of years through music and being more comfortable speaking about my mental health issues. This is her autobiography that she released this year, in 2017, and I would very much like to read it.



Light Blue Oxford Shirt
I don't like wearing printed fabrics or novelty T-shirts but an oxford shirt is something that is missing from my capsule wardrobe.


Real Leather Watch
Ultimately it would just be really nice to have the strap replaced on the watch that I already have. It's very warn as faux leather tends to do after being warn every day for a year.

White Ribbed Office Chair
If you know me at all you'll know I spend a lot of time at the computer and it can get uncomfortable. I've been on the look out for the right office chair and I found this one from DickSmith that I like a lot.

all that she can see By Carrie Hope Fletcher
My fiction choice of the season. I was going to hold this one back until the audiobook has been recorded but I think it should be light enough to get through on my own. I really appreciate Carrie's writing because she write's what she wants to like a true author. She might have started out on YouTube but she doesn't bother with writing series to get more money from a story that should have closed in the first book.

reputation by Taylor Swift (ON VINYL)
I have a record player and no new records, nothing from this century. This would be a true luxury item to have in my collection.

Wild Orchid by Beyonce
Fresh, beautiful, clean, sweet. I can't get this perfume off my mind, I almost need it. This is probably how a bride might smell.

Amethyst Crystal
For me this is a symbol of maturity. I have my heart set on a big piece of amethyst to be the centrepiece of my living-room to remind me that even things that are rough can still be beautiful.

Honestly I should want for nothing but a visit to my dentist. Poor teeth. Tell me, what would you like to receive this Christmas?

xxBeka

What is the Bible? | In a nutshell


What is the bible? First I'll tell you some things that it isn't; It's not a rule book for getting into Heaven; It's not full of freaky predictions about the future; It's not written by God; and It's not hard to read.

Why isn't is a rule-book for getting to heaven?
It doesn't tell us to  focus on the time that we die. It's a guide to living life so that you can be close to God and understand who he is in the now. Those "rules" are simply guidelines to live the best life possible. To fill each day with happiness and purpose.

Why isn't it full of freaky predictions about the future?
I'm going to get real with you, and this is the actual freaky part that you might think I'm crazy for saying. God's got an enemy that wants to hurt him by hurting his friends. Those friends are you and me and this enemy doesn't want us being close to God and living our best life. Anything that you've heard of a future of bad things happening has actually been twisted to scare you, and actually there are other explanations for what those "predictions" actually are.

Why isn't it written by God?
Firstly, how could that be physically possible? True he could have told someone what to write but I have another point I want to make. Being an author of books is something certain people do all the time, and they don't need God to tell them what to write to make it good or true. A lot of people through out history thought certain things were worth writing down and God's only part in that was making sure that when other people read it, with his help, they can understand it. 

Why isn't it hard to read?
Those original author's, around 40 different people from different time periods and languages, have been lucky enough for their works to keep getting printed today because of two things:
First it's been translated for us, thank you to the linguists who translated it, and to the people who's job it is to check those translations - you guy's are awesome.
And second, as I mentioned before, God helps us to understand the literal speaking to the metaphors, the parables, and the emotional poetry. That is, if we ask for his help.

So what is the Bible then?
If It's not these things then what is really going on in those pages?
It's a story. And the short version, in a nutshell, is something like this, #Spoilers...


There was a man called Israel who had 12 sons and they went to live in Egypt.
As their family grew through the generations the pharaoh thought they might end up taking over, so he had them enslaved and forced them to work for the Egyptians.
They were made to work inhumanly long days of hard labor, and other wise treated like animals; used as sport.
God loved these people, these slaves, and he wanted to be with them.
After 400 years they finally escaped.
God gave them a place to settle down and they named the land after their ancestor Israel.
The Israelites didn’t know how they should live; they only knew how to be slaves, and they were so used to the horrible things the Egyptians made them do.
As they established their own nation God told them how to set themselves apart as great people.
He gave them the law that would help them to be close to God and live their best lives; looking after each other and growing a strong army, and with places for learning.
And the Israelites did become strong and took over even more land while they kept God in their heart.
But eventually they got sucked into how neighbouring cultures lived and they though it'd be cool to do the same. They stopped being close to God, and this was disappointing for God. 
He made prophets be born among them who would remind the people of their laws and how to be close to God, living their best life.
The first prophet was Isaiah who said ‘God doesn’t want you to worship and obsess over other people's gods and idols’
The people listened to Isaiah and reconnected with God, but when you're human it's hard not to give in to what seems exciting and tempting.
Another prophet was Jeremiah who warned the people to look after each other or they would be blindsided and taken back to Egypt to be slaves again.
They listened to Jeremiah for a little while but God had to send yet another prophet.
Ezekiel tried to inspire the people to live in a way that made God happy, but this time the people didn’t listen and they were attacked and captured, made to be slaves in Babylon.
When the Israelites were in Babylon, the prophet Daniel grew up to help the people get back to their own land.
God spoke to the people with what he told the prophets and there were twelve more who helped them to understand how to be close to God.
God knew he was going to send someone else to truly fix their hearts and help them to truly understand who God was, and that he loved them.
The prophets told the people that this man would be the Messiah. He would be their king and he would help them to know God’s love.
Then God went quiet for another 400 years.
Some took the responsibility to keep teaching the law for living to be a great people to the next generations but it ended up very confused and it almost lost it's meaning. 
While the Israelites were waiting for the Messiah to be born another nation came and took over Israel. That was Rome and they were forced to pay steep tax to the emperor.
Finally God sent that special king that everyone was excited to meet. The Messiah was God’s son, Jesus.
Jesus grew up among the people to be a rabbi, a teacher of God’s law.
When he was 12 the Israelites could already tell that he was special because he knew God very well, and when Jesus was 30 he finished studying and started telling the people how to be close to God.
Jesus knew Israel’s long and tragic history and he was had a plan to fix things. The others were expecting that he was going to set Israel free of the Roman rule, but he knew it was more important to help them on a personal level.
Many people listened to Jesus and his true interpretation of the law and their lives were changed forever. The people came to understand that they had confused God’s laws into being oppressive rules. 
They liked hearing Jesus’ teaching so much that they followed him as he traveled through the country to hear more, but other teachers of God’s Law didn’t want the Israelites to listen to Jesus.
They said Jesus was telling the law all wrong. They had the law so mixed up that they didn’t know God’s love. They hated Jesus for saying other people who were not Israelites could be included to know God’s love and they especially hated Jesus for saying that God was his father.
They didn’t believe that Jesus could be the Messiah and they started to hate him and tried to get rid of him. They arrested Jesus, hung him on a cross and laughed. They said to the people this man is not really your King. Look, we can just kill him and God isn't going to stop us.
But God's plan was still at work. Jesus already knew he had to die as part of the plan. Jesus was so special that he was able to help the people to be close to God forever on a spiritual level.
When Jesus was on that cross he took all of the shit, all our stupid decisions, all the wrong things we've ever thought or said, all the things that locks God out of our life...and he took it with him when he died.
He went to a place where he could leave all that stuff and burry it like it never even happened. Jesus is the one that has all that on his sentence, and he wanted to do it so the people could be close to God.
Then Jesus came back to the people and told them what he had done. He showed them what had been done for them; that God loves you and now nothing can stop you from being close to him ever again.

The people thanked Jesus for his sacrifice and they went to tell all the people of the world.

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So aside from a bit more appendix to start with, obviously a lot more filler content, and an epilogue, this is the important bit that you should understand. This is why people today are christians, cause they know they're one of those broken, confused, human people that can't do anything to save their own souls. But thankfully, despite our brokenness, despite our stupid decisions, and despite our total and utter humanness, Jesus has paid it all off in full. Just cause he loves you, not for anything else, not because of anymore of the law. God simply wants you to accept this gift and ask him to help you live your best life.

That is the bible in a nutshell.

So I'd love to keep talking about this, and if you have any questions lets chat in the comments.

Bible Study Roundup


In A Nutshell

What is the Bible? I give you the short version of it.

I had some things wrong

I wasted a lot of time with these ideas and fears.

Flip-through my Study Journal [VIDEO]

My own note-taking system.

Q & A

leave any questions about the bible or Christianity here.

Asking Questions as You Read

How to read the bible - Part 1

Lectio Divina

How to read the bible - Part 2