Attempting Authenticity

pursuing an authentic life
March 20th, 2014 by africanstardust

A Second Chance


I’ve been going back to the beginning with a lot of things in my life. I view this as a rather brilliant opportunity to redo things, a second chance. I have this semester to really focus on studying Greek and Hebrew, without the pressure of having to be ready for each class and keep up with current content. I get to sit in the library for hours and study, and fill in the gaps that I somehow missed along the way. I get to go home and practice flute, exercising those otherwise little used muscles, getting my tone and flexibility back to where it was. I get to redo the things in my life that caused me a lot of stress and unhappiness because I lost sight of why I was doing them. Now that that inspiration is back…it’s incredible.

I forgot, somewhere, that I actually adore Greek. I forgot that learning Hebrew used to literally make me cry because of how deep it is that I get to learn the language of the Bible. I forgot that I used to actually know what was going on in Greek. I felt confident and I was getting good marks. What happened? Who knows…first year can be hectic, especially if you move away from home and have to learn to be an adult very quickly. Maybe I got overwhelmed. Maybe insecurities got the best of me. Either way, I took a wrong turn somewhere. But now I’m getting a second chance, which is, I have discovered, not a normal part of adult life, and I’m going to make the best of it.

All this to say…if you have areas in your life that you view as failures, or an area where you’ve been defeated and it makes you cringe just thinking about it, don’t lose hope. Give it back to God see what He does with it. Our lives are meant to be lives of victory, not of despair and defeat. Get up again. Try again. All is not lost.

March 17th, 2014 by africanstardust

The Ink in My Veins


I have started writing poetry again.

For a very long time now, I haven’t had the heart to touch the poetic pen, so to speak. Poetry is deep – when you write it, the ink doesn’t just go onto the paper and that’s that. It’s as though the ink is drawn from your soul, and you are putting a little piece of that eternal being onto paper, exposing it to air and possibly also the eyes of others. It’s no small thing. And for a while, I haven’t wanted to go that deep into myself – I was tired of it; not poetry, but the mirror. I’ve written about the past few months and how things have affected me, for the better, and how it was deep and trying and difficult. After something like that, it takes a while to voluntarily delve into that place again, even if you know it’s much lighter and cleaner than the last time you visited.

Some people tell us that poetry has rules and rhyme and meter and that if your poem doesn’t fit the rules, it’s not real poetry. Pardon my arrogance, but I can’t for the life of me understand why someone would say that. Who made the rules, anyway? Yes, there is poetry that has rhyme and meter, and that’s lovely, and kudos to you if you write like that, but just because a poem doesn’t fit a rhyme scheme or isn’t intertextual doesn’t mean it’s not poetry. Poetry is what my soul wants to say. If it doesn’t sound like the soul of Whitman or Keats or NP van Wyk Louw, then that’s good, because I’m not them.  Bad luck if my poems don’t fit some constructed standard and if I never get my writing into an anthology or collection, but that isn’t the point. The point is to write. And write I will.

February 3rd, 2014 by africanstardust

Bam. Giant Awakened.

IMG_0049I have been in and out of the city for the past few weeks, but now I’m back again to stay and I’m ready. I’m ready for the year, I’m ready for challenges, I’m ready to climb a mountain and hack a path and destroy the ring and kill the bad guy and all that. Last week I went to my church again, and they were in the middle of a series about the life of Joseph, and the title for that Sunday was “Consecration: Defeating the enemies of your dream.”

The sermon was spectacular, but that title really stuck with me. Defeating the enemies of your dream. There is something very tangible about putting it that way. I have dreams, dreams that God has put there, and those dreams have enemies. And I have to defeat the enemies of my dreams.

What are the enemies of your dreams?

I can name a few of mine. Things that instantly rose to the surface when I read the title. It was like my mind was throwing them at me in desperation. “Look! Here they are! These are the enemies of your dreams. Are you going to do something about it or let them destroy your dreams? They’re here, with me, and there’s a war. What are you going to do about it?”

Fear. Insecurity. Fear again. The kind of fear that goes deep, deep down into the recesses of your soul, so deep that you can’t trace its origin anymore and you only know where it comes from because you know fear can only come from the Father of Lies himself. The irony is, I’m more afraid of myself than anything else. You know that popular quote by Marianne Williamson:

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate; our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

flower-51726_640Well, only this year have I discovered that it’s actually true. I am terrified that if I let myself out of the little cage of safety and peace and unfreedom, and let myself unfurl these wings I’ve got and spread them as far as they can go, I might do something stupid.

If I no longer believe that I am below average, not quite there, not quite as pretty, not quite as smart, not quite as creative…well…what might I do? Will I go berserk? Will I go wild and lose control? Will I betray myself? Will I betray my Savior?

I am forced to admit that I have built a prison of fear around myself. I have already betrayed myself, because I took the enemy’s lies and declared them true. I spoke them in agreement with him over my soul. But there is a greater truth: we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self control. 2 Timothy 1:7. That’s right. Self control. And I kind of can’t believe I didn’t see the answer right there in front of me before, but there it is.

Bam. Giant awakened.

And so I renounce what I spoke over myself. I renounce my agreement with the enemy. I renounce the fear I allowed him to use to bind me up in a “safe”, controlled cage. I refuse to fear. I refuse to not be free. And I refuse to keep on entertaining the enemies of my dreams. And I can do this because God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self control.

January 29th, 2014 by africanstardust

You Are Beautiful: Part 2

I don’t have flaws. Ha! What a freeing thing to say. I don’t have flaws, I have differences. Let us not be another generation taken in by the world’s flawed definitions.

I will be real. I will be the beautiful that I am.

Instagram filters, photo editing, lighten exposure and add contrast. Why do we spend so much time taking away the things that make us human? That make us look real? Photography as an art is one thing, but must we edit every selfie, every profile picture?

578317_10201177694108591_22046003_nGuess what: I’m a human being. I have blood in my body. When I blush, when I’m warm, when I’m experiencing some beautiful human emotion like love or anger or happiness, my cheeks redden. I am healthy and I am able to perspire – let’s call it what it is – sweat. My face can have a healthy glow. It’s not excess oil, it’s being alive and able to get rid of toxins.

And speaking of excess oil: know where it comes from? When you’re a teenager, it’s caused by your hormones. Your hormones. Not things to be hated or suppressed, but the things that enable you to grow and develop. They’re good and healthy and are a beautiful part of the human experience.  Why do we insist on hating our own natural assets?

Where did your definition of beauty come from? I’ll tell you. It came from the TV, the magazines, every media image all around you every moment of the day. Because when you look at a mountain, it’s jagged, but you never think “if that crack was gone or it was smoother, it would be really beautiful.” No, you don’t even question its beauty. Why do you question yours?

406663_10200470189861427_1229666087_nWho decided what a flaw is? Who decided that the things that make me stand out from you and you from me aren’t unique beauty marks, but flaws? Who decided that a good way to get people to embrace their own beauty is to say “Your flaws are what make you beautiful”?

I don’t have flaws. Ha! What a freeing thing to say. I don’t have flaws, I have differences. Let us not be another generation taken in by the world’s flawed definitions. We aren’t flawed, their standards are. Be healthy. Be real. Be the beautiful that you are.

Click here for Part 1.

January 28th, 2014 by africanstardust

The Fellowship of the Ring: Chapter 2

The shadow of the past: Ok, so last time we left off with Gandalf leaving Frodo behind after a warning to keep the ring hidden. Now we fast forward a little bit. In the movies, it seems like Frodo leaves not more than a few weeks after Bilbo left, but in the book it is clear that it’s more like twelve or so years. Every year, Frodo still throws a birthday party for his uncle because he knows he’s still alive. The other hobbits begin to think that he’s just as crazy as his uncle – nice, and rich, but crazy. Frodo takes to walking alone at night and it is suspected that he goes to visit the Elves nearby, but it’s possible that he just likes walking alone. Introverts don’t do well in the Shire, I guess.

Sam, Merry, Frodo, and Pippin: from

Sam, Merry, Frodo, and Pippin: from

He has three close friends – Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry), who we have met already, Peregrine Took (Pippin), and Samwise Gamgee, who is also his gardener. Other than that he seems to find the company of the older Hobbits boring, and likes hanging out with the younger crowd, probably because they still have imaginations  and a sense of adventure. We also see that Frodo is somewhat restless, always looking at maps, always dreaming of having his own adventure.

And then, about twelve years after the night Bilbo went on his merry way, Gandalf returns. He is older and looks like he has a lot on his mind, and he doesn’t waste a lot of time before telling Frodo his concerns. It all comes out in the open now: his suspicion about the ring, how he thinks Gollum got a hold of it, and why he’s concerned. He explains to Frodo that the nine men who received rings of power have become shadows of men and their sole purpose is to hunt down the One Ring. Some of the Dwarves who got rings have been killed, while others are still alive, but in danger. He also says that while the three Elven rings are safe for now, if the one who made all the rings gets the One Ring back, he can control all the others.

Sauron: from

Sauron: from

Now we learn about Sauron, who is the Lord of the Rings. I decided to include a bit of a backstory here, so if you don’t care and just want to hear about The Lord of the Rings, skip this paragraph. Basically, when Arda (the world of Tolkien, in which Middle-earth is one of the continents) was created by the “head” god, Eru, there were several demi gods (Ainur) who helped. One of these was named Melkor, and he started doing his own thing and thinking that he was better than Eru. He became prideful and evil, and eventually he left ‘heaven’ to establish his own kingdom on Arda. I won’t cover this because that’s why Tolkien wrote The Silmarillion, but essentially Sauron was his successor. He’s caused trouble before, and in the previous age he was defeated, but now his power is returning because he can’t be killed while the One Ring still exists. When he made it, he tied his soul and his power to it, so that’s why he’s still alive. Okay. Lore lesson over :) But I would strongly recommend reading The Silmarillion where all this is covered, or at least reading a synopsis!

Frodo, of course, is terrified. But at the same time it is clear that the ring is beginning to have a hold on him, too: he is fifty now but doesn’t look a day over 33, and he doesn’t want to think of the ring being destroyed, even while he’s asking Gandalf why it hasn’t been destroyed. And now on to Gollum. Gollum has apparently been looking for Bilbo for a while, and had even become the new terror of Mirkwood for a while (if you’ve read The Hobbit this should give you some insight into how terrifying Gollum can be, because Mirkwood is not unicorn land). Gandalf and another person we’ll meet soon, Aragorn, tracked him down eventually and discovered, to their horror, that the Enemy (Sauron) had captured him and found out where the Ring was.

Lesson number 1 in adventuring: never tell anyone your real name or where you’re really from, especially when stealing their magic rings.

Clearly the Ring has to be destroyed. Frodo tries – he thinks he can destroy it in his own fire – but he can’t. Already the Ring has a hold on him, too.

“You see? Already you too, Frodo, cannot easily let it go, nor will to damage it…But as for breaking the Ring, force is useless. Even if you took it and struck it with a heavy sledge-hammer, it would make no dint in it. It cannot be unmade by your hands, or by mine…There is only one way: to find the Cracks of Doom in the depths of Orodruin, the Fire-mountain, and cast the Ring in there, if you really wish to destroy it, to put it beyond the grasp of the Enemy forever.” (Gandalf, 59-60)

Just like Bilbo, Frodo tries to give the ring to Gandalf. But Gandalf refuses. “Do not tempt me!” he says. “For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself.”

Frodo knows he must leave. At this point, he isn’t thinking of destroying the Ring; he only knows that Sauron will find him if he stays in the Shire. And so we end Chapter II with the exciting but sad prospect of Frodo and Sam leaving the Shire and taking the Ring into hiding.

Click here to view all the posts in this series.

The One Ring: from

The One Ring: from

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