Count Your Blessings

The day before yesterday I had one of those days where you feel like throwing in the towel. Nothing was working out as it was supposed to; at least this one thing wasn’t according to me. As you can imagine, this didn’t help my mood at all. I became irritable and most of the words I uttered after that were words of sarcasm and destruction. I was a walking time bomb. Yes, my whole world was turned upside down because of this one setback. Nothing else made sense; nothing seemed beautiful or functional in my life at that instant.

Fast forward a few hours, I was seated in a bus on my way home, after treating myself to a mug of ginger lemon tea. I subconsciously started humming a song from Sunday school days, ‘Count your blessings name them one by one’.  For a while, I kept at it while my eyes busied themselves with the landscape outside the window. Then like a bang, reality checked in and I became aware of the very words I uttered. ‘Count your blessings’, I had sung, as if to someone else. Why hadn’t I done that myself? I felt a hot feeling burn through my body and I feared people might have noticed had it not been for my chocolate complexion. It was a feeling of shame as the realization hit me. I had been blessed with so many things, especially in this year. How could have forgotten about it all? How could I have behaved the way I had?

At this, I realized that even the very basics of my being were gifts. First, my life, my health: gifts I didn’t deserve. At this thought, my eyes clouded with tears of regret and blurred my view of the beauty outside. Yes, I had eyes that could see and without aid! This only made me realize how important my other basic senses were to me such as my nose, ears, and hands. How arrogant had I been to miss these kinds of blessings? I was jolted back when the bus abruptly came to a halt. The stop lasted longer than it should and I wondered why but I couldn’t turn yet for fear my neighbor would notice my tear-stained face. But when we finally started again, the reason became clear as I remembered the middle-aged man I had seen struggle with his crutches. He had one leg. I had two that could balance in high heels and take me anywhere the mind wanted to go. Yes, the mind that contained the ability to calculate numbers making me one of the few ladies that can actually handle math. And I was headed home, a luxury that those I had left seated on the streets could only dream of. Need I even mention my job? I have never felt so lowly about myself before. I felt like a spoilt brat. I could afford my needs and wants and yet I had taken it all for granted. How could I not have seen it all, how could I have missed the beauty? And with this, another beautiful realization fell on me. I was loved, loved unconditionally by He who had also given me all these. At that, I afforded a smile. That smile that people claim exposes a beautiful soul. He gave that to me too.

In the New Year, I started a new wonderful job, something I had been really praying for. I have been awarded peace of mind by learning to let go of those that had previously taken it away. For the first time in my whole life I can say that my money is actually working for me and not the other way round. The best part of it all, I had a partner that has been holding my hand and making this revolution worth the while. Life was good and I was happy. I can’t lose these dear friends, I mustn’t. No one should.

So I choose to count my blessing in every sunrise and sunset, in every smile and tear, in every storm and shine; I choose to see the good. I will write them down and stick them all around my room if that’s what it takes to remember but remember I will. So should you beloved. Let no day pass with your face downcast, look up every chance you get: let the bright stars cheer you up. Find the positive side of every occurrence lest the darkness makes you forget to live, to really live. Count them every day and you will be surprised because the fact is, even on the darkest day; the good outweigh the bad. Focus on the good the not so good will sort itself out.

Direct your face to the sunshine. This way, you cannot see the shadows.

In Loving Memory of My Grandfather

Exactly four months ago today I woke up at 6am,I could barely open my eyes ,not because of sleep but because I had cried the whole night,slept for maximum one hour at intervals.I thought it was just but a dream,a horrible one but it was not,it was true.The previous night I had received a text at almost nine pm that read, ‘Dad went to be with the Lord today at around 7 pm’, I switched of the television because I thought I had heard my own things yet it was a text.I reread the text again and confirmed my fears.I had to put a cloth in my mouth because the scream I let out would have made the neighbours come running.I fell to the floor and just cried.Tears,emotions,pain all at once.I have never felt such agony before.

My guka was no more,I was not going to see him again?what do you mean?how?why?no way…fifty thousand things ran through my head.A few minutes later after absorbing the shock I sat and started figuring out what next.I called my mother only for her not to pick her phone,I then called my brother.He had not read the message yet….’Hallo,have you heard about guka?’ he said no “guka has gone,” ,then he asked “what do you mean gone?” and I respond “he is no more’ and then there was a silence that lasted for five minutes that seemed like eternity.”OK,i will talk to you later’ was all he said and then he hung up.

I just broke down and cried,the tears kept flowing,they never stopped,the pain I couldn’t bear and there I was all alone in a world of confusion.Never in my life had i experienced loss of a person that close,I was always the one comforting others but this time around my will power failed me.

What followed after was the longest week of my life,breaking the news to more family and friends,crying endlessly and anywhere the emotions caught up with me,having to still be strong,funeral plans,tempers,drama,sigh,it was just a mess.I wanted it all to end,to go back to before,to erase that part of my life,but I surely had to face it.After we laid grandpa to rest on Friday 18th October,after a very long dramatic morning I just went to bed and blacked out,14 straight hours of sleep.It was over but it was just the beginning.

Reality now dawned on me that he actually is no more and sadly life has to move on.I had lost a pillar in my life that would never be replaced by anyone and I had to figure out how to live with that fact.You might think my grandpa and I had an all rosy relationship,but no we had a lot of thorns too,huge ones.This man was a fighter,he believed in himself,at times too much.He was a generous yet mean man,He was a teacher but also a disciplinarian.He believed in hard work and commitment,he never knew what giving up was and would throw you out to the gutters if he thought you were being a coward.What he said was final,your opinion did not matter and this is where the huge thorns in our bush of roses cropped up from.Why?because I am just like him,cut from his cloth,with most if not all his traits.As they say two people of almost same personalities will always clash especially if none wants to give in which in this case neither of us was willing to stoop for the other.

We loved each other too much that our disagreements were our way of expressing love to each other.Unfortunately I got to understand this when he was gone,when I had no option of going to see him or not because there was no one to see.Now I wake up every morning and wish I had visited more and fought with him less,shared a little more laughs but you know what i can not live in regrets

It has taken me so much courage to write this,I even teared as i wrote it down,but I have now come to the realization that you are in a better place now,a place where you are not unwell or in pain,a place where all you do is rest and enjoy,not toil hard.I miss you a lot,there are days I am down and others I just smile because I know you are looking out for me.I miss our happy days,I miss you being there on Christmas to send for sheep to be slaughtered for us to celebrate.I miss the presents,I miss being asked “and so, and then,”,I even miss our fights(because no one can put a challenge like yours),I miss the comments,I miss just knowing you are there even when I haven’t seen you in a while,I miss everything about you because you were unique.

To me you not only were my grandfather but also played the role of my father dutifully.I will always love you and treasure you.So now four months on I celebrate you,you were truly a legendary and have left a great legacy behind,that I as your granddaughter will proudly carry on.Image

So called life

Many are the times we take life for granted, we think that it is ‘our right’ to live ,the fact that I woke up today is cliché and just another day. We choose when to appreciate it and when to curse it .Well the fact that you and I are alive today is as a result of God being gracious and granting us a gift of life. Recently I have had to make several hospital visits to see unwell friends and family and watching them lie on those beds weak and helpless has made me see life in a totally different perspective. One day they were healthy, up and about, the next they can barely move because their systems are not properly functioning. Standing there watching them while holding back my tears made me think so much about life -how we plan our lives ,see the future, simulate it and even see the outcomes. Everything looks perfect, everything adds up and nothing seems to be a hindrance. We forget that anything can happen, life can make a 360 degrees change and make your dreams not come to pass.

Now I am not saying we shouldn’t plan for the future, but hey, we need to appreciate the moment of now. We need to love the life we are living and if not make the best out of it. Love unconditionally, compliment and appreciate where need be, dance in the rain, make a stranger smile, forgive and mend bridges ………because we do not know what the future holds. The people in our lives today may not be there tomorrow, the opportunity today may not be available tomorrow; the breath of fresh air today may be your last.

One of the persons I was going to see in the hospital happens to be very close to me. With both of us having same personalities, a few times we have clashed, thus we chose to live separate lives. But seeing them lie there made me ask myself a few questions, ‘what if they don’t make it out alive and I haven’t mended fences? What if? What if? What if?”…there and then I knew I had to forgive them. Forgiveness happens to be one great virtue that is hard to uphold but it also sets you free from a lot of baggage. In Matthew 6:14-15, the bible says ‘For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”Forgiveness releases a weight of your shoulder and allows you to live happily and breathe easily.

I am learning in life to appreciate the little I have and also make the most out of everything. It takes a strong person to say sorry, and an ever stronger person to forgive. But forgiving is not forgetting. It’s letting go of the hurt,letting go of the past and beginning again. It isn’t forgetting the pain that was caused. It’s simply forgiving, moving on, living and loving again. To hold on to the hurt is to deprive yourself and someone else of a beautiful relationship.


RISING ABOVE OUR FEARS

Recently I attended a youth camp at my church that was an eye opening experience.Initially I had decided not to attend the camp.Having been in the planning team there reached a point it had gotten too frustrating to handle.With logistics to work with,people signing up but not paying,others dropping out,pressure from the boss to have the request for monies ready,i had actually decided ….’what the heck’. Despite all this hurdles I eventually went for the camp and I guess that was one great decision I have made in a while.

During our last day at the camp we had a team building activity -I have done team building before but not of this nature.Our first activity involved lifting up a person,with your palm…yes palm,You place your palm on the persons mid body and lift them up.In no way are you supposed to grasp them,you just put pressure on your palm and lift them up .How the heck do you do that?Well it is actually possible and we did it,to our amazement.It was all a matter of our mindset and attitude towards the challenge,and with a positive attitude ,strategy and faith we actually did it.It did not matter the height or weight of the person.

So our next challenge is what made me view life in a totally different perspective.The challenge was a trust fall.A trust fall is a purported trust-building game often conducted as a group exercise in which a person deliberately allows themselves to fall, relying on the other members of the group (spotters) to catch the person.Someone stands on an elevated position (such as a stage, stepping stool or tree stump) and relies on multiple people to catch the person. This is potentially dangerous and therefore it is all the more crucial to have the rest of the group in position and ready to catch him/her before s/he steps onto the platform.What??As in??I HATE HEIGHTS,I DO NOT LIKE THEM AT ALL,NO WAY AM I GOING TO DO THIS.This were the thoughts that ran through my head.I was in no way going to do it,but you know what,it was a compulsory exercise and it had to be done.I let my team mates first do it and with every fall I knew i am not cut out for it.Finally it came to my turn as my team mates had all done it.’YOU CAN DO THIS,YOU CAN’T DO THIS,LET’S TRY,LET’S NOT DO THIS’,heart racing,blooding pumping hard,I finally decided to do it.

I finally get onto the log,and my feet freeze,my knees start paining and I cannot move a muscle.I wanted to get down as soon as possible,but the only way out was to jump,I couldn’t do it.I then went into a panic and broke down.”You can do this Anne ,”they all cheered on,”we will hold you,we have your back”( like literally),but none of this made me confident enough to jump.I had to gather my thoughts and master the courage and do it.So they were all silenced,i took in several deep breaths,had our facilitator make the call for me and yessssss i finally did it.I JUMPED ,I jumped and my teammates were there to hold me,as they applauded my victory.That was the longest three minutes of my life but I had overcome,I had won ,I had conquered,I was an achiever.

Life is basically about overcoming challenges,stretching yourself to extreme limits and venturing into new territory and finally overcoming,It’s about taking risk.I took the risk and overcame my fear of heights and was able to be confident enough to jump into the unknown.At times you have to listen to the people around you,their words of encouragement and also those of discouragement and chose what to work with.Other times you have to listen to yourself,that voice deep inside that tells you,”you can do this,you are ready,you will make it” .You have to  follow your heart and your gut instinct,then make a decision.Eventually the feeling that comes with overcoming is relief ,content,achievement success and the drive to conquer a greater challenge.trust_fall

My encouragement to you is to let go of your fears and take the risk,get out of your comfort zone and try the extraordinary.“The only thing that stands between you and your dream is the will to try and the belief that it is actually possible.” – Joel Brown.

The message is love

On Sunday I sat through a sermon that was speaking about living with temptation-in indulgencies and I picked a point that struck me head on. People get into vices as a result of a past experience but we fail to help them back on track because we, especially Christians are quick to judge and give an opinion instead of loving them. The word Love has different meanings; it can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from interpersonal affection to pleasure. It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment. It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection—”the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. It may also be described as compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one’s self or animals. In terms of interpersonal attraction, four forms of love have traditionally been distinguished, based on ancient Greek precedent: the love of kinship or familiarity(storge), the love of friendship(philia), the love of sexual or romantic desire(eros), and self-emptying or divine love (agape).

Agape love; that’s it! This is the kind of love I seek to delve deeper into. I sought to look for the Bible’s perspective on Love (I like the message version of the Bible; it has a way of bringing the word closer home.) This is what it says in 1st Corinthians 13:

1If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our Imageincompletes will be canceled.

11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

This for me was enough definition of what true love is. It is about accepting people for who they are, with their flaws and making better persons of them. We are always quick to judge others and point the accusing finger yet we never seek to find out the root cause. It is about selflessness and giving oneself fully even when we are not receiving anything in return. It’s about never giving up on those we care about, but also not forcing ourselves on them. It’s about biting our tongue and not saying words that will destroy the other person, even when a beating serves them right. In 1st Peter 4:8(The Message) it says – ….Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes! Embrace your brother and sister with love; it covers a multitude of sin.

I actually do not need to add any more insights about love. The Bible explains it all. May we learn to exercise love as God intended and we will be able to live well with each other. After all it’s a command as in Matthew 22:36-40 (English Standard Version -ESV) 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Moving forward to greater heights

I am saddened by the sad realization that many people are not able to experience their full potential because they have chosen to hold on to the past.Learning to let go is a really big challenge in their lives .It involves abandonment and trust-believing in an unseen being and trusting Him to grant you the desires of your heart, that is faith(…. faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen-Hebrews 11:1). As  humans we tend to hold on to our past experiences,our past successes,our past failures,our past beautiful memories and the traumatic ones too and forget about the present. We refuse to live in ‘the now’ and hold on to the past.But for how long?When will we accept the things that have happened,already happened and nothing can be changed?

I have come to learn over a period of time that everything I experience today is as a result of choices that I have made in the past and so I have to take personal responsibility over my life.This means taking full responsibility-100% charge of the things happening to me(no blaming of anyone or situations). I determine the outcome of who I will be and I should not let the circumstances surrounding my life determine who I will end up being.

Anyway back to the main point,in order to move forward we have to let go of baggage.But letting go comes with forgiving, facing head on the painful past, accepting that it happened and dealing with it,moving out of the familiar into the unknown,letting go comes with intentional effort to be free.It is not a one day experience that you can just switch off,it takes perseverance ,patience and a positive outlook toward life.Just as gold goes through a process of refining to become a priceless gem so do our lives.Remember, refining does not come from listening to sermons or reading the Bible. It comes from being exposed to difficult situations and enduring affliction.

The process in which we undergo the pain makes us better, wiser, stronger and well equipped.Until we accept to go through the pain(and not sweep it under the carpet),face issues head on (instead of running away) we will always live the same unfulfilled life,same cycles,same trend.True courage is build by endurance ,it creates something positive out of our suffering.I pray that we can be like Ruth in the bible(Ruth  1-4),after losing her husband, left her family to go to a foreign unknown land with her mother in law.Ruth had a determined heart and the Lord honoured her faith to move away from all that was familiar and take a journey toward the completely unknown.She did not allow her surroundings or the excuse of her dark past to keep her from a bright future.Eventually Ruth became of the lineage of King David(a man after God’s own heart) and Jesus Christ(The son of God).

Our past experiences are meant to be lessons to make us better people,but dwelling on them hinders us from progress.You can either choose to stay fully bound up in your past, continue to throw pity parties and blame everyone and everything for your miseries – or you can choose to rise up and make a brand new fresh start with the Lord by choosing to fully surrender your entire life into His hands – and then work with Him to get your past fully cleaned up so that you can then start to fully live in the present again, and then fly into the divine destiny that He has already planned out for your life.Read more: http://www.bible-knowledge.com/letting-go-of-your-past/#ixzz2XzL7iNyW

It is high time we let go of  our past ,accept  the situation,forgive ourselves  and gladly move into a new territory.May God grant us the courage to let go and move on,to use our experiences as pillars that will strengthen us and may we soar on to greater heights.

Sunshine after the rain

Sunshine after the rain

After going through the storms and challenges of life I have discovered that this life is not for the faint-hearted but for the brave who when they fall down,they rise,dust themselves of and try again,only this time wiser than before.Being a young person in this world pauses a lot of challenges and at times the energy to fight is little or not even there,but being a young-christian pauses more challenges because the standards and expectations are set very high.

There are days I have chosen to walk away from God,put my faith down and choose to use my own energy only to run back ,frail,tired and more lost than I was before.But GOD(this statement holds a lot of weight )…..Has always been there ,watched me go in circles ,run an endless race ,put in energy to a futile cause and patiently waited for me to come back home.He has received me gladly welcomed me with open arms like the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). I am assured that his plans for my life are greater than I see,greater than I dream and greater than I could fathom.

I wish we all could experience this kind of peace that comes with the realization that there is someone who cares for us and will love us truly and unconditionally.Be encouraged that despite how way ward you may have gone ,how unworthy you feel there is someone who loves you for who you are. That after the storms and the rains there is sunshine to enjoy,relax and busk in .