Thursday, 25 February 2010

Wide Open Spaces

 

This is part of the scenery which is a stone throw away from the backyard of where I live. I took this picture this morning when I went for a walk, I could not resist because it was breath taking and refreshing. I love taking walks in scenic environments like this because I get to enjoy the beauty of nature and its always a conducive environment for me to have a heart to heart talk with God. I also get to clear my head and it has a calming effect on me.

In a week or so my life will be entering a different phase, a good one but one which I am a bit nervous about. I have found my self complaining constantly about some of the challenges and hassles I have been going through in relation to this change, being negative and not being too optimistic or having confidence in myself. Yesterday I was just like 'girl you have to stop being ungrateful, this change in your life is a good thing and a blessing but you are acting as if its not'. So this morning I went for a long walk, chatted with God and I found myself counting my blessings. Now I feel great. I am glad I took time out to clear my head. I have so much to be grateful for and here are some of the things that I am grateful for :
  •  I have an awesome family. Although we have gone through many rough patches over the years it seems God was refining us and now we have a lot to shout about.
  • I have made a lot of special friends over the years. I could write pages and pages about my friends. Some I met at school, some at varsity, some at work, some started out as pen-pals and so on. I have been amazed time and time again how these special people have been there for me on various occasions - distance being no hindrance. With some of my friends no matter how long we have not been in touch when we do get in touch we pick up right from were we left off and its as if we have always been in touch. 
  • I am blessed to know God  and what His Word says about me. Because of that I can hold my head up high knowing that I am more than a conqueror, that the Lord is my provider hence I shall not want (Psalm 23) and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
  • I am healthy
  • I have a job that many people would love to have which God just gave to me when I least expected it.
  • I do not lack of anything. I have food to eat everyday and a roof over my head.
Yes, I have a lot to be thankful for. The Lord has been more than good to me.

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Danger of a single story

Image of African Princess from here

I came across this interesting video on CNN containing a speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a well known Nigerian writer, at a seminar sometime ago. I urge you to listen to her speech here , I thought it was a good speech and very enlightening . There are number of things that she said that got to me.

She talked about how when she was growing up she read mostly English and American books and how that affected the way she thought and saw things. I related a lot to what she was saying.
I have always been a bit of a book worm. Growing up I loved reading and read most of the books I could get my hands on. Like Chimamanda most of the books I had access to were English and American ones. I read the Nancy Drews, Hardy Boys, Enid Blyton books, Grims Fairy Tales, Hans Anderson Fairy Tales etc. Looking back I now realize that this in a way robbed me of something. I am not saying that it was bad reading these books because they helped mold me into an ambitious person who even  today hungers for more out of life but had I been exposed to more African themed books the way I saw life in general then would have been more balanced. My imaginations were full of long haired princesses like Rapunzel and gallant princes who lived in castles and rode horses and never kinky haired princes and princesses yet still even boys and girls living the life I lived in Africa. In a way I feel that I never really got to appreciate that the kind of life I lived, though different, was as good or maybe even better in some respects than that portrayed in the books I read. Yes, my world did not have the white Christmases I read about or associate Christmas with turkey dinners or have big houses with toy filled nurseries like the one Amelia Jane one of Enid Blyton's character's lived in etc but it still had a lot to offer and I was blessed. Those many holidays we went to our rural home and we would go into the forests to search for wild fruits and fire wood, go swimming in the rivers, help with herding the cattle and sit under the cool shadows of mango or guava trees eating their fruits in the hot African sun - those were special adventures on their own - unique and different. Its just that I took them for granted when I should not have. God made a diverse world, with different people who have different life styles - that is the beauty of it all. Imagine a world where all the people would have been the same, doing the same things wouldn't that have been boring? 

Another thing that Chimamanda talked about was the way that some people in the 'developed nations' view Africa.She gave an example of an American room mate who was shocked that she even knew Mariah Carey. I tell you this lady is hilarious she also told of how after someone read one of her books told her that it was sad that most African men were abusers and she responded saying that she had recently read a book about an American Psycho man and it was a sad that American men were psychos.
I have met people who seemed to walk on eggshells around me because they were afraid of offending me or sounding too boastful 'considering the life I had lived in Africa'. I have had people ask me if it was safe moving about because of the wild animals or if it was difficult growing up without much. Some people assume being from Africa automatically means I grew up without having enough and this happens to be a wrong assumption. I do not 100% blame people who think like this though, the media portrays Africa as a backward place associated with hunger, poverty and disease. Rarely does the media tell how beautiful it is or portray the good things about the continent.

No doubt one sided stories are dangerous. Listening to this lady's speech reminded me how important it is not to make judgments or reach conclusions based on single story/event/happening. There is usually more to discover and know than what meets the eye. Let us desire to have wisdom and insight (for it is a good thing) so that we do not  fall into the trap of  making conclusions on a single story. (Proverbs 4:5 - Get wisdom and get insight).

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Whiskey Lullaby

 

Image from here

Brad Paisley is one of my favorite singers. I particularly love this song of his because I happen to find it very sweet and it makes me smile. Sometimes I cannot help but play it several times before moving on to the next song on my i pod.
Brad also has another song called Whiskey Lullaby which he sang with Allison Krauss. It is a very catchy song. When ever I listen to this song it makes me feel very sad but despite this there was a time when I would play it over and over again. I could not help it. But then the more I listened to it the more depressed I would get. In the end I decided to stop listening to the song so much because it was affecting me negatively. Why do this to myself when I can listen to other songs (including Brad's) which could lift up me up instead of down? Do you have any songs/movies etc which make you feel sad/down but for some reason you seem to like listening to or watching them?

Some people may think that it is crazy but I have come to understand that what I fed into my mind affects me in every way and begins to dominate my thoughts. In return what dominates my thoughts is what I become (Proverbs 23: 7 - As a man thinketh so is he...). It is like a chain reaction. That is why I try as much as possible to be selective of things that I read, watch, listen to etc. This year one of the things I am working on is to sow the Word of God in my spirit. The Word of God has creative power and what I speak shapes my tomorrow that is why I have resolved to feed myself with the word of God such that it becomes a part of me and I begin to speak it and in turn it makes me what it talks about. This has meant making sacrifices on my part. For those of you who know me I love watching movies and could spend the whole day watching one movie after the other. In order for me to make progress I am making it a habit of listening to sermons, watching Christian movies, and reading the Bible as well as various Christian material more than I used to. I am happy with my progress because I find myself remembering
more scriptures and speaking differently.

Please pray for me as I continue to sow the Word of God in my spirit and as I learn to make the Word the final authority in all I do.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Oh Yes!!!!!!!!I am loved

For neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord' Romans 8:37 -39.

I never cease to be amazed and blown away every time I read this scripture. Imagine nothing absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God. It doesn't matter what I did, what I did not do - it doesn't matter what I think of myself or what others think of me - the King of Kings loves me. He loved me so much that He was willing to give up what he loved the most - His son so that He could die for me on the cross that I may have everlasting life(Romans 8:32).

I do not know about you but as for me I live every single day knowing that I am loved and nothing and nobody can take away that love from me. Its a kind of love that is unconditional and is forever and unlike the other kinds of love I have experienced, loves that where conditional and I lived in fear of losing. At least with God I can never doubt His love for me. It is valentine everyday with Him.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

I have got to have this thing working in me

I have been a Christian all my life but I have never really understood what grace was or appreciated its importance until I listened to a tape called Increased Grace by my pastor, Pastor Chris. I was used to saying and hearing statements like ‘May the grace of God be with you’ but had anyone asked me to talk about grace I would not have had much to say. As far as I was concerned grace was the favor of God which God gives to us even though we do not deserve it – but there is more.
What is grace then? I love the way Pastor explains it. He explains that there is nothing wrong with the most common definition of grace ‘unmerited favor’ but that definition is very limiting and does not give justice to what grace is. Grace is the divine influence under heart reflected in life outwardly or simply put; it is the outworking of an inward divine influence. God places something on the inside of us through His Word or the Holy Spirit and this reflects on the outside. Some of the things grace gives are advantage, acceptability, favor and joy. With acceptability something about a person draws people to him/her, for no apparent reason people tend to like that person and would go out of their way to assist or do something for them. Favor – a person with grace does not struggle because good is turned towards them. Where others struggle to accomplish something and they have to plead and sweat it out, for the one with grace they do not have to go through that, actually whatever it is may actually find them without them having to put much effort.
This is just a tip of an iceberg of what pastor said in his message but by the time I was half way through the message my whole being was shouting ‘God, I have got to have this thing working in me’. Since then I make it a point to make myself aware of the presence of grace in my life for instance by making declarations that I have grace working in me, because one of the things that Pastor Chris emphasized in his message was that it is important to be conscious of grace in order for it to work. Failure to recognize grace causes it to fade but the more you recognize it and allow it to operate the more it will increase because grace reproduces more grace. I can tell you the results in my life since I became conscious of grace working in me have been astounding and I am not looking back, I want this grace to continue working in me and for me.
Sometime ago I became friends with someone. I noticed that wherever we went people seemed to generally like my friend. People would come up to her and a start conversation and many times people she barely knew would open up to her, tell her personal stuff and ask for her advice. When I always asked her how she did that she would always tell me it was grace working in her. At one time she was late in handing in an assignment but her lecturer had been understanding and had not given her a penalty. Later on she told me that other people who had handed in their assignments late had been penalized by having marks deducted. I did not have to ask I just knew that it was grace right there. Who would not want to have this wonderful thing working in them?

Monday, 8 February 2010

The Runaway English Priest


Source of Picture here

Its a brand new week and I have had a wonderful start to the week. Yesterday we had a prayer day at church and I must say I had a blessed time and did not want the service to end.

Anyway, back to the topic of the run away English priest. There is an English drama called Ballykissangel that I follow on TV. It is set in Ireland and is about a Catholic priest who moves from Manchester to a small town called Ballykissangel. As it turns out Father Clifford (that's the priest's name) had left Manchester because he had started developing feelings for a certain young woman and she had felt the same way for him. When he moved to BallyK things started out well until he met one of the local women. At first they were just good friends and slowly they fell in love. It was very interesting seeing how they struggled when they were around each other and how Father Clifford did all he could to get over his feelings for this lady including going away for a retreat so that he could clear his head.
As I watched one episode after the other I kept thinking 'Oh father Clifford if you run away again you are likely to find yourself in this situation again , you better work it out once and for all'. Haven't we all been like Father Clifford at some point in our lives? Is running way from problems always the solution? Isn't it better to deal with an issue once and for all and then know that that door is closed? It is unfortunate that a lot of times the issues that we leave open or unsolved tend to pop up untimely and we regret having not dealt with them sooner. Watching BallyK is acting as a remainder to me that running away is not always the answer to any problem that I may face. Lord, give me the wisdom to be able to act rightly when faced with situations that need dealing with for only you know the best way to handle all things.

I am now sitting on the edge of my seat because this time around Father Clifford has decided to deal head on with the situation, and I wonder how things are going to end up for him. The last time I watched he was re-thinking a lot of things like his calling to be a Father and if maybe it was best for him to leave the priesthood. His struggle to evaluate the situation is so evident but at least he has decided to confront something that could continue recurring in his life. Dealing with our issues may not always be easy but most times it is the best way to move forward on a clean slate with no shadows overhanging above us.

Friday, 5 February 2010

When letting go means total trust

Time and time again we have things that we do not want to let go of, I know I do. I remember one particular time when I did not want to let go of something. The worst part is that I did not want to be talked into letting go of this thing. My friends tried, my family tried but there I was still holding on. Besides feeling that the thing was not right for me and I knew in my heart that I had to let go - I kept holding on because I was too scared of what would happen if I took a step in different direction. But thankfully God was insistent - the situation got to a point where I had no choice but to let go and I am glad that I did.

This is just but one example. I am someone who occasionally struggles with letting go of things but in recent months I have learnt a very important lesson that it is only when I let go that God can fully work in my life. Those things that seem important to me, that I want so bad that at times I get angry at God for not giving them to me when I expect them, come between God and me causing a rift between us. I have on a number of occasions questioned myself as to whether I put what I want first before God such that I only see God as a means of getting what I want and when I do not I get angry, begin to question His love for me or wander away from Him. Jeremiah 17: 7 -8 is one verse that always speaks to me
' Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord, He is like a tree planted by the water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when the heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit'.
I am supposed to put my trust in the Lord and love Him for who He is and not only what He can do for me. The dreams and desires that I have the Lord knows, I mean I have told him a thousand times and He heard me all right the first I asked - what I need to do is to trust him completely and leave the fulfillment into His hands. H e knows me more than I know myself and hence knows whats best for me, He is the alpha and omega meaning he has peeped into my future and can tell what would be right or wrong for me - there is no better person to trust than Him. It is only when I get to a point when I can say 'God, this is what I want. I'd love for things to go this way. You know what's in my heart. If this is not Your best for me, God I am fine with it because I know You have something better in store' Joel Osteen, that I would have reached a certain level of Christian maturity.

When we let go and trust that God will do whats best for us we open doors for Him to work in our lives. This is one thing I want to do everyday - to let go of all my concerns, dreams, desires totally trusting God to take care of them and me such that however things turn out I will still love Him and not doubt His perfect will for my life. I can never go wrong when God is steering this ship.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Officially a blogger - My first post (ever)

For a long time now I have been contemplating whether to have a blog or not. Today it suddenly hit me - why not? I came across a quote yesterday but have totally forgotten where I saw it but the person who wrote it was saying that they can not be good at everything but when they do find what they are good at they will not miss the chance to do that thing. This got me thinking. I love writing and so why not do what I love I asked myself. Over the years I have written stories, journals and when I read them today I am amazed at the way I saw things. In a nutshell I am glad I wrote those things, I saved precious memories of my life which otherwise I probably would have forgotten today or would not remember well.

The main purpose of this blog is to record my thoughts and feelings as I take my journey through life dancing with God. Yes, dancing and not only walking with God. I like the idea of seeing my everyday life as a dance with God such that each day I learn more and more to dance according to His tune and not mine. I take my relationship with God seriously and make it my priority to live by the greatest commandment Jesus mentioned in Mark 12: 30-31 -'And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all soul and with all your mind and with all your strength...You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'

I have many blogs that I follow and I am amazed at how much reading about other people's lives and thoughts inspires me and teaches me a lot of stuff. These people have touched my life, at times carrying me through difficult situations and yet they did not even know it. I hope that this blog will be able do the same for other people.

Happy reading.

The Good Changes

Perhaps I am a person of contradictions but here is the thing – I like doing new things but I am not a huge fan of change. I like planning ...