Full but not Fulfilled!

After returning from traveling, I was day 8 in mandatory hotel quarantine. I managed to remain sane although time was dragging.

I’m a woman who has always loved her food. I enjoy my food but I don’t enjoy cooking. I do some cooking because I can’t eat without cooking, but cooking is not just my passion! So one plus for me being in quarantine was not having to cook; food was brought to my door, I would get it from the hotel worker at my door, bring it in and have a feast where no one was watching, just me, furniture and food! I would eat and throw the containers away, not washing dishes! Great, I could do with some laziness, however, that came with its own disadvantages. Though I was enjoying my lazy meals, the food was not something that I would normally choose to eat when I’m at home because I have my own recipes. I was served with fancy meals like, to name just a few;

Lemon-infused Scottish salmon with garlic, paprika-roasted kale

British beef burger with Lancashire Bomb melted cheese, smoked streaky bacon and chilli mayo, served with hand-cut chips, rib-eye steak, baby vine tomatoes and tenderstem broccoli, served with a green peppercorn sauce chicken shawarma, Tabbouleh, Batta Hara (spicy potatoes), garlic mayo

and chilli sauce, Penne with cherry tomato crème and green chillie. Sounds fancy, right? I was however, missing my creamy soft cassava meal infused nshima (prepared with cornmeal) served with fried Tilapia fish in hot tomato sauce, steamed kale in mature tomatoes and onions full of vitamins, hmmmm, yummy.

Although I enjoyed eating the hotel food and got full after eating my lazy meals, I didn’t get the full satisfaction that I had eaten. I just killed the hunger. I still longed to eat something that I love, my delicacies. I realised that eating is not just about getting full, but about loving and enjoying what you eat. That longing was there because I knew that there was something else better for me, not for everyone. For others, these must have been game changer meals, something deeply loved and longed for and they must have enjoyed the food wholeheartedly!

What about career or life in general? I guess the same principle applies. We are all passionate about something despite the many activities around. However, a lot of us are filling our lives with fancy things just to get full. We choose fancy careers for status but we are left empty at the end of our life. Day in day out, we fill our life with things that don’t give us full satisfaction. We work at jobs that leave us feeling that there’s still more to life. It’s ok to work at a job while you’re building what you’re called to do, but don’t die there! We go into relationships that leave us feeling that we deserve better than that. We amass material things that leave us wanting to go and get more. The fuller we get with what is not meant to be, the hungrier we become for what we are meant to have but do not have. For some of us it’s God we need in our lives. The more we fill the God space in our hearts with earthly things, the emptier we become and though full, we still feel empty until we fill that space with the rightful owner.

We all have been created for a specific purpose. As long as we don’t walk in our purpose, our reason for being, we will remain unfulfilled. We somehow become immune to the pain that comes from disappointing ourselves by working at the wrong things, and we stop listening to our hearts, or our situation appears normal because we have not woken up to the real person within, the one who knows our purpose. Let’s pursue what we were created for and get the satisfaction and fulfilment we need in life. Be true to yourself and to God. It’s never too late to step into your God ordained purpose. Even at midlife, you can have the miraculous courage to change, because aging is a blessing not a curse! You can stage your comeback! Be as you really are!

What you have inside of you is not just for you, it is meant to be used to deliver someone you have been sent to reach. I like examples from the book of wisdom, the bible. Here are a few examples;

1. Moses had a staff in his hand that he used to shepherd his father in law’s sheep. He also stammered when he spoke. It was that staff and the stutter that God used to speak to Pharaoh to get the children of Israel out of bondage.

2. David was a shepherd boy who looked after his father’s sheep. He had a sling and five stones. With those, he faced Goliath and defeated him. But this was not about him, but the deliverance of the Israelites.

3. Gideon had a threshing machine in the winepress, and he was full of fear. God knew he was full of fear, but he also knew that fear was just something Gideon acquired because of the circumstances he was in. God knew there was strength in him, and he asked him to go in the strength he had. This was not about Gideon but about saving the Israelites.

4. Apostle Paul was educated in religious doctrine at his time that he worked for the pharisees and was involved in persecuting Christians. He was zealous about what he did. God used that Zeal and channelled it to what he called him to do. Paul was going in the wrong direction until he was awakened on the road to Damascus. This was not about Paul. It was about the deliverance of the gentiles.

All these men were working at something and gained skills from there when they met with their life’s purpose. Moses had a staff, David had a sling and stones, Gideon had fear and a threshing machine, Paul had a doctrinal education and Zeal, what do you have? Or you don’t know that you don’t know what you have and need an awakening? Whose sheep are you shepherding? The people you’re meant to reach and touch with the gift you have are waiting for you. Will you keep them waiting forever? I dare you to step out in faith and be the you the world has been waiting for. Whatever that call is for, you were born to make an impact on somebody’s life. Moses, David, Gideon and Paul all ended up as fulfilled leaders once they realised their purpose. As you build others up, you get built up too as you really are!

Simple things to do when you’re overwhelmed!

To be overwhelmed is to be buried over a huge mass of something, it could be anything related to work, business, home or personal life. The pandemic has made most of us know how it actually feels to be overwhelmed!. I was swamped with work at some point, but kept going. I got to a point where I couldn’t concentrate on one thing. I kept moving from one thing before completing it to another. I happened to have moments where I would be staring at something I had in my hands wondering what I wanted to do with! My concentration was greatly reduced. I woke up to a rude realisation that I had reached my full capacity and couldn’t function beyond that. Rather than pretending to be strong, I had to concede that I felt beaten, and needed a break. I took a two week break!

Most often, we think it’s a weakness to accept that we’re not ok and to ask for help, and so we suffer needlessly. We want to show our coworkers, our bosses, our friends and our families that we’re strong, emotionally and physically, to the detriment of our own health. There’s nothing wrong in you asking for a break from situations that are overwhelming for you. Although life does not revolve around you, it definitely starts with you. Your world will not be fully functional without you featuring in it. For it to exist, you’ve got to have you in order to keep it going. For that to happen, you need to take care of yourself, and that starts with you acknowledging that you have maxed out! There’s no shame in accepting defeat. When you accept defeat, you’re simply showing your strength and your ability to take care of the body that you live in. That’s your responsibility! Don’t die faking strength, you’re irreplaceable!

Signs that you’re overwhelmed

1. Heart palpitations. Your heart races and it feels like it will jump out of your chest and makes you gasp for breath. Don’t fight it, just try to hold your breath as you relax your chest muscles.

2. Body aches and pains. Time to get active doing exercises that are right for your body. I like brisk walking or jogging. Being active helps the body to release endorphins in our blood stream. These are chemicals produced to cope with stress or pain. They are called ‘feel good’ chemicals produced by the nervous system.

3. Your concentration is lowered. You can’t focus on one task. You keep doing a bit of everything and your inability to finish leaves you feeling worse. Do one thing at a time and finish before starting the next. Change your position if you can, or even go for a walk. I find that change in posture helps to change and improve my thinking and this generates new ideas and It helps me to refocus. Research has shown that changing posture can change your brain.

4. You feel angry, even at yourself, for choosing what you’re doing or for taking on too much. Do something you love in your downtime. And know your limits.

5. Physical fatigue and Lack of motivation. Have enough rest and make sure you eat healthy foods. Fruits and vegetables are a good source of the nutritional requirements to sustain your health. Great supplements are also great to help you bridge the gap between what you’re supposed to take and what you actually take.

Simple things make a difference!

1. Accept that you’re overwhelmed!

2. Being aware of what’s happening to you and your body is a great start and this may lead to greater self awareness.

3. Be kind to yourself and others.

4. Find activities that bring you pleasure and do more of that.

5. Learn to slow down and reduce stress.

6. Involve yourself in a community for the common good. I’m not saying you go to the community centre and take part in all the activities taking place. Community can be a group of like minded people, having same interests. You should know what you love and pursue those interests.

7. Set priorities and know how to manage your personal time. Important and urgent things first. The rest can wait.

8. Do not take your work home. Manage your time at work and finish your daily quota within your allocated work time. If you have a job that just gives you too much work than there are hours in day and in a week, then do your very best but count your hours, tomorrow is another day!

9. Remove the stressors if possible. For those who work in high pressure jobs like nurses and doctors, self care becomes even important because of high risk of suffering from compassion fatigue. Take regular breaks.

10. Pray or meditate, whichever goes with you. This is a well known activity for its stress relieving and relaxing effects. I also get strength from praying because I get reminded of who I am, my reason for being and the power that’s at work within me. You can’t go in to pray and come out still feeling stressed, I would tell you you didn’t pray, you went in to focus on your stress. There’s a right and wrong way to pray and meditate. Do it right and health is yours.

Life is for living and enjoying as you live out your purpose. Don’t let stress rob you of your life. You only live once, so you want to give it your best shot, make it count, and when that time to depart this earth comes, you won’t be afraid but happy to go empty.

Wrong Mindset

A wrong mindset will always affect the way you respond to new things. It will make you reject things that have great potential to spur you to practical creation that can lead you to fulfilling your purpose.

Months ago, just before the first lockdown, a friend of mine invited me to speak at her church’s women’s event. The theme was, Embracing the seasons of life.”

I got so excited, that was my topic! A few months prior to this, God had been speaking to me about the world’s four seasons and how that can be likened to different happenings in our personal lives. During this time, I took pictures of trees in autumn, when they shed their leaves which would have turned brownish orange at the time of shedding.

Because I hate the cold so much and abhor wearing heavy coats, I have always thought that the winter season is eight months long because I have worn coats for that long! I love wearing my dresses and I feel the coats hide my dress outfits from my sight. Blimey! But hey, I have chosen being warm over loving my dresses. Wisdom!

It was not until the time of my researching for my teaching about seasons that I actually looked up the four British seasons on google and how long they last. I couldn’t believe when I read that each season lasts only three months! Three months, friends!

Winter – December to February.

Spring- March to May

Summer – June to August

Autumn – September to November

Until this time my winter had been from October to May. Though I thought this way, I knew that what’s called Spring was somewhere in March and April, and some autumn was somewhere in those eight months. I don’t know how such confused thinking lived in my head!

But that’s what happens when we cling to our mindset and refuse to give ourselves time to really discover something. That’s what happens when we refuse to be curious and ask ourselves some questions.

You may have heard someone share something that you were not interested in, and you straight away went to shut them out instead of getting curious and start to ask questions to find out more. There probably might be some message in there for you. The more we choose to shut out outside knowledge, the longer we remain in our darkness and delay our learning. The wrong mindset will always subconsciously affect someone’s behaviour without even them being aware. Like in my story, I believed that winter was that many months and I behaved and wore cold for that many months. I probably might have felt colder than it actually was in the months I thought were winter but were not!

You might be thinking that you’re not able to do something just because of your limiting mindset that’s not allowing you to get curious. Ask yourself;

• where’s the prescription that says I can’t do or change what I’m being told?

• Whose prescription is that even?

• Is it true that I can’t do better than I’m doing now?

• Is what I know now all there is to know?

• Am I stuck where I am or is it possible to move?

• What’s the worst that can happen if I believe something new?

• What do I believe about myself?

What if I believe that winter is only three months and not eight months? Which I now do! Just because I was born and brought up in a tropical climate doesn’t mean that anything below the temperatures I have known is winter. Yes, it’s colder than what I have been familiar with, but there’s always some adjustments to be done. Since I adjusted my mindset about the weather, I find myself telling myself that it’s warm when the temperature is 6 degrees Celsius. Really? Yes, really!

And so, If you believe that winter is eight months, then it will be eight months, but if you believe that it’s only three months, then yes, it will be three months. What you believe will always have an impact on your life’s outcome.

What mindset do you have about your progress, your God given destiny. Are you limiting God because of your small thinking? You can’t be stuck, simply change the way you think and see yourself progress. See yourself the way God sees you and walk in the things he has said about you! Step out and try something new. Nothing about you changes until you change your mindset. Have a negative mindset and you’re going nowhere. Have a positive mindset, and try something new, you will be in a different place months from now.

Emotional Resilience

It’s not a secret that 2020 was a challenging year, worldwide and individually. I must admit that I personally have been challenged in more ways than I ever dreamed I could be challenged. I have been challenged in a way that I would only want to read about in a fictional story, but alas, it has been my real challenge in this land of the living and not in a dream. It’s something I wouldn’t wish for anyone.

When something bad is happening to everyone, it’s a difficult challenge, but it’s comforting when everyone is talking about it and you know it’s not only you, like the corona virus pandemic. It’s happening to everyone around the world, but when you catch it, or your loved ones catch it and die, then it becomes one’s individual difficult challenge.

It’s true that you can’t teach others what you don’t know. I have been an advocate of resilience for years. The word has been my reason for being, the reason to get out of bed to go and tell someone to hang in there because it’s gonna be ok. I have shared the message of breaking loose from the chains to countless women who have gone on to be strong women. To learn this, I have been faced with countless difficult problems in my life that could have seen me six feet under, but God helped me each time and I overcame, I broke loose from the chains. I bounced back! Not that I go looking for trouble or I plan it, it just happens, I guess that’s just how life chooses to unfold itself before me.

My challenge, three weeks before the end of 2020, was in the form of an attack on social media by someone who has never even met me, but I believe was hired by people who have heard about me, but never actually met me. These are people who don’t know how to solve their own problems but blame everyone else for their problems, people who refuse to look within themselves to see their own faults in order to correct them rather than looking to the outside to see who they can blame. The solution doesn’t live on the outside, it always lives on the inside of the person going through those problems. I liken this to tending a garden. The health of plants in ones garden cannot be protected from weeds by blaming passers by that they are the cause of the weeds in the garden. It’s not their garden for God’s sake! Weed your garden and let passers by be. You can ask for their help to weed your garden, but don’t blame them for causing the weeds to grow in your garden.

The person that was hired to defame my character and personality does not know the type of person that I am, but went on to attack my self worth my integrity, how ugly and old I look and much more. By blaming me, this person was giving me power over issues I didn’t know, but the thing is, I didn’t have that power over the problems of the person he was speaking for. This pair had given over the power to me by playing victims instead of standing up to their challenge. This person was simply saying that the person on whose behalf they chose to attack me had problems which they couldn’t solve, only I could solve them for them.

One thing I have been taught in life is to never blame someone else for my problems. If I do, I’m simply saying that I have no power over my situation and I’m giving power to the person I’m blaming to solve my problems. Rarely do people solve problems they don’t know.

To be victorious in life, one must learn to take responsibility for their own problems and never blame things or people who can’t help them to change the situation.

The attack on my person was affecting my work, my relationships and a lot other things, and would have continued to do so as long as I allowed that. However much I wanted this to be over, it left a wound in my soul that I knew only God could heal. The more I looked at that post on social media, full of insults, ridicule, hate towards a person people don’t even know, I realised that the world is full of hate and is in bondage. Though I have been an advocate of resilience for many years, helping women to break loose, It felt like I was failing this test myself. This I felt was the ultimate test of my resilience and my self worth. It was over powering, but I knew it couldn’t be more powerful than the love of God.

As I grappled with the shock of this unwelcome attack which I never imagined in a million years could happen to me, the question I asked myself is, ‘How did I find myself here?’

Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was the passer by who was wrongly accused of suddenly making weeds grow in someone else’s garden and so I was expected to go and tend to the garden. I found myself in a position where I wanted to defend myself, but I realised it was not worth it. Vengeance belongs to God, so the bible tells me. There’s a saying that goes like, “if you fight with a pig, both of you will get dirty but the pig will be loving it.” I had to rise above the dirt!

How could I rise above such pain? How could I exercise the resilience that I always preach when I felt this low? Well, to begin with, we need to understand that resilience doesn’t mean that you’re strong and things don’t affect you. it means that you get hit hard, you fall down but you get back up again though not necessarily in the same state as before, but you get up, dust yourself and move on. Circumstances will fold you to cripple you but you spring back by the love of God.

Through it all, I learned that my body is like an electric gadget, a feeding pump I once used at the hospital, that went into default setting when it got switched off from the mains. All the information that was recorded on it would get wiped off because it got disconnected from the power source. So does my flesh get disconnected from the source of God’s encouraging word, each time I go to sleep at night. I’ll go to bed feeling so empowered, full of God’s word and love, but I would wake up empty and feeling so angry. Not sure if I have holes in my heart that were letting the word escape. The minute I opened my eyes, I would feel so angry I just wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. I had to take myself through the word of God and a lot of self talk before the setting changed to spiritual. This continued to happen every morning, for weeks. I continued with the same exercise of encouraging myself in the morning. I would stop every negative word and played my worship music that would saturate my mind with the encouraging words. That just wiped out the anger.

Because this attack happened on social media, there was a temptation of staying off that platform to avoid the attacking ghost. I have learned in life that the more you avoid the ghosts that haunt you, the harder it will get to get back up again, you need to face your ghosts face to face, confront what is and it will have less power over you. I kept showing up every day with my posts on social media. These were posts to encourage me, to remind me of who I was and what is in me.

On one of those days, I was in prayer which always keeps me sane. As I was praying, a song popped up in my heart and I started singing;

“They’re watching you, marking all you do, hearing the things you say, let them see the saviour as he shines in you, let his power control you everyday.”

Wow! That’s a song we used to sing in Scripture Union at secondary school and I have not sung it in decades. I believed that this was God telling me that people were watching and seeing my reaction to that attack and that I should let them see him through me. And for the pain, I should let his power control me every day. That was my turning point and the beginning of my healing. I bounced back and slowly went back to my normal activities.

When this ordeal struck, I felt a sudden depletion of what I was excited about and I felt so discouraged, I felt naked and couldn’t look people in the eye when talking to them because of the shame that sprung from all the wrong accusations. I felt like they were seeing through me. In prayer, the shame rolled away because I now realised that this was not just about me but it was also to encourage someone whose head is bowed down in shame because of the accusing fingers directed at them.

I also had the support of friends who stood with me and kept encouraging me. To be resilient, one needs the support of others. I so believe in a saying I have always shared, “a burning candle cannot give light to itself. As it burns, it gives light to other candles, but it needs other candles to light the bottom of its holder where it stands.” If you observe a burning candle, you will notice that there’s a shadow at the bottom where the candle stands, though it’s giving light at the top.

That’s very true. I always encourage others and they get encouraged but when something happens to me, I find it very difficult to encourage myself. I need the encouragement of others. Being in a community matters. We all need the support of others.

How to get back up

1. Acknowledge your pain. Don’t pretend that all is well. Tell yourself and those close to you that you’re hurting.

2. Face your ghost, in other words face your fears. What you confront becomes less daunting.

3. Exercise to avoid going into depression. When you exercise, feel good hormones are released into your blood system

4. Get affirmations from God’s word and encourage yourself daily, hard as it may be. Play the worship music if you’re christian or play audio Bible or any encouraging book.

5. Get involved in a community. Enlist some trusted friends to support you.

6. Pray and listen to God. This is where your answer to your healing lies.

7. Go out and help someone else to take focus off you.

8. If whatever your problem is weighs heavily on you and you can’t seem to get over this, seek professional help. It’s good to talk to a stranger. Talking will help you to explore your feelings and your thoughts.

9. OPO! Don’t let other people’s opinions about you destroy your life. Opinions are just opinions, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What matters is God’s opinion about you and your own opinion about yourself. Live your life, not in the shadows of what others think.

Next time you fall down, remember that if you’re down the only other way is up, but the choice is yours whether to stay down or get back up. Circumstances have no power over what happens to you. They only come with lessons and to reveal what’s in you. Resilience is in you. Greatness is in you. So be brave, be bold, be you.

Bring me another Bottle.

Use the oil that you have, and it’s ok to borrow the jars.

The oil, even if it’s a little, you have it. It’s the bottles that you need to borrow.

“Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.””

2 Kings 4:3-7 NIV

When God created each one of us, he created us in his own image. He spoke a blessing over each one of us and by his Spirit, He poured the oil in us. By His Spirit living in us, he enables the gifts that he has placed in us to be functional in order to fulfil the purpose he created us for.

You might think that what’s in you isn’t enough, but when you place the little in the hands of the one who created you, the one who placed that amount in you in the first place, you can’t stop his multiplication. Only you can limit the flow of the oil in you by the number of jars you bring before him to fill with what’s flowing from within you.

The woman in the scripture above had a little oil. She thought she had nothing. She brought it to the man who represented God and he gave her good advice. She and her sons went and borrowed jars from the neighbours, they shut themselves in away from the noise of the neighbourhood and got down to work. As long as the jars were there, the oil kept flowing. When there was no jar left, the oil stopped flowing. This family packaged what they had and God’s representative advised them to sell, pay off the debt and live off what was left!

The principle here was for the woman to make use of and better what she already had so it could be used by many people, and she in turn benefited from that exchange. She locked herself away to polish what she had.

You might have been hit hard by circumstances. You might have lost the sense of what you know God gifted you with. Circumstances might have brought you down, but there’s always bouncing back in God’s strength. That’s what I call resilience. Things might not be the same way as before, but hey, get up, dust yourself and continue your journey. Rest if you can, but never give up.

Whether you know it or you don’t, you have the oil. It’s because of that oil the enemy of your soul is seeking to destroy you.

The question is, what jars do you need to pour your oil into? What do you need to get your oil poured into the lives of those around you, your tribe? Could it be;

Christ

Godly counsel

Coaching

Counselling

Mentoring

Community

Re educating yourself

Shut yourself away and get insight from the master who has plans for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Use all the jars to allow the continuous pouring of the oil within you. Let it be multiplied then go and share it with the world in form of education. You will see where your impact lies. In shutting yourself away, don’t do it alone, shut yourself away with people that will be bringing jars to you for you to pour your oil into. In short, learn from others.

Have a blessed 2021!

Take action in 2021. Be the person to pour wealth into the lives of others.

DREAMS CAN LIVE AGAIN, FAITH AND HOPE RESTORED!

If the stump of a tree that has been cut down but has its roots drinking in water from the depth can produce mushrooms, and be able to contribute to the well being of humanity; how much more can a living person produce from within and contribute to humanity though his/her dreams be cut off but has his/her roots still connected to Christ the fountain of water? You have no excuse my friend!
The tree’s function is multi purpose! That of giving us oxygen was lost when it was cut down. But not all was lost, the stump still has the ability to stabilise the soil and has nutrients to fertilise even the mushrooms. Your first function might have been lost through circumstances, but not all is lost. Your purpose has not been lost! There’s still something in you that you can use to continue to contribute to the well being of the world. If you don’t know how to find it, simply ask.

A tree was cut down because people thought it had outlived its purpose. The tree stump was left standing and no one believed that a tree could grow back from its stump. The tree stump still had roots which still drank from the deep waters. And it still had some nutrients. After what was felt was the trees’ Initial purpose was fulfilled, it was rendered useless. The stump signified the end of its use. However, the stump didn’t give up on itself. It kept drinking from the deep and it found a new purpose. It became the source of growth for mushrooms. It supported the growth of something new. If a dead tree can produce mushrooms, how much more can a living person produce? You may think your purpose is done, but could be the birth of a new purpose of supporting others with the knowledge and wisdom you have gathered a long the way.

In the bible, Lazarus died and was buried. People gathered to mourn his demise, but because he connected deeply with his source in life, even in death he could hear his masters’ call, “Lazarus, come out!” He walked out of the grave in his grave clothes. He rose from the dead and his second life was a testimony to others and many put their faith in Christ on account of Lazarus’ life. He became the source of a new birth for others.

“When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”” John 11:43-44

If a dead man can walk out of the grave, and live to inspire others, how much more can a living person step out of their dead situation. A dead job, a redundancy, job loss, now so common in this pandemic with people being laid off their jobs. Hard as it may sound, this could be the beginning of something new for some. If the glass is half full, surely there’ll be new opportunities.

If Jesus can speak to a dead man and command him to step out, how much more is he willing to speak to a living person?

We were all created to be fruitful and to multiply, but often times we choose to go dry and become unproductive or simply live in mediocrity. Jesus called out the dead Lazarus, and he walked back to life! Today, the call is to whatever lies dead in you, be it health, skills, talents but to name a few!

Let the new you come out and be a source and support of something new in others. Dreams can live again, faith and hope restored.

Tree stump thought to be purposeless – picture by BC
Tree stump turned into a source of new growth – Picture by BC

Investigate Me

“Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.”‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭MSG‬‬.


Health is paramount. You don’t realise its worth until something happens, then you realise just how much you need yourself to fulfill the purpose for which you were created.Seven years ago, I had a health scare that landed me into hospital. The admitting doctor explained to me that he wanted to do some investigations to rule out any possible medical conditions and come up with a diagnosis. Most importantly, he wanted to know what caused my symptoms so he can know how to treat that.

So I was investigated. I underwent all sorts of tests. I had a blood work up, I had X-rays of various parts of my body, CT- Scan of my brain, Exercise test, Bubble Echo, Sensation test and name it all. Despite having all these tests done, no specific cause for my malady was determined, however, the diagnosis was not a mystery. I had a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) or commonly known as Mini Stroke. This indisposition was a wake up call for me. The question was, what if the worst had happened? What if it was not a ‘mini’ but a ‘full’ blown stroke. It was at that point when self investigation started. How’s my lifestyle? Am I sedentary or active? What are my eating habits? What can I do to support my health? Healthy eating, exercise, rest and sleep are all part of a healthy life style that I now enjoy. After having my health investigated, I came up with solutions to support my health. I do my part and leave the rest to God to do his part.Lesson learned is that it is imperative for one to Investigate themselves in every aspect of their life in order to make life’s improvements; health, financial, relationships, career, spiritual, Emotional and Psychological. How does one have every area of their life investigated? Simple. Just as the right tools and equipment were used to investigate my health, use the the correct tools and go to the right people, the specialists.

Nostalgia

“The Israelites said to Moses and Aaron, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”” Exodus 16:3 NIV

This is the story of the Israelites who were overcome with nostalgia. They lived in slavery for many years and a slavery mentality became their default setting. An opportunity for them to be set free showed up, but they did not grab it wholeheartedly. While in slavery, they ate all the food they wanted! Their minds were in this comfort zone of just having enough to eat for the day. In their thinking, they simply wanted food just to survive. What they didn’t realise is that being in slavery was not giving them the freedom to pursue other interests or produce more than they were allowed after working so hard for it. Their greatest need must have been to secure freedom. Freedom would have opened doors to them to go and produce whatever food they wanted without being driven by slave masters.

After unwillingly accepting to leave their slave masters, their joy was short lived. They met challenging circumstances on the way to freedom. They reminisced about their past and how they missed the food they ate. They were overcome with nostalgia. They didn’t think about the state of slavery they were in although they received the food they craved.

We all tend to choose what comes easy. When faced with challenges, we start using a losing language that reveals how stuck and comfortable we are in our old ways. We grumble instead of thinking of ways to improve the situation and persevere until we win.

A losing mindset is one that does not see opportunities in challenging times. It only sees difficulties, problems, it talks fear which leads to paralysis, procrastination and getting more stuck.

What are you nostalgic about? Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead is the winning mentality that will move you from where you are to where you want to be. Forgetting does not mean that you deny that something happened, you simply choose to intentionally disregard that experience and move on. Whatever the past has thrown at you, don’t get stuck in there, leave the trash behind, but pick up the good lessons and press on. The past cannot hold you down and no one can use it against you because your past is the classroom that has shaped the person that you are today. It’s the desire to free yourself from the things that held you down that will give you the determination to forge ahead. Keep moving, put one foot in front of the other. You will get there. Don’t get stuck in the wilderness because you’re thinking about the little you enjoyed while in slavery. There’s plenty ahead. Grumbling about the past and thinking that there’s no way out is very stressful.

Making decisions about your desires and sticking to them is self motivating and it contributes to emotional well being. Caring for yourself Spirit, Soul and Body leads to Wholeness.

Small Changes to support overall health & well-being.

Picture by Phyllis Chisala

I live on the east side of the city but work on the south west part of the city. I don’t drive to work. I use the underground train (Tube) to get to work, and my journey from home to work takes approximately one hour and fifty minutes. Before the corona virus pandemic hit the scene, I used to leave home at a particular time, and this meant taking the tube at the time when it was very busy. Masks were only known to nurses at the time. The trains get jam-packed and sometimes it would be difficult to get a seat. There would be no other option but to stand until a certain station where most people change to another line. Due to overcrowding, passengers stand less than a meter apart, and if they sneezed or talked, their droplets end up on another person’s clothes or body. Since the then unknown corona virus appeared on the scene, and it being so virulent, it became so scary to make these Monday to Friday journeys. I had three options to consider in mitigating the risk of catching the virus; risk catching the virus by continuing to travel at the same time, or drive to work, or sacrifice my sleep and start leaving home earlier than I normally would, in order to catch the tube before busy times. I chose the latter option. When I did, the first thing I noticed was the quietness on the tube. Very few people were on my new scheduled train. I was loving it because I now had a peace of mind.

Then the lockdown came, it was even better for me, but I still continued to leave home early.

After the lockdown, transport went back to normal as before. The currently fewer cases of COVID 19 , according to government figures, have relaxed the restrictions that were put on public transport and I am now leaving home at a later time like I did before the Corona virus wave.

Trains are again getting busier with relaxed government guidelines. Although wearing face masks on public transport is mandatory, some people don’t just get it! They ride the tube with no face covering. Some even chat away carelessly. This has started to bother me and I have been getting upset each time I get on a jam-packed train. I have no control over who gets on the trains, but I do have control over what I do and how I feel. My being upset is wasted because it won’t change anything unless I do. I have decided to go back to leaving home early. The earlier trains are empty, quiet and I could use seven seats if I so wish.

Instead of getting upset, I have decided to make some changes on my part, leaving home early is now my new normal. I am now enjoying my train rides to work. I have time to sit and write and do a whole lot of stuff in my hour plus journey. But something had to give. I sacrificed my comfort of sleeping a little bit longer to starting off early and being more productive. As I have gone along, my bed times are now adjusted so I don’t lose out on my most needed sleep and rest to get reenergized for the following day. When I thought the problem was the trains being jam-packed, it was my timing that was a problem which I have control over. The little change I have made has improved my mental productivity. Instead of me stressing about who is not wearing a face mask on the train, who is not observing social distancing and is standing so close to me, having to wear a glove to protect my hand while holding onto a rail for support, and even trying to stop people from sneezing, I sit back on a less busy train without stress. I enjoy my journey while being productive. Thanks to the little change that I made.

So often, we tend to focus on the things that we have no control over instead of focusing on things that we can do something about. We waste so much time dwelling on negative issues which have a negative impact on how we feel. It’s healthier to dwell on positivity which frees you to remain creative to make great life adjustments.

Whenever things don’t work out for you, think of the little changes that you have power over and can make instead of focusing on what’s out of your reach. Stress is known to reduce one’s immunity. Cortisol, epinephrine and dopamine are chemicals that are released in the body when one is stressed and can significantly affect one’s health. The less stressed you get about things you can’t change, the more support you give to your immune system which sustains your health. Always start with your health & well-being in mind!

Simple precious.

Someone once said, “life isn’t perfect but your outfit can be.”

I wish life could be like an outfit that I get to choose. As I continued to reflect on that, I realised that life was made perfect by the creator. However, man chose his own path and marred the perfection with his own desires. And by man, I mean the human race, male and female. Man is constantly on the move in search of some new exciting experience, at times to the detriment of his own health. It’s not often that man looks at ordinary things surrounding him for excitement. We’re always looking for something bigger, great opportunities, celebrated places or new inventions and we keep going, but we never sit back to think about what it is we are really chasing. In the process, we neglect our health which should be the starting point for our quest.

I met a mother who made me to appreciate the importance of embracing what is within my reach. Like I can choose an outfit that’s perfect for me, I can choose a life I can call perfect for me, as long as I have my health.

I was out on my walk and my path included walking over a pedestrian over bridge that goes over the underground rail line. The path is well fenced on either side and above, I guess to protect the public from accidentally falling down into the path of an oncoming train, or to stop those who would want to jump intentionally to take their own life. Families with little children usually bring their little ones to this spot to watch trains going and coming from either direction and passing underneath them, below the bridge. Kids get very excited. You can see the sheer joy in the kids as they jump up and down shouting “train, train, train” over and over again when they see a train coming. When mum says it’s time to go, they start crying.

On this occasion, I got to that spot just as the train was passing underneath the bridge and the kids were so excited. I said hello to the mother and to make conversation, I simply asked if they were enjoying watching the trains. The mother replied with so much enthusiasm, “Oh yes! Simple precious!”

Those last two words jumped out at me! As I mulled over those two words, I realised that life is a simple thing that we tend to complicate at times. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that there are no problems in life. There are troubles in life and some, very tough to handle. What I’m talking about here is the approach to those problems and life in general that we can choose to take. Simple precious sounds like a good approach to me. Let say the mum did not have the time or money to take the children to an amusement park, instead of her staying at home and getting miserable about not being able to go to an amusement park, she chose to go to the bridge a street away from home for her kids to have fun. She didn’t pay a penny, but they still had fun. And there are a lot of other simple things that one can do to deal with what they can and leave out what they have no power over in order to enjoy simple precious!

If this approach is taken in every area of our lives, the less anxious lives we will lead. Look for some simple precious moments today and enjoy the journey. Don’t wait for the whole world to go green before you choose to live. As long as you have health which is a prerequisite to enjoying simple precious, God is the limit!