Monthly Archives: September 2014

It’s In The Simple Things

Image Courtesy of Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Image Courtesy of Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Recently in a stretch of traffic on the way home and I was looking out of the window and as we passed a road side office block I saw something really really amazing. In a first floor window was an Asian gentleman dressed in white sitting cross-legged at a window. His position intrigued me so I watched him for the minutes he was in sight. It was amazing because he sat staring straight ahead and did not move. I wondered to myself what he was doing then I realised that he was probably meditating. Why meditating? Well there was the posture, the stillness; the calm demeanour… The thing that got me the most was that he seemed oblivious of the people around and the stir he would cause if others noticed him. He was comfortable in himself and in his space and he was safe. I am not sure if others noticed him or wondered what he was doing there but he intrigued me. The simple act of sitting in the window facing the highway unmoved by the things going on around spoke volumes.

I realised that many times the pressures of life are so intense and the expectations of others denies me the time to rest, think or plan. There is often so much that needs to be done and so many places to go that I don’t always stop to consider all the aspects of the decision I am making. Other times there are too many choices so I go with the safe one rather than the risky one. Yet I have always been told that we can make time for the things that are important and seeing that man sitting in the window reminded me of the endless possibilities. In that moment clarity unfolded bit by bit. I realised that whatever happened I was making a choice. You see, not making a decision is still choosing. Even though it sounds redundant not to choose is indeed choosing.

You see, there will always be many distractions around us and things that demand our attention. There will be good things to do that will add value to our lives and the lives of those around us and there will always be more to do than we can actually do. Yet if we can just learn to sit still we would have the opportunity to change the course of our lives for real. There will always be other things we could be doing  so that would be more interesting and fun than down time but we must all find time to stop just a little.

This man intrigued me because he had made a choice and he was sticking to it even with so many other things he could be doing. The question that remains is; what choices does each of us have to make that will change the course of our lives forever. I once again realised that Prov 23:7 really needs to ground our lives daily … “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.”

As a man thinketh in his heart so is he Photo courtesy of

As a man thinketh in his heart so is he
Photo courtesy of

What are we spending our time thinking about? When are our moments of silence and tranquillity that will help us get to the next level? What are the things we need to be focusing on and focusing off to get to our appointed destiny?

I dare say our lives are determined by the choices we make and we have a choice on how we see the choices. I call them the simple choices. Do not be deceived that the actual choices are easy because they often feel as tall as the Himalayas. However, they are the choices for the simple things in life; in a great sense they are the choices for the real things. They are the really important choices that will ground our lives and allow us greater variety and greater love, joy and peace. It is the simple choices we make every day that determine where we get to in life.

  • The choice to allow God to have full control
  • The choice to get up early to read the word and pray
  • The choice to love and provide for our families
  • The choice to go to work and do an astounding job
  • The choice to build a business that changes the industry standards
  • The choice to forgive and let go
  • The choice to be different as God intended for me to be
  • The choice to pursue knowledge learn something new every day
  • The choice to be all I can be and then some
  • The choice to find time every day to stop, be still and think
  • The choice to keep life simple and sweet
  • The choice to savour and enjoy every experience I have then learn the lesson and move on

A great life is in the simple things and the simple things are the greatest teachers. Here’s to the simple life. Make a daily choice to do something that will bring you closer to all you want to be and I will do the same. Walk a simple step with me today and every day from now

Unseen Foundations

I have been talking about perspectives off late and everyday I see something that builds on the thought. Recently I was listening to a message about wealth transfer. As it started I was debating my mind if there is really something I need to listen to or should I just tune out J. You see so many times we hear the beginning of things and figure it is something we have heard before. It took be a couple of moments of internal conversation to accept that there is a lesson for me in everything, so I tuned my mind back and opened my heart.

As she spoke I begun to think about all the days I have given unconditionally or planted a seed into the service of God and yet nothing outwardly visible had happened yet. I had believed for a greater move of God in my life and somehow I seem to have decided that the move would be visible in my financials. With that said you can now understand why the question that was running through my mind was why hadn’t I seen what I believed would be the manifestation yet? Isn’t this a common question when we are waiting for the fulfilment of God’s word?

As the message went on it became clear that the transfer will indeed come but each of us must be ready and able to handle it or it will bypass us. This caught my attention and made me sit up straight. For the next few minutes I looked at my life and there were things I saw that made me doubt whether I had made any progress. You see, I could not see a major outwardly visible change in my circumstances. Yes I said major outward change. In the past I have shared how I am more aware of what I say and so I was wondering if this was indeed bearing fruit or I was missing something. Why is it so silent in this place?

Suddenly like a lightning bolt it hit me! The situation may seem dire but there are great lessons I have learnt. Yes, there are few outward signs
but the inside was a different issue. There was a lot of work going on inside…daily small things are changing that are adding up bit by bit. As understanding came so did clarity and a big smile. I could see my life flash before my eyes with all the instances where small things had changed in me. Then I saw clearly the long series of seemingly small things that had added up to create larger ones. The change had indeed begun and it has taken root and it is growing.

In that moment another moment of clarity came. In my mind’s eye, I saw an old run down house sitting on a piece of land. The owner of the land has decided to build a ten story building on the land.  However, before this happens there are several things that have to happen. First the site is surveyed and the existing structures are assessed carefully for viability and need. Second, the architect draws a plan based on discussions held with the owner or investor. Third, the existing structure is either stripped or brought down to start the construction. More often than not it is actually pulled down because of age and wear as it would compromise the new structure. Fourth, the land is cleared and the foundation is dug. Fifth, construction happens.

For the purpose of this article I will focus on the fourth point. The land is cleared and the foundation is dug. This is the most critical part of construction because the foundation is what supports the building. When building any kind of building it is important to anchor it firmly on the rock so that it doesn’t sink or collapse; this is the purpose of the foundation.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

As I begun thinking about foundations I found I knew more about foundations that I had ever realised. You see, when I was growing up there was a house in our neighbourhood that had a poor foundation. Initially it wasn’t visible but every year it sunk a little bit more and finally it had a clear tilt to one side. I also remember watching the construction of Times Towers in Nairobi. For the longest time ever all I saw from the outside was the iron sheet fence. Behind the fence I heard heavy machinery working for the longest time ever; if I am right it was over a year before anything was seen above ground.

My realisation was that the taller the building the deeper and stronger the foundation needed to be because it has to bear the weight of the building once it is occupied. Can you imagine the disaster if a building is built but it cannot carry the weight of the people and furniture and fittings that will in the building when they are in use? This kind of strength is first calculated by the building professionals and then ensured by the contractor. The reputation of the professionals is always at stake with the construction.

As I looked back at my life, it struck me that the seeming lack of external evidence is because the internal structure and foundation are currently under construction. The challenges in my life are representative of the construction of the foundation. Like the preparation of the land for construction, there are things in my life that must be removed and dug up from the root so that they are removed completely before anything else can be done. Once all the dirt is out, the next process is to can begin building the supporting walls with reinforced concrete. This was profound because I suddenly realised that we never see the support structures but we know they are there…solid and secure.

Courtey of

Courtesy of

So, the seeming lack of external evidence is because there are great things going on internally. I realised that indeed my heart, mind, emotions and desires had indeed been changing. Faith had begun to rise, joy was following, confidence was growing and peace beyond the reaches of my soul was settling. Initially I didn’t think much about these things or even notice them because I was looking for bigger and more obvious things in my life. Suddenly it was as if the scales had fallen off my eyes and I could see that there was indeed something good happening on the inside.

So I ask you the same:

  • Are there things going on in your heart and soul that you aren’t aware of because you are looking for outward evidence?
  • Are you aware of things going on in the deepest recesses of your life that are the stepping-stones for your next level?

I would say that we all need to stop and understand where we are in life and how we will get to the next level and then work hand in hand with God.

Have a blessed week.


My Unexpected Teacher

On one of my many public commuter journeys I met an amazing and unexpected teacher. I had a brief encounter but it was a Masters class. It was at about 6pm and I was on my way home at the Railways bus station. It had rained and so as it typical in Kenya, the public commuter vehicles had hiked the fare by at least 50% while on some routes fare had gone up 100%. Added to this fact was the reality that many of the vehicles were trapped in traffic on the way to town so there were few to no vehicles at that normally bustling bus Amazing Rock-splashes-at-sunset-resizecrop--station. This day the place was thick with people and thin with vehicles.

At about 6.30pm, vehicles started coming but none of them were willing to get onto our route. You see, only part of the road is tarmac and the rest is all weather but it is rough and it goes on for about 10km. There was no other option so we stood for quite a while and waited. Ok…it is be a stretch to say we waited patiently because we were antsy, fidgety, tired and many were complaining. Finally, one bus came and they said they would go as far as the end of the tarmac and many of us quickly got on. I like seats near the front, so I got to sit in the seat next to the conductor a young man I will call Karis. He is a very polite young man who intrigued me from the start. Those who know me well know that when I am intrigued I want to know more and understand the person on the other end.

We started talking when I gave him a crisp Kshs 200 note and told him I don’t want dirty money for change. He smiled and said that he has learnt to be fair and give people what they give him. If you give him old notes you get your change in old notes; if you give him clean notes you get your change in clean notes. Hahaha! That was the funniest thing I had heard all day. I got my crisp Kshs 100 shilling note back and off he went to collect money from the rest of the commuters. Once done, he came back, sat down and we began chatting. I learnt so much from him I couldn’t believe it.

This young man is 26, he has four other siblings and they are orphans. Their parents died when they were teenagers and they were raised by their aunts and uncles. He was raised in the church but because of lack of fees he never went far in his education. However, he said something so profound I was reminded of it this week. He said, “In life there those who are educated and those who are wise. The people who are successful are the wise and not necessarily the educated because wisdom helps you make good choices.” This was the start of an hour long conversation because that day there was traffic.

Amazing Two-lovable-babies-resizecrop--The highlights for me were several:

  • Your start doesn’t matter: where you were born doesn’t determine where you will end up. He was not born rich but he lives well and has found joy. He worked for a garbage collection firm and arrived at work at 4am and left at 10pm so he had no time to waste. All he did was eat and sleep in the evening and then get back to work in the morning.
  • A good upbringing makes a difference: he was raised in the church and taught to love God, focus on life and avoid a loose wasteful life. He was also taught to work hard and dream about the future. He also saw what alcohol, smoking and living loosely did to his colleagues and opted not to get involved.
  • Saving: it is important to put money aside and invest it. He saves at least Kshs 4000 a week. He learnt that as long as he is able to eat and sleep every day he can put aside all that he didn’t use. You see, most conductors earn at least Kshs 1000 daily. If he spends less than Kshs 300 daily it leaves him to save Kshs 700 a day which translates to Kshs 4900 a week. there are days when it’s more.
  • Never give up: a few years ago he was dating this girl and he was really serious about and he gave it his all. In the scheme of things the relationship ended after about a year and she left him high, dry and broke. He had to find the strength to go on and start again. He moved out and away to start away
  • Always look for quality at a good price: it was interesting when he said that he was looking for leads on expatriate sales so that he could get good deals on quality furniture.
  • Have a plan: know where you want to be in a set number of years. Clear goals. Set timelines. Clear action plan.
  • Never give up: life will send things your way that may be huge to get over or through. Don’t let the obstacles keep you from getting what you want to. The important thing is to keep moving and life will work out.
  • Appreciate the people around you who care about you: Karis owes a lot in his life to his uncle who gave him opportunities to grown and encouraged him when things were thick. He also let him know when it was time for him to stand on his own and be a man. He also has an older sister who took care of them when they were younger until they could stand on their own. It was never easy but they stood together.
  • The importance of salvation: In his words, ‘Imani yangu ndio imeniweka kwa yote imehappen…Kama sio Mungu…’ (‘My faith is the only thing that has kept me through all that I have been through. If it wasn’t for God…). Enough said.
  • Seek to be wise over and above schooling: Schooling without wisdom gets you nowhere…seek both and reach higher in life. In his definition, schooling happens when someone just goes through school and comes out with papers while wisdom is the ability to assess situations and survive because of street smarts. I use schooling because I believe the education is what is left when all else is forgotten, so it is beyond schooling. I am still unpacking this one lesson and when I am done you know what will happen around here.

Suddenly I was at the end of my journey and had to get off the bus but there was so much to think about as I walked the last distance to the house. We were all dropped at the start of the dirt road to proceed to our respective homes as the driver and Karis turned around to head back into town for a few more trips to the nearby areas. In that instant I realised that his shift was far from over but he hadAmazing-tornado-over-water-resizecrop-- taken time to talk to and inspire another person.

I am totally inspired every time I think of Karis because when I am honest with myself, he is doing so much better than I am with so much less than I have. My decision from that day has been to be grateful for what I have and use it to make life better for me and those around me. I also decided that my life has to have value and be shared with others so that I can make the kind of difference in their lives like Karis made in mine.

Unexpected Perspectives of Life

I have had the opportunity of using public transport a lot in recent months and it has totally changed my perspective on life. I have been struck by so many different things it is amazing in and of itself. I have a new found respect for people who use this as their primary means of mobility. Wow!
If you work 8-5 and live in my neighbourhood chances are that you wake up at 4.45am and will leave home at 5.50am. Once out, you will either walk to the main road or take a motorbike taxi there or occasionally get the few ‘Matatus’ these are 14, 29 or 38 seater minibuses. My oh my…the cold at this time is unreal. Add dust from some of the dirt roads, the lights from the cars rushing out, the beeps of motorbike horns, the whiz as they pass by…it is amazing. I can only call it energy.

Photo courtesy of Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Photo courtesy of Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

When you get to the main road, you have to cross one single lane road then two, two lane roads to get to the inbound bus stop. Imagine crossing a busy road under the cover of darkness. I wondered if I could be seen. Are my clothes reflective or at least light coloured? Have I properly calculated the speed the oncoming vehicle has? Is it a Land Cruiser Prado or any make of Subaru? I found that you can outrun or properly anticipate the speed of all other cars except these two. So I stand there for about ten minutes before I can safely cross the road. Oh I am the only one who takes so long most people are used to it so they are across in a couple of minutes. Wah… finally I am safely across and my heart is pounding and the adrenaline is flowing. I need a couple of minutes to recover from that yet the journey has only just began.

After a brief wait a ‘matatu’ or two arrive and begin calling for customers. I find it funny that different operators have different prices as well as routes. There are two ways to get to town namely through Uhuru Highway or through Jogoo Road. The latter is a new route that came about when the main roads into town would be too congested. There also other sub routes where the operators don’t reach the CBD but stop at different points along the route. Anyway, back to the ‘matatus’. In my opinion, these vehicles play very loud music. They also have coloured internal lights that are not helpful for reading (well most people aren’t into that) but are for seeing passengers and empty seats. Often the easiest thing to do is put in earphones and listen to something on your phone or catch a nap. Now, owing to the fact that I have already been up for two hours that nap is elusive yet not quite so for some of my fellow passengers. I choose to sing along with the radio station and laugh at the comments of the presenters. The most interesting thing is that most of them tune in to the same station so if you get off one and onto another you don’t lose much on that show if you are interested.

It is at least a 45 minute commute that ends at one end or the other of the Railway Station depending on which commuter sacco vehicle you have travelled in. If the energy on the way in is anything, the energy in this lower end of town is insane. You pass the main Nairobi market and it is bustling with people, trucks and buses as wares are sold. The streets are teeming with people walking to work and there are restaurants open and already doing booming business. What time do these people get up? When do they get all these things going? The thing I found most amazing was that there were several shoe shops already open and doing business at this time of the morning. I was amazed because it I have never seen a shoe shop open at 6.45am!
There is another category of people I had also noticed as I sat in the ‘matatu’. There are many, many people who walk to work. I have honestly known that many walk yet this time it really hit me just how many. There are droves of people from different places and directions walking in the cold and dark morning. I realised that some people walk all the way, others take a vehicle part of the way and walk the rest of the day. Yet in this mix you see people talking to each other and laughing, listening to music or radio or just walking in silence…just like those in the commuter service vehicles. Some are walking free others are heavily laden with their wares often from the market. Alongside them are the handcart pushers. These guys pull handcarts loaded with merchandise from one end of the city to another. The bulk of the ones I see are ferrying food from the market to the residential areas for the vegetable vendors to sell. It is a sight to behold as many of them are sweaty and in a light t-shirt yet it is cold and the rest of us are bundled up and shivering.

This journey isn’t ending in town though; I am heading to the other side of the city so I walk across town to

Picture courtesy of

Picture courtesy of

get my next vehicle. As I get further away from the lower end of the city the situation is totally different. There are very few people around, shops are still shut up tight it is clear that the day hasn’t started. The first time I took this route I didn’t realise this because I walked most of the way through the busy lower streets parallel. On the following trip I took a different route and that was when I realised the difference. The two sides of the city are so different in terms of when and how they come alive and when and how they shut down.

As usual this got me thinking…

Picture courtesy of Stephen Ananda

Picture courtesy of Stephen Ananda

• Are there things going on around me that I had never seen?
• Are there things in my life I need to sit up and recognise so that I can reach the next level?
• Are there people I need to listen to or at least appreciate more for their labour?
• Are there noises around my life that I either need to tune out or tune in to?

Even as these questions are running through my mind, I have so much I can pick up as lessons. I have to decide clearly what I want to do and make the choices count by doing something about it every day. #MyTakeHome from this experience is:
• I need to develop a sense of consciousness about my life and the things around me. There is no room to
walk around oblivious to the things going on.
• I need to stop and listen to the music of life, savour every situation and appreciate the gift of life
• Always look for the good and the great lessons in life
• Ask every question and ensure you have an answer for each.

Here’s to a great life full of listening, learning and sharing.

Picture courtesy of Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Picture courtesy of Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura