The Simple Life

Debunking Unconditional Love


Earlier this year, God made it clear that I know nothing about unconditional love.

Here I was thinking I had received and given it then He says what? Well, unless He broke it down for me, I would have never guessed that. You see, until then, all the love I have ever given or received has been based on each party being a certain way or doing certain things. You doubt that?

Think about it. Aren’t there always things we expect from those who say they love us? Don’t we expect certain actions, behaviours, tones of voice, etc? I had to stop and really think and as I meditated on this, I realised alas, it was true. So I asked myself, what is unconditional love?

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Unconditional love is to love someone, just to love them, because God has asked you to love them: no conditions, reasons, limitations, expectations, benchmarks, targets etc. 

It is mind-blowing to say the least but absolutely scary on the other side of the spectrum. Sounds cool to be on the receiving end of this but how do we all get to be on the giving end? How do I become the source of unconditional love? Do I even have that capacity within me? I realised that I must learn to love for the sake of God and the purpose He has established for me to achieve. So what does it mean to love? Let me clarify that to love someone unconditionally means:

  1. All or nothing – I give you everything in me expecting nothing back or nothing at all. Sometimes the best way to showcase love is to walk away. The elimination of expectation is key because it is the removal of boxes to check and standards to meet
  2. To give everything the other needs – no holding back even if it’s a hug, a reprimand, silence… Everything you need from me you get. The most common misconception is that I need to withhold the hard stuff from people yet sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is to correct and give a caution or reprimand. I got one this week and it wasn’t nice to swallow but I could now see the other side.
  3. To ask God for guidance on what, how, when to give expecting nothing in return… Doing, giving, responding to only what God has said nothing more or less.
  4. To trust that the one who loves me will never intentionally hurt me – this is often hard because when someone is hard on us we often question their love. I learnt that when someone is willing to take the risk to correct me even firmly it means they are unwilling to let me fail no matter what.
  5. To dare to counter and correct no matter what – my reality is that just because we love each other we won’t always agree on things. To love unconditionally allows me to understand this and let people have opinions contrary to mine and we thrash them through. After all, I am not God and He is the only one who can get us all to agree. It is also a reality that some of the most robust friendships I have are the ones where we have contrary opinions but such great respect for each other that we thrive because we are challenged every day.
  6. Intimacy – into me see… Naked and unashamed, totally open communication in a safe place. This has been challenging to learn but I have found that it is critical to have places where I can be truly me and not fear reprisal or discrimination. I have safe spaces where what is shared truly stays there and is not shared with others as prayer requests or juicy tidbits. Spaces where I can lay bare my soul and know that nothing will turn this friendship around. These aren’t many but the very existence of even one has made a difference in my life.
  7. Is divine – a spiritual connection with an eternal God-given goal to accomplish…simple and straightforward

Unpacking this has been intense but it must be done. I have spent enough time with the drill master to know that I have to choose to face everything even I’d rather choose the simple path. When I am busy it is easy to ignore the churning but when I take a break it all comes rushing back and the dealing continues.

The Simple Life

Love Is The Difference


Ha! No…you don’t even know where I am going with this one…Trust me!

There is lots of talk about different kinds of love. God’s love, self-love, family love, the love of our lives, the love our parents did or didn’t give us etc. Then there’s the list of things people are supposed to do for love; if you love me you will do this or that, if she loves me she would trust me, call me often, respond to all my messages etc….the list is endless. All these may have their place but I am not going to look at many of them.

Love is a simple yet very complex thing. It is not just emotions or a warm feeling or goosebumps or hugs and kisses. Neither is it just dreamy dates, staring into each other’s eyes or gifts. It definitely is not just having our way, getting through each day, think about each other, private jokes, smiles, fun and laughter. Neither is it control, fear, obedience, honour. It is so much more all that.

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Love is a choice.

Love is the choice to keep working even when I don’t want to. It is getting out of bed daily and doing what I need to do because it is my assigned role; love is doing my part with joy and gladness. It is working through that fight because I need resolution and God has said work through it even if the other party isn’t willing to engage; it is honestly dealing with myself and all the nonsense and entitlement I have brought to the table.

Love is understanding that others don’t have to agree with my opinion and we can still be friends or siblings. Love is being told the truth in a way I will understand and no matter what allowing the bearer to remain part of my life if that is God’s determined route. Love is remaining true to the voice and word of God no matter what. It is becoming the best version of myself as God has defined so that my interactions with others will bring Him glory and bring out the best in all of them

In 2018 I have had the blessing of having people who really love and walk with me and it has been rough. Yes, rough! In the past, I had one friend who leveled it all with me no matter what but this year God has allowed that number to quadruple so it has been rough. It has been pressure from multiple directions and a no holds barred walk which has demanded (not requested) absolute honesty with myself as I answer all the questions raised and suggestions given. I say honesty because the things said are often harder to digest than the often sugar-coated things others have said. It hasn’t been easy but that has been the best class about love.

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Love is nothing like what I thought it was and as God used people to break it down for me I realised that I have never known or received or given unconditional love…story for another post. When I say, love makes a difference; I am talking about love for God. Am I still using my health journey as a point of reference? Yes.

As I have been challenged by all those walking with me on this path to be the best I can be, I have found that my love for God and the word He spoke over me and about me is the best fire to keep me going. My one desire is that my life would become the platform He saw when He thought of me before the foundations of the earth to tell of His wondrous power and love to all mankind.

This love is too much, yet it is the real difference.

The Simple Life

The Gatekeepers Route


A few days ago I removed my nail polish and my young king was very unhappy…”Mum, you changed your beautiful nails.” I never thought he would notice these things but he did. Oh he always notices when I dress and is my best critic so I have learnt to listen closely

He is my most consistent gatekeeper. When we go out he often quickly scans the serving dishes or menu for what I can eat. Recently having lunch with friends, he looked up and said, “…the best thing for you to eat is the cob salad.” I actually ended up with the cob salad because it had all the right ingredients for my meal.

How can the young king be so perfect a gatekeeper? God.

I have said it before, that God is never caught by surprise. Jer 1:5 makes it clear in no uncertain terms that God was aware from before time who each one would be and what would happen in our lives. He knew the heartache and struggle we would face that would create the right combination of pressure to ensure we turned out perfect.

It gets exciting when you realise that the only way out of that challenging situation is through it. Through it means walking down that dark path knowing that He is with you and His rod and staff they comfort you. Knowing that no matter how intense the challenge is, there is a way out in Him that is reliable.

I have learnt through my young gatekeeper that God is indeed interested in my success and will do all in His power to ensure that I succeed.

A few days ago, he remembered that I used to make a mean pineapple crumble and asked if I could make some. Of course I jumped to the challenge but as I made it, a whole new recipe emerged using oats, walnuts, macadamia, peanuts, wheat flour, sugar, cardamon, nutmeg, butter and cinnamon. Oh wow! Absolutely sumptuous.

It fascinated me because he didn’t worry that the biscuit topping was a way he didn’t know, he just knew that mama should have options that are healthier and more filling so he’d taste whatever she comes up with. Little things like this help me keep going.

It’s important to know your gatekeeper or gatekeepers to thrive to the fullest.

The Simple Life

Push Restart


This journey has days when all you want to do is sleep yet there is so much to do. Many of us take pride in the fact that we keep going for long hours thinking that we are achieving a lot but when we look back…something is losing out.

I used to pride myself in never saying no to anyone or letting anyone down when it came to work and my people but I was really letting someone very important down. Why? Myself. We were raised to do our best and I interpreted it to mean never being the weak link so I did all I needed to do to ensure I never let others down. My theory was to always deliver above and beyond the call of duty no matter when and no matter what.

Then one day just after my nineteenth birthday my body packed. I went to bed fine and the next day and for six weeks after that, I couldn’t get up or do more than sleep. It was the longest few months of my life as I prepared to go to university but by the time I reported three months later I was well and off I went to the high-speed life of campus life.

Ha! I didn’t learn or remember the lesson because many years later while running my own business and being mummy and everything else…it happened again. The second time around was even worse than the first time as I had all sorts of breakdowns in just ten weeks. It didn’t happen out of the blue like the first time because I knew the signs but was unable to put brakes on my life and find balance. This time I promised myself it would be the last time I burn out.

I had seen what burnout did to my mother. It was six months in bed and a couple of years of painstaking recovery after that including an early retirement on medical grounds. It was shocking to know that this once super active woman got exhausted doing simple things like walking around the court. Driving to Nairobi was impossible for many months. I knew that even if I thought I was superwoman before, those days are long gone. I wasn’t willing to be in bed without the ability to rise again.

I learnt to listen to my body because it never lies.

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Image courtesy of Wallace Kantai

I wish I had learnt to exercise in those days. Food was never really a challenge but getting up and going for a walk or working out in the house was unheard off for me…I didn’t have the time or interest.

What did I do? I learnt to take time every so often to just chill…oh yes…just sit still. It included simple holidays to see friends and sit by the ocean every morning, or watching peoples timelines and enjoy the photos of where they have been, or just go to bed and sleep in the middle of the day if I was too tired to focus or read a great book. I also taught my little man that if mum is sleeping she is not to be disturbed. When he was younger and I took a nap, he would climb in with me and sleep because he didn’t want to be bored. These days he is his own man.

I realised that I had to teach myself to press restart and rest as well as teach my people to respect the fact that I am resting. So if you come to my house and I am asleep please know that the little man won’t wake me up unless you are on the prequalified list of people…yes, we have one of those. The beauty of my prequalified people, they won’t be upset if I am asleep in fact, they will spend time with the young man until I get up.

One thing is for sure, I have learnt to restart often and it is making a difference in my life.

How many times have you ignored aches and pains or a foggy brain or other symptoms just to get work done or not to disappoint that person? Just think about it carefully and be honest with yourself.

When was the last time just pressed restart?

The Simple Life

Beloved… Come


It was an idle day waiting for my guests to arrive. We got to the airport early to beat traffic and get a parking close to the entrance. Who doesn’t like a short walk to the car especially if you know the guests have heavy boxes and you didn’t want them to push carts too far?

Scanning the crowd to pass time, I saw her… cute, simply dressed, calm in the sea of excitement, standing alone outside the terminal. She caught my attention because everyone else seemed to be in a group chatting away. Yet she stood alone on the sidelines, quietly watching, waiting and if you weren’t watching closely you’d miss her altogether. Every time a group of people came through the doors her eyes darted from face to face looking for a particular one and then she settled back into her quiet stance.

Then it happened. Just after a large group of travellers, a lone gentleman came out and was quickly engulfed by a circle of people all chatting and clamouring for his attention. He greeted each one all the while scanning the group as if looking for a particular face. Nope, not that one, or that one, or that one, or that one…on and on till the group was done and then he looked beyond them. Scanning faces in the crowd end to end oblivious of the chatter around him… Then he found what he was looking for.

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Following his gaze, I was drawn back to the little lady I’d seen in the background. Suddenly he was standing in front of her, dwarfing her by a foot, suddenly silent before her as if requesting her permission to approach. A single tear rolled down her cheek and right on cue he drew her close relief evident in his stance as he lifted her off her feet silently holding on. No words, just quiet communication. 

Silence suddenly engulfed the group as they noticed where he was. Then questions bubbled up. Who is that? they whispered. How come we don’t know her? How long was she waiting? Why were his shoulders shaking? Is he laughing or crying? Who said he’s crying? What is taking him so long?

For a few moments I lost track as my team arrived but as we walked to the car, I passed near them then I realised what was going on…they were praying. Yes praying out in the open with a reverence I’d never seen before. What was it that led them there? Why did she stand aside and wait? What prayer did his arrival answer? What was it they couldn’t hold back on? I would never know but oh, how I wish did.

~ Borrowed ~

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It resonates with me that is the kind of joy God would love to see in me when I think of spending time with Him working on the goals He has given me. Fuelled by the knowledge that I cannot fail as long as I do it the way He has instructed. Driven by the realisation that nothing is impossible because He is with me. As I have shed weight on the outside. He has made me lighter on the inside. I no longer stand in the shadows scared but I’m changing in the brilliance of His love for me.

He loves me irrevocably and irrespective of where I come from and that’s enough for me.

The Simple Life

I am beautiful: I am beloved


I’ve always thought those movie lines when a guy says to a girl as she wakes up, “My you are beautiful,” are corny but I’m rethinking that today. You see, in a recent conversation I was told that ‘If you want to see how beautiful someone is, look at them when they just wake up or are sleeping or are bone weary tired.’

Initially, I laughed because these are the three most likely times we are bleary-eyed and look our ‘worst’. They are makeup free moments that show our greatest perceived vulnerabilities that we usually hide from the world alongside our greatest assets. These are the moments when we see the truth about ourselves and either love or hate it.

Can you stand to look at and love yourself in the mirror straight out of sleep or when you are exhausted and just want to crawl into bed? If yes, kudos. If no, allow me to ask why? It’s not random that many of us don’t like what we see when we look at ourselves. It’s a plan from darkness to disrupt what God has said is good so that we move away from the master plan.

Nothing happens outside God’s realm of knowledge.

This simply means that He was aware from scratch who we are and that this is the road we would take to be in this place on this particular day. This awareness will make Him allow the insecurity but ensure He has planted enough signs in and around us that tell who we are and how he sees us that we may hold onto that reality, deal with the matters at hand and choose the right way… His way!

I remember the conversation because even as I had been complemented I was still wondering if I was actually looking beautiful after a long day in the sun, driving around the city and helping others achieve their goals. Then I remembered all the glances that kept coming my way as I passed different people all day. The heads that turned as we drove into the garage, the ones that turned as we negotiated for wares by the road, or as my little man and I crossed the road, or as four of us walked into a restaurant. The ones that turned as we walked to the car, as we entered the supermarket, as we chatted with friends outside the restaurant or the guard at the gate as we drove into the estate.

None saw how worn out I felt on the inside and I realised the calmness was because I was leaning on the strength my Papa had given. The tiredness was only evident to those I had spent the day with who knew just how much we had expended as well as a few family members who know me well. I’m not always at my best when I am tired but my Papa makes all things beautiful regardless of the situation and this was one such time.

So I choose to believe that since He created me and said “Beautiful,” when He was finished, I can stand on the same and be sure that in my most natural form…

…I am beautiful: I am beloved

The Simple Life

You Are Just Perfect


We are conditioned very early about how the right size, the right fashion, make up choices, good hair etc. gets us the right kind of attention and makes us more appealing. There is nothing better than loving yourself but for many women this is a figment of imagination.

Often we aren’t aware of the intensity of the messages we hear about our weight, looks, dressing etc. or how they take root on the inside to make us insecure and leaving us feeling less than good enough if we don’t do certain things. Even more interesting is watching clothing sites. Have you ever noticed how good clothes look on the models and then when you see locals in the same outfits they don’t look as good? Oh it isn’t all of them because there are West African models whose photos are so beautiful they are used because of the great fit of the clothes.

The misfit is simply because our African girls are built differently.

I know this struggle very personally because I am two different sizes. Hahaha! Seeing is believing! For most of my life it has been hard to find clothes with the right fit. This made shopping such a nightmare because I couldn’t get dresses that fit so I would have to have my clothes tailored.

I remember going to a tailor who took measurements but when she begun the work she decided the measurements were wrong because no one can have a ten-inch difference between waist and hip measurement. Really? In a village not far from ours there are girls who are more than twenty inches hip and waist difference. In another instance, another designer was taking my measurements and suddenly he laughed. When I asked him what was up, he said he kept forgetting the last measurement because my dimensions are so diverse.

So why do clothes look so different on models from many of our African girls? Well, we are simply built super differently and need to take that into account. God did some really special work when He built African girls.

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Do you believe that you are so breathtakingly beautiful that God would create you the same way if He put you together?

I didn’t believe and it took a long time for me to understand it. Self-worth is a personal journey that coach highlighted today. ‘If you don’t believe in and love yourself it won’t matter what anyone says. They could tell you every day how hot you look but all you will hear is ………………….. nothing! The only way to get past it is to deal with the issues and learn to love yourself for who you and then the confidence will pour out of you.’

In my case, he was right. I had heard for many years what the dimensions of the perfect body were and I was past those dimensions by my thirteenth birthday so you can imagine how I felt about myself after that. It took a long time to find the root of the thoughts and deal with them so I was stuck in limbo. The journey of 2018 has made me deal with my perspectives and beliefs so many of the issues I had have dissolved in the face of God. He debunked my personal opinions and showed me His perspective and my jaw dropped.

He loves me just as I am; I am beautiful just as I am; He would never change how He made me.

What will it take for you to believe you are beautiful and everything about you is just perfect according to God’s plan? You are dearly loved.

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