The Simple Life

Through His Eyes


There are always opportunities to help others and we reach out but it is harder to accept help. Over the years I have really struggled with compliments. Oh don’t get me wrong, I will accept them and say thank you and maybe even blush but on the inside… it is a different story. This has little to do with anyone else other than me and my internal issues. Don’t judge!

I mentioned in an earlier article about an exercise coach gave me to stand in front of the mirror and look at myself, really look at myself and deal with the feelings it created. It sounded simple enough but I couldn’t do it immediately. I was raised to have a moderate opinion of myself and so this simple act felt like vanity. What??? Stand in front of the mirror and stare at me? Have I lost my mind? That is the doorway to vanity.

Don’t get me wrong. I use a mirror to check my hair, makeup, earrings, outfit, is the colour working? Do I look good? Yet to do any more than that was totally unheard of. It was vanity as far as I was concerned. It was an opportunity to think more highly of myself than I ought. It would be an opening for all kinds of madness I didn’t want to find and I wasn’t about to do. Shock on me a few days later, when God reminded me of the assignment!

Now I was cornered. If God is reminding me about it, it means that I can actually do this and it would not be vanity. I battled with God for a few more days because I had so many questions but as He pulled back layer after layer, it became apparent that the real reason I didn’t want to look at myself in detail was because I was certain that I would hate what I saw and I didn’t want to do that.

One Wednesday afternoon, when everyone else was out of the house, I set up the exercise. I stood before my full length mirror and looked at myself. I looked for a couple of seconds then I looked away and tried to remember what I saw… blank. I looked again and again for a few more minutes. Then it struck me…it wasn’t about vanity, it was about shame.

I was ashamed to look at myself because I felt I had failed to live up to my end of the agreement with God to take good care of my body. I was ashamed because I had insisted on reaching forty weeks in my pregnancy because I wanted to finish class so I got stretch marks that last week. I was ashamed for my love for chocolate that was still pushing more sugar than I needed into my body that was being turned into fat and stored. I was ashamed that I had been too weak to keep to the agreed exercise routine over the years and therefore had put on weight….and the list went on and on.

Every time I looked at me I saw a failure and that isn’t what I wanted to see.

I shared this with coach and his response was classic. ‘Just do it again.’

Again? Have you lost your mind? I’ve just told you how it made me feel and you want me to repeat it

Yes.

Why? Why would I do something like that?

It is an exercise.

Therefore?

An exercise in my books is something you do repeatedly until you get it right or you overcome it.

I don’t want to.

Why?

Just!

You know that is not an answer right?

Right now it is! (as tears filled my eyes. He couldn’t understand even if I explained it again.)

Are you sulking?

…..silence…………..

Just know you need to do it again and again until you get it right.

I couldn’t believe his audacity. Why did he want me to go through so much pain? Why was he least concerned about my emotions? Why couldn’t I just ignore him and get on with life? why was this thing bugging me? Then my Father whispered…

Child…this isn’t about coach and his directions, it is about the instructions I have given you and how you must do everything I have asked you to do.

You didn’t ask me…coach did.

Isn’t he my vessel?

I don’t know!

Didn’t you ask me for help?

Yes.

Didn’t I send him?

Yes.

Then, the instruction is from me.

But why must I do this Father?

You need to see beyond your physical appearance to who I have said you and how I see you. You need new eyes and a new perspective; you need Me.

I walked back to stand in front of the mirror and though that first time I still saw faults, it was less painful to see them.

Why? I began to see through His eyes.

I came back the next day and the next and the next and the next and slowly, it all changed. A smile emerged, a giggle at a new white hair, a smile for a new shape, a loose skirt, a longer dress, space in my sweater…every change celebrated.

Finally I understood, He had a plan for me once I could see myself through his eyes.pexels-photo-1047346.jpeg

The Simple Life

There’s so much more


I went to my local fellowship and was chatting away with the young people when one of my friends came up, looked at me and walked away. I could see there was something she was looking at but couldn’t quite make out what it was. Later as I stood with mutual friends, she came back said hi and her next statement floored me, “You know there is a blog we follow and we have to ensure that we see the evidence of the things written.” I smiled because she is right.

Talk about a 10,000watt spotlight in the middle of the day. Yes, 10,000 watts combined with full African sunlight. I felt ‘mulikad’ (spotlighted) to the nth degree. Quickly I realised that once I laid myself out there, I don’t have the luxury of giving up or going back because there are lives premised on my coming out. there are people who will be and are encouraged by my journey. I have become my Father’s showcase.

Then He whispered, “There is so much more.”

“What do you mean so much more? Can I really take more than this pressure?”

“Why pressure?”

“People are watching, reading, hoping, waiting to see the outcome…that’s just pressure.”

“Who asked you to be on this path?”

“You my Father.”

“Have I failed you yet?”

“No!”

“So why the fear and concern?”

“I don’t like the spotlight. I like to live in the background.”

“I have chosen you as the perfect showcase for this segment and I have provided all the help you need, so unless you think I made the wrong choice, and that is all in your head, you are fully kitted for this journey.”

It took me a while to understand these words because my heart and head weren’t in alignment. But it is true, I set out on this journey because of a word He spoke to me about my current weight and where He needed me to be. It was because I had challenges I need to get past and He had the perfect solution. This journey has helped increase my ability to stay the course, trust God for grace, walk paths I would earlier have avoided, push beyond my limits, believe and act in that faith.

This reminded me of the scripture:

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. Hebrews 12:1-4

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My health and fitness life is driven by my faith life so I must be growing in both at equal speed or I will become imbalanced. I do not do it to keep the crowd happy or engaged, rather I see it as a marathon to reach the goal my Father has set out for me. He has even provided people on the sidelines to watch, cheer me on and cause me to reflect on the process as I keep going; for in the crowd people have reached out to ask for help, advise, encourage me, share their triumphs and milestones.

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out or us… v1

The Simple Life

His Perfect Showcase


We are all created unique and I know that saying has been used almost too often but it keeps coming back so I will delve deeper about it. There is a question in my heart that won’t go away. A seemingly simple question that has remarkable possibilities:

Why not be God’s showcase of something different?

Imagine with me that your relationship is chosen by God to showcase something unique like a different kind of communication and intimacy, a different kind of freedom and trust, resilience, courage, fidelity to go no matter what, etc. Or imagine that your life is to be the poster child of obedience, strength in the midst of adversity, joy unspeakable, an unshakeable life…the list is endless. Then imagine what you must go through and who you must become to live it out in full pursuit of God.

I have living examples in some of my siblings. Their marriage is established to depict the marriage of Christ and his bride and to be a platform of healing for marriage. The stuff they have been through both individually and as a couple is nothing short of mind blowing and exposing but its outcome is extremely beautiful. It has been an example of obedience to God even when there is no safety net and commitment to each other no matter what. It has been open doors for all and sundry to come in and learn. It has been and still is raw honesty, love and compassion for all.

That’s where I am coming from when I talked about understanding the purpose of your life, work, union, family etc, from the outset. Sadly most of us get in or have got into things for our own personal reasons and then when things go south have nothing to hold onto. Me included!!

It takes a lot more than the usual activities and behaviour to find this place because Only God can bring purpose to light and the wisdom to walk in it. It means that we must invest time to seek Him, hear and learn. It also takes a true and honest desire to remove all other superficial notions that draw people together and be drawn and driven by Him. That’s my desire! I want that deep certainty in my life, family, work, friendship; that’s my new quest…no more doing just to feel good.

So we press on…

It’s a whole paradigm shift. Like soldiers in the army who let go of all attachments and serve only for the good of the nation and obedience to their Commanding Officers. The rigorous training they go through is designed to rework the things that drive them and connect them to a new set of values and a deep bond of brotherhood that they never leave a brother behind and they stand their ground to the end.

Can you live like that? Can I?

The changes in my life are telling me I can so I press on because it’s my heart’s desire. Every day I ask Him to help me…my flesh has to let go and die so He becomes my only focus. I hadn’t realised I was struggling in this area until coach asked me why I seemed to give God some areas and keep other from Him. God calls us to trust Him and grant an all access pass to shift, cut out, heal, grow and do whatever He needs to so we become the fullness of how He sees us. When we’re healed and whole in Him He’ll determine the next place of love and fulfilment or not. I was holding out because I wanted to have a measure of control.

pexels-photo-235721.jpegI have come face to face with the reality that God has not given me a spirit of fear but a spirit of love, power and a sound mind so I must press on past the things that would previously hold me back into the path He says I follow because I know I can trust Him to make me His perfect showcase that my life may honour Him.

I press on!

THE CHRISTIAN WALK

Communication: Our Heartbeat


This journey continues to change me. Just when I think I have learnt it all, something comes up and begs for an answer. This week it has been all that,

‘Communication…intentional communication is the key.’

Remember at the start, coach had me decide on my goals and set the targets myself so I would not blame anyone for them? Selecting the goals was the easy part. I opted to do a digital food diary so he sees I am eating and daily exercise with a bi-weekly weigh in. How do we keep this accountability thing going? Communication! Every day I post my routine, food and lessons if any and he responds with questions, insights and encouragement. It can get tiring and it is easy to say what the heck and walk away.

The other day as I was mulling over this and kind of complaining to God, He drew a line from here to the rest of my life. He reminded me of conversations I have had about communication, and the fact that it is the key beyond my life change plan. The lessons He is teaching here are critical for my next phase. so I stopped to interrogate the lessons.

Several questions came up.

  • How is consistent communication achieved and maintained through decades of life?
  • Does true, open and honest communication exist?
  • Is consistent, intentional communication even a possibility?

Yes this kind of communication is possible when it is premised on trust. If I trust you, I won’t catch feelings i.e. take things personally, when you speak your truth and you won’t when I speak mine. As humans, we often catch and we must build the kind of communication that repeatedly proves itself to the point we know the other person truly cares so we can trust their motives and that they won’t intentionally break us down. When we learn to listen to what is being said and the person is being genuine it is possible to accept it as honest. That’s the best kind of communication though it is a bit rare.

Most of us don’t have the time, patience, know-how, desire or capacity to deal with the ensuing vulnerability from honest communication. It takes truly hearing what the other person says, trusting it and living by it. It takes saying what you mean clearly and honestly and living by it. I remember times when coach would question a routine or the number of reps I was doing and all I heard was you are not good enough and went off. He’d push back and ask where the insecurity is coming from then explain what he meant. It took a while for me really see that he was really interested in my growth so he would call me out when he noticed I was settling.

Honest communication therefore, means a safe place to open up and where you know for sure you won’t be accused, judged, executed or tossed out of the community but will be heard, corrected, loved and appreciated. It is possible to cultivate though it takes time. Why is it important? We’re built for companionship. The more we connect, the greater the likelihood deeper bonds and connections hence the need for clear communication.

pexels-photo-356043.jpegMy desire to walk as my father has determined for me as a vessel of His love and mercy hence I am willing to learn to communicate as He says I should. Where are you on this journey? Are you even on it?

THE CHRISTIAN WALK

Just Push Through


For the longest time, my routine has included at least three sets of exercise and it grew organically from ten minutes to sixty minutes over time. I would be super proud when I did more that forty five minutes and would dance around or pat myself on the back until I hit a plateau. I found that I did exercises but nothing changed in fact I was beginning to frustrated.

One day I stepped on a stone and once again I couldn’t do a certain set of exercises. I had to find a way to keep working out so I looked and found an app that allowed me to focus on my abs. This made sense because I would keep the weight of jumping off my foot and I had realised that my core was weak and hence certain exercises were causing me back pain. I shifted intensity, duration and focus.

For eighteen days only I did one set of abdominal exercises. During that time my workload more than doubled and I spent more than three times the usual time travelling and working that I would be too tired to do much at the end of the day and the morning workout time had become impossible to do. I couldn’t even believe it. I would even fall asleep on the floor at the end of the work out as I did my last stretches. Once or twice I could not get halfway of my workout done.

To mitigate quitting, I dialled back on the exercise routines and remained with the seven minute abdominal exercise and stretches…a maximum of seventeen minutes. Initially I thought I was failing but I decided to do it because I wanted to work out every day no matter how little or how hard it got. On day nineteen, the routine had three sets of exercise I used to avoid because they were hard and I just couldn’t find it in me to try them. These exercises were the push up with a rotation, walking planks and burpees.

I could hear coach in my head saying, “Why do you decide not to do these exercise.”

“Can’t you see they are hard?”

‘Haven’t you done hard things before?”

“I have but these are too hard.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know…I just think they are hard.”

He just looks at me in utter disbelief. There is a look he gets when he cannot believe I am doing something that is indeed foolish or refusing to do something that is good for me. It is blank look that speaks…sounds like an oxymoron but yeah!!

Please note, I didn’t actually have the conversation with him; my mind was running scenarios of what our conversation would be like and that was enough for me to really ask God about the way forward.

In that moment I knew I had to do these exercises however hard they were because I have become stronger and I must be able to do more. So I did the exercises and increased my plank routine to sixty seconds each in one sitting. Oh the pressure! My heart rate was through the roof, there was pain in the abdomen and shaking of the muscles but I knew it was good for me so I did it again and I came back to the place of… ‘just push through.’

As I sit at my desk late at night on a break from client work, I realised that I was tired and just wanted to curl up and sleep but the looming deadline wouldn’t allow it. I asked for help and then I remember part of the word given to me on my birthday this week…

…He is a covenant keeping God and His word will not go back to Him until it has accomplished that which He sent it to fulfil in and through you.

He is the author of this journey and has so far helped me get within 1.8kg of my target weight. More than that, He says… ‘take my yoke upon you for my burden is easy and my yoke is light.’ This means I can trust Him, I can count on Him, and I can understand that it is well with me…so I rest. I rest from the toil, I rest from the hardship, I rest from aimless running and wait for Him to lead and guide into the next step and success.

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I trust Him to lead me in the ways everlasting.

THE CHRISTIAN WALK

Not Possible; Unless We agree


We have heard it over and over…How can two walk together unless they agree? It is often used in the context of relationships especially where different faiths are in question but that isn’t the focus today. Ha! Gotcha!

The harder part of the health and wellness journey is keeping to it for rest of your days. Ask me! I have first-hand experience. I was always health minded and have done all I could to remain so but a few years ago after a particularly difficult season, I let go of the tenacious hold I had on my health and how I lived. It didn’t happen all in one day but I slowly lost focus on one thing, forgot another, couldn’t afford the next one and the rest is history; a slow glide down the slope. Soon I had gained weight and I was mad at myself for it but I couldn’t break the habits I had formed. Well, maybe more of didn’t want to put in the work than couldn’t do it.

Let me assure you, being mad didn’t help me lose weight and guilt ate at my sense of value. I was once again distraught but didn’t do anything about it. One day, when I had lost some weight or so I thought, I met an older gentleman I hadn’t seen for 20 years and his first words shocked me. He said, ‘Ah! Umenona!’ (Ah…you have grown fat). Yes, he said that. Oh no…he wasn’t being nasty and he didn’t mean to be mean, he just remembered me as the slim, size 10/12, 20 something year old he had last seen and he couldn’t reconcile this larger girl. It honestly hurt to be called fat and I didn’t tell him but it got me thinking again how I had let go and renewed the desire to do something about it.

Fast forward to the current journey I am on. There are some really drastic changes I have made in my life that may be hard to keep if I was alone. A great source of strength and support has been my girlfriends. Even as some of the things I eat or the quantities I consume are small, they have never given me room to stop. Some have even made provision for me to have special meal options when I go to their homes or as we eat out. They have encouraged me not to break the pattern or lose the faith asked questions to understand and encourage not demeaning. Another great source of strength is my lil man. He is the hard to please diet policeman who quickly stops me when I want to eat things I shouldn’t. He is as strong in opinion as coach and knows he has coach behind him so he pushes me to be the set I can be including making sure I exercise.

What is my point? We all have people we walk with who either encourage or discourage us depending on what life is like or how we interpret things. It is important to walk with people who make you a better version of yourself and push you to hear God and walk in his ways. It is important to understand that there is nothing as good as becoming all God has said you are and will be.

The simple lesson I have learnt is to keep away from people who discourage me even if they are family members because unless we are in agreement we cannot go a set direction together. Check your friendships and relationships to be sure they are adding value and not taking more out of your life that you can afford to give. Remember that with God all things are possible so you are able to become the fullness of who God says you are and then rise above that.

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Focus on Him and what He says and He will make all things beautiful in his eyes

THE CHRISTIAN WALK

100 Days: What now?


Once you reach the target what next? No really…what next. Yesterday I passed 100 days on the new system and I fondly remembered my brother who is a guru in rapid result initiatives. He once told me that the best way to assess the viability of a project or the dedication of the implementer is how much is done in 100 days. It is enough time to really see their motivation. What do I think about it? So this is the 100 day review:

Food:

Believe it or not, my tastes have changed! Yeah , yeah, it sounds cliché right? Yet, it is true. About three weeks ago we had a girl’s date and we prepped and cooked lots of good food but guess what, when all was ready I went back to the kitchen to look for sweet bell peppers in different colours cut, added vinegar and made a salad to eat with chicken. Why? My system currently prefers fresh vegetables to cooked vegetables. Even more interesting is the new appreciation for green smoothies and odd fruits that I wouldn’t have looked at in the past. So yes…my eating habits have changed. It is even funnier that when I am out, these behaviours follow me.

Cravings:

These are almost a thing of the past. Once a month I would have the insatiable desire to eat, eat, eat chocolate and all things sweet but now I just have one bite and I am good. A single square of dark chocolate actually hits the spot just right I  no longer need a whole bar like before. I used to the whole chocolate no matter what size I opened. It was as if I could not help myself. Now, it is so funny, I could break off three pieces and after the first I’m like, isn’t that enough and just stop. Oh my!! I couldn’t believe it the first or second time but as it has continued to happen I marvel and feel like I am on the outside looking in.

Exercise:

This is the funniest one…oh yes it is. A few days ago I was working when I realised it was 11.20pm and I hadn’t worked out. Yes, you read right 11.20pm. I had been struggling with focus and all those things but couldn’t really understand why and suddenly my mind looks on the need to work out and won’t let go. So I went to my 7 min app and voila! HA!!! In the past you would never find me going out of my way to get on the on mat to work out. in fact I would be looking for reasons early in the morning why the evening workout wouldn’t happen. Do I always love the workout and do it with ease? Nope. Do I do it all the same? Yes. Why? I love it. Coach just calls it the right kind of addiction since even injury wouldn’t stop me. I wouldn’t say addicted…I say committed.

Faith:

I didn’t expect such a great change here. Working out and eating well has brought an unexpected dimension in my life. The very face that I have conquered my personal laziness and turned it around that my body is crying out for exercise, has also totally affected my walk with God. Whenever I try to give excuses about how hard one thing or the other is, He reminds me that if my body has moved from where it was to this place of deep commitment surely my heart and mind can too. What excuse do I have not to get up and pray if I will stop work and exercise at 11.00pm? None whatsoever! It has also come to mean that I can fix my eyes on something and follow through to the determined end even if it seems like an unlikely and illogical conclusion. It means that my heart and mind can connect to the purpose of God and be unrelenting to the end. It means that I truly have to live with #NoExcuses.

waterfall-beauty-lets-explore-lets-get-lost.jpgI am grateful to God for His grace and mercy and the gift of tenacity He has given me. For real it is a gift He gives and then pushes us to unearth it. I am proof that in less than 4 months he has shown me how nothing is impossible with him and that I can trust him to shift me no matter what. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.