The Simple Life

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.

THE CHRISTIAN WALK, The Simple Life

Unbelievable #Impact


I wonder if I am the only one but as I get older I become more reflective and introspective. Over the last few months I have thought a lot about those who went ahead of me. I have particularly looked back at my maternal grandparents and great grandparents. There is a great legacy left by them, we have no excuses.

My maternal great-grand father Munyaka inspires me. I don’t have real memories of him as he died a few years after I was born but I have been told many stories about him. He was born in Kitui and survived the greatest famine in Ukambani that wiped out their village in the 1930’s. As a young child he wandered through the plains living by foraging until he was found by missionaries who settled with him in Kangundo in Machakos. He grew up and became the African Inland Mission’s first African Pastor and thereafter Pastor of Pastor’s in the area. He remained a simple man, faithful to God and committed to excellence to the very end.

I have great memories of my maternal grandfather and grandmother. They loved God and were raised in the church all their lives. I remember Grandpa’s hulking figure and Grandma’s little stature. I remember going ‘shags’ as we fondly call our upcountry homes, and having the time of my life. Grandma embodied love and generosity. She would send for sugarcane and arrowroots from the riverside farm as soon as we arrived. She also sent for meat that was slow cooked on the side of a three stone fire with little other than tomatoes and potatoes. Saltless food had never tasted better. She prepared simple but amazing meals and taught me to love 20140602_174317traditional food. She made a basket for me when I was 14. She banned me from going to her house in trousers. She pinched me if she found me doing something she didn’t like. Grandpa was my biggest play mate. We would want to pinch me or beat me with his stick just for kicks. He would tickle me senseless. He also sought excellence in me and asked about my grades every end of term. It was not acceptable to do be below the top 5 in school. You see, he had been a teacher earlier in life. He was concerned and watchful; I often saw him watching us from the veranda of his house as we played. A smile always played on his lips as he watched his grandchildren having a great time.

They grew macadamia nuts, local apples, avocados, mangoes, oranges, lemons, maize, beans, coffee, arrowroots, sugarcane and kept two bulls. It was such a treat to drive the 45mins to their home every month. We climbed the trees, picked fruit or walked around the farm harvesting whatever was ready. Yet there was so much more to them. They both loved God deeply and set the standards for the family. We all knew that we were expected to do and be the best we could in life…there were #NoExcuses. There was never a reason good enough for doing something badly. It was give your best or nothing at all.

As I think back to those days I am thinking that this could be how the Bible was written. The Bible is full of stories or people or families living life until one incident happens and changes the way they interact with life. Think of Noah in Genesis 11. Think of Abraham in Genesis 17. The Bible tells us of how life was going on and what the people did and how God responded to the situation. In each story, there was something that needed to change and God selected one guy or a group of people to showcase this change and therefore change the face of history through his obedience. There are so many stories of other Bible characters whose lives changed the course of history. Joseph, Isaiah, David, Solomon, Ezra, Nehemiah, Mary, the Disciples, Paul…the list is endless. They met God and life changed.

I sit here thinking about my generation:

  • Can the same be said about our generation?
  • Will the stories of the goodness of God be told about us in ways that will inspire the next generation to walk closely with God?
  • Will our children and grandchildren be glad we lived?
  • Will they miss us and our impact on them?

This thought has to be turned to me to make it more personal. It inspires questions and thoughts of how I live my life.

  • Am I authentic?
  • Am I believable?
  • Am I honest about my life or do I hide behind masks and facades?
  • Who am I and how do I live?

Indeed the list of questions in my head is endless but I purpose to work through one question at a time and find a way to honour God with the life I live here.

Join me as we walk this walk of faith.

The Simple Life

Real Live Thoughts


Monday 25.02.13

SMALL STRAWS IN A SOFT WIND by MARSHA BURNS:

Regardless of your circumstances or the attacks that have caused you to feel insecure or unstable, I am still the Rock of your spiritual foundation, says the LordCome to Me in times of crisis and uncertainty, and I will establish you again in truth and wisdom.  

 1 Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

 What a reminder.

IMG_20130125_075533A couple of days ago I was at the bank when one of the customer care staff called me aside to let me know that one of them had passed away the night before. Her name is Susan and I realised in that moment that I have loved her as a sister for a while now yet never realised or said it. When I was tired of the bank and wanted to move because of bad experiences at my branch she convinced me not to and to give them one last chance. So I gave them one last chance and she made a world of difference. She found a way to open my account in the names I wanted despite repeated claims that it was not possible. She found ways to cool me down when I was mad at them yet never promised the impossible. When I was told she was gone I came face to face with my mortality once again.

 

You see, Susan is my age mate. She has a son about the same age as my son. She has a husband who loves her. She has family and friends who love her. There were tears in Lydia’s eyes when she told me about Susan’s passing. Her voice broke and she had to stop and take a breath before finishing the story. In that moment I realised that despite her sudden departure Susan is deeply loved. She will be dearly missed. Her absence will be closely felt. I must admit that someone will be hired to replace her. Someone will sit at her desk. However, I will always remember her smile, her warmth of heart, her genuine concern. In this day and age where many are too engrossed in work, she found time to get to know my whole family as we all bank there. She was concerned if my son’s birthday card did not get sent on time. She did more than just her job, she cared for us and her care kept us there and enabled her employer stay afloat. She played her part and so in her memory I will too.

 

That day has made me ask some really hard questions about my life; am I loved by anyone that deeply? Would my colleagues cry for me for more than being the provider for income? Will my clients miss me? How much longer do I have on this earth? Will I have lived to the fullest and had the greatest experience every by the time I leave this earth? Do I give my all with everyone I meet? Am I a positive influence on all I meet? Do I help everyone who comes my way? Do I share what I have selflessly? Am I living up to my calling and reaching the target God set out for me?

IMG_20130125_081240

So I lived the day in a haze and went about the business of life wondering and pondering what my life has been about and what I continue to live for. I choose this day to live with a clear view of heaven and the reality that I am not here forever and have impact and a difference I need to make while I am here.

 

Join me to live our lives to the fullest expression of Papa and with the greatest joy, love and peace. Be a blessing and life changer everyday.

 

THE CHRISTIAN WALK, The Simple Life

Amazing ways


 

When was the last time you really thought through the circumstances in your life? Have you been in places that seem impossible and then out of the blue everything works out? When did it last happen to you that something you had been working on seemingly resolved itself in minutes?

This week has been one of those for me. We are in the middle of a project and for a while things have not been working. Well, at least in the physical it was not working. So here we were wondering and making streaks in the carpet pacing and worrying and still nothing seemed to be working out. So after a few hours of quiet contemplation it dawned on me that the success lies not in the hands of a man but in the hands of God. There is a place for work and it is mandatory for us to put in elbow grease in everything we do. However, there is also a big place for Papa to check in and make things work in the way that he so desires.

So sitting at my desk we begun to get resolution and commitment after commitment came through. So my colleague and I wondered what had triggered the sudden influx and we were reminded… ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

So what is it that has been said that must happen? Where do you need to go but see nothing but darkness? Where is the opposition? Where is the challenge? Who is standing in the way? What is holding you back? Remember you are more than just a statistic. There is a purpose and plan for each of our lives and when we check into it great things happen. It is not about who you know or can be connected to. It is more about your destiny and God’s divine plan for your life. Some of us will be kings, others priests, others business leaders and still others care givers. The reality is that we need to connect to our divine destiny and flow in it.

Take time to sit at the feet of God today and find out the road you need to travel. Take that road even when it seems lonely and farfetched. Make time to follow your dreams. Follow the call in your heart. Be the difference you desire in your community.

Remember, it is not about your personal possessions rather it is about your personal legacy. Leave a good one.

 

THE CHRISTIAN WALK

Impact as Designed


When I least expected it my view was changed. Last Friday a colleague and I went venue searching and we ended up in a venue in one of the local forests. The thing I really was left with was the need to conserve the environment. We met the GM there and he is looking to better the place and it was amazing. He had an interesting thought process.

 

First he believes in empowering the local people to do the work and then train them to improve productivity. Second, he doesn’t think anyone should sit in one place and get comfortable at their job. One should look for comfort in their lives as well as look for opportunities to improve themselves and move on. The intention here is to make room for others at the lower rungs in life. Isn’t that amazing?

 

Isn’t that a new thought? Isn’t that the way to build an organisation? Create a place that can bring people in and improve them then let them out and on their way? Concentrate on improving lives and the ability to make impact. We all want to get people and keep them and there is a place for that in the top levels for purposes of consistency however, how many of us ever create systems that can work without us and still be as efficient to the client as if we were there? Systems that will enable us to be effective and have the kind of impact God intend us to have.

 

The local reality is different. Usually as a business owner, I am the centre of my business and as long as I am alive, well and able to work it will flourish. What happens to the design of leaving a legacy and inheritance for my children? Prov 13:22 is very clear, “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children and his children’s children but a sinners wealth is stored up for the righteous.”  I will concentrate on the first part; “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children and his children’s children…” anything else is for another day. It is God’s intention that I leave a legacy for the next two generations but how can I do that if I am not even able to take care of the current generation?

 

That thought takes me back to my thoughts on work. I am building a firm with a mandate to create great impact and wealth. You see, there is so much that needs to be done in the expansion of the kingdom yet there isn’t enough money. Think of how many people are still hungry, how many missionaries are ineffective because they do not have the right funding, there are people without bibles, clothes, homes, education….there is so much need and there are not enough resources to go around. How about the lack of schools and the need to train more teachers? There is so much to do out there and I cannot sit here and be complacent.

 

I must rise up and do what God is telling me to do whether or not you agree with me. I must get to the place where His instructions are more important to me than my personal opinions. I must connect to His voice and understand that the plans He has for all of us are good and not for evil to give us a future and a hope. I cannot but follow my destiny and work to walk in His ways and make the kind of impact I need to make.

 

Recently a man of God said that many of us are not being exposed to our destiny and to people of higher impact because we are not ready and able to withstand the onslaught of challenges that come with that kind of exposure. So, if I am destined to be so great and create such greatness for the glory of God then why have been so low financially for so long? Why have I struggled? What lessons do I still have to learn? What is it that I am not yet ready for? One thing I know is that I am filled with a deep desire to just get to know God and understand Him and His purpose for my life. I am beginning to understand what Christ meant when He said, “Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you.” Matt 6:33. Wow…the answer is in being in the place He desires me to be and in the line with His will all the while listening to His directions and walking in obedience.

 

Ok, so what does it take to be where we need to be in life? Obedience! When God says move we move. When HE says stay we stay. When He says wait we wait. I know that I am in the midst of something great and the only way I can latch on to it is to obey. I know I have written a lot about obedience in the last few months but it is a message that is refusing to let go of my heart and each time I put a hand to the keyboard it jumps out at me. This is the key I see for the way things will unfold to the honour and glory of the God the Father. I don’t know about you but at this time when all is said and done I want to be so sure of my calling, destiny and impact on this earth that it is worth aligning to the plans and focus of God.