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.

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Redefining our thoughts – 3


I am reading Dr. Trimm’s book Commanding Your Morning’ and so many things are jumping out at me. The primary realisation is that I cannot become something I cannot already envision myself to be. She puts it even better when she quoted a friend who told her that ‘…your feet cannot take you where your mind hasn’t already been.’ Isn’t that big?????? I think it’s really really big.

 

I have been meditating on the whole concept of renewing my mind. How does it happen? What does it mean? Will we all be able to renew our minds? Why does it seem easier for some people than others? What are the challenges and hindrances? Where does one start? What is the path marked for each of us?

 

It struck me that contrary to popular belief renewing the mind is not rocket science. It is the product of committed and consistent effort. Effort to reconnect the wires in my brain back to the way Papa created them. You see, my mind has over the years recorded reels and reels of conversations and prophesies doubts and fears and stored them deep in my subconscious mind. All this is regardless whether they are true or not. It has been going on for so long that I now believe all those things as gospel truth even though some of them are contrary to what God is saying about me. Therefore, when something happens I was prone to say things like:

  • …that is just how life works
  • …I am not really good at that
  • …it never seems to work for me
  • …she is so lucky because….
  • …I will never be…..
  • And the list is endless

 

The reality is that I am the only one who can take the word God has spoken over my life and call it into being then act upon it. The flip side is that if I don’t believe His word about me I cannot become anything close to it. I won’t even believe whatever He says about me because I will remember and possibly cling to all the things I am not good at and I have failed at in the past. The memory of the past will affect ability to move forward.

 

So I asked myself, how can some people be moving forward and achieving loads yet I am in the same place I have always been? Why is it that some people made it despite incredible odds yet I am seemingly stuck despite my great potential? The trigger came for me when I realised that I need to change the print of my life. I needed to change the print from my thoughts to beliefs to words and finally actions. There is a lot of talk about our footprint and finger print but I came face to face with an even bigger print that I had to discover and align to. I came across the Voice Print. Yes, I said Voice Print.

 

When I first heard it from Dr. Trimm I was like…what??? No way!!! That borders on absurd and for a long moment I stopped in my tracks

However, I realised that she IS actually right!!!! My words have limited me in line with my thoughts. I realised that the extent of my thought process had become the boundaries of my words and beliefs. The fact that I have said certain things over and over again had reinforced them into my life and no matter how much I tried to believe otherwise it all was a losing battle. Every new thing I tried has been bound to fail because I do not believe it internally and I will not confess it externally. So my voice print had indeed been created from my thought process.

 

As I begun to internalise this, I realised that it is not impossible to re-write the script in my head but it takes time and consistent effort. The renewal of the mind had to begin with the awareness that my mind is corrupt and has moved away for the purposes of Papa for me hence it needs to be changed. Secondly I needed to change the script of what or who I listen to and where I hang out to be able to change the base message in mind. Third, I had to assess my closest relationships and realised that I could only go as far as my crowd. This helped me realise where I was going and if that was really the way I need to be walking in. Finally, when all is said and done I need to know for sure about what God thinks about me and who He desires I become. Once I know for sure that I am created in His image and likeness and I am able to make a difference in my mind the process begins. I can begin to understand His purpose for me and my life.

 

To renew my mind and my thought patterns is to change the way I think and this has to be done by removing one way of thinking and replacing it with another. I now understand better what God was talking about when He told Joshua to ‘meditate on the Word day and night that he may be prosperous and successful.’ Joshua 1:8-9. In the same scripture Joshua is told repeatedly to ‘be strong and courageous’ meaning that this change process will not be easy.

 

To redefine my thoughts means that on a daily basis I need to meditate on the word of Papa, internalise and commit to memory His word over me and then act on it till it resonates in my spirit. When it begins to resonate I will be able to speak it out with great conviction and as I speak it out the voice print over me changes. I am no longer bound by the negative thoughts that used to be part of my life. I find that when a negative thought comes, I am able to recognise it and deal with it. I have made the connection to the path that was set out for me. The path for a new life is unfolding one petal at a time one day at a time.

 

Dear Papa, help me continue to connect with your plans for me that it may resonate and make life more meaningful for at least one other person. Teach me to work with you and grow the depth of my relationship with you.

 

Dear reader, walk with me and post how the process is going. Be encouraged for there is hope ahead of us

The Simple Life

Redefining our thoughts – 2


  • Proverbs 32:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” KJV.
  • Matthew 12:34 “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “…We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

These are all the scriptures I mentioned in the past that actually provide the basis for our discussion. You see, when we move along with these verses, it becomes clear that we are the one  and only thing that stands between us and our destiny. We determine where we go and what we achieve. Even if God has great plans for us he cannot force us to reach the fulfilment of the same because He gives us free will and a mind to process and align with him.

So often we life around us has standards expectations and these are based on what has happened in the past and what others have determined is the truth and is reliable. Think about it, when we were young weren’t we told that if we did not do well in school we would not be able to get good jobs and hence be unable to become anything in life. REALLY? Have you ever stopped to wonder if that is the whole truth? What of Albert Einstein, Richard Branson, Winston Churchill? How many people who have made it in life have done different things? Think of your locality and find people who reached great heights even when they had very little…they had to do something different to make the change and difference.

On the other hand there are people who we believed would the best in life because they were at the top of the class yet today they are in their graves too early or wallowing in a lost way. There has to be more to life than just where I was born, my education, my connections and past experience.

The ability to move away from the normal and into the realm of different must have another trigger and I would put it forward here that it is a matter of “my thought process.” I become my thoughts and I am bound by my thoughts. I had never thought of it this way but my thoughts are either wings or chains. They can make me fly or tie me to the ground. Think about it again…you become what you think or better still, “What you focus on expands.” I’ll say that again, “What you focus on expands.” That last statement was said by Dr. Cindy Trimm this last weekend and it has not left me since…”What you focus on expands.”

I have always given this a lot less weight than I really needed to give it. It also bears witness in my heart that focus is conscious and subconscious. Even when I am not actively pondering things, they are brewing and brooding in the back of my mind or in the depths of my heart. This means that the day I meet that one person who hurt me deeply once in my life, I feel my guard going up and I brace for the fight or the barb I am expecting from them. How can I react this way unless I am somehow and sometime thinking about it? Isn’t there a place deep inside me that is processing, brooding and holding onto the pain and hurt? Why can’t I let it go?

I realised that there are things I need to stop focusing on to ensure that I stay on the right track and keep moving from one level to another. It means that I must reassess my life, feelings and how my mind works. I must desire to find out how my mind works and processes data. I must then recognise the road I am destined to follow and measure progress against the revelation I receive daily. When I find that I am not on the right track I must take myself to lie at the foot of the cross and ask Papa to “Transform me by the renewing of my mind…” Rom 12:2.

Renewing my mind is really not rocket science. It is shifting focus from the things that have held me captive to something new. The new focus must be something that is bigger, greater and more powerful than me. The best way to find this place is found in Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Remember that what we focus on expands so we must be sure that we are focusing on the right things and growing in strength and grace every step.

Dear Papa, help me to find you and walk in your ways always. Renew my mind and allow me to be all you desire for me and then some. For when you created me you said I was good. Today I decree and declare that I am good, I am blessed, I am able to be transformed in my mind, I am child of the Most High God, I will become all Papa set out for me to become.

In Christ’s name I pray AMEN.

The Simple Life

No negativity


SMALL STRAWS IN A SOFT WIND by MARSHA BURNS:

Take a stand, and refuse to be controlled by the negativity of others.  The enemy will use bitterness to defile you and everything it touches.  You must set a watch and not allow disagreement and opposition to hinder My purposes in and around you.  It is serious business for those who insist on defiling the atmosphere and quenching My Spirit, says the Lord.

Hebrews 12:15  Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.

********************

Often when we hear about negative energy we call it a new age thing. This reading today confirmed things for me that I have been thinking about for a while. Who I spend time with by choice or by default affects the atmosphere around me.

In the midst of my daily life I interact with people and bump into strangers who have opinions and attitudes. These could be positive or negative and I need to be on watch for the same.

 

Recently I was in the bank and heard an elderly foreign man telling off one of the customer service attendants. The bottom line of what he said was that we will never move forward as a nation because there is a critical flaw in us as a Kenyan people. He somehow believes that we will never really amount to much and we cannot see change through. I stood there thinking WHAT????

Okay some of the things he put forward made sense like the fact that we have got so much money as ‘aid’ that will need to be repaid yet most of us don’t think about that. Partly true but don’t we currently fund a bigger portion of our budget locally these days? Aren’t more of us working hard to build local businesses that are pushing the envelope and making greater economic progress? Aren’t we receiving more investment from Kenyans in the diaspora? They why did he feel that there was no hope for the nation? It must be based on the people he interacts with regularly.

 

So I got thinking…how much of the future of my life and this nation am I allowing to be affected and changed by the choices of others. How seriously am I thinking about what people are saying about me and the life around me? Do I know where I am headed? Do I declare success of my life and those around me? Do I focus on the good and achievable and not the bad? Do I care enough for the future to be conscious of what I say?

Let us choose today to remain focused on the things that are above and conscious of our impact with our thoughts, words and deeds. Let us be aware of the impact common thought has on our surrounds and be united in the same. Let us work with those around us especially the young people to teach the power of the spoken word. Let us commit our tongues to God that he may teach us to speak with care.

THE CHRISTIAN WALK

Choices


Here is the thought of my day…I am certain that there is something we all do.

Was playing a game recently and I was losing pathetically. I even got penalised to sit out a couple of rounds. The thing that really got me thinking as I sat out waiting for my turn to re-enter, was the realisation that I had checked out mentally from the game a while back. For some strange reason my mind was elsewhere working through other things. The short of the long is that as I became more distracted and begun thinking about other things, there was a direct impact to the activities I was currently engaged in. Around me all the others were excited and forging ahead and I had just resigned myself to whatever comes.

Suddenly it flashed through my mind that this probably wasn’t the only place this was happening. I did a quick personal evaluation and realised that my attitude to certain areas of my life was in the same disorganised state. As I looked at the issues I realised that the results were also the same. I was surely astounded how easily things can come together. The stark reminder here was that my thoughts will direct the path of my life. This is exemplified in Proverbs 32:7 that says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” KJV.

It was totally startling that in that moment of temporary mental dissociation I had connected to and projected the internal state of my heart into reality. In a split second I remembered that everything I do makes a differences in the way my life pans out. I realised that in the midst of life I can at times lose track of the real and meaningful connections and connectors in life with devastating effects. Further to this, Matthew 12:34 jumped out to remind me that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” So here is the clincher, I lose focus on the way and everything falls out of plan and purpose because there is nothing to hold it together. So I could be waltzing through the day with my mind jumping from here to there accomplishing nothing and then at the end of the ask what happened.

There are things I need to do that I don’t and things I shouldn’t do that I do. These then become sources of greatness or loss. What do I need to stop doing? What do I need to start doing? What are the repercussions of the choices I am making? My choices will make or break my life. I therefore chose to take charge of my thoughts as 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “…We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

What do you need to daily, moment by moment take captive and redirect your thoughts about that will change the entire course of your life from your terms to God’s terms? What do you need to give up? What do you need to start doing?

Dear Lord, help me daily connect with you and to the realities that you have for me. Amen

THE CHRISTIAN WALK, The Simple Life

Expectancy


Wasn’t it a shock for me when I sat back and realised that my experience were pegged on the wrong things and I had been setup for failure from the beginning. Let me explain.

 

We are all raised to expect certain standards from ourselves and others to enable strong and lasting relationships. We believed that there are things each of us should do that will help the relationship succeed. When the said things are not fulfilled, one would feel that the relationship is skewed unfair.

 

Recently, I read “The Shack” by Paul Young and my thought process was challenged and changed. He talks about God looking at us with expectancy not expectation. How absolutely radical! You see, expectations are standards and make us judge our relationships with others based on what either one of us are supposed to do and achieve. When the ‘requirements’ are not met we get disappointed and hurt.

 

God on the other hand looks at us very differently. He looks at us with expectancy. What is that? Well, He created us and knows our humanity. He knows that we may not get it right the first time yet He still has hope that one day we will get there. When we don’t get there He smiles, forgives and says maybe tomorrow. He looks at us in love and with the knowledge that one day we will get it and we will be all He desires of us to be.

 

In view of that, how then do we need to treat one another? I think the way to go is expectancy…meaning that we need to develop a never ending belief that it will be well and all will work out fine. I am learning every day that when I don’t put my expectations on others I am better able to have peace and joy all the time. However, I desire to move from expectation to expectancy, I must deal with myself and what I don’t like about me. I am forced to look at myself and deal with the issues that arise from the waiting and the attitudes I have inadvertently created in my heart, for I cannot give what I don’t have.

 

It is often easier said than done but I know that with God all things are possible and I will be in the space one day that  will not load expectations on people rather I will live with an open, warm and expectant heart that allows everyone to be themselves and free me to be happy and loving life.

 

Papa how I desire a heart like yours and love that is deep and wide as mine has failed me time and time again. I know it is part of a process and the process at times scares me to follow yet I want to believe that you are all I need and will ever need.