​“Clothed and Shielded”

I was having a chat with an old friend from campus the other day. Deep into the conversation he asked;
“What was up with you back then by the way? You looked super satisfied with life!”

I was taken aback. Me? Super satisfied? Ha!

(I think satisfied here would mean content, at peace)

Looking back, I would not say I was super satisfied with life, as he put it. I always had my plate full. Every semester, I would take the maximum number of credit hours allowed. This meant a lot of course work. The tuition fee was always a cloud hanging right above my head, and to ease things up for my folks, I took up the work study program which meant working for a couple of hours every week. The ‘salary’ I earned would go a long way in covering a certain percentage of the fee balance. Then there was basketball, which I like to say kept me sane. I would go to the court every week day evening at 5pm without fail. Tournaments and league games would take up most of the weekends. This while working at the campus radio station and trying to have a social life while at it. 

I wasn’t complaining. I had reconciled with the fact that it was a lot, but it had to be done. My fear was that I thought I ‘looked’ like a wreck. I wanted to believe that I cleaned up well, but I was convinced that everyone could see right through me, only that they were too polite to mention it. 

My prayer life wasn’t stellar, but I did have conversations with the father. I remember praying for strength, wisdom, peace of mind and most of all joy. Oh, and I loved this verse in Philippians, “I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.” This alone barricaded any thoughts of giving in or a mental breakdown. There were times I prayed for the lecturer to get stuck in traffic so I could have the morning or afternoon off to sleep (Imagine this request was granted more times than I can count!) Oh of the times I began praying at night only to wake up with an Amen in the AM! Then there were times I would go for days on end without what I like to call structured prayers. Thank God for ‘The Grace’ prayer that stood in the gap. Prayer was done conveniently to suit the state of mind and body, rarely the soul. I know better now. 

So for four years, I worked and hustled my way to my undergraduate degree. It was a beautiful roller coaster. Sometimes I look back and thank God that phone cameras were not as advanced and therefore the urge to constantly take photos was suppressed. Man! The evidence against me would have been super incriminating…I think.

Let me just tell you now, God is amazing…

…and his timing is perfect. 

“Don’t know about being satisfied. God is so good. He probably clothed me like that to protect me.” I answered him.

Just like that, God, at a time when I was having certain feelings of inadequacy reminded me why He is shalom. WhiIe I worried about my outward appearance and how people perceived me, He was at work, clothing me with radiance and contentment. He caused others to see confidence and purpose. Come to think of it, even in times when I felt like I was crumbling, there was someone near me to attend to the very need I had. I found people I could laugh with. People who would have probably been put off if it were not for the robe of peace and joy that God had elegantly draped over my shoulders and zipped tight. 

What a revelation!

Ladies, you know when we are obsessing about a solitary pimple somewhere on our faces and someone tells you, “Eh! You are glowing!” Most of us, instead of the good ol’ thank you, will likely point out to that pimple and ask the person if they did not see it before they gave the compliment. God causes people to marvel at your glow, but you won’t let yourself prosper. You just have to bring up that flaw you think will dim that light you are radiating.  Self – sabotage…

Here is some encouragement for you as you swim through this week’s waters, God is listening. He heard you yesterday when you shouted for help. Today, when you said thank you for prayers answered, he heard that too! You don’t have to say complex prayers or speak in tongues. Psalms 119:80 “Let my heart be sound (sincere and wholehearted and blameless) in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame.” I love these prayers that David made, recognizing that we can be so inadequate but since Jesus ushered us into the reign of grace, it is definitely sufficient in our walk of faith. I think it is pretty refreshing that we can be naked before God, as we can’t with man, as the father ‘covers’ for us on the outside. It is important that you read God’s word. It offers such a sweet reassurance that He is the custodian of all that we need; peace from the prince of peace, strength from the lion of Judah, joy in his presence and sanctuary, and so forth. Talk to Him, and when you can’t, let your heart remind Him of ‘your stock chats,’ of promises made. You might not even see or feel it, but God’s unconditional, unbelievable, undeniable, indescribable love is present; shielding and clothing you. You will wear that gown with the dignity and confidence it deserves and demands. You will not make any justifications for it, because there is none; only unmerited favor.

Blessings!!

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A Toothache, blind date and other stories

Why do toothaches get worse at night? Do they feel the need to fill up the silence and peace that take over from the day’s madness with their stinging conversations with the nerves? Or it it punishment for all the days we (read I) eat Oreo cookies in bed, then get too lazy to go brush? Needless to say, I did not get an ounce of sleep last night. I stayed up reading ‘Dust,’ by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, listening to the water pump humming the night away and judging (mostly cursing) those wretched neighbors walking in at three and not even trying to be discreet. At dawn’s first light, I ran into the bathroom a tired mess thinking of one person, the dentist.

On another day, I would have double checked the contents of my bag. I would have made sure I had the office keys, wallet, kindle and the lemon and strawberry water. Not today. All I could think of was getting that monster away from me. 

The matatu pulled up and the five of us waiting at the stop scrambled in, never mind that it was literally empty. From my seat behind the driver, I thought about how we had gotten so used to fighting our way through everything that even when a situation needed no force, we felt the need to assert our might. When I was not too preoccupied with the pain, I actually noticed what a beautiful morning it was. The sun’s rays sliced through the thick mist making it quite obvious that a takeover was imminent. Little hands locked into bigger ones as mothers walked their children to school. I felt my mood lift as the air got lighter, until the suited guy next to me motioned me to shut the window. I rolled my eyes and took a few seconds before I slid it shut. I winced as at that very moment, someone let out a series of hollow coughs. A toothache from hell was not enough, I had to get TB too?

The conductor was collecting the fare. I reached into my bag, calmly searching the first compartment for my purse. Then the second. Then panic when I couldn’t find it in the third. I repeated the process, almost emptying the contents of the bag onto my lap. Then I saw it. It was lying casually on my bedside table, oblivious of the trouble I was in because of its position. I sighed and looked helplessly at the conductor, “I think I have left my wallet at home. Do you take M-pesa?” He looked at me as if I was the most annoying thing he had ever come across. “Madam unataka kulipa fifty bob na Mpesa? Aii. Tiga wana weh!” He wasn’t going to let me pay through mobile money transfer. His knuckles knocked on the window alerting the driver to stop. “Shuka utafute Mpesa utoe hiyo doe.” No one flinched as I alighted to look for an Mpesa shop at eight thirty in the morning. I watched the matatu speed away as I took in my surroundings. No Mpesa shops. I wanted to cry, but no tears would come out. I just felt my insides flood. 

I must have been a most awful sight, because a man stopped and asked me if I was alright. He listened as I explained my predicament, eyeballing me for potential con woman qualities (I assumed). I could hardly believe my luck when he offered me some cash, enough to get me to town. When I told him I could refund him immediately through Mpesa, he declined and walked away, wishing me a much better day than the crappy morning I was having. I made a mental note to do a Facebook post later to celebrate this rare species of a human being.

I had no appointment, so I sat at the reception hoping for a miracle. The receptionist had already made it clear that the morning slots were all taken, but I wouldn’t budge. Every now and then, she would remind me that they wouldn’t bend the rules just because my tooth was “giving me a little trouble.” Little trouble? Lately I feel like some of these receptionists need to be given a high five, with a chair, on their faces. Little trouble indeed. There was no one else waiting with me. I preoccupied myself with the interior design, wondering why this had not been placed there and that there. When the doctor finally walked out, I gave him the most pitiful look. He asked what procedure I was there for and I said “This tooth is killing me!” The last couple of days had been terrible, so much so that when I walked out of the operating room an hour and a half later, the relief felt like something foreign; like a holiday in Hawaii after a busy year digging up minerals at a quarry in Homabay.

I was suddenly so upbeat that when a client requested a lunch time meeting, I accepted. I never do impromptu meetings but the new burst of life gave me such a confidence boost. I made my way towards the Yala Mall and settled into the leather seats at the Africana restaurant where we had agreed to meet. I ordered a drink then took to sizing up the place. Ever since the the attack on Westgate happened, I always look for possible escape routes available in and around an establishment. It now comes ever so naturally that I don’t think it unusual that I still live in fear of something that happened a while back. Better safe than sorry, is my mantra. I note only one exit and decide to push the anxiety to the back of my mind and focus instead on the people at the lunch tables. I recall one of my writing mentors telling me, “…stories are everywhere. You just need to look, snoop and spy a little…or a lot!” 

I had never met this client before, so I had no idea how she looked. She had however described what she was wearing so I would recognize her when she walked in. A few minutes later, I stood to receive her as she walked towards me, only for her to walk past me to the table next to mine. Confused, I looked at the text she had sent me and then at her. The description was spot on. I stole glances at her every few seconds then finally decided to go ask her if she was Molyne. 

“Get away from me!” She jumped, instinctively picking up the steak knife. “I have seen the way you have been looking at me. What do want?” 

More than the look of terror on her face was the look on mine, shock.

Are you Molyne?

She was Carol

Does Kenya Need a New Independence Day?

12th December is Jamhuri Day in Kenya.

Jamhuri is the Swahili word for “republic” and the holiday is meant to officially mark the date of Kenya’s independence which happened on 12 December 1963.

A majority of Kenyans however, do not feel like the past 53 years offer much in celebration, what with corruption scandals being the order of the day. The health sector is in crisis, and the country mourns the death of at least 40 people killed in a highway explosion this past Saturday. In fact, as the President leads the country in celebration at the Nyayo National Stadium in nation’s capital, a group is at the City Centre, protesting. According to a poster doing rounds online, they are urging citizens to “#TakeBackKenya and take a stand against corruption.”

(As Reported by Standard Media on Twitter) BREAKING NEWS: Police use teargas to disperse a protest dubbed #TakeBackKenya along Moi Avenue, Nairobi; three people arrested

So is Kenya really free? One Dr. Wandia Njoya, a lecturer at a local university, offers her thoughts.

“Jamhuri Day, 2016. We’re supposed to be celebrating independence and nationhood. But Kenya feels less like a nation and more like a den of hustlers and crooks. The majority hustle while the minority loot. Nationhood is supposed to affirm our maturity and our ability to plan and run our own lives. Instead, we now suffer a medical strike about which we were forewarned, and 40 people have died in a road disaster that was shocking, but that has been in the making. We Kenyans have been unable to build a civilization, planting trees under whose shade we will not sit.

The United States celebrates its independence on 4th July, when some white men, some of them slaveholders, wrote a declaration of independence. France commemorates its revolution on 14th July, when French citizens stormed the Bastille prison, an icon of the monarchy. Haiti celebrates independence on 1st January, when Dessalines declared the nation of slaves to be free, and renamed the country after the indigenous people who had been wiped out. It is only in Africa where independence is celebrated on the date when the oppressors shook our hands and pretended to “hand over” nationhood to us. No wonder Lumumba had to remind the Congolese that they were not receiving independence from Belgium; they were commemorating their struggle.

We need a new date for independence.1 One whose pictures are of Kenyans raising fists in the air, or asserting their own freedom, not of Prince Philip handing over a paper to Kenyatta because the head of state, Queen Elizabeth, did not even consider Kenya a state with a head whose hand was worth shaking.

When Kenya has the revolution, I hope she will change the date of independence from the date when Prince somebody handed over the colonial mantel to Kenyatta, to a date when Kenyans asserted their freedom and humanity. A day besides the 12th of December whose fruits of independence are not even bitter. They’re poisonous.”

Dr. Wandia Njoya

The Follow Through…

Kenyans, we need to stop with our hypocrisy.

Trust me. This is not just another tired rant.

44 hours. The amount of time The President of the United States Barrack Obama spent in Kenya, majority of which was spent delivering life changing, inspirational speeches. We sat at KICC and heard him talk about his belief for innovation and entrepreneurship and how Africa, specifically Kenya is a hotbed for all good things. Take that CNN! Mr. President then told off the opposition, something that earned him more Bonga points with a section of Kenyans. Finally, he spoke to a massive crowd of young people, encouraging them to secure Kenya’s future through integrity and hard work. Women, their rights and place in the society was discussed. Sauti Sol got him to do some Lipala, and he nailed it! Eh! By the way, tell me you did not “uuuuu” and “aaaaah” at how Mr. President hugged his sister Auma! So cool! Now our men even have pictorial lessons on how to hug a woman, I hear!

The infamous Obama siblings hug

The infamous Obama sibling hug

Every second and space the internet could offer was filled with quotes from #POTUS’ (President of the United States) various speeches. We put up posts on how President Obama’s visit to Kenya has touched us, and how we have been inspired to grab the steering wheel-URGENTLY-and LEAD this country to great heights! The Global Entrepreneurship Summit also got those of us who attended all fired up.

Let’s do this!!

I am happy that Obama came. I am quite excited about the GES and the resulting flourishing lives and economy. I may not have hung on his every word and gesture with pure unrefined, exaggerated delight, but I sure I’m glad he took his time and did this before his term ended. Save the best for almost last, ey?

Before President Obama’s feet even stepped on the beautifully presented homely red carpets in Ethiopia, Kenyans had gone back to the status quo. Oh, the internet was still awash with Obama praises and quotes alright, but trust me, nothing has changed. I don’t see or sense that palpable inspiration and determination that existed during the 44 hours POTUS paid us a courtesy call in the land of his ancestors. Maybe that just me, but indulge me a while.

I saw a lot of posts indicating change. Strict navigation towards goals, no stalls. Accountability as a human being first, then as a Kenyan. “We are going to change this country, one day, one person at a time,” we said. Well, the rate at which amnesia hits us seems to have gone up 100%. We have gone back to gnawing at each other on social media, “killing” everyone who tries to say that Obama lectured Raila, Kalonzo and theIr CORD counterparts. Dare someone say that Uhuru Kenyatta is not the best president Kenya has ever had!  We have gone back to our tribal cocoons, where we are apparently most powerful and vocal. Positive ethnicity is preached everyday in Kenya, nothing changes. A case of two steps forward, another four backward. In my naivety, I really thought hearing it from Obama would at least change something.

Sigh! I need to wake up!For real…

In traffic, we are still overlapping, creating our own filter lanes, in roads and insulting anyone who tries to tell you to be patient. Someone is still charging you 15bob for a banana that would normally go for 10bob, just because you look like you can fish out an extra 5bob just like that. Change my foot. Why is this guy in the matatu sitting with his legs apart taking up all my leg space? Come on….What time did you report to work again today?

Look, we need to stop embarrassing ourselves like this.

In basket ball, there is a vital shooting technique that every player worth their salt should practice and perfect. The follow through. In this technique, your arm finishes straight, your wrist loose and your fingers hanging down. Your fingers should be naturally hanging, not tight together or pointing. More important than the follow through, is the act of holding your follow through. By holding your follow through you are engraining it into your muscle memory, making your mechanics come naturally without conscious thought. In other words becomes the natural thing to do as and after you shoot a basketball. While the follow through may seem like a simple movement, it does make your shot go more to where you want it to go. The HOOP, or in layman’s terms, the goal. This technique is not something you need to master, but more like take a habit of. One can easily tell a sure shot from a fluke even before the ball touches the rim, just by observing the follow through. A perfect follow through often births an excellent sure shot. My team mates and I used to call it a swish!(The sound the basket makes when the ball goes through)

3.2.5 Release

Follow through, that is exactly what everyone of us needs engraved into our system You speak, you follow through. Act. Follow through gives you results. Favourable results most of the time. The steps need not be big ones, but they must be seen. The little things we do, positive or negative, blow up and determine the course and quality of life we live. I want to be hopeful that our dreams will not just flourish on social media, with numerous likes and shares. I am hopeful. Let’s do it!

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots over New Orleans Hornets forward Anthony Davis (23) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, March 18, 2013.  The Warriors won 93-72. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots over New Orleans Hornets forward Anthony Davis (23) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, March 18, 2013. The Warriors won 93-72. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Yeah. Let’s stop with this hypocrisy!!!

A dreamer’s resume

A dreamer’s resume. Powerful!

Conversations

Joseph CV

Life sucks when a sack at work happens.

First there is a subtle brush of excitement that you can breath at last! Then annoyance, anger, fear and all other gray energies that pull over shortly after.

With heavy bills quickly in tow, it’s not long before you start hoping for something, anything at all. So you pray and promise to be faithful handling whatever comes.

Then it comes. . .

First there is a subtle brush of excitement that you can breath at last! Then annoyance, boredom and all other gray energies that pull over alongside Monday blues. Friday becomes that one day in the week to really live for.

Two Sunday’s ago, I was convicted by a message on Joseph. It’s what I’ll be posting in the next few days, hopefully with a right tone of clarity, as God enables me.

Joseph’s corporate life – A dreamer’s resume

You…

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Influence

Mark 8:38
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

semasoulful

We started a young believers fellowship at work. When I suggested the start I had not thought of some dimensions of its necessity. Here is an important dimension I missed: Influence.We all need support in any endeavour. I agree that some of us are very resilient and we can achieve anything we put our minds to whether we have support or not…. However, most often than not, we need support. We thrive more in those areas that have support than those without.

We sent invites to those colleagues who were open about their faith. However, a lady came that had not been directly invited. We were happy to have her and her story off-set the thoughts leading to this post. She was strong in the faith until she joined our company and everything went south from there. Our company is extremely secular. I remember feeling that way when I 1st…

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19 Struggles Of Having An Outgoing Personality But Actually Being Introverted

Hahaha! I posted something on my Facebook to this effect the other day and everyone was up in arms! Like, yeah right Trezer, introvert my fooot! Haha! Now I see this.

Introversion Effect

Like many categorizing systems, the separatist thinking behind them attempts to firmly place us in one container or another.  The flaw in these types of systems is that they don’t always take into account the middle areas of the spectrum.  And any system is just that: a spectrum.  I’ve long stated with unequivocal certainty that I’m introverted.  My friends, however, look at me askance, because I’m actually very fun-loving and outgoing when I need to be.  So on that introvert/extravert spectrum, I fall somewhere to the introverted side, but exhibit limited extroverted tendencies.  Here is an article found online that I have updated to reflect this spectrumized system.

1. You’re not anti-social, you’re selectively social.

2. At any given point, you have one (maybe two) best friends who are your entire life. You’re not a “group of friends” person. You can’t keep up with all that.

3. Social gatherings…

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