Set Apart

Being brave to me is a symbol of no fear despite how you feel on the inside. In my life, I have met many brave people who despite the odds that life has thrown them still stand tall and tell of their stories. I have never really thought of myself as brave as I was frequently caught on the fence of fear and indecision and chose to go through a large part of my life on the middle ground. Many times we are stuck in the middle ground and this has been a cemetery of the dreams of many individuals.

We are made for more. The status quo may try to hold you down as you look to the world to tell you who you are, but the world is never satisfied, and we are never good enough for the demands of this world. With trying to keep up with the constantly changing status quo, we find ourselves drained and worn out which is not exactly how you picture yourself living your best life.

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God is love and only love can cut the strings that hold us down. Love not as the world defines it, but what God’s word defines love as. We must genuinely love ourselves and out of that shall we then be able to love others. God’s love transcends time for He first loved us before we were formed in our mothers’ wombs. We were accepted and chosen even before we knew so. Through this can we rest knowing that the God of this entire universe has loved and chosen us despite our flaws and the point in our journeys that we are at.

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Knowing that we don’t have to earn God’s approval or love, but it has been given to us makes a great difference. We are able to move in confidence and be the best that we can be and so thrive where we have been planted. We are braver than we realize and though it may not seem to be so in the start, having this attitude helps us to know that we can be all that God wants us to be and stand up for what we believe in. 1 John 3:1a, See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

 

Our whole narrative changes and the way we live our lives is no longer in competition and trying to be better than others, but in pleasing God and giving Him all the glory through our stories. It is never easy, and everything is a process with us taking it one day at a time, but it is possible. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step and we have all been invited to take the first step on this journey.

 

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The Garden of Life

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I am fascinated by life in different forms and growing up, I had my fair share of experiments involving plants and animals. I was about 7 years old when we were given a class project on gardening. I had to get soil, a container and a seed and ensure that I took care of the seed until it germinated. This was a learning experience for me because I was able to care for this tiny, helpless seed as my very own and ensure it got enough light, water, and other nutrients for survival. This taught me patience as I cared for this seed and waited for it to sprout out of the soil and grow out. Naturally, I was very excited when I saw it budding out of the ground and then I was able to realize the power of life.

I look at life as a big garden and we are but seeds trying to go through the different seasons and be able to produce fruit. We are often lost and wonder how we can produce fruit when many things in this life come at us and try to choke out the very life that we have. God is our gardener and He has His ear to the ground, noting the different stages that we are at. Everyone is at a different stage in their process and we find it could be pruning, plowing, cultivation, transplanting or drenching. This is all part of God’s design and is essential so that we may not just grow but may thrive where we have been planted.

Psalm 65:9-11 talks about these exact concepts, it says, “You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.” Isn’t this amazing how God is so aware of the winds of change and the help we need in the process? It may not always feel like that though, as plowing may feel like a punishment or showers may feel overwhelming, but they are all much needed to make us grow and produce fruit in due time.

God takes delight in an abundant and overflowing harvest that will be produced throughout your life if only you will let him. He is a gentleman and will only come into your life if you would let him in. At the end of the day the call is yours to invite the Good Gardener into your heart and life so you can experience His grand vision for your future. Take a step of faith today and allow Him to do what He does best, for your good and His glory, so that your cart may overflow with abundance.

Breaking Camp

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I live in Minnesota currently and the winters do get quite harsh and so this December my mom, sister and I decided to take a vacation to sunny Florida. It was a last minute trip and everything just fell right into place at the right time which was such a blessing. We were all very excited to leave the cold temperatures and go to warm Florida. When we arrived, the sun was everything that we hoped for and we were overjoyed. I immediately started to compare the weather in Florida to Minnesota and thoughts of staying in this place forever actually crossed my mind. It was in that moment that I was reminded of Peter’s response in Matthew 17:3-4 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

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How often do we come to that point in life where we get so comfortable and just want to remain and not go anywhere? That place where we do not want any change in our space and we desire to remain in our little bubble. I was that person in the past and I got too comfortable that I was failing to push myself to grow. I understand that growth is not always easy and it can be painful for it is not what we are used to but, there are rewards and when I came to understand that growth is necessary then my whole mindset shifted. In the verses above Peter wants to remain and live on the mountain with Jesus, Moses and Elijah because of this encounter that he almost misses the significance of it.

There is no limit to where God will take us and what He has in store for us and as we think about our purpose in life may we not be afraid to take risks and disturb our comfort zone and only then shall we see results. This year I have been challenged by several people who despite the cards life has dealt them with, they have chosen to rise up above, grow and flourish in their sphere. They have tried out new things and redefined the boundaries that have been around their lives. Such people really inspire me and show me that no matter what I have been through or where I’m at; I can step out of that zone and be the best version of myself. In what ways have you decided to step out of your comfort zone in the coming year? Dare to live a little. Be blessed.

 

Little Notes of His Love

The most popular people in school were usually the ones who got the most letters in the mail. Their names would be read out on assembly and they would go and pick up their letters. The excitement in their eyes and the joy that would fill their faces was a common characteristic among these people. I had a friend who would post letters every week and she kept up this correspondence for years which was not always easy given the different school activities that would be taking place. She knew that the only way her relationships would be maintained was by being intentional and consistent in her communication.

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With the age of the mobile phones and instant messaging, things have changed but one thing we can all agree on is that communication is still very important to keep relationships together. I used to find myself having one sided conversations with God and not being patient enough to wait for His response. And while God does speak, sometimes we are just too self absorbed to hear Him. God drops us little notes throughout our days and weeks and if we can only observe and be mindful we shall then be able to receive His notes with love and respond back in love.

Looking through this week I had a special conversation with a friend and also had the opportunity to stand with another in prayer during a hard time they are going through. This reminds me of His love and presence through His little notes of love. The fact that we are miles apart was not a hindrance and our words and prayers were all in sync. We were filled with awe, excitement and delight as we knew this was God ordained and we were walking in His purpose. I choose to find out what God can do through me, and look around for who I can encourage and inspire. May we look for God in the ordinary and the extraordinary; He is God that parted the Red Sea and also God that puts a smile on your face with a well timed gift of provision. May we always remember He is God of the big and small.

acts3In this festive season with a few days left to Christmas, what are some of the ways you have been blessed and what are some of the ways that you are sharing God’s love notes with others around you?

The God Lens

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Who am I? This question plagues people in this life and most times it is never fully answered or even understood and sadly many people go through life struggling with who they are. As some individuals search, they lose themselves and allow events and circumstances in their past and present to define them and they find themselves succumbing to the pressure around them. The temptation to compare or seem better than others lurks in the shadows and when asked who they are, there is usually the feeling of not being good enough or feeling way better than others. These two extremes are not healthy, for in one scenario there is envy that demeans our unique God given roles and the other is pride that disconnects us from the body of believers.

identity2My own journey with identity was never easy as I searched for answers in different ways and in different places. This made me became frustrated when I realized the constantly changing public opinion was imprinting its ideals on me in this never ending cycle. Nonetheless, through reading books, listening to sermons, and spending time in the Word of God, I am learning contentment in whom I am and that my identity is found in who I am to God. The verses that stand out for me and reassure me of my position are 1 John 3:2-3 which says “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as He is pure.”

May we never forget that God is the substance of our lives and while seasons, events and circumstances can refine us and make us better people, we should never let them be the substance of our lives. The ultimate opinion that we should allow to define us is how God sees us – His vantage point. There is only one of each of us and we are each loved uniquely by the Father. We may have messed up but He has called us His own and drawn us to Himself. Once we know we are loved fearlessly by the Father we are then able to give love freely to others and be the best version of ourselves and ultimately bringing Him all the glory.

Choosing Delight

mistakes2We have all made mistakes in life and the feeling of regret that comes with the mistake is both crushing and saddening and while children manifest this through tears and even tantrums, adults respond in a variety of ways from perfectionism to withdrawal. Growing up I also made my fair share of errors and mistakes and this left me asking why I allowed myself to make mistakes that seemed so obvious. As I grew up I reasoned that if I did everything the way it was supposed to be, then I wouldn’t make any mistake and everyone would be happy with me.

While that seemed like a great plan in my eyes, it was hard work as I strived to do everything ‘exactly’ the way others wanted with the hopes of pleasing the people around me. What I never realized is that pleasing people is almost close to impossible with their varying needs and wants. Most of the time I was on edge and as a result there was no enjoyment in the whole activity, this left me drained and grumbling on the inside.

As I studied my Bible looking for answers, I came across Psalm 40:8 which says “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.” This verse talking about delight in doing the will of God got me thinking. If I was struggling with doing things out of duty and not delight, how was my relationship with God? Was I serving Him out of fear and duty or love and enjoyment? This was the game changer for me as I started to realize that I had allowed this rigid sense of duty to define my relationships and my response to situations and so the time for a shift from duty to delight was upon me.

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I must say moving from duty to delight is a process as so many things are being unlearned and learned at the same time. Consequently this has allowed me to strengthen my relationship with God as I remember how much He loves and cherishes me and so I am able to respond with love. Through doing this, my response to helping others has changed, it is no longer all about pleasing them or as a burden to me but out of love and enthusiasm and not forgetting joy. And if I am unable to help, I will say no and not beat myself up for it but out of respect for the other person and myself. The choice is yours today.

Trash the Excuses

excuses1Living a life of excuses is really not the way to live your best life and yet it happens to the best of us. For a long time, I thought the people on various platforms were living the perfect life and had their lives all figured out. The Bible which happens to be my go to for inspiration was my first stop to encourage me. You can imagine my surprise as I read stories of great prophets and leaders who kept making excuses to the Lord when given assignments and one such story is the story of Moses. He was sent to tell the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go but he had an array of excuses that he kept bringing up to the Lord. These excuses ranged from a lack of eloquence to being poor in speech, he kept going on and on about why the Lord should pick somebody else until the Bible says “the anger of the Lord kindled against Moses…” Exodus 4:10-14. This gives us an idea what the Lord thinks of our excuses but nonetheless the Lord is gracious and patient with His children and so He sent Aaron, Moses’ older brother to be his spokesperson.

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I could relate with this story so clearly because I have made excuses for so long and I have missed out on growth opportunities for myself and others. I needed to take action and I needed to take it now. Being honest with myself was a great starting point and introspection on why exactly I kept making excuses helped. I had to keep reminding myself of my goals and actually reward myself when I achieved even the smallest goal. This has helped me develop new patterns and focus on the results other than on the difficulty in doing the task.

As we wind down the year most people look back and cannot wait to get to the next year to set new resolutions and hit new targets that they completely forget about the few weeks left in the year. It is never too late and there is hope. At the beginning of last month with only 61 days left until the end of the year, a friend of mine created a Whatsapp personal development group for people who wanted to achieve any particular goal by the end of the year. Many people joined and I was blessed to be among the ones who aimed to use the remaining weeks in the year to achieve goals we initially thought were impossible to achieve in that amount of time.

I must say it has been a journey of putting aside the excuses and reaching forward to achieve the goals that I have purposed to have by the end of the year. It hasn’t been easy but being part of an accountability community where progress is reported makes a great difference. This has taught me that it is never too late to do something that you set your mind to and with consistency and perseverance anything is possible. What are the areas you have struggled with and made constant excuses for? It takes one step at a time but the power is in the first step and the courage to continue. May the Lord give us grace to avoid excuses and do what we are called to do.