Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gratitude Countdown: Day 0

It is a fact universally acknowledged that as one chapter closes...

*Picture from my very first day at UMBC, June, 2006.

so begins another chapter. 

*Picture on graduation day from UMBC, May, 2011. 
He brought me to come, see and conquer... and guess what? I did it by HIS GRACE!!!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Gratitude Countdown: Day 3

I'm counting down to graduation, and in the midst of change and busyness, I want to keep a positive perspective of the numerous things i'm grateful for! 

Join Me :)


I can't believe it is just 3 days left *hyperventilating* (in a good way of course).  


Strumming with silent drums on days that could not tell that life was hard to make it by.
Livid with memories that interplay into the darkest of our souls...


my home way from home.
the serene comfort i found in its eyes... 
the soft breeze of welcome...
the lush padding of support...

the tears...
the anger...
the frustrations...

so far away now they seem. 

...And... worth it.

my family away from my family.
my strangers that turned familiar...
my stranger-families...
my familiar that turned strangers...
familiar strangers...

strange corners that became comfortable niches... 
suspect places that became comfort zones...
non-threaded paths that became hideouts...



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gratitude Countdown: Day 6

I'm counting down to graduation, and in the midst of change and busyness, I want to keep a positive perspective of the numerous things i'm grateful for! 

Join Me :)

I'm grateful for personal growth... emotionally, spiritually, mentally... and all the 'llys you can think of (*not physically as i'm still the same height i was at age 13 :p*),  and the grace to do so as well. 
I'm not a 100% there yet... i still have a loooooooooog way to go. Perhaps i can borrow the spoken word essay by Sonny Carroll to give you a perspective of the little ignition of growth i've had over the past couple of years... Now while she has it nailed down for all those points, i'm merely in the whirlwind of change for some of those points... slowly drifting towards my 'Awakening' as time goes on... I mean we all have to grow up someday don't we? 

Enjoy the read! It's a bit long, but worth it.  

The Awakening
(one the most classic motivational poems)

There comes a time in your life when you finally get it... When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out- ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes you begin to look at the world from a new prospective. This is your awakening.

You realize that it is time to stop hoping and waiting for something, or someone, to change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that there aren’t always fairytale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you. Then a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

So you begin making your way through the “reality of today” rather than holding out for the “promise of tomorrow.” You realize that much of who you are, and the way you navigate through life is, in great part, a result of all the social conditioning you’ve received over the course of a lifetime. And you begin to sift through all the nonsense you were taught about:

­ how you should look and how much you should weigh

­ what you should wear and where you should shop 

­ where you should live or what type of car your should drive

­ who you should sleep with and how you should behave

­ who you should marry and why you should stay

­ the importance of bearing children or what you owe your family

Slowly you begin to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really believe in. And you begin to discard the doctrines you have outgrown, or should never have practiced to begin with.
You accept the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are... and that’s OK... they are entitled to their own views and opinions. And, you come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a “perfect 10”.... Or a perfect human being for that matter... and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head or agonizing over how you compare. And, you make peace with the woman in the mirror and you learn to give her the same unconditional love and support you give so freely to others. Then a sense of confidence is born of self-approval.

And, you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” hungry for your next fix, a new dress, another pair of shoes or looks of approval and admiration from family, friends or even strangers who pass by. Then you discover that “it is truly in giving that we receive[1]”... and that the joy and abundance you seek grows out of the giving. And you recognize the importance of “creating” & “contributing” rather than “obtaining” & “accumulating.”

And you give thanks for the simple things you’ve been blessed with, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, the freedom of choice and the opportunity to pursue your own dreams. 

And you begin to love and to care for yourself. You stop engaging in self-destructive behaviors including participating in dysfunctional relationships. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and exercising. And because you’ve learned that fatigue drains the spirit and creates doubt and fear you give yourself permission to rest. And just as food is fuel for the body, laughter is fuel for the spirit and so you make it a point to create time for play.

Then you learn about love and relationships, how to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to walk away. And you allow only the hands of a lover who truly loves and respects you to glorify you with his touch. You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say, intentionally or unintentionally and that not everyone will always come through and interestingly enough, it’s not always about you. So, you stop lashing out and pointing fingers or looking to place blame for the things that were done to you or weren’t done for you. And you learn to keep your Ego in check and to acknowledge and redirect the destructive emotions it spawns; anger, jealousy and resentment.

You learn how to say I was wrong and to forgive people for their own human frailties. You learn to build bridges instead of walls and about the healing power of love as it is expressed through a kind word, a warm smile or a friendly gesture. And, at the same time, you eliminate any relationships that are hurtful or fail to uplift and edify you. You stop working so hard at smoothing things over and setting your needs aside. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK and that it is your right to want or expect certain things. And you learn the importance of communicating your needs with confidence and grace. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that eventually martyrs are burned at the stake. Then you learn to distinguish between guilt, and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to Say NO. You learn that you don’t know all the answers, it’s not your job to save the world and that sometimes you just need to Let Go.

Moreover, you learn to look at people as they really are and not as you want them to be and you are careful not to project your neediness or insecurities onto a relationship. You learn that you will not be, more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the man on your arm or the child that bears your name. You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love and relationships and that that not everyone can always love you the way you would want them to. And you stop appraising your worth by the measure of love you are given. And suddenly you realize that it’s wrong to demand that someone live their life or sacrifice their dreams just to serve your needs, ease your insecurities, or meet “your” standards and expectations. You learn that the only love worth giving and receiving is the love that is given freely without conditions or limitations. And you learn what it means to love. So you stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn that “alone” does not mean “lonely” and you begin to discover the joy of spending time “with yourself” and “on yourself.” Then you discover the greatest and most fulfilling love you will ever know. Self Love. And so, it comes to pass that through understanding your heart heals; and now all new things are possible.

Moving along, you begin to avoid Toxic people and conversations. And you stop wasting time and energy rehashing your situation with family and friends. You learn that talk doesn’t change things and that unrequited wishes can only serve to keep you trapped in the past. So you stop lamenting over what could or should have been and you make a decision to leave the past behind. Then you begin to invest your time and energy to affect positive change. You take a personal inventory of all your strengths and weaknesses and the areas you need to improve in order to move ahead, you set your goals and map out a plan of action to see things through.
You learn that life isn’t always fair and you don’t always get what you think you deserve and you stop personalizing every loss or disappointment. You learn to accept that sometimes bad things happen to good people and that these things are not an act of God... but merely a random act of fate. 

And you stop looking for guarantees because you’ve learned that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected and that whatever happens, you’ll learn to deal with it. And you learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time FEAR itself. So you learn to step right into and through your fears because to give into fear is to give away the right to live life on your terms. You learn that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophesy and you learn to go after what you want and not to squander your life living under a cloud of indecision or feelings of impending doom. 

Then, YOU LEARN ABOUT MONEY... the personal power and independence it brings and the options it creates. And you recognize the necessity to create your own personal wealth. Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never ever settle for less than your heart’s desire. And a sense of power is born of self-reliance. And you live with honor and integrity because you know that these principles are not the outdated ideals of a by-gone era but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build your life. And you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting and to stay open to every wonderful opportunity and exciting possibility. Then you hang a wind chime outside your window to remind yourself what beauty there is in Simplicity.

Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side you take a stand, you FAKE a deep breath and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.
A word about the Power of Prayer: In some of my darkest, most painful and frightening hours, I have prayed not for the answers to my prayers or for material things but for my “God” to help me find the strength, confidence and courage to persevere; to face each day and to do what I must do. 

Remember this: “You are an expression of the almighty. The spirit of God resides within you and moves through you. Open your heart, speak to that spirit and it will heal and empower you.”
My “God” has never failed me.

Copyright © 1999 Sonny Carroll. All Rights Reserved.
[1] Excerpt from the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.

Poem Source: http://www.villagehero.com/motivational-poems.htm 
 Picture Source: Google Images


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gratitude Countdown: Day 9

I'm counting down to graduation, and in the midst of change and busyness, I want to keep a positive perspective of the numerous things i'm grateful for! 

Join Me :)
For His ample provision over the past 5 years in College. I've never lacked... and i mean this literally in all areas: financially, physically and even when it came to housing. Somehow, even when i had no idea where i'd be in a month or so... He'd always open doors for me. I've had a hassle free 5 years because of His mercies. My life has been like the Israelites, even when i can't feel it, I'm rest assured nonetheless that He is my pillar of fire by the night, and my pillar of cloud by the day :) 
Exodus 13: 21-22 (NIV): By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 
Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. 
***Image from Google Search***

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gratitude Countdown: Day 12

I'm counting down to graduation, and in the midst of change and busyness, I want to keep a positive perspective of the numerous things i'm grateful for! 

Join Me :)

For Friends... old and new... beautiful bonds that held me up throughout my college career, I'm grateful for them. The laughter they brought, the tears we shed together and apart, the jokes we told, the conversations we had, the times we spent together (both suffering and in enjoyment), i'm grateful. In more ways than one, they were the family that comforted me in place of mine 5,000 miles away...


Sunday, May 8, 2011

For When I Screw Up Part 1

long post alert... 
           I got a gift recently, wrapped with an exquisite ribbon and handed out freely. I was apprehensive as first… and then thoroughly delighted. I cherished and held my gift, and ran with it, and built high enough castles that Nero would have been ashamed to burn down. It was a good thing – no, it was a beautiful thing, a beautiful phase. Then there is the thing about gifts… never mistake the giver isn’t watching.
            My gift served as a reflection, an uncovering if you will, of layers I never knew existed… shells I so dearly relegated as false, and not me. I strive and swoon on wanting perfection. I have that head knowledge that I’m broken and messed up, and yet, I maintain in my heart that I’m perfect. Its not a pretty sight when your reflection shows you are not perfect. Infact, far from it. I discovered that I have a deep-rooted irking that I think I’m superwoman. But of course, you realize you are not a super hero when you break down and break your gifts, and break those around you. And so over these fateful months, I learnt that I’m not perfect – the hard way.
            Knowing I’m imperfect is one thing. Accepting that is another thing. My ideal of perfection has no room for grace, no room for forgiveness… no room for screw-ups. And I screwed up – big time. You can imagine a perfectionist trying to forgive herself – not possible. As my friend D put it to me that fateful day: “So you are both your god and devil ehhh?”
            So here I am in self-destruct mode, blaming and casting blames and gnawing away, refusing to accept that I am imperfect. I believe the Son, and yet carry around an ideology of perfection… its like saying the death and resurrection was futile. Its like saying my works can save me… its like saying He is a liar and I don’t need Him. Well, that is not like saying – I actually did that.  
            And then the hard lesson followed – I can’t save myself. If I am perfect for real, I should be able to. And when we think we are perfect, we don’t see that we hurt others, and we don’t see our faults. And we don’t see that when He forgives us, we ought to extend that forgiveness to ourselves. If Perfection Himself forgave me, if He is more gracious than I can ever be and looked at this messed up, broken up girl and still loved and forgave and still cries with her when she cries and holds her when she is frustrated… if He can do that to me… why can’t I easily let go of my screw ups and let Him Heal and Resurrect this dead person I am?
            And when the giver retracts His gift after the planned timing, as a “perfect” person, I carry around the blame that it is entirely my fault. I forget that gifts are for seasons as well. And whichever season He calls me into, whichever He brings my way – because I decided to follow Him I must accept. LOL – this doesn’t mean I follow immediately… I love debating with Him, and fighting Him, and ignoring Him and going my way… not until He forces a shark to swallow me as I try to run away. Then I sit and reason and try to see from His perspective. It is hard… accepting His Will… especially when you think otherwise would be better… it is hard believing He is still good and carries beautiful endings for you especially when you feel like crap inside but then in the words of Elisabeth Elliot in her book The Path of Loneliness,
"My joy is becoming less dependent upon my own immediate circumstances and more attached to what He is doing. As limited as my understanding is now, I know that He is a God who never loses, a God who has taken the ultimate humiliation and defeat and turned it inside out. Somehow, my ruined plans fit into His larger plans. And so in the moments when I am forced to face my own loneliness, I find that I am not really alone at all!"
And even in my screw-ups, He is still gracious enough to carry me, and
provide more than I could ever imagine… And so even though grudgingly at first, I’m submitting and yielding slowly to let me see from His perspective… to let Him be my sole fortress and filling and strength and my first and last…
            And yes, I lost my gift. It saddens me… it will take a while to let go and let God… I’m learning. And yet, I’m so grateful. I grew and expanded in ways I never thought possible. I would have never learnt of new ways that I must allow Him to work on me without this gift. And so, as I carry on, in the words of Job I say: “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”

In other news – 15 days to graduation…. WWWWHHHHHHOOOOOHHHHOOOOO!!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011



Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sharing 7

I haven't shared His Word here in a while, but going through devotion this morning, I was reading Romans 7:13-25, and it just occurred to me, Apostle Paul was just like me, or vice versa. Verses 14 to 25 tell the whole story of struggles with sin, as we try and fail on our own, and learn the hard way what the solution is, and learn to depend on Him for the redemption of our bodies. The Christian life is one of war: war of the mind against the body, war of the spirit against the body, old self versus new self... realizing that justification is instant and sanctification a life long process. 


14-20: We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 
And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 
As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 
Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21-25: So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 
For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
   So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[b] a slave to the law of sin.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Acts of Faith: Our Story is “Though He Slay me, yet will I trust in Him”.

*** P.S. long post alert. And, I’m back… Sort of :) ***
         So… it is officially less than 3 weeks to my undergraduate graduation. It feels almost surreal because I can’t believe I am here. Castles may drop from the tallest mountains, and hearts may break and tears may be shed, it still doesn’t obviate the fact that I am here, and He is still God. A couple of days ago, my friend A and I were musing over the past five years. I was telling her about the very first day I came to UMBC. I came for my freshman orientation in June. Mind you I had accepted coming to UMBC without ever setting foot on the campus or knowing much about it (leap of faith yeah? Lol). Anyhow, I was staying at my guardian’s in Ohio, and he put me on a plane to Maryland, assuring me I’ll be fine as the Orientation officials would provide me with housing (no they don’t have housing for orientation). So I get here, present myself and tell them to give me lodging. They looked so shocked and worried as I explained my story and that I had nowhere to stay in Maryland. Needless to say, they ended up giving me a room in one of the apartments. Which was nice, I met two wonderful people that weekend and became more assured of my decision to come here. The following day sealed it for me – I knew this was the path I was supposed to take!
         Five years later, if I had known the stress and hurdles I had to cross to get here, I don’t think I would have taken the same path. But that is the beauty of not knowing, you take a chance, a risk… a leap – you may fall into soft landing or you may land on the hard wood and crack into pieces – you never know. Regardless of where you land, soft landing or hard wood, I still believe the Orchestrator of all things holds that path in His hands.
         I have three weeks left… so much to do in so little time. So much to feel with so little room… so much to reminisce over with buried memories…  over the next couple of weeks, I will be closing one of the craziest roller coasters i’ve had in my little over 22 years of existence, and open the flood gates of more years of craziness. And for all the tears – bitter and cheerful, all the laughter – shared, alone or silent, all the pain – needless, annoying or worrisome, all the joy and happiness and peace and growth and waiting and contemplation and frustrations and mistakes and regrets and hellos and good-byes and friends and strangers and acquaintances… I am grateful. I honestly wouldn’t be the [Mwajim] I am today… and I wouldn’t be well on the way to being crafted into the wonderful [Mwajim] I am meant to be.
         So I rise up in faith just like Job did and admist the reeling storm proclaim that although I am scared, “although He slay me, yet will I put my trust in Him”. And that for me my dear people is my story… the girl who lives on the side lines, staking it all… the girl who takes a gulp… and dives and still wants to keep her eyes fixated on Him despite the mix of emotions and festivities.

So tell me, How are You? 
Feel free to drop in prayer requests in my comments, i'm trying to learn how to intercede for people :)