Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas...

From me and the cutest dog in the world, that I 'dognapped' for this shot, we say to you: Merry Christmas, and not for just all the good food, and good company and the lazy wanderings of the day. We say Merry Christmas, for [God is with us] - Immanuel.

Remain Blessed,
Mwajim Al.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dear Friends,

So I turned another year older today... (and next year will be the year that my age will stay frozen at till 2022 (a decade later) when I will then be a year older!) and I've been told that apparently, after 21 the years just stock up higher and intermingle and you just can't tell one birthday from the other - they all feel the same. However, I've not felt that way. It's been a few years since 21 and I still get giddy on the 18th of the eleventh month of every year... I still sit back and reflect on the past year - its presents, misfortunes and opportunities, and it feels different every time... I will never tire of this!?!? But, I may be wrong. Maybe age, time and brittle bones will get the best of me yet, but until then, I will keep the giddiness up.

To start off, this past year was... interesting in a very different way. For the first time, I've been more aware of my shortcomings and I don't mean those: "Oh, I need to stop this and that..." NO, more in a blinding: "You seriously need to work on keeping this up and that..." It's like I never had a year like this one, where I wanted to seriously be truly liberated into the contentment and liberty of finding what Christ has freed me into... It has been like having a tussling fight with my desires to either wallow in ingratitude and counting of losses or remember the good news that I am more than an overcomer both in this life and that to come. It was slow and painful and etched on for a while... but as in all things that we subject ourselves to, there has to come a time when we either look ourselves in the mirror or slap ourselves to sense, and say that: Enough is enough!

I got tired. Tired of looking at the glass half empty. I refuse. I refuse to look at the glass half empty. It is half full.
Correction - It is brimming full and overflowing with gratitude, thankfulness and praise. I am learning and continually learning to battle my feelings that attempt to sit with the tide and turnings of circumstances. The Psalmist (I love Psalms!!!) puts it perfectly:
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 43:5 (NIV)

So therefore, I will yet come with dancing and jubilating and praise for what God has done, what He is currently doing and what He will do in  my life. He has already called me as though I already am all that He is calling me to be: Blessed, Redeemed, His daughter, an Overcomer and so much more... and I.... *breaks into smile* am so glad and delighted!

I pray that I continue to remember this, and live out my life in full realization of these facts.

So yay! Happy Birthday to me :) 2 dozen years on this earth and still so much more to be done. I can only ask for continued grace and strength to truly love Him and love people as He has called me to do!

Have yourself a fantastic week filled with lots of love and thanksgiving! Gobble up people. xoxo.

Mwajim Al.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Girl Who Forgives and Moves on...

Apparently, forgiveness is more than just ushering it from your lips, and praying it in. It's more than just saying you've forgiven the person and next thing shanking them in your heart... the heart... Apparently, forgiveness is letting go and moving on from the heart... the heart. 

I've known that theoretically. It's like math: 1 + 1 = 2 - someone hurts you, you forgive them. You just let go. But for me, letting go means I profess with my lips and imagine 1001 ways to serve revenge cold. But of course, God must be looking out for them because I'm a wuss I never get the opportunity.

So here I am, sitting and listening to people talk to me about forgiveness and my mind is going: "yadda yadda yadda... same old kapeesh"... until they bring up the heart: the seed and harbor of all intentions. 

I mean if I backed up for one second and reviewed what I honestly wished for people I've been harboring in my heart: 
1) Would it be good intentions? Nope. 
2) Have I or have I not imagined scenarios and rehearsed (emphasis on rehearsed) where they beg on their knees for my forgiveness? Yup. 
3) Have I passively aggressively played good nice wonderful girl, freely giving out my "forgiveness" readily without their asking knowing well I would pine in anger and retribution? Absolutely. 

And Ladies and Gentlemen, I've been claiming for years that I easily forgive... that I easily let go (adjusts halo) and still, the intentions of my heart portray a different light. 

The people talking to me on this occasion went on to say different things: "We need to forgive so that God forgives us...", "We forgive just as Christ forgave us..." etc etc... Still yap to my ears... It should have clicked earlier... I know... If I claim to be in absolute awe of the Almighty One, the thought of my sins being forgiven as I forgive others should have me running to my heart's armed safe, beaming it with laser rays and releasing whosoever I hold in... It didn't click yet. What clicked was that: "Whoever hurt you is just like you, hurting in some way or the other..." Whether they hurt you intentionally or not... whether this offensive act that hurts you was big or small... That's just it... they're human too.

And there it is folks. Somehow I think letting go from the heart suddenly made sense... I know, I know.  (I shouldn't hold people on some weird abstract playing field, where I expect them to do no wrong). I should know this stuff. Or it seems I should have. But at that instant in time, it just made perfect sense. Lip profession. Act forgiving. None of that matters if I can't let my heart rest in the solace of just letting go and moving on...

I think this has been a long time coming... and for the first time today... reviewing stuff from this year... I realized that in a weird way... I'm becoming this girl who actually is letting go and moving on (for real this time guys, no daggers in heart). I know I write about this on here often enough that one would have thought: "Whatever it is, just suck it up... it's life, it's unfair..." But that's just the thing... that doesn't cut it for me. I can't just suck it up...  I can't just view it as life. Well, one could then say: "Well, did you come up with answers that help you cope or deal?" Honestly... No! And i don't think that will ever happen. Not on this side of heaven.

What is happening every day however is the decluttering of this heart. I know - it's my copyrighted term. 
More room for love - because I need it. Disclaimer: Love from Jesus.
More room for peace - because i'm a volatile belle.
More room for joy - because I have to overflow some more.
More room for truth - because it's all there is to live for.
More room for His goodness - because nothing else can stay. Nothing else. Nothing.


That's a nice load off my chest. 

And so onto more positives.

You. I know it's easy to believe you've forgiven. Your words say it. You act it. You've cut them out, or still let them in - whichever the case. What else could there be to forgive? But that's just half of the story. In your times of frustration and road blocks, they take the mental heat from you... they take all the leashed arrows... But the truth is, honestly, you're the one taking the leashed arrows. Like a monk sworn to silence, your promise eats you up. You're the one to set free, not them. You're the one who needs to show mercy... not to them, but to you. So, look inside you... your heart, muscle and blood, beating in chest and with one deep sigh and breath just release yourself... you deserve better. Better than broken promises of a past life. Better than lost memories of an frozen childhood. Better than shards of a memorabilia... You deserve space for the beauty and fullness that Christ came to free you into. It takes time, I know... just crawl, drag, run, sprint, walk (forward of course)... whatever you have to do... just don't stay stuck. 

And then, we can say this in harmony when we've fully forgiven, fully moved on, strengthened that the best days are happening now in His arms: 
10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations.
Isaiah 61: 10-11 (NIV)

Have yourself a delightful weekend! 
And, may this month be one of your best months yet :D 

Mwajim Al. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Finding God in the... [What]?

For the past couple of weeks, I've gone through a rush of varying emotions which ranged from a peak of elated joy and happiness - you know, the kind you think will just never end, as though you will never ever come down from such a high; to a trough of despair and confusion - the kind where you think you are in the wrong place and maybe for the wrong reasons. The trough was mostly me freaking out about my lack of time for myself and slowly coming to the realization that I've chosen a line of training that of course demands time and all of myself and more time and more of me than I would have liked to imagine. It's one thing to have thought of it abstractly and another thing when your feet are drenched in it. However, as I sat in that state, I made a mental note to have personal goals to accomplish through the week, and amongst that was upping my G-time, literally that is how it's written in my journal  (personal time with God). In the midst of my busyness, I've found that it's easy to spend 10-11 hours of my day in lab or wherever your place might be and forget that there is a Sustainer that webs the galaxies for His purpose... bends stars at His will and loves me so passionately to die in my place... it's easy to forget that. In upping my G-time, I was scavenging through Jeremiah, trying to feed off His breath of words to my "supposed" trough. A couple of days ago, I came across this:

 4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." Jeremiah 29 (NIV)

So here are the Israelites in Babylon, carried away by King Nebuchadnezzar, against their will. I can't even begin to imagine what that must have been like - in the midst of so much confusion, despair and regret, they were probably expecting to hear a word that God would send a deliverer to propel them out of captivity. But instead, they hear the opposite. They are instructed to: "Increase in number; do not decrease".  I was challenged by that verse. For some reason or the other, I have often found myself standing at a cliff-hanger… almost like I think I’m in an intermediate state waiting for something big to happen. I neglect the fact that the big is happening now, like right now as I speak, walk, sleep, eat, talk, write… the big is now! In my present state, I must find satisfaction and contentment in my territory.
Note to self: I must increase. Yes, I am blessed where I am. Even in my lack... even in what I don't have... I must still increase. They were instructed to also pray for the city that they were in, because if it prospers, they too would prosper. 
Note to self: If your lab prospers, you too will prosper. I don't even need to tell you what I started doing next. 

The next verse that came to me as I considered things in my trough was Esther. Remember her? A girl who during the exile of Israelites and the reign of the King of Persia, although an Israelite, became Queen in a foreign land. A classic syndrome case of: from grass to grace. My favorite line from that story is what her Uncle tells her when he comes to her for help due to the verdict that was out that all Jews should be killed. He said to her:

            And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
(Esther 4:12-14 ESV)

Esther was brave enough to move from victim to victor. She was challenged to realize that part of her bottom-line was happening now… not later. Not tomorrow or in a few years… but now.
Note to self: I was born for such a time as this. My life, my timeline... everything has been leading me to a bottom-line. Where I currently am is part of my bottom line. Never mind the sweat. Never mind the tiredness. Never mind the lack. Never mind the things I covet. All of my life has been leading towards this... and even beyond what I had ever imagined. I was born for such a time as this!

Now my next job is sitting back and basking in that for… the rest of my life.

            I don’t know what you are in the midst of…
            Busyness or downtime,
Joy or sadness,
Abundance or lack,
Pithiness or Nebulosity.
Whichever the case, bask in the fact that:
1)    You must increase wherever you are.
2)    No matter how your life came to be, or where you currently find yourself - You were born for such a time as this.

Have a splendous week of ecstatic joy and present contentment.

                                                                                                                                       Mwajim Al. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sharing 11

 That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust himendless energy, boundless strength!

Ephesians 1: 15-19 (The Message)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

In between the Crevices of life

        One of my favorite poems as a young beady-eyed  teenager was Ulysses. I can still remember the first time the teacher read the poem during SS1 English Literature. You can read it here. I had forgotten the exact line that struck me, but I always remembered the explanation: Ulysses would rather live than merely exist. That lesson had been pushed back to the end of my memory... well until recently...
        So far, it's been a year and a few months into graduate school. I'm currently a second year whhhooohoooo!!! It's funny because I can hardly believe that it has gone by so fast. It feels just like yesterday when I was on here asking you all to keep me in your prayers through the application process... or rather, me ranting about how I need to keep focus on Him through this process. Through it all, while I now can't imagine not doing what I currently do, I also find myself in a place where I want to frivolously plan for the next step.... Mind you, I won't be finishing up with where I currently am for at least the next three years... so where on earth am I rushing to?
         I've had to re-learn the art of sitting still all over again.
         Sitting still. In contentment. Glad with where I am. Re-trusting that there is a purpose associated with where I am. There is a plan, a Master Orchestrator directs my path. The rest of it is having confidence in that.
Pretty hard, and all because I forget. The Psalmist in Chapter 103 had to write the benefits of who God is to him to remember that indeed, He can sit still wherever he is. The hardest has been learning to strike the right balance between becoming consumed with what I want to do in the future vs living in the present tentacles of where I am. It's good to plan, I know. But, it's also bad to live in the plans of tomorrow... I'm a dreamer who feeds on the possibilities of tomorrow... learning to live in the present is coming at extraneous costs of mind re-training. I'm getting there.
       In learning to live in contentment, I've also realized that it is so easy to get stuck in the rut of
daily duties. You could be a 9 to 5 worker, a stay-at-home mom, or a student, and no matter the amount of excitement you had in the beginning, there comes a time when you just go through the moments. There comes a time when you just get into the automated drive of existing through the tasks... Painfully mundane. And then of course, there is the occasional burst of rejuvenated strength... that is if you pinch in church/TEDtalks/[insert your source of inspiration] on the regular... You know what I'm talking about - you just had a crappy week, you to to church and BAM! You feel the word is directed right at you and you feel that you can face the week with all the might in the world. But then Monday morning, you see your pile of work papers and to do lists, and all of Sunday's fever is gone. That's just the thing - the feelings. The fact that we can live though the mundane things exponentially as overcomers is a fact and not an occasional feeling we fester off the pulpit on Sundays. Even if I spend the rest of the days of my life doing some menial task every single second, it is still worth it to approach it as though as my life depended on it, rather than merely trying to get through the task just because it has to get done... In a way, this realization is part of me learning to live larger than life... living larger than myself... and into living abundantly as I'm called to. I've been freed into a life of abundant liberty rather than mundane get-bys.
       My second realization from the past couple of weeks has also come in the form of how I relate to others. I found that I have a thing for "seeing" service in other people... but not in me. How do I use my most precious preserved gift to serve other people? For you, it may be money or belongings... for me it's time, and money. While I won't write about the money aspect on here or (now?), I will expound on the issue of time. Because I'm a self-proclaimed recovering introvert, time is probably my most treasured gift... and probably most selfishly used. I've been challenged over the past couple of weeks in sharing my time, not just with other people but also in things that I should be doing for me outside my professional goals. To that note, there are two service-related projects I will be planning to work on by the end of the year, and when it is all in fruition, I would love to share it with you all :)
I guess my request is to ask you to keep me accountable and ask me in a couple of weeks about how the project(s) is going!
          Here is to living rather than mere existence!!!

Have a great labor day weekend and remember to smile back, HE is already smiling your way :D

OH and P.S., this is totally random, but I just realized why heartbreaks hurt so much... it's the absence of the crazy state of elation you once lived in! I know this is totally random as I don't discuss matters of the heart on here, but yes, bask with me in this moment of realization lol.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Self-esteem series 4: On the Journey

p.s. long post alert!

                                                           On the Journey 

        Over the past couple of months, I've thought and thought about how to conclude this series... I mean how do you write a paper conclusion on an ever-continuing story? I thought of writing a list of lessons - it seemed too pedagogical. Then I thought of doing a Q and A but I'm one for diplomacy - what if there is a question I refuse to answer  in a straightforward manner? Finally, I decided to continue my trail of thoughts from Part 1 of this series. 

You can read Part 2, and Part 3 too!

        As I had written in the previous post, I'd grown up knowing the commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself... and needless to say, I focused a lot on the first part. And I can safely say, I adhered to it to a stifling level. I never understood what one of my Aunts meant when I was a teenager, but she once said I was a "Yes" person. And that reflected in my relationships. Once I let someone get close - my time... my money... my everything in fact, you could have it. I would keep my opinions to myself to not hurt you... If you needed me to go cross a river to get you something and I could, I would... mostly I would. To me, my idea of loving people was inconveniencing myself. In it of itself, without considering my intentions, that would be considered loving my neighbor... but what about me? My idea was to get you to like me no matter the cost. Maybe if I inconvenienced myself enough, you'd notice that I was walking barefoot in the scorching sun for you... I didn't realize that if I walked barefoot long enough I would burn myself and not get to walk at all. Ironic. 
        The commandment concludes by saying "...as yourself ". How could I think I was possibly loving you as my neighbor if I didn't even love me? I think for me, the hardest part of this was realizing that being honestly me could be the only way I could learn to love myself... and it had to start with speaking the truth about what I thought, what I wanted and didn't want. I had to learn how to start saying "No", instead of my knee jerk response of "Yes". One applicable way that that started to look like for me was how much free time I leave for myself. Not time doing work or talking to friends etc... just time to spend with myself. Not lying and putting up a front as though I always wanted to be around people. I had to start telling myself that it is okay to be alone. It's okay to have time for myself. Another way that loving myself began to look like is what I actually think of myself. It's good for people to tell me I'm this... I'm that etc... but it's all music to a tone deaf girl if I don't actually believe that myself. Loving myself means I acknowledge myself, just the way I am - no additions, no subtractions... not his or her or their expectations - just me, and loving me just the way I am. All my mistakes, my bad, my good, my accomplishments, my blessings... all of it - just the way I am. It is only when you accept yourself that you can see and appreciate the beautiful imperfection you are. I am a mold of beautiful imperfection. 
       In my experience, and please note - I clearly don't have enough - I've felt that the church does not emphasize enough on healthy self-esteem. A lot focuses on what you can do for other people etc, as well as what traits you shouldn't have - pride, greed etc. But how about self-care? It's like Paul says, 
   "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)
And I say, how can we love, if we don't start with ourselves? I don't think God wants a bunch of people going around doing good and feeling horrible about themselves. I've been there - you are constantly left with a bad taste in your mouth. I can safely say that I used to think that in how I think of myself, I ought to make sure it's just always really lowly - on a level, I was scared that feeling good, or thinking well of myself would result in baneful pride which would then lead to that dreaded famous state of a dilapidated fall. Coupled with a sense of low self-esteem, I've had years of practicing false humility. 
        I can't say it's all gone. As time goes on, Christ continues to use people and situations to show me the broken shards that I am. It's a constant reminder that He is actively working in my life - healing and piecing me to be the woman He had always intended me to be. A revamp in how I think of myself had been hard, especially since I've had years of practice. However, one of the best comforts I've had is what His word says about me:  
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 
Romans 8:37 (NIV).
 On this continual journey of  learning who I am, I'm already more than a conqueror! I think that is the most awesome piece in a stream of messages I've relearnt over the past year. If I am more than a conqueror, that would mean that I am not only confident in who I am, but also whose I am. In the things I do, I'd exude that reminder, that knowledge... and that is so powerful that it translates into my dealings with people. Because I am more than a conqueror, I can confidently do all the loving I am blessed to do. Not because I need that affirmation or approval. I do it because I am already blessed and crazily loved. People who are loved, can't help but love back in return. They can't help it but extend that love to others. It's like when you come across a couple. I'm not talking about a couple engaged in their consumptive and needy selfish love, but one that just for the sake of all that is good and whole, they just love each other. Whenever you meet such a couple, you can't help but feel warmed at heart, and included. You don't leave their presence feeling like: "Oh gawd, where is my Boaz?" You leave feeling rejuvenated... like wow! (Lol, I'm so excited, I just want you to get the picture of what I'm trying to convey). That is what it feels like in the presence of someone who is self-assured on who they are. I feel that people can't help but get that vibe from you once you resign yourself to self-acceptance and self-love. You just can't help but love people back. I clearly haven't gotten there yet. It's like something my friend D once said to me - She said she hopes to be someone that she looks up to one day. She'd want to be the person she admires. I love that statement. And it is something I think everyone should aspire to. You end up loving and building yourself to be the best you can possibly be - all that untapped potential can't possibly go to waste. We are just too precious and awesome as individuals to spend our days in envy or self-loathing. You are awesome, you are wonderful, you are beautiful/handsome, and just too good and immensely loved.  
       I honestly don't know what your journey of self-esteem looks like for you, but as the famous line goes, admittance is the first step. Whether you believe it or not, you are good enough, just the way you are despite what all the outside noise says. The true voice to believe is that little persistent urge that reminds you that you are worth more than you realize. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Acts of Faith: Grace and Mercies

If I claimed even for a picosecond
that I knew where to begin,
the genesis of my gratitude...
It would be like telling you
I knew what particle of sand
you moulded Adam from.

If I told you
I could begin
to count the stars
you use to brighten my day...
Nay, brighten my life,
It would like claiming
I know the extent of your grace.

Your grace.
Your mercies.

I'm drowning in it.

And I couldn't even want a lifesaver jacket...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sharing 10

Colossians 1:15-23 (The Message) 

 15-18 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

 18-20 He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

 21-23 You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don't walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Acts of Faith: On Friends and Fathers!

       I've always been someone surrounded by friends... not acquaintances that I casually know... or 'fillers' to talk to... I mean actual friends that I can connect with... people that I can talk to about what is really on my heart and they instantly light up and say: "Hey! I know EXACTLY what you are talking about'. And I want to believe that this is the same for everyone... I mean everyone does have a friend or two that understands when they lay bare their troubles right? I know I'm wrong to say/assume that.
     I'm also wrong to take the fact that I have some awesome individuals in my life for granted. I've never been a social butterfly... While I do have bursts of 'outgoing energy' during which I can fluter around and say things that may or may not matter to me, I've always and will always be the "I-want-to-sit-and-talk-to-you-over-a-cup-of-tea" kind of gal. And because I've had some awesome people in my life... some from high school... and currently, most from college... I think somehow I just always assumed everywhere I moved to, I would always meet an awesome bunch of people... or that I would instantly connect with other people... HA! Naivety... I know! I think the past year has taught me, quite solidly, that you hold onto old friends as they are part of your bedrock... even when you wean in with new friends. Maybe it was part of the process of graduating from college, but my first year of graduate school saw me missing my friends... a lot. I saw myself comparing new relationships to old ones... and looking for the same connection I had with my old friends in new ones... and honestly... it was lonely. Nothing as lonely as chasing an old vision. I went on in this repetitive cycle for a while... and then it hit me... I do have friends with the right connection that I am looking for... why try to fix something that isn't broken? I know this may sound obvious to many out there, but for me, it was a lesson in the making. I already had people that understood my qualms and my weird ways and quite frankly even if they thought was absurd, still accept me the way I am. *Exhale*
       So in a way, this is a thank you post... to friends especially old ones who are still in my life. I'm not one for cliches as they irk me... (seriously, if you want to hit a button of mine, tell me a cliche phrase... I'll do something mean to you in my mind's eye lol) but here goes... as the cliched saying goes by Bernard Baruch:  "Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind". I know there is also another saying that no one is indispensable, but it is crazy to think that people are replaceable. You may replace a role someone played in your life, but you can never replace that exact bond you shared with them... So in my efforts to navigate life socially, I've learnt the hard way that I do have awesome people in my life that play important roles, and that these friendships need to be continually fostered.
        Therefore... a toast! To friends past and present with whom I share an irreplaceable bond - I pray it goes on till death do us apart. To friends whom I've fallen out with, lost touch with or just fallen to the way side... we may or may not miss each other... and it is okay - if we need to be in each other's lives again, it'll happen. To future friends or those currently in the process of bond formation... I hope it turns out to be true friendship that lasts for a while. 
       On another note, Happy Father's day! Sadly, I'm not physically in the same location as my Dad this year :( I've been blessed with an amazing father that has encouraged me to be me, dream big and live larger than life... and I'll be forever grateful for that. One lesson I've learnt from the relationship with my Dad is realizing that I'm loved by him, and the rest of family - dearly. Knowing you are loved as an individual goes a long way in giving you a sense of completion... and in one way or the other, even when I forget, at the back of my mind is that lingering reminder is that I'm too blessed to be stressed (Yup, another cliched saying... imagine!). I'm beginning to realize that the relationship/perception of relationship I've had with my father has gone a long way in defining my perception of self and worth in the eyes of other people. I would like to believe the same applies for everyone... but hey, what do I know? While the prior statement I've made is true to an extent in a general sense, I also know that there are orphaned individuals out there or people from broken homes or those without a good father relationship... and despite that, they still have a great sense of self and worth. I truly admire those individuals, because they are the true troopers. That also goes to say that other people can also play the role of feeding you with a great sense of self and worth apart from your biological father and that is as legitimate as it gets as well. So I am aware that it is possible to not have a great father figure, and still turn out great! Regardless, the above is the lesson that  I've learnt over the past couple of years. My dad treats me like I'm worth it... being treated like I'm worth it has led me to know and realize that I am worth it... therefore, by default, non-compiling individuals and situations get shown the turn around :D 
In conclusion, a toast to all the fathers out there - past, present and future! 

And a toast to the Papa Father of all - God! Because, let's be real, everyone has a Father whether they realize it or not, and He is all around us.

Have a splendrous, and awesome week of joyfulness ahead of you! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Self-Esteem Series 3: Even if you've been mistreated and abused, YOU are still worth it!!!

My dear friends - D, A and I will be sharing our wonderful stories through the next couple of weeks of moments in times when we were pretty low and how He came through to remind us of truths that are solid irrespective of how we feel. I hope you read and enjoy and come back each week through the next week or so to share in our testimonies.  

You can read the first installment here
You can read the second installment here

Please sit back and enjoy the third installment of the series from my dear friend A. She writes the story of a dear friend of hers who has been through a lot, and regardless still upholds her self-worth. It must have been our sophomore year of college when I first heard this story from A... and I remembered thinking to myself that I would been a shell of a person if I were in her shoes. I know abuse is a rampant phenomenon that happens in households especially to young children. It is something that we would rather dust under our carpets than admit it to the whole world... I've admired Misty so much because the strength and sacrifice it takes to say this makes people realize that if this kind of past circumstance is hiding under their carpet, then they aren't alone... and not only that, but speaking up is one of the ways we can help prevent the cycle from continuing. 

You can catch A at her wonderful blog: http://bimpeoyewo-whatreallymatters.blogspot.com/
She is a champion of social justice which warms my heart so much, you should check her out and join in her efforts as well :)

The Misty Story

This is a name everyone at some point has heard me mention and if you are one of the few that have not heard the name well then today you will.  She’s such an inspiration and an example of someone who took her struggles and hardships and turned it into an opportunity to make a difference.

I can still remember that day vividly my life changed. It was a shocking day and I literally had to fight the tears from coming down my eyes. It was an 8a.m. Gender Women Studies class and I struggled to get out of bed to make it on time for class. We had been talking about rape and sexual assaults all week in class so I surprised when I saw Misty coming into my class. She was a good friend sorry I meant to say a great friend and more importantly a beautiful person.  She came in with her husband who sat in front to encourage and support her as she spoke.

She started to narrate her story of how when she was young her mom brought people to come and rape her and her siblings. This went on for a while until authorities found out and removed her and her siblings from the home. She was taken and placed in a foster home were she continued to be mentally and sexually abused again.  One of the boys in the home sexually abused her as well and even though she reported this to her social worker, nothing was done.  So she remained in this abusive environment until she got lucky and finally got adopted.

She did not allow all this to break her or shape how she felt about herself. Most people would have been ashamed and insecure instead she chose to speak up against rape and the injustices that are associated with rape charges.  Not caring whether this put a label on her, all she cared about was that people were talking about it. In her words “people don’t talk about rape until it happens to someone close to them” but by then the damage is already done. There she was openly telling us about a past that most people would do anything to cover up. She was bravely sharing in the hope of helping someone who was or has gone through something similar and bringing to light a human rights issue that society has done little to prevent from occurring and shys away from talking about.

When Rahilla told me that she wanted me to contribute to her self esteem series I was honored and very excited but for the first time I struggled with what to write. And then it suddenly occurred to me that Misty’s story is a perfect example of someone who according to society should have a low self esteem and self worth. Someone that should be depressed and hate all men but instead she is a strong woman, an amazing wife and an exceptional mother who inspires me to be a better person.  Reminding me that beauty is skin deep and that confidence comes from within especially when you know who you are.

She has shown me that no matter what society views as beautiful, we are all beautiful whether we are fat, slim, short, tall, white, and black. A person can use the hardest times in their lives to help others and bring about change like she is doing. Today Misty works as a Victim Advocate, at the District Attorney's Office helping people to overcome things similar to that she has been through.

You can meet thousands of people and none of them really touch you and then you meet one person and your life is changed forever. That’s exactly what she did. Misty’s strength, courage, fearlessness and big heart during her adversity is very inspiring. I think there is so much one can learn from her story.

Self worth comes from within. You have to make a conscious effort to accept who you are and be happy/comfortable with the person you are.  Yes people may put you down but when you have a strong sense of who you are, it would not matter what they say or think. Nobody can make you feel little about yourself unless you give them the power to. You are a beautiful and as long as you believe that, it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks.

You can follow me on: http://bimpeoyewo-whatreallymatters.blogspot.com/

Love Always,
Daddy’s lil girl (Mbang) 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sharing 9

An unexpected and sweet reminder:

 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV)

Have a wonderful week of sweet wanderings!!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sweet Reminders of Easter 2012

    As we go about our numerous wanderings during this dichotomous weekend of solemn reflection and wildly estatic celebrations, I am quietly reminded of two things:
 1. I worship a God that would rather die that spend eternity without me.
 2. I am free. Liberated and earth-shatteringly free. Free to receive this love. And free to love in return. Free from shame. And bought from guilt.

I am freed and loved.
And so are you.
This God is crazy about us. 

    Won't you come sit with me and enjoy these reminders as well?
    Have a festive Easter and remember this:
John 15: 13 (NIV): 
"Greater Love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Self-Esteem Series 2: You, yes You - You are good.

My dear friends - D, M, A and I will be sharing our wonderful stories through the next couple of weeks of moments in times when we were pretty low and how He came through to remind us of truths that are solid irrespective of how we feel. I hope you read and enjoy and come back each week through the month of March to share in our testimonies.      

You can catch the first installment of the series here

Please sit back and enjoy the second installment of the series from my dear friend D.   
                                                 My Ash Wednesday, 2012

             Today, my day began with the best intentions in the world.
             I was joyful and happy to be alive. I made my to do list in my head which included fasting through the day with a 30 min prayer before I head out, catch my bus, be a bomb at work and then get to church at seven. Oh and let's not forget, read "Grace for the good girl" during intermissions of the day (awesome book y'all should read it).
             Anyways, first of all, I was late for my 30 min prayer and had to bold out of the door to catch my bus. No biggie right, i'll just pray on the bus, which I did. Work: the experiment starts fine (I am a researcher by the way) and my fasting could not go any better. First experiment - raging success, I pat myself on the back, high five the Holy Spirit and continue to the next one. I'm on fire. Then, my supervisor confirms that my previous experiment, similar to the one I am in the process of up was a raging success: "We got AWESOME data, Keep the good work going" She says... My self esteem is up a 1000X. God loves me and the birds and the bees all chirp and buzz in my favor!
            Ten minutes before the end of the experiment, the machine froze. This machine never freezes!!! It is almost 6:30p.m., the bus will leave and I will miss church. What is even more heartbreaking is that my experiment might be compromised. 10 minutes later and with a defeated attitude, I exit work. "Let me get a honey bun to break my fast" I thought to myself (I have been craving a honey bun all day). The vending machine did have a honey bun. But it was behind an apple dutch whatever and in order to get I would have to pay twice. I only had a dollar. I settled for some fruit snack instead (me not remembering the name tells you how annoyed I was). Everything had gone wrong. My plans thwarted.
            While walking to my bus stop it occurs to me that God is still God and I am still his servant. How does my day relate to self esteem? 
Well, I started the day full of myself but in the end I was emptied of me. And did I tell you I had to go through the day with a gaping hole on my shirt?!?!
I had the expectation of my supervisor, of the world around me and most of all, my self-imposed expectations to satisfy. But when did I ever consider the expectations of God which are to lay my burdens, these expectations of the world, at His cross and to rest? Our self esteem is shaped as Newton's third law, every force has an equal and opposite reaction. The world tells us we are not good enough,  but God tell us "I died for you". The world says you have a gaping hole in your shirt, God says "I have made you in my image and I said you are good." The world said you couldn't even meet your own expectation, God says "Stop expecting and start living in me."
             In God our needs are met, so why do we keep on expecting what we already have? We are beautiful because we were made in His image. If you say that you are ugly then you are insulting your God (oh noo u didn't). God loves you and knows your very core - the one you hide from the world. He still found you so worthy of His love that He made an entire earth for you to dwell, mates for you to chose, animals and plants to feed you, and as if that was not enough, He gave you eternal redemption with no fear of death. So when every honey bun is hidden by an apple treat that you didn't intend on having, and you are broken in your hunger with a gaping hole in your shirt and a so so experiment, dear friend - laugh and enjoy for the One in control has pushed you off the driver's seat and showed you that you do not drive that car, but you are a passenger - a beloved and well taken care off passenger.

Be blessed,