Life’s Chapters..

I had a very interesting conversation today, and what stood out is how in some way, I really connected with that story, almost feeling like it was a story I have walked through or dreamt about. You know how someone shares a story with you on a call and you feel like you were part of it?. Well, this may land me in some trouble but what better way to share a friends journey that started about eight years ago.

She had reported to a new job and as is custom for her, she arrived way too early before any of the offices were opened. There was a kind security guard named Wilson dressed in a Lavington Security uniform, a Kenyan security firm, and after a quick exchange of pleasantries and who she was there to see, Wilson notified her that the human resource manager she was reporting to had not arrived but he had briefed the security team of my friends arrival as part of the new staff reporting on that day. Wilson ushered her into an office near the gate where one of the employees, a tall handsome engineer had just come in and seemed to be settling in for the day. My immediate question was how she remembered the security guards name and she mentioned that his polite and welcoming attitude made her realise that the work culture there must be one that valued people and no one forgets a good act. You can already guess, I wanted to know more about the engineer.

Wilson introduced her to the gentleman and for some reason, she felt like she knew this guy from another place. I know my friend well enough as she is a great story teller and I could have bet on my life that those two had never met. I was eager as you are right now, to know what happened next. The professionalism, the welcome and how this gentleman who I will call OJ for the sake of this story appealed to my friend. In her words, she said that there was something “extra special” about him. I wanted to hear each and every detail of it but clearly, the deep breaths of excitements and what I could only describe as love emotions for the said handsome engineer OJ kept interrupting all the juicy details. At some point, she paused and breathed so hard I thought at some point she had dropped off the call.

Well! there was a spark, a connection and for lack of a better word, something that was so special about OJ. Knowing the kind of person my friend is, this seemed to be strange as the whole story had come up as she sought direction from me on how to deal with OJ, eight years into their friendship. As you can clearly tell, that spark resulted into something, a bond, a love (as she called it) that was deep yet unclear. I am not a counsellor or a therapist so I could not really understand how and what to respond. But something came into my mind and I hope any counsellor or therapist reading this will read my disclaimer in the previous sentence. Turned out that OJ and my friend had developed a very strong bond over the years and many times, each of them would withhold their “truth” from each other and had gone through different seasons, both good and bad seasons, and each blamed the other for not having ended up together as husband and wife. That is the part that confused me even more.

My understanding was that from day one, the foundations had been set, though shallow, the two had allowed some roots to grow, but both feared the watering and the nurturing. Eight years later, alot had changed, the roots had grown deeper and to some extent, my friend felt as though the uncertainty of what lay ahead was mostly on OJs side. She needed to make a decision and move on to the next chapter of her life, a journey she was unsure if OJ was willing to lead. As an avid reader, I happened to have seen some quote on uncertainty on Pinterest a few days back, and all I could think about was the seasons both of them may have been through. I requested my friend to share her feelings with OJ, but I also reminded her that she needed to embrace the uncertainty as some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.

I hope the same words speak to someone reading this and is going through some uncertainty in this season. I would love to hear your advise on the comment section on what advise you would have given my friend if you were in my shoes (of course without the deep details I have had to withhold to safeguard my friend).

God Bless You!

Gratitude..

It is not automatic that you will go to bed at night and wake up whole or even alive the next morning. This is something we we often take for granted. You wake up and hop off the bed as though the new day is guaranteed. It does not matter if you are religious or not, it does not hurt to just stop and say thank you to the power that kept you safe throughout the night when your guard was down and you were literally powerless as you lay down in bed or couch.

I have experienced situations that my loved ones or I go to bed unwell and wake up well, go to bed well and wake up unwell and even in one situation, my most beloved person in this world never got to see the next day. Our days are not guaranteed and every morning that I actually wake up and can put one foot in front of the other, lift or move my hands to hug my children as they leave for school or move my head to give them kisses is already a testimony in itself. A testimony that a mightier being than myself made it possible for me to wake up and experience the joy of a new day and fulfil the tasks that He has ahead of me, not to fulfil my to do list which He has all the power to change. That mightier being to me is God.

I do not take it for granted that everyday or even any day for that matter is guaranteed. To take it a step further, I am of the belief that you are still here as there is a purpose that you have not fulfilled, whether that purpose is meeting the needs of your family or your community, God does reveal those purposes to us if we seek Him diligently. Our hands and feet are not just to serve ourselves, they are to serve the greater good of this generation. I define generation not by the age set or age group but the time you are alive as the bible speaks of King David in Acts 13:36 that states, ‘Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed“.

Your time to fall asleep could be any day from today, I pray that as you start your day today, you will be more intentional in your gratitude and in how you treat people as that too is a form of gratitude. Take just a few minutes and say thank you. Thank you for a new day, Thank you that your eyes can see this short reminder, and choose to live each day with intentionality.

God Bless You!

Forgiveness.

I guess I can’t keep running away from the topic of forgiveness. I have never blogged in tears or such vulnerability but this one…I did…and it took so much time to get it done with this song on my background (please listen to it, it may unlock something in you).

Well, I decided to do online church today and I happened to go back to one of my favourite preachers, Bishop Gibson Aduvate of the ICC Nairobi Church. The reality is that forgiveness is very complicated, The preacher mentioned that we want to live in the standards of men and treat human beings as they treat us yet God demands that we be different. He went on to read Romans 12: 1-2 and 9-21 and talked about how we live today based on experiences from yesterday by living on decisions that are centred on ourselves. He also touched on unconditional love, a love that has no expectations and by loving unconditionally, we allow God to fight for us.

I am no expert in forgiveness as I have found myself struggling with the same. One thing that has been very heavy in my spirit in the last few days is the urgency to forgive. I have been reminded of the sacrifice on the cross where I can still enjoy that forgiveness through accepting a Jesus Christ I never met, yet struggling to forgive myself and a few people that I know well but have hurt me deeply. I have heard sermons, checked out memes and received frequent reminders on this topic but one thing for sure, it is heavy and can only take the Holy Spirit to intervene. Today alone, I was reminded through the sermon, a forward in a WhatsApp group I am in as well as a WhatsApp conversation from a loved one. I just don’t get it, but clearly, I know that many people share my pain and space where we know what to do but we have no strength to do it.

As I did a school assignment today on a community development paper, one of the questions read, You have been assigned to work in Kibra slums. What challenges are you likely to encounter? What are the likely solutions? (10 marks)“. Kibra is a slum in Nairobi and one of the biggest in Africa. For some reason, as I wrote down my responses, I found myself drifting to the extremes of violence that happens in such a place due to the population and thought of the vulnerable population in such a place like young girls who suffer injustices such as rape and how forgiving such a violator would look like. I also happened to come across a celebration of service of a handsome promising young man named Keagan who was stabbed recently in one of the Nairobi suburbs and the pain in his death as I watched the service made me also wonder how forgiveness especially by his mom to the killer(s) that selfishly took away her only son would be like.

Just writing about forgiveness alone crushes me and brings me to tears as I don’t understand it or how it should be. Even as I insert some quotes/images I found on the topic, my prayer is that in this season, God shall teach me and you who may be reading this and struggling with the same to understand it and do it…to forgive….atleast soon!

God bless you!

Keep Stoking Your Fire…

I thought I would write about forgiveness today but I guess that is a tough one to actualise on a Saturday afternoon when I would rather be outdoors or taking a nap. Well, the weather has been changing lately and for some reason, when it rains in Kenya, the weather somehow turns cold, so let me warm up this place y talking about fire…but a different kind of fire.

I have always appreciated houses with fireplaces especially in extremely cold places and every time I think of a fire, it’s either an outdoor fire-pit roasting marshmallows with kids and loved ones, a house with a real fireplace or one of those crazy places my friends K and A took me a few weeks ago and we left there smelling of smoke after some amazing pre-election debates. Well! if you get to read this, let’s revisit soon with that whole squad and have a post-election analysis.

Back to our fire for the day. We all have something inside us that gives us that upper edge, brightens up our faces as we do it or even dream about doing it. I really cannot explain what a personal fire is in one blog but I want you to take a few minutes, close your eyes and just imagine what that one thing is that you wish you had done and have never done because someone said you could not do it, or you are not so good at it or even your own limiting dreams kept or keep holding you back. You wanted a certain career, dreamt of starting a certain business or dating someone from a particular tribe or race but those close to you thought or even said otherwise. Well! if you want it soo bad and it’s legal and moral, nothing should stop you.

An athlete going for a race never plans who to beat in the race. They are in most cases competing with their own personal record or time. In 2019, the world watched as Eliud Kipchoge took on the INEOS 1:59 challenge to proof that no human was limited by running a marathon in under two hours. I remember reading Eliud’s diary in the INEOS159 challenge website around that season and one thing that stood out was that the fire in him to proof to the world that no human was limited was clearly unstoppable.

We all go through the seasons where we have a big dream or big desire to achieve a goal but often get discouraged because of our own mental doubts that speak louder than our faith telling us that we cannot make it and even worse, the voices of those we allow around us that pour water on our fires. Whether it is our personal limitations or the discouragement from those around us, one thing we must be intentional about is to be ready and willing to burn those bridges that limit our growth to the next level and instead, get to work and stoke those fires by taking the first step towards living our best lives today.

God Bless You!

Success in Consistency – 57 days to go!

“The secret of your success is hidden in your daily routine”, These words by Mike Murdock may not always make sense especially when you have an excuse not to commit into that daily goal or to do action on your list. However, one thing you will notice from people whose lives you have watched change over time is the power of consistency. We have about 57 days left to come to the end of the year 2022 and looking back, many of us made some New Year goals. Sadly, just about 307 days later, most of those goals have either gathered dust, changed over time (which is okay) or totally forgotten all together, especially those goals that were never written down.

Is it too late to achieve that one goal that you set out to achieve at the beginning of the year, of the month or even of the week? Absolutely not. One of the statements that I have heard from multiple coaches and motivational speakers is that it is never too late to start taking the small daily steps to towards that one big goal. I have watched people close to me change their lives by taking very small and sometimes what seems like insignificant steps towards changing their lives.

What are some of the simple steps I have seen people take but do so consistently? Someone intentionally taking 30 min walk a day and eventually losing that extra weight, reading a chapter of a book daily and eventually learning a new skill, saving money every month and getting enough to take a dream vacation, buy a new car or a piece of land, pay a downpayment for a mortgage or even start a business, writing 300 words daily and completing a book. I mean, there is so much one can accomplish by taking small steps daily.

No one can limit the power each of us possess, we can however be our biggest detractors or promoters by having the intentionality to take small steps everyday towards our dream destination, whatever that destination is for you.

It is not too late to close the year 2022 with some big wins. The fact that you are here and reading this means that there is still work for you to do here on earth, a purpose to fulfil and that will take some small disciplines repeated consistently to achieve. As they say, Rome was not built in a day but it was definitely build one stone at a time. Start gathering your stones today and watch how far you will have gone by December 31st 2022, just 57 days from today.

God Bless You!

Yes! You Can Overcome.

I found myself reflecting on the words of 1 Cor 10:13 today that states that, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”.

Sin and bad habits have a way of entangling themselves into our lives to the point that we become enslaved to them. What starts off as a thought or a desire for simple things suddenly becomes so embedded in our lives that we are no longer able to say no or resist even what we consider harmful in the long term. Things that we once shunned or judged others about are no longer the other persons fault or mistakes but instead a thorn in our own flesh. A thorn we cannot remove despite the pain. We suddenly look back and realise that we were wrong to judge those who we thought had no self control, we realise that the power in some of these bad habits is truly beyond the doer.

There is however hope in every situation, there is the confidence we have and especially as a creation that believes in a creator, a mighty being that has power to control and to conserve, to rescue and to heal, to redeem and break every shackles that binds our hearts and minds, and to finally set one free. That mighty being for me has remained as God. I learnt over the years to stop judging others and especially when I am not the shoe wearer. The shoe may look too tight or too loose for the wearer, but it is not in my place to judge.

In my moments of reflections, in the silence of it all, I am reminded that I cannot keep going back to things that God has already rescued me from. I must soldier on, I must keep the hope that the answers that I have long waited for are along this same path, I just need to be a little more patient, a little more gentle and always remember that God will provide a way out, and will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear.

I hope this helps you too. Despite your current situation, look up and try and see beyond this current phase, because right ahead, if you keep pushing on, and holding on a little longer, the light will shine again, the darkness will fade away, the discipline and the self control muscles will be stronger, and the new life will await you, as you look forward to a new you, and never have to suffer the regret of having to go back to something God has rescued you from.

God bless you!

A New Start.

It’s been nine months since my last article here and I guess nine months can only be equated to a period of expectancy (pregnancy) with the hope that something new and beautiful will be born. Let’s hope and pray that this will be what the future holds for Murugiblogs as I pen my first words after a nine months break here.

Being the first day of the month, I have so much to be grateful for especially for the month that has been, and the hope of what lies ahead. Every time I get those monthly messages that wish one a happy new month, unlike the past when I would brush past them, for some reason, I now seem to connect with them better and even be more receptive to understand them as I keenly read and internalise the mostly warm and meaningful words therein. I have found most of those messages and words getting me to a point of reflecting on the month that was and the opportunity to start a fresh in the new month. Those messages have often triggered in me an opportunity to re-write my dreams, slow down and appreciate the blessings of being surrounded by people I love in my family and in my inner circle of friends, appreciate the opportunities to be part of different communities around church, school, women groups, boards of management, leadership and even my own support systems.

Today, being the first of the month (November 2022) was special in many ways. Apart from waking up alive and to some rain after a long dry season, I found myself reflecting on the opportunities of new beginnings God has given me in the last few weeks. This was occasioned by a short sermon preached at CITAM Valley Road Tuesday Prayer Service that my friend Roselyne and I were privileged to be part of. It was the story of Esther, Mordecai and Haman as shared in Esther 8:2-8 after Queen Esther was given the estate of Haman by King Xerxes and the Jews got an opportunity for a new start. That sermon was crowned by my coming home to find my son playing some of my favourite Elevation worship song that made the house just feel calm and so serene. I found myself immediately visualising on what a blessing it is for one to leave home everyday and return back safely and how often we take that for granted. Amidst the chaos, the stress, the struggles and the hardships that may be present in our day to day life out in the world, one thing remains constant, we are alive today because our purpose here on earth is not done yet, every new day is therefore an opportunity for a new start, a new beginning.

The days may be tough and uncertain due to changes in your life, your health, your family situation, your business, your employment, your marriage, your relationships, your children, I mean, there is just too much that life sometimes throws at just one person and the burdens may seem so heavy to carry. My encouragement through it all is that as we start this month, get a pen and paper (literally) and re-write those dreams and goals, those that seem so impossible to reach or achieve, those that seem beyond your reach, because, sooner than later, as long as it is within your vision (mindset), it will be within your reach, because, that fresh start can begin today! and it must begin in your mind.

God Bless You!

The God Who Fights My Battles..

Often times in my human nature, I have found myself in deep thought questioning why God would be so kind and so loving. These are the times I have found myself in a state of either judging someone because of something negative or outrageous they have done or just trying to understand why some things happen especially around painful occurrences and the culprits walking free. I realize and acknowledge that God is not man. Unlike me who has to deal with unforgiveness, bitterness and anger, God deals with things in a very different way. It’s nothing I can understand or explain, but it’s something I see every day in my faith walk.

This past week, a neighbour made me so angry that I could not understand how else to deal with them. I needed some peaceful time but they must have been on the other end of the line probably high on something and unaware of the mess they were causing. We had a back and forth for a while and lots of apologies from their side but the issue kept recurring and at one point, I found myself thinking that this person was just out to irritate me and test my limits. I realised that in all that anger and bitterness, my blood pressure was probably rising and the issue was sort of beyond me. I said a small prayer that was along the lines of God, remove my anger and bitterness and be my avenger. That very short prayer or thought made me feel like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. A back and forth that had been on phone for almost 3 hours suddenly came to a quiet standstill and a very present peace seemed to reign over and take over the situation. I was able to go to bed like nothing had happened. I remember telling my sister the story of what had happened and how that one realisation that God should avenge for all our battles had brought me peace.

A few days later, I found myself in yet another battle, an entitled person that felt that only their services mattered also crossed my path with multiple lies and excuses. I knew this was a person I was not going to give any work as he was keen to mess up my projects if he was not assigned the tasks. Again, after so much inner battling, I am realising that this whole time, I have been mentally fighting back, instead of letting God avenge especially the lies he keeps telling.

As a believer of God, one of the lessons I have had in the month of January is that no secret is hidden from God, and at the right time, He reveals everything to us. There are people God will bring your way to test your dependance on Him. Sometimes very irritating human beings like the two I have had to deal with in the past week. God has kept reminding me that they are His children and a parent can deal with every battle their children brings their way, He too will deal with this. I am therefore at peace knowing that as a human being, it is not in my place to judge the motives, but it is in my place to surrender every situation to God. He is a kind and loving God and He will fight battles that happen even in dark places where we cannot see the real enemy. We just need to believe and surrender.

As January 2022 comes to a close today, may our eyes be open to see beyond the anger and pain inflicted to us by others, see beyond the lies told to hurt us and instead, see the kindness and love God has shown us, when it’s us on the other side of the situation. Don’t judge, don’t hold anger and bitterness, instead, release it all to God and let your life be free, released to the kindness that only God can give, because He loves you in a moment, more than anyone could in a lifetime.

God bless you.

Raising A Godly Generation..

You may have heard of conversations around letting children decide the path they want to take when they are adults when matters religion are mentioned, but the same people never let children make decisions on choosing to walk clothed or naked, why? I don’t know.

A few weeks ago, I had a work project that took me to an islam dominated region in my country and in one of the days I ended up in a new born unit of a hospital. Being a sensitive area, you do not expect much activity except the new born babies, medical and clinical staff and maybe a few mothers coming in from the main maternity ward and a few from home (whose children have to stay longer in the hospital care) to check on their babies. The case for this specific hospital was however different. Besides one of the little babies who had been born premature sat an old greyed man reading a Quran to the child. He had told the staff in the ward that if they did not let him read the Quran to the child, then he would carry the child home and do it there. You can imagine my shock and reaction, and I could not wait to share the words with my Bible study leader, a lady full of wisdom and hear her thoughts.

My stereotype mindset that kicks in when things are done in a certain way was overtaken by my Bible Study leaders thoughts who told me that this was an old man who had understood the strength of speaking life into a situation that was beyond him. True to her words, nothing was going to stop this man from setting up the foundations that this child needed when he/she could not fight for themselves.

That situation made me reflect alot about my parenting and led me back to what the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6, “Teach a child in the way that they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it”. It is these strong guidelines on parenting from the Bible that have been my guiding principles in my parenting journey.

No parenting class, book or seminar prepares you for everything. Try listening to a group of ladies discussing their labour and delivery story and that’s enough to prepare you for what parenting is all about, it’s different for everyone and children have a way of picking lessons from every source availed to them.

How then do you make your voice as a parent or guardian the most significant or at least the most clear?Parenting for me was a mystery. Nothing prepared me to having two children below the age of three years at one point in my life. It has become easier with time but back then, it was tough. I remember a period when I completely shut off mentally and grateful that our children had the love of their Grandmother (My Mother) and their Father to take on things I could not do.

It must have been particularly easier for My Mother to parent my children and nephews having been a parent herself at a very young age. By the time she was twenty four years, she has all my siblings and I and as a working Mother, she also enjoyed the support of parenting offered by her own Mother and Mother in law, I sort of followed the same tread, but in my case, she understood more than I knew or was willing to try.  I remember at some point leaving everything for her as I had no idea what to do and she never disappointed. That bond with my children remained true till the end of her life in 2021.

The greatest parenting lessons I learnt from Mom was having the right foundations of faith. I still remember scripture I learnt in Sunday school and Bible stories that became guiding principles when I lost my way many times, prayer and fellowship were key. Those are lessons I have passed on to my children.
I may not control a lot of what happens when my children become teenagers, young adults and eventually adults, but I have an influence in how they can handle some of those seasons.

The Bible has remained unchanged through history, and for me that remains a guiding foundation for my parenting journey. We may not attend physical church every Sunday, but we purpose to attend online church on Sunday, say Our Lord’s Prayer everyday, jointly confess the words of Psalms 23:6 daily which proclaims that Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us, all the days of our lives; and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever, Join our community in the weekly Bible Study Fellowship online sessions and above all, use scripture to guide our decisions and lifestyle.

We have many people that are struggling with parenting, not because of what they know or what they don’t know, but because they are pulled in different directions, unsure of what way to follow and what way to forsake. The unfortunate reality is that once a child checks into your life, whether born or adopted, you are stuck with them for many years and only the formative years determine a lot of what happens in the future. As a parent or guardian, you can only influence your child’s decisions for a short while, why not try when they are younger?

As you take on this heavy role of parenting, may you choose wisely each day, the foundations that are right, after all, the world and all it offers will keep changing, but one thing remains uncharged, the word of God.

God bless you!

Changing Your Name..

I still have tiny baby tags that were on my children’s wrists when they were born that read baby AJM (my names but in full). The blue one and the pink one for both my son and daughter ready to be given to them one day. Once every few years, I remove them and show them among a few other memorable items they had on their birth dates. Their new names only appeared in the birth notification at that point. 

A new name signifies so many things. It’s that’s exciting moment for a parent or custodian to give an identity to a new born child or it could be given shortly after a meaningful milestone, whether it’s after a wedding taking place and you are adding your spouses name to your own or after a painful divorce denouncing an x-spouse name, or after a long gruelling adoption process and the child or children are now yours.  There are many reasons why names change but let’s stop at this today. 

The reality is that a name change kicks off a new season. Often times, the name comes after a painful sacrifice, be it a mother in labour bringing forth a newborn or long tiring days of planning for a beautiful wedding  or even a painful partnership leading to a divorce just to mention a few.

As I read Genesis 32 today, I was drawn to verses 24 – 30 that gave the story of how Jacob, Isaacs son and Abraham’s grandson had his name changed to Israel. The verses say, “So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” (Genesis 32:24-30 NIV).

Jacob was returning to the land of his father after twenty years in a foreign land. However, he was not returning alone, he now had wives and children and wealth. He had finally got freedom from Laban who was not only his father in law but also his maternal uncle. Ahead of his journey lay the fear of meeting his brother Esau whose birthright he had taken. That’s a whole story for another day but I wish you took an afternoon time out to read the interesting Genesis stories. I better be back to the name change.

My realisation as I read this scripture was that aspect of struggle before we acquire new names. Many have been called as teachers of the gospel, painters, political leaders and world changers, but we are not ready for that battle, we assume that those titles and names belong to other people. We are not ready to wrestle with what we consider limiting in our lives to move to the next level. We have settled with names such as “Fat Mary” or “Poor Tom” or “Lying Joe”. We settle in the names that have been silently used to describe us.

As week two of 2022 draws to a close tomorrow, I pray that this is the year that you will arise and take on that struggle, and let those who called you names like Poor Tom will call you “Rich Tom” and “Honest Joe”.  Some battles may be tougher than others, but we must stand firm and refuse to move till the blessing of that new name comes.

God bless you!