Thursday, January 19, 2017

The End of an Era

Happy New Year!

I'm sitting on my bed and thinking about the end of this profound era called the Obama administration, and then it occurs to me that I have not blogged this year. So here I am: blogging.
Honestly, the year did not start with me bursting with energy and optimism. I was on vacation from work, so I took a vacation from blogging too. I am back now though. Yay! I plan to be more intentional and disciplined this year, with blogging but also with every other aspect of my very busy life. I think this is the busiest I have ever been in my entire life, but I love it. Love love it. The best part is I am even more inspired to write and blog more, so we'll see how it goes. In coming months, there should be a new face to the blog; a new blogging schedule; and hopefully more consistency. Ugh I'm usually afraid of declaring so boldly in public. But, this year is all about doing it afraid! I'm currently reading a book I love, and can't wait to talk about it in my Book of the Month, a series I enjoyed so much, I have decided to bring that into 2017 as well. I have many other written down goals for the year, and I'm quite pumped and hyped about them. I pray God gives me the grace and strength to achieve them ALL.



Today is the last day of President Obama's presidency. I really am speechless. First of all, the class and grace, and all that he exudes will be greatly missed. But most of all, he was (and is) a brilliant, extraordinary, and disciplined president. There was not a single scandal in all of his presidency, which in American politics is a pretty big deal. To top it all, he is a man who genuinely loves his family. I mean, the way he treats his wife and kids, it really is amazing. Because of him, many can. His legacy will definitely live on; I don't care how hard they try to destroy everything he worked for. History will definitely be kind to him. I am confident of that. This is by no means a tribute...I wouldn't even know where and how to start that. But this is a reminder to me and coming generations that you can defy odds; you can dream the "impossible" and become it if you work hard. How else do you explain a son of a Kenyan man, who was raised in Hawaii becoming a president in America? The same America, where merely 60 years ago, a person with the same color as him could not VOTE, much less run for office, much less run for the HIGHEST office of the land. Or how do you explain Michelle LaVaughn Robinson from South Side Chicago, daughter of blue collar workers, who ends up as the First Lady in the same house that was built by slaves? Yeah. Impossible is nothing.

It's the end of the most beautiful, most profound, and most amazing era.

Here is to President Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th president of these United States!


Saturday, December 31, 2016

In Memory of 2016

"Either way, I WIN."

I remember listening to Christine Caine sometime ago, when she told a story that has come to matter a great deal to me. She talked about being diagnosed with thyroid cancer and needing surgery. She was scared and terrified, as anyone would be in the face of such a precarious situation. So she prayed and cried out to God for help. After praying she realized there could only be two possible outcomes: one, the surgery is not successful and she dies. In which case, she goes to heaven, and that's a WIN; The second outcome is a successful surgery,  where she comes through hale and hearty. In this outcome, she also WINS. She said upon this realization, she assumed a new level of confidence and said “Either way Devil, I win”. Whatever the outcome, I WIN. That’s my biggest lesson from this year. In retrospect, I wish I was more confident of this fact. That whatever happens, NO MATTER the outcome, with God on my side I WIN. In the course of this year, I KNEW without any iota of doubt that there's a God and he's rooting for me.

And, If God is for us, who can be against us?

This year started very much like 2014; filled with optimism and confident in what was to come, I was certain the sky was the limit. But like the annoying sequence of my life I described here, things started to take an awkward turn when rejection after rejection started to pour in. When I say rejection, I mean from every single facet of my life. Everywhere and everything and everyone kept saying NO. I did not understand. I hard worked very hard, I was very qualified, I was ready; why were things not going my way? Anyway, it was a new year, but I was sad, depressed, angry, and most of all the situation was familiar. It was turbulent emotionally: one minute I was hopeful, the next I was ready to give up.

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

In the course of all these, I learnt how selfish people really are, and I decided  to care less about others or what they think. Because in the end people only mostly look out for themselves.  This brings me to my next point: family. I can't say this enough, but my family really, truly rocks. This year taught me the importance of family.  My family always supported me and believed in me even when I couldn't dare believe in myself. My parents always insisted that no matter what, we should count our blessings and trust God. They were (as they always are) right. God kept picking me up even at my lowest. He kept reminding me of how awesome, steadfast, and amazing he truly is.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

For the first time in my life,  I almost bought a lie devil sold to me. I thought, "perhaps there is a God, but maybe he doesn't really care about us." But nah, God SHOWED me he rules in the affairs of men. I will never forget watching Bishop TD Jakes' A Crumb in Crisis on YouTube.  My God!  It changed my life. I watched it when I needed it the most.  I became rejuvenated. All that anger, hurt, disappointment, rage that I was feeling just dissipated. God reached out to me even when I wasn’t looking. He reminded me that no matter what happens, God loves me. I wasn't out of the woods, but it was clear the battle was not mine but the Lord's. Hence, devil had lost.

This year, God taught me to wait; life is more about the journey than the destination. Now, for a control freak and quasi-perfectionist, this is terrible news. But we must learn to forget about our own timelines and completely depend on and wait upon God. He taught me there is no surviving without God. Most of all, he taught me it's okay to question things. It's okay to be lost. It's ok to express your feelings to God.  I would advise anyone going through a tough time to check out Matt Bay's "Finding God in the Ruins" on YouVersion/Bible App.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

See, God had plans for me.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

April 2016, doors SWUNG open.

When it rained, it POURED.



God came through with full force. The miracles that have happened  in my life since April till this moment have been nothing short of God's relentless love. There is a God, and he loves me. Grace came through. Grace told me, "screw your achievements. Screw your qualifications. Screw your efforts." This is not platitude; It is not a cliche: God ALWAYS comes through. I am now on the path of achieving one of my biggest dreams. It's HARD but it is worth it. Most of all, I feel at ease.

2016 was the year I did the Whole 30 challenge and was pushed to my limits. I saw M twice this year after not seeing each other for years. I even had the time to take a vacation out of the country. I served in church for the first time ever. I remember first joining the presentation team and just mighty frustrated with how hard it was. In retrospect, everything this year seemed unnecessarily hard. I have since come to realize that only a few things give as much pleasure as the joy that comes from contributing to God's kingdom, no matter how little that contribution is.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

The above was the YouVersion verse of the year 2016; the bible verse that was shared, bookmarked, and highlighted most often by Bible App users worldwide in the year 2016, according to YouVersion. Indeed, if I had a verse of the year, it would be that. My plan on living intentionally was not completely foiled. I consistently blogged every most Sundays this year. That's great news for my constant journey to be  more disciplined. Further, I felt led to change the name of my blog to further reflect who I am. Despite a crazy and hectic schedule, I took the time to read for leisure, and went a step further by reviewing them on this blog in the Book of the Month series.  I gave my time more this year by serving and volunteering more for those around me who are less privileged. I lost my grandfather this year, but it was a life well lived and I'm grateful for the life he lived.

I can't talk about 2016 without talking about the election that shook many of us to our core. Like I mentioned here, I am enraged, furious that America did not elect her first female president. Yet when the story is being told in the future, I want my unborn children, niece(s) and nephew(s) to know that I stood on the right side of history; I stood with Her. I'm still constantly intrigued at everything that happened globally and politically this year. I read about what he whose name shall not be mentioned called Michelle Obama: an ape that belongs to Zimbabwe's forest. I just couldn't understand how one human being could have that much hate and vitriol in them. The election was devastating but it made me much more resolute to stand for what I believe in; and to always  embody the very values I profess. For a little while I was so uninspired by the political climate of the entire freaking world, that I forgot my principles. But the biggest lesson from that is when you fall, get right back up and keep fighting. I am more determined than ever to speak out for the poor, marginalized, voiceless, destitute, oppressed...because I'm confident that's what Jesus would do. I realize that I live in a bubble of my excessive privilege. Grateful as I may be for that, I am inclined to do more with the plenty God has bestowed me with.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.

To those who found this year challenging; those who mourned; the people who failed woefully; those who tried so hard and struggled so hard, yet have nothing to show for it; those who demonstrated faith, unwavering faith, yet had their prayers unanswered; the people who felt like if there is a God, he probably hates them; those who don't even know who God is; The ones that spent every minute of 2016 in hospitals; those who cried themselves to bed every night; I hope you find joy, peace, and laughter in the coming year.

I have written down specific goals for 2017. But I'm not naive; I know I need God more than ever. I'm excited and hopeful for 2017.

Bring it on 2017. my FAITH is STILL UNWAVERING.

Love,

I

P.S: sorry this was very long. You are the real MVP for reading all the way through :-)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

I promise I have not forgotten I own a blog.

I had to come out of my quasi-hiding place to wish you a Merry Christmas! So this is to everyone who has read this blog this year; I'm grateful. I rarely ever talk about people reading, not because I don't want people to read or  care about people who do; I DO. It's just how the blog was birthed; a kind of online journal that helps me keep record of my life, so I can look back someday, and see how far God has brought me.

With that said, I think in coming months, I'll be more particular about YOU. I know how quiet YOU are, but Blogger says YOU always come around, so thank you. Although, I'm probably one of the more awkward people in real life, I've never had a problem communicating with writing. My pen/keyboard has always been more effective for me to communicate my feelings. Therefore, here goes. Thank you so much for sticking around, and following me on this journey. I'm grateful for you.

I hope everyone has/had a Merry Christmas. I'm very particular about the reason for the season: Jesus Christ. And sometimes, I still cry just thinking about the sheer love God has for us; that he would send us his only son while we were yet sinners. It's amazing, isn't it?


I don't want to talk too much here since I hope to still post my usual recap in the "In Memory of..." style. I do it every year; so I'm somewhat confident I will do it this year too. So help me God. Because chale, I have been LAZY. I'm really enjoying the Christmas break and just time with family. So writing has been a real chore.

Anyway, you are worth coming out of hiding. So excuse the rambling, but MERRY CHRISTMAS again.

God is AMAZING.

I wish you "Joy unspeakable".

Love,

I

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Finding Joy in the Ordinary and a Smoothie Recipe

Two posts ago, I was all zen...and sounded quite pessimistic, for lack of a different word. It's all good in da hood, trust me. I learnt the huge difference between joy and happiness today in church (Shoutout to Citizen Heights #possibleawaits!!). Anyway, it did help me better understand where I'm at in life. I'm confident I have joy in me. I'm not always happy; no sane person is. But still, I've been learning to find joy in the ordinary. Shout out to YouVersion; my oh my...that's one app that's actually worth paying for, but it's totally free!!! I completed a plan about finding joy in the ordinary, and then today my church started a new series called JOYFUL. Coincidence? I think not. Part of my "joy" task is to find joy even in mundane, and especially when life doesn't go your way: while eating; having to wait for the train in this crazy cold weather; multitasking; reading leisurely; replying messages from people who aren't family and/or closest friends. Let me digress a little bit; responding to messages from (those who aren't close to me) has become some sort of herculean task now. Granted, I'm mostly occupied and all, but texting used to be my thing (hate phone calls).

WHY?!

Moving on.

The task is to find joy in these things and in life generally. I've really cut off social media from my life this year, and that has helped me a GREAT DEAL. Or not? I feel like social media sometimes helps to virtually connect and just smile (or laugh) at people's shenanigans and I sorta miss that. I now mostly use only Facebook; it's the perfect medium: it's not crowded and I'm able to get current news on it. Win win.

So in the spirit of finding joy, while making my breakfast smoothie this past week, I thought to blog about it. Totally random, as I don't do food here. But I gotta give you something for reading all the way through this rambling, right? Haha. Let's face it though, I've always found joy in eating. Food time is kinda sacred to me. I just love eating alone; food time is my favorite time always. I relax, and savor each bite, spoon, fork etc. Anyway, here's my strawberry banana smoothie :-)

You only need four things as depicted in the picture below. However, you should endeavor to use bananas riper than those shown. I already cut and froze the one I used, which isn't evident in this picture; it was definitely riper than these.



Which leads me to my first point, freeze your bananas for a more delicious smoothie.

You would need strawberries, blueberries, PLAIN Greek yoghurt, and bananas. Quantity would of course depend on the serving size. Those shown above (in the plate) are for just one serving.

Next, bring out your blender.

Put some water; then just some yoghurt (not the entire tub in the picture above!); next your frozen bananas. Pulse for a while. When you have a somewhat creamy texture, add the berries. Pulse again, and voila!

If you want some veggie boost, then add some spinach or kale. It would still be delicious (tried and tested).

Voila!


I used some toasted coconut chips as toppings. I paired mine with re-watching How I Met Your Mother, which would have been an amazing show but for the twisted, creepy, incestuous Barney-Robin-Ted sicko love triangle. Whew; been meaning to say that out a while now. I'm definitely relieved lol.

Mine may seem liquidy even though I'm taking it in a bowl. That's my style. For a thicker/creamier smoothie, just reduce water and have a very strong blender.

That's it; easy peasy.

Now, I know some people advise against smoothies in the morning because of a sugar rush. I say, better sugar in fruits than in Ice cream or doughnut or cake; you get the point. Besides, banana and blueberries are the main sugar culprits here lol. Just handle everything in moderation, basically.

That's all for now.

I hope you have a week as delicious as this smoothie ;-)

Love,

I

P.S: pray for me to have some self control in this life as some people have refused to learn boundaries. Geez, have some boundaries people. UGH. Jesus needs to take the wheel before I lose my mind over annoying, no-home-training, no-sense-of-shame, just-plain-rude folks mahnnn. Jesus also needs to just take the wheels; our next president about to run the country via/on Twitter. Shudders.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

What Are You Thankful For?

Me? Way too many to list.


For life

For salvation

For family

For food

For love

For friendship

For good health

For everything!

Love,

I

Sunday, November 20, 2016

On Not Writing, The Election, And Forging Ahead...

Hellurrrr...

Lol.

So I really have had no inspiration to upload anything here or to write for that matter. I have a couple of drafts that can be refined for a post, but I did not feel like editing either. I'm about 60% sure there will probably be no November book of the month. I don't feel like doing anything that isn't particularly compulsory/necessary; not just with my blog, just with life generally. And that's okay sometimes. There's no need to force it. It will come back. I guess we can chalk it all up to end of the year blues; you know being burnt out from the entire year. It is after all the eleventh month of the year. Heh. Perhaps.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Book of the Month: The Last Lecture

Welcome to November! Well, we're six days in already but better late than never. The book of the month (of October) is an especially poignant one. And obviously, I make a case for every single book of the month I feature, but I'm especially making a stronger case for this one. If you can get through without bawling your eyes out, it's one I'd advise everyone to read at least once. I'll tell you why, of course.

The Last Lecture is a New York bestselling book co-written by Randy Pausch, who was a Carnegie Mellon University professor of Computer Science, and Jeffrey Zaslow, a journalist. You'd understand the combination in a short while. How did this book come about? Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had about six months to live. Now, generally CMU had a talk series, where they invited professors to give a "last talk"; a speech they would give if they had to give only one speech before they died. As it turned out, it WAS indeed Randy Pausch's last talk. So while Pausch was putting his affairs in order, and literally getting ready to die, he accepted this challenge. Not only as one last thing to give, but also as a sort of letter to his children for when they grow up. At the time his kids were so little, they had no idea their daddy was about to die.

Before speaking (there is a video of the lecture on YouTube), he received an applause/standing ovation from the audience, which was so unusually filled up, they had to set up an overflow room. As he motioned for them to sit down, he said "make me earn it." Someone shouted back, "You did!". After the lecture garnered lots of media attention, he decided to turn it to a book. But because he really wanted to spend the little time he had left with his family, he collaborated with Zaslow.

This was one heart-wrenching, heavy, highly emotional, yet somewhat exhilarating and liberating piece. Basically, the book is filled with life lessons from Pausch's life. And from such an accomplished person, who lived so much in all his 47 years, the book was filled with gems: some pretty obvious, others very ingenious.


As you can see, he doesn't ease us into it at all. He goes straight to the point of telling us his prognosis.  The same way he started the actual lecture; by showing a scan which displayed ten tumors on his liver. He then went ahead to do some push ups for two reasons: to prove to the audience that although he was dying, he was in better physical shape than most of them; second, he did not want pity. In most of the book, you will see that matter-of-fact attribute in him. Again, if you can get through it without bawling, this is probably one of the best books you will ever read.

Or at least one of the best autobiographies.

He spoke on many different things about his life: growing up, failures, successes, personal philosophies, and most impotantly, advice on how to achieve your childhood dreams aka how to live. He spoke on the importance of discipline and how his coach taught him discipline when he joined a football team as a child.

"I don't believe in the no-win scenario." He said.

His determined, dogged personality and persistence shined through in pages of the book, but more so in how he handled his disease.

"Brick walls are not there to keep us out, but rather to give us a chance to show how badly we want something." 

And boy did he want to live. He fought hard.

Reading this book in public was hard stuff. Most of the time, I just wanted to break down in tears. Not necessarily sad tears. For instance, he wrote about telling his niece and nephew to tell his children when they are older just how hard he fought to stay alive. To tell them how he signed up for the hardest treatments possible just because he wanted to be around as long as possible to be there for his kids.

Oh, his perfect description of his wife. He joked in an interview that he did not want his life made into a movie because no Hollywood actress was beautiful enough to play his wife. Theirs was a beautiful, perfect love story.

But the biggest lesson I learnt from that book is that no natter how bad things get; saddle up and keep moving. This was beyond his sickness, that was just who he was. It reminded me of Sheryl Sandberg's famous "keep the shit out of option B" mantra.

The best part about him wasn't his formidable courage, or his inspiring optimism in the face of the worst, it was just how many people he helped achieve their dreams.  I learned the importance of handwritten thank you notes. I learned the importance of hard-work instead of short cuts. I learned to be like Norman Meyrowitz (page 160) and be ALWAYS prepared. I learned to pay more attention to what a man (romantically interested in me) does, not what he says.  I learned to dream big. To allow myself to dream, to hope. He inspired me to desire to achieve the maximum  human potential. To dare to be great. To dare to be different.

Needless to say, Randy Pausch has since passed away. But the legacy he left would continually live on. I haven't watched the entire speech on YouTube myself. But I will as soon as I have enough time to watch carefully. Do one at least. Either read the book or watch the speech. It will affect you somehow. If nothing, it will show you how fleeting and ephemeral life can be. It will and should inspire you to be better. To do better. To live better.

Love,

I