The profoundness of Og Mandino’s “17 Rules to live by”

Do not worry about tomorrow

A dear friend of mine unexpectedly lost someone very close to her. Over the past few days, we’ve shared several conversations on the impact of death to families, and just how much we often times take the very essence of living for granted. I’ve also in recent weeks, not only turned a year older, but come to realise the magnitude of responsibilities that come with being an adult. Thinking about it all can create  a tad bit of anxiety to be honest…

Life is a gift, a precious one at that – but how many of us are actually taking time to really smell that morning brew or listen to the sound of birds chirping outside our windows. The difficult thing about growing older, is that it also seems a little like the world expects more from us. Time commands more out of us; people need more from us, goals keep staring at you – often times leaving us sapped.

I read an inspired piece by Og Mandino the other day, that really spoke to me about how we ought to live our lives and thought to share it with y’all…

17 RULES TO LIVE BY From A Better Way to Live BY: OG MANDINO

1. Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play and you will finally be able to move forward toward the life that God intended for you…with grace, strength, courage and confidence.

2. Today, and every day, deliver more than you are getting paid to do. The victory of success will be half won when you learn the secret of putting out more than is expected in all that you do. Make yourself so valuable in your work that eventually you will become indispensable. Exercise your privilege to go the extra miles, and enjoy all the rewards you receive. You deserve them!

3. Whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down by life, don’t look back at it too long. Mistakes are life’s way of teaching you. Your capacity for occasional blunders is inseparable from your capacity to reach your goals. No one wins them all, and your failures, when they happen, are just part of your growth. Shake off your blunders. How will you know your limits without an occasional failure? Never quit. Your turn will come.

4. Always reward your long hours of labor and toil in the very best way, surrounded by your family. Nurture their love carefully, remembering that your children need models, not critics, and your own progress will hasten when you constantly strive to present your best side to your children. And even if you have failed at all else in the eyes of the world, if you have a loving family, you are a success.

5. Build this day on a foundation of pleasant thoughts. Never fret at any imperfections that you fear may impede your progress. Remind yourself, as often as necessary, that you are a creature of God and have the power to achieve any dream by lifting up your thoughts. You can fly when you decide that you can. Never consider defeat again. Let the vision in your heart be in your life’s blueprint. Smile!

6. Let your actions always speak for you, but be forever on guard against the terrible traps of false pride and conceit that can halt your progress. The next time you are tempted to boast, just place your fist in a full pail of water, and when you remove it, the hole remaining will give you a correct measure of your importance.

7. Each day is a special gift from God, and while life may not always be fair, you must never allow the pains, hurdles, and handicaps of the moment to poison your attitude and plans for yourself and your future. You can never win when you wear the ugly cloak of self-pity, and the sour sound of whining will certainly frighten away any opportunity for success. Never again. There is a better way.

8. Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge when it comes along. This applies to play as well as work. A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine. No more busywork. No more hiding from success. Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now. Now! Not tomorrow!

9. Live this day as if it will be your last. Remember that you will only find “tomorrow” on the calendars of fools. Forget yesterday’s defeats, and ignore the problems of tomorrow. This is it. Doomsday. All you have. Make it the best day of your year. The saddest words you can ever utter are, “If I had my life to live over again…” Take the baton, now. Run with it! This is your day!

10. Beginning today, treat everyone you meet, friend or foe, loved one or stranger, as if they were going to be dead at midnight. Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and kindness and understanding and love that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again. 17 RULES TO LIVE BY [Og Mandino] 2

11. Laugh at yourself and at life. Not in the spirit of derision or whining self-pity, but as a remedy, a miracle drug, that will ease your pain, cure your depression, and help you to put in perspective that seemingly terrible defeat of the moment. Banish tension and concern and worry with laughter at your predicaments, thus freeing your mind to think clearly toward the solution that is certain to come. Never take yourself too seriously.

12. Never neglect the little things. Never skimp on that extra effort, that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks, that delivery of the very best that you can do. It does not matter what others think, it is of prime importance, however, what you think about you. You can never do your best, which should always be your trademark, if you are cutting corners and shirking responsibilities. You are special. Act it. Never neglect the little things.

13. Welcome every morning with a smile. Look on the new day as another special gift from your Creator, another golden opportunity to complete what you were unable to finish yesterday. Be a selfstarter. Let your first hour set the theme of success and positive action that is certain to echo through your entire day. Today will never happen again. Don’t waste it with a false start or no start at all. You were not born to fail.

14. You will achieve your grand dream, a day at a time, so set goals for each day-not long and difficult projects, but chores that will take you, step by step, toward your rainbow. Write them down, if you must, but limit your list so that you won’t have to drag today’s undone matters into tomorrow. Remember that you cannot build your pyramid in twenty-four hours. Be patient. Never allow your day to become so cluttered that you neglect your most important goal-to do the best you can, enjoy this day and rest satisfied with what you have accomplished.

15. Never allow anyone to rain on your parade and thus cast a pall of gloom and defeat on the entire day. Remember that no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character, are required to set up in the faultfinding business. Nothing external can have any power over you unless you permit it. Your time is too precious to be sacrificed in wasted days combating the menial forces of hate, jealousy and envy. Guard your fragile life carefully. Only God can shape a flower, but any foolish child can pull it to pieces.

16. Search for the seed of good in every adversity. Master that principle and you will own a precious shield that will guard you well through all the darkest valleys you must traverse. Stars may be seen from the bottom of a deep well, when they cannot be discerned from the mountaintop. So will you learn things in adversity that you would never have discovered without trouble? There is always a seed of good. Find it and prosper.

17. Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.

— From A Better Way to Live by Og Mandino

We’ve been nominated! Vote for Quintessential F at the 2016 ZIWA Awards

We got the news through messages of congrats trickling in on whatsapp earlier on this week. Yes, Quintessential F – this heartfelt movement that began through skype calls at our dining room tables in Harare and Lusaka – has received a nod in the Women’s Collective Category at the 2016 Edition of the ZIWA Awards! Also, fellow QF’s Tendayi Ndoro and Colleen Chifamba have also received nominations in separate categories – and we are super excited.

We are truly thankful for all your support since launching 2 years ago. This nomination is yet another validation of our efforts as we pursue an instruction from GOD. Again we say – thank you QFs!

It’s not always easy to share our musings, but what we do now is that nothing gives us more joy than knowing that we are not alone in our quest to self discovery. GOD is great, a master in showcasing our strengths if we allow ourselves to be used of Him. This is exactly what QF is about, and we are thrilled to have grown as we have!

Please show us some love by voting for an inspirational movement by Zimbabwean Women, for Zimbabwean Women – Quintessential F on ziwa.twunhu.com/vote/

We cannot clinch this without your support 🙂

Quintessentially yours,

Ruvimbo and Yvonne

 

Why we love Oprah’s Top 10 Success tips

If you are anything like me – juggling a lot – you have seasons where you feel like you need to make some changes in your life. So you rein it all in, start looking for inspirational videos, a few chapter here and there, blogs and such; pretty much anything that will have the fire within you raging for more.

Thought to look at how people define success: how to get it or get there coupled with what it means to them. What came through in many convos in the office coffee room,  over skype or whatsapp, is one point that Oprah mentions in the video above – THAT WE ALL WANT THE SAME THINGS!

That is in fact a powerful truth – that we all want the same things despite the variation of methods we take to get there. Thought to share Oprah’s points which i feel carry very simple yet extremely valid lessons. Cheers to learning and evolving!

Quintessentially yours,

QF Yvonne

 

 

 

Starting a business: QF Edith’s tips for success

I find myself in a somewhat unenviable situation where I am UNEMPLOYED! A lot of Zimbabwean sisters can relate to this right now – being out of work in an instant. Most of us were in our comfort zones, holding on to the mistaken belief that our jobs were forever secure, having risen to dizzying heights and not seeing any obstacles.  So much life and energy to go on with the grind till we dropped. Now left with very few choices, a lot of us have decided to do the best we can with what we have. Some of us have resolved to start a business!

As I talk to my fellow would-be entrepreneurs I find that most businesses have not taken off due to – not having any capital. Women with amazing ideas and game changing products are holding back because there is no money to start their ventures. I used to be one of those women who felt that when I launched my product, I would launch it BIG! The impact of my product would be felt across the entire continent. But alas, to date I have started one thing after another and failed to see it through because I did not have enough money (or any money) to fulfil my big dream.

One day I was fortunate enough to meet an amazing lady called Fungai Ndemera who is running a successful business that she started from scratch. She reminded me that God has a purpose for me, whether I am employed or not, whether I am earning or not, whether I am running a successful business or not. The only thing I need to start fulfilling my dream is ME! After that encounter I set out to start where I was and using my experience and expertise I decided to launch my consultancy and training business.

Look, I am still struggling with a lot of issues, still building my brand, still learning new and valuable lessons. I have made some epic mistakes, I am far from perfect but here are some of the things I have learnt and which I feel could help a lot of my sisters in their up and coming businesses:

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  1. Money is nice but not key

I have met a few people who run businesses, have the starting capital, and even have a ready market yet still they fail. I have also seen people who have started with nothing but a dream and they have done very well. So! Is money all that then?

For me, the first and most important thing to have is a dream or a goal! Every business starts from a mere idea so take your ideas seriously. Write down what you envision, identify your strengths and weaknesses, have a map of how you are going to reach your goal. Pray, pray, pray for direction and wisdom in meeting your goal.

Lately a lot of innovative and determined individuals have invented amazing products that eventually earn a lot of money for them. I find that such people have accomplished so much because they were led by their vision. Not having money did not stop them, in fact for some it encouraged them to keep going. They realise and accept that the money will eventually come but first the product or service must be available…. and good.

  1. Create the right mindset

Having a great idea is not enough if your mind is filled with fear of failure, fear of competition and any other negative thoughts that may take over. While it is perfectly normal to be fearful and to acknowledge the threats to your idea or your dream, you need to develop a clear and positive path mentally.

As you start your business prepare yourself for various hindrances, distractions, naysayers. Be aware of your enemies and possible threats but keep your eyes on God and focus on the work you have been called to do.

Creating a positive mindset is not always easy but it is certainly essential in ensuring that you hold onto your vision. The people you work with or serve also need to feel the confidence radiating from you. Imagine someone selling a product to you but doubting the success of their own product. Only you can convince others to trust and believe in your product so make sure that your mind is properly aligned to your dream.

  1. Approach your concept and clients professionally

A lot of good ideas fail to take off because of bad attitudes, disrespect for clients, employees and service providers and lack of discipline. As a business grows, so does its reputation. It is therefore vital to ensure that the reputation is good from the very start. Being professional is not something that can be left to multi-million dollar businesses. In fact, small and growing businesses need it the most.  Remember that it is easier now to become an overnight global brand and in the same vein, becoming a global failure can happen in an instant.

No one likes to be kept waiting. Respect your client’s time and deliver products promptly. Give every client the very best of yourself whether they are a friend, relative or stranger. Send invoices and provide receipts when required. Return calls and respond professionally to emails.

Treat your concept with respect. Take care of your documents and company assets. Protect your intellectual property and regularize all company documents.

  1. Honesty, integrity and respect

In my profession I have met a lot of great minds, people with astounding problem solving skills but most of whom lack honesty, integrity, respect or all three. These people run businesses where people place a lot of confidence not only in their services but in their ability to protect confidential and often potentially harmful information. Clients are willing to pay a lot of money for these services and yet sometimes the confidence and trust is grossly betrayed. As business owners there is a moral and legal duty to protect your clients by being honest and giving them the product they paid for (and a little extra if possible). Lying to clients is a sure way of losing out on their patronage and can damage future prospects.

Sometimes the lies come by way of overpromising, claiming to have capacity to deliver what you cannot. It is vital to always communicate with clients where potential or real threats appear. Simply informing a client that something is wrong before the client comes ranting and raving is advisable.

Respecting clients is more than being polite and courteous, it also means taking their needs seriously, taking all reasonable measures to protect their private information as well as their reputation.

  1. Do not give up

Starting a business is very tough especially in an economy that is struggling and where the market is probably saturated with similar products or ideas. It is easy to be tempted to give up on a potentially great idea because of economic, bureaucratic and other hindrances.

Each time you feel like giving up remind yourself why you started your business and how much you have invested in it. Remember every dream comes with its challenges.

“Do not focus on your circumstances. Look at what’s in your heart.” – Joyce Meyer.

Do not give up!

  1. Take time out

It is essential to take time out to refresh and re-energise. I know that a lot of the time, in today’s world, we are encouraged to always be on point, to be on top of our game, to bring on the best at all times. While this is ideal, it can also be very damaging to the individual and the business. As human beings we have to accept that we have limits and we need to take a break from the hustle every now and again. As Christian women we should be led by our Maker’s example where He, in all His glory, took time to rest.

On the other hand, we cannot take time to rest when tasks are generally incomplete. You cannot rest before you’ve done the work. Funny as this bit of advice seems, I have come across a lot of young women who claim to “deserve” a break or a treat after barely lifting a finger. In order to be a successful business owner it is important to know when and how to strike the balance between hard work and well deserved rest.

As we try to navigate through the often challenging venture of starting (and maintaining) a business I invite you, dear sisters to share this verse with me, for from it I find focus and a vision;

“Come, let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a disgrace…. And they said, Let us rise up and build! So they strengthened their hands for the good work.”

Nehemiah 2: 17-18.

Let us pick up the broken pieces of our lives and rise up to build our lives, our hopes, our dreams, our families, our communities, our homes, our nation, our businesses.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Edith

“My exodus” – QF Edith Utete shares…

Resident QF Edith shares on her quest to finding hope from the BOOK of LIFE. She writes….

MY EXODUS

Lately I have been struggling to sleep, to smile, to carry out major (and small) tasks; even to eat all due to an overwhelming sense of helplessness and failure. Reaching out to my sisters has not been very fruitful due to the fact that they are also engrossed in their own sufferings and struggles. I then came to a point where I grudgingly faced the fact that I needed to go back to the basics. As a Christian woman going back to the basics means going back to the source of my faith, my Bible. This is the only thing that has been a source of inspiration, history and purpose for generations of women before me.

I have committed to read the Bible from a different perspective and will share with you some of the interesting things that I have started to pick up.

  1. Living the Script

When I read the Bible I realise more and more that I am part of an awe inspiring script filled with wonders and lives that have shaped history in various amazing ways. We are called by God to be SIGNIFICANT players in His drama. We have been called to greatness, each and every one of us, all we need to do is to take up our roles and fulfil our divine destinies. Have you ever witnessed how an actor prepares for a big role? They rely heavily on their script, they live, eat and breathe their lines. Some actors will even lose or gain a lot of weight just so that they can perfectly fit into their role. As Christian women we have significant roles to play in our families, churches, communities, professions yet we refuse or neglect to put in the work that is required of us.

Living the script and finding your place in God’s story requires that you familiarise yourself with the text. You need to fully immerse yourself in the Bible in order to know your part. We have to read the Bible deeply and widely and become skilled at interpreting and practicing what we read.

We need to find our joy, comfort and purpose in the scripture.

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  1. The Exodus

Once you have grasped the script and what God requires of you the next step is to live your part! When in doubt, ask yourself, “Is this an appropriate and fitting way to live out the story of Jesus today?” Remember that you are God’s artwork – created to do good works all the days of your life. When in doubt? Refer to the Bible.

In today’s world it is easy to get caught up in trying to fit in and find a place in the confusion but we need to focus on living our lives in the way that God desires for us. We have to move away from the fears and the doubts that hold us captive. We have to move to the land that the Lord has promised us – no matter what.

One way of obeying God is to stop listening to the negative voices in our heads that tell us we are not good enough, we have to move away from the people and things that hold us captive. We have to make our exodus out of depression, anger, regret, despair.

Reading about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is loaded with seasons that I have gone through. I have felt the fear, excitement, hope, despair, joy, disappointment, failure, regret, courage that they too must have felt in their journey, but after all is said and done when I hold on to the cloak of Christ I come out feeling the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding. I now accept that my role may be limited to showing others the way out of their situation, it may even be to just obey and get off my behind and move from point A to point B. Maybe I am the one who has to lead the march in breaking down strongholds. I also accept that I may even have more roles than one therefore I will find my way in scripture and prayer.

I no longer feel the pressure to recite a thousand verses and to impress fellow Christians with my knowledge of every word in the Bible. Thankfully, I have now moved to a place of comfort where the Bible ceases to be a text book that I must memorise, but rather, I see it as a motivational tool in my move from the bad to the good.

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  1. Commitment

Nothing in life really lasts if not done with some commitment.  The first step in the Christian walk is to commit to following Jesus no matter what may come our way. By acknowledging that Jesus is the rightful ruler of the world, committing to following Him and joining with God’s people we place ourselves on the right path to life eternal.

Remember that God has led you to where you are, commit to stay – no matter what!

One lesson that I have learnt from Joyce Meyer in her book NEVER GIVE UP! In Chapter 8 on “The Keys to Success,” is;

“God wants to take you to a new level of commitment. He wants you, like the eagle to be fiercely commited to His purposes for your life and to dedicate yourself to Him.”

Remember that God’s plans for your life can only become a reality if you are truly committed.

  1. Do not Give Up!

When life has knocked you down more times than you can remember, it is easy to lose hope and feel defeated. You can lose confidence in areas where you once considered yourself to be capable, even an expert. Being someone’s anchor, friend or even mummy can sometimes feel overwhelming and become such a burdensome task.

We can face rejection after rejection, disappointment after disappointment and we just feel like throwing in the towel and totally walking away from EVERYTHING!

But Please! Do Not Give Up!

Lessons to be learnt from St Paul;

  • Fight the good fight
  • Finish the race
  • Firmly keep the faith.

Some of us have a long way to go, some of us are almost there but we need each other more than ever. Let us be constantly and consistently strengthened by our faith through the word of God.

Remember that to truly honour God we have to stop being self serving. We have a mission to spread the gospel and bring as many souls to Christ as possible. We are duty bound to step out of our comfort zones where fear and selfish gain abound. Let us step together day by day into everything that we have been promised by our Father.

I hope we will hear and answer to our Lord’s call to the promised land.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Edith

 

Why you should embrace your story

Diversity is a beautiful thing, yet so many of us spend so much time trying to figure out how our story can sound more like the next person’s. Many of us have been forced to familiarize ourselves with new cultures on account of migration from what was our norm growing up. I have to admit, growing up in Zim didn’t really make for much by way of exposure to new cultures and things. Labels such as “vekumasabhabha” (those from the suburbs), “vekumarukesheni” (those from the high density areas), and other names we used to describe folks different from us by way of race, religion, body shape and size, experiences, socio-economic class, how they spoke and such, were commonplace. It’s what we grew up hearing so we turned around and adopted the same. Fast forward to adulthood and society has created more labels of exclusion. Wars have broken out and nations are under siege on account of differences, further widening the gap between the “haves” and “have nots”, confusing our perceptions of reality and having us question what the real truth is…

 

The irony though is that we are more “mixed” and “much the same” now than ever before. I never imagined that I would have cousins leaving Zim going to live and study in Turkey, Russia or China. I never imagined friends attaining residency and citizenship in Australia or Canada, UK or the US, with many adopting practices so far different from “Zimbabwean culture”. Maybe Zim was too small to contain all these great ideas and big dreams. Hey – you only live life once right?! What I do know is that whatever our motivations are for looking for something different – a way of life, experiences or otherwise – embracing diversity – our own and that of others – is at the cornerstone of how well we do in creating a wholesome environment for ourselves and those around us.

Owning and embracing your story

Psalm 139:14

“I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this”

One of the hardest things to do actually – is taking ownership of your past, embracing your present and using the hard lessons to shape your future. There was a time when I used to lament about some of the decisions and not-so-pleasant experiences in my 20s. What I didn’t know was that GOD was in the process of using those to prepare me for where he was taking me in the latter years. My story became a testimony and ministry, consciously and subconsciously. By sheer grace and prayerfulness I rose and accepted the beauty that emerged from that truth.

I stopped pointing fingers and stopped telling myself I wasn’t good enough and worthy, because that was wrong. That was all the ammunition the enemy needed to keep me down and clamoring for an inspired existence. A non-expired existence wasn’t part of what I wanted to be a chapter in my book. So I got to work. It took some time but thats how winners are made. When you can end your day with at least one thing you are happy about, satisfied with or thankful for – I think you are doing alright. You are doing better than most actually.

I should have studied harder and gotten more degrees. I should have travelled more and seen more places – is what I thought. But in truth looking back I realise that I wouldn’t have appreciated those things then as I do now. It’s easy to take the good you have for granted. However when you get to a place when you appreciate being able to smell clean air, see as far as the horizon or tackle a rough assignment with minimal complaints because you know the struggle it took to get you there – now there’s the prize!!! I made the decision to walk in my truth and speak openly about things that I struggled with to women I hold dear to my heart (they know who they are).

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The results have been outstanding. I have come to value women and people in ways that make me truly see HOW BIG A GOD WE SERVE. He created each of us with all our infinite differences and made us unique. Life’s experiences have shaped our decisions, yet still we stand. Still we have an extra breath to inspire someone else and do good for someone else – if we could only take ownership of our story, walk in it and paint a future we want to see in how we choose to live.

I bring you back to why I started off by talking about diversity. Never have I allowed myself to experience people from different cultures as I have in recent years. How they raise their kids, what they view to be cultural norms and traditions, juggling the married and single life, belief systems, languages, accents, foods, dress, navigating ambition etc., – need I go on? UNBELIEVABLE yet so enriching. If you open your heart and ears to the story that others share on their truth, you’ll be amazed at the similarities. The struggles, hope and dreams are not too far off between us to be honest. It’s the sharing that makes the difference. It’s acceptance without maddening confrontation that conjures up growth and tolerance. I don’t know about you but I am inspired. I don’t shy away from what’s different from me or about me anymore but rather choose to learn more about it or study myself more. I choose to look into why perhaps GOD brought that person/those people, things and experiences into my life at that particular time. Then I just ride the wave and take it all in…

May today be about accepting our differences and seeing the beauty in uniqueness of our own story!!

Quintessentially Yours,

QFYvonne

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She called me crying…

By the time I got to her apartment, she was already soaked. Soaked in a bottle of vodka and vomiting violently over the toilet seat. Her weave felt moist and her face was tear-drenched. I was thrown off. I wasn’t sure of what I walked into so I proceeded to grab a t-shirt and pair of sweats from her messy closet as I threw my purse and car keys on her dining room table.

“What’s wrong?”  I choked up, as I had never seen her in such a state.

Saru was the one who had her stuff all the way together. The good job, the swank apartment with expensive furniture that didn’t come in a box for self-assembly, the one that got all the hot guys staring at her on the dancefloor when it was girls’ night out. She was the life of the party, the chick you loved to hate because of the copious amounts of swag she possessed. Saru was that chick who wasn’t supposed to cry. I mean come on why would she? Zvinhu zvake zvose zvaifaya zve! (All her stuff was all the way together!). What on earth was going on?

After a quick shower – which came supervised because to be honest – we couldn’t at this point afford a fall in the bathtub scenario – with her sweats and tee on, she sat down with her legs curled under her. I handed her a cup of water and some Panadol. For a hot second I felt like I was part of the cast in some movie.

”Ko chii?” (What’s wrong?)I asked for what felt like the hundredth time.

“Chick you need to eat! Heck how much did you drink?” as I stared at the quarter-full bottle of Barcardi Limon on the kitchen counter.

The house was clean but the kitchen and bedroom were a mess. These two rooms must have been her sanctuary for a bit as I hadn’t seen or heard from her for close to a month.

“I had no choice Chie? I had to go through with it coz mom and dad weren’t having it. Trey was happy to have the baby. He said we would figure it out. But to be honest, the idea of having a baby now, apa Trey doesn’t have his life together either….I couldn’t do it.”

I sat on the couch…numb to what I was hearing. Saru narrated her ordeal about how she had driven herself to the abortion clinic 2 weeks before – and driven herself home after the procedure was done. What I was now witnessing was the afterbirth; the afterbirth of guilt, the questions “why” and “what if I had kept the baby.”

What Saru was going through was deep regret and the earth shattering loneliness that comes with realizing that there was possibly no one around her that could understand what she had done or why she had done it. The light about her life had grown dim. How things change! A month ago we had gone out partying. What was this? Did she know she was pregnant when we were at the club? Questions. I had many. But this was hardly the time to pacify my curiosity. My girl was in a state and…

You see, I had just gotten out of a chaotic set of “friendships” so was doing well to purge myself of the drama at this point. I rubbed Saru’s back as she cried in between the narration of how she thought she was feeling. Once or twice I had to run after her to the bathroom only to watch her dry heave over the toilet. I didn’t know what to do so I just showed up when she needed me. I didn’t know what to say so just listened when she needed to talk.

This went on for months…the listening…the showing up…for months…many many months…

It was a long year after the abortion. Saru battled many dark thoughts and her boyfriend – who had supposedly promised her that they would get through it – well…he stopped picking up her calls two months after the abortion. I never liked him anyway. I thought he was a good looking guy that took advantage of her needy state and bank account well before they even got here. Saru however was the life of the party, so she couldn’t imagine her life without him. He was her party. He doted on her, made like he was all in…but we all knew he was leeching. He was her party and the guy that was going to marry her. So she thought. So she said.

So she gave him everything. Heart, soul and paycheck, she gave him all of it and he took it to his bank. He was the guy that was going to be her husband. All this was her truth until she fell pregnant.

He moved out when the test showed two pink lines. He played sick the day she had to go to the clinic. That’s why she drove herself to and from the place. She didn’t call me. She didn’t call anyone. She called him, but he hadn’t answered at the time she needed him the most. Not on that day. Many times not on the days that followed. So the vodka answered when she came knocking. Somewhere somehow she remembered my number…and called me crying.

Saru became grossly disillusioned about life, its meaning and more so, on the subject of GOD never leaving her. She experienced severe depression to where many of the people she called friends grew distant for lack of knowing what to do to help combat her issues.

Have you ever tried to preach hope to someone who hasn’t quite reached the bottom of the pit but was fast on their way there? I tried. Twas weird though because I wasn’t sure of what I was saying a lot of the time. I didn’t know GOD then like I do now. I was trying to get myself out of my depressed state so it took a lot to just be there for her. I had times when I wanted her to just get over the pain and carry on with life. Everything else in her life seemed to be staying afloat so in my head she needed to just get over guy and bounce back. It wasn’t that easy though. There was a battle that raged within for many a year after that.

Fast forward to now, where Saru is happily married with 3 children. I moved back home and got caught up in my own healing – but we kept in touch. What I love about the woman she is now, is how openly she proclaims her faith in GOD. This to me further illustrates GOD’s ability to heal and restore – ANYBODY.

Back then she seemingly had everything going for her, but loss brought her to true faith. Loss made her a believer. She lost a child through abortion and lost the guy she invested her all in shortly after that. She experienced a hectic downward spiral that few could help with. The pain she experienced as she tried to reclaim her wellbeing took her to JESUS.

I read a WhatsApp message from QF Tendayi Ndoro wherein she said:

“Your battle or struggle is your training ground and it sure isn’t fun when you are in it but when you come out….”

To be honest, I cannot say who Saru would be today had she not gone through what she did, but I do know what it is to experience a season of darkness to the point of drunkenness. She drank to numb the pain and then had to stand under a cold shower just to wake herself up from yet another episode. This was my story for a season in my early twenties. I got it then and I get it now.

JESUS has the power to heal. Many women find themselves struggling with depression on account of loss, rejection, physical and emotional pain, trauma – the list is endless. Depression for Saru became a way of life for over 2 years. She speaks about it now like a disease. She says she cannot relate to the person she was then because of the transformation she has experienced since experiencing Christ’s love. To this I can relate as well. What we must understand though it that the effects of depression and subsequent behaviors can be just as detrimental as any other life threatening disease. Alcoholism, acceptance of abuse, intolerance, suicidal thinking, anxiety disorder and more, are all as a result of particular triggers. Whatever the root cause, no medication can cure more than understanding who you are in Christ.

Saru only found her peace after she committed her life to Christ. It was not an overnight process. The cleansing process took many years as it did for me as we had different reasons surrounding how we found ourselves combatting depression anyway. BUT GOD. GOD heals. I wish there were more public service announcements that emphasize this crucial fact – that GOD HEALS.

If you are struggling with depression, loss, pain or anything that causes you a sadness that you find hard to explain, please reach out to somebody. There are people around you – some you may not even know – that are willing to answer your sms or call. Reach out. They may carry the word you need to start your journey to restoration

Quintessentially yours

QF Yvonne

 

 

“My testimony” – Author Taffy Gotora shares

taffy gotora

From as far as I can remember even as a little girl the grace of God has always been on my life in such a distinct way. It has been so distinct that it resulted in me being misunderstood and rejected by family and friends and left me apologetic for its presence in my life. By the end of my first term of first grade I had taught myself to read. I read an entire high school novel and narrated the whole story in the novel to my parents who were shocked by my abilities. But this is how I learned to keep the love, affection and attention on myself because I struggled to get that from many people.

I often wondered why I never fit in as a child and throughout growing up. No place I went—no group of people I was around—I never felt like I fit in with them or that place. Even my entry into the world was was an anti-climax to my parents who had been expecting a boy. I grew up being told (in good humour) that “When you were born I was really upset, your dad decided to name you Tafadzwa (name means “we are happy” in our tribal language) and also because it’s really a unisex name which is commonly given to boys.” Despite being born a girl I was my dad’s favourite child and so for me my consolation for the rejection was that at least my daddy loves me.

When I was about 4 years old a cousin raped me and being so small I managed to shut it all out and did not tell anybody about it since I did not remember. During that time a female house help molested my brother and I. I was so appalled and told my parents that she had molested my brother but I did not tell them that she had also molested me because I guess that’s where the self–rejection which I have battled with started from. Later on in my last year high school there was a big revival I turned to Jesus Christ and that’s around the time I began having flashbacks of the rape incident. It then made sense why I was frigid and had never been able to let guys touch me. It was like I would want the intimacy but once they got close I would violently push them in fear so a lot of guys usually would reject me after such an experience and that was always a painful ordeal for me.

I have had several other “Why God? Why me?” moments but even in those moments God has been by my side and never left me alone. I lost my parents with a year of each other and the day that my mum died is the exact day my half sister died, I couldn’t even attend her burial because I had to bury my mother. I have had many other moments but now that I look back in retrospect these moments are the ones that have strengthened me, given me that capacity in walking towards my calling.

I was set apart long ago by God—I was not supposed to fit in as I was never a part of this clique or that group. I was taught what it meant to be rejected on so many levels in order to prepare me for right now! I can minister to and identify with rape and sexual abuse victims, orphans, people who have lost siblings, single mothers and people who have had a lot of pain and tragedy in their lives because of what I have gone through. I understand now that there was a higher purpose in everything that I have been through because now I am able to help other people to find healing through sharing my story of how God turned my tragedies into triumphs.

In the past I always attracted abusers; men who treated me like all I was worth was my looks. But now even that has changed. Decent single godly men show interest in me and now I am like “when I wasn’t a baby mama I couldn’t even get one good Christian brother to like me but now where are all these good guys coming from?” My best friend said, “they are now coming to you because you have changed; you know who you are and whose you are so you carry yourself differently.” Indeed I have come to the full knowledge that even though I am a single mum I am a daughter of a King, not just any king but the King of Kings, I am sought after and His delight is in me. And most importantly I found myself and fell in love with myself.

Testimony11

GOD completes me

I am so human, and with my humanity comes so many areas in which I lack. I am not perfect and I will never be, and sometimes I hate that fact. Yes, I know no one is perfect, but there seems to be a part of me that longs to be perfect so that I can be enough… enough on my own to earn God’s love or approval. There are things every day that I do that disappoint God, and it’s a constant battle to change those things in my life to line up more with the life of my Jesus. I could get down on myself a lot, discouraged by me and my own failures, and even give up at times because the enemy of my soul tells me all the things I will never be and never have….

But God… is perfect. And, the thing is, God isn’t surprised that I am not perfect. He isn’t even surprised when I trip and fall, and have to come crawling back on my knees to surrender the broken pieces back to Him for repair. Because God, my Jesus, my Lord, HE is constantly taking every area in which I lack and making me whole. He takes the broken pieces of my life and not only restores them, but fills them with Himself… so that He IS completeness in every part of me. From the very beginning of my life, my salvation, He has made up for me. He did the things that I could not do, and He can be the things I can not be. Everything you long for or need or don’t even know you need yet… He is.

He is the Acceptance you need.
He is the Love you long for.
He is the Trust that can be restored.
He is Mercy to get you through every day.
He is Grace overwhelming and abounding when you are at the end of your own.
He is Rest when you are worn down.
He is Peace in the storm.
He is Joy on the mountain top.
He is Hope of all that is to come.

Colossians 2:10 …

“and you are complete through your union with Christ. He is the Lord over every ruler and authority in the universe.”

Quintessentially Yours,

QF TaffyG

GOD’s WORD fixes us!

It dawned on me but a few days ago that we were fast approaching the end of February. January passed and I hadn’t gotten my exercise routine back on track. I spend most of my days in a sedentary-type setting – two screens and lots and lots of words to churn out in prep for the next bit of client publicity. I’m loving my most recent transition into the world of full-on PR, but I do have to say that I wasn’t quite ready for my inability to keep certain things balanced.

Yes, yes, I proclaimed balance at the top of the year…but it seemed I lied – unintentionally. Everything from being too tired to wake up in time for church, checking in on my inner circle of people stationed all over the globe et al – mid Feb came about and it was like “Hold up! The new routine is swallowing you whole Yvonne and you have to take better control of your surroundings.” BUT GOD!  In his infinite wisdom, He spoke to me during yesterday’s church service.

The Pastor spoke adamantly about walking in our divine authority. He gave countless examples of people in the bible who had many flaws yet GOD’s grace was upon them. David had a woman problem. He loved him some women and they got him into trouble many times; but because he followed GOD’s instruction diligently he rarely got the punishment he truly deserved. Solomon was filled with enviable levels of wisdom, yet he too – like his father – had a problem with women. But grace. The premise of his entire message weighed in on the importance of staying immersed in the scriptures even when things are seemingly going wrong.

My challenge hasn’t been that of fighting battles per se, but rather my scrambling to find my spiritual zen in recent weeks. There are so many checklists that require my attention and not enough me to go around. So I thought to reinforce the word by sharing with you what bits I picked up and found really poignant to every Christian woman’s walk.

  1. When it gets too much – dwell in the WORD OF GOD. Admittedly, I have been doing the quick browses through my bible and verse reading without really allowing the WORD to speak to me. In order to reach new heights in our spiritual walk to where very little phases us, we have to spend time communing with the WORD of GOD. Like we need the air that we breathe, the righteous of GOD dwells in the HIS WORD. To dwell in it is to embody it mind and spirit. To embody it is to be transformed.

Why turn to the WORD though? Because…

  1. GOD’s WORD keeps our hope alive. There are countless stories in the bible of people that found themselves in impossible situations, yet their way out was WHAT GOD PROMISED them. Can you imagine being thrown in a den of lions for refusing to worship someone or something? What about Joseph who experienced the ultimate betrayal by being traded by his brothers and enduring a journey across the desert to Egypt with some randoms? Then there was Job who lost everything – but swore on His life that GOD would never leave him despite his grueling situation. You cannot have those levels of faith without walking with GOD. Fellowship with our Father involves understanding what message He has for us and applying the instruction to our lives.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

 

  1. GOD’s WORD takes care of the things you cannot take care of yourself. Temptation, alcoholism, depression, anger, envy, failed/failing relationships, bitterness and resentment – need I go on? We all have things that thing we struggle with and we all have our true or perceived vices that we could perhaps turn to if we had the opportunity. For instance, there used to be time where I would turn to an entire bottle of wine whenever I felt low or lonely. Through my walk with CHRIST, the urges died. Something else filled that void to where I can think of countless things I can do when my skies aren’t as bright – and a pit stop at the liquor store isn’t one of them.

Matthew 11:28-29

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

  1. GOD’s WORD revives your passion for life. I’ve put a lot of things I’m passionate about aside over the last few weeks as I grew accustomed to my new routine. I wasn’t taking care of my body as I should, reading up on life-building material as I would like and so on. In short, there has been very little room for the stuff that solidifies my spirit. As I type this piece I’m reminded of how easy it is to share my musings on QF when I’m filled with his WORD. There has been a drought – and I need to work on fixing that.

Psalm 85:6

“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?”

  1. GOD’s WORD trains you to do right even when times tempt you to do otherwise. I refer you to the paragraph I talk about GOD’s ability to take care of things we cannot. About 2 weeks ago a colleague drove me over the edge and I caught myself raising my voice. I was really upset. I can count the number of times I have been that upset in recent years on one hand. I called her out – because she was wrong – but my rebuke came from a place of anger. Anger isn’t my thing. I like to talk things threw amicably. It was later in the day that I realized that hadn’t done my bible reading that morning or listen to soothing gospel music. I know for my daily devotional would have been something I would have referred to during my dilemma. Needless to say, I have learned.

2 Chronicles 7:14

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

It is a journey this thing called life. But with GOD on our side, we are borderline invincible. Yes trials may come and temptations arise, but GOD’s grace is abundantly available for all of us! But without knowing what He has to say how then can we know what grace means and how we can attain it?

Dwell in Christ people! Our lives and sanity depend on it!

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Yvonne