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

Comparison isn’t the answer

We live in an age where we are so quick to pass judgement. We are so quick to draw conclusions about the outcome of our lives and those of others without taking a second to process the very things that bring us – and them – to where we are.

I had an opportunity to “bond” with a colleague a few weeks ago wherein she got to talking about her life and upbringing. It was a short conversation but brought so many things to light to where I felt like I finally understood why she did some of the things she did. From growing up in different countries (her father was in the army) to being separated from her sibling on account of her parents’ divorce, dabbling with drugs at 100 miles an hour on life’s dangerous expressway I thought “Wow…I think I get it now”…

A few days letter, a similar situation arose wherein an acquaintance talked at length about her struggles and why she felt her life wasn’t quite as she has planned it. Insightful this conversation was too, as it reinforced the notion that not everything is as it seems. Seemingly strong-willed young woman with a myriad of successes under her belt – she said she had given up on life and was merely pacing through the motions day after day. Indeed, nothing is as it seems. It never is. Oftentimes, unless we ask the questions, we find ourselves entertaining thoughts and deductions that are so far from the truth – ours and that of others.

I meet and work with a lot of different personalities as part of my profession, and with that comes plenty of opportunity to learn about different cultures, religions and traditions, cuisines, practices, habits, languages and so on. In a few short moments we can discuss anything from my having children to them praying for the gift of conception, them having booked a ticket out to Thailand and me wishing I could in this very moment do the same, excitement about clearing a debt and them having a fear of getting into debt or swimming in it, my complaining about the size of my condo and them saying they just closed on a villa. The list is endless.

Just this morning a friend called me to say hi. We chat from time to time, but on the whole, her calls usually come with a request for information or something of the sort. Today she said she was checking in, and proceeded to ask what I was doing for the summer. “Working,” I said. Then came the “Oh, you aren’t travelling? Because we are headed to such and such for the summer” and the description of what sightseeing she has lined up for her and family. Admittedly, a part of me was like “Nje that’s really why you called init?” In a few short seconds I went from feeling the sting of jealousy to wishing her a pleasant trip and carrying on with the days’ plans.

In many a short conversations such as these, what has been more pronounced to me over the years is that we all want the same things. We all want happiness, peace, health, an opportunity to experience new things while staying out of trouble. We want what we want and only pray that we are satisfied with status quo. If satisfaction isn’t the case then the hope is that we are taking the necessary steps to get there. We compare, consciously or subconsciously, we wonder how they have managed to get x, y and z done while we are trying to figure out the a, b and c of it all.

Comparing our achievements to those of others comes naturally as we journey through life. How much more weight has so and so lost, how many degrees do they have now, which neighborhood do they live and what car do they drive. But is this really a holistic way to live life? Is there true joy in living a life that is driven by the workings of others and not GOD’s working in our own?

Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

1 Timothy 6:6-8

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

Matthew 6:31-33

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Beloved, as you read the verses above, I pray like me, that you are reminded of how GOD works tirelessly to supply our needs. Nothing surpasses the peace of contentment with where we are in life. GOD is in the business of answering prayers, and exceeding all our expectations. However, much is required from us. Plenty of it is tied to faith and prayer. That in itself is a better investment than to spend time wallowing in the successes of others. Rather, chose to celebrate the good fortune of others, as it is an illustration that your moment of elevation is well on its way.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Yvonne

“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

 

The unending debate of how many children to have

My daughter is turning 7, my son 4 all within the same month. I am a proud mom with my babies meaning more than the world to me. But what is it about our society that makes us feel the need to chime in on the choices of others when it comes to planning a family? Then a certain minister of ours at some point went on to suggest that family planning should be abolished and couples should have more children. I can’t even comment on that one we would need coffee and Swiss roll to get through my sentiments on that subject.

I shared this piece on my personal blog many many moons ago; after the relly chatter began on my hubs and I perhaps working on a third child. “Two chete? Two vashoma. Itai mumwe.” (“Two children only? That’s too few. Have one more.”) To which I still silently retort “too few for who?” Thought to therefore share my musings on this topic as written many many moons ago…which I might add, still remains one of my favorite rants…

“How would your life be different if…You stopped allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions? Let today be the day…You stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others”

 – Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth and Being Free.

The notion of child bearing and raising a family has evolved greatly in the advent of self-actualization, academic achievement, professional development – all these blended into a rigmarole of what is morally and socially acceptable within our culture as Zimbabweans, Africans…a people. Only 10 years ago no one dared bring up the subject of children to me despite the subtle pressure to “find someone who would marry me.” Every family gathering would result in an arm-lock by an aunt who would steer me off to a corner somewhere and ask “if there is a brother?” (or “blaz”) – their way of asking me if there was anything on the horizon re: falling in love, getting married and starting a family.

Look! It’s not like you could take a trip to the neighborhood Pick ‘n’ Pay and pull “the brother” from the coke fridge right there next to the cherry plum…or find him hanging out in the condiments aisle! Relationships that lead to marriage are marred with a myriad of complexities and inundated by checklists on either side.

“Anoita nezvei” (“What does he/she do?”),

“What school did he go to?”

“Ko family background?” – really the list of questions rendered is endless!

So finally you do get the guy or gal, you have that wedding, the guests chow, party all night and head home. A few months down the line, as a couple, with more emphasis on wifey here, you start to get the slick side eye aimed towards the belly. Soon enough with every new interaction, folks start to muster the courage to ask whether you have begun to work at having children.

I remember attending a wedding this year some time ago and some random in-law (I say random because I don’t think she actually even knew what my name was but deemed it important to put her two-sense in on the issue of MY family), after going on about how gorgeous my babies were and how old they were, proceeded to ask when the next was coming? After I shared my sentiments on the subject, she then ganged up on me with her little rascal friends and went on a verbal barrage on how a woman’s sole responsibility and JOB IN LIFE is “TO GIVE A MAN CHILDREN!!” THE #%!@*!!

Am not sure what rock she crawled from up under, but millennium girl over here thought to self “Are you actually listening to yourself speak?” As if to prove her point she barked “I have 6! Because if you don’t give him MORE children, someone else will!”….#DEAD! “GIVE HIM CHILDREN?? Ok, economy aside, plus the fact that I want to be a present parent to my few children than one that drops them off at a relative’s house for days on end or ships them off to boarding school behind the back of beyond just so I can catch a break and make my morning cup of tea, it really isn’t any business of yours or anyone else’s for that matter, how many children my husband and I, and most importantly I AS WOMAN, decide to have!

Disturbed, I later shared the story with my husband and he was severely agitated…like “what’s her (the random in-law’s) problem?” Having any, more or less, does not justify my existence neither does it qualify me to join the league of extraordinary women’s coalition. Having children or not, is a choice, much like what blouse you choose to wear to the office or when you next vacation is, only more complex and involving much by way of thought. One fundamental beauty of life is that it does involve choices, and whilst people can offer their opinion on this or any other subject matter, whether that opinion is deemed invaluable is subjective.

Psalm 37:23

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”

Needless to say, after several attempts at asking when the third child was coming, the questions came to a screeching halt. I am of the humble opinion that whilst it should be the sole mandate of a couple to decide how many children they want, if they want any at all, folks should not add to their mantel or list of their advice for your life, the commentary about how many kids are enough, child spacing or any other footnote on the issue of children. I am blessed to have my own and am absolutely in love with them. However it still remains my choice (hubby’s sentiments greatly considered) whether or not my children will receive a sibling or not.

I confidently put an abrupt ending to that line of questioning by stating as a matter of fact, that in truth, that decision ultimately belongs to God. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with having no children, one child or six. It’s all to do with your threshold and ability to raise them in a wholesome way in an environment that offers as much as possible by way of stability and sanctity. Many pull the “go out there and multiply” biblical instruction; yet interestingly enough I kid you not – I have seen their children being looked after financially and emotionally by other!! Sad a truth, but a truth all the same.

Children are a priceless gift from GOD, but I do believe He speaks to each of us in various ways on how many we are to bring to this earth. He is just calculated like that. So the next time someone asks how many children you plan on having – dare to speak your truth. Said group of rellies I mentioned before tread very carefully on the subject. They don’t even dare to raise that with the hubs. Life carries in it enough drama for you and me to be concerned about the unsolicited opinions of others, especially where it comes to personal issues. Live life, live you and live for the children GOD has blessed you with; however many they are. But let it be because you had everything to do with it – not the opinions of others.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Yvonne

Acknowledging the season you are in

Have you ever had an encounter with someone who literally dampens the soul in you just by merely responding to your question on how they are doing?

“So Chipo how have you been, tell us what’s going on?”

…and before you can even finish taking in the air needed to pause for her answer, there she goes…

“Heish….things are just tight! You know am mad at Petros because he promised he would take the kids out for a play date. Mom’s getting on my nerves its cropping season and she called asking for mari (money) for fertilizer. Money for fertilizer??? With the way things are and now ZESA has us “juicing” our electricity ka, and futi I had planned to go to SA for Christmas but mota yangu inoda ma spares (my car needs spare parts)”

….yada yada yada.#SIGH….

I am all about that rant from time to time because let’s face it – the world and its inhabitants are seemingly becoming quite accustomed to throwing all sorts of mayhem and foolishness our way. There’s the mad boss that makes you wish you could quit (…yeah, but see you can’t be the one to quit…bills, bills, bills);  M.I.L (mother-in-law) is on an active campaign to prove to her son how you are not the right person for him (refer to my most recent post) or, your mortgage note just doesn’t seem to be reaching the end zone (but wait…you did see the part where the paperwork stated you are in for 15 year fixed term mortgage right?). Then you keep bumping into Keisha, Funquisha and Mnandi and they’ve joined the neighborhood Curves Gym, are making rapid strides through the rudimentary “get-fit-weight-loss” regimes being thrown around and you…well….the cookies, the chops, the ice-cream cones…the night feeds with the baby – that all lead to well…the cookies, the chops and the ice-cream cones…

Look here, there’s A LOT…but there is also a point when you have to come to grips with your reality and begin to make some changes. It all begins with knowing what season you are in and what adjustments need to be made for progression during that season.

John 16:21-22

“Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”

I love this verse so much, because it speaks so clearly about how our lives are made up of a series of ups and down, but with the right heart, mind and spirit – GOD has a way of putting all the pieces together.

I’ve endured countless conversations of students complaining about how they can’t wait to be done with school so they can get out there and “start making their own money, travelling and living the high life.” Yeah…ok…all well and good assuming you land that job that leaves you with a bunch of change after the 10th of the month!

Then there’s the gang that borrows for vacations and dodges phone calls when it’s time to pay up. Yes, many of us would like that lavish getaway to some lands we saw on some google ad-campaign but for now we are trying to adjust to the shift of going from paying school fees for one child to two, or are chiseling down the mountain of student loans. Maybe we are just on our hustle trying to build a house we can call our own so it’s not vacations – its Lafarge and cement!

Whatever the case, the sad truth is few of us can have all that we want at the exact time. It’s about assessing what’s on the table and how to get stuff crossed off the ever-evolving checklist.

For the longest I struggled with the notion of being a stay-at-home mom, but now I realize it was the best decision I ever made in that season as it allowed me to be the constant in the early years of my kids’ lives. I also took time during that season, to rediscover what creative passions and interests in the realm of business I possessed, some of which have since become manifest and pay my bills today.  I would still like to learn how to make 15 minute Gordon Ramsey-esque meals and am still working at taking time out to do more stuff that the kids like as opposed to what keeps me Zen (#CONFESSION:  Now that I’m done with the lugging around of diaper bags, the baby buggies, snacks, wipes… i realise how much I don’t miss that season!). However, I have realized that playing the “one-step-at-a-time” game has really helped me get the stress out of wanting what I want NOW!

Whatever issues we are tackling in life, it is important to understand that they are entirely seasonal and that things will change to the degree to which we work towards instilling and accepting some changes.  The point I’m getting at is that there is value in simply putting one foot in front of the other to make the changes you want to see in your life at your own pace. Make a few switches to add some hot sauce to your life or simmer down where there is need to and everything comes full circle.

Too much of anything and everything doesn’t always lead to a trophy at the end of the day. So ask yourself where things are, whether ranting about them actually yield results, and what you can do to manage a better status quo. You may be interested to note that some of your challenges are as result of your resistance to the facts of your current season. Embrace your season and focus on the highlights. Time has a way of balancing everything out to where you slowly come to realise why things are/were that way.

Quintessentially yours,

QF Yvonne

New day

Use the right KEY

A few weeks ago i slept over at my friend’s house – one of those girls’ sleep over weekends. Saturday morning she woke up and went to work and I was left alone. I got up, put on my exercise clothes and went for a walk. My friend had left her house keys with me so that i could get in after my walk. It was a beautiful 35 degree day. The walk was amazing; just really what my body needed at the time.

I got back to her apartment. I tried to unlock the door using one key and that didn’t work. Then I tried the other key and got in. The funny thing is my friend had showed me the right key but when it came to actually trying to open the door, i ignored all she said and actually then ended up wasting time trying to find out which was the right key. That simple action of unlocking the door spoke volumes to me.

“Use the right key in life.”

There are opportunities we come across in life that are so tempting to grab hold of but deep down we know this is not for us. We date certain guys but deep down we know this is not for us. We sign up for jobs we know are not meant for us. After we get into these situations we cry over the mistakes we have made and we question where God is in all the mess.

The truth is God is always there with us and for us. The problem is that we now live in a world where there are so many temptations. Temptations to cut corners and get to our destinations, temptations to cut corners and get to and achieve our dreams, temptations to back stab and undermine the next woman so that the spotlight is always on us and no-one else. We think i want to start a business but figure the easiest way to do it is to find a rich married man to sponsor it. We think we want to get promoted and so we sleep with the boss to get the promotion. We think  we want to go to Dubai on holiday and we find a rich man to sponsor the trip. All these are short cuts in life which lead to destruction. Whilst the plan may seem solid at the time, what we’re actually doing is using the wrong key.

Using the wrong key/keys in life only leads to destruction, wastes your time and robs you of your life.

Matthew 7:13-14

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Using the wrong key in life usually offers many different routes, they are all attractive but they all lead to destruction. I tried to open the front door using different keys but instead i ended up wasting time. I could have broken one of the wrong keys in the process of trying to unlock the door. There is no guarantee that you will get your desired outcome when you use the wrong key. Fortunately we already have the right key to use in life and that is GOD.

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

In order for us to achieve our goals, live out our dreams, see ourselves living victorious lives, we have to use the right key which is JESUS. There is nothing we cannot do with HIM. There are no plans that we can plan out that will succeed without using Jesus as the key. Had i just paid attention in the first place and used in the key that i had been instructed to use, i never would have wasted time. In this case, no destruction occurred but in future who knows if i would get the same outcomes? In the same way if we do not use Christ as the key to everything in our lives, who knows what will happen tomorrow.

Yes you might have used the wrong key previously, you might have taken short cuts before, you might have compromised yourself and that brought you your desired outcome but there’s no guarantee that the next time you do the same thing, you will get the same result. However with Jesus we are guaranteed to get our desired outcomes because not only is HE the way, HE is the truth and HE is also the life.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Colleen

 

The #FeesFell and So Should Your Doubt! – Rallying in the Troops in Prayer.

Last week on social media all that trended across many of our timelines was the #FeesMustFall #WitsMustFall hashtag. University students across South Africa took to the streets to protest the proposed hikes in tuition into next year and beyond. Reports came in of clashes between protesters and armed police, teargas being hurled at students, and some even going as far as bombarding parliament in a bid to draw further attention. We saw images of chanting students holding placards and marching towards the Union Square in Pretoria amongst others. Outrages and street protests are commonplace in South Africa. In fact, the images that we saw are synonymous with what the nation’s citizens has had to do to attain some semblance of freedom from societal injustice and institution of radical change. That nation’s populous is hell-bent on drawing attention to many of the concerns that plague the nation; most of which are tied to the growing poverty gap and crippling race issues which are symptomatic of the very evident inequality that exists still even after apartheid rule.

As I followed this story I was moved by the resounding gong of one voice stemming from a thousand hearts and more. I read articles and the commentaries of bloggers and political analysts who debated why the people of neighboring country Zimbabwe did not have nearly as much resolve to take their frustrations out into their streets in opposition of the malaise that plagues our nation. While there were interesting insights and renditions of failed protests on home turf, what still stood out was the rate at which a young population, a youth a nation stood with one voice tirelessly in an effort to prevent the increase of these fees. All these students want is an education. Things are already hard enough in that system where higher education is but a dream for the majority of the local black population. Those voices, those chants, those images.

Fast forward to the end of the week where President Jacob Zuma announced that fees would not be raised in 2016. Who knows how long this promise will hold. Governments are known for making declarations to quell the frustrations of the nation but sooner or later some official will issue out a press statement with camera’s flashing on why they have moved forward to renege on the position that brought relief to many. But you see, in the now and as we enter a new week, students across South Africa are assured that “fees have fallen” and that they can carry on with their pursuit for a higher education…for now. Every emotion, every cry, every shout and frustration released in the last week by every protester and those in support from afar, counted for something historical. That really is all that matters in the now when students show up for class tomorrow morning.

I got to thinking about how we can equate this incident with our prayer lives as we wage in spiritual war believing in GOD for a breakthrough. If you are anything like me; when I need for SOMETHING TO HAPPEN, I enter into a realm of chanting and praying and crying and singing and worshipping, because the Word of GOD states in 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be Alert, stand firm in faith, be brave, be strong.” Sometimes that really is all you can do – STAND! There are times when you have tried everything in what you deem to be your own strength, but now you need to rally in the troops and enter into a place of anointed corporate prayer with one voice and one heartbeat on the issue you are believing in GOD for. There are times you will have to wage in war on your own – Matthew 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” There are however other times you will have to make that call to brothers and sisters in Christ and ask them to chant, sing, praise, pray and worship with you till you receive your breakthrough – James 5:16 KJV “Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” From their prayer strength coupled with your own, the heavens have a way of equipping you with more strength. From standing with one another, GOD has a way of rearranging things so you can soon share your testimonies with each other. Bonds are often times broken as we release prayers for others apart from ourselves.

People stand in prayer Aug. 20 after a march in Ferguson, Mo., to protest the shooting of Michael Brown.
People stand in prayer Aug. 20 after a march in Ferguson, Mo., to protest the shooting of Michael Brown.

One can only imagine what these student protesters had to do to encourage each other to take to the streets in the hopes that nothing beyond their voices being heard would happen. Every soldier goes into battle hoping to come back; for if they thought or knew they weren’t coming back they may very well decide against going out in the first place. Seemingly so, when we pray and cry out to GOD, let our hearts be expectant of an answered prayer. Jeremiah 29:11 GOD does say He knows the plans that He has for you. But while we wait for that expected end, let’s continue to amp up our spirits in anticipation of an answered voice. Praying without ceasing is everything. Taking to your “prayer streets” in protest against the enemy’s attacks ought to be a way of life. Tempos may differ but the prayers must keep going up no matter the cost. I’ll leave you with a few voices that serve as reminders of the importance of standing in faith and praying together. Have a fantastic week!

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Yvonne

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Being Still. Enjoying Moments in the Rolling Hills of TIME

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” 
― Eleanor Roosevelt

It’s not long ago that I listened to a T.D Jakes Sermon where he spoke at length about enjoying moments in the journey of life. January is a month heaped high with mental dissection and extensive calculations on any and just about every issue pertaining to our lives. News headlines and how they impact us, school bulletins notifying us of our children’s term calendars, conferences and training seminars for some, company retreats and workshops for others – you name it. Yearend is no different. We start looking back at our new years’ resolution in the hopes that as we scroll down the list or lists for some, there are more achievements on there than objectives ignored. As we come up we desire independence from our parents and structures that have raised us. Adulthood welcomes us coolly without alerting us to the impending hectic state of just being GROWN. RESPONSIBILITY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN. Life. But as we navigate this thing called life, how much running are we doing and in that running; is there time to catch a breath, re-assess, re-organize and restructure our relationships and conditions? Are they moments we kick our shoes off and do absolutely nothing – not for nothing’s sake, but as an ode to consciously embellishing life’s multitude of riches? People, provision, breath, health, strength and more. How often do we find inspiration just by being still and enjoying moments that form our life’s pages?

Like you, I have my instances where it feels like my mind space is in complete overdrive. I’m up at ungodly hours of the night scribbling things down and diarizing others. As I watched this particular T.D Jakes sermon, I found myself drifting into the archives of my past experiences both good and challenging. His emphasis in the message was the importance of taking time to see just how much good is going on around you even when it feels like a dragon is breathing fire down your back. Childhood memories of road trips to a cottage in the hills of Nyanga with my parents and siblings consumed me. The times we moved to a new town and what lessons were learned therein. Entering form 1 and becoming a boarder was another. The cold showers in winter and running away from the matron’s dogs in the sixth form quad. College. Orientation on a Uni campus in the States, culture shock and the bullish ways in which life in many ways seemed to consume me and distract me from whom I was called to be. The parties, the people, the travels, new family members, interactions in between, momentous occasions year on year. The joys I marvel at now as a wife and mother, the grind to not lose the essence of me in the new titles I seemingly acquire day to day. I could go on as I am sure so can you. Life.

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Time is moving and it feels like if you aren’t in sync with it. Maybe it feels like you aren’t living the life you would want to. We want more, more of this and that. But can we handle the responsibility of having more? Are we willing to be accountable for the more that the heavens grant us? Or can we just make every effort to live each moment void of angst and mental and physical pressure.

A few weeks ago I took an hour of my morning to walk about in my mom’s garden at the house in which I spent most of my childhood years. It’s a rental property now; one in which we haven’t lived in for close to 2 decades. But the memories were so fresh. The house looks and feels smaller – yet I can almost remember everybody that walked through its corridors for a time or inhabited its seemingly many rooms at the time. They were many. Mom and dad’s siblings, relatives from the village who had come to see their “son” in the city, those randoms we were forced to call aunty or uncle because they showed up a few times a month to have lengthy conversations about GOD knows what with the parents – robbing you of your TV time. Life. I watched my first color TV in this house, put up our first Christmas tree in this house, little neighborhood boys would ring the intercom and run away from this house at the warning of trouble. In a few minutes so many warm and fuzzy feelings ran through me and I felt a jolt of energy.

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Yes. Simple yet profound moments like these are fuel for my soul. I need them as reminders of where I have been, how far I have come, and how very much I thrive through GOD’s unadulterated blessings. We spend a lot of time talking about what isn’t, when we should in truth be talking about what is and what we hope to be, as if it already were. Life. Moments. Life and the moments that form it. When was the last time you took time to do nothing but take a journey into your life in a moment’s stillness? I implore you to every once in a while do just that. Stop all this running, be still and listen to the heavenly reminders of just how good you and I have it.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Yvonne