Sometimes it’s easier to notice what is not working in our lives, and the tendency is to camp there; nursing the negatives, instead of giving them to God.
Before long, our lives are defined by what we do not have, instead of what we have.
I was reminded of intentional gratitude this week; taking the time to think and write down decisions, people and experiences that I am grateful for.
I want to invite you to give it a try if you are going through a gray season. Instead of ruminating on the negative, take a walk down memory lane and write down what has actually worked.
Writing is a good exercise for the heart and mind because it forces us to see our lives in a better light. It also commits more to memory.
Here are my fourteen things;
I did not entirely comprehend the blessing of close friendship or the extent of my awkwardness when it comes to making new friends until I had to start from scratch after moving countries.
Making new friends is one of the hardest things I am doing, socially.
The positive outcome is that I am slowly starting to see friendships for what they are; a gift, not a guarantee.
2. My husband.
I treasure our friendship, our relationship, our values much more. I love how he sees things, how committed he is to God and how focused he is on living a values-based, Spirit-led lifestyle.
Not everyone sees things the way we do, and I am blessed to have an encourager, a kindred spirit, a strong leader – someone on my corner who is committed to God and to me.
He is steadfast and unflinching in the face of challenges, responsibilities, and choices. Even with human imperfections, he remains the greatest gift from God, after my salvation.
I used to think my biggest calling is to hold on to God; holding on fast, lest He slips away.
A couple of hardships and breakdowns later, I know now I have neither the ability, nor the desire sometimes, to hold on to God.
He holds on to me, so I don’t slip away.
There’s something about African girls and their hair (though I have a feeling it’s all girls.)
In Kenya, we do indeed love our hair. We spend incredible amounts of money and time on our hair a.k.a hairdressers. Maybe because the hair salon experience is its own social event.
Before we moved, I decided to cut off my perm because I heard hair care was expensive in the West (turned out it was true).
So I’ve had dreadlocks the last five years. Then I did the big chop five months ago. Now I am enjoying a baby mo-hawk ‘fro.
They say “you’ll know them by their hair”* Meaning you’ll know the season of a woman by looking at her hair.
When the ground shifts and seasons change, your hair tends to move with you. Click here to see ‘the seasons of my hair’ on Facebook 🙂
So I am glad I have hair. And hair that grows. Because I can change my atmosphere, at least the inner one, just by changing my hair.
5. Volunteering at a Christian organization
I left my corporate job eight years ago and was sure I wanted to work for a Christian organization.
And I did, for almost a year before finally figuring out that what I wanted was to fund Christian causes and found my own nonprofit.
I am glad for the clarity that comes from trying out different things. I am happy that God allows us to fail forward.
In Him, I can explore and not feel like He’ll toss me out the moment I stumble or fall out.
6. Leaving employment.
Big dreams + little planning = roller-coaster ride! I wouldn’t change it for the world. Except maybe to have some savings in the bank.
God wants us to live big, take risks, even when it looks reckless. I am thankful for the desire for more; that He started a big fire in my soul.
The King of heaven LIVES in me, why would I expect differently?
7. Starting a business.
If you want to learn how to run a business, open an enterprise. There’s no shortcut to it.
Theory and “education” have ruined many. There’s stuff you can’t learn in class, or dare I say, employment.
And then there is the zero guarantee that your first venture will succeed. I haven’t always seen the bright side of failure and hardship because I like success.
I am grateful that God won’t give up on me. I am thankful for folks who have supported all my enterprise, past and present.
In case you are wondering how to support my current enterprise; click any of these links to
8. Starting this online ministry.
People ask me all the time, “Did you always want to be a writer, did you always see yourself starting an online ministry?”
My answer is yes, I always wanted to write and no, never saw myself starting an online ministry.
I have been writing since I was 13 years old. Terrible writing of course (English is my third language), but writing all the same. As far as the online gathering goes, I did not see myself doing this.
And this “ministry” thing did not start, or even remotely resemble, a ministry at the beginning. It was just a little .blogspot which I updated whenever I felt like it.
Then five years ago, God asked me to take my writing more seriously. I had no idea what He was up to, but I obeyed, and here we are.
Someone said, “God goes with those He sends.” I’ve seen it with the growth of this space. If God is sending you somewhere, just go. Don’t worry about who isn’t going with you; He’ll go with you, and He’s all you need.
Read this post if you need inspiration to act on your God-sized dream.
9. Moving countries.
I shared how relocating was one of those big life-decisions in this podcast. While God could have chosen a different way to stretch and deepen our faith, I am glad He chose “relocation”.
It has been a glorious adventure; filled with low lows, dizzying highs, and quiet middles. While God would have chosen anyone, I am glad He chose us. And even more glad He doesn’t give up easily.
Friend, you don’t need to know much, have much, even be willing all the time: you just have to love Jesus and He’ll keep helping you say “yes” to His plan and path.
10. Growing up without much.
I grew up in Shags; a Kenyan slang for “rural farm”. My parents might as well have been generals in an army because our 9-kids-2-adults home was a tight, disciplined unit.
But we were happy. And loud. I am grateful for my parent’s tough love and rugged rural upbringing. It has shaped me to be a better person.
While I complain and throw tantrums like all human being, I don’t need to go far to see where God has brought me from.
11. Being a country girl.
I felt inferior, being “the girl from shags.” I liked the slick, clean nice-smelling city-borns.
Now I am glad I did not grow up in the city! Because the grit and sun and grass of country life run beyond skin and brow.
It’s all over your heart and shapes the way you see life, blessings, hardships.
Also fashion, which is not a great thing. My city-born boyfriend-for-life is a lot more fashionable. I am happy how God fills our gaps!
12. Being choleric in personality.
People would ask me, “why are you always angry?” and I would tell them “I am not” and they would say “then tell your face” and I’d state “sorry, that’s just my natural expression” and I would go on to quietly fuss at myself for having a serious/scowling face.
It’s funny because I love to laugh. And I married a quirky guy who likes to make me laugh.
I am glad God took me on a journey of self-acceptance. My serious leader-type personality gets things done. It’s a blessing, not a curse. Even when my face doesn’t shine sometimes.
13. Moving homes five times in five years.
We moved for the 5th time a month ago. One positive way to look at our moves; adventure!
You don’t know how attached you are to your nine hundred square feet until it’s yanked from under feet.
It forces you to start attaching to Jesus, not to places and things.
14. And finally, and at the risk of offending someone, I used to wonder why some Americans are on the heavier side (and I don’t mean just physically)
To date, people at home still joke about “too much McDonald’s” all though they have never been to one.
Now I know. Because first world problems have become my problems.
It’s easy to joke and feel all sorts of ways about your self-control and discipline; until you smacked in the face with convenience and options you had no idea existed.
Then you start scrambling for control, trying to form new habits and learning to do life differently in a sea of excess.
First world problems. God has a sense of humor. Yeah, now I am a little kinder.
What about you? What are you grateful for? Chime in comments!
Have you heard? My husband and I partnering with a church in Kenya to host a marriage conference and community outreach! Please check out our missions page for more information and links to donate.
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*quote by yours truly 😉