Category Archives: Musings

Back to Motivation, can’t run from a call

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This week I was invited to speak at Chosen Children of Promise Kawangware. A talk which had been postponed for a long time.

I wondered what to say to those young people. In fact, while walking to catch a matatu to Kawangware, I became so absent- minded just thinking of the right words to say that I tripped on the pavement and fell. Fortunately, there were two helpful ladies to help me get up. One went after my water bottle, while the other carried my laptop bag.

I was slightly injured, but that was the least of my concerns. “I hope the laptop has not been ruined”, I said. “Help me up”, was the next thing I said. Because chivalry is a rare thing in Nairobi, I thanked the ladies whom I did not know. In a hurry, I dusted myself as I walked to get a Matatu to Kawangware.

I reached the center at 2.30, half an hour late, but just in time for my turn to speak. Now, seeing the diversity in ages of my audience, I had to think of a tactic to keep them engaged.

Through experience, there are some talks I have had before that left my audience staring in shock, probably wondering, ‘how the hell is this person still alive to tell this story?’ 

I don’t enjoy traumatizing my audience with my story. It beats the purpose of educating a specific audience. I think that’s why I chose to go slow on the talks. I chose to go slow on a couple of other things, just to reflect on the benefits I was giving my audience. Such a break is healthy. It even promotes growth.

Anyway, so this speech was about a young girl called Jackie. She was just any ordinary teenage girl who was drawn by peer pressure to the seemingly good things in life. Her family lived in poverty, and could not afford to give her the things she wanted.

She met a man who promised her that he would take care of her. A man who was courteous enough to take her to her first movie date. A man who didn’t drink or smoke. A man that even though she was still a student, she used to dream of  marrying. A man who also changed her life for good.

At the end of the talk that was engaging, yet had a not so preachy message at a vocational bible school, I revealed who Jacky was. “The girl standing in front of you”.

Every time I talk to an audience, I learn a different thing. On this day, I was reminded that no matter how many times you fall, you do NOT stay down. You have to get up, dust yourself, and get on with the call. Sometimes you have to separate yourself from a story for it to have the desired impact. It is not my story anymore. It is HIStory.

Love,

Juls.

Touching base: We stay.

Hello Friends,

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I know it’s been a while since I wrote here. Thank you all loyal readers who have been visiting.

I didn’t stop writing. As a writer, that is kind of impossible. You just have to let words out no matter how silent you are. I wrote  poems to go with my emotions, of love, gratitude, sadness, happiness. I just  did not post them here. Why?

Writing is art. Picture a painter in his studio, doing his thing. You go and accidentally set eyes on this breathtaking piece of work. You applaud, maybe by commenting, “This is a masterpiece”.

The artist looks at you, obviously puzzled. “What do you mean? This is an unfinished painting. It’s terrible, cover it up.”

I would say that has been my story lately. Some writing I feel is not yet ready for the public. Sometimes just stepping from your computer to connect with real people also helps. I have done a lot of that too.

I commented to a friend that this was my safe space, where I get to be me. He smiled and said that the oxymoron was that my safe space was very public.

So this question keeps rearing its head. How much is too much information. I was also pondering on that during my break. I finally answered myself that if I don’t tell my stories, someone else will. They will be under no obligation to be as accurate as I would love them to  be.

I also started a new blog. You might want  to check it out. This is one of the reasons for my break. I was even contemplating pulling down this blog, so that I concentrate on the new child.

But then again, parents don’t neglect their firstborns just because they have birthed a second born. Do they? Incidentally, some people like this first born better. I love all my children equally.

What would I do without julieinspire? Sometimes I just want to be that little girl, that crazy woman and so on.  Writing is therapeutic you know. So julieinspire stays.

Love,

Juls

It doesn’t always feel right yet it sorts you out

Hand reaching out
Hand reaching out

 Photo credit

Giving up is easy, anyone can give up. I have felt like giving up quite often. I have asked, “what’s the meaning of this life?”

Then I meet someone in a worse state than myself. Well, not that my state is bad. It is just bad according to the lens I am using at the moment.  Sometimes it’s good to just step out and look at situations from God’s perspective.

Today I have just seen  a text from one of the  many friends I made after being  on TV. The text read in part that she is still carrying the painful cross, waiting for Jesus to come. After texts like these, I am jolted to sense. I have a greater purpose than to mope about the little challenges I encounter.

Sometimes just encouraging another person, is all it takes to lift your spirits. Sometimes your spirits are low because you are not adding value to another life.

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11: 25 NIV

Your generosity can be in form of the small encouragement you have. It doesn’t have to be a lot. I personally have had friends who have reached out and been a blessing to me. We are created to be relational beings, first to relate to God then to each other.

Three weeks ago, I offered to host a young girl in my house, thinking that she needed a roof over her head. I noticed she was living in the office. She told me that she doesn’t feel the pressure now, because she is doing some projects that need the internet.

First she thought I wanted to reproach her for using the office as her house. But when I offered to host her, she really appreciated my kindness. I saw her desperate situation, she saw her opportunity to work. In the next 5 years, she probably will be having her own company.

Maybe that was God teaching me a lesson on perspective. How do you view that situation you are in? How can you be a blessing to someone? Would you follow a prompting even if it doesn’t make sense?

As I write, I am speaking to myself. I hope someone also finds light in whatever tunnel they may be in.

This week in perspective: A roller-coaster of emotions.

Black woman hugging her knees
Black woman hugging her knees Image credit: infochristo.com

 

This week has been a mixture of emotions to me. First, it started with losing a friend to cancer. Then as if that was not enough, I met a nephew to someone I cared for in hospital, who eventually died of cancer.

The nephew seemed to be ignoring me, so I acted like I did not know him. After all, it was working hours and I was on official business. I picked the document that I had been sent to pick and went ahead to a function to celebrate the International Women’s Day.

All through, I was wondering what hostility existed between us that this person was still ignoring me after all these years. I concluded for the moment to let it be as it is and move on. After all, when his uncle died, they never told me anything. I only discovered three weeks after his burial from a friend of his whom I met in hospital. This was through a phone call I made after being worried about the uncle.

Going home, the thought kept bugging me. I decided to text the nephew and reintroduce myself. You must have forgotten me… I am so and so.

To my surprise, the guy genuinely did not recognize me. His uncle tried to arrange a meeting between us when he was in hospital, but he was busy at work. The uncle even gave me the nephew’s number. That explains why I had the number. For someone who used to see me 15 years ago, before I had the disability, it would be understandable. “I am happy you looked good,” he said. “I hope you are keeping well,” he added.

The next day I met a friend whom I nearly married. I noticed he had a wedding band on his finger. I asked him why I was never invited to his wedding. “It happened too fast,” he said. I was happy he found the right one and was happy with her. Later that evening, he sent me a text apologizing for having disappointed me. “You have not disappointed me. It was just never meant to be,” I replied. “May God bless your marriage,” I added.

This same week I received a call from Elza, mama Earnest. I was so happy to have finally connected to her. I have been looking for her like crazy. It just so happens that she has also been looking for me. We are yet to meet, but I know we have a lot to catch up on.

What I learnt this week is you have to take initiative to reach out. Never make your own conclusions. And what is meant to be, will be.

With love from,

Juls

Today I mourn you

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Sunday, I received a phone call at 9.30 pm from my friend Oguedhi. It was a surprise call. Sylvia Oguedhi has never called me this late.

“Your friend has slept”, those words stung terribly.

Sylvia’s brother, whom I have never met, was an accidental friend. Sometime two years ago, I was a church administrator. I used to make the weekly church bulletin. I would call the people leading worship that Sunday, to ask for the songs they would like me to include in the bulletin.

About three times when she was leading worship, I happened to call her number and her brother picked. Her brother was also a worship leader at his church, so he was wondering who was asking him for songs.

Our friendship started from there. He would call just to check on his friend. Occasionally, he would goodwill texts.

Last year, Sylvia told me that her brother was diagnosed with cancer of the gum. His gums were swollen. It was really sad. I promised Sylvia to go visit her brother.

Then I had a lot of things going on, school, internship, Workstudy, problems with my landlord. I was overwhelmed. My will and heart were willing to visit, yet my circumstances were restrictive. Maybe I should have tried harder.

Two Sundays ago, I met Sylvia in church. She reminded me that my friend waited for my visit until he went. The thought that rushed through my mind was that he had died.

Before my explanations of why I did not honor my promise, she clarified that he went up-country and was recuperating well. His gums were back to normal. It was then that I said I was just overwhelmed during the time.

A week later, I was in bed, still recovering from a book hangover. I had just finished reading an interesting book. My phone rang and I looked at the caller Id. I usually don’t receive late phone calls. It was Oguedhi-Blessed one.

“I just called to tell you that your friend slept at 8.30 pm,” she said.

I woke up from the book hangover, and went to mourning a friend I had never met. My friend will be laid to rest on Tuesday next week.

Just as sad as this story is, what have you been putting off? Is it that walk in the park, or reaching out to someone. Please do it before it’s too late.

With love from,

Juls

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Talking hair- I am not my hair

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Let’s talk hair. Lately I’ve been feeling so free and comfortable in my own hair, it actually scares me sometimes.

Few months ago I wouldn’t be caught dead walking in my natural hair (not blow dried or relaxed straight). It just didn’t feel tidy enough. Come to think of it, that thought must have come from a desire I had as a school girl- to have lovely hair. I even used to dream of myself in flawless weaves. (Experiments which I have tried out and looked good.)

You see, going to school, we had no choice of plaiting our hair. It was either books, or hair. Full stop. (Not a rule in our school, rather a rule at home.)  My father was a disciplinarian who did not like it when we spent a lot of time on our hair rather than concentrating on school.

Up to form four, I rocked a short Afro, which was easy to handle. Just comb-and-get-on-with-your-day kind of hair. Which explains my ID photo, the one they refused to let me change even after three replacements. I wanted them to change it to something better, like the awesome braids I usually rock. Plus I looked like a child on that photo, 18, and in school uniform.

(Back to talking hair). January this year, I had an overwhelming desire to cut my hair. I was just tired of going to the salon every month and constantly worrying about my unkempt hair. Now this had nothing to do with the “My unkempt hair debate“. I told a friend in the office of my plan and she quoted Coco Chanel:

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.”- Coco Chanel. I don’t know the change I’m about to make, but I’m flirting with the possibility that the scissors might bring. Should I or should I not?

Posted by Juliet Hephzibah on Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I did not cut my hair. Instead, I decided to walk with washed combed, oiled hair. Just not straightened. (Maybe my mom could have cut part of it because she helped me cut my braids before undoing them.)

I seem to like what I see on the mirror, and I wonder what happened to this girl. Perhaps it’s just freeing to try out something out of your own will. True beauty comes from within I must say. Though enhancements have their place, they cannot change your identity. What do you think?

This may be just a phase. I might go back to the salon anytime. For now, let’s just enjoy the freedom.

Wedding committee invitation

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Marvin reached out to her, she was a good listener, he felt safe to pour his heart to her. He wanted it! Wanted it so bad but couldn’t face what he wanted.

All he could say to her was “Please pray with me, if God tells you anything, do tell me”. It was quite confusing because in some way, she thought it was not in her place to put words in his mouth. Her policy was,

If a man wants to marry you, it should come out clearly. Playing charades trying to guess what this brother wanted was just too much work.

Months would pass then he would reach out to her. They would meet and discuss the same thing. A wife. Who do you want to marry? Anyone who is mature and born again. “Just pray, the Lord will guide you to your wife. You must face the person you want and tell them you want to marry them”, she advised him, evidently tired from carrying on with the mind games.

Four months later she tried calling him, to catch up, but a different voice spoke on the other end. I’m looking for Marvin. “Marvin speaking”, said a deep strange voice on the other end. “I am at the barber, talk to you later”, the voice said.

Oh, maybe something happened to him. She sent him a text to ask if he was OK, because some strange person answered his phone. The text was never replied. She got the hint and stopped bothering him.

A year later, she gets a text inviting her to Marvin’s wedding committee. Now wedding committees are made of friends, people who are involved in your life. Not people you deliberately shut off from your life like you had a bad fight.

After fishing for words to reply the text, she typed her congratulatory message and how she was happy for him. And why had he not communicated for such a long time? Let it be known that she bore no hard feelings. The reply text read “Thank you, God bless you”.

Wedding committees are like fund raisers.  Maybe Marvin sat down and came up with a perfect strategy. Just fish all contacts on my phone and let them come help me marry my wife. Smart, isn’t it?

That evening, she was added to a WhatsApp group for the wedding committee. She wondered when they became so close to each other. What part would she play in the committee?

Here’s what Marvin could have done better. He could have called her to catch up. Maybe even explained the reason for his silence. Maybe come up with an excuse for that strange Nigerian deep voice that answered his phone. Anything. Then, tell her the good news of his upcoming wedding. Maybe then, Molly would feel a part of the close friend circle. “Oh! Wow! Congratulations! I am so happy for you”.  Molly would say.

Then Marvin would ask, “We are putting up a list of people to help us organize the wedding. Would you be part of our wedding committee?” Nicely, the way a civilized person would ask. All these scenarios kept running through Molly’s mind.  People do not think alike. Molly thought resignedly.

Then, she was just feeling ambushed and taken for granted. How would you react if you were in Molly’s shoes?

(This is an improvement to the previous story for readers who were left hanging. All characters are fictional, the story is partly real from a friend’s experience and just a portrayal of the reality in today’s society.)

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Tribute to Pauline, a classmate & role model

Image credit: Facebook
Image credit: Facebook

Today I woke up feeling like I would rather just go back to bed. You know, just one of those days when you don’t feel up to nothing. Coming to work, i was half asleep in the mat. I ask myself, what the hell is wrong with me?

So I start with my usual work. Emails, blogs, social media, then I come across an update on Facebook with a familiar face.

Woke up to sad news that you are no longer with us, will sure remember you for your laughter, determination, controversial arguments and friendship. RIP Pauline Mwogoasige The Daystar University fraternity will forever miss you!

Wait a minute! I know that face. I’ve talked to her. We shared a maths class in Daystar University. Pauline was one of the women I admired from afar. I just never talked to her much. Come to think of it, I never talked much to most classmates, other than the usual- How are you ding? Which would automatically be followed by- I’m fine.

Today looking at that update, I felt there could have been more to learn from Pauline. She was an entrepreneur and a role model. That first time we talked, I learned as much. Come to think of it, it was my interest in graphic design that led to that conversation. She was the Public Relations Manager at Centrifugal Technologies Ltd, a graphics design and printing firm.

I feel I could have learnt more from her. Now she is gone. The lessons:

  1. God brings people your way to add value to your life- never take it for granted.
  2. Appreciate every breath you have and live life to the fullest.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom- Ecclesiastes 9:10.

The Christian on Dressing

The “My dress my choice” debate has been doing the rounds in Kenyan media circles for the past week and a half. It is a debate that was triggered by the stripping of a woman in Nairobi’s Central Business District on the 17th of November, 2014, allegedly by Matatu operators. A similar incident followed days later in Nairobi’s Eastlands- Kayole estate.

Photo borrowed from CNN
Photo borrowed from CNN

In Christian circles, there are the liberal Christians who accept a person for who they are, not according to outward appearance. They believe under constant exposure to the truth from God’s word, negative things gradually shed off because they become more like Christ. One of the doctrines that guide them is Grace.
There are also the conservative Christians who strongly believe the Torah. According to them, women should be modestly dressed, with some insisting on trousers being a man’s clothing. Their scripture of reference is Deuteronomy 22:25 “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, or a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.”
In a bid to understand this phenomenon from a Christian perspective, I sought opinions of various Christians.
Walking into his glass walled office at Family Media, he is busy reading. Being a Friday evening, he is prepping for his TV show Walk the Talk. Pastor James Okumu host of radio 316’s Jam 316 sheds much light into the issue. “The fact that men are stripping women is an indication of a greater problem in our society. A problem that we do not want to address”, he says in his authoritative baritone voice.
Pastor Jammo as he is commonly referred to by his listeners believes the place of men in the society is to protect women. “A scantily dressed woman should never be undressed. Instead, we should look for a way to dress her”, he says. He believes there are deeper psychological issues leading women to dress the way they do. He adds that no matter the reason, it does not give men a right to undress them.
Pius, a member of a conservative church has differing views. “Women who dress scantily deserve to be stripped. They constantly complain of sexual harassment by men, yet they are the ones sexually harassing men by their scanty dressing”, he asserts. He adds that men are visual beings, some of whom are weak, so ladies should be careful on how they dress. He quotes 1st Corinthians 10: 31- “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God- even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”
Joyce Meyer is on TV preaching on the power of words. Esther Cate, Pius’s daughter says, “Let that woman put on a skirt before she steps on the pulpit”. The message has been diluted by the speaker’s mode of dressing.
Pastor Jammo narrates a story of a man who came to their church having mungiki style dreadlocks. No one mentioned the hair, but brethren accepted him for who he was. The young man got saved and continued attending their worship services. One day, the same man came to church and people could not recognize him. He had shaved his hair clean. “Christians push people away by their judgmental attitude, yet church is where sinners should feel accepted”, he adds.
Winnie Thuku, a Kenyan motivational author says, “Whichever side you argue it from, for or against short skirts, stripping a woman is wrong, wrong and wrong. Anyone supporting it is no different from those doing it.”
Pastor Jammo says that the heart is what matters. “One may dress in a robe yet the heart has nothing”, he says.
About human rights, pastor Jammo says that as Christians, we do not have rights. “Our lives do not belong to us, we belong to Christ. Therefore we relinquished our ‘human rights’”, Pastor Jammo states. “We should therefore dress to please God because we are a reflection of his image” he adds.
“The problem with today’s society is a ‘selfie’ culture, everything is about the self, including the famous selfies posted online”, Jammo comments. Quoting from Galatians 5:16, Pastor Jammo says, “God’s word tells us to live by the spirit so that we do not gratify the desires of the sinful nature”. He concludes, “We should therefore be guided by the Holy Spirit”.
Charles Spurgeon, a British Baptist theologian of the 19th Century said, “London gets their fashion straight from Paris and Paris gets their fashion straight from hell.”
The battle of the sexes has been witnessed in Kenya following the stripping ordeal. Weeks later from the first stripping incidence in Nairobi; we have witnessed a trend of women being stripped in other parts of the country. We have also witnessed protests from women defying the men who strip women. The women dressed in miniskirts and marched in Nairobi’s streets, with men holding counter protests to dress the women.
A twitter campaign under the hashtag #MyDressMyChoice, has been running. People have been expressing their views on this subject.
A Matatu crew responsible for stripping women naked was charged in court on December 10, 2014, with robbery with violence and sexual assault. They now face the death penalty.