Focus

Vision is blurred if the light does not bend or refract correctly and focuses directly on the retina. Blurred vision is a refractive error, which is the most common disorder of the eye.

Sculpted By Design 2021

What you focus on, EXPANDS

Are your thoughts preoccupied with the concerns for today? What shall we eat? What shall we wear? Where shall we live? Have you noticed that these concerns keep growing?

Picture credit: Pinterest

Pause.
Refocus.

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Romans 8:6 NKJV

Who is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth?
Who is the Savior of the World?
Who loved you enough to die for you?
Who loved you to redeem you from death?
Who gave you new life?
Whose name is above every other name?

Pause.
Refocus.

Jesus is the Light of the World. Our gift of 24hrs is because the earth rotates around the sun. The earth never waivers, never falters, never alters. The Son should remain your singular focus just like the earth and the sun.

Swords Up!

An AK 47/is a heavy prop to carry around but there she was swinging it around as she spoke with her colleague. Is there no protocol around these matters? How should a guard on duty conduct themselves?

We had to learn how to handle a gun as part of the training. Theory and practical. Take it apart, assemble it, and fire in a range. For some of the class, the shock started with the sound of the bullets up close. Mine started with the weight of the gun, especially during the recoil. One of the sergeants had to sit on my back to ensure that I was not destabilized by the recoil. Well, that would not cut it during any armed operation. So we had to learn to handle the weight of a gun on a daily. We were told to purchase specially fashioned batons known as silas. These would be our guns for the duration of our study. We marched with them to class, carried them to the dorms, even to meals. It was never lost. Wherever you appeared, you appeared with your gun.

That gun became almost an extension of each one of us. How interesting the allegory Paul painted to the Ephesians about the Sword. The average Roman Sword (gladius) weighed about 1kg. This seems so light, after all what is a kg of sugar, until you have to constantly carry it over long distances in formation. The Roman Solider was never without his armor.

African troops in Burma during World War II.

Swords Up! Such a fun game. Our Sunday school teacher used it to teach us to find Books of the Bible and then verses. It was such a joy to be the first to find the verse first, which was always easier with a well read Bible. The pages of a new Bible stick together for the much shorter books which makes it longer to find them. The last books of the Old Testament and New Testament were always the most rewarding because they were hard to find.

The Bible is delightful because it is the very Word of God. The Word from whom all things exist. The Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. Whereas the Bible looks like an ordinary book, Jesus reminds us that His words are Spirit and Life.

28 My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word.

Psalms 119:28 NKJV

Your strength is found in always carrying the Word of God everywhere you go. There is no day off. There is no one time you appears without the Word or carry it in a careless manner. Every Christian must spend time learning and memorizing the Word of God. Listening to the Word being taught by their teachers of the Word so you are equipped in and out of season. It is the only offensive weapon a Christian has.

He is not here

The end of a rope. I have not had an occasion to run out of rope. However, we did run out of road this one time. Hilarious right! So we were cruising on Mombasa road heading back to Malindi, and part of that road was so bad, you didn’t know whether you were on the road or off the road. Well, not quite. It was really bumpy, so at one point, we noticed how smooth it has gotten. Only to hear our driver say, “oops, we run out of road!” We were driving on the shoulders at that point. He quickly course corrected and we were back to our jostling.

Not so many situations are this great. Most of the Hallmark movies have a scene where the family of the patient are in the waiting room and the surgeon walks in, still in his scrubs,and says ‘Doctors have done all they can… but he/she didn’t make it!’ Hearts broken. Sad theme music. And it’s done. You may rewind but you will always get back to that point and the doctor will walk to the waiting room in his scrubs. There is a finality about death.

Then there was COVID and the dynamics changed completely. No more wakes. No more ashes to ashes and dust to dust by the grave side. No more laying wreaths on caskets. No more viewing the body. Just the ‘angels’ coming in, spraying their paths with chloroquine. And ensuring everyone stays far away. Strangers burying a strangers. Loved ones estranged. There is a stillness about death.l

https://www.afro.who.int/sites/default/files/2020-10/WHO_2554.JPG

Early, one Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary made her way to the tomb to finish dressing the body of her Rabbi, Jesus. She finds the tomb empty and goes back to tell Simon Peter. Simon and John run to the tomb, to find indeed it is as she said. They return to their homes. The emptiness of this phrase points to the hollowness of death. Mary remains in the garden distraught, weeping and recounting the same phrase as grief is bound to do. The angels ask why she is weeping. They have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have laid him. Even after the angels have told her. She looks up to see someone and in her grief, she recounts the same phrase for him.

15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

John 20:15 NKJV

Mary’s pain is raw. The raw pain missed in Hallmark movies. I was hurrying to the hospital when the call came, it was my dad. He calmly asked where I was and I told him I was rushing to the hospital and apologized because I was so late. I cannot remember anything else he said, but I do recall that he told me mummy passed away in the early hours of the morning. Ohhhh, those words cut through my brain like a butcher’s knife. Right to my physical heart, the only response was a loud wail. I stopped the car in the middle of the road. I felt the sun had to stop rising and darkness should come and cover me. But it did not. I felt like my life was over but it was not. I just kept repeating over and over, mummy has passed on. It void statement. It was devoid of meaning. Because what was a world without a mummy. From the day of my birth, mummy had been there. When I cried, I would cry for my mummy. When I was in labour, my mummy was there. Now in the moment that was like the worst, she was not there. There is a loneliness about death.

Jesus, just like He did for Mary, whispered, ‘Dora, why are you weeping?’ She is not here. She is risen. May hope arise dear reader in your heart. The One who is the Resurrection and the Life. The One who is the firstborn over all creation. He is not dead, He is Alive. Because He lives you can face anything. Look to Him, He is your Lifeline and Waymaker.

There is a Balm in Gilead

Jeremiah laments a lot for the daughters of Judah. He is the one who speaks of Rachel weeping for her children. This prophecy was fulfilled when Herod went on his murderous spree to remove all trace of the Messiah. His lament is almost 600 years earlier, but the words hang over Judea like a wet blanket. Mothers wailing for their sons, no home left untouched.

Is there no balm in Gilead?

I had always thought this balm was a figure of speech but it is a real thing. There is actually a balm, similar to our shea butter, ghee, Avocado oil, tea tree oil. It has amazing healing properties for the body. You get the drift. Though I shall stick with my figure of speech, thank you very much.

Every mum has that quick fix or go to balm for aches, pains and colds. For most mums, it was Vicks. That is until Dragon balm came. My mum used it as the cure of all things! Ha ha! You have a cold? Dragon balm. You have a headache? Dragon Balm. You are just out of sorts. Dragon Balm. It had such a strong scent, you went around smelling like a peppermint tree. And guess what? It worked.

22 Is there no balm in Gilead, Is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery For the health of the daughter of my people?

Jeremiah 8:22 NKJV

Is there no balm in Gilead? Will I never have relief from this cold? Will this headache never end? Will I never wake up without pain all over? Is there no balm in Gilead?

Dr. Luke does not record her name, clearly client confidentiality did not start recently. This woman has been bleeding for twelve years. She had gone through all of Judea looking for the balm in Gilead. With every visit to the doctors, her hopes were raised and with every visit her hopes were dashed. Because even though she had spent all the money as required and done all she needed to do, the bleeding did not stop. She did not have a regular cycle. She did not have children. She only had those bloody menstrual clothes to look at each day. Those bloody menstrual cloths to smell each day. Those bloody menstrual clothes to wash each day. Those bloody menstrual cloths to ask her every day, is there no balm in Gilead?

Is there no balm in Gilead? Your situation remains unchanged, despite doing all you can. Your health deteriorates, there is no relief from pain. You feel drained and tired, there is no comfort.

Jesus is on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter. She has heard about Him, the Great Teacher. Some say He is the Messiah. The Messiah whom Herod did not kill. If He is indeed the Messiah, she thinks, I shall be healed. There is no more thought about protocols and cleansing laws. The opportunity is now.

She crawls into the crowd.

And touches the Hem of Jesus’ garment. Immediately, the blood stops flowing. Is this true? She can feel it, but she has to get away to check and confirm. Then Jesus stops and asks that question, ‘Who touched Me?’

The woman with the issue of blood. Photo credit: Pinterest

Oohhh, the dread. I am fine now, can we all just get along with our lives? You know it’s me, Jesus. I know it’s you, let’s just move on. Jesus stops and is almost dismissive of Peter’s questions.

She stands up and walks to Him. There must have been a hush falling on the crowd as they recognized her. Jesus speaks to her. The unclean one. The one who had spent most of her life in isolation. He exhorts her to be of good cheer! Stand up, Rise up, your faith has made you well.

It’s over. She can go home and have dinner with her family. She can smile again. She can laugh again. There is a balm in Gilead. His name is Jesus, He heals and makes you whole. He is the Balm that keeps on healing. Laughter is good medicine. The Balm of Gilead not only soothes, He brings recovery.

Be of good cheer and come to Jesus. He will heal your sin-sick soul. He will heal your ailing body. He will make you laugh.

Cracked

So many memes on the internet about Gamer’s rage. It is real. Things do not work as advertised, they work in real time. In real time, things slow down. Things depreciate. Friction happens.

The real game changer is inertia; it feels like you are moving forward, only to catch yourself in a holding pattern. For the creative, going through an intense design time, all the pieces are falling into place. The mind and fingers are in sync- momentum is gained. Suddenly, the key board is not working. The mouse freezes; the touch screen is not responding.

It must be the sweat or dust. This is easily resolved with a bit of tissue. Nothing that a cool water break cannot resolve. Still nothing! This cannot be happening. I have deadlines. I was nearly done.

Photo credit:Pinterest

What began as seething, is now rage. And the object becomes the screen. You pound at it, throw it far from you. Glass doesn’t always break but it always cracks. Sometimes visible to the naked eye. Sometimes invisible to the naked eye. Cracked glass is fascinating as an art piece but not as crockery. One is never sure when it will give way.

Adam cracked us all; we are volatile. One way this moment. Another way in the next moment. It became cute and we have nice cliches to describe our art pieces; perks, phobias, addictions, defects etcetera, etcetera…We got stuck and were not fit for purpose. Till Jesus paid it all.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

I Corinthians 15:22 NKJV

Jesus paid it all. You can live through inertia. Through sticky keys. Through being stuck. No need to rage, just breathe. Life it goes on beyond this moment because Jesus has made you alive.

Cut it off!

Pluck it out.

My MIL had this love for trees, in particular Avocado trees. Yes, her avocadoes were out of this Kampala. Huge, as in one could feed our little family of four. For context, the avocadoes I ate in school, one could only sufficiently feed me. And I don’t really fancy avocado that much. Really! So anyway, these avocadoes had that real avocado green color, wow. Peeling one was delightful, the flesh fell exactly where you wanted it. If you have peeled one that got mushy and collapsed into insy winsy bits ina bowl, you know the painnn. The pain of being robbed of a salsa and left with guacamole. Cry me a river.

We would rave on and on about her Avocadoes whenever we were at her home. Her Generosity was unmatched, she shared everything. So if you wanted avocadoes, she sent them by almost sackfuls. It was Avocado paradise. Well, when we finally moved into our home, she decided to give us our very own tree. You think she gave us one, not in the least. She came and planted, by herself two avocado trees. All the while, lamenting how she failed to find one exactly like her own. How she knew these ones would not be exactly like hers but would come close. There we were surrounded by avocadoes, true to her word, they were not exactly like the ones she had. They were huge but not the Avocado green. Oh well, we could always get the ones she picked from her home.

One day, I am passing by one of the trees and I notice these unusual orange flowers on it. I was in a hurry, so it was a really cursory glance. I had spotted some creepers trying to strangle our golden duranta, this was closer to the ground. I pulled them out and moved along. When I got back in, I attempted to find the creeper that turned to be an orange trumpet vine but I couldn’t trace it. Immediately, I knew the tree was in danger. Please I cut all my Agriculture lessons, so it was just a sense.

The cancer

My husband quickly identified this lump and we had to cut off the branches that were affected. The lump where the flame vine had attached itself to the branch and started to grow as an Avocado branch. The orange flowers were pretty but they were not avocadoes. That lump just looked like a cancer to me!! While the men were busy sawing off branches and carrying them away, I was running around shouting ‘O my gosh, this is like a cancer!’ while taking pictures and moving closer to observe. Sigh. Sigh. God loves me just this way, is all I am saying.

Why must a cancer be cut out or nuked out of your body? Because it won’t stop growing. It attaches itself to your body and grows with everything else. Only, instead of adding to your beauty, it begins to drain the life out of you. That tree looked bright, all right but that lump is ugly. Also you are not as productive as you need to be. The flowers on avocado tree signal fruit is coming. These flaming orange trumpets look great on a fence but not on a tree.

So it is with sin. Paul writing to the Romans teaches them that the wages of sin is death. When it comes to dealing with sin in our lives, we cannot be complacent. We have to cut it out. You could choose to ignore it, but eventually it chokes you to death.

43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.

Mark 9:43 ESV

Pluck it out.

Henna Blossoms in the Vineyard

Bees. I watched a movie about bees as a young girl that put the fear of bees into my heart. Because those bees were genetically morphed into killer bees. The swarm of bees was a destroyer, they killed every living thing in sight. How terrifying. In my short life, my memories of bees have been to point me in the direction of sweet, aromatic and beautiful flowers.

14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blooms In the vineyards of En Gedi.

Song of Solomon 1:14 NKJV

This beautiful text has held my attention, as an image of luxury. Flowering vineyards would already attract so many bees. Imagine with me scent of grape vines in blossom, and how the air is filled with expectation. The humming of the bees as the move around enjoying the nectar and pollinating the flowers.

This vineyard is near a waterfall, En Gedi. Such a luscious place.The sound of a cascading waterfall. En Gedi is the last fresh water spring before one reaches the Dead Sea. The place is bursting with life in a place close to death.

Somewhere in there, henna blossoms. Henna is commonly used as a dye for human art and hair. Its blossoms are beautifully soft and scented. Not as strong as grape blossoms but strong enough to attract insects.

Why would she describe her beloved in this manner? Because she has found the one whom her soul desires. I recall being sold the story about finding a soul mate. At the time, it seemed credible and plausible but not quite. Your soul wants many things. It has your emotions, it has your mind and it has your will. Most times, these three especially for a woman do not agree. Case in point is chocolate fudge cake. Your mind knows that moment on the lips will be a life time on the hips. Your emotions do not agree at all, because well, chocolate fudge cake is just melts on your tongue-like how good does chocolate have to taste. Your will depending on what time of the day and events may assent to the mind’s suggestion and help you wolf down the cake in the fastest time possible. Or allow you to savor it, forkful by forkful. But for this little conundrum, a mate would suffice.

Her beloved was not just one way and never another. He was henna blossoms- attractive, appealing and pleasing to her eyes. The promise of fruitfulness is held in the Vineyard. It is tended and cared for, not for it’s beauty but,its ability to produce grapes. There is loads of activity, pleasant activity. He smells good, yes. And even though, death may be round the corner, he is refreshing and nurturing. A cool,refreshing drink on any day.

Mates just don’t cut it for this. And it may be possible to find this person, but ultimately, Solomon brings us to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only One who can fully satisfy your soul. Jesus knows everything about you, the good, the bad and the ugly, and He still loves you. Jesus became man so He could take your place in death. His words can bring healing to all the crevices of your soul, no matter how hidden and how dark. Need I add, that He was the Word in the Beginning. So, He is the One we all yearn for.

If you are longing for a luxurious life, the one you do not escape from, Jesus is your cluster of henna blossoms in the Vineyard of En Gedi. He restores your soul. (Psalm 23:3)

Shattered glass

Butter fingers. Soft, tender and dreamily melting in the mouth butter. It started with a cabbage that literally flew like a missile out of my hands into next stall, knocked over a bowl (katasa) of tomatoes, rolled into the peppers then somersaulted into the carrots. The drama of that cabbage.🙄 The stall owner totally unamused, narrowed her eyes and gave me THE LOOK! (For shame). But Jesus took my shame. I quickly gathered my fingers and wits, apologised profusely and rescued the errant cabbage.

This morning I broke a glass. Well, I wouldn’t quite say that I broke it. That would imply malice and aforethought. It slipped out of my fingers. Well, not quite slipped either. Let’s say, it bounced on and off my fingers, danced onto my finger tips and as we were just getting the hang of this waltz, it slipped off. And slid to the floor, where it made the most earth shattering noise! What had been a very quiet morning, was rudely interrupted by the crash and subsequent splattering of glass everywhere. Ssshhhhh

Photo credit: Pinterest

Why can’t glass keep silent as it shatters? Why does it have to spread every where? Why are the pieces so tiny? How do the pieces get into all those hard to reach crevices and nooks? Why is glass transparent?

The Quiet returns. But my mind was undulated as all these thoughts and more started to race through it. I quickly run to sweep up the glass shards. I had to do it quickly and swiftly. Because my once happy go to glass, was now a danger to anyone who came near it. Like porcupine quills, it’s shards keep everyone far away.

I sweep the debris into the dustpan. Sweep again to get any remaining pieces . Sweep again, this time, further away, shards do fly! The last sweep brings no glass. We are done with the cleanup. I get back to putting away the other glasses.

In that moment, I realized I could vow to never touch a glass again. I could make it public. I could even get accountability partners. I could give away all the glasses I have and replace them with all this trendy almost but not glass things. I could even sit my children, nieces and nephews down and lecture them on the dangers of glass and implore them to stay away from glass. Why? Because glass is dangerous. It shatters.

But then who sits and wails over a broken glass. Who calls their friend for comfort over a broken glass? A broken glass is replaceable and life it goes on.

Well, my dear reader, so it is with every other failure. Yes, it may seem like the world is coming to an end. It may seem like without this opportunity, you have reached the end of your road. Shame. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Not so.

Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it, is what makes the difference.

Virginia Satir

Because you carry around a mental image of a picture perfect life, failure will rattle you to your core. Take time to mourn your broken glass. Gather up the shards so you are not bleeding on people who didn’t hurt you. Pick the lesson and dispose of the debris. Soul debris takes a while to unravel, like pieces of glass hidden in the crevices, you keep finding bits you didn’t know we’re there. Trust the process.

When you are ready, put the rest of the glasses away. Or better yet, pour your favorite drink and savor the taste of goodness.