Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Who Is Your Go-To?

So...I have a confession. 

Running to God first when I need counsel or quick solutions is not always my first instinct. Let me shed more light on what Mwape in an urgent crisis looks like.

So let's imagine a random day and there is this decision that I have to make. I am aware I should talk to God about it, because I know he loves me and knows best. So I immediately decide that I will talk to God about it at night, before I go to bed, and soon after I call whoever I think will understand best and get a quick fix. 

Off the top of my head, the reasons I do this include, because I am impatient, its urgent, I just feel like I need an actual voice to tell me what to do, its also more fun to actually have a verbal exchange and who doesn’t like fun, but also in that moment I lack sense and so I think that God needs at least a few minutes to give me his answer and I just don’t have that time. Cause remember, I am in a hurry.

If I’m being honest, this doesn’t only apply to crisis’, sometimes I do this in situations that are super chilled as well as those that don't require immediate solutions. Speaking to people is on the top of my list and talking to God is somewhere close to the bottom right above the option of giving up.

I found myself worked up over a situation some days ago. My mother knew and overheard me speaking to someone over the phone about it. When I was done she said,“Mwape, you should learn to talk to God”. My quick defensive response was, “I do! I’ll speak to him once I get to bed”. She quickly corrected me and said, “He should be the first one you go to, not the last”. I knew she was right.

Fast forward to today, I am currently reading the book Secure in the Everlasting Arms by Elizabeth George. I was reading the subchapter called “A Holy Aloneness”. In this part she asks her readers if they are tempted to pick up the phone when in need of advice forgetting to seek first the living word of God or talk to him whose ear is always open to our cries? She goes on to encourage us to be patient and she asks, is God not fast enough? Is it his answers we run away from because we know that they can be tough sometimes. You know? Someone wronged you and you know the Lord’s prayer in the Bible says to forgive those who trespass against us just as he forgives us. That clearly includes the trespasses we have never received apologies for. So you’d rather call a friend who will instead tickle your ears. Or, this is the common one. You know how Matthew 18:15-17 talks about conflict resolution, how if your brother sins against you you must sit with him and show him his error. My default is to call someone and tell them about it and rarely follow it up with the person who has wronged me because the former is easier, however, if I took a moment to pray and reflect on his word, wouldn’t that scripture come to mind and the next step look different and be in line with God’s word? I know, the struggle is real. 

At times we actually succumb to seeing a counsellor when we feel we aren’t getting the answers or support we need. I remember going through heartbreak and convincing myself that I needed to see a student counsellor. It felt like a lonely season, I felt like I needed to hear something more profound. It didn’t click that my father in heaven is the wonderful counsellor (Isaiah 9:6) and my loneliness should be transformed into holy aloneness. I need to learn to sit still before the Lord. One hour in prayer may change our perception more than any earthly advice we can get. Do we have the patience to be still in prayer and sit before the Lord? 

Psalm 57:1 says “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until disaster has passed”. Psalm 46: 1 says "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble". The two verses are a reminder of why he is the best go-to you could ever have.

Regardless of what your day to day troubles look like, I want to encourage you to make God your go-to. “In times of trouble, go not out of yourself to seek for aid; for the whole benefit of trial consists in silence, patience, rest and resignation. In this condition divine strength is found”- Miguel de Molinos.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Dear Season Graduates

Dear season graduates,

So, I graduated! If you follow my blogposts, I wrote a post about leaving to pursue my postgraduate studies in the UK. Well, that season of my life is over, God was so good and saw it fit for me to graduate. And with a distinction, it is such a huge achievement that I just had to slide that detail in somewhere. I can see you starting to yawn already, the great news is that this post isn’t about me graduating, it is about graduating from life’s different seasons. 

Basically, our lives can be broken into seasons. It is extremely important that you embrace the season you’re in; this looks like being content in it or more so enjoying it. I make this differentiation between the two because some seasons are challenging to enjoy. Some would argue that these seasons are actually impossible to enjoy. Examples include, seasons of depression, loss, sickness, failure, disappointment, or waiting. 

God is still good and he is faithful. Despite us being sinners only deserving of death (Romans 6:23), sometimes, in his wisdom, God sees it fit that we graduate from these challenging seasons with our desired outcome. Days finally start to seem brighter after weeks, months or years of grieving and mourning your loved one. Medical results start to look up after a period of illness. You finally pass after being discouraged by single or multiple attempts at a particular module. Sometime after the end of a relationship that left you heartbroken, you aren’t hurting anymore, and your heart is finally starting to smile again. Or, after months or years of desiring a relationship, marriage, finances, a job, a child, God comes through and answers your prayer. There are so many challenging seasons we experience, yours might look different. However, if you have experienced a trying time and God graciously saw you through then this post is for you.

I have been reading a book titled ‘When the bottom drops out: Finding Grace in the Depths of disappointment’ and it has really been ministering to my heart. I highly recommend this book. You know those books that have you wanting to highlight everything? Yep! It’s one of those. There’s a chapter where the author, Robert Bugh, shares his story about the death of his best friend and a year later his wife, that led him to writing the book. Challenging seasons change you and he echoed this when mentions that his perspective changed particularly with regard to him becoming compassionate for people. He says;

“…. Now, however, I am aware and care in ways I never imagined before. Your disappointments will transform you in different ways from the way I have been changed. But you will be changed.”

That part alone, spoke to me. 4 things particularly stood out for me and I’d like to share them with you:
1.     Seasonal Outcomes
When we graduate from seasons, we do not always get the desired outcome. These are the seasons you find hard to enjoy, however the secret is contentment as you go through them, more so after you graduate with the less desired outcome. However, contentment is found in Christ. God's grace that he lovingly gives to his children,  who have called upon him in true repentance and faith, is what gets us through our moments of weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). God also grants believers an understanding that ultimately we are created for God's glory, whatever he sees right to put us through is because he gets the most glory out of that situation. It is not easy, but we still rest in the fact that he loves us and means well. I just want to urge you if you are not saved to call on Jesus Christ to become your Lord and Saviour, it is only he who gives grace to joyfully endure life's seasons with their different outcomes. I recently overheard my brother say you can't enjoy pain, however, you can find joy in pain. It is only through Christ that this can happen.

2.     Transformation
Seasons transform us in different ways, regardless, there is a transformation that takes place. I have heard people excuse their behaviour by blaming their challenging seasons. I myself am probably no exception. You know the stories you hear about how someone has a reckless love life, wrecking and breaking hearts because someone disappointed them in a previous failed relationship. How a student cheats in tests and exams out of fear of failure because of the time they had to repeat a module. A troubled childhood being an excuse for living a reckless life. Discontentment and failure to view singleness as a gift from God leading us to pursuing a relationship with someone we have no business being with. There are so many examples of times our challenging seasons could transform us for the worst. It is important to pray for eyes that see that God is working things out for your good in order that the transformation that WILL take place results in you becoming a better you than you were yesterday.

3.     Awareness
Something else that happens as a result of us going through seasons of life is an awareness. Experiencing something makes it come alive, it becomes a reality. Before, circumstances seemed like a far-fetched experience, but all of a sudden you realise that it is real and others have experienced, are experiencing and will experience it. Don't waste experiences. It doesn't end with you. Not too long ago, I experienced disappointment. When I was younger, what I experienced was what I saw in movies, overheard from grown up conversations I had no business listening to and just chatted about with friends when we felt extra dramatic. Here I was experiencing it, I am now aware that this actually does happen in real life. What are you doing with your realisation that others are experiencing or will experience what you went through during your challenging season?

4.     Compassion
Robert Bugh talks about caring in ways he never imagined before. These seasons of hardship should not be an excuse for closing ourselves in. Your mind has been transformed. In Contagious Christian Living, Joel Beeke says, “if God sanctifies us, we will be most influential to others when we are most afflicted. People will watch us most closely then to see if and how faith sustains us”. You are now aware that there are others going through the same hard times you did. Your heart should break for them. What does compassion look like? Prayer and letting them know you are praying for them, checking up on them, spending time with them, finding ways in which you can be of help, encouraging them from the scriptures. It is also helpful to think of things that helped you get through your season and ways in which you wish others were there for you.

1 Corinthians 1:3b-4 reminds us that, “….. He(God) comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (The Message)

 In Robert Bugh’s book, he mentions that one advantage of adversity in our lives is that it enables us to encourage others in theirs. We help other struggling people realise that they are not alone, that trouble is part of God’s plan for all of us. May this be true of us. May our struggles and troubles not cause us to put ourselves at the centre of our little universe but move us to see others and offer encouragement.  

Friday, 7 September 2018

Life Lessons from Candy Crush

You may have clicked the link thinking, "Come on Mwape! Why do you always have to be so deep? Candy Crush is JUST a GAME. Why do you have to mess it up for us by coming up with life lessons from a game?" 

The simple answer is, I couldn’t help it. For those who know me, I’m such a deep thinker. I’m so reflective. When I see an apple, I’m not just seeing an apple. Everything makes me think deeper. It is often a good thing, because I take so much from the simplest of things. SO, let’s cut down to the chase: 

1. Daily Treats are a Much-Needed Boost

The daily treats were a much-needed innovation. They really change lives (pun intended). The lollipop and the hand are my favourite. Interesting enough, God has given us a daily treat to help us through every single day we wake up; His word. Don’t forget to read through his word daily, it is all the boost you need to get you through whatever the day will unfold.

     2.  Winning Streaks May Lead to Pride

I don’t know about you but every time I have a winning streak, I get so excited that I play the 6th level in a row without looking at the corner that shows what is required of me. It is normally after playing about 10 moves that I realise I haven’t won yet and I’m like wait! Hold up! What am I supposed to be doing again? Oh, it's fruit I'm supposed to be collecting!
The first time this happened, it instantly reminded me of my attitude during my “winning” seasons in life. I get so much confidence in my own abilities that I forget that I need to always remember to check what is required of me. I’m on such a hype that I forget that I need to remember what I am supposed to be doing, remember to read my word in order to know how to live and remember that I need God because it is actually not my abilities that saw me through all the victories whether great or small, it was his grace.  

     3. Bad games remind you to Plan and Strategise

On the other hand, when I lose, I’m instantly taken back to playing with a plan and strategy. What does it look like? Looking at the number of moves you have, how much time you have, how many fruits you need to collect, how you can collect the boosters to help you in your crisis etc. Sometimes it even means pausing for a moment and just staring at your screen for a few minutes in order to see the bigger picture. 

I find life to be like that too. The bad grades in school push us to pray harder, get help from the ones who thrive in class, see our lecturers and be intentional about our studies. The days we hear of the passing away of others remind us to number our days right that we may gain a heart of wisdom. The bad relationship days push us to get back to the drawing board and look to God's word as well as the counsel of others. 
When you really think about it, perhaps bad days are not all so bad if they bring us closer to God.

      4. Friends are a blessing

Y’all! Those times when you are in the zone and you feel the win coming with each time you try and then BAM!

It boils down to three options. You stop playing; we all know that that is out of the question, I mean come on, you can feel the win coming and you’re not a quitter. Buying lives? You love candy crush, but not that much. OR asking your friends to send you lives. 

Before you know it, the loyal ones have come through.
Life, is like that too, when we are in a crisis, there are those friends who we know we can count on, they hold us down, have our backs and they just always come through. Such a blessing. 

 5. Consult those who have “graduated”

Let me not even talk about those levels that just don’t make sense! Those levels where you have 6 moves to work a miracle. You know you are not Moses and your stick will not part this sea- you lose. You have tried and tried to make it work but it is just not adding up.
You finally do what you knew you should have done all along: YouTube!

And then you realise you wasted your time because it is actually nothing fancy but luck

The point is, when you feel stuck and do not know what to do, remember that there are people who have gone through the same and call them, message them and have a chat about how they made it through. Share your struggles. And for the people who have graduated from these seasons, let’s not forget to be real, honest and helpful. As my dad says “store these experiences up, God will use them to help others who are coming after you”

      6. When Something gets hard you don’t quit, you take a break

Some levels are so hard. You’ve tried and tried, and it just won’t budge. 

You take a break, but you don’t quit. Sometimes we need time away from the situation to come back refreshed and able to conquer. There are many things we encounter in life that we try multiple times to work through and get so tired that we just want to throw in the towel. Pray, go read your word, do something else for a minute, drink that cold or hot drink, watch an episode of friends, call that friend and cry and laugh and get back to it. You can do it!

In other news; I'm currently on level 2717! 

If you play it too, share how far you've gone in the comment section below.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

What You May Not Know About Grief (Part I)

This beautiful article has been written by someone who chooses to remain anonymous. It gives a fresh perspective on grief that comes with the loss of a loved one.

Here’s the thing about grief, it’s different, each and every time. We try our best to comfort our understanding of it with things like “the five stages of grief” but at the end of the day, no matter how much theory you may have behind it, there’s no blueprint to how you deal with it, there just isn’t, and not many people tell you that. I’ve had the misfortune of losing different people, including both my parents at different stages of my life. The biggest problem I faced initially was that I hadn’t realized that I was grieving the wrong way, that a storm was silently brewing within me, a storm filled with unhealthy emotions and releases, ready to explode as soon as I had reached my saturation point. It inevitably lead me down a dark path but that path allowed me to search the issue of grief and how best to deal with it. It allowed me to look at what helps and what doesn’t and with all my initial thoughts on it and all the clich├ęs that people had often said to me over the years, I came to understand that, in my experience, there’s a lot that no one tells you about it. There’s a lot that some people assume, a lot that others sometimes wrongly regard as common practice or effect, a lot that others really don’t know and, in one way or another, can’t know and most importantly, there’s so much that YOU the griever may not know too. So here’s a few things that perhaps no one will tell you or has ever told you(as someone grieving or working with someone that is grieving). 

Disclaimer! You may know them already or not find them valid/helpful. Grief is not a one size fits all, experiences are different.

  1. At some point, more often than not, you’re not haunted by the memory of your loved one but by the guilt of feeling as though you are actually forgetting them. Their voice, their laugh, their actual prominent thought in your mind. A couple of memorial days down the line you start to forget the date or miss their birthday and all of a sudden you feel terrible because you feel as though you’re losing them all over again, only in your mind this time. You are caught between either being too emotionally invested in their death or feeling too guilty that you’re not thinking about them enough.
  2. It is not encouraging to hear that the people you’ve lost are proud of you. Not because of any other reasons but that there’s absolutely no way of knowing that, nor is there a biblical inclination towards such things being possible or true. Caught in the mix of those two issues is the prison you build yourself as you constantly try to make them proud without actually knowing what that looks like and so you attribute it to things like success and status. Which is wrong.
  3. No one else understands what you specifically are going through, that’s okay. But the problem lies in telling yourself that, because you build walls around yourself telling yourself that no one will ever understand you and throw yourself all kinds of pity parties. Just because no one can fully understand it all does not mean that they cannot help you or that they cannot even partially empathize or sympathize. Fact is that is enough if you let it be and sometimes you miss the great encouragement you could possibly get from others simply because we rule them out on the basis of them not knowing or experiencing exactly what you do/have.
  4. Without knowing it you will probably align your grief with release. That release will often present itself as a vice but the tricky part is recognizing that vice. Particularly because we only think of vices in relation to drink and drugs and sex, yet we miss simple things like emotionally damaging relationships, “over-venting”, anger, entitlement, superiority and inferiority complexes, sadness and the feeding of it, extreme activities, success, status and an entire inexhaustible list.
  5. Probably the most important one that people either don’t say or do say but just say without actually thinking about, there’s peace and there’s healing. The reasons I say that most people don’t actually and properly think about them are; they don’t know what that peace looks like or where it’s found, and sometimes when they do, they don’t know what that means exactly in regard to healing or how it can be attained or even when! I’m not sure what your grieving process has looked like for you, as I said before it looks different for everyone. However, this peace comes from one place and I’ll tell you more about it in part 2! 

Monday, 18 June 2018

24 Things About 24 Year Old Me

Enough about the serious and deep stuff already!
I am switching this up a little bit, this is a simple and chilled blogpost about me. 
Who is Mwape, you may ask. She is the girl in the picture below. As for the rest guess you have to read on and find out. 

1.    My full names are Mwape Mbewe. I know, no middle name. Ive been getting on to my parents about that. 
2.    I was named after my fathers older sister. She is Dr Mwape Kabole. She has to be one of the sweetest and most generous people on this earth.
3.    My favourite thing about myself is my childlike heart. I see the world innocently. I like it that way.
4.    I was born in my parents bedroom. I think that’s why I’m a home girl.
5.    One of my gifts is that I see an entrepreneurial opportunity in almost everything I lay my eyes on.
6.    I gave my life to Christ in 2009. Has not been the smoothest journey but absolutely worth it.
7.    I am a sucker for love. Love is so deep and beautiful. Shame on people who take its beauty away from it. 

8.    I love DIY projects. I believe if someone can do it, so can I. Lord knows how many things I choose to do for myself, it keeps life exciting though.
9.    The worst grade I ever got in a test is 6%. In university! Haha! Funny story, my friend and I were both sure we had failed the test after we wrote it but we both did not believe the other was being honest about how bad it was. We agreed that the one who got the highest grade would buy the other a drink. Results came out and I got 6%, she got 4%. When my roommate heard us arguing about buying the drink she couldn’t believe we made an argument over such poor grades. 
10.  I wish I could sing. Why didn’t God give me that talent? Because he knew if I could sing I would not have a blog but a YouTube channel and would unnecessarily sing everything I say.
11.  I spent most of my 17thbirthday crying and sad because I woke up to no birthday messages and throughout my day I generally felt so unloved. I am that extra. You'd be proud to know that since then I made some changes.

12.  My mummy has left the most impact on my life. Thinking about my mother makes me want to cry. Although like normal human beings we sometimes drive each other crazy, I love her so much. She has always been there for me. She is such a strong woman, even when I don’t think its necessary Lol. She is amazing and I love her.
13.  I can’t ride a bike and neither can I swim. The science of a human being floating and balancing on two wheels just doesn’t add up for me and stands in the way of me being able to do both activities. Let’s not even talk about how I’m not okay with my hair getting wet.
14.  I have only been to 5 Countries; Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom and Italy. Just chill, I am working on it, guys.
15.  When I was a lot younger I wanted to be a primary school teacher. I loved teaching my teddy bears and dolls using my little chalk board when I got home from school.
16.  My first job was as a merchandiser. Another funny story. One time in high school the phone bill came out and my father discovered I had been using the home landline to make calls to my boyfriend. As a way of teaching me a lesson he organized for me to work during my school holidays in order to make some money to pay for the bill Haha! Well, by the time I got paid I forgot why I was working and I think he forgot too cause I ended up using it to spoil myself J
17.  One of my weaknesses is that I care so much what people think about me. It is such a stressful life to live and I am working on being better in that area. Baby steps.
18.  I love dogs! Most people who know me know this. I will do whatever is in my power to make sure my dogs are well, comfortable and happy. Grateful God made them. They make the world a brighter place.

19.  I am such a procrastinator. It’s so sad.
20.  I am all about living a fulfilled life. I really struggle with doing things I don’t love or believe in. I would “settle” for a job other people would look down on that makes my life full, than be miserable doing one that looks good. Life is too short to not do what you love.
21.  If I get my hands on something I will do it to the best of my ability. It’s got to be the best, unless I’m just done, then I will be too tired to care.
22.  Unlike most females, I am not a chocolate person. I just don’t get the fuss.
23.  Some of my pet peeves include; when people can’t whisper, when people are unruly or inconsiderate, when skid marks are left in the toilet bowl, know-it-alls, two people walking on the sidewalk and expecting you to fly over them (like person 2, can you just walk behind person 1 for a second? Please and thanks). I'll end here.

24. I love to write. Wish I was disciplined enough to do it more often.

Who would have thought coming up with 24 facts about myself would be quite the exercise. 
Such an achievement.

*Whispering* 25. I love Gifs.