Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Good Changes

Perhaps I am a person of contradictions but here is the thing – I like doing new things but I am not a huge fan of change. I like planning for things in advance and having certainty, and yet, on the other hand, I also like learning and doing new things. When I go to new restaurants, I am that person who will want to try a new dish; I must admit it does not always turn out well – at least I know what not to order the next timeJ. I love travelling, you can ask me to go to a country I have never been to, and I will pack up, go and settle in quite nicely, I have done it several times, and I have always seen it as having an adventure.

At the beginning of the year, my swimming school (yes I am learning to swim to those who don't know) told me that I was going to change my swimming instructor because my current one then would no longer be available. I was sad because I liked my swimming instructor – she was very patient with me, and I could not imagine anyone else being that patient. There was no avoiding it, the new instructor came, and the lessons had to go on. The first two or so lessons I struggled because I did not trust her yet and I was getting to know her. At some point, something happened, and we connected. I tell you my current instructor is even better than my first, not only is she very patient but she is also fun. We laugh a lot, and we have so much fun – I am always surprised at how fast the lessons go. The other day she sent me a sweet message telling me how well I was doing, that she was proud of me and enjoyed teaching me. I was floored by her message, and I could not agree more that I also enjoy having my lessons with her.

Not all change is negative; change can be good. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says that to everything there is a season and time… When life’s season changes occur it can be scary or sad but if there is one thing which I am learning, even a seemingly bad season always turns out for good in the end. The Bible is on point when it says that all things work for good for those who love the Lord (Romans 8.28). Look at Joseph - being sold into slavery and being thrown into prison after a false accusations were terrible things to happen to him, BUT God turned those situations for good, he became the second most influential man in Egypt second only to Pharaoh. May God grant us the grace to trust Him with every change and situation which comes our way. He knows what He is doing; he has everything under control. He’s got this!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

All Rolled Into One

There was a point a while back when I was beginning to feel that this blog was now becoming a travel blog. All I seemed to do was do travel posts. I then decided to go easy on the travel posts and so that means I have a number of travel posts which I never shared. To remedy that I have decided to do this post today summarizing my travels since late last year. Some of the things are just too good not to share so here goes:

October - November 2016
I returned to England  for a visit after six years. I never thought I would return to England but wow ... God had a plan. It was exciting visiting and it felt like coming home again.
Walked down the streets I used to walk in my not so small anymore town in Hampshire.
Hung out with old friends. So much fun.
Visited my old work place and even shopped there. I used to walk up and down those escalators everyday. 
Hung out with kids of friends who I remember as tiny little things. 
December 2016 
I was privileged and honored to be asked by one of my friends to be a the maid of honor at her wedding. This was my second time being a maid of honor, but I was still taken back at how much of a responsibility it was. Nonetheless, it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot of things. I was taking notes (wink, wink).

Look at the bride doesn't she look gorgeous
 I even managed to capture the big moment. I took advantage of my maid of honor position to take good pictures. 

December 2016  - Early January 2017 
After the wedding which was in Bulawayo I flew to Windhoek, Namibia to visit some friends and of course to play tourist. I loved Namibia - I am a sucker for small towns and countries. I could see myself living in Namibia.

We stayed at the fabulous Lapa Lange Lodge. It was an oasis in the desert in the real sense because it is situated in the middle of no where. 
Got to watch animals coming to the watering hole at the lodge. It was a beautiful sight to behold. 
Hung out with the cool kids 😄
Took some selfies during the game drive.
If you are ever in Windhoek, you have to visit Joe's Beer House. It is a must go to place.

February 2017 
My goal each year is to visit at least three new places. Nigeria was first new place of the year. Abuja is surprising and not what I expected. As the capital city I expected it to be crazy busy and very advanced but alas it is still developing and nothing like Lagos (briefly passed through Lagos but not sure it counts as it was from the domestic airport to the intentional one). The people are very friendly and have big personalities.
Welcome to Abuja.
Met some awesome young people who  are passionate about making the world a better place. They are real Champions.
Driving around Abuja. 
Braved shopping at one of the markets. Word of advise -  you need to be a strong bargainer otherwise you will be ripped off. Having a local with you will help. 
Ate this delicious braiied fish.Usually I don't like spicy but in this case, spicy worked just fine. 
March 2017 
This is the month I met my second nephew ( Little Munchkin) for the first time. He is such a cutie. I flew to Hwange and spent a week there and even managed to play tourist in Binga, a small town along the Zambaezi. My other nephew Baby AA surprised me. The last time I saw him he would not come near me or anyone, he would hang onto his mum or dad's leg. But when I met him in March within an hour he had warmed up to me and we were friends.
This place in Binga along the Zambezi had an amazing view. Who knew that Binga was an interesting place. 
Look at my nephew Baby AA. He is all grown up and we were the best of friends.
Selfies are a must of course.
Took a boat ride in the Zambezi and even managed to drive the boat for a while.
Fishing anyone? I caught a big one or did I?
Best of all I hung out with these two lovelies.
May 2017 
This was third new place to visit for the year. I drove with a few work colleagues to the South Africa-Lesotho boarder town of Fickburg for a work event. I participated in my first talk show ever and fell in love with the electric blanket.
We stayed in this quaint little lodge. On the outside it looked disappointing but inside it was gorgeous and homey.
Made a presentation on girls education and also took part in a talk show. 
Captured this beautiful sunset on our way back to Johannesburg. 
 I really tried to make this post short and to the point. I did a good job didn't I? These could have been six potential posts but I think they are better like this, all rolled into one. 😂😃😄.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Current Idee Fixe

This is my song of the moment. 

Indeed,  when He speaks, moves and does what He only can do, it changes us completely. I enjoy and welcome all such times because only good comes from those encounters. 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Things I Did Not Know I Needed

Most of us, me included think that we know what is good for us and want we want, that is until that second when God shows us otherwise. There are those defining moments where you experience something and have that aha moment, realising that you didn’t even know you needed that thing. I had the opportunity to go on a business trip in a small town in Free State, right by the Lesotho border. It was early May, but when we arrived there, it was so cold. The lady in the lodge we stayed in (bless her heart,) switched on the electric blankets for us when we arrived. Till that point, I had never owned nor used an electric blanket before. I had always been sceptical about them because I didn’t think they were safe. That night in that small town I had one of the best sleep I have ever had on a cold day. The next morning I raved to my colleagues about how I was going to buy an electric blanket for the winter.

Life is also like that. We think that we know it all but do we? I cannot count the number of times when I felt I was happy and had all I needed. Then God would bring something my way, and I would realise I actually needed that thing but just didn’t know it. It is a privilege that we have a God who knows all our needs even before we do. If you make Him the driver of your life, you can be rest assured that you are taken care of and that at the right moment He will provide what you need. Imagine the advantages of having someone who sees ahead on your team (Revelation 1.8). It takes the worry out of you, and you don’t have to stress. I look forward to those aha moments; Lord keep them coming, your surprises are the best.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Keeping Your Head Above the Water

One of the things about me is that it is usually the very small things which get me. Someone might say something seemingly insignificant, but it can have a big impact on me. A quote or a few sentences in a book or a song can spark something huge in me. Some of my friends say that I have a weird taste in music and some always ask me where I get some of my ideas from because it is as if I live in another world. How can I put this? Usually, I am just being myself. To me it is normal, but I have come to realise that sometimes what I think is normal is not so to those around me.

Some time ago I was talking to my mentor, and I happened to mention that I am fascinated by Belgium because of Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective character from Agatha Christie’s books. She remarked that it was so funny because most people usually talk about the Belgian chocolates or beer. It was only much later when I was replaying the conversation in my head when I realised something - I am a unique individual, and God made it that way for a reason. That revelation made me more appreciative of who I am as a person – the quirkiness, the things about me which many people do not get and so forth. It is all me, and yet the pressure is always there to conform. Sadly, there are instances where I have pretended to be something I am not, just so that I wouldn’t come across as weird.

I love what Psalm 139. 14 -16 says.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God saw me before I was born and every day of my life has already been recorded in His book. Think of it this way, if God the Most High made each of us different and unique, then surely it should be ok to be ourselves instead of trying to be other people. I know that it is easier said than done and there will possibly be times when the urge to conform will be strong but I know one thing for sure – I can always be myself with God. Come on nothing can be hidden from Him so really there is no point in pretendingJJ. I tell Him things I would never dare tell anyone and I know that it’s ok. Even when I mess up big time I know that He still loves me. Plus I know that he gets me, as in really get me even when no one else does.  Knowing this enables me to embrace my uniqueness more and more every day.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

On the Grass Being Greener...

 A while ago a friend asked me to do a post on her blog. I wrote something but completely forgot to send it her way. I saw the post a few days ago in one of my folders and well...I thought why not.

As a little girl, I remember being absolutely crazy about Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Two of my favourite songs from that movie where Under the Sea and Part of your World – ironically both songs have a strong theme about the grass being greener on the other side. Picture this - Ariel sitting on a rock under the sea having daydreams of what life would be like if she were human? She was convinced that life would be better, something she later discovered was not necessarily so. I would be the first one to admit that I am a dreamer and like Ariel, I used to (and still do sometimes) have a tendency of dreaming and obsessing over things. I used to constantly day dream and obsess over things convinced that it would be better say, to have what someone has. I learned the hard way when fervent prayers for some of these things came to pass. Once I realised the pitfalls of such prayers, I stopped making them. As they say, one man’s meat is another’s poison, just because it working well for Jane doesn’t mean it will work for me. We are all unique, accepting that I learned, makes life a notch easier.

Yes, I believe that it is possible that the grass could be indeed greener on the other side but one of the questions I frequently ask my myself these days is – is it my kind of green? A wise woman once told me that one of the best recipes to happiness is to embrace who you are and be the best version of yourself.  She was onto something. I have struggled many times about embracing who I am and where I am at on my way to where I am going. Maybe if I got married, maybe if I had children, maybe if I got a better job, maybe if … the list is endless but will it ever be enough? How much better is it really going to be if those things come to pass? Alas, it is like chasing a mirage. Getting to the seeming green side will never be enough because there will always be a greener looking side. 

Contentment, trusting in God, faith and oh yes patience – please don’t start me on the subject this could be a whole post altogether J – are important ingredients to achieving sanity in this crazy world which is always telling us it is better to be like this, to have this and to do this. We are all different, have  different purposes in life so back to my earlier assertion, maybe the question to ask is: is it my kind of green? As for me, I want to live a full life, I want my dreams to become a reality, but I want it to be to be in terms of it being my kind of green – a green that stems from trusting and walking with God. 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

I love Him, Its that Simple

I love April. It is one of my favorite months because Easter my favorite holiday usually falls in that month. Easter is special right...I am always reminded about God's deep and unconditional love for me and the beautiful gift of grace which came with his death on the cross. I love Him so much and I feel blessed to know Him and that He is my God. Either way, when the chips are down or up, I know  I can always count on Him. He gives meaning to my life, take Him out of the equation and I would be lost. Thankfully, that will never happen.

So I have two songs which have been on repeat on my playlist of late. These songs take the words out of my mouth and are currently acting as my prayers as I sing along.
Jekalyn Carr with You are Bigger. This young woman is amazing!!!She started singing when she was 13 and she is only 19 now.

Dr. Tumi with Without You. Can you believe that he is also a medical doctor. I wouldn't have imagined that a medical doctor could sing so beautifully... but here he is.

I smitten by these two songs. What do you think?

Monday, 20 March 2017

Won Over by Thira

I have to admit that I simply love the Schengen countries. Just last year alone I visited three (Spain, Switzerland and Greece) and there are still more I want to visit. I have  Austria, France, Beligium (thanks to Hercule Poirot) and Italy. Talking about Greece, wow some of those stunning pictures that you see on the internet are real. Greece has got this historical charm which I just can't explain and one can't help but be taken in.

My trip to Greece was just after Switzerland. I left Geneva in the morning got to London and caught an afternoon flight to Greece. To be honest I was a bit disappointed when I got off the plane. It was not what I had expected. I was fresh from Switzerland where it is very modern and chic and Thira (better known as Santorini) was well different. I remember getting off the plane onto this small and not very modern airport and thinking 'is this it?' Greece is a historically rich country and the more time I spent there the more I loved it and appreciated it. It is not as developed as Switzerland or UK but it has a different kind of charm which will just steal your heart away. You will see from the pictures which I will share shortly.

When we went it was end of October and everything was closing down. It was some thing we didn't know - they have a time when the tourism business kind of closes down as people in Thira have their own breaks. We were the last guests in the hotel we stayed before they shut down and the restaurant we had dinner in the day we arrived was also serving its last meal. Despite this it was still quite busy and I cannot imagine what it will be like during peak season.

Thira or should I say Santorini is known for producing one of the best wines in the world. I was fascinated by how they grow their grapes - the grapes are made to grow on the ground and not upright as we are used to. Ok here goes - let the pictures do the talking. It is always hard to narrow down pictures to share.
Fresh off the plane. The ladies are ready for some adventures in Santorini.
This a map of the island. If I am not mistaken the length of the main island is just 18 km. 
We stayed in an area called Kamari. The weather wasn't too bad considering were I was coming from.
 Cocktails are a must for any holiday.😂 This cocktail bar was just a street behind were we were staying. 
A street in Kamari. 
After getting our cocktails it was befitting to lounge by the sea. 
There was this persist masseur who would not take no for an answer. He kept insisting that his messages were so good and we had to have one. In the end, with much reluctance Lovely agreed to a 5 minute foot massage. 
We even went night shopping in Fira which is the city centre. 
They do not have shopping malls the way they have in the UK and South Africa. The shops are just all over the place as you walk around the city centre.  
We went on a cruise. We were the only ones booked on the boat so we had the boat all to our selves. Thank God for the end of the busy season😊
Tried to brave getting into the water. I did but I was so scared. Next time I go for such a cruise I will be on point with my swimming. I am determined to learn to swim. 
Look at that view, it was breath taking. This is one of the things which would make anyone fall in love with Thira. I could get used to such sights. 
Of course we had to go to Santo Wines one of the wineries in Thira.
This was our wine tour guide. Check out the background. 
Off we go - the wine tour begins.
In one of the wine cellars. Lovely just had to pose with a bottle of one of the famous wines.
A barrel of the famous Santorini wine called Visanto. It is a desert wine and it was my favorite. 
The older the wine the more expensive. This was one of the 2010 bottles of Visanto. I think we got the 2012 ones instead if I am not mistaken - it was more friendly to the pocket. 
You cannot do the wine tour and then not do the wine tasting. Here we are enjoying the wines and the view. 
We made some friends. They had the 16 wine tasting option and they seemed to be enjoying. 
This must have been day 3 or 4. We decided to get close to the sea. 
A lovely view of the city. 
This is the cute little car we rented o drive around the island. We had to constantly remind each other that we had to be on the right side of the road. Yeah, we made it.  
An octopus hanging out to dry before being cooked at one of the restaurants we went to for lunch. 
All ready for lunch - and you guessed it that octopus was part of what I had. I love love sea food. 
I really loved the idyllic atmosphere in Thira. You could just sit having breakfast, lunch or dinner and see sights like this.  
This was my lunch and it was delicious - even the octopus. 
Just chilling by the bay after lunch. 
One of the things I loved in Thira was the architecture. I liked the different and unique buildings which are so different from what I am used to seeing. 
Sunset by the beach. 
Isn't this a beautiful sunset. I hope that one day I get to live by the sea. 
And now come the random pictures of the views and buildings. 
In parts of the island the buildings are built going down cliffs towards the sea. The views from such places are stunning. 
Lots of cruise ships stop over in Thira. Taking a cruise is on my Life's To Do List.
There are some areas which look desolate.

I guess by now you have realized that Thira is not one of those places were you see a lot of green around. Coming to thnk of it I do not remember seeing a lot of trees and when I did they were not big trees. 
Here is us driving around the island. There are a lot of rocks in Thira because the island is a result of  a repeated sequences of volcanic eruptions.  
There are also awesome wedding venues in Thira. Perhaps this couple was fantasizing about having a wedding here. We were fortunate to witness one wedding were there was a drone taking the video. The sad part of that wedding was that it was only the bride, groom, witness and marriage officer, a few more people would have made it merrier. I didn't take any pictures because I didn't want to intrude.  
See what I mean about the rocks, they are everywhere. 
This was the Red Beach and it is one of the beaches which can be accessed from land. There are some which cannot be accessed from land and you can only get there by boat. 

This picture was taken as we went down the cable cart. 
Although we went to Thira when things were slowing down I am glad we did. We managed to enjoy the island without hordes of other tourists. We learned that during peak times things get really hectic and there will be huge crowds. Thira is a popular tourist destination particularly for the British. I had a bumpy start with Thira but by the time I left I had fallen in love. Indeed first impressions can be deceiving.

The Good Changes

Perhaps I am a person of contradictions but here is the thing – I like doing new things but I am not a huge fan of change. I like planning ...