Taking stock of my days

I remember a time when I used to just go with the flow and do things as and when I wanted, but the older I have gotten and with the pilling of responsibilities, I was finding myself forgetting important things and feeling out of control … I hate feeling out of control (yes, yes … that’s despite me knowing that God controls our days.)

Planning has done a lot of things for me, including reducing my anxiety levels (Control freak, anyone?). I love to be in control and planning my days helps me feel in control … however, it can get overwhelming when I move things to hang out with people, or when I feel I am not meeting my self imposed deadlines … but that’s something I am working on because people are important to me and I wholeheartedly believe that I should always be willing to be interrupted for them … and I am interuptable, I just sometimes think too much about the to-do list instead of enjoying the people around me.

Probably the greatest thing planning has done for me though, is help me take stock of my days as the
bible says we should do.

I am a procrastinator and part of that has been me telling myself I have enough time to get things done and then beginning to panic when the day is almost over, and my deadlines are
looming. The other problem I have is I will put 20 items on a to-do list and exhaust myself trying to do them all. What planning out my days has done is shown me just how much I overestimate my time and that has allowed me to be more realistic and made me feel more relaxed.

I started using a day to a page planner that I made and tried to plan my 24 hrs the night before factoring in my 8 hrs of sleep, work and family time. I don’t always get to this, but I discovered that on most days the to-do list far exceeded the number of hours in my day, esp. when I factored in the hours at work. Doing this has also made me realise that in order to achieve things, I can’t sit around
How has planning helped you?

Writing the same story for years

At some point in my life I developed a love for writing stories. I remember being in grade six, slaving away over a story in a creative writing task. If I am not mistaken, Mrs Munsaka was my teacher at the time. I loved telling stories then and I still do — to those who would listen — to those close to me. For whatever reason, when people, especially those closest to me do not listen, it hurts more than I would care to admit; worse though is the feeling when they laugh at an idea … and no, my family are extremely supportive, but for whatever reason, I would rather put my stories out to be judged by those with little or no connection to me.

I have been thinking a lot about what I write and why I put off writing deadlines or the dream to publish. Part of it is the fear that people will find my writing mundane and uninspiring. Part of it is that I am afraid that I might actually be good at it, but the scariest thing for me is that my family might hide in shame at the things I put out. That my dad might not like a piece of writing despite not saying so … that my mum might think that whatever I have written falls into the category of thoughts that God did not intend for everyone to see … Maybe my brother might see it and shake his head, that my sisters might find it heavy, or full of grammatical errors. That people might see it and think my husband married a diva, that my daughter would want to hide her face and not want to be associated with me.

I don’t know if I will ever achieve the goals I have when it comes to writing, but it has become exceedingly clear that I am afraid to drag those closest to me through another failure, another walk of shame … and here I am, sitting in my leaving room, my mum’s voice telling me, “You have gifts that you don’t use …” knowing she is right, I wonder “really what is the worst thing that could happen?” Does anyone else ever worry about such things? How do you fight such hidden, seemingly petty fears?

I recently found out that fear is sometimes … if not most times … born out of a lack of faith. A lack of faith in myself that causes me to question if really God has given me a gift. But more importantly, a lack of faith in God and who the word says He is. A lack of faith in the giver of talents, the one who says even if I fail at this, He will work it for my good.

Soft bums and baby powder

There’s a tag at the heart
Every time one comes along
Soft skin, soft hair, and oh, those cries.
A part of me longs for one, or two or a dozen … haha
A part of me wonders if we are at all ready
Oh, to feel the kick of God’s dream
To cradle a small soft fragile person
To clean soft bums and smell the fragrance of baby powder
To hear the welcome cry of a little one
To rest them in the beautifying light of God
To bring them into the unifying love of Christ
To add to our thanks for His grace.

Zebi I did it … challenge done

2019 … a year full

This year saw me crying a lot! The year started with hopes that my husband would be in Australia but it was only a year and a day from the day he left that I would be seeing him again … a total of 21 months of visa processing and 2 years and 2 months of a long distance marriage.

This year brought with it one of the greatest loses we have experienced, a child gone with no real answers or explanations, and a whole number of “what if”s. We lost family, one of whom we just found 3 years ago.

This year was anything but easy. Finances were tight, work was stressful … sometimes and there were times where I wondered where God was. We saw dear friends split up … some friendships were lost and other’s still gained. There were a few trips to the ED and deadlines that had to be put on hold …

Through it all though, God was faithful and we experienced His undeniable mercy and love. He has provided through work, through, family and through friends. He has inspired, He has fulfilled His promises in regards to our daughter and given life to dreams I never thought possible.

Yes 2019 was full of experience. It came with warning of impending sorrow, but even with the sorrow, God added joy and peace and He fulfilled Habakkuk 2:2-4 in many ways. Yes there is more healing to receive but my God has been too too good to me.

2020 hear we come

Letters of the Bemba language

A little background to this, I feel this is more in line with what Blessings on a hill is all about and I decided that I would do a short lesson on the sounds and the letters that represent them. I am Bemba and Nsenga because my my mum is a Bemba woman and my dad is Nsenga but I am more accustomed to my Bemba roots and constantly learning on both fronts.

So the letters present are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, S T, U, W and Y. We do not have J, Q, R, X and Z. To get the best understanding of what the sounds are like, please view the video below.

A makes the same sound as in Apple

B has a special sound usually mistaken for the V or W sound. Most non-Bemba speakers struggle with this. B is only a hard “b” as in Baby when preceded by the letter “M”

C makes a “ch” sound all the time. It never makes a “k” sound ever! The intonation changes if accompanied by the letter H or not. E.g. iciBemba vs ChiBemba. The pronunciation will be different and the two mean two different things. The first refers the language and the second to the language

D  and G only exist if preceded by N.

G has two possible sounds. If followed by an apostrophe it makes the same sound as in morning. If not, makes a hard “g”. eg. Ng’anda vs Nga

E makes the same sound as it does in egg

F same sound as in Fish

H is only seen accompanying c and changes the intonation of the “ch” sound

I makes the same sound as in India

K makes a ‘k’ sound

L makes the same sound as in Lama

M makes a ‘m’ sound as in Monk

N makes the same sound as Nancy

O makes the same sound as in Orange

P always makes a p sound

S makes the same sound as in snake

T makes the same ‘t’ sound

U  makes the same sound as in Snooze

W makes the same sound as in went

Y makes the same sound as in yellow

J, Q, R, V, X and Z are not present and for hardcore Bemba speakers they will often replace these with the sounds of Y, K, L, B/F, “es” and S.

I do not consider myself an expert so I am happy to year people’s thoughts.

Falling off the planning wagon

So I recently fell behind on my planning. If you haven’t read any of my posts lately, my daughter lost her best friend and our whole family has been mourning; and obviously my daughter has been hit the hardest by this tragic death, we are all trying to support her and each other as best as possible. Honestly, my planning hasn’t been up to scratch and If you ask me what days I worked, I wouldn’t even be able to tell you.

My bible reading has suffered, phone dates with the long distance lover has suffered and probably a whole lot more, like work … definitely work because I can see it reflected on the pay slip … yikes! But honestly, that’s okay. Life doesn’t have to be rigid, fixed squares in a book. Life happens and sometimes we have to throw out the plan in order to make it to shore and plan another day or year …

I now need to re-establish what planning looks like for me and try and stick with it. So that’s my goal today. My first goal for June is to get back to planning and taking stock of my days.

“A big roaring frame”😂

I am making a conscience effort at finding things to laugh about but yesterday, I was talking to my husband and thought of the smooth pick up line from Tom and Jerry. Check out what he says here and here.

I had a good internal massage while thinking, is this what we used to watch? Clearly though, it must have made an impression if I remember it so many years later.

Choose life

God sets before us life or death and implores us to choose life.

This world can be crushing and its dark days oppressive … but there is always hope, even when our own hands threaten to drown us, there is hope … even just a sliver as if through a crack … and when we walk through the valley and the ghosts lurk in the shadows, remember that the shadows are shaped by light … and when we are deep in the cave, deep in the earth of despair, remember that there is light somewhere beyond these dark oppressive cold places … and that as long as the sun rises somewhere beyond our view or that even when it fails to shine, that the Son always promises to shine, to be present in our weakness, in our strength and every place we find ourselves. I pray you find your tether that leads you back out of the cave. I hope you hear the love in the voices that call your name and remember your place among us and the deep pain that your absence is bound to leave. I plead with you … choose life.

Truly we have been loved by the Lord.

If you had asked me 2 weeks ago, I would have never thought it possible that we would be making phone calls asking about funeral arrangements for such a young life, I would have not believed it … maybe I would have done something differently … Weeks before, I had been prompted to read the words of Job when everything had been taken from him, and share them with my daughter. I Also shared the Song “Though You Slay Me” by Shane and Shane.

I’ve been playing this song on repeat for maybe 3 weeks and I thought God was just asking for faith in this time while we wait for my husband’s visa. I was not expecting the police call or the day that would unfold. My daughter’s best friend was missing and as we found out later that day, had passed away.

I have questioned God’s goodness and love, and where He was as she died, as I am sure others have. I have been in denial and angry, as I am sure others have been too. I have questioned my own role in her loneliness or her view that she was not valuable.

Here I am sitting in my car remembering my daughter’s face yesterday as her friend’s coffin was lowered into the grave. She has seemed strong but I wonder what questions have raged through her mind.

I have remembered my own struggles when I was younger, about Tadiwa’s age, and how God got me through … and yet, here is a beautiful child no longer with us, a child who professed Christ and was so loving and caring … how could he not give her hope? I have wondered why he saves some and doesn’t others, and how He could ever find glory in this … and I have no answers …

You often hear people talk about depression and “mental health” as a white people problem, often conflating mental health with depression or mental health disorders. Firstly, you cannot end the stigma of mental health or make mental health normal. Mental health is just mental health and does not mean poor mental health just like heart health does not mean poor heart health.

Mental health issues exist in Africa … yes, we may have lower suicide rates and lower diagnoses of depression and other ailments but there are issues and I don’t mean the kind you see exhibited in the classic — eating out of the garbage, taking clothes off in public — way. We see it clearly in people who lose a loved one and sink so deep into a depressive state that they die within six months. Those are the classic forms of mental health issues we see and acknowledge but mental health issues can vary for each person.

Most African societies are connected societies and we have people around us; There’s always a grandmother to talk to when you have problems or when you want a relaxed chat. Because our families and friends are so close, we learn we belong and even when the world feels like its caving in, we have a safe space in our families. That is the key, I think to our low expression of mental health issues … our clans provide a mitigating factor, there’s someone who says something encouraging even when we haven’t shared our problems, there’s always someone, when your nuclear family isn’t safe, because the child belongs to the whole family. We learn resilience by watching our large clan go through things and still stand, and by people holding us up when we feel lost and without hope. That’s why I think resilience is a community trait and not an individual one.

Don’t think I am parading African cultural practices as the best in the world, every culture has it’s good and bad, the point is, we do community well and I believe that mitigates our mental health woes. When we move to a country like Australia where life is so fast paced, and there is so few of us, these issues become more pronounced and hearing your people say “we don’t suffer from such things, we are African,” is not only unhelpful, it is damaging. We all struggle and fall and minimising other people’s pain because it doesn’t fit our perceptions is dangerous.

We claim mental health issues do not exist in our communutues, and yet, we buried a sweet soul yesterday, an African child, who seemed happy and okay … who has broken so many hearts and left her friends and family wondering what they could have done differently. A child in her prime, who felt so out of hope that death at her own hands seemed like a way out. It all seems like a bad dream and I keep expecting to hear a story from my daughter about what Tadiwa is doing with her life but everything is now in the past tense … Rest in peace Tadiwanashe Kapatika, aptly named, in your friendship with our child, “we have been loved by God.” In your gentle nature and excellence, “we have been loved by God.” We may not understand, but God who sees all and holds you, has every answer.