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Volume 10, Issue 23: We Worship From Victory

I made a phone call today, and what threw me back was the great sense of enthusiasm that oozed from the other end of the line. This dear friend of mine has been grieving the loss of her son but whenever I speak with her I get blown away by how jovial she is despite the difficult times she is in. My friend lost the battle for having her son cured but because of Whose she is, she is not defeated.

In the formative years of our walk with God, many of us lived off the help hotline. It was easy to let our new found love for God slip into the back banner as we sought Him mainly for what He could do for us. But as we mature in our relationship with God, we ask for His help a lot more, but not from a selfish standpoint. We ask for His help from a point of surrender.

As we mature, we get to the point where our passion for God tramps every disappointment. We are more desperate for Him than we are for answered prayers. And so we worship, not for victory, but from victory. What victory? You might ask. Victory from the part of us that thought we couldn't go another day without an answer to a petition we had offered over and over again. Victory for all the battles we fought but didn't realize we had won because we were fixed on God coming through a certain way.

As believers in God, we have been given a seat. A seat of authority and a seat of victory. We don't worship for victory. We worship from victory! Jesus tells us that "In this world you will have many troubles, but take heart, for I have overcome the world." Doing life with God doesn't exempt us from challenges, but it gives us the privilege of facing every battle from a point of victory.

One of David's Psalms written during times of immense trouble goes like this, "Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalms‬ ‭16:5-6‬ ‭CSB‬‬. When David wrote this Psalm, his life was full of trouble. But because he knew and trusted God, he was joyfully content.

We too often go before the Lord with burdened hearts. But as we present our petitions to Him, we can't help but recount His goodness to us. We remember the victories He has given us in the past and lift up our worship and adoration, knowing that He sees and knows just what we need this time. And He acts on our behalf however He chooses. And so we don't worship for victory. We worship from victory.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 10, Issue 22: Declare Victory in the Middle of the Fight

There's power in declaring victory in the middle of a struggle. This is a strategy we need to practice more frequently than not. Many times when going through a fight, we put all our focus on the fight and getting past it. We forget to recount to God all the victories He has given us in past battles.

Praising God in the now while the waters are rising up against you rather than just at the end when He has calm the waters is the mature way to carry ourselves in the midst of struggles. Anyone can celebrate and praise God when everything has worked out in their favour. We need rise above the struggle and declare victory because we know the One who has given us victory time and time again before.

The language David used throughout the Psalms is interesting. I couldn't put it any better than the way Katie Torwalt put it in a devotional about a song. "In the Psalms, there are moments when David is completely vulnerable about his fears, frustrations and worries. Then in the next moment or chapter you see again his faith and hope restored. Sometimes it's after God has come through, but a lot of times it's in the middle of the fight when he remembers and reminds himself that God will both fight for him and rescue him."

I used to get confused when I would read David complaining about God abandoning him only for him to end the chapter with praise of God's faithfulness. Then I understood this was the kind of man he was, a man after God's own heart. A man who knew how to keep his worship flowing despite the troubles he was engulfed in.

In that song devotional, Katie illustrated how David would say things that you expect to hear after a victory. But it was actually David declaring God's deliverance from the middle of a struggle, where he needs help and deliverance. I wondered why he did that. Then I saw that David had learnt to trust God in the process. So in those instances, he was actually talking to himself, reminding himself of his history with God.

As a parent, I would feel bad if my child came to me to ask for something but left my presence downcast after I responded to look into it. This would be upsetting because I expect my child to know from his/her past experience with me that I care about him/her and would do all I can to help him/her. David portrayed a healthy son and Father relationship that we expect to see in our children's relationship with us, but should more importantly expect of ourselves in our relationship with God.

What I have learnt in my recent experiences is to trust God in the now. Not just at the end when everything feels great, but in the middle of a struggle and anxiety. He is faithful to come through. Rarely does it look the way we thought He would, but He is always working behind the scenes. God is always in the middle of it. He is always with us in the fight. So trust Him to bring victory. When we trust, we cannot help but lift up our worship, and declare victory right there in the middle of the fight.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 10, Issue 21: He is a Day Maker

I read a paragraph of a YouVersion Bible plan called "Breakfast Bites" a couple of weeks ago and it quickly resonated with my spirit. It said, "if you regularly begin your day with the Lord, you already know what a way Maker He is." If you haven't settled into this practice, I encourage you to start today and see how God's loving presence affects your days.

The author advised that "before the day has had a chance to disappoint you, before the enemy finds a way to distract you, seek God first. Invite Him into every waking moment. Sense Him in your interactions and transactions. Notice the tenderness with which he sees the people you encounter. Invite Him to contribute to your decisions. Observe how He consistently places you on the path of love. Allow Him to carry your burdens and see if a joyful song doesn't swell up inside you. Allow it to overtake your heart." This is so true. I couldn't agree more.

Once while catching up with my sister over the weekend, she described her just ended week at work as "brutal." It was during the time when I was also having hellish weeks at work. The one thing that sustained me through those brutal days and weeks was my daily morning quiet times and walks, and evening conversations with God in my journal.

Inviting God into our day doesn't keep hell from breaking loose around us. But it strengthens us and helps us cope and conquer. Spending time with God gives us fortitude to face difficult situations, carry heavy burdens, stand our ground and make the right decisions. I know that conversing with God and taking my walks in the early morning breeze are what keep me sane in difficult seasons. My boss and colleagues often asked me how I manage to remain calm and steady through the demands and drama of my work.

God is a way Maker. He is more than enough. He is the one who makes a path for us. I remember years ago a friend telling me that her family life was the most challenging part of her life at the time. She had just relocated back to her home country after college, got married and had kids. We lost touch years ago but if I were to catch up with her now, I would tell her that my work has been the most challenging part of my life these last couple of months.

My work hasn't always been tough. In fact it's been wonderful. Plenty demanding but wonderful. But I think it would be foolish to expect life to be always rosy. I wouldn't have made it thus far through the difficult weeks and months if it wasn't for my way Maker. I have discovered that when we allow Him to conquer us, nothing that comes against us can conquer us. Begin your day with the Lord. He is a day Maker.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 10, Issue 20: Helping Kids Navigate COVID-19

It easy to ignore the needs of our children during this pandemic as we align ourselves with the changes we are having to make for our work and home lives. But we are not the only ones who need to find our bearing in COVID-19, our kids need to find their bearing too, and adjust to the new normal.

Let's not forget that our children have been used to a weekly schedule - with us at work and them at school, or daycare or at home with the nanny. Now everyone is home and everyday looks the same. Depending on where you live, some of our kids can't go out to play with their friends. Therefore their options for indulgence have shrunk quite a bit.

Help your children cope with the social distancing, quarantine and lockdown. Kids are used to being up and about. But with these restrictions, if left to their own devises they are likely to be glued to a screen all day. Structure provides kids with the boundaries they need to thrive. Hook up your children with a quarantine/lockdown program for wholesome living.

If your kids are anything like mine, they can spend day and night glued to a screen and sleep in most of the day if they can't go out to play. You will agree with me that this doesn't work well for family life. We not only want to interact with them during our waking hours, we want them to spend their time wholesomely. Going by what your kids like, as well as the skills you want them to learn or improve, prepare a robust weekly program for them to give them a structured space to operate.

My kids' daily lockdown program gives them freedom to do whatever they please as long as they spend an hour on personal Bible study, an hour on reading a book and 30-60 minutes exercising. They also take turns preparing lunches and dinners, washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen flour after meals. They are also spending a few minutes cleaning their bathrooms and ironing their clothes.

We are having them wake up by 10am, to be off hand gadgets by 5pm and to switch off the TV by 9pm. We also had to specify the time by which each activity has to be completed to ensure they are done before evening. This way, we get to see them and do life with them, while instituting wholesome living into their days.

Regardless of your children's ages, it's likely that the social distancing, quarantine and lockdown is having an impact on them. Almost overnight, all their daily routines that they relied on for stability changed. One of the best things that we can do for them right now is to establish a new normal. I encourage you to figure out what that is and put it in place for your children.

Use this time to develop new skills in your children and improve what they already know, as well as strengthen their sense of responsibility. Some of the things my kids are doing now like ironing their clothes is a new task that they did not have to do before. I am thrilled that my ten year old son is getting comfortable with fixing simple meals by himself. Let's make the most of COVID-19. We can never go wrong with grabbing every opportunity to develop life skills in our children.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 10, Issue 19: Navigating COVID-19

It dawned on me the other day that I wasn't the only one struggling with work-life balance these last couple of weeks of COVID-19 constraints. For most of us, the switch from working from the office to working at home was very sudden. There wasn't much of a warning or time to prepare for the adjustment and learn the rules of the game.

As a result, we found ourselves almost always being on duty, always being available for work as we hadn't set clear boundaries for work life and home life. If you read the article I posted before this one, you know that I found myself working long hours and barely enjoyed my beloved lunch breaks. What helped me get my balance back was when the Easter break came along and I knew I couldn't go on in that fashion.

I have learnt a few tips that have worked for me in this regard that you could consider for yourself to help you stay balanced and happy in this season. We have to set boundaries for ourselves, otherwise we run the risk of spreading ourselves too thin and burning out.

Start by implementing a punch in and punch out system for yourself and keeping your working hours regular. Establish working hours, preferably similar to the ones you had before when you worked from the office. Try not to do any work outside those hours. Turn off your computer and don't send or read work emails, and don't make or answer work calls either. I felt harassed when colleagues called after working hours. Some of the phone calls lasted more than an hour, and I even had to restart my laptop for some phone calls.

As much as is possible, make your workspace a designated work space. When I started working from home I sat all over the place - worked from different spots in the house. That didn't help with transitioning from work life to home life. I felt that the spots I enjoyed for relaxation were tainted with heavy work energy.

If you don't have an office, set up an office spot at one specific place in your house. When I embarked on a mission to get a designated office space for myself, I tried the dinning table but figured out in a few hours that my back would not forgive me for seating on a dining chair for 8 hours! I finally settled for my kitchen island, and had an adjustable workstation for my laptop brought in so I can alternate seating and standing while I work.

Once your punch out time reaches, turn off your laptop and work phone and get all your work tools and papers out of sight so that you can switch on to your home life. This makes a big difference for relaxation. When we worked from the office, when we left for home, we didn't have to see our work tools and papers until we went back to the office the next work day.

It helps to not have to see work stuff on your kitchen table after working hours. Keep it out of sight so you can fully relax. Having your laptop lying around after and before working hours might just tempt you to sneak in an email, and while at it, respond to new emails. We don't want to do that if we want to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Establish a daily routine. I have heard people talk of how their routines have gone out the window with this pandemic. Try to atleast stick to your bed time and morning routines. I am going to bed a little later than usual but I try to wake up at the same time as before each morning as hard as it is. This way, I can keep up with my morning routines of quite time and exercise. These activities help keep us steady and invigorated, which is especially crucial during this season, so don't put yours on hold.

Take care of your appearance if that boosts your morale. Getting out of your pajamas and grooming yourself for your work day at home may make you feel more productive. I border on the extreme on this as I typically dress for home stay just as I do when I am going somewhere, even when am doing nothing all day. But you should do what works for you.

Looking put together for my day regardless of whether I am spending the day at home or not makes me feel good about myself and prepared to tackle all that the day may require of me. So, don't feel out of place if you are anything like me. In the same breath, if you care nothing for dressing up for home stay, go ahead and rock your work in your dress code of choice.

Since we don't know how long this pandemic is going to last, we had better adjust ourselves and get comfortable in it. When the children of Israel were in captivity in Babylon, they couldn't wait to go back home. God knew they were going to be there for awhile and encouraged them through His prophet Jeremiah to settle down and prosper in the land of their captivity. He told them to build houses and get married and continue with the business of living.

Just like the children of Israel's captivity, this COVID-19 pandemic is temporary. It's highly unlikely to last 70 years like the captivity lasted. We are probably looking at months, not years of lockdown. However long it's likely to last, there's no point holding our breath until it ends. Let's embrace healthy habits that will sustain us until life goes back to the normal we know and love. All it takes is a little creativity and determination to thrive in our current normal.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi