Saturday, May 4, 2013

Five Days of Being Thankful: Day 1- Thankful to be Alive, Thankful for Second Chances...

5...4...3...2...1 It's finally here. I have been looking forward to this day for a while now, and in less than a few hours, it will be here, finally. May 5. The day I was born, 25 years ago tomorrow. I am excited to celebrate this awesome day!

Every second, every minute, every hour, day, week, month, year that we get to live is a gift from above, a second chance if you will, to get it right. For the past twenty-four (24) years of my life, God in His infinite love and grace has given me second chances to “get it right” countless times, but one in particular stands out.

Seven years ago. Car accident. Left vehicle without a single scratch. Turning point in my life. Given a second shot, a second chance to get it right. How my life has turned out since that day I can never begin to fully describe…God has truly been faithful and has blessed my life abundantly. Sometimes I don’t quite see all that and I get frustrated with life, angry, disappointed, discouraged…I thank God though that through all that, He still remains faithful. Reminds me of the parable that Jesus taught about The Good Shepherd, and also the words in Psalm 23 come to mind, “The Lord is my shepherd….” Even when I go astray and wander from the path He sets out for me, He still remains the good shepherd in my life. How amazing is that?

As I look forward to celebrating my 25th birthday tomorrow (May 5), I take a moment to look back and thank God for keeping me safe and watching over me all the time, for the many second chances He has granted me, and I am eternally thankful to be alive!
God of a second chance…

Friday, May 3, 2013

Five Days of Being Thankful: Day 2- Thankful for Family

There are a few things in this life that we live that we cannot choose, one of them being the kind of family one is born into. It’s not like one can stand in an isle lined with all kinds of families and we get to make a selection…God in His divine wisdom places up in the places we are for a specific purpose.
Today, I want to take time to thank the Almighty for the family He has blessed me with, a wonderful father and mother, amazing sisters and then some. There are times when I have wondered what life would be like if we all got to have a say in the kinds of families we have. One thing I know for sure though, is that I would not be the kind of person I am today had it not been for my family. And if I should say so myself, I think I turned out alright…most of the time!
But family is not just limited to one’s biological parents or siblings, family transcends all that. There are people I have met in my life that are part of my family; not biological, but because we share the same values, principles, goals, beliefs, and because of the blood of the lamb, we are all part of God’s family. I am thankful for the people in my life I regard as family and who do the same regarding me. I am grateful I have family virtually all over the world, I am indeed blessed.
Through my work as Project Director with Horizon International (Zambia), I have witnessed firsthand the importance of family, and the negative effects of the lack of it. I have, and I am learning never to take family for granted; you never know when it might be taken away from you. The kids I work with have taught me this invaluable lesson, and continue to teach me daily, and I have come to appreciate my family all the more. I have come to cherish the times we have shared moments together and made memories, those times I will hold dear for the rest of my life.
I am thankful…
Be blessed.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Five Days of Being Thankful: Day 3- Thankful for Grace...

On September 23, 2006, I was involved in a horrific car accident that forever changed my life. Most of my friends and family know the details of this accident as I have shared with them countless times the events of that day. I will not go into details here about the crash, but one thing I do want to focus on, was the events that took place after the crash.
In the aftermath of the accident, my mum said something to me that has shaped my life to this very day. Her words were, “Oscar, God has saved you for a purpose…it’s now up to you to discover what that purpose is,” she said as she quoted Jeremiah 29:11 (my favorite verse). At the time, I don’t think I fully comprehended the full ramifications of these words. To date, these words resonate in my mind as if they are being spoken right now. It’s words that I took to heart and fully embraced; I have strived each and every day, sometimes maybe not as hard as I probably should, to live out these words in my life. I have made mistakes, I have erred at times. I have fallen short of my expectations at times but I am eternally thankful for grace…
Through His mercy and grace, I was able to fulfill my childhood dream of studying abroad as I was accepted and successfully earned a degree in Business Management from Anderson University in Indiana, USA. Except for grace. By grace, I have met and made lifelong friends both during my time at AU and after. Except for His grace, I would not be alive today, but because He still has plans and a purpose for my life, I am alive! By His grace, God has blessed me with a job that has helped me realize the calling upon my life to help make a difference in people’s lives through service. I am eternally thankful for this…
So today, I am taking time to thank God for His plans upon my life, for His awesome purpose that He is unfolding and revealing each and every day. I thank God for you, because you are a part of the plans and purpose that God is revealing in my life.
Be blessed…

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Five Days of Being Thankful: Day 4- Thankful for Friends

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”  William Shakespeare

Today, I am really thankful for the many and awesome friends in my life, that means you. Yes, YOU! I am thankful for you. Good friends are hard to come by, and so when you find that person that allows you to be you and loves you for it, hold on to them, for in them, you have found a true friend.

Friendship hasn’t always come easy for me, mostly because up until a few years back, I found it hard to trust people. Three incidents led to this. When I was young, my very close friends and I got separated; our family had to move away and with no form of communication, it became extremely difficult to stay in touch. I did not deal with this well. It became hard for me to get close with people as I felt we would get separated and be hurt all over again. There is a happy ending to this story however; after 13+ years without seeing each other, we got reunited!

The second incident involves a personal loss I experienced when I was 13 years old. I had a cousin with whom I grew very close; we were almost inseparable. We could share anything and everything, she was my best friend. When she died in tragic circumstances (her soul R.I.P.), I was devastated. I felt betrayed; why would the one person I was this close to leave me? I swore never again…

To add to all this, the betrayal at the hands of someone close, a friend…it all seemed too much at the time and further reinforced my resolve to never again let anyone in.
Over the years, through sharing with my family, asking God to help break down the walls I had so painstakingly built around my heart, I have steadily come to trust again. In doing so, I have found true friendship in some of the most unlikely of places, and for that, I am thankful. Henri J.M. Nouwen sums it up really well when he says: “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”  The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey

And it has definitely been very true in my life that “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.”  Muhammad Ali. I have and I am learning the true value and meaning of friendship, something that should not be given, or taken for granted.

So, today, I am thankful for the many people in my life I am blessed to call friend. You know who you are…