El Roi: The God who sees me

We’re in a new year, a time of fresh hope and anticipation for better things for everyone. Hope to get a new job, a better job, find a relationship or improve the one we have. Lose some weight. Everyone hopes for a happy new year, or a least a happier one, a better one.

What about the challenges that we will inevitably have to face in the course of the year? If there’s one thing we’re guaranteed in this life, it’s hard times. In fact sometimes we’re not so sure about whether the good times are guaranteed, but the hard ones, for sure, we all face them and sometimes for a much longer period than we would want to.

The bible is full of stories of people who faced hard times. Genesis chapter 16 tells an interesting story of Hagar, the maid of Sarah and Abraham. Hagar finds herself the hapless pawn in the scheme of Sarah to get the child promised to them by God. After Hagar falls pregnant with Abraham’s child, she stops getting along with Sarah and is mistreated to the point that she flees into the wilderness.

While wandering hopelessly in the desert she has an encounter with an angel of God who gives her a word about the child she is carrying. This moment, this encounter, is so momentous in her life as she realizes that at her lowest moment, when she felt forgotten and forsaken, God saw her, God was with her, God cares. She calls this God who comes to her in her time of need, El Roi, which means, the God who sees me.

The challenges we encounter are important because they lead us to experience this moment when we realize that God sees us, he cares for us. Be assured you will come through the difficulty to the other side and experience the blessing of God.

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Buy my book El Roi: The God who sees me available here on Amazon.

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Empty nest

I sent my son off to visit my sister who lives in a neighboring country nearby. He just finished his high school exams and the send off now feels like a sort of official marking of my new status: an empty nester. Yesterday it did not feel like it because in the last minute rush to get everything done and catch the bus in time, there was no time to think or reflect. But today, sitting by myself in a house which all of a sudden for the first time feels far too big, I’m having time to reflect on this. As in where did the years go?? My gosh. You never think this day will come when you’re struggling to pay the bills and trying to keep your teenager in line. How did this time come? Did I do enough, is he ready?

I know I’m probably being a bit over the top here because soon enough he’ll be back here, and we still have a ways to go with thinking about college or what courses or whatever. But this is it basically. I’m done. I’m relieved though, to have him out of the house for a while. He had gone into a bit too much of wild behavior and I was getting stressed. Every time he was out with his friends or not in the house I was worried as to what mischief they could be getting up to. So I’m happy to have a bit of peace in the meantime. It’s raining today and I love. It feels like a washing away of my old status and welcoming a new one.

Book review: Not quite Not white

The author, Sharmila Sen, immigrates to America from India at the age of 12 with her parents. She finds herself in a new world where she has to learn how to talk, walk and think like an American. So she lives the life of the good immigrant. She is light skinned enough to almost pass for white which should be and probably is an advantage in a predominantly white society. But looking back now on 3 decades of  playing the good immigrant she finds herself angry at the fact of the parts of herself she had to deny in the process. The phrase diary of an angry brown woman came to mind as I read it. Some quotes from the book:

The truth is that the opposite of blackface is not whiteface. Blackface is jolly, makes fun of others, is entertainment, is a game you get to play when you are already the winner. Whiteface is sad, demeans me, is deadly serious, is a game we play when we know we are on the losing team.

“We smile,” he tells me, “because it is the only face we can show. If we stop smiling, they will see how angry we are. And no one likes an angry black man.” Or an angry brown woman, I add, silently editing our conversation.

 

When I stopped smiling like a good immigrant, I risked becoming a bad American, an ungrateful immigrant—an angry brown woman. The smile was my road to becoming American. I did not know I would find anger at the end of the journey.

The book is heavy but worthwhile reading. I saw a book excerpt published on Longreads  and that’s how I ended up buying it from Amazon. I give it 4/5 stars.

Love is…..

The most wonderful of all things in life, I believe, is the discovery of another human being with whom one’s relationship has a glowing depth, beauty and joy as the years increase. This inner progressiveness of love between two human beings is a most marvelous thing. It cannot be found by looking for it or by passionately wishing for it. It is a sort of divine accident.

 

Book review: The girl with seven names

I rarely read books more than once but this one I’ve read 3 times. That’s because the writing is so good and the story so jaw dropping it’s unbelievable that it’s based on a true story. If you’ve never read any literature about escaping from North Korea you need to read this book.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’ll just give a general outline. The book tells the story of how a young girl escapes from North Korea and eventually makes it into South Korea after having to live life on the run, taking on pseudonyms to avoid being tracked down and sent back, thus the seven names.

But its not merely the account of the escape which is of course fascinating. Its a very personal story of her family, living and surviving under the communist regime and what basically amounts to the cult of the ruling Kim family. I learnt a lot about what it means to live under this oppressive regime and about the politics that govern that part of the world.

The book is very well written and reads like an adventure story except in this case its very real. I googled the writer after I was done reading and listened to talks she’s given just to confirm that this could be something that actually happened.

The first time I finished reading the book I was like woah what did I just read? And I went right back to the beginning and re-read it immediately. Which I have never done before.

Its a great read! 5/5 stars.

 

I lost 10 kilos this year!

Yes I did! And how did I do it you ask? 3 words: Low carb diet.

Early this year I was in some distress over my weight after realizing that I was hovering near 80kgs. I had been generally weighing in at 79kgs and at my heaviest I touched 81kgs. I have no idea how I got back to this weight, yes back to this weight which I last weighed in about 2007, 10 years ago. At that time what made me realize that I was overweight was because I had to buy a size 18 pair of jeans and I was like whaaat?? Before that I had been wearing size 16 which I still considered big for me since I had been a size 14 most of my life. I had also gone on holiday around that time and we took many pictures which when I looked at them afterwards showed my weight gain, I looked positively fat. Those photos were the last straw,  I knew I had to do something about my weight.

At that time the approach I took was to strictly restrict my diet, I cut out most sugar and ate small portions, and I went to the gym religiously. And in 3 months I cut the 10 kilos. I was so focused on my regime that I didn’t even realize I had lost the weight until I started getting compliments from people, then I weighed myself and was like yaaaay!! I stopped going to the gym immediately lol! I maintained my diet restrictions for a while but of course they fell away with time and apparently 10 years later, I found myself here again, facing my weight gain on the scale.

Well, the idea of diet restriction and going to the gym was just too much for me this time round. Just the thought of it exhausted me. Besides which I’m in my forties now, so I probably needed a new approach. As I was mulling over how to go about it, trying to cut my sugar and doing some small workouts at home, I stumbled across articles on low carb high fat (lchf) diets.

The idea behind lchf is to train your body to use fat as a fuel for the body rather than sugar/glucose. You deprive your body of sugar and feed it fat. This means cutting out all sugar, so no sodas, juices etc. No sugar in your tea or coffee of course. You also cannot eat carbs, because feeding the body carbs is equivalent to feeding it sugar. It converts the carbs directly to glucose, which spikes your insulin, and insulin is the fat storage hormone, so your body is storing fat. Which of course you do not want. So no carbs. That means no bread, rice, potatoes, cookies, doughnuts, fries, pasta, pizza, cake, cereals etc

What can you eat since you have eliminated basically all the food groups you have been eating 🙂 ? You eat mostly protein, some vegetables and fat. Breakfast would typically be eggs, maybe bacon, some veggies and alot of avocado. For other meals you have a protein and salad. So chicken, fish or any kind of red meat accompanied by a salad. You can snack on nuts, but be careful of the amount because nuts are so high in calories. I also snack on popcorn occasionally.

Its not an easy transition to make because you most probably will have to first wipe out your whole pantry of all the carbs you have in there. You will have to change the way you do your shopping and will suffer from hunger pangs initially, maybe the first week. But after that your body adapts and you don’t even get hungry anymore, because you’re keeping your insulin levels low, and spiked insulin is what triggers hunger pangs. Its a good diet for diabetics because of this aspect.

The best news is that you don’t have to be on the diet all the time, you can do a month at a time, or 2 weeks at a time. I was doing about a month on and 2 months off lol! But because the diet is so effective, on the month I was on I was losing 5 kilos easy. I lost the 10 kilos by about October of this year. It took me 6 months or so because the first month I was able to get on the diet proper was in May.

You can check out this website for more info if you’re interested. I’m not paid to promote this site, its just a site I like especially because they post success stories which are motivating to read on those days when you’re on the diet and are tempted to have a soda. I also came across this article on the popularity of the diet in Silicon valley while writing this post.

I am so happy to have found this new way of losing weight that actually works, is good for my overall health, is easily doable, and I don’t have to permanently be on it, just on and off, its great!

I am now weighing in at an average of 72 kilos and on my light days I weigh in at 71 or 70kgs. At my height of 5’6″ (169cm) this puts my BMI around 25 which is still in the overweight range. I still need to lose about 5kgs more to get into the normal range which is 24 and below. But that will have to be in the new year since we’re now into the festive season where there shall be eating galore 🙂

Enjoy the season everyone and a very merry Christmas to all!!