Positive Quote For Today

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."— Maya Angelou

Gaining Wisdom in Pain

Picture related to the title of the story
The bespectacled black girl in the photo above is 15-year old Elizabeth Eckford in 1957 trying to ignore the abuse of a 1000-strong crowd after she attempted to enter the then whites-only Little Rock Central High School in the U.S. state of Arkansas. Forty years later, the woman yelling at Eckford publicly apologized for her actions.

When I was at Starehe Boys' Centre where I had my high school and college education, I joined a group of schoolmates who were watching a soccer match on TV on one night in 2006 in a dormitory whose captain was Paul Byatta. I think the match was the FA Cup final between Liverpool and West Ham in those days when Steven Gerrard was at the peak of his soccer career.

As we were enjoying the match, Byatta literally appeared from nowhere and switched off the TV, making him piss me off. Apparently, he didn't like the way we were turning wild and noisy in the dormitory he was in charge of.

Byatta pissed me off so much that I uttered some negative comments about him to my equally upset schoolmates. And later on when I heard someone say that Byatta wanted to attend the prestigious Harvard University, I must have thought to myself, "No, that guy can't make it there. He is not a Harvard material."

Guess what! Two years later, Byatta was accepted by Harvard - the same university that rejected me twice. Those rejections depressed me given the effort I had put in crafting my applications and the way I regularly visualized myself walking through the streets of Harvard. God must have been using the pain to teach me a valuable lesson: to never mock, ridicule or laugh at anyone's dream.

That must have been the kind of lesson that Joseph's brothers learnt as is narrated in the book of Genesis. You see, Joseph had a dream of becoming a great man some day. And when he shared his dream with his brothers, they hated him so much that they contemplated killing him. But as God would have it, they sold him to slavery in Egypt.

When Joseph went to Egypt, he grew into a handsome, well-built and wise man. His skills and character eventually made Pharaoh to put him in charge of Egypt. As a leader of Egypt, Joseph had the foresight to store huge reserves of food during boom years in Egypt. And when famine struck many parts of the world later on, Egypt didn't lack food.

You know what? Because Joseph's brothers were affected by the famine, they went to Egypt in search of food only to find Joseph had become a great man there - they who had belittled his dream. They must have regretted mocking him.

That must also have been the same sort of lesson learnt by the white woman who was captured on camera in 1957 yelling at a 15-year-old black girl named Elizabeth Eckford who was attempting to join the then whites-only Little Rock Central High School in the U.S. state of Arkansas (see photo above). The white woman publicly apologized forty years later for yelling at the innocent and determined Eckford who was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton in 1999.

And so Aeschylus, the ancient Greek tragedian, was on point when he wrote of pain bringing us wisdom, against our will, through the awful grace of God. Let us therefore use every pain as a tool of gaining wisdom like I did when I learnt to never mock, ridicule or laugh at anyone's dream after my Starehe schoolmate Paul Byatta attained his dream of getting into Harvard.


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Developing Courage

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This is President John F. Kennedy - the 35th and youngest ever elected President of the United States - who admired and loved the virtue of courage.

One Sunday afternoon in 2011, two lady-friends of mine named Ruth and Susan, with whom I served in a choir at All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi, took me to an up-scale restaurant for a talk. I hadn't been attending choir consistently for more than year and they were eager to hear from me what I had been up to. As we began our conversation that Sunday afternoon, I mentioned to them that I was a votary of President John F. Kennedy. (I still am.)

"Why do you admire him?" Ruth asked.

I swiftly replied, "Because he was a handsome, young, wise, and charismatic president."

Well, I can't recall when I first heard of President Kennedy. All I remember is that I quoted him in an argument I was having with my volleyball team-mates at Starehe some time in 2003 as we debated on who would travel to Kisumu for the national championships which we had just qualified to attend. Using President Kennedy's words, I challenged the team-mates by saying, "Ask not what the team can do for you; ask what you can do for the team."

Later on in 2007 when I became interested in public-speaking, I came to love President Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address which was voted as the second best speech of the 20th Century. I would listen to it again and again whenever I was alone and in high spirits.

So often did I listen to that famous inaugural address that I can still spout some lines from it, such as President Kennedy asking Americans to join him in fighting "the four common enemies of man: poverty, disease, tyranny and war itself."

When I matriculated at JKUAT that same year in 2007, I came across Theodore White's The Making of the President in the university library. The book had a cover-page photo of President Kennedy looking calm and composed. I came to like that photo so much that I would view it most times I visited the library.

Over the years since my JKUAT days, I have read more about President Kennedy from books, magazines and newspaper. And from those readings, I learnt that there was one virtue he loved and admired most: that is courage.

So much did President Kennedy admire courage that he wrote a book about it titled Profiles in Courage which became a best-seller and won him a Pulitzer Prize. He narrated in the book about the experiences of men who demonstrated great courage in times of national crisis. I read that book when I was at the University of Nairobi in 2011, so I know what I am talking about.

When I reflect on the stories of men who demonstrated courage as narrated by Kennedy in his book, I am left wondering how it is that I have been afraid to demonstrate courage in my everyday experiences. I have nonetheless resolved to work on my muscle of courage especially in the following day-to-day instances:
  • Speaking up against intimidation and bullying
  • Saying "no" firmly, politely and unambiguously especially to friends
  • Standing up against enemies as well as friends when they err
  • Speaking against unacceptable talk and behaviour
  • Defending personal decisions
Courage is indeed an honourable trait. Maya Angelou observed, "Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest." So let us yearn for it as well as pray for opportunities to implement it because only through practice can we strengthen our muscle of courage.

RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the above story of mine on developing courage, you might also enjoy another one on "Cultivating Love" which I wrote sometime back. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.


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Bible Quote

"Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do... Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand."

~Phillipians 4:4-7 (TLB)

About the Author

Name: Thuita J. Maina
Nationality: Kenyan
Lives in: Kiserian, Rift Valley, Kenya
Mission: To inspire the world to godly living, one person at a time.

Just For Laughs

There was this drunkard named Azoge who loved drinking at Josiah's Bar. On being told a certain Hon. Nanga was flying to America to be conferred a law degree so that he could be admitted to the bar, Azoge replied, "Why fly all the way to America to be admitted to the bar while you can get into Josiah's Bar any time?"

The 7 Deadly Sins

  1. Pride
  2. Envy
  3. Gluttony
  4. Lust
  5. Anger
  6. Greed
  7. Sloth

Author's Note

I am learning to treat life as a journey, not a destination. So I am trying to enjoy each day as I anticipate to fulfill my dreams especially meeting my soulmate and traveling abroad. Tomorrow may never be mine.

Fun Facts

  1. The fear of having no cell-phone service, running out of battery, or losing sight of your phone is called Nomophobia, reportedly affecting 66% of people.
  2. A single Google search needs more computing power than it took to send Apollo 11 to the moon. The Apollo computer was less equipped than a modern toaster.
  3. Besides being some of the biggest names in the tech industry, HP, Apple, Google and Microsoft share another commonality. They all started in garages.
~Extracted from Codingforums.com

Health Tip

So many of us take for granted the wonderful construction of the human body and the workings of its various parts. Some of us even expect it to function efficiently with less than the minimum care and attention. Learn the much you can about your body and how the care of it can help to give you that greatest blessing of all - good health.

Wonders of the Modern World

  1. The Simplon Tunnel
  2. The Sky-scrapers of New York
  3. The Boulder Dam of Colorado
  4. The Panama Canal
  5. The Golden Gate Bridge
  6. The Taj Mahal at Agra in India
  7. The North Sea Oil Drilling Rigs

Great Example for Politicians

"My life in politics was a joy. I loved campaigns and I loved governing. I always tried to keep things moving in the right direction, to give more people a chance to live their dreams, to lift people's spirits, and to bring them together. That's the way I kept score."

~Bill Clinton

Scientific Marvels

  1. Space travel
  2. Heart surgery
  3. Fibre-optics communication
  4. Concorde
  5. Computers & Radios
  6. Anesthetics
  7. The atom bomb

My Supreme Desire

Although I'd like to be rich and famous, my supreme desire is to be radiant: to radiate health, cheerfulness, calm courage and goodwill. I wish to live without hate, guilt, worry, jealousy, cynicism and envy. I wish to be honest, natural, confident, clean in mind and body - ready to say "I do not know" if it be so and to treat all men with kindness - to meet any loss, failure, criticism and rejection unabashed and unafraid.

Greatest American Presidents

  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. George Washington
  3. Thomas Jefferson
  4. Franklin Roosevelt
  5. Theodore Roosevelt
  6. Woodrow Wilson
  7. Andrew Jackson

Making Peace With the Past

"Dwell not on your past. Use it to illustrate a point, then leave it behind. Nothing really matters except what you do now in this instant of time. From this moment onwards you can be an entirely different person, filled with love and understanding, ready with an outstretched hand, uplifted and positive in every thought and deed."

~Eileen Caddy

Toughest Colleges to Get Into

  1. MIT
  2. Princeton
  3. Harvard
  4. Yale
  5. Stanford
  6. Brown
  7. Columbia

Why You Should Trust God

"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities and pour out peace."

~Ezra Taft Benson

The 7 Greatest Scientists

  1. Albert Einstein
  2. Isaac Newton
  3. Galileo Galilei
  4. Nikola Tesla
  5. Aristotle
  6. Archimedes
  7. Charles Darwin

You Matter

"Always be yourself. Never try to hide who you are. The only shame is to have shame. Always stand up for what you believe in. Always question what other people tell you. Never regret the past; it's a waste of time. There's a reason for everything. Every mistake, every moment of weakness, every terrible thing that has happened to you, grow from it. The only way you can ever get the respect of others is when you show them that you respect yourself and most importantly, do your thing and never apologize for being you."


The Most Industrialized Nations

  1. The United States
  2. Japan
  3. Germany
  4. France
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Italy
  7. Canada

Keys to Success

"...in his effort to withstand temptation, to economize, to exercise thrift, to disregard the superficial for the real - the shadow for the substance; to be great yet small, in his effort to be patient in the laying of a firm foundation; to so grow in skill and knowledge that he shall place his services in demand by reason of his intrinsic and superior worth. This is the key that unlocks every door of opportunity, and all others fail."

~Booker T. Washington

The 7 Social Sins

  1. Politics without principle
  2. Wealth without work
  3. Pleasure without conscience
  4. Knowledge without character
  5. Commerce without morality
  6. Worship without sacrifice
  7. Science without humanity

Cherish What You Love

"Cherish your visions, cherish your ideals, cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts - for out of them will grow all heavenly environment, of these if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built."~James Allen

The World's Largest Cities

  1. London in England
  2. New York in the United States
  3. Tokyo in Japan
  4. Berlin in Germany
  5. Chicago in the United States
  6. Shanghai in China
  7. Paris in France

Benefits of Optimism

"In terms of success, optimistic people out perform their pessimistic colleagues. Research shows that they are consistently promoted higher and make more money while working fewer hours than those who think pessimistically. Optimists also contribute more significantly to social progress. It is the optimists who start and run successful companies, who win elections and carry out reforms, and who make breakthroughs in the realms of science and technology."

~Pepe Minambo

The World's Greatest Lakes

  1. Caspian Sea in the Commonwealth of Independent States, C.I.S. (formerly U.S.S.R)
  2. Lake Superior in North America
  3. Victoria Nyanza in Central Africa
  4. Aral Sea in C.I.S.
  5. Lake Huron in North America
  6. Lake Michigan in North America

Demonstrating His Love

"Take your communication for instance - the way you address others. It ought to be with loving, gracious and edifying words. Never talk people down. Never use words that hurt and demean people. Communicate excellently with others without destroying their self-image or making them feel sorry for themselves. Talk to people in a way that they never forget the excellence of your words, the love and grace of Christ that you communicated. It's how God wants us to love."

~Dr. Chris Oyakhilome

World's Longest Rivers

  1. Missouri-Mississipi (U.S.)
  2. Amazon (Brazil)
  3. Nile (Egypt)
  4. Yangtse (China)
  5. Lena (Russia)
  6. Zaire (Central Africa)
  7. Niger (West Africa)