who am i?

"I write for the unlearned about things in which I am unlearned myself." - CS Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On Spring, Winter, Hope and Deceit...

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.
C.S Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia.

Winter is gone. The flowers are blooming. Its obviously spring, the wonderful passage to sweet sunny summer. Undeniably spring, because of the great splash of color everywhere, from the roadside flowers to the shop display windows, a burst of joy, away from the darkness and gloom of winter. The daylight stays up till late in the night savoring the new season. The shops are selling the floral dresses, the tank tops, bikinis and short shorts. But in all these, the weather remains arctic; there’s the cold, the heaters are on, and hot tea is in demand. It’s May, but the weather tries to trick you to think its January or December. But for the obvious signs of spring around, you would be deceived.
Beautiful flowers blossoming, reassuring that it really is spring, even if winter wouldn't let go easily.

It was spring, but I still went about in winter coats most of the days. No, it wasn’t the African in me reacting to a little cold in London. I had to double check to make sure I didn’t look silly holding a winter coat in spring, everyone went around with heavy coats. It got so cold on some days that everyone dressed in layers and heavy coats and boots. There was a headline on itv saying, ‘Spring turns to winter as snow falls in London.’ But that didn’t mean it wasn’t still spring. You don’t call the new season by the old because of a trace of the old. You still persevere as the new life is being birthed… 

I almost got sucked into the deceit of the weather. I found myself buying more warm clothes because the trace of the old season remained in the new. It took a conscious effort to make myself buy the light clothes the shops put on display. It didn’t feel right, seeing all the brightness, and the flowers splashed around, while still wrapped up in layers and holding a cup of hot tea/hot chocolate to warm myself up, knowing I was in spring. 

Sometimes, we step into the new and everything screams new, but there’s that whiff of the old still lurking around and causing us, and those around us to doubt our transition. Does that mean you keep buying winter gears because spring feels like winter? No! You don’t, because suddenly it’ll be all-warm and you wouldn’t have anything suitable to wear. I had bought the hideous, but really cozy and warm onesies because it was cold as much as it was spring, it was my in-house comfort clothing until one day, suddenly, it was so hot, and the onesie was a pain, and I had the ac on full blast… and I had need for light lounge wears and pajama sets. Finally, spring that felt like spring. 
Dreadful onesies, socks, hot chocolates and heaters... On a cold cold winter like spring night.

I went out and the sun caused me to feel faint… now that’s what we’re talking about. Its spring baybayyyy!
Don’t drop your expectation and be unprepared for your new season because it feels like the old is still coming over for dinner ever so often. I was able to catch myself midway and start buying light clothes and night wears because I realized that as much as it felt like winter, I had to make room for spring, for the new that was promised and surely was.
Yayyy! Sun and light clothes... Spring began to not just look like spring alone, but feel like spring as well!

When my mum was ill, at the peak of it all, when the shadow of death hung out with us, I got a clear word from God that she would be fine, nothing was wrong with her. I wondered if it was my mind telling me what it wanted to hear, but my sister heard the same thing… nothing is wrong with her. Now with that assurance, I had confidence… and the confidence increased when we saw her improve and saw the various miracles from God. We had entered a new season of recovery. Then suddenly, the same symptoms started manifesting again, right in the middle of her recovery. Wasn’t it supposed to be a season of healing? A season of the new? Fear set in, I almost started stocking up on winter gears again because spring showed symptoms of winter. It was in this circumstance that the winter spring illustration came to me, and I was encouraged. I didn’t dwell too much on what was, I didn’t want to keep praying for healing (buying warm clothing), rather, I was thankful for recovery, for the new (shopping for spring/summer), and here we are today, walking in the truth of the season… she is healed, nothing is wrong with her. Thank God!

How ready are you to accommodate your new season? Break forth!!! Make room!!! Don’t sit languishing in the mirage of the old because your faith is too small. Prepare! Sing, rejoice, can’t you see the flowers? Haven’t you noticed how long the light stays up? Haven’t you seen the shops stocked up with colors, a far cry from the gloom of winter? Break free from the limitations of the old season and boldly step into the new… if its cold, wear a cardigan, say a prayer for strength to overcome the traces of the old, so you’ll be ready when suddenly it disappears and the heat comes on.

You can’t say a woman isn’t pregnant just because her stomach is still flat. She’s entered into her pregnant season, but she still looks like a woman who isn’t pregnant, but within a few months, you would see her stomach protrude. In all that time, she begins to prepare for the new season, buying the new outfits, changing her diet and taking things easy because of what is to come... because she knows, even if it hasn't begun to show.

Sing, O childless woman,
you who have never given birth!
Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem,
you who have never been in labor.
For the desolate woman now has more children
than the woman who lives with her husband,”
says the lord.
“Enlarge your house; build an addition.
Spread out your home, and spare no expense!
For you will soon be bursting at the seams….”
 Isaiah 54:1-3   

 It may still look like winter even after words of prophecies have been spoken over you... but don't be deceived into discouragement and loosing your faith, believe and prepare for your spring!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Zeal Says... Nigeria’s Problem is NOT …..

Here's an article by Zeal Akaraiwe... It's a long post, I know. But stop with your microwave generation mindset of 140charaters and relax long enough to eat a well cooked meal. There's a whole lot of truth to chew on here.

I've held back from writing this for a while, but the events in the last few weeks and comments from Nigerians on radio and social media have made me rethink that stance.

I find it humorously exhilarating that people are generally on the same page when it comes to what our dear country's problem is NOT.

Most agree it's not the man at the top as we are aware that many of the major problems dominant today pre-existed him. It’s certainly not the poor men at the bottom, at least not in any mind boggling financial capacity. Many (I wish more) agree it's not even the widely blamed corruption as this is more a manifestation and a symptom of a major sickness.

Most, if not all, Nigerians would list at least one of the following as our biggest problem, which they believe if solved, would fix the entire nation: (1) power, (2) security, (3) education, (4) employment, (5) road-network/transportation and (6) poverty (7) corruption. What we all fail to realize, is that all of these things are merely symptoms of a much deeper issue. Compounding this problem for us, is the fact that the longer a symptom is left to fester, the more it takes on the characteristics of the problem and would almost certainly need a solution of its own. Unfortunately, our ogas-at-the-top seem, or at least pretend, to concentrate energy and resources on tackling and fighting one or more of the symptoms without ever addressing the root causes. 

I believe that most human beings, and of course Nigerians, are generally driven and motivated by their belief systems, be it faith or fear. Our character as a nation is now largely dependent on these, and the questions must be asked of faith: What is our faith? Where is our faith developed? Is our faith being developed at all? Whether you worship on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, is your faith being developed in such a way that your character is growing positively towards being your brothers’ keeper?

Of fear: What do we fear? Are we taught the punishment of The Almighty exists at all? Are we afraid of the laws of the land? Do we have a conscience that berates us for wrong doing? Do we even know what is right and wrong anymore?

I’ve been thinking about it and I’m now convinced that I may have identified one of our “ROOT” problems. Please note I said “root problem” and I also said “one of” so feel free to add yours. The problem? Religion! The institutions and the leaders.

I do not write this to critise the churches, nor their pastors, nor those who attend. I write this in the hope that all those of us who call for accountability within our government,  who call for responsibility within our political class, who abhor the decay in our society and country, see that we need to task ourselves by searching out truth within ourselves first. And where more to start, than in the institutions whose primary responsibility is to teach and propagate truth, honesty, love, kindness, decency etc.

For a start, I grew up in a society where your MORALS and VALUE systems were well built up largely in one of 3 places: home, church and school. On the home front, your parents’ morals were really built in church. In school, your teachers’ morals were also built in church and at home. So, elementary mathematics states if x=y and y=z then x=z i.e. the church plays a significant role in shaping our values, our morals, our conscience and most importantly, when we do go astray, in correcting us and reeling us back to where we ought to be.

I recall during my NYSC in the late 90s when my cousin said he wanted to go to Bible school, I was like “Dude, can you even spell Bible?” But his logic was simple, “It’s a good business to go into - easy money and tax free.” He said this despite the fact that it was sacrilege at that time to even think that you would want to start a church without a calling from The Almighty!

In my younger days in church, we were taught about right and wrong; but today I look at my generation and those following and, the truth is, nothing is ever wrong. It’s all ‘relative’ and about what is ‘convenient’. We were taught honesty and it didn’t matter if you were caught or not. Today, it’s about what you can get away with and if you get caught, it’s your ‘enemies’ plotting your downfall and if you don’t get caught, then “God himself must have orchestrated your getaway”! Just make sure you bring back the requisite 10% of the loot to appease Him and it’s all good.

I recall a friend who bought a BMW in 2001, but took “young-shall-grow” night bus to see his folks for fear that they would set the car ablaze as he couldn’t explain where the money for it came from. I can picture that scenario today in many homes – blessings and prayer would follow without a question as to how the money was made. The end justifies the means.

We were taught about kindness. I still recall that it was seen as awkward to get to church with only one occupant in a car; we used to stop at bus stops looking for people to give a ride. Do I hear you say “Nigeria was different then”? It definitely was, but who and what has made it different? US! You and I!!

We were also taught about working hard and working well – ‘going the extra mile’. These principles eliminated the cancer we have today called mediocrity – but let me not digress.

I look around today and realize, the answer to many (if not all) of our woes isn’t very far-fetched; not too hard to think about if you consider the parable our Lord gave about sowing seeds that fell amongst thorns, it’s short-lived because worldly cares choked the life out of it.

We criticize the politicians and leaders for surrounding themselves with sycophants who merely tell them what they want to hear and let the truth go to blazes; and yet, I just imagine how quickly we would abandon a church/pastor/imam who dares tells us the truth that we have erred and need to make restitution. Oops, did I say “restitution”? I can hear some ask “What is that?” Are we really any different from the so-called evil politicians?

Nigeria is plagued with liars and thieves, self-willed individuals and the blind leading the blind; we are plagued with churches and pastors (note small ‘C” and small ‘P”) who are businessmen!!

Don’t get me wrong here, I have nothing against men of God who have a calling to be Pastors and lead Churches (capital P and capital C). My problem is the fact that a lot, if not all, of those who fall into one or more of the symptomatic categories above spend all day on Sunday (or any other day their religion dictates) going to listen to a self-titled CEO, who heads a tax-free enterprise, who’s well versed in motivational speaking, gone to a theological school and stands on a pulpit with a microphone. {Not sure what you are trying to say here.}. These are those that I refer to as businessmen, though they stand on a pulpit and preach.

We are a generation of prosperity preachers and believers! I have nothing against prosperity; however, I have a major issue, when it is preached at the cost of the true gospel – honesty, kindness, hard work, being your brothers’ keeper etc. We preach that if you are making money, of which no one cares the means anymore, then The Almighty must be happy with you and therefore whatever you do/did to make the money is ok. And again, please do not forget God’s share of 10% to launder your conscience.

Ask yourself in silence and honesty, when last did you hear from a pulpit, the words holiness or kindness; fairness or equity; humility or service? Then think about the last time you heard the words prosperity, blessing, abundance, promotion. How can we sit back and believe that bad things are “not our portion” when we do nothing to prevent decay in our society; we sit and condone illegal behavior, celebrate mediocrity and even wickedness.

So, it’s neither politics, nor bad politicians; it’s not corruption nor indisciplined officials; it’s not the lack of good workers nor is it poverty. All these are certainly major problems we have, but are all symptoms of the real problem and have, with time, become so core in our system it is now hard to recognize as symptoms; hence we attack them wondering why there are no results not realizing that a symptom may dissipate, but will only manifest somewhere else as something else.

Forgive me as I attempt to link a lot of psychological and theoretic dots here – May have been sitting in a church Sunday after Sunday, for years on end, obeying, whole-heartedly, what we hear from the pulpit. This then forms into a habit. We are unable to recognize nor follow the TRUE teaching of our Faith that requires us to have a PERSONAL relationship with our creator in a way that He can speak to you. We sit under the tutelage of people who sometimes are as clueless as us, and worse, sometimes even pretenders. They give instructions for us to act upon and tell us that The Almighty has spoke through them – we believe – hook, line, sinker. We believe because we are either too lazy, too brainwashed or too scared to search the Holy Book and verify what we hear. We believe because we are too guilt laden to object. We believe because we feel that blind obedience is a small price to pay even if we are wrong; we believe because we lie to ourselves that it is better to be safe than sorry. What safety? We become like slaves to a hard master; we are in a mental state akin to drug addicts.  What does all this habit then do to us? We become psychologically intimidated and it makes us refuse to ask questions.

Expand this growing attitude a little and you will then understand why a large majority of the church-going population have formed a habit of not asking questions; of not holding accountable those in authority; for not verifying the blatant lies we hear from the ogas-at-the-top; for having an aloof attitude to our being raped, plundered, mauled emotionally, financially and psychologically  - for we have gotten used to all this and we have formed the habit of accepting, as Fela put it, sorrow, tears and blood – and I will add, torture, theft and death.

We now believe we have no option but to wait for the CREATOR to come from heaven, wear a suit, contest elections and rule us!

Can we, as a people be this naïve and idiotic……I don’t know, but I look around and I believe the answer is abundantly clear.

Nigeria isn’t a bad country, it’s the inhabitants that make it what it is.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

None Of My Business... The Kermit Way!

I would give myself a pass mark when it comes to being excited for people, and encouraging those around me in what they’re doing. I know how great it feels for someone to take interest in what you do and take time out to drop a word of encouragement. I understand we go through a lot, and taking your eyes off self and your struggles to be a voice of encouragement to someone else is a great sacrifice.

A friend mentioned his friend’s about to be published magazine, he was excited about it and that got me excited. I was given a copy and I loved the concept as it’s something I’ve thought about doing myself, but I couldn’t help noticing a lot of typos/grammatical errors that could have been avoided, especially if the fellow was looking at going nationwide in distribution. See, I had big dreams for another's dream. Thus with that mindset, when I randomly bumped into the publisher, I excitedly commended and advised.

It wasn’t a nice experience; I left her presence feeling stupid as my well-meaning advice got a stoic reception.
I’m usually the reserved type, and I wouldn’t go out of my way to talk to people, so when it was dropped in my heart to reach out, and when I actually stepped out of my comfort zone to be a voice of encouragement(?), I was hurt.
I even put myself down as I spoke, just to clear the air that it wasn’t beef. I talked about how as much as I go through my blog posts before posting; there are still a lot of errors that I could avoid. That’s why I invested in an editor for my book, and even after the manuscript got back from the editor over a year ago, I went through another editing phase because I want perfection, or near perfection.

My humble advice was for the next edition, the summary of what I was trying to say was, take time out with the editing, invest in it, because this is great work, make people impressed with the quality of the way the content is presented. If you're going to reach out to sponsors at some points, they wouldn't be interested in mediocrity. That’s all I was trying to say. Well, my advice wasn’t well received; I was told it was only one or two typos in a not so friendly manner…. Ahhh, I felt stupid, I felt bad, I felt horrible. God, why did you let me put myself out there if I was going to be received in this way? Why didn’t you let me mind my business?

I left with a heavy heart, and as soon as I got home, I got a pen and my copy of the publication, ready to go on a highlighting spree, to highlight every error I could find… and that’s with my layman eyes (I’m sure I would have been willing to send it to an editor just to prove a point beyond my point). I was going to show this person. But as I started doing this, I heard in my heart to stop and get over myself… I followed the leading of my heart to reach out the first time, and that was enough. The first time I reached out, I was doing it in love, this time, I was doing it to spite, to prove a point, with nothing close to love, and so I dropped it and let it be. I have avoided having to exchange any pleasantries with this person; I act like I never mentioned anything to her at all and we’ve never exchanged words. So much for Christian me, right?

When it comes to opinions, where do we draw the line? When do we take inspiration from Kermit the frog? I know we don’t always like corrections and other people’s opinions. (But we receive it better when it’s given in love.) I’ve heard great things about this blog and my writing, both from the sincere ones and those who just want to kiss butt. But every once in a while, I get the unpleasant comments. One was, I got bored when reading. I smiled in response and accepted the judgment with grace on the outside, but rejected it within. What was I to say? I wanted to wring his neck, but I kept my calm, don’t read if you’re bored, close the page, no one is forcing you, I didn’t beg you to look for my site. I hate criticism as well, but I receive it well, and after I have fumed (not in the face of the one who speaks), I think over the issue and evaluate. (Remember, not all criticisms are worth mulling over….)

When you notice a wrong, do you keep quiet because you are unsure of how your opinion or advice would be received, or do you still reach out because you feel you have to? Do you only reach out when it's in love, or do you feel glee in correcting with subtle spite?
Where do you draw the line? Where do you hold your peace? Are you only to reach out to your family and closest friends? Isn’t it wicked to see someone doing something wrong (or something that can be better) even a stranger, in an area you have a degree of knowledge in and ignore it with that infuriating Kermit look?

My experience has given me cold feet. I go Kermit more often than I should now.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Call me Aunty...

We love respect in Nigeria, that’s the only reason why my cousins are expected to call me ‘aunty’. I really don’t mind being just plain ol’ Inyamu to them, because I’m not their aunty after all. But being twenty something years older than them has involuntarily earned me the earmarked respect of the title aunty. But they just don’t see reason in calling me aunty Inyamu… they call every other person aunty, even the house helps I’m older than, but when it comes to me they scream INYAMUUUU! Maybe its my voice; I hear I sound like a child even though I hear myself being husky and all… Maybe it’s the fact that I play with them a lot… it doesn’t mean that they don’t report the others they call aunty to me… meaning they know I hold some kind of authority but please don’t make us call her aunty. Strangers hear them call me by my name and tell them “call her aunty”… Oh well, they’re less than five, what do they know? (Enough to sell me in this day.) 

My nieces went through this phase as well, so they went through the safer route of calling me baby Joy but now that they’re older they’ve slowly accepted the name aunty Joy… it sounds weird.
Just a few of the terror gang!
It reminds me how we give honor to everyone else except God. We give respect to the younger aunties in the form of men of God, but when it comes to God, we well, we just don’t place Him where He should be in our lives, we take Him for granted… we give the pastors all the awe and respect, but not God… When we are in deep trouble, the first person we think to call is Pastor P, and not God. 

It doesn’t mean we think God is smaller than them… no we don’t (well, I hope we don’t) but somehow we learn to respect them more, and get scared of them and put their word over God’s(especially those who aren't genuine, because they encourage this behavior). But when we run into deeper trouble, we run to God because we suddenly realize the pastors don't have it. 

You hold the undeniable word of God in your hand but you doubt because… but pastor B said something else… its just got to be pastor B’s word over the word of God, because we're too lazy to study God's word for ourselves sometimes, then he deals with you then you go reporting him to God. Sometimes when you make pastors or ministers in church or any man your standard, you meet loads of disappointments, because they are humans, and humans aren't perfect… Your standard, your ultimate should be God even as much as you give the honor and respect to your spiritual heads, and even see them as your mentor.

When man gives it to you, you may loose it, but when God gives it to you, you’ve got it! Joyce Meyer

That’s why a pastor would tell his congregation to eat grass, and they would fall over themselves to do it. That’s why a man of God would give you petrol to drink and you would drink blindly and then when you’re dying, you run to aunty.(I'm still trying to get my head around this story)
I love my pastors. Everyone I’ve been blessed to sit under I have loved with all my heart. I respect them. So I have nothing against showing men of God respect and honor. But, are we saying aunty to everyone that matters except the one who really matters? Is the fear of man greater than the fear of God?

"Many people would rather follow a man they can see that the invisible God. A human king seems to provide the best of both worlds: where he has good ideas we can follow him because we’re convinced we’re serving God, but when we disagree wit him, we can rebel with the rationalization that he’s just man, what does he know anyway." Wayne Jacobsen, A passion for Gods presence.

Monday, September 22, 2014

More, More... More!

I hate the process of shopping, but I love buying new things. And so whenever I get a chance to travel where I can shop, I try to squeeze my cash to buy as much as I can.
I have a satisfied look on my face when I look at my new possessions, especially when most of them have been bought at a bargain. What a feeling!! I wouldn’t need to shop for a long long long time. I have all I need.
That’s till I’m back home and searching through my clothes in frustration, both the old and the new and I cry out how I have nothing to wear. Nothing! Not in all the pile of newbies.

I recently got back from London after about five months away. While it wasn’t a holiday or a shopping trip, I can’t honestly say I didn’t shop, because I did, I came home with extra suitcases filled with clothes. I got new things, for my new size… I was content. Until I turn my room upside down looking for something to wear every other day… I had absolutely nothing to wear!

The statement, I have nothing to wear is a statement of fact as opposed to one of vanity! My name ought to appear right after that quote.
The truth is, two new suitcases or four is never enough clothes.
You may spend thousands of pounds and think this is it… but it really isn’t it in the long run.

I’ve never read through the bible back to back. But I have read my bible. You may feel like you’ve read the whole of the bible or a certain book in it and there’s nothing more you can gain from it… and then you start reading that book or chapter or verse again, there’s always more, even when you feel like you’ve gotten it all.
There was a time I felt like I had written all I had to write, where in the world would I get more words or insights? That was three or four years ago…. You can never exhaust the word of God and the Wisdom and inspiration He gives. Kathryn Kulhman expresses this truth “I had preached on heaven. I had preached on hell. I had preached on the love of God – you know- and what more was there to preach about? But years have found out that you can never exhaust the deep truths in Gods word”

You know how we say, life is simpler if you have just two outfits or there about, it’s either one or the other when it comes to choosing what to wear. You have no luxury of having an option, or being depressed about not knowing which trouser to pair with the blue shirt when it’s only one pair of trouser you have. Today it’s the white shirt, tomorrow the blue… everything is as it is.
When you have a basic, surface knowledge of Jesus, the one who you go visiting with on Sundays, there’s nothing much there, nothing more your soul desires. It’s got the basic Jesus, the one who they tell you is mad when you sin and happy when you do good. The one who sends people to hell for sin, and rewards heaven for good, and life is just plain with that plain distorted knowledge, there is no luxury of having more, and knowing more and desiring more.
But when you’ve gone beyond the basic, knowing God for who He is, understanding even a pinch of what He’s done for you and how much He loves you, you will crave more, you wouldn’t stay mocking those who have Him and search for more… You wouldn’t make fun of those who love going to church and events where the word would be preached… The more you know Him, the more you want to know Him. There is always more with God.

I’ve taken stock and I realize that I attend church a little too much, not to me though, the opinions of others. So what’s the catch of regular church attendance, why do I feel a need to attend all the meetings when I see the billboards/handbills? Not because I’m looking for cute church boys, not because I feel compelled to as a religious obligation, not because in some twisted way, I want to please God and manipulate Him with the number of times I attend services. Why am I always just coming from church or I was in church when you called? Because I am not satisfied… All I have taken In looks like it can last me a life time, but it doesn’t come close to satisfaction. I’m greedy for more of Him.

Like a girl can never have enough clothes… you can never satisfy this want for more of God, because there is always more. I hunger and thirst for Him, for more of Him, for the beauty of Him, the more I get filled, the more I want to take in, I am determined to know Him and the power of His resurrection…

Monday, September 15, 2014

Random Blabs...

I’ve been feeling a little lazy to upload posts. Well I’ve been kind of busy, that should be a good enough excuse right?
I hardly ever sleep before 12am, it’s unheard of, but the last week saw me fagged out at 10pm, and staring blankly at my screen like I was in a drug haze.
And I ate a lot! Maybe the food made me lazy? It probably did.

When it comes to writing, I tell myself “don’t force it”. My mind is a junkyard of things to write about, I have a dozen word documents opened with drafts that need a little polishing… but I have refused to swallow laxatives for my mind to spill forth words… I’d rather just let it flow. Does it mean I’ve got writers block and I’m not just being lazy? I like to think I've got writers block, its cool to say "Oh, i've got a little writer's block" it makes me sound cool, like i'm a real writer... a creative genuise that needs to watch the ocean to unblock my mind.
(Pardon me, I'm saying whatever comes into my head)

Oh, and I got to summit my manuscript yesterday… isn’t that awesome? The book is becoming so real. I’m in labor now y’all. Its kind exhilarating… Pushing out a baby isn’t so much fun, but I’m glad I’ve got hands holding me up in prayers. A good thing no one stops the birthing process half way because they’re scared… once the pushing starts, you’ve just got to see it through till the baby comes out and snuggles in your arms. Breaking forth and crashing through the gates yo…

I’m off this week. I never travel without my laptop… but I’ve made a hard decision to leave it at home this time, and it hurts, it feels like a part of me has been yanked off… dramatic I know, but that’s how attached I am to my MacBook… at least I get to take my notebook with me. I’ll be at ‘Faith Adventure’… I’m so excited about it; it’s a weeklong program in Gboko, a town in Benue State. It’s going to be a week long of soul food and Bing eating on the word, yayyy!

Have a great week!

Friday, August 22, 2014

On Eggs and Life...

Mum hired a new cook. He had previously worked in a restaurant. I wish I could paint a picture that we had someone from an exotic restaurant come to work in our humble home… Ha! Don’t let your imaginations run wild at the mention of restaurant. My mum was relieved to get someone new.

I really didn’t care about where he was from or if he was new or not… Not until the first day he made breakfast.
I wasn’t a very happy child when I saw what breakfast was.
I was expecting regular fried eggs and bread, not soggy looking eggs with a pile of tomatoes and probably too much oil.
I had never seen egg stew/sauce before then. I only knew of the boiled, fried and scrambled variations.
When mummy came out for breakfast, I was whining, and almost in tears as I had to eat my bread without eggs “he doesn’t even know how to fry eggs” I complained.
My little girl mind couldn’t comprehend how an adult, who was supposed to be a cook, from a restaurant, had no idea how to fry eggs. Even I could fry eggs if given a chance. Why would he fry it that way? So distastefully!

Mummy didn’t really acknowledge my complaint, she probably felt sorry for me not eating well before going to school.
The cook was relieved of his job. I’m not sure it was because of the eggs though… I had to ask my mum why he was sacked, because I suddenly felt bad as I wrote this, what if he left because I said he couldn’t fry eggs? Mummy can’t remember why she asked him to go, but I can be rest assured from the look on her face that she thinks me silly for thinking she sacked a man for making yummy egg sauce.

Today? I’m the queen of egg sauce; I love it with yam, with plantain, with sweet potatoes, I even have it with bread sometimes. I love to make it. I’m sure I’ll rival that cook in an egg stew cook out! I’ve got egg stew game.

It’s funny how we often reject what we can’t understand. Because we’ve always had something or done something in a certain way doesn’t mean the next way isn’t cool enough, or even better. Add two to five and you get a seven. The same way you get a seven if you add four to three or six to one.

Don’t miss out on opportunities because they don’t present themselves in the way your mind pictured them to come. Sometimes the help you’ve been praying for comes from unlikely sources, learn to react like the little old lady in this story… 

There was a little old lady who would come out every morning on the steps of her front porch, raise her arms to the sky and shout, "Praise the Lord!"
Well, one day an atheist moved into the house next door. Over time, he became irritated at the little old lady. So every morning he would step out onto his front porch and yell after her, "There is no God!"
Time passes with the two of them carrying on this way every day. Then one morning in the middle of winter, the little old lady stepped onto her front porch and shouted, "Praise the Lord! Lord, I have no food and I am hungry. Please provide for me, oh Lord!"
The next morning she stepped onto her porch and there were two huge bags of groceries sitting there. "Praise the Lord!" she cried out. "He has provided groceries for me!" The atheist jumped out of the hedges and shouted, "There is no Lord. I bought those groceries!" The little old lady threw her arms into the air and shouted, "Praise the Lord! He has provided me with groceries and He made the devil pay for them!"

Friday, August 8, 2014

Bottom Box...

I have some beautiful outfits I’ve bought on various trips. Lovely dresses, red carpet ready, dinner party ready, high-class classy chic ready, posh wedding ready, although I’m away from the social hub of the nation, where my social light bulb glowed a little. I still bought lovely party/outing dresses, not knowing where to wear them to, but all the same, hoping I could add value to the beauty of the dresses on special occasions some day. 

Each time there was a wedding in my little town, I would bring them out and try them on and look in the mirror thinking how how pretty they look on me and then I tell myself, “I can’t waste this outfit for this wedding” or “why should I wear this really beautiful dress to church, it should shine at a big occasion” and it goes right back into my special suitcase, the pink one where I keep the really new and expensive things in.

Well, I lost some weight recently, I am not how I used to be when it comes to my size, thus I cant wear some of my lovely never-good-enough-occasion-to wear dresses anymore, the new curves of my body eludes the lines and cuts of the dresses. I dropped one size without even trying… fitfam what? I had to give out some lovely outfits with a heavy heart…

Lesson learned?
Nike says, just do it… I say Just wear it! Enjoy it! Display it! What’s the special occasion? NOW is the special occasion. Look beautiful for church, shine bright for that wedding, even if the guest consist of mostly old ladies from the village, shine in your expensive new dress anyway… Shine, shine, and shine every chance you get. Shine to the grocery store, shine to work, shine when you head out for ice cream, every moment is a special occasion worth shinning for. Dress your best, be a peacock in the crowd, you don’t know who’s watching :)

The bottom box* isn’t such a good idea sometimes(I learned the hard way), especially when it comes to life. Yes, we keep those special items, but what about the talent(s) we have? We don’t think its good enough for any of the occasions when we are given an opportunity to show the world just what special trait lies in us. The world could be just one person or your church or family, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes we look around at our best friends or the lady on TV and think how blessed she is because she’s got all these talent and dances and sings and even acts so well, and we’re quick to condemn ourselves, and move further down in our bottom box thinking what we have can’t face the world in the light of all those people out there.

What are you hiding in the bottom box of your life? What have you covered up? The fact that you love to cook, or you sing really well in your room? Or how well you dance behind closed doors? There’ll never be a right time to invest your one talent. Put it out there and sing, even if no one hears you… sing even if only one person applauds you… sing, join the choir…. Just sing! Someday the Master’s going to ride in and ask you… what did you do with that special dress I gave you? Will you tell him, there just never seemed to be a right time or special occasion to display it, with all that talent He gave the others, so you kept it within, close to your heart, your personal secret. Like the man with the one talent in the parable Jesus told. (Matthew 25:24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’)

It’s time to overturn your bottom box. The special occasion is now… the time to shine is now… even to an audience of one, shine your best… don’t despise the days of little beginnings or look at how multitalented your neighbor is, don’t let it determine what goes for you. Your church is too small for you to shine so bright, shine so bright anyway, that those outside would run in to see the light, the right person may be among the crowd to come in and pick you up from the midst of all that. Like my dresses don't fit anymore, don’t hide the treasure within you that you end up missing out on the gorgeousness of it at a time when it would have been so fitted.  Steve Maraboli’s sums this up right with his quote… “Cemeteries are full of unfulfilled dreams... countless echoes of 'could have' and 'should have'… countless books unwritten… countless songs unsung... I want to live my life in such a way that when my body is laid to rest, it will be a well needed rest from a life well lived, a song well sung, a book well written, opportunities well explored, and a love well expressed.”

I pray we all find a way to express the treasures buried within us… you are what the world is waiting for.

*Bottom box: Treasured attire worn only on important occasions.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Cab...

I called for a cab.
As I waited outside the shop, tired and wanting to be home already. I saw a sleek shiny black BMW driving towards me. I may have gone “nice car” in my head and turned my back to it, as I didn’t want to be caught staring. This sleek car slowed down and stopped right in front of me, with a very cute man, well dressed in a nice suit behind the wheels, “Joy?” he called out. Who would have thought, that was my ride!

I cautiously got into the back of the car. Not wanting to get too comfortable. The car had that wonderful new car smell. I mean the cab company has nice cars, but mostly Toyota cars and some other brands, but nothing this sleek. Some of the drivers speak good enough English as they are a mixture of Asians, middle easterners and English fellows, but none of the drivers looked like this one, or dressed like this one, or had a hint of class when they spoke like this one.
I’m used to good things, I adjust well to good things, I love good things… but when your cab or that good thing isn’t something you expect, well… you tend to walk with caution and if you’re not careful, loose out on maximizing the experience of the moment.

The cab driver asked a question, which I timidly answered, with no hint that I would be interested in more conversation… thus the default “beautiful weather today” topic of conversation wasn’t even given the chance on the ten minute drive home.
Who knows maybe that was my moment for one of those Hollywood scripts to play out. I would take the conversation with him further and bam… I’m in love with a rich heir, who was bored and decided to play the role of a cab guy for the day. Blehhh

It was weird having to pay him, and even weirder waiting for my change of a few coins, weird and awkward, because leaving the change didn’t seem like a good option either.
I never came across that car or its driver again, I’ve had a couple of drivers come regularly when I call the cab company, but that seemed to be a one off.

Sometimes we call for help and when it comes we ignore it, turn our backs to it, because it comes more glamorous than we expect it to be, and so we doubt it, and cautiously accept it, but we don’t enjoy it because we’re uncomfortable and expecting an “aha!” in our face any moment. We expect it to be said that the joke is done, just when we get comfortable in this comfort, so we rather sit pinched.

God usually gives us above what we can ever ask or think… you think its too good for you? Then it’s God! You think it could have been better? Think about it, its probably above what you asked for. You think he could have been cuter? He comes high above your hearts expectation or what you could have ever imagined. God gives us more than we can ask or think… enjoy the blessings, be thankful in every situation knowing it is more, because God’s involved!

Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]– Ephesians 3:20(amp)  

Get into that cab and chill like a boss, legs crossed, relaxed as you wiggle your butt comfortably on the leather chair, feel good about it and enjoy the ride home.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Thirty Minus One...

"But first, let me take a selfie"... Thirty minus One.
I have behavior that contradicts my belief sometimes. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe! If there was a book of Inyamu in the bible, it would be such a messed up controversial story, a not so pretty picture. But in all that mess, you’d see a beauty that shines through, the beauty of grace glittering so bright, you almost can’t stare it in the face…
The pieces of my brokenness and struggles, the pieces of pain and tears, the pieces from every fall makes a kaleidoscope of colors, my perfect imperfections are perfectly beautiful, because in all these… my feet are off the floor and I rest in the arms of Love.

Grace is my warmth, love is my cover…  grace met me where I was and refused to leave me where it found me. Grace is taking me on a journey, I’m not there yet, but we’re so far away from where I was. It’s been such a road trip of self-discovery, different from the lens of the world, under the lens of grace.

There’s so much ugliness spewed about… that’s life. But even in your struggles, your uncertainty and your sometimes-shaky faith, there’s beauty all around… like the deep breath you take… that’s a story of beauty and hope. The world is full of uncertainties, bombs and guns, girls kidnapped and living in fear… earthquakes and hurricanes, but in all these, there’s the beauty of the flower, it’s where it is, growing in beauty, because that’s the only thing it knows how to do… grow and be beautiful! Oblivious of the callousness of the earth.

I took these pictures in Hyde Park recently... Let the beauty of Grace shine through every pain.
Beauty always shines through, beauty always lives… beauty never leaves, it’s right there, in the midst of it all. Find the beauty in you and let it shine through the pain. Gods grace!

I’m thirty minus one today. I should be fidgeting about getting older and blab la bla, but I’m just here, thankful for beauty and resting in Grace.

Thirty minus one; I've known pain, I've seen struggles, but through it all, I rest in beauty.
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