who am i?

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

Saturday, May 24, 2014

When The Music Plays...

I attended my niece’s school concert yesterday. She takes violin lessons in school, and she’s been talking about this concert for weeks. She often practiced at home, and whenever I bumped into her rehearsing, I would sort of make fun of her, in a nice I love you and I’m just kidding kind of way. It sounded… well, musical, but not beautiful to my ears. Sometimes I chuckled to myself in the room when I heard her rehearse.(She told me everyone laughs when she rehearses, she's not offended)

I watched her walk on stage and I heard her play her solo piece with a piano as her accompaniment and my goodness! My heart swelled with pride, that’s my baby I thought as I videoed her. She got to climb the stage again for a group string performance and it sounded beautiful as well, a far cry from the sounds I heard at home. . There’s something about rehearsals, it makes you sound awful, and then you get on stage and every body’s various instruments are united and you’re perfect.

While the kids were performing, I got this in my heart. I know I’ve said this before, in different ways, in different posts. But today this is for me as well as for whoever needs this and it was such a comfort for all the things that don't make sense to me right now. Isolated events, the awful sound of instruments when brought together in an orchestra makes for glorious music. I can imagine the pain of parents who have to hear their child practice the trombone, trumpets, the clarinet or cymbals… the horror of it(no offense to the talented people who handle this objects of beauty :))Some instruments like the piano and a couple of others are just fine when played on their own.(My opinion)

Everything happening with you… the horrible, the joy, and the pain, it’s all working together for your good! I don’t know how, but you’ll climb the stage with each isolated event as the world watches, and they’ll gasp at what beautiful music comes from your life events, from the heart breaks, to the bank breaks, from the losses to the gains, the joy and the tears. God’s not finished with you. He's going to use all the pieces together for you, for His glory… if you let Him. Fret not, breath easy!
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.’ Romans 8:28

 *Please take a moment to pray for the abducted Chibok girls today.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Blind Bart...


Blind Bartimaeus sat in a corner on the busy street; the only light life had served him was the voice of the people, and they weren’t all so nice to him. One day, he heard a crowd, and his ears brought more light than he had ever experienced. There was excitement, there was such frenzy, he knew it was something big, and so he struggled to his feet and grabbed at the first person his hands could catch… “What’s the brightness about today? Why the excitement? What’s happening? Please feed me with words for my mind to see?”
“It’s Jesus of Nazareth passing by” replied an irritated man, as he tried to break free from Bartimaeus hold.
The blind man fell to the ground from the force of the separation. He wasn’t bothered. All he knew was he could feel brightness like never before… all he wanted to do was to see. To see the face of the woman he called mother, to see what the world looked like. He knew his day had come, this same Jesus he heard stories about, stories of deaf people hearing and blind men seeing… And so with all that was within him, his faith grew and with every strength he could muster, he screamed in the direction of the crowd, not sure if the Jesus he had heard so much about was on that side, but trying his luck “Jesus, Son of David… Have mercy on me”
The coarseness of his voice drew the attention of people standing close by, and they rebuked him. “Oh, be quite you… we want to hear what He’s saying” and probably “stop acting crazy, don’t you know there are people around you?”
But that only made the desperate man scream louder, and this time, Jesus heard him, and sent for him.
“He’s calling you old man” Someone said not to kindly, angry that the teacher was interrupted. Angry that this show of emotion from a grown man was getting any attention at all.
He struggled up to his feet, tripping over his money plate, and stumbling towards the voice, a firm hand griped him and led him to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you” Jesus asked
“Good sir, I want to see”
“Go, your faith has healed you.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus.
(An adaptation of Mark 10:46-42)
We’ve all been blind at some point; we probably are still blind now. Spiritually blind to the truth of God’s grace. Blindness could come in different forms… a darkness brooding in our lives from fear, illness, heartbreaks etc. We run to the church, but unfortunately, Church people like the crowd try to shush us… those locked in the bondage of religion. We’re been conditioned to dress our best, clean up and sit like everything is fine because we are religious. Our scream is reshaped into a distorted smile as we sit dying inside, watching Jesus pass us in the front roll, but restrained from crying out to Him because of the crowd, of the expectations…
You see, there were loads of people around Jesus that faithful day, people blind in one way or the other, weighed down with issues, but they acted too cool for school, masked their pain and blindness under sophistication and looked on as Jesus preached, but one person damned the norm, one person allowed his weakness show as he screamed out to God for mercy… he wasn’t going to be locked up in all that facade, he was desperate for a release, for light, for healing, for his broken heart to be mended and thus he screamed despite how he was told to shut up, and God’s love and mercy heard Him, and filled His life with light.
 Jesus then said, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.” ‘John 9:39(Msg)
We are not allowed to cry out in church because we can’t come as we are, we can’t come blind! We are asked, expected to come, as they want to see us. That’s not what Jesus died for. He died to save us, to transform us, to give us life and give us light. We don’t have to pretend to come to him, but church has so condemned blindness, that even when we’re blind and we come, we pretend we can see and we are not given that chance to cry out “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me” because when we cry out, they look at us and judge us for being blind and they tell us to shush up, don’t disturb the master…. It’s time to drop that mask, and scream “Jesus son of David have mercy on me”. Let the light of His love and grace, that makes all things bright and beautiful, that gives hope and joy and peace, make all things right in every single thing you’re going through, everything that causes you pain, darkness and tears.
 "Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have" Matthew 6:22-23(Msg)
A friend sent me this song and it is so apt for this message…
We find those who have nothing to loose by showing their desperateness are touched by God and come to understand the depth and truth and love of grace than those who try to hide behind masquerade glasses and act like everything is jolly well alright in church. Our pretense and show for God denies us of the fullness of healing He gives… How do we appreciate something we can’t or haven’t received? Come blind that your eyes may be open to see the glory of the lamb slain, that you may receive the love that your pride and pretense has blinded you to.
"...By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones)” Ephesians 1:18(Amp)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Caged Bird Sings....


It’s the end of another day, and we’re stuck in the gloominess of power cuts. The night air is chilly, a huge relief from the scorching heat of the afternoon sun.
There are candles burning, as some of the girls study, while others talk about absolutely nothing... conversations about fashion, to the comic appearance of one of the teachers to Kannywood movies. Me? I’m just sitting here, wanting more out of life as Miriam weaves my hair. Dreaming of the day when I’ll burst out of this life I am cocooned in. The life of a small village, where fear and caution has been the order of the day lately… if ever I will.

Baba has high hopes for me, his first daughter. I’m writing my final exams, and rounding up secondary school, heading to the university, becoming a teacher, or perhaps a lawyer… he changes his hopes for me ever so often, I am confused myself. Mother thinks differently. She wants me married off. After all, she had her second child when she was my age, she knows just the right person for me… She says going back to school with the unrest in the village is madness; it’s better to just move on with life than die because of education. Her fear blocks her sense of reasoning sometimes. Baba says it’s because she’s never seen the four walls of a classroom. Me? I don’t know what I want. Maybe I do, but I tell myself I don’t, because it’s so far off from what is expected of me. I want adventure! I want people beyond the ears of my schoolmates to hear my voice and how beautiful it sounds when I sing, to applaud me, to give me flowers like in the movies. I want to be like the Bollywood movie stars, singing and dancing in beautiful outfits. I want to be famous. It sounds farfetched for a girl from a small village lost in the map like me, but a girl can only dream.

Miriam’s on the third plait of my hair, a skill she should be commended for, weaving in the dark… she’s that good. Miriam wants to become a doctor, her uncle thinks she’s too ambitious, she should look to be a midwife, I think she’s lucky, after her parents died during one of the raids in the neighboring village, her uncle took her on. Every one expected the conservative man to marry her off immediately, but I guess grief made him shame us and how little we thought of him, to our joy he let her continue with school. It took time to get her to do this favor of making my hair, it took me sacrificing tomorrows lunch as her fee, she loves her tuwo shinkafa, I love my tuwo shinkafa as well, but it was a price I had to pay, either that or have my hair cut off at assembly. The principal had warned me to weave my hair or watch her shave it off. That woman, she doesn’t understand that superstars don’t carry their hair in plaits. I’ve got beautiful soft hair that falls way below my shoulder. I love it when that rare afternoon wind blows and my hair flies, maybe it’s not as silky as that of the stars, but it is beautiful, especially when the wind tosses it around, makes me feel like I’m a sophisticated star… the bondage of plaits.

I’m drifting off in my thoughts of Amitabh Bachchan whisking me away, when suddenly I hear a commotion outside the dormitory. I hear the sound of cars. It sounds more like trucks. I peep out the window but only see the headlamps in the pitch-dark night, and then I see movements. Shadows of men, plenty of men with weapons.
A second of fear grips me as girls run helter skelter, covering up in fear, until we hear the comforting voice of the principal outside… it’s the army she says. They’ve come to take us to a safe location.
That’s a relief; the tension in the state has been horrible, the killings, the destruction. For a second I thought we were another one of the victims of this insanity.
I get a little excited as I file out with the rest; at least I get to have a little adventure for one night. It’s not close to a movie set, but it makes my life seem more interesting, especially when I add some fictional details as I recount it to Adama, my little brother. I step out with the rest of the girls with my half made hair… Miriam finds my hand and holds it tight, I can sense she’s scared, so I try to lighten her mood, I whisper, “our prayers have been answered, hopefully our exam tomorrow will be cancelled, we’ll have more time to prepare”, she doesn’t even acknowledge me.

As we stand outside, huddled together, I notice the leer on some of the faces of the men from the light the headlamps provide and my heart stops. At the same moment, the hostility of the environment pierces me and causes me goose bumps. This are not the good guys, these are living nightmares. We have been tricked. I hear shouts of commands, I see them hurling foodstuff from the school store, I see them shoving us into the trucks. I hear gunshots; I see them destroying properties and setting our hostels on fire. It’s all happening so fast, like the whole world is being vacuumed into this moment of doom within a split second.

We are all quite as the truck moves, this is beyond a nice little adventure, this is a horror story. The thing we have feared most has been surpassed, we feared death, but right now, death feels like heaven, it’s the unknown we fear, what do they want to do with us? What happens next? What about our parents? What would my poor Baba say? Oh, how proud he was of me… Mama? I can see her smallish frame disappear in despair when she hears I am gone.

As we go deep into the forest, the truck jouncing up and down in the bush path…. Our hearts are frozen with fear, there’s nothing like a flicker of hope hanging over us, I know this, because I can feel it from the silent tears of those around me, from the pain of Miriam’s finger nails digging into my arms. My eyes lock with the eyes of one of the insurgents, his eyes look glazed, his face looks hard and scary, but I stare on in defiance, I stare so hard he becomes so uncomfortable that he looks away….

I do what I know how to do most… I hum, and the hum turns into a song, I am hushed down in fear by Esther, we have been warned to be quite, I wouldn’t mind them shooting me for defying their orders; it’s better than the uncertainty we are driven into. I am past caring, my voice softly pierces into the night, the trees hear me, I pretend they applaud when the wind ruffles their leaves, and the other half of my unmade hair flies in the wind… Why does the caged bird sing? It sings for freedom, not from its cage, but for a release from the hopelessness within. I sing from the depth of my heart, I sing with my eyes wide open and dry, I cannot cry, I cannot let my tears blur the bright colors of the world dancing and cheering to my singing. I sing, as confetti’s are thrown at me, I sing as I appear on screen with Amitabh Bachchan … I sing because visualizing my dreams makes my heart light. I sing because it’s the only way I know how to free myself from this nightmare.


                                                                **********

I wasn't sure if I was being insensitive writing this. Saying over 200 girls sometimes makes it less personal, even though it breaks our heart all the same. But I had to imagine an Amina from Chibok, a town i had never heard of prior to this horror, a girl like me when I was in secondary school. I had to create her and tell her story. Maybe if we pick the girls as individuals, we’ll be able to feel a fraction of what they feel and be moved to pray more than we’ve ever done for them. I ended her story where I did, because it’s hard to think beyond their capture, to make my mind imagine what they are going through, what horror sits in their minds. I pray God brings His girls back home. Let His love find them and lead them home.

I made a short video for this... There's a link to download the full soundtrack on the youtube page or on the picture in the sidebar if you like it.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Love is on the way...


I posted a picture of mine on instagram with this caption...
“Can I be deep for just a second? Been hit from all sides these last couple of months, but I've kept smiling. How? Happy are those who Jehovah is their God! Just knowing God's got my back no matter what, is all it's taken to keep me living and hopeful, to keep me putting on red lipsticks and pouting like I'm cool like that and the world is mine. Whatever you're going through, God's got you, keep your head up child! My favorite verse for this season.... "Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!" Jude 2(msg) #loveisontheway
I’ve read that verse in Jude before, but I’ve never really seen it in that light, not until Pastor Bobbie Houston referred to it in the message translation at Hillsong color Sunday. Bobbie preached and it was all about me. Today that message is all about you. God’s got your back, even when it feels like the walls are closing up on you. His grace is love… He’s gone ahead and made all things wonderful; all things are working together for your good. Grace Grace…. Grace has made a way, rejoice!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Superman Within The Clark...


Many women are searching for a Superman (I honestly wouldn’t mind one right now; it’s so much easier that way)… but no one wants to see that he’s hidden within a Clark Kent… I saw this quote by Bishop Jakes on Facebook while I was writing this. He said “Many people are struggling because they have not used what God has given them. God gives you an acorn; you invest it and it will become a tree! Stop praying for trees while acorns are lying all over the ground.”
Unveil the Superman within your Clark Kent.

Sometimes what you’re looking for doesn’t come in the form of what your mind pictures it to be, it’s so different, right under your nose, but you miss it, because you want to see the big S on the chest and the red cape, and the red pant over the blue tights(I still don't get why he would wear his pants outside.)

God’s given us so much, but we’re still asking Him for the same thing, when all we have to do is use what He’s put within us. Imagine how frustrated He gets when we keep asking Him for purpose, and He goes “but I’ve put this talent in your hands, all you have to do is use it, invest your time in digging for the treasure within you and you’ll find purpose when you’re serving the world around you with the treasure I’ve put in you”.

Want a superman? Dig into the Clark Kent in front of you. Looking for purpose? Polish the treasure within you. God’s given you so much. Stop whining and start planting your acorn.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Finding The Lost...

--> Two years ago, my sister went missing for a couple of hours… missing to us, but obliviously going about her business with a dead battery.
It was a horrible feeling. I thought of all the broadcasts that had come my way of missing persons. I panicked, then I prayed, then I panicked some more, then I prayed, and fought off the peace that the Spirit was giving me.

I spoke with her in the afternoon, but when I called her a couple of times in the evening her phone was switched off. Her second line rang and there was no response. I sent her a bbm, it hit me that I should worry when I realized my message wasn't delivered. Why should her phone be switched off in the evening? I called another sister, and we called the security in the house in Lagos and he said she hadn’t been home since earlier in the afternoon. It was getting to 11pm. I sent bb messages to a friend in church and another friend. No one had heard from her. I panicked some more… then I kicked myself for panicking and I prayed some more, and I fought the peace God was giving me…
I decided to pray again instead of worry when it was 12am with no word from her, and as I prayed she called. She was fine. I almost kicked her through the phone when she asked why we were looking for her? Her battery went dead and her second phone was left at home. Where was she? She decided to see a late movie before heading home.

I went back to prayers thanking God.
I was reminded of times, that I just shook my head in sympathy and moved on at broadcasts of missing persons. Now I know what it feels like not knowing where a loved one is.
I was sorry for being concerned in a no concerned way.
I was sorry for not rebroadcasting those bb messages.
I was sorry for not having enough compassion for those who grief and wait, not knowing what has happened.

I come from a family where keeping in touch is key. If I haven't spoken with you in a day, at least there's someone else who must have and knows how you're doing. That's how the unspoken rule works and we are bound to worry if there's a break in transmission, no matter how short with anyone.
It may seem like just something irrelevant that happened to me that day, but it was an eye opener. A reason to sit still and break into a praise song and words of gratitude to God for sustaining my family and blessing our going out and coming in.

God bless and comfort all those who are waiting for a loved one to come home… not knowing where they are beyond the first night and then the second and the next. Hoping but not really hoping, knowing but not really knowing. God bless mothers who have sat home and heard their children have been kidnapped; women who sat and heard their husbands had been taken away somewhere. 

My heart breaks for those Chibok girls who were kidnapped. While the world has gone on a #bringbackourgirls frenzy, while many are using it as a photo op, while we put up our pictures and insult our government, while we do all things we can as humans which is basically sitting and punching words on our keyboards, have we taken time out to pray? 

Do you pray for them as often as you can? Because that's the least you can do... and your least in prayers means so much more than you can imagine, it means more than your hashtags and pictures of solidarity. It means so much more. Use the hashtag, take beautiful pictures of yourself and post online, but please, while you do all that pray, pray, pray.

God bless those girls, God cover them and bring them back home to their families. God comfort those who have to go through the ordeal of waiting and hoping against all hope.
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