FOR GOD HAS NOT GIVEN US…

But God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of  power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Now I know that I, like many other people, quote that verse probably on a daily basis. However, today, something today forced me to look at it again critically and I noticed something new…

Let me break it down like this:

First, God has not given us the spirit of fear

Well, first this means that fear in you is an alien; it doesn’t belong to you and wasn’t given by God. Second, it tells me that fear is a spirit, so if it is a spirit, it can be dealt with by the Spirit of God at work in me. I am learning to recognize fear as a spirit on a mission from the devil and to cast it out by the Spirit of God. It is not of God, so fear in my spirit is never something I should entertain.

Second…and this was the one that made me excited…what He has given us – power, love and a sound mind…

Why does power come first? Because that is our default standing as a child of God…our default position in Christ is one of power. Now, imagine walking into a shop as President Goodluck’s daughter…you would walk in with the full confidence of your father’s position in leadership. So why are we so timid in our approach to life? Why don’t we carry this authority with us wherever we go?

In my opinion, and this might be true for you as well, our biggest fears come from a feeling of powerlessness, an inkling that things are happening/might happen that we will be unable to deal with/influence/change/control.

The devil literally lies to us, he hides our truth and feeds us a lie…and we believe and accept it

This morning, God reminded me of the power I have in Him, and even more, His power that is at work in and for me.

Then love…because power without love becomes a dictatorship. We would wield authority without caring for others. So God gives us love to act as the channel through which we exercise this power, thus ensuring that as we exercise our power, we do so as He would, with a heart full of love for the various people we encounter.

And then, a sound mind…or as I thought of it this morning – mental and emotional balance. Knowing the right thing to do, possessing a clear view of the world and the actions thereafter, possessing the skills to effectively and correctly assess what needs to be done as it needs to be done.

I saw this verse through new eyes today, and it just gave me a boost in my spirit. Many of the things we face come from ignorance of our rights, possibilities and privileges in Christ.

Today, God opened my eyes to just one of many…I hope it blesses you like it blessed me.

MUSINGS THE NIGHT BEFORE…

Well my bags are packed and I’m ready to go…

I swear I thought I was ready. But sitting here, looking around my almost empty room, I have a few minutes where I am suddenly sure I don’t want to leave after all. Lol. That’s what family and home and love does to you.

But I’m set, packed and ready, looking forward to the next stage in the whirly, wonderful adventure that is my life. By the time you read this, I’ll be safe in Calabar, ready to start my new career as a Producer/Presenter with Ebony Life TV. For someone who tends to hide when its time to take a picture, its amazing how God has placed me in a career where millions of people will see my face every day.

Sitting with my mum this evening, she looks at me and says the same words she has always said whenever one of her children is leaving home “If you don’t like it there, you know where home is, no one will judge or criticize you, just come back home”. Eternal assurance of a place to come back to, a place where you are always welcome.  And because I know I will have a safe landing if I ever choose to hang up these wings, I know that I will not only fly, I will soar. For a second I have a picture of me in the sky, laughing as i twirl and dive and climb, saying “Look at me Mama, I’m flying!”

In a minute I’ll go stand on my balcony, look at the bit of Abuja laid out to my view and appreciate this most enjoyable of vistas. Then I’ll walk round my house and cover it one more time with my prayers and my blessings. I think back to the girl who arrived Abuja again in December 2010, so much has happened in the almost 3 years since…what will the next 1, 2, 3 years bring?

I can’t wait.

My brother has just come up, he’s not the emotional sort, so we hug, he ruffles my hair, we remind each other to take care…my throat has just closed up with the amount of love I have for these people…God has blessed me with many things, but by far the biggest blessing is my family…these awesome people who love me, who celebrate my difference and laugh at my quirks…these ones who love me unconditionally.

Keep them for me Abba…

I’m excited, curious, peaceful, happy…you know what I’m not? Scared. No fear…how can I be scared when I’m led?

I remember the night before I left for Zamfara, I was so scared, not sure I should go, not sure I could do it, He gave me this verse,Genesis 28:15:  Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.

Peace…the cessation of the storm, the knowledge that there is a path.

NYSC in Zamfara was one of the most amazing times of my life…

I’m starting a new blog in addition to this one: http://rediscoveringcalabar.wordpress.com/. It will be devoted to my experiences of Calabar – places I go, people I meet, things I do…I just got a new camera, so I will be taking lots of pictures and will be putting them up. It would be great to have you be a part of my adventure. I’ll put up a post every week. It’ll be fun.

I don’t do long goodbyes, so I have shared them up over the last week, spending time with one and then the other of some of the people I am closest to, basking in the warmth of friendship and family.

Many times I find myself asking how it is that I am so blessed – to have the people and experiences that I have and have had in my life. I come to the same answer every single time…it’s grace. Grace that I do not understand but which I am nonetheless very grateful for.

Have a wonderful night dear friends, I have a balcony to stand on and a house to bless…

Good night

WALKING ON WATER

Ermm…this is the part 2 of the Part 1 that I posted last week. It has been a hectic couple of days – I’m working all through this week and it seems that there are 5 million things to do and 5 million people to see before I finally leave for Cally…but I thank God for the grace to go through all this with a smile on my face…all na Him.

So, last week, after I had put up my post, I got hit again by the utter certainty that I was making a mistake. All I could think of was all the plans I had made – I mean, I had a 25 year career plan. I started biting my nails and wringing my hands and then God whispers to my spirit – “This is an attack”  As that thought entered, I began to remind myself of God’s assurances ad faithfulness, and the storm ebbed. But guess what, that wasn’t the end of it, later that night, 3am, Abba kept me up and so I was playing music, singing absent-mindedly to Him and just chilling, then – God by Donald Lawrence and the Tricity Singers came on. They sang this line “Whatever You do with me, it’s alright, You have my total trust” and guys, I realised that I was still holding on to MY plans, MY dreams, as if He did not give them to me. That was the door that the devil kept using to slip fear and unbelief into my spirit. And so I released them to Him, asked Him to take them back, I re-surrendered to His will for me and that was it…everything zapped. for good…I almost literally felt fear and doubt leave my body.

I’m grateful for a Father that instructs and teaches, one who guides me so lovingly with His all-seeing eye. One who searches my spirit, who digs deep and finds the roots of every issue…

Now, what are some other things I learned from this – Well, sometimes people will see something in you before you do. Almost everyone I have told about this job has said to me, “That would suit you so well. It’s so totally you” which always comes as a surprise, because I didn’t see it coming. I’m grateful for people who see more in me than I see in myself – God uses them as a mirror to help me see myself as He sees me. It’s awesome.

I also had to deal with the other side. Someone looking at me and doubting that the job would last, people who went quiet and changed the subject, people who acted like it was no big deal and nothing to celebrate…I heard and saw all. I won’t deny that it smarted, but it opened my eyes to some people in my life and the level of access I have allowed them.

Finally sha, I am grateful to God for everything that this month has brought my way, all things are truly working out for my good and I am blessed and highly favoured, anointed for great things, ready to take over this new territory.  I’ve put one application for testimony before God, asking Him for something that can only be from Him…I look forward to sharing that too.

In the meanwhile, I wish you all a great rest of the week and God’s abundant blessings

 

CLUTCHING THE SIDE OF THIS BOAT

I’m suspecting that my theme for this month might well be transition, because so many things are popping up in this month that I just need to share. This month – this transition is opening my eyes to so many new things; let me share some of the lessons I’ve learned so far:

1. Not every transition is easy. Yes sometimes it’s clearcut – you know with clarity and certainty that your time in this place/with this person is over and it is time to move on. But sometimes it’s not so easy – I had a job I loved; I enjoyed working with kids, carrying out my teacher mentoring sessions, working with my incredible team of admin girls. Management position, oversight functions over almost 100 staff;  it was hard. I had to think long and hard about whether I really wanted to leave all that to a totally new field and effectively start from scratch.

Don’t be deceived into thinking that every decision that you need to make must be easy. Sometimes these things break your heart; it doesn’t mean that it is the wrong decision.

I argued with myself, struggled, analyzed and rationalized. And you know God now, all the while I was agonizing, He was organizing things in such a way that it was virtually impossible for me to drag my feet on making the decisions I needed to make. When I was little (kai I’m ashamed to admit this) I hated to eat. So my granny would call one of the young men who worked for her and pretend to beat him; for some reason, this amused me tremendously. Everytime I laughed out loud (evil pikin tins), a piece of food would be popped into my mouth (I told you it was shameful) . I swear God did the same thing to me. Everytime I came up with an argument or something, He would quietly just make a move. It assures me though, it tells me how absolutely He is in control, that  even when we are tempted to sabotage our own growth, He works things in such a way that we have to option but to move to the place that He has planned for us. Awesome ba?

Let me share this Scripture – Proverbs 20:24 says, “A man’s steps are of the LORD; how then can a man understand his own way?” Don’t let anything make you feel bad for not always knowing the answers; not every answer is ours to know, sometimes, we actually need to take a leap in the dark..I think its called faith.

I remember tweeting one day that “There are things you cannot be indifferent or undecided about, if you want to walk on water, you need to get out of the boat”. I was there feeling like a bawse and I’m sure God fell off His chair laughing at my confidence as I wrote that tweet. Because when the time came, guess who was clutching the side of the boat, staring at the waves and thinking “Darn that water looks deep!”

I’m grateful though, I’m grateful for a Father who understands His children as thoroughly as Abba does us. He knows us – inside out. He doesn’t condemn your weaknesses, He uses them to effect the things that need to happen in your life. That’s how awesome He is!

And in the same vein Sometimes enough is the enemy of more.

Do you remember that time when you never had enough? How you walked everywhere so that you could save your transport money for food? Do you remember the times when your pockets and cupboards were always empty? And you woke up midnight to pray and bind and cast  poverty? You declared abundance by fire and commanded your breakthrough to come. Then things started trickling in and suddenly you could afford some things. Things weren’t great but at least you could buy eba with a piece of meat and take a keke to where you needed to go.

And you gradually forget that this wasn’t what you prayed for.

And when the opportunity finally comes to take a step to what you’ve always dreamed of, instead of excitement, there is fear. Fear because what if this falls through and I lose this small eba I have started eating? What if this is a mistake? Maybe I should just be content, practical, realistic. Because surely wanting more than this is greed. So you resolutely close the door on the opportunity to actualize your dreams and face the “just enough” of your daily life.

If this isn’t your story, it is mine. Life was gradually becoming comfortable, predictable…and I was in danger of forgetting the future because of the security of the now. I am thankful for the hunger He had started to stir in me though, the restlessness, the desire for something I couldn’t completely grasp.

I pray that God keeps me hungry guys, because my dreams are big. Much bigger than I am. Everytime I become comfortable, start to adjust, God shakes things up within me and creates an itch in my spirit, and suddenly I want more. And the day the opportunity comes, I am looking for it because He has made my seat uncomfortable enough to where I can no longer chill in peace.

I learned to listen to the truth behind my what ifs. You know now, you’re trying to decide and all sorts of things fill your mind and suddenly you’re thinking of every possible thing that can happen…your what ifs are a window to what the root issue really is. Fear of making a mistake, fear of loss, fear of rejection…when you diagnose your what ifs, you often find out that there is more to this issue than the decision you need to make. You might find something you have carried along for so long that it has become a part of your decision making process.

I hate that phrase – “the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know”. Really? How did we figure this out? So you stick with that drama filled partner who makes you more miserable than happy and you are scared to end it because what if this is the best you can get? You are scared to leave that job where the boss takes perverse pleasure in treating you like crap because you don’t think you have what it takes to get a better one? You stick with those friends whose compliments always sound like insults because if you stop talking to them you don’t know if anyone will talk to you…

Naw, I’ll take my chances with the angel. Thanks but no thanks.

Ok let me stop here…I just realised how long this post is…I’ll do my best to post the 2nd part of it later today or tomorrow, thank you so much as always for reading guys

Last but most definitely not least, Eid Mubarak to my Muslim readers, may God accept your prayers and overwhelm you with blessings.

 

 

THE TASTE OF TRANSITION

I have just finished looking through Yemisi Ogbe’s Longthroat Memoirs – if you like food (as I do), you must check out her page at http://longthroatmemoirs.com.

As I’m reading it takes me a while to realise what I am doing, and why I am doing it…my relationship with food goes beyond putting it in my mouth – there are emotions evoked by eating certain things, and a whole different set of feelings evoked from cooking food.

In the middle of my looking,  I go down to help my mum prepare moimoi – despite all my many protestations, she insists on cooking on Saturdays, when I would much rather be holed up in my room. I feel too guilty not to help, so I get down and my mum is acting very strangely, as she stirs the blended beans, she asks me to put in salt and then taste it, my mum never lets anyone mess with her food. In addition, she keeps asking me – “Do you see what I just added and how I added it? Watch so that when you move you can cook your food” and another realisation hits me, that my mum is preparing herself for this – another departure. We already had the talk this morning – the “remember the child of whom you are” talk…but I realise that this is my mother’s subconscious way of letting me go, by reminding me…and herself, that I will be fine, that I will do well…and no matter how much she asserts to me that she knows I am a big girl, there is still a part of her that doesn’t believe this, and so this sudden cooking lesson is her own way of convincing herself that I am ready to go.

Food is a big part of my emotional processes; many times it is the representation of my feeling or state of mind at a particular time. I remember one Sunday, I must’ve been about 10 or 11, Mumsie is making fried rice for dinner and hands my sister and I a small pot each, we watch carefully, mimicking her every move, rice when she adds rice, carrots when she adds carrots…at the end of the evening, we carry our results to the dining table, flushed with a sense of accomplishment…

At some point in my teens I decided that my sister was a better cook than I was, and as I tried and failed to prepare food that tasted the same way in real life as it did in my head, cooking began to taste like failure. It stopped being a pleasure and became a chore.

Once my grandmother, tired of listening to my complaints that my scrambled egg portions were too small, suggested that I add a little water – I snapped at her alost rudely, informing her that no one added water to eggs, and then becoming almost paralyzed by the guilt that followed from her silence.

In Zamfara  I had to cook, Gusau was 45 minutes away and there were no restaurants in Tsafe. I enjoyed the process of going to the market, where N150 meat, N20 tomatoes, N10 onions and N5 pepper would make me stew for 3 days. I loved to watch the people who smoked guinea fowl. I enjoyed the elationship between food and their way of life – food adapted to conform to the simplicity of the lives lived there. It was a no frills, no expectation way of life. My food reflected the life I lived, easy, uncomplicated and restricted to what was available.

I got into a couple of relationships and determined to show my wife material value, I would enter the kitchen to prepare favoured dishes. Cooking began to taste of resentment as I would sit in the kitchen, sweating over recipes texted to me by my sister, while my boo of the time sat in the parlour with the boys…waiting for my offering of the day…every fight, every disagreement, every feeling of failure seemed to be represented in the food I made…it was good food, but I hated feeling that my value as a partner was linked to my ability to cook.

In the years since then, I have developed a more balanced relationship with food – I still barely cook, but I do love to eat. When I do cook though, I make it an adventure, slowly simmering, tasting and re-tasting…no hurry, for what is usually a 1 or 2 portion dish.  It’s a labour of love for me; nothing pleases me more than making a meal for my mother and replying happily in the affirmative when she asks me if I put love in the food as I cooked it. Cooking for me is about expressing myself, blending and balancing to get the perfect mix of flavours that talk about my feelings without the need to say a word.

Each place has a memory – Movic’s restaurant for an unlikely first date, Applebeebees for a reunion that led to a relationship, VIP for amala and ewedu that I would order and then take home to demolish with my mum, the spot on the expressway where my cousin and I would stop to buy roasted corn on our way home from work, City Park for those humongous snails in pepper sauce, Bunna Cafe, Yogurberry with my booski…I am saying my quiet goodbyes…revisiting each place with its attendant memories of laughter or sadness or confusion or anger or bliss…because when I come back, I will not be the same person…I will not look at them with the same eyes.

Reading Longthroat Memoirs this evening, I realised that I was trying replace these pictures in my present with the ones in my future…I was confirming that I would see stuff I liked, eat the things I wanted to…in other words, I was assuring myself that I would be able to cope and then take it a step further to enjoy what is going to be a new adventure.

I am once again receiving the opportunity to prepare the kinds of things I like to eat, and so I am filling my head with pictures of fruit smoothies and seafood stirfries and barely cooked okro soup with crisp chunks of okro and chunks of catfish.

I realise that I am getting another opportunity to create another layer of the life I dream about, and so my dream expands past my kitchen to an imaginary little house – my space, filled with the things I like around me. A place where I will day by day, add colour and texture to the painting of this new segment of my life.

This is what I am doing I realise, I am filling my mind with the pictures of the things that I would like to see, painting a picture of my future and in my usual way, tying these pictures to my food. I don’t know how much cooking I will do, but it seems to me that whatever I cook, it will taste of independence, of hopes and dreams, of growth and of adventure.

THANK YOU JULY…

This isn’t really an end of the gratitude journal, but a compilation of thought and feelings…

July was good to me, and very dramatic…things happen that turn life totally on its head and suddenly you’re pondering a whole new direction.

I’m looking at August with expectation and great excitement; torn because of the things and people I will leave behind, excited because of all the possibilities ahead. A new opportunity means that I’m moving again, and I’m torn between reluctance to leave the familiar and excitement at all the things that lie ahead…heady mix…people say that when you make the right decision, there’s always peace in your heart…sometimes you don’t feel the peace, because thoughts are shouting too loudly and causing so many vibrations that you cannot feel any peace…so you stop thinking about how you feel and focus on what you know. And then you realise that you know what you’re doing.

I went out tonight with my darling cab guy Onyeka, got a craving for some citrus and decided to branch by Zone 4 to buy some oranges. Then decided I might as well buy some suya wings…my customer comes up to me – he’s the same guy I’ve been buying suya from since 2005 – 8 years now, he smiles, “Customer”, gives me an extra stick of wings…I will go and come back in 5 years, and when I walk up to him, he will glance at me and then with the same pleasant smile, will say the same “Customer” and give me some jara or the other.

There is comfort in things that remain the same.

I went out on a date yesterday. I sat down and for 4 hours, I laughed and listened and talked and I enjoyed it…there was no pressure to be, there were no assumptions, it was like meeting an old friend…or someone who I knew in another time. And when we realised the time, we walked down Adetokunbo Ademola at past 11 at night, watching people, sharing observations…I enjoyed the feeling of trying something new with no fear or expectations. Of just allowing myself to be in the moment. Off seeing the world through someone’s eyes and enjoying the view.

I made up with a good friend. One of those friends who you talk about anything and everything with, then I said something and she heard something else and she did something but I didn’t care and before we knew it we had become friends with nothing to say to each other ….in the days since our reconciliation we have gossiped and laughed and exchanged stories and in our conversations is the sweet flavour of a relationship restored.

I looked at the sex workers on the road tonight, I wish I could sit with them and hear their stories…find out who they have loved and who hurt them and what their dreams are. My date told me yesterday that these girls get raped on a regular basis; have they stopped caring, is it now normal, do they still cry for things lost? I looked at one as we drove past and she looked at me with blank eyes and I wondered what she thought as she looked at me.

I thought of a lost love…don’t think of it as much as I used to, and when I do it no longer hurts like it used to, but I thought of it briefly and I smiled at the beauty of all that we were for the time that we were.

Sitting down and stuffing my face with roasted corn and pear that my mother bought for me, I gave out a little sigh of sheer bliss and wriggled my toes at the delight of eating the things I liked…the smile on her face at my joy made my smile even bigger. There is beauty in those that love you without reservation, those who joy is sweetened by your joy.

Saying thank you for something everyday took my eyes off all the things that were wrong and opened them to all that was right in my world. There is beauty in the release of gratitude to the world around you and receiving a blessing in return, whether it is from the smile of a child or an unexpected gift.

There is a blessing in sharing these thanks and hearing people that you have never met share their stories, there is a smile in my heart every time someone sends in a message to let me know that they feel what I have written.

I am grateful for  opportunity and possibility. For the sweetness of new things discovered and old things re-discovered.

I am grateful for the nervous thrill that precedes doing something that you have never done before

Thank you for being so wonderful to me July…Dear August, I can’t wait to see what you have lined up for me