THE VOICE TOOK ME BACK IN TIME

I didn’t get to watch The Voice yesterday when it aired live. I was busy hanging out with some friends and having a blast being an absolute nuisance. So, I started my day today with that, and gosh…it was such an emotional experience for me.

Now some of you might know that I was in a reality show in 2010 – The Debaters. That show wasn’t the easiest of shows for me: I kept running into trouble with the judges because instead of being oratorical in my approach, I was conversational. The one time I decided to be passionate (the episode to raise awareness of autism), I was rebuked for not being empathetic.

(I’m still very upset about that episode by the way. I worked out an achievable plan, created a tagline, everything, and those people didn’t even throw me small face. Choi)

Anyway, I went along, worked hard, spent weeks fighting my own feelings of insecurity, tried to balance friendship with the fact that my housemates were also my rivals etc etc. By the last but 1 episode, I was in the lead (that episode was my absolute best), I was sure I was going to win. The morning of the finals though, we had a short interview panel – total curveball, none of us knew it was coming. I was so pumped for my debate that I hopelessly flubbed the panel, I think I even burst into tears sef.

I ended up coming 4th.

I was bitterly disappointed and more than a little resentful that I didn’t win. Then one day, after He probably got tired of my relentless whining, Abba said “If you needed a victory to achieve what I took you into the house for, you would have won”. In other words, His plan for me didn’t depend on victory to be fulfilled. I didn’t see it, I barely agreed with it, but I decided to try my hand at hope. 3 years later, I got the call from my now CEO that showed what God’s plan had been all along, and that plan is still unfolding.

Every day of my life, God makes this truth more and more evident to me – we might all be in the same space, but we are not in the same place, we do not have the same destinations and we definitely do not have the same journey.

My friend DJ Switch on the other hand went for X Factor Nigeria. Week after week, she put out her best effort, she wasn’t always the best singer, but guess what, she won that competition, the only edition  so far. E be like say God create that platform make my girl just show herself.

I watched Brenda perform week after week. There were arguments “Brenda dey sing” “No jor, she dey perform, she no fit sing like the others” and so on. Watching the finale, I smiled as I remembered my “not-victory” I understood that for her, God’s path to her future does not require her victory. The girl go still blow – she is an AMAZING performer. I watched Viveeyan grow stronger every episode, watched her final episode and was blown away by the accomplished musician who held me enthralled by Wrecking ball. I watched Nonso strip away all the extras and present music in its purest form, I watched Patrick and Dewe, stories of grace and the kind of favour that makes men stand for you when you have been counted out.  I watched Arese, who throughout the show has marched determinedly to her own tune, picking the more eclectic songs, standing firm even when it didn’t seem like it should work. I saw her take the mic and sing “Hallelujah”, sing like everything so far had been just for that one moment, and I was reduced to tears. All in the same space, not in the same place.

I’ve been in a place of transition in the past year, I’ve written about it a few times (I no really dey sure of the exact post, abeg make una just help me find am), and it made me smile that today, in the month of the third anniversary of my joining EbonyLife TV, God reminded me of where it all started.

Do you know that the benefits of the Debaters came after for me? The confidence, the public assurance, the ability to hold my own, the patience to dig deep in research? All happened much much later.After the show had ended.

Guys, I am learning that we cannot use the expected end as an indicator of what our expected end should be. For everything we encounter, there is a need to seek and understand God’s personal purpose for us. And where He chooses not to share, we must trust nonetheless that there is a purpose. When you understand that, disappointment is minimised, faith is established, because we know that His thoughts for us will come to pass.

To anyone in a place of wondering and waiting – asking God why what is happening for others hasn’t happened for you, asking if you’ve failed because your outcomes are different, wondering what you’re doing wrong that you are not getting the same results as others…take a deep breath, exhale the anxiety, take hold of peace.

You will not always see the end from the beginning, everyone’s definition of victory might not be the victory appointed for you, success might not come via that promotion or that new opportunity. Trust however that there is always a plan, trust His thoughts towards you. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the same space as you.

I will not say “maintain your lane” because it assumes that you all are headed in the same direction.

I will say – find your map…and then, step by step, trusting in your Way maker, trusting in your journey, trusting in your destination, grab hold of faith and make your way.

 

 

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IT WAS A SET UP!

Guys! It was a set up o!!! Abba set me up WELL! I couldn’t even wait till next Sunday to gist you people this gist.

Hmmm, so I called our housekeeper today as promised. When she answered, I asked her in tones of controlled indignation what happened to my toilet. Her answer? “Nothing Ma”. So I told her it wasn’t flushing and below was her reply

She hasn’t pushed the flush button on my toilet since it went bad because of all the trouble it took to fix, so she uses a bucket from my shower. On Saturday, she noticed water was running into the bowl again, so she turned off the water and left it. Didn’t call me because she didn’t have credit.

Brethren, as she was speaking I was just sinking lower and lower in my chair until I was almost under it. HAAAAAY!!! See, when I came back and it wasn’t flushing, I lifted the tank cover myself, in other words, I was the one that made the bits fall out, in other other words, NA ME USE MY OWN HAND SPOIL MY TOILET!!!

HAAAAYYYY! I needed to sit in a corner and just think about my life.

So I’m just here right, relating this whole gist to Abba, and then He does one of those “You missed something” coughs. Now last week, almost the exact same thing happened to me, i.e. someone accused me of something I had not even gone near doing. I was hurt, angry and had written the person’s name in my black book in permanent marker.

So I gazed suspiciously upwards and asked “So You’re saying….?”

“So I’m saying it’s very easy to come to the wrong conclusion, especially if it’s something you’re lowkey already worried about, and perhaps you need to take the person that offended you out of your black book because girl you just accused someone else the exact same way”

And then He said “Gotcha!!!”

*takes a minute to side eye Heaven*

Guys Abba set me up o! Shebi I said I was looking for the lesson, toh…there’s my lesson.

I just can’t believe He did me this thing that He did me!

So yeah I’ve forgiven the person…almost…working on it…sigh…

Ok I’ve forgiven, I just need a minute for the vex to go but yeah…forgiven

*side eyes Heaven again*

 

 

THE ADVENTURES OF MENO AND HER LOO

I’m having a problem with my toilet, and no, toilet is not a metaphor for anything. I’m having a problem with my actual real life toilet.

Let me start this story from the beginning

Actually, first a prologue – I have a gorgeous bathroom, beautifully tiled, large, enough storage…it is perfect.

My perfect bathroom had a not so perfect toilet, the issue – I would flush and water would continue running into the bowl for hours. It was noisy, got on my nerves and wasted water.

So I called a technician and you know that ogbanje thing that happens where, you call someone to fix a problem and then the thing you have the issue with stays stubbornly well behaved. My toilet flushed and stopped with the precision of a soldier on parade.

The plumber looked at it, looked at me and left. 2 seconds later, the water started running again

The problem had subsided though, so instead of running for hours, the water would trickle for 5 minutes and stop. I was ok with it.

However, one day, a plumber was passing my our kitchen door and our housekeeper helpfully suggested that he check out the toilet. I wasn’t as concerned, but I was cooking and distracted, so I said ok. He came back 5 minutes later in a flush of excitement and declared that some part was broken. Suspicious, I went to discover that he had locked the water and somehow stopped the toilet from flushing.

The next day I came back from work to find out that the plumber had, by some previously unknown act of gross inefficiency, completely wrecked my toilet. It now would no longer even flush at all.

I dragged him upstairs and we both stood peering at the toilet. “It doesn’t flush” I told him. “Ah yes” he replied, “but e no dey run for inside bowl again”

I have a bright future ahead of me so I held myself back from drowning him in the (non running) toilet bowl and instructed him to come and repair what he had done. He promptly made himself scarce and only then was I told that he had never seen my type of toilet before and had no idea how to work it.

Friends and loved ones, this was the beginning of my woes and tribulations. I called the first plumber back and for weeks, he would come, try something, it wouldn’t work, he would vanish, I would call, he would assure, show up, try something…ad nauseum.

And then, one day the Holy Spirit whispered to him and gave him a solution and when I came back, (cue hallelujah chorus) I had a toilet that could flush. Guys, do you know what a big deal it is to push a button and have your toilet flush? If you have a flushing toilet please take a minute to give praise, I’ll wait

(One Minute Later)

My life went back to bliss and ease, until this evening, when I came home, tried to flush my toilet and realised that…it was not flushing.

As far as I can deduce, the housekeeper somehow wrecked it (I don’t even know how she could have at this point), called someone to fix it (there are free moving bits where free moving bits should not be), saw it had gotten worse and turned off the water (WHAT IS IT WITH THESE PEOPLE AND TURNING OFF THE WATER?????) and then took off for the weekend. It was too late when I discovered this, so I have to wait till tomorrow (ARGGGHHHH) and then call her to find out what the HECK happened.

I am so frustrated that I cried for 5 minutes before starting this post. Guys see…big issues don’t stress me – I hunker down and go into survival mode. Little issues sha…those glitches in perfectly working (water) systems…ah they pull the rug from under me and leave me without a plan.

I would like to end this by sharing a deep lesson the Lord has taught me from this experience, but alas, there is none. If you have an idea of what the Lord might be trying to tell me through this, please let me know, because I’m out of revelations.

I need you to pray for me though, I have a bright future and I really don’t want to wreck it by getting arrested for drowning a housekeeper in the toilet.

 

 

 

G’BYE ZANZIBAR

I’m writing this post like I wrote the first, sitting at the jetty bar, watching the sun make her deliberate way down to the sea. For some reason I’m close to tears, in a good way. I’m grateful. For this week, for the things I have been told and the things I have been reminded of. It has only been a week, but it has been enough.

I’m watching the sun do what she does every evening, and watching the sea gracefully receive her. I watch the birds skim over the waves, the white one, the 5 Black ones and the last one that always gets left behind. All listening to a clock that they might not always be aware of, one that says nonetheless when it is time.

This week was perfect. I planned to explore Zanzibar and I did, but I also spent time doing absolutely nothing and remembering how it feels to pause. Sometimes we rush about so busily doing so many things, that we miss life. So I paused; I did nothing. I slept early and woke up late; I ate new dishes, had evening cocktails and took long luxurious baths in the middle of the day. I didn’t check my email at every minute, didn’t fuss, didn’t stress, didn’t talk on the phone, did nothing I didn’t have…or want to.

And it was good.

I decided on this trip after a malaria attack that scared the living daylights out of me. Scared me because I am one of the healthiest people I know. I spent 3 days in bed sleeping, partly because I was unable to get out of bed. Weirdly though, my appetite was fine. I went back to work to hear how good I looked. I know it was malaria, my test results showed malaria, but I also know I was exhausted and that my body quite simply, shut down.

On this trip I’ve, without effort, found my thought processes arranging and assessing – all I did last year in life, work and love, all I need to work on this year, things I need to change, things I need to upgrade, goals and so on.

Things have popped to the surface, other things have disappeared and I can feel that again I am in a cycle of evolution that will see me better, stronger, wiser and more capable.

I had a funny experience on Monday. Now, 2 days before, on Saturday, I had missed an opportunity to see the dolphins on our ocean safari. So I asked God if He could pretty please, give me some dolphins. Fast forward to Monday, I asked the guide as we rode the boat to Prison Island, if dolphins came the route we were taking, he said “No, but who knows”. I accepted that I had missed my chance and forgot about it. On my way back from Prison Island (pictures soon), I was chilling in the boat, lulled into semi hypnosis by the movement of the waves, when the boat operator pointed at something with a shout.

Dolphins

Jumping, flipping, crossing from one side of the boat to the other. They’d disappear for a while and then, just as we were getting all settled in, they’d flip again and jump and play. The guide looked at me and said “You’re the luckiest person. I have never, in all my years of touring, seen those dolphins so close and so many. They don’t even come to this side of the sea; I have never seen them here.”

We have a Father who hears our silliest, smallest prayers. And who delights to give us these pleasures to make our lives beautiful. If He would send dolphins off their route to answer His daughter’s prayer, what won’t He give me if it is His will?

I’m grateful

I’m grateful for this trip, that I took it and that I could afford it. It’s not a blessing I take for granted, God’s grace in my life in all its different manifestations.

I’m grateful that I got to watch the sun set, got to learn that no matter how dramatic life gets, that there are certain things that will never change, that all our worry is as futile as trying to stop the waves of the sea, that sometimes our “only me” way of thinking stops us from noticing the vastness of the world we live in. I’m grateful that I got to explore and experience things I’ve never done before. I’m grateful for the promise of possibility.

Watching the sun set this evening, with my heart so full that I feel I need to cry to ease the pressure, I accept again that I will always be the one who feels things maybe a bit too deeply, who is more sensitive than people think, whose heart is easily full…I know that it means that I will feel hurts that others will ignore, and that I will agonize over decisions that should be easy, that sometimes my heart will speak before my head. But I will also be the one to fall in love with the fading hues of the sunset, or the waves as they travel on endless journeys, or with dolphins who take the time to say Hello.

I got what I came here for. I’m full. I’m ready to go back home.

DAY 2…

Picture credit to a very nice South African lady whose name I don't remember

Picture credit to a very nice South African lady whose name I don’t remember

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Attempting a smile

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Late evening…

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Silhouettes

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Little cat beggar

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Sunset approaching

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Boat approaching

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I love this jetty bar…

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Make person no sink ontop the matter

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Setting back off

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She starts to dip

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Still blazing though…

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Going…

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Going…

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Gone

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The hotel from the jetty

TRUST THE PROCESS 1 – SEEDTIME AND HARVEST

A few years ago, I got heavily into debt. It started out small and before I knew it, it was a lifestyle. Have a Need? I’d pray, then search my mind for someone that “God” might possibly direct me to ask. I enjoyed good relationships with a number of people and I borrowed from almost all of them.  Before I knew it, I was in trouble. One day in church, the pastor pointed at the section where I was sitting and said ” there’s someone on that side, you’re heavily in debt, on the verge of disgrace. God is going to come through for you” I burst into tears of both shame and relief…I knew it was me.

As I made my way home, I could practically see my testimony in church the next week. How I was sitting at home, and I got a sudden mysterious credit alert. Or how all my debtors suddenly all called to forgive my debt. Or how someone just called out of the blue to give me the exact amount I needed. I was relieved and excited.

None of that happened…I spent the next 2 years paying off that debt and yet, God did come through for me. He used that process, the eye opening process of calculating exactly how much I owed, the calls one by one to let my creditors know when they could expect their money, the relief when 2 forgave my debt, the resentment and then unhappiness when one creditor cut me off…it took that entire process to teach me the lessons about finance that now define my life.

Why do we run away from the process? Why do we try to avoid the very lessons that God prepares to teach us the lessons we need? We want it now, the ready made solution, the overnight miracle…and though there are quite a few of us that will wake up one day with an unexpected solution to a problem, guys, for many of us, that will not happen because the very thing we’re running away from is the very thing you need to grow to become what you need.

Every guy since you’ve been 18 has dumped you…you’re 31 and single. You’re resentful and angry. What is your process? You’ve tried 5 million businesses, they all fail, people have stopped picking your calls because they don’t want to hear about another hare brained scheme. You’re confused. What is your process?

Guys I learned. In that period I learned. I realised I had no business eating out and being one of those onigbeses constantly being called out on twitter. I learned that before I took out my expenses money I had to pay off that month’s bill or it would become impossible. I lost a relationship with a mentor who was trying to teach me how to diversify income but whose purpose in my eyes, was as a pocket. I learned responsibility. I learned prudence. I learned all I needed to learn.

I learned that sometimes, what you need is not “a seed”. One of the things I owed was a pledge I had made in church. I couldn’t afford it, I had no income. But I made it and waited for God to supply the money I would use to pay the seed. He didn’t. Sometimes guys, throwing money at the altar won’t cut it.

I realised that, while faith will often defy logic, it is not irresponsible. I learned that God will honour faith, but not foolishness. There are times when you get a clear word from God  – this money you’ve set aside, it’s for Me. And you know it is. But how many of us go up to the altar, not a dime in our pocket, in the full assurance that money we don’t have and have no chance of getting will somehow be given to us to pay a seed we did not receive a word to sow. If God asks you to pay a monetary seed, brethren be assured He will give you the money, but if He has not spoken to you…well…

How many of you have borrowed to sow a seed? How many of us understand what a seed is?

It’s not money. It’s something you invest that yields a return. And while sometimes your seed is cash, many many times, your seed has nothing to do with money.

You’re believing God for a car. They announce car dedication, you go up the aisle, drop a “seed” in the basket. Go outside and lay your hands on the car and ask God to acknowledge your seed. Then your cab guy calls to tell you he has arrived and you hop in and drive off, past the church members waiting fruitlessly for a cab.

You’re trusting God for a promotion, and so you sow a “seed”. But 5pm on the dot your bag is packed and you’re ready to go.

Sometimes your seed is not a seed.

You know what I realised this morning, I have always, no matter where I have worked, had at least one, many times more than one person that has taken the responsibility of teaching and mentoring me. Always. Might it be tied to the fact that everywhere I go, I make it a duty to teach the people who work with me? So that as I am sowing into people’s lives I am also reaping from others?

Evaluate your seed.

You’re out of school and need a job, you walk to church and put in some money, believing for that miracle job that will elevate you to family rockstar. Past the office where you can volunteer to work to build work experience and where God has placed someone who will one day offer you a higher position that will lead to another position that will lead you to rockstar status.

My sister teased me once, she said that my answer to everything was “How much is it?” And so it was. I had gotten so used to throwing money at stuff that I had stopped working on things. Let me paint us a picture. You have one junior friend who you know isn’t in great circumstances. One day, junior comes to you and says “Senior, I need school fees for this year. Please, let me wash your clothes for a week and then you’ll help me” So you agree. Next, Junior needs books and so cleans your house for a week. By Junior’s 4th or 5th visit, you’re thinking as you watch Junior come up your driveway “What does he want this time?”

We kinda treat God like those old pumps where you had to pour a little water in first before water would come out. Don’t we? Because giving money for something we need frees us from working on it, frees us from learning, from stretching, from the painful processes associated with growth.

Guys, our lives should be a constant process of sowing – everything we have and we are should be a seed. A daily taking up of the cross and following, a daily death to self in order to awake to Him. When we are asked to be a living sacrifice, we become a daily seed – living our lives for the sole process of giving to Him. And as we do, He takes our seeds and provides us a harvest, sometimes totally without our knowledge.

Remember that piece in the Bible where Jesus is telling some guy “You fed me when hungry, clothed me when naked, visited me in prison” And dude is like “Huh, Lord, when was that? Cos I don’t remember”. When your life becomes a seed, giving to Christ through the people that you serve becomes a way of life so much a part of you that it stops being about what you need, and starts becoming about what you can give.

So when you wake up one day and some random person out of the blue has called you for a job you didn’t apply for, you have no clue that it was the harvest from the woman who came to apply for cleaner in your office, who was looking for a 25,000 a month job, but who you recommended for 35,000 Office Assistant because you took the time to evaluate her and realised that she had the skills and temperament for the job.

Or the harvest for working night after night, after everyone else had gone, doing your bit and then extra, treating the company like your own.

Or the harvest for that lady who lost her husband and whose children you offered to pay school fees for, despite your lack, because you knew she didn’t have a job.

Or the harvest for that friend of yours who you happened to refer to that other friend of yours who was looking for someone for his office.

And when you give the testimony in church, you have no seed to tie it to, because your life, day by day, is a seed, a gift to the one who sowed His life for you.

And then Person B ties into the testimony with a hefty sum of money, and when God shows that job paying below minimum wage to start off with, Person B has no clue that God is showing them the farm into which they must sow. And so they turn the job down.

Let me issue a disclaimer again – I have nothing against giving money in church. Sometimes that indeed is what is asked. My point is this, we need to go beyond the giving of money to the real sowing, the surrendering of ourselves to be vessels here on earth. We need to understand that even when we give money, many times the seed is not the money itself, but the sacrifice. The yielding. We need to open our minds to the understanding that a seed is not something you give God for Himself, but something you give Him to work with so that He can give back to you, and always, beyond a doubt, the best seed that you can give God, is you. We need to stop trying to escape the process of growth, the painful, stretching process of investing into something that pays off into a harvest that lasts a lifetime.

Some years ago, I had a bad breakup, I dedicated one year of my life to being single. I would not have called it a seed, except in that year, God opened my eyes to all the mistakes I had been making in my relationships. I ended that year a different person than I started it, the lessons will stay with me all my life.

I struggled with a lack of victory in many areas. And God led me to invest 10 minutes in the morning and 10 at night to praying in tongues. Just 10. And it started a process of metamorphosis that still amazes me till today with how much is changing within me.

I learned that God will not give me shortcuts simply because I want to avoid the complications of the mess I left on the road. I learned that the process itself is a seed in itself, reaping a harvest far beyond my imaginations. I learnt that the best seed I can sow is the giving of my life to Him, yielding to His learning, pouring myself out as He did – it’s a sharing of my time, my money, my work, my sweat…it’s a complete surrender. I am learning to die daily like Paul – to give mine for His, trusting that He is able to take my mortal seed and give me an immortal harvest.

I’m not there yet, but it’s a process, and I’m growing

And sometimes guys, the harvest takes forever to show, and you wait, and wonder, and worry. You don’t know what else to do. Sometimes dear friend, the waiting itself is the process. But as sure as there is a God in Heaven, your harvest will come.