DAY 25 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

I’d like to share some thoughts that gave me great comfort today and reminded of just how much I am loved by God. I was lamenting to Him this afternoon that I don’t love Him like I should and this is what I got back. “You do love Me, but you’re learning how to live a life of love to Me. When you quarrel with a partner or a friend or a sibling, when you ignore them instead of listening or brush them aside or get irritated, it doesn’t mean that you don’t love them, just that you need to learn how to live that love…it’s a process”

Guys this thought comforted me, it settled my heart and put a smile back on my face. I grew up in a Christian environment that tended to praise performance. I am learning to exist in God’s love. To be a child of love. To accept the unconditional love that He lavishes on me. I’m learning not to judge myself by my successes or failures, but by the steadfastness of His love for me…that’s grace isn’t it…that is the beauty of grace

And then, some minutes later, I didn’t even realise that I was worrying about a decision I needed to make. However, I slowly became conscious of another thought – that God is not some mean old guy sitting with a scornful expression and a big stick, waiting for me to make a mistake. He promises to guide and lead me. He promises to show me the way. And if I go off track, He promises to bring me back on the correct path. God is committed to my – to our – success. It gives Him no pleasure to see us fail.

Finally, remember when I asked that question this morning, about what to do when you get the chance to do the stuff you’ve always dreamed of. Well, I had to ask myself that recently, and the answer wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I agonized, pondered and couldn’t shake off a niggling worry. Finally, I realised that the issue wasn’t what the decision itself, but rather, how it would change my routines. I realised that I would be leaving my comfort zone and entering a whole new dynamic of operation…and it scared me, because I had become used to the way life was.

I never want to become so used to comfort that I forget adventure. I never want to become to set in my ways that I hesitate to break loose and head off in another direction. There is a life available for the living, and I do not want to spend it from the safety of the rocking chair on my front porch. I want to be out there, whooping it up and wringing out every minute that life has to give. I want to Live Out Loud…and I thank God for yet another opportunity to go right ahead and do just that

 

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DAY 21 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

I have an early flight and a packed day tomorrow, but guess who is sitting down, eyes glued to the computer, trying to cram an 2 weeks worth of information into one brain…yup… moi.

Anyway, I took a break to update this quickly before I forget again…hmmm…so what am I grateful for today….

Well, I am grateful for friends in need. I had a situation today, called up a few friends and meyne…they started pulling strings, making calls, organizing stuff…it was a relief to have everything sorted out without me needing to even leave my house. I am grateful first for friends that can be called in a crisis, I am also grateful that God eased my situation so easily and smoothly…it was awesome.

Secondly…I am grateful for the brain God has given me. I love to study and love to learn and it seems that I am constantly absorbing new information. On day like this when I need to learn many things really quickly, it is a blessing to be so quick to grasp, and God has oiled my brain, it is ticking along, grabbing information, digesting, arranging…I am grateful.

God taught me something today, I was reading 2nd Kings. It is the story of Elisha and when his house was surrounded by the Syrian armies. He asked God to open his servant’s eyes so he could see the armies of heaven surrounding their valley. You know, I feel that many of our issues as Christians are because we don’t see…we don’t see the resources available to us, we don’t see the future open to us, we don’t see God’s protection, God’s favour..when we see beyond what is visible, there is a peace that descends on our souls, we receive renewed vigour, we know that everything will be fine. I was very grateful for this thought, because sometimes I get worried, or I start to panic, or I get distracted and lose my focus…I have asked God to keep this in my consciousness, that He should open my eyes to the things beyond the things that I see, and that they will continue to act as my motivation and assurance.

I am grateful for my awesome baby brother who ironed my clothes for me to make sure I studied. I am grateful for pounded yam and white soup, made the way my mom makes it…I promise you that I ate my meal and just like Elisha’s servant I saw stuff…I saw angels and heard the heavenly choir singing…it was that awesome. I’m grateful for this time of refreshing…taking time out to write this has helped to recharge my batteries…okay then, back to studying…wishing you all a blessed and fulfilled week!

DAY 17 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

I’m not feeling too great today, so I spent most of the day in bed. I am quite tempted to feel sorry for myself, but then I  remember that a beautiful little girl – Talia, died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. If you haven’t read her story, you must. Google Talia Castellano to learn more about this incredible girl. You know, we get the sniffles or a cough and we tend to get cranky and ungrateful and frustrated, but people live with conditions that keep them at death’s door day after day…and reading about this girl’s beautiful spirit, the way she turned her life into a ministry of love and light…well, it forces me to be grateful, for life, for health and for the many other things I take for granted.

I’m especially grateful for my little sister, who made me a batch of peppered gizzards and honey glazed chicken wings. So I’m sitting here, munching away happily and feeling the excitement that comes only from eating stuff you truly enjoy.

Finally, I’m grateful for the message I got today from a wonderful person called Ify. When I started this blog, I struggled a little with how much of my Christianity I wanted to talk about. I didn’t want to come across as someone impossible to relate with, I didn’t want to paint a picture of a Christian life that was more fiction than fact and (I’m going out on a limb here) I was a bit concerned about coming across as a fanatical, nothing but my truth kind of person. I am grateful that God has shown me how to discuss my relationship with Him as it is, my mistakes, my blessings, my lessons and much more. I am learning how to celebrate my God connection, to share His goodness, His faithfulness and His unfailing love. I’m not the best Christian in the world, but I am learning to be an honest one, and I grow daily in Christ . So Ify’s very kind comment made me grateful – to her for sharing and encouraging me, and to my patient Teacher and Friend who is teaching me daily just how our relationship should be.

Ok guys, I’m done for today. I only just realised that its past 11 and so I shouldn’t be eating at this time anyway. I’m off to make a hot cup of tea and then read a bit of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – the 3rd book in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo set. Amazing books.

Thank you as always for reading my thoughts. God bless you

 

THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE I WILL EVER WRITE

As I’ve said before, my relationship with God has been a wildly fluctuating journey, but there was a point when I was so deep into church, so deep into services and service, that I didn’t notice when I lost track of God. I prayed and read my Bible, but I had no relationship, just obligatory service.

In the years since, I have sought to become more balanced in my faith; to make my journey one of the spirit instead of a legal declaration. To become a Mary, a quiet worshipper at His feet, instead of the bustling and frustrated Martha I used to be.

I have sought not to become one of those church folk that no one can relate to because their lives and words don’t seem to have any relevance to real life struggles. And as the years have gone by and life has polished and refined me, I’m beginning…very little by very little, to understand what the essence of being a Christian is.

It’s not in fancy words, or in long prayers, or in sinless perfection. It’s in the simple understanding that I am a sinner…a very bad sinner, with no hope for redemption and no way of escape. It is in understanding that no matter how good I try to be, there will always be one area or the other in which I fall short.

It is in understanding that one day, a loving God looked on a sinful, lost and dying earth, and agreed with his Son that something needed to be done. And that Son came down, and in the greatest show of selflessness, gave up His purity for my grime, His perfection for my sinfulness.

He didn’t charge me, didn’t ask anything of me…I wasn’t even born yet! But knowing that in a million years, I would never be able to repay Him, He paid for every sin I would ever commit, paid in full, well in advance of my birth.

And one day, sick and tired of being lost, I looked up to the One who died for me, confessed that I didn’t have what it took to cleanse myself, and humbly and gratefully accepted His salvation, His free gift, a gift born of a love that I could never understand.

The day I accepted Christ as my Saviour, every sin I have ever and will ever commit was wiped clean; not by my effort, but by His grace.

I live by His grace, laugh, love and exist by His grace. I function by His grace. In Him I live, and move and have my being. Oh trust me, I still make mistakes, seemingly one every day, but it’s different now, I’m not walking alone.

Being a Christian to me, being Christlike, is depending on His grace day by day to become what He designed me to be. It is about trusting in His everlasting arms, the arms that will not let me go and will not allow me to be stolen; it is leaning in those arms and letting them carry me.

I have strayed, gotten distracted and walked away. Every single time He has waited for me, come searching for me. And when He has found me, battered, bruised and broken, He has picked me back up and put me back together again. I don’t understand His love, but I am grateful for it, could not imagine a life without it.

Not only do I live by His grace, but I am sealed by His grace; and if I died today, or He came back to earth today, I would go to Heaven, a purified soul. He took care of my here and now and my thereafter.

I don’t like to come across as a Bible basher. I’m not the sort to force my beliefs down anyone’s throat, but guys, I would be incredibly selfish and extremely ungrateful, if I could not share the love that saved and keeps me.

By God’s grace there will be many other blog posts. I will talk about politics, religion and everyday life. I will share humour, anger, my dreams and my vision. But I firmly believe that the words I write today are the most important I will ever write.

Guys, I don’t think we have much time left on earth. It might be tonight, it might be in the next 50 years, but I firmly believe that we are running out of time. And even if we weren’t, even if we all live to 150…not one of us is promised tomorrow.

I’d like to ask a huge favour. Take a minute to search your heart. Are you struggling? Tired of struggling? If this night, your number was called and death came for you (God forbid), are you 100% sure that you would go to Heaven? If you’d always wondered but never took the time to be sure, don’t you think this is as good a time as any?

If you’re doing your best to be a good person, you don’t need to. You will never be good enough, you know it, because you have been trying…and failing, for a good while now. Besides, someone already did the work for you; someone already paid your bill.

Imagine yourself, broke, cold and hungry. You walk up to a mansion, the smell of food wafting out from the windows. You knock on the door to ask if someone could give you a little work to do, anything for a mattress to sleep on and some food for your stomach. And then the owner of the house peers into your eyes and says with a warm welcome ‘I’ve been waiting for you, this house is yours, the food is yours, upstairs, there is a wardrobe full of clothes for you”. You look at your rags and say with shame “I’m sorry Sir, I can barely feed myself, I can’t afford any of this” He smiles and says “I know, I paid for it all myself, this is a gift…for you”

In a million years you could never do enough to pay for the grace that is available to you. But you don’t have to work for it, it’s been available for a very long time…while you were still a sinner, someone looked into the future, saw you, and paid your debt…in full. All He needs you to do is accept His gift, accept the sacrifice He paid. That is all. I don’t know about you, but I’m so so glad, that Jesus loves me, loves me to enough to die for me. Love that does not waver, no matter how unfaithful I am.

And finally, there are a few reading this who do not, or will not believe a word I say. To you, this is all some religious mumbo jumbo, more of the white man’s way of colonizing us, or just unnecessary and excessive. It’s totally cool, I understand. Trust me when I say that for your sakes, I would gladly be wrong. However, if I am right, and things happen as they have been prophesied, then I pray that if you do need to find these words again, you will find them easily and in time.

If you would like to talk some more on this, or if you have any questions, just send a message and I’d be honoured to walk your path of discovery with you. I’m no expert, but I trust God that together, we will find the answers you seek.

God bless you.

BAIDAY TINS – PART 2

I’m not very good at talking about myself, and I almost changed my mind about writing this list.  First, it seemed to me to be very self-centred to spend an entire blogpost talking about oneself. Secondly, I’m not a fan of the spotlight, I’d much rather be in the shadows, oiling machinery and making sure the show runs smoothly. There is a certain vulnerability in coming out of the shadows, and I don’t like to be vulnerable. But life is about stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t it? It’s about opening our self-created safe areas and exposing yourself to the possibility of criticism and mockery but also the possibility that somewhere, there is someone who will listen to you and feel a resonance with you.

Anyway,*deep breath* so here goes. 10 facts about me; in no particular order.

  1. My native name is Obremeno…where I get the Meno in menoword from. The sentence means “People (or the world) would not have given me children”. I’ve always thought it was a rather cynical name until recently when I realised that this is perhaps what it truly means – People do not always wish the best for you – that’s life, however, your final outcomes are not dependent on people but on God
  2. My worst trait perhaps is the fact that I rarely chastise or point out when people wrong me. I believe everyone has a built-in barometer (or would that be thermometer?) that tells them when they are misbehaving and so, when people are cheating or hurting you or generally misbehaving, there should be a little bird that whispers in their ear that perhaps they shouldn’t. I keep quiet and wait for that bird to register its opinion, and I act based on my observations. Many of my friendships have quietly died or been re-appraised because of this. It’s not a perfect system, I have been wrong about people’s motives or actions as often as I have been right…I’m still looking for my balance.
  3. I did my NYSC in Zamfara. After camp, I hemmed and hawed about going back, until my parents called me one day and said “you have 2 choices about going to Zamfara – you can go with luggage or without luggage, but in 2 days, you’re going to Zamfara” So I went to Zamfara – with luggage thankfully, and it was an awesome experience. There is something about going back to a life that exists at its simplest. I pumped water from the well and talked to curious students about summer and winter. I watched traders ride past on their camels every Sunday as Tsafe woke up to market day. I sat outside at midnight and looked at a scene so bright in the cloudless midnight that it seemed like it was midday and the sun had turned to pure silver. I started to realise that God was not locked up in a church.
  4. I’ve had a rather conflicted relationship with God. I grew up in an ultra conservative church where trousers, dancing or hugging were not allowed. I felt like a fish out of water because I did not know why I felt this need to…rebel. I also grew up with a lot of guilt because I felt like I was constantly backsliding – all the things I wanted to do were considered wrong. I wavered between a reluctant, formal yet obligatory interaction with God to periods of desperate crying out because I couldn’t figure myself out. I longed for grace but knew only judgment. Little by little, God has started to show Himself to me. My biggest shock and the hardest to adjust to, is the realization that He not only knows that I am imperfect, but loves me still, has always loved me. The fact that anyone could love me so unconditionally still blows my mind. Oh and I wear trousers these days, I even wear jeans to church, makes it so much easier to dance.
  5. Unless I am in a particularly stubborn mood, I am impossible to argue with. It’s almost impossible to force me into a belief or frame of mind. I’m almost impossible to force – period. If the person speaking to me insists on pushing their point of view, I either make myself scarce or respond with a quiet non-answer impossible to refute or argue with. When I’m feeling particularly evil, I respond with a statement that will interpret along the lines of “I’m quite sure you think you’re right, and I am generous enough to let you continue to think that way, despite the fact that I know for certain that you’re wrong”. I’ve managed to condense this attitude into a particularly smug smile which drives people mad because…well, how do you argue with a smile?
  6. I’m not a fan of shopping. If I don’t see anything I like within the first 10 minutes, I either pick the first thing that fits, or give it up and leave. Shopping tires me out…literally. Being dragged along on a shopping trip will have me gasping for breath and looking for air after about 45 minutes.
  7. I love to sleep. Nothing makes me happier than sleep. I could sleep all day and sleep all night. Sleeping Beauty on Sleeping pills has got nothing on me.
  8. I don’t do social conversations – you know, the ones where you talk about the weather, fashion – all dem polite conversation things. I’m not good on answering questions about myself either. As a matter of fact, the quickest way to shut me up is to ask me too many questions about myself, my actions or my whereabouts; my answers get shorter and shorter and eventually I make like a Ninja and vanish. “Tell me about yourself” is in my opinion, the worst set of words ever cobbled together into a sentence.
  9. I had an experience last year that left me with emotional fallout so bad that one night, I found myself sitting under a street light at Gwarimpa junction at 2am. Although life has “tired” me many times, I have never before and since then been literally and totally tired of life. A car dropped off a young man at the junction and drove off. He started to head his way, noticed me and came to ask me what was wrong. I’m not sure I was very coherent. He answered that although he suspected that I was a spirit, he would rather let me kill him than allow me stay by myself there. I didn’t want company so I started to walk, intending to walk back to town. I missed the turn off and started heading towards Kubwa. The young man walked with me; told me his life story, asked to hear mine. I didn’t say much, just told him I was kinda hoping that the night would end with me in heaven. We walked like that for a long time – I was oblivious to where I was or where I was headed. After musch persuasion on his part, I finally agreed to get into a cab that dropped us off at Wuse market. I told the young man goodnight, gave him all the money I had on me and started walking again. I looked across the road and there he was, walking, keeping me in his sight, I crossed the road and yelled at him to go home, he told me he would go when I finally got into a cab. Fed up, I got into a taxi and zoomed off. I never saw the young man again.

10. God has major plans for my life. I don’t know what exactly, but I know that His hand covers me. That night, I could’ve been raped, kidnapped or murdered. That night I could have died…I didn’t. That night, I finally got it into my head that there was more going on in my life than me and my issues. I hit my rock bottom that night. I got to the end of myself. I literally had nowhere else to go – spiritually and emotionally. The funny thing is, in getting to the end of myself, I encountered the limitless reserve that is God Himself. I’m not the best Christian in the world, I don’t even think I’m a particularly good Christian, but surely I owe it to God to make the best of this life that He has given me and I intend to do my best – by His grace.

This has been hard for me to write. I don’t like to share so much of myself, but lately, I’ve found myself getting tired of so much of the plastic that seems to characterise our lives, this myth we perpetuate that we have no struggles. It seems to me that so many of us spend so much time looking right, we forget to check whether we are alright. I do a mean impression of perfect, I’ve lived that life – great on the outside but falling apart inside, empty, miserable. I’d much rather be real, show you the cracks and how they reveal the greatness of the Glue that holds me together.

So here’s to stepping into the spotlight, here’s to leaving the shadows, here’s to being vulnerable.

God bless you guys.