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.

 

 

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*

 

 

Peace in the Promise

I’m not even going to bother with the apologies again..no point. I nearly decided to leave off with this blog. I just got tired. Like when I finish working, the last thing I want to do is pick up my lappie and start another work…this was becoming work. Which is a problem.

I’m not joking I have like 5 titles to write on, but no energy, no motivation. So I decided to give it a break until today.

And today I am here because…I am grateful…

This time last year, in response to a situation, God told me “No matter how it looks, it will turn out for good”. I got a bit alarmed by the way Abba phrased it, I mean what did He mean by no matter how it looks…I was worried o.

The second half of last year was hard. I’ve blogged about it before I think. It wasn’t fun o. You know when you’re dealing with something undefinable. It’s not – Oh this person said this, or that person did that, or this thing I need is unavailable. It is just life becoming struggle on every single front. I was tired! Spent so many nights questioning God and hearing “You are perfectly in my will” and “Stop trying to escape this process. You must go through it” All those sturvs.  Ah!

I’m sitting here in my house and I am so grateful. Did the situation change? No, not really. But guess what? Somewhere, somehow, without knowing how exactly, God arranged my perspective to see my situation through new eyes. Through frustration and despair, He took away fear and anxiety. You know how you hit rock bottom and you’re like – This is it, I’m done. And then you find, most unexpectedly, peace in the giving up? I found it. Because I found out that the results were not up to me, the answers were not up to me. When I stopped trying so hard to hold on, and I let go, guess what I found? I found out that He was holding onto me, that He wouldn’t let me go.

I had a bit of an accommodation situation this year, needed to move out of a place within a certain period of time, hunted, searched, and then quite randomly got led to a place that is 10 times better than the former place. I wake up each day peaceful, content and excited. This is what He has done, showed me how precisely He governs each detail. How precisely I am led.

Today I was asking Him – All these seeds I’m sowing, will they ever pay off? And I got an assurance in my Spirit – Of course they will. This is a process, just like the past one was. My life is a daily giving, a daily pouring of myself for Him, through my service to other people. And though I am coming to a place where it is becoming less like “doing” and more like a regular way of life, it still made me smile when I said to Him, “I’m ok if You never give me any of the things You say You will, it’s about You, not them” and He sends me to a Scripture that says…let me find it first I’m coming

Aha..Ruth 2:12. In the CEB – May the Lord reward you for your deed. May you receive a rich reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you’ve come to seek refuge

He intends to reward, all that one I was speaking was just grammar.

I’m blessed with daily miracles, big and small. And now I hunger to be a miracle too. To be the vessel through which someone goes back to God to say “Thank You for coming through for me”

I used to wonder why people never gave to me the same way other people testified of receiving. You know how people say “I was just scratching my foot and someone came to me and gave me a new car”. I used to wonder why I never was the recipient of unrequested and unexpected gifts, and then Abba did something –  He took that feeling, and then turned it into a hunger to be the giver instead, of unexpected blessings. I want to be the reason someone testifies, I want to be the channel by which people are blessed.

His hands on earth and that sort of thing.

Anyway…I’m grateful. The situation I was in hasn’t changed, but being in a place where you are totally out of control and the ability to predict what comes next…well it does something to you. It gives you peace. It teaches you faith and trust. Because you are no longer able to influence or push or manipulate. And all you can do is lie there and wait.

There is promise in the waiting. There is peace in the promise.

 

CONVERSATIONS WITH ONE – RE-LEARNING TO HOPE

You have always thought of yourself as a hope filled person – someone who always believes and encourages others to do the same. That’s why you disagree when One points out the emptiness of your Hope jar. You don’t believe it, it doesn’t sound like you.

But the post phone call autopsy shows different. In that uncomfortable but increasingly familiar sequence of events, One shows you your body language through a phone call that is pretty much the biggest possible deal ever. Even as you share and pace and plan, your spirit stands, separate and disengaged, hands folded, heart determinedly closed. You still don’t agree… you’re being cautious, realistic, planning and waiting.

So One asks you to pray… and you see Spirit…struggling to put faith to words, struggling even to find the words. You realise that you do not want to pray. And One asks, “Why?”

You look at yourself more closely, at the hunched shoulders. You think of the storms, not fiery raging ones that force fight and fire from you, but steady slow drizzles that soak and soak until all you can do is hunch your shoulders…and wait

The answers are compelled out of you…You have asked too many things and watched them go unanswered…you have been hurt and denied too many times…you do not have the testimonies you asked for…you are scared to ask because you don’t want to become resentful when the answer is no…you don’t want the hurt of asking and investing in an answer that doesn’t come…you don’t want the pain of refusal.

With your response comes a painful sort of freedom, but One isn’t done. Again the nudge “Pray”

As you go to pray, you note your posture, not a child asking a loving Father, but a supplicant beseeching a distant ruler. This is not the King you have come to know, how has this become the King that you see?

One pauses your prayer, and gently rearranges you. Your rigidly held out hands soften as they clutch the arms of the Father who is always ready to hold you. Your pleas for mercy become an assurance that you have been heard. You find yourself asking “Restore me to hope…remind me of hope”

You still didn’t pray like you expected to…for this thing that is so big that you are scared to hold on to it, lest like a bubble in the heat, it vanishes, leaving you with a memory…and sticky empty fingers.

But you pray for hope to believe, for the hope that will both anchor this thing to your soil and raise it, waving, in the skies of your spirit.

You pray for the ability to open your heart…yes, to pain, but also to possibility.

You realise that the lesson is not asking for the thing, but the ability to believe that all things are possible.

You raise your Hope jar; this tarnished, bruised thing, this barely burning flame. With hands that have almost forgotten the motions, you begin to polish…with lips that have almost forgotten how, you reach into you…and begin to blow

CREATION AWAITS

I was driving past our old neighbourhood recently and I remembered 2 businesses that used to be there; one a bakery and one a neighbourhood supermarket. Both of them closed, not too long after they opened…lack of business.

As I passed, I reflected on how much the area had grown in the 10 years since we used to live there. Those businesses would have been thriving today! The bakery would be perfect for freshly baked bread on the commute to and from work (they had fresh stuff morning and evening) and the supermarket had everything you could need, handy for all the new estates mushrooming by the second.

The phrase in my mind was – they were ahead of their time

A couple of days later I was reading a verse in the Bible, and in that way God has of connecting the dots, there was a fizz and a flash of light. The verse was Romans 8:18 – 21 in the Message translation

18-21 That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

Guys, now I have always read this verse, but I saw this part for what seemed like the first time:

Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead.

You know, sometimes it feels like you are being held back. You don’t understand it. You know what you want to do, you know how to do it, but it isn’t coming together. Sometimes, you aren’t ready. Sometimes, the world isn’t ready for the thing that you have to give or do. Sometimes the people that should walk with you aren’t ready. So God holds it back, reins everything in until both creation and creatures are ready and can be released together

I know that this isn’t a popular view, but I sincerely don’t believe that there is any such thing as delay. There is a set time which must come, and until that set time, we are patiently waiting and growing. However, as your set time approaches, one of a number happen:

  1. God raises an awareness in your soul that it is time to push (Daniel when Israel’s 70 years of slavery were up)
  2. God uses people to make things happen (Pharaoh and Joseph)
  3. God creates circumstances to birth a new season (the Israelites when the time of captivity had ended)
  4. God uses circumstances to push you forward (Esther)
  5. God uses supernatural circumstances and visitations (the angel’s visit to Zechariah prior to the birth of John)

I no longer pray against the spirit of delay, I pray for a revelation of God’s timing. Because His timing is always perfect. I do not seek to hasten the time, only to be found in His time.

Twice now God has given me this visual when I have felt like nothing is moving in my life. The first time, at 29 and in total despair because I was going nowhere fast, He showed me a picture of a house, abandoned, overrun with weeds, empty. Then He took me inside and I saw that there was furious repair going on. From the outside, nothing was happening, but within, there was massive renovation ongoing.

There is a house in my area, I have passed it for months looking like it had been abandoned mid task; imagine my shock when I walked in recently and saw that the inside was practically complete.

If you know how it is with houses you will recognise this, people will often leave the outside and spend months inside – plastering, wiring, putting in fixtures, tiling and all that. Then, in a week or so, weeds are removed, paint is applied, gates are fixed.

The main work happens indoors

Recently again He showed me a house, fairly nice looking. There was nothing wrong with the inside, but it was being upgraded. It was suitable for its former purposes, but now needed to be elevated to its new purpose.  And again, while men passed by unaware, within the workmen laboured, removing, installing…preparing.

Where in the renovation process are you? Can you see the changes going on within? The adjustments in your spirit? The refinement of your faith? The maturity in your understanding?

From our view we are stalled and stalling, idling while life passes us by. From God’s perspective, creation and creatures are reined in while all factors are made perfect so that you can be launched at the perfect time!

So that while a Hebrew slave grew and served in the prison, while he learned how to manage scarce resources and calm hardened criminals and impose order in a place of chaos, God prepared a famine, and touched a Pharaoh’s sleep.

And when Pharaoh woke up, heart pounding at the dreadful sight he had seen, a Hebrew slave was ready. Ready not only to lead, but ready to walk into the fulfilment of a dream that he had as a teenage boy tattling on his siblings to his doting father.

Creation needed to be ready – an Egypt heading to a famine

Creature needed to be ready – A Joseph tempered to administer in both the plenty of Potiphar’s house and the lack of the prison

Creatures needed to be ready – A Pharaoh troubled enough to hear the revelation of a pardoned servant…and to act on it.

Dear ones, you are not languishing. You are not waiting in vain. You haven’t been forgotten.

Align yourself with the time of the One who creates time and authorises seasons. See through His eyes the process as earth and heaven move for your manifestation. Have peace that He will not leave you behind. You will not be, like the bakery shop and supermarket, a great product launched way before its time.

Revel in the joyful anticipation that in due time, in your season, all that needs to happen will come into perfect position… and when the curtains are raised, there you will be, prepared, poised and ready, in your perfect time, in your perfect place.

 

SINCE ITS NEW YEAR’S AND ALL

I’m not a New Year’s person this year, which is weird because I usually am…but perhaps it’s because for me, my New Year started on the 3rd of September…my birthday. However, it is, with or without my cooperation, the last day of the year. And seeing the retrospectives from others has made me reflect on this year and what I want for next year.

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1. This was my travel year. I went to Mauritius, passed through Dubai and holidayed in Zanzibar. Me, the same girl who would spend 6 months every year poring over Trip advisor visitors to Ghana, and then conclude sadly that I couldn’t afford it for yet another year. That same me bought a ticket and travelled, on holiday, on my dime. Everytime I think of it, I smile. God is awesome guys, leave it.

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2. I stretched at work. 3 shows this year, I produced and presented in all. Looking at them, I learned so much in the process, I have developed so much in the last year. I learned to work smarter (I still dey learn that one sha), learned to delegate better, learned to go with my instincts and TRUST that I know what to do. My show got expanded to 30 minutes and I am so wowed by God’s goodness. And the comments – social media, real life, the random people who walk up to me and say “EL right? Good work”. I don’t know o. I don’t know. I’m just humbled and grateful and so determined to do better.

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3. I lost…hmmm, this year I lost a mentor and adopted mum. The same woman who looked me in the eye one year plus ago and told me I would do well. Sometimes she would look at me and say “Hmmm, this my daughter is going to be great. And when I come to visit her, they’ll say – Who are you please? And I will reply, Come on! Tell my daughter that her mother is here to see her”. She believed in me…she scolded me…she nurtured me…wept and laughed with me…she gave me the privilege of being one of the many children she held in her large heart and my heart still breaks, my eyes still fill with tears when I allow myself to realise again that the woman I called “Mama” has gone. I know she’s in heaven, I know she’s probably looking down at me and going “Hey…this my daughter is at it again” I know, but still I miss her so much.

There were also other losses, of friendship. Some fell from my hands, others I let go off. Some were hard, some were easy. But at the end of the day, looking back, all I am is grateful

4. I learned…guys if there is nothing else I did this year, I learned, and those are the lessons I will carry with me into 2014.

a. I learned to be less apologetic about who I am; my quirks and my flaws…I have been commanded to become Unapologetic. I’m still working on it, but we shall reach it one day.

b. I learned to listen more. To ask questions before I give advice. To hear. I realised that, in a bid to say the right things, I was listening less to the ones opening themselves up to me, so that will change

c. I learned to pause, that sometimes, inactivity is not a sign of ignorance, but patience. I will find myself rushing less into things.It’s ok to say “Let me get back to you on that”

d. This year saw me suffer the worst health I have had in ages…and it is because I didn’t take care of myself. No sleep, no food, no rest, no pausing to be. I have agreed that I am not a cyborg, and so, when my body says, “No work today”, I will learn not to fight so hard. I have started working on it, I’ll keep on it.

e. I learned, in various places, to say “No, this decision does not value me”. It was hard, because I am one made to please, but the resentment of doing things I didn’t want to, it’s pointless. Let me say “Yes” with excitement, or else “No” with grace. The world will not end.

f. I am learning to step away from convention in my faith, and to step into authenticity. Honesty, nakedness before God. It’s easier sometimes than others, but He is an ever present help.

g. I am learning to also seek authenticity in my friendships. My friends had better all be people who aren’t afraid to speak and hear the truth in love. It’s also my responsibility to ask the questions, look beyond the “Fine”, be a friend. I will do my best

h. Finally, I am learning self acceptance. I will never go to bed at 10pm, I tend to grouchiness and anti social behaviour, I spend more than I should, I do all these and more. But, I will stop trying to fit into a mould of who I think I should be. As long as I follow God’s heart for me, and I am doing this, I will grow, evolve into the person He created me to be. I need to accept that I am already all I am meant to be, and trust His process to bring the best me forward. I will live life in full, glowing technicolour, play my tune no matter how discordant it might sound. actively practice gratitude. I will laugh, be silent, take time apart to be with me. I will enjoy 2015, I owe myself no less.

To you my wonderful readers, who patiently wait for my irregular posts and comment so kindly and generously. May God bless you. May His storehouses open richly to you and may He pour you out such an abundant blessing that you will have to call neighbours to share it. May your mouths be full of laughter and testimonies. May your hearts be filled with joy. May your souls be at peace. And may He never be farther from you than the reach of a whispered thought. God bless you, and thank you

3. I lost

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.