I was at House on the Rock The Refuge today the 31st of August, a few hours before the ‘ember months’ broadcasts start flying around on Blackberry, Twitter, and Facebook. Miss me with that nonsense please. God bless you.

I digressed; church was many shades of amazing! To be honest, the only church that compares to HOTR for me is my home church, Hillsong. There’s something about the amount of care and preparation that goes into readying their services that makes it super exciting for me.

I was blessed by the testimonies, especially the lady whose sister God snatched from death, and the guy who now has two flexible, well-paying jobs. There was the single mom whose son has now come to Christ and is now in university and away from his rough friends, and yes, there was the guy who heard a word from Pastor Goodheart in 2001, ‘ran’ with it and has now received a mandate letter from the Federal Government to bring his 9-year-old dream to life! Exciting stuff, God is truly amazing!

And then Asu Ekiye took to the stage, and I couldn’t sit down! Yes! Yes! Yes! From the first song till his team left the stage, I was catapulted to several times in 2013 when my darling aunty Pat and I would play loud music on the days before she fell ill, and then days when she didn’t feel a lot of pain.

Sometimes, I would wake up to Yinka Ayefele, some other times it would be Kefee (of blessed memory), and then of course it would be Asu Ekiye blasting through the roof. How no one ever reported us for disturbance I don’t know, and you know how paper-thin walls can be in England.

It always annoyed me when she did that (because I have the craziest sleep patterns); she’d leave the music on (at its highest), and then open my door just so I’d hear her sing along to it. When I opened my eyes she’d say, “eye no go rotten” or “sleep no be death”. If I frowned, she’d say, “I just came to visit you o, you don’t know if I’m an angel”, and that would make me smile. I miss her to pieces.

And so when Asu Ekiye started to minister, I danced my heart out in honor of God, and in honor of my aunty. I flashed back to the times we’d play these Nigerian traditional tunes, and then I’d dance to show her the steps I’d put on during my traditional marriage (even when I wasn’t dating anyone). I remember asking to check if my bum was shaking or not. Lol!

I miss her. I miss her. Kai.

P:S – At this point I shut my moleskine and concentrated on the service. So I wouldn’t cry too much. :)

A few times this week I’ve had cause to use this phrase “may we not become the thing/person we criticise” and after I used it this evening while chatting with my darling girl/expert tensioner Francesca, I decided to write about it!

First off, I was pushing off to Lagos on Tuesday for a meeting/meeting some actors on location and I met Nasiru at the airport. Now, Nasty (what we affectionately call him) is a long time friend and former boss at the BBC World Service Trust while I was there.

Nasty is a very good friend of mine (offline and online), and probably doesn’t remember how he encouraged me sometime in 2009 when I had a really rough period because of one silly diary I found. I remember everything you said to me Nasty, and I’m super grateful!

Anyway, so we talked about our old office, and how things have changed, how people we thought of in one way became a totally different thing, and I expressed fears about the corrupting effect power has on people. Nasty was quick to remind me that not everyone is misled by power, and we wrapped that conversation with “may we not be the thing/person/people we criticise”.

The day before I was trying to register for a voter card (didn’t happen eventually), and I remember thinking all sorts of angry thoughts because of the really stressful day I ended up having. These thoughts included everyone who had something to do with the really shoddy preparations for the registration, including the policeman who threatened me (chronicle coming up soon). And while I talked to someone about it later that evening, he tried to make excuses for a few of the people I had it really bad for. Of course I didn’t want to think of it, but I did (later), and I hoped people would give me the benefit of the doubt when I needed it.

And then there was the conversation with Fran earlier this evening, we talked about a somewhat mutual friend and the drama she gets at home. While I agree that she definitely could have it better, I also know that it’s very few parents who would intentionally set out to hurt their kids. And so I said to Fran that I pray we don’t become the parents our kids talk to their friends about, the ones who give them loads of drama.

There’s at least two more instances this week that I’ve used this phrase, and I honestly don’t remember if I came up with it or if I read it somewhere, or if someone said it to me. I just know that it’s worth taking a minute to reflect before we chew the next person out. Not saying to cover evil or condone ‘anyhowness’, but people make mistakes, and we can too.

Have a smashing new week!

 

PS: It’s Francesca’s birthday next week, and I’m super excited! Francesca is a beautiful daughter of Zion, and has become one of the strongest arms I lean on, always there when I need her. I would go on and on now but there’d be nothing to put in the card, and she’s the kind of person who would refer me to this post just to tell me I’ve said the same thing twice! Love you long time B!

PSS: She wrote for the first #31Days31Writers series, and she’s so intense! Loved her piece!

PSSS: God please do not let anything happen to Joan Rivers (who is reportedly on life support). She might have a really caustic mouth but I really like her!

The Word of God will do you good, anytime!! I have been remiss with publishing my church notes for a bit, so this week we’re catching up! The theme for the service (which I attended in June and totally looooved) was ‘Man/men of steel’. There was a guest minister, Pastor Sam Oye and his message was titled: ‘The Making of a Man of Steel’.

Steel is an alloy which is the product of two metals fused together to produce something that is durable and of a higher qualitative value.

This hybrid created by the fusion is done for three reasons

  1. Ordinarily it is ductile (it appears strong but is not as strong)
  2. It is malleable – it cracks/thins out under pressure
  3. It is less desirable in its raw state.

The process of fusion involves ‘smelting’ or metamorphosis. This process is never pleasant – tears will be shed, habits will be dropped, personal excuses for weaknesses need to and should go!

The weakness of the metals are removed during the smelting process, giving way for the additional materials that make it more durable, of greater quality and high value.

Three characteristics of a man of steel

  • An ordinary man with extraordinary grace and wisdom
  • A common man with uncommon character and courage
  • A normal man with unusual grave and undeniable results

A man of steel needs three types of people in his life

  • A coach: someone to make you uncomfortable with where you are per time
  • A virtuous wife. Ruth 3: 11, Proverbs 12:15, 31:10. ‘Virtuous’ is from the Greek word ‘Chayil’, meaning able, efficient, resourceful, rich, healthy, valiant, forceful, and mighty.
  • The Holy Spirit. 1 Samuel 10

Dear men, Adam was in his garden (tending it) when God brought Eve to him (or caused him to sleep and then formed Eve out of him and then brought her to him if you like the long version of things).

What are you doing? What garden are you tending? Have you found your purpose in this life or are you swaying with every wind of doctrine?

[Written on the 26th of June]

Service today was powerful! Whoop!

When I’m in Nigeria, there are very few reasons why I won’t attend House On The Rock The Refuge in Abuja, and first four of a possible five reasons is I’m probably not in Abuja!

This particular Sunday, coming after a particularly horrible week both locally and internationally – Gaza, Air Algiers, Boko Haram, Ebola (hian!) – there was a real sense of fear/panic around me, and I promise you I was checking my calendar and things.

But God always has a word for His people, a word of peace, a word of comfort, a word of hope. And so I listened to testimonies of how God delivered a guy from violent death in an accident where the villagers were asking, “where are the dead bodies?” He came out untouched.

I listened to ‘Praise In This Age’ worship God like a man adores a girlfriend who just said yes to him, heartfelt, feeling in every single word, it was the kiss of my day. He has an incredible testimony too, God delivered him from a violent death too… He was pronounced dead after his accident et al but he’s alive today, with the most ‘goose-bumps inducing’ voice I’ve heard in a while! Dang!

Tehilah choir? Minstrels of life! Whoop! Instrumentation at its peak, and their excitement is always palpable, even when you’re sitting upstairs! Love them! Watched my sister bumping her head (with the cutest smile ever) as they did a hip-hop number today, love, love, love!

The Word. My Daddy Rev Goodheart led the church in a session of prayer, and brethren if you’re not praying for Nigeria you’re on a looooooong thing! What!! How can we be ranking highest for everything evil? Why? Can we not see there are evil forces at work? What else can we do but pray to the God who created us (and this country) to deliver, defend, and preserve His own?

Defend, deliver, and preserve us oh Lord. We will take precautions (like not hang around dodgy places, practice strict hygiene and stay aware of how to minimize risk to Ebola, etc.) but we know if you don’t watch over us and our cities, our efforts are in vain.

Rev Goodheart preached on the help of God, and 7 ways to engage it. Did I need this word or did I?

  1. Admit and acknowledge you need God’s help. No point if you feel like you can run things yourself. Deuteronomy 8: 2. Isaiah 66:3
  2. Denounce/release anything that might ‘help’ God or attempt to share his glory. Yes Sir! Take your eyes/hopes off them! Isaiah 50: 7. Psalm 147: 10-13
  3. Acknowledge/thank Him for past interventions. Works both ways – He comes through for you, but while you wait your faith stays unshaken cos’ you know if He did it before, He can/will do it again. Psalm 103: 1-4
  4. Ask/pray for His help. Hebrews 4: 16. 1 Kings 18. Don’t get weary with it. Ask!
  5. Activate divine help by praising. Psalm 23:3. 2nd Chronicles 20.
  6. Anticipate a God-given strategy will be made available. God always gives instructions when He wants to come through for you. Obedience to divine leading delivers you from destruction.
  7. Keep your eyes on the victory. Have you done everything you should do? Stand. Keep calm. Let God do His thing. Give God what Pastor Obi called ‘sleeping praise’! As in, sleep!

I had a great time at church, loved it! Looking forward to the dedication of the church in September, and Tehilah’s concert! Fingers crossed I can make it!

Written on the 27th of July.

A few things told me I was ready to do an entrepreneurs edition of #31Days31Writers:

  1. I’d run the entrepreneur interview series on my blog several times, and not only did the articles get great feedback, they opened new doors of opportunities for the business owners. I have however been remiss in sourcing entrepreneurs for that category on the blog and so I thought, why not get the entrepreneurs sell themselves?
  2. #31Days31Writers (again on the blog) was a massive success the two times I’ve run it! Again, great feedback, the amazing stories and perspectives from the writers, and it was such a joy having fresh content every single day of the month!

And so I thought, why don’t I dedicate one edition solely to entrepreneurs? Why not celebrate the brilliant young men and women braving the odds working through unfavorable circumstances to keep their dreams visions alive? Why not offer them this platform to showcase their services, strengths, and unique edge?

Why not?

And that’s it folks, this is your space!

Criteria

Be an entrepreneur (defined by Google as “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit”). Is this you? That’s all the criteria you need!

 

Send 500 words, covering the following

  • What do you do?
  • Why you stated your business/what gets you excited about it?
  • What year did you start this business, and where?
  • Immediate challenges you faced then and what you did to deal with them?
  • Where do you see your business at the end of the year, and in five years?

That’s it! Please send in a photo with your submission – could be of your products/address/whatever you feel compliments your work; feel free to create one for this if you want. Send it to dfairygodsister(at)gmail(dot)com with your name and #31Days31Writers as the subject of the mail, and you’re in!

I’ve got 25 slots open, and the first people to send in their entries, get it!

Start sending in your entries in already!

 

Hi guys!

Been a while I wrote, and I’m sorry… I’ve written a lot of stuff, but as always, the challenge is typing it up for it to make sense for you!

Anyway, something happened last night.

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I was in Lagos last week, and driving to a super interesting service with my girl Francesca we saw so many people crossing the expressway just under the pedestrian bridge. Francesca was super upset (and to be honest I was puzzled by it) but seeing this guy yesterday evening just broke me.

People, please let’s be a bit careful. As we drive, as we walk, as we sit in cars driven by other people, we must be careful. Nigeria (especially) is in a bad place with all sorts of things snuffing out lives (ebola, Boko Haram, Cholera, etc.); the least we can do is cover our bases.

Have a good weekend everyone!

I haven’t been in my village for a good number of years, save the 24 hours I spent in 2010 for my sister’s traditional wedding (there’s got to be a separate chronicle for that someday)!

Anyway, so my cousin was getting married and I told myself that somehow my trip to see Momma would fall within that period. And it did.

The story about the trip to Asaba from Abuja is here; yep it’s the story about the ‘beggi beggi’ woman.

Cue Friday afternoon, and the 25 minutes drive to my village from Asaba; my father believes he’s from a town though, never says he’s from a village. :)

Occurred to us that apart from a 24 hour stint in 2010 when my sister had her traditional wedding – got in from London that morning, road trip to the village, met what I could of the traditional wedding and left the next morning – I’d not been in the village in at least five years so Daddy (Lord bless him) gave a running commentary of pretty much everything that had changed. ‘Changed’ here could mean it’d gotten better or completely gone South by the way.

I ended up tweeting some of the things he said… let’s go grab those off Twitter then.

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Was awesome seeing my uncles and aunts, and super awesome to just take a nice stroll around. People in the villages lead healthier/simpler lives than all of us town folk o, regardless of what privileges we thing we enjoy. For example, I had roasted corn and pear (oka n’ube) and the corn was harvested from a farm near by. Fresh, succulent, and soft!

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Yes Sir!!!

By the way, electricity was also a lot more constant than what we have in Asaba, no jokes. And I hear they are not saddled with bills (fixed or energy charges) that we town folk have to deal with either. Next thing y’all will hear I’ve relocated to my village o!

Before I forget, do you know where bitter kola comes from? So I was strolling with Uncle B (my favorite of all my father’s brothers), and he showed me this tree and told how bitter kola is derived. Plus he has lots of the ‘ugolo’ trees on his land, anyone want to bring us an export proposal?

Screenshot 2014-07-13 21.59.17And you know you’re in the village when your uncle stops a random stranger in the street and introduces you to them because you’re related!!
The evening, the morning, wedding day!

Got up early, did some work and then a bit of reading, and then prepped for my cousin’s wedding. She still didn’t know I was around, he he he.

We got to church and I think the last time I was inside this particular church I was a child. As in child, child. Still looks beautiful though, wonder why we don’t invest in ‘protecting’ all these aged buildings. See potential tourist site o…

Took pictures with my uncles, and a selfie with uncle B!

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Went off to the reception, and things stood out for me so I tweeted (me and Twitter sha)…

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Na wa!

 

Eating, dancing, and gifting over, it was time to head back to Asaba, and I didn’t want to go.

Pertinent note from Daddy as we crossed the Niger Bridge and I wondered why people were risking life and limb to board buses on the bridge going into Asaba.

Apparently, if they board on the bridge, the trip costs N100 because it is classed as ‘local’ (because some people see the bridge as part of Delta) but if they board anywhere in Onitsha (even if it’s just before said bridge), it becomes an out-of-state trip and it goes up to N150, maybe even N200.

And that my darlings, is the story of my trip to the greatest village/town on earth!

 

 

PS – Written on the 11th (and completed on the 11th) of July.

Sometime in the middle of the month I became a little fed-up of sending countless reminders to people to send in their pieces. By the 24th I’d missed two days, and I didn’t want to miss anymore, so I stopped mailing people and used the opportunity to publish pieces I’d written since June.

And suddenly, people started getting in touch to say their posts were almost ready. Lol. But then Ore emailed his, apologizing for being late, and without reading it (or checking the word count), I replied saying I felt he overshot the word count but I would publish today. He was sure he did 600 words and he said so. He was right, and I’m sorry.

I just read it now and it must have been God who made me pick this post for today. Dang!! Home truth after home truth, homie hit every note with this piece! Like, I’m so excited with it! Whoop! Feels like such a beautiful end to a beautiful series, and I couldn’t be any more chuffed!

Enjoy!

 

I bought a pack of Post-It notes today.

Or maybe I didn’t, I’m not sure.

Okay, I didn’t.

Seems like I need to constantly remind myself to remember.

And also to never forget that my life is beautiful.

Because it is.

But how did I get here?

 

Several times this year I have felt deeply sorry for myself, wallowing in self-generated moroseness as I contemplated my apparent lack of achievements. I would waste hours drawing up comparisons between myself and others who seem to have gotten it together, whatever that means. In the end, there would be no lesson learned and no grand plan for a swift turnaround conceived. A miserable state of affairs, if I may say so myself.

I wasn’t doing myself any good and I knew it, but the habit had become far too ingrained for me to dispatch it with a swift kick. And so I carried on in this pathetic way, patching my doubt-ridden self-esteem inwardly with hollow motivational speeches delivered without any feeling to my equally unbelieving reflection in the mirror, and outwardly with smiles so superficial that could very well have been velcroed onto my face.

Until one day when, out of the greys (the skies never seemed blue then), I asked myself the one question I had never before thought to ask:

So I need a turnaround, but a turnaround from what exactly?

The answers, they tumbled out from the depths of my soul of their own accord:

1. From a family that treats me like I’m a godsend?

2. From a job I’m incredibly good at?

3. From the God who loves me unconditionally even though I have failed Him too many times to count?

And on I went with the list of positives, like a man who all is life had been convinced that he was lame but suddenly found that he could not just walk but fly.

 

Stacked up this way, my blessings dwarfed my mountain of supposed underachievement. You see, I had been wearing my misery-coloured shades for so long that all the good things in my life had become near-invisible and my measure of success was all the stuff I didn’t have, stuff I didn’t even need to be happy.

Bear with me while I struggle not to come off as preachy, please.

I’m truly sorry if you have no place for the God of the universe in your world, He makes all the difference. I’m as sure of this as I have no doubt that if I eat a meal of boiled beans and go to bed right afterwards, I will wake up with an upset stomach. That has never failed to happen, and God has never failed to come through for me. That is no small comfort.

So I am thankful for my faith in Him. That faith will guide me to everything good. At my own pace. In His time. I’m not in a hurry, lest my feet find paths they were not made to follow.

I am no longer afraid of the world’s critical examination of my life, no longer afraid that my shortcomings will be spotlighted and my carefully cultured thick skin will rupture as soon as the shower of prickly insults cleverly disguised as ‘good’ advice begins to rain down on me.

I have learned to count my blessings, and they have begun to grow.

And because I have been counting, I am becoming a blessing myself.

If that’s not an achievement, I don’t know what is.

The rest of the year will be fine. I look forward to more counting.

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Boom! What did I tell you? Absolutely loved it!

Ok, I’m writing this aboard a Discovery Air flight to Abuja, spent the last few days in Lagos.

As we were taxiing (and I was trying to drown out the voice of the air hostess), I looked out the window and saw one of the ground controllers – the guys with jumbo-sized, orange headphones and neon-colored batons signaling to a plane in the rain, and the rain was really pouring down.

Photo Credit - gettyimages.com

This is what I meant… Photo Credit – gettyimages.com

Made me angry, like really angry.

Why didn’t he have a raincoat on? Is it that his employers don’t know that it rains, or they just don’t care? If this is about saving money, does that compare to the man-hours that will be lost when this guy falls ill/catches his death? How much does a raincoat cost?

So annoying!

Same way I’ve never been impressed with Policemen or traffic wardens doing their duties under the rain. Does it speak to the dedication of the officers? Yes. But, it also speaks to their inability to demand responsibility from leaders/bosses who are clearly irresponsible.

Who sends their child to school without books and a pen/pencil? Who heads to the farm without a hoe, cutlass, etc.? Why do we set our people up to fail?

I’m really ticked off about it because the ‘I-don’t-care’ attitude we show in little things always manifests in the big things, and by that time, too much has been destroyed/affected. As my friend Chude said to one of his staff recently, ‘these little inefficiencies add up and total huge losses’. I totally agree!

How many times in the last few months have we heard that our soldiers stationed especially in the North East are ill-equipped? How can our military that have successfully quelled unrests in other nations suddenly be out-gunned/out-weaponed by insurgents? What with the billions of naira allocated to them each year? How?

Think of it, one person in charge would probably have wiggled out of purchasing weapons over the years because there was relative peace, maybe even ‘redirected’ monies meant for training the officers. So now, they’re falling short.

That’s why you meet some police officers, and it seems like the only skill they have is gauging hoe much you’ve got in your bag so they can beg/greet/cajole it off you.

Ladies and gentlemen, little foxes will always spoil the vine. Always.

 

PS – Dear Lagosians, I don’t know what y’all mean when you crow ‘Fashola/Lagos is working’. How can I need a canoe to move around just because it’s rained? SMH

 

Written on the 25th of July.

 

 

Have you ever gotten lost before? Whether driving, walking, boating or flying, have you ever just stopped and thought, “hang on, I’m lost, I don’t know where I am?”

I know I have! I’ve blogged about wandering off as a three-year old so you can imagine I started doing this early, lol. J Most recently I dropped a friend off after a night out and in the midst of navigating my way out of her zones, I realized I’d been driving for at least 22 minutes.

Now, I was going to ring her to say the inevitable had happened (because she’d teased that I’d lose my way), then I remembered we’d lambasted the electricity companies because there wasn’t any power when we got to hers and her phone was dead.

So I said a prayer, focused on remembering how I got to where I was, and then I retraced my steps. 20 minutes later, I was home safe. Read all of that as God took over, and led me home.

What if I didn’t find my way though, in that dead of night? What if it wasn’t in town or anywhere in civilization but in some desert, the woods, a thick overflowing forest, you know, all those things Hollywood movies are made of?

To be honest, these were the thoughts that crossed my mind when Alexandra from ManCrates got in touch to ask what I’d fit in a potential survival kit. For the purpose of this article, I’m allowed 4 items, a 5th because I am a good person :) . Also, all the items are important to me, so don’t laugh!

  1. A duffel bag that would never empty of my favorite foods and drinks. Don’t even laugh (remember my warning) – how am I supposed to live without food and drink? How am I supposed to tell this story if I die of starvation? Very important biko.
  2. My Bible. Not because it sounds like a must-have, or because it formed one of the three items Agbani Darego, Nigeria’s only Miss World said she’d have in her survival pack. The Bible is ageless, timeless, and a source of great comfort and reassurance. Besides, who else to maintain direct contact with than God? Definitely on my list.
  3. My Moleskine. Wherever I go, I see/find a story. Truth be told, if everything I wrote in my jotters could automatically appear on my blogs, you would either spend your lives on my blog trying to catch up on pieces or you’d run away! How much more when there’s a proper, proper story of my surviving (whatever) to be told?
  4. My fleece. I call it my ‘comfort cloth’; it is dark blue, wraps around me nicely and is light enough not to be heavy yet keeps me warm when I need it to. And incredibly, regardless of how many times I wash it, I can always (somehow) sniff my nephew and my late Aunty Pat on it. My everlasting reminder of everyone I love dearly.
  5. An Internet-ready smartphone. Take pictures, make a video or two, play a few games maybe (particularly in love with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and The Weakest Link), and most importantly, call/tweet for help! Am I supposed to stay lost forever?

What would you have in yours? What four things can you not do without?