On Broken Teeth and Broken Roofs..

So I mentioned a while ago that my tooth mysteriously broke right? Right. So this tooth broke and I was living in terrible pain for months. My nerves were exposed so I could neither eat nor drink nor chew nor even smile. I was in deep torment but I did not want to deal with the extraction. However, last week I bit the bullet and went in for a tooth extraction and though I am still recovering from the process, I feel awesome! I feel so relieved, I am gradually able to chew again, to smile again, to do all those things I couldn’t do and it has been bliss.

Now, let us liken a broken or decayed tooth to the friends we have. The Bible tells us of a man who was paralyzed and bed ridden and was in a very helpless situation. His friends heard that the Lord Jesus was in town and they took their friend to go see him. When they got there the place was so packed that there was literally no path to carry their bed ridden friend inside the building. When it seemed like all hope was lost, they looked up and saw the roof and then they climbed up to what I will assume was someone else’s house and they broke the roof. When the roof caved in, they lowered their friend in until he lay at the feet of Jesus. Of course this caught the Lord’s attention and when he looked at the faith of his friends, the sheer ferocity with which they believed that He would heal their friend, He said the word and the man who had been carried in through the roof, got up and walked.

This is to me is friendship, love in its purest form. When they got the house and found it full, they could have been discouraged and left but they didn’t, they broke the damn roof of a building that did not belong to them! They did the impossible, they believed for their friend who did not believe as much as they did and that singular act brought about their friends healing. Let me ask you what I have been asking myself; will the friends you have right now break the roof for you literally or figuratively? Will they go the extra mile to see that all is well with you? Do they pray for you, correct you, encourage you, cover in you love, defend you and put your needs above their own? Will they open their home to you if you need shelter or their wallets to you when you are in need? If they do not, then perhaps this is worth thinking about. I do not take friendship lightly, I never have. It is a sacred bond, and a very big deal to open up to someone, let them in, and tell them your deepest thoughts and dreams, to love them even when they sometimes hurt you, to tell them things about you and your past that very few people on earth know, not even your parents! that to me is sacred and is not an opportunity to be given at random.

My tooth was broken and hurting and it had to go. People that add no value to you have to go. I have been asking myself how good a friend I am; will I break the roof for my friends? I will also be the first to admit that I am not always a good friend, I become so self involved in my own issues and I forget that others need me and are going through issues too, and I am trying to change. I have few friends, and I love them and pray for them and cover them as much as I can, I will not rest on my oars though, I will keep striving till I become that friend that the Bible teaches us about, the friend that sticks closer than a brother/sister.

Ps: My beautiful, precious, adorable niece is here and I will share her pictures and her birth story in the next post so watch this space!

True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him or her is a blessing.”- Baltasar Gracian

 

Why I Won’t Give Up…

So my brothers and I have this inside joke, whenever I start to tell a story that they have heard a hundred times before, they start to sing “story of my life, searching for the right”…(I know, it’s only funny if you hear them sing it)

6:10 am; standing in front of my bathroom mirror, toothbrush in hand, trying to gather myself to start my day. My tooth was throbbing so hard I was very afraid to put the toothbrush in my mouth. So I stood there for a while, and then I did what children do when they are in pain, I called my mother. She cheered me up, told me to be a big girl, brush my teeth and get on with my day but before she hung up, she said; wait, let me tell you a story of why you should never give up, Insert music; ” story of my life”…

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December 1988, Olodi Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria. I had been sick for months, been admitted at LUTH for several months, I was not getting any better and the doctors gave up. They told my mum to take me home and let nature take its course. My fever was so high that my mother couldn’t sleep a wink, she had been up for days and she was exhausted but this particular day she was really tired and had to catch a quick nap. She had barely closed her eyes when she heard my cousin screaming for her, yelling at the top of her lungs because I had stopped breathing. My mum did not even look to see if it was true or not, her daughter was dying and she was terrified so she ran, she ran out the door into the street, wailing and crying for help, she was so overwhelmed and all she could do was cry.

I was convulsing again, and this time my jaws had locked up and my airway was completely blocked. Mama Chiago, one of our neighbors had heard my mum wailing and she ran into our house; she and my dad managed to pry my jaw open and administered medication to me. My parents weren’t even born again at the time, but my mum said she could remember my dad praying from the depths of his soul saying” Amarachukwu, you will not die! Not today, please God not today. It is safe to say that God answered that prayer because here I am today!

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My mother,my hero

My mum told me that after that day, I never had another seizure and I thrived and grew like I was supposed to. She recollects holding me for hours, looking at  my tired little face, bruised and battered from the efforts to pry my jaw open and just weeping and thanking God for sparing her little girl’s life. Amara, If God didn’t want you here, He would have taken you that day, you are here today for a reason. You went through that, you can go through anything! You see why the woman is my best friend? Anyway after we hung up, I braced myself, took a couple of pain pills, finally brushed my teeth and went about my day with a huge smile on my face. My tooth might ache like hell, my life might be going in the opposite direction from where I planned for it to go, 2016 might have been a whirlwind of tears and low moments; but I won’t give up! I have come too far from where I started from, God has been my God through all of it, and He didn’t bring me this far to leave me…

Don’t give up, not when the sun is just about to shine. 2017 will be our best year yet… ps: this is a heartfelt thank you to Mama Chiago, God bless you wherever you are today!

Fall seven times and stand up eight.”- Japanese Proverb

A Stranger’s Kindness

 

Dear Diary,

It was a really long day. Emotionally tasking and physically draining. Walking to the bus station seemed like a herculean task and as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other, I found myself doing that which came naturally to me; crying. So I stood there, in the middle of Lindbergh station, bawling my eyes out, feeling the weight in every inch of my body. I could care less if anyone was watching me cry, I just knew I needed to ease the tight feeling in my chest and too bad if I was on the road. It was a windy day and my tears dried before they reached my lips, leaving streaks in my makeup and what was left of my eyeliner, I looked a mess.

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I needed to blow my nose so bad so I dug frantically in my handbag looking for tissue and I could not find any, somehow that made me even sadder. Now this is America, if you strip naked on the road people will probably walk right through you, because everyone is always in motion, and they just keep moving. Still digging through my bag in a frenzy, I felt a hand on my shoulder and the person said to me; here, you need this and handed me a pack of tissue. I took it buried my face in it for a minute, finally feeling shame and remembering where I was. When I looked up, the person who handed me the tissue was a man, dressed as a woman, make up and all.

He led me to the nearest park bench and asked me what was wrong and if I wanted to talk about it and the words came spewing from nowhere and we talked and talked. The bus came and went and we did not notice, this stranger somehow, had taken my pain away. He offered to buy me coffee but the next bus had come and I really wanted to go home so I declined politely. He encouraged me some more, gave me the warmest most comforting hug and thanked me for not looking at him like a crazy person. He was walking away and I called out to him and said; thank you so much, God bless you and Jesus loves you…His eyes lit up at that and he gave me his card and walked away.

I finally got on the bus and I thought about the experience I just had with a total stranger. I  was standing in the middle of the road, crying my heart out and straight, regular people walked by without a second glance. Not that they owed me anything but still, they did not care. This man, who is kind of confused about his gender and  judged by many to be crazy was the only one that stopped to show me basic human kindness and a love that trumped race and orientation. We are often quick to judge, condemn and dismiss people based on their outward looks, quick to label and call them names forgetting that we cannot reach anyone unless we do it in love and tolerance and humility. How as a Christian, do you hope to convert an unbeliever if you refuse to associate with them or talk to them? How will you tell them of God’s love, a God they do not know and  cannot see if you who they can see refuse to show them love? We cannot change anybody by sheer will power, only the Holy Spirit can do that. Our job is to obey the greatest commandment of all, to love our neighbors and to show them the way to God’s heart through love and patience rather than condemnation and disdain, at the end of the day, we are all broken. Whether or not we admit it, we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God and we all need Jesus.

Your life style, the words you speak and how you conduct yourself might be the only Bible an unbeliever ever gets to read, your life is a message, what are you saying? I made a friend today, and somehow someday I will invite him to Church but until then, I will be loving and kind to him, to show him a glimpse of the restoring power of the Love of God.

“It’s not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not. We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, especially when we’d prefer not to be.”- Josh Radnor

 

All The Things We Think Love Is, and All The Things Love Isn’t…

 

Right now, love has to be the most misused and misconstrued word that there is. It’s almost as if the entire world is fighting so hard to define what love should be, and to conceal what it actually is. Everybody has their own definition of the greatest word of all, and unfortunately it has nothing to do with what love actually is. For me, there is only one definition of love and it can be found in 1st Corinthians 13, vs: 4-8:

                ” 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

So I started watching Scandal all over again because for some weird reason this ongoing electoral process in the States made me want to watch the early seasons again.As I was watching, I got to a scene where senator Edison, who was hopelessly in love with Olivia Pope at the time was trying to get her to love him back and think about marrying him but she wouldn’t budge. He got frustrated and asked her why and she told him that she could not love him back because loving him was easy, and that she didn’t want easy. She wanted hard, painful, difficult and complicated, she basically told him that she wanted a love that would rip her to shreds from the pain it brought and when she was done talking, the senator looked at her and said: Love is nothing like what you have just described Olivia, love shouldn’t be painful or difficult or heart breaking, if it’s all that to you then that isn’t love. Love is beautiful Olivia and it’s a shame you don’t see it.

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I have probably watched that scene like ten times; in fact, I only stopped watching it so I could write this. I kept rewinding it because that was such a profound statement. I know that Scandal is just a TV show but man! Isn’t that the truth? I love you  means less and less every day. What has love become? In fact these days, the people who literally hate you are the ones who “love” you the most. The friends slandering your name will text you and say: “hey love!” the woman enduring physical, mental and verbal abuse from her husband and the father of her children is standing in harm’s way because maybe she thinks that’s his own way of showing her that he “loves” her. The married man who is simultaneously cheating on his wife and stringing his mistress along happens to be in “love ” with all the women in his life. The guy who has no intention of marrying the girl he’s with and sees no future with her will keep telling her that he “loves” her, because it shuts up her questions and keeps her sprung.

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If your love doesn’t hold up to the standards in first Corinthians then maybe you should look again. If he loves you, he will honor your body until he marries you because contrary to popular belief you can both do without sex. If he loves you, he will not cheat, or lie or beat you or harm your kids. If she loves you she will respect you, and take care of you and be the help meet that God made her to be, not give you lip and question your authority as the man of the home. If your friends love you, they will correct you when you are wrong rather than gossip about you, they will cover you in prayers and hold you up when you fall because love is patient and kind and it covers a multitude of sins. They will celebrate with you when you succeed rather than scowl in a corner and envy you because love does not envy. They will forgive you easily because love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrong doings.

Love is a word that should not be misused. It’s too sacred, too deep to be carelessly tossed around the way it is these days. Love never fails. The bible was very clear on that so if it keeps failing you and beating you up and hurting you and making you cry every single time, then no, it is not love it is a poor imitation. Perfect love casts out fear, so if you have to compromise to keep him or her in your life, if you are always afraid they will walk away, then that isn’t love because the one thing that love is not is unsure. Love is always sure. Love is humble, there is not a trace of pride in it. So if your love is tainted with pride, well you already know what the answer is…

The true definition of love might seem lofty, difficult even especially in this world we live in today, but when you get it just right, when you love like you are supposed to, it makes all the difference in the world. So here’s to love, to real love, to not settling, and to loving exactly the way God taught us to. Here’s to loving ourselves, our spouses, our friends, our neighbors and even our enemies, yes even our enemies. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”Martin Luther King, Jr.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”Jesus Christ

When you say I love you, mean it!” Adaugo

 

Miracles

 

Miracles from Heaven. This movie has changed my life immensely. It was quite an emotional movie and I wept while I watched, but at the end of the movie, I felt a peace and joy that I haven’t felt in a while and a reassurance that God is still in the business of performing miracles, we just have to position ourselves to receive them. I highly recommend that you all watch it, it is an awe inspiring movie. So today, I would like to share with you guys a miracle that God gave to me in 2013.

As at March 2013, I didn’t have a job and I was MISERABLE! I was so depressed and I hated myself. I went for countless interviews; in areas of Lagos that I didn’t even know existed. It was an exhausting cycle of rejection emails. Each time I got my hopes up and each time they came crashing down. I stopped praying and just went about my life sad and beaten down. All that however changed on a Sunday night. I remember vividly not wanting to go for that service because I had already gone to Church in the morning and I couldn’t be bothered to go twice, but my mother made me, so I reluctantly went to the room to look for a scarf to cover my untidy hair and follow her (I was too broke to even make my hair)

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We were a little late so the worship session was already underway and I just sat quietly at the back and put my head down but somewhere during the worship, I started humming along and before I knew it I was overwhelmed by the love and presence of God and I was singing at the top of my lungs, completely oblivious to my surroundings. After the worship came the word and it felt as though God had told my pastor everything I was dealing with, I remember my mum looking back one time to see if I was hearing what she was hearing. And then it was time to pray and I did something I had never done before. I walked to the altar and lay on the ground and told God all my frustrations and that I wanted a job asap. I didn’t even care who was watching or that my clothes were stained. All I cared about was emptying my heart at my saviour’s feet. The service ended and we went home.

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We had just walked into the house when my phone rang and a very well spoken lady asked if she was speaking to Amara and when I confirmed it was me, she started to apologise profusely for not calling me earlier and that I had an interview scheduled for the next day which was Monday. I was rendered speechless and just a little confused because I had no clue who she was, how she got my number and what company she was talking about, she told me to look out for an email with details and that she’d see me tomorrow. I was dazed to say the least, I ran to my mum’s room screaming and dancing and my sister and I figured out what I was going to wear the next day.

I was so clueless about the company and the interview I was going to, so clueless that I had to read about them on the bus ride to the island. I got there and I couldn’t believe my eyes. The environment was so serene and I got such a warm reception. The two ladies that interviewed me were so friendly and awesome and it just felt like we were three old friends catching up with each other. To cut this long story short, it all played out like a dream. I went for a follow up interview with the CEO and in a matter of days the job was mine. It was so surreal, but God didn’t end there. Two days after I resumed I went on an official trip where I met a governor for the first time in my life! And I was paid enough money for that trip that I was able to buy myself a new blackberry. Till date, the ladies who interviewed me who by the way are now two of my closest friends refused to tell me how they got my resume. I NEVER applied for that job, I didn’t even know about the company till I got there, but somehow they got my resume and hired me out of the ten more qualified applicants!

God orchestrated my working for that company perfectly. The first time I went to America, they sent me there all expenses paid. It was like a movie to me, I found myself at the white house taking pictures and it dawned on me how far God had brought me. I live in America today and I would never have been able to do my masters here and stay if I hadn’t gone on that first trip to Washington DC. You see how one miracle sprouted many more? It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

I am sharing this story because I have been going through some difficult times and I completely focused on all that was going wrong and I forgot about the God that brought me here, against all odds in the first place. Don’t let the devil rob you of the greatness that God has for you; don’t limit God and His infinite power. Miracles still happen, and if they happened for me they will definitely happen for you. By the way I have a brand new miracle! I’ll share it soon, watch this space.

Knowing there’s one thing I still haven’t told you: I now believe, by the way, that miracles can happen. ”― Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”Albert Einstein

Where’s The Love?

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These past couple of days have gone by in a blur really; I can only attempt to imagine what the family of the victims of the Orlando shooting must be going through. It’s extremely difficult to make sense of such a needless and oh so tragic disaster. I will never understand what prompted a man to decide to kill all those people, just because.

It’s even more disheartening to see and hear some of the reactions from people who actually approve of the killing, of people who do not see anything wrong in this horrific crime of hate that was carried out against innocent people who just went out for a night in the town. I know that this is an extremely sensitive situation, but in the words of The Black Eyed Peas, where’s the love? Where is the compassion and the humanity?

I am Christian and I believe in every word that is written in the Holy Bible, so I am very much aware of the fact that the Bible doesn’t condone homosexuality, but neither does it condone fornication, adultery, lust, rape, pedophilia, necrophilia, and the host of them all. Instead of condemnation and hate crimes and name calling, how about compassion, how about love? And prayers that God will step in and help? Since we are judging, would we rather an individual that violates little innocent children? That rapes helpless women? Or two adults who consent to live a certain life style?

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My heart and prayers go out to the families and loved ones who are in deep mourning over this senseless loss, I can only hope that God will give them the strength and grace to pull through. It is our Christian duty to love, to show compassion, to uplift in prayer and to correct in love because unless God convicts a person and touches their hearts, nothing we say or do will get through to them. I do not condone the sin, but I will be compassionate and love the sinner, because I am a sinner myself in desperate need of help from God. We have to remember that we have all fallen short of the glory of God; we are all broken, in dire need of God’s love and forgiveness.

We all need Jesus.

“Man has ceased to be man
  Man has become beast
  Man has become prey.”Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali

From A Father’s Heart…

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Every woman was once a little girl, and every little girl will grow to be a woman, and if her daddy or any father figure in her life, tells her these things, just maybe her road will be smoother.

  • You are a queen, you are a gift that God Himself so graciously gave to your mother and I and you are irreplaceable.
  • You are a strong woman, yes I know that you will face some hurdles across this road called life but God is on your side and I know that I will raise you to hold your head high and overcome.
  • You don’t require validation from other people to remember the queen that you are, you are precious in God’s eyes and He validates you, and that should always be enough for you. You are the daughter of the most high, a lioness who should not concern herself with the opinions of sheep.
  • I am proud of you today, and I will be all the days of my life. I will celebrate all your achievements and milestones, and I will pick you up when you fall. I will correct you in love and the fear of God and with the rod when needed. I will cheer you on with all my might because I believe in you more than you will ever know.
  • Purity is not overrated my love, keep yourself like the gift that you are. Wait to be unraveled by the one that God will send your way, my child do not cast your pearls to the swine, wait for the one who will love you the way God will teach him to.
  • Be quick to forgive, anger and bitterness is heavy and exhausting. Unhappiness will etch lines deep into your face even before age catches up with you. Smile my love for your smile makes the world a much brighter place.
  • Choose your friends wisely, because they play a large role in the woman you will become. Your mother and I can talk all we want but you won’t be our little girl forever and one day you will leave home and be by yourself, and when that time comes it is my earnest desire that you surround yourself with friends that will add meaning and color to your life.
  • You can do anything! Whatever dream or ambition you conceive in your heart you can achieve because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Your dreams are valid.
  • I will always be here for you as long as I live, to listen to you, to guide you and offer you counsel that will set you on the right track because you see my love, you are my full time job. Doesn’t matter how old you are or how many babies you have you will always be my little girl…

The power in spoken words is undeniable, to all the fathers and fathers to be who might be reading this, speak these words and many more into your baby girl’s life and watch her blossom. And to all the future mothers out there, myself included, may we marry men who will speak life into our daughters that they may know their worth and their value…

“Behind every great daughter is a truly amazing dad”
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