Guard your heart…

 

Two Sundays ago, it felt like my pastor had it in for me. I could have sworn he was speaking to me the whole service and I was so convicted. You see, I always say this: I love love. I am very quick to give my heart away, to fall in love or to just believe that each time, it could be love. Every time I do this, and every time I get hurt. I get hurt and it’s all my fault because I had no business giving my heart away like cotton candy. You see even the Bible tells us to guard our hearts, it is our duty to protect our emotions and the issues of the heart. So my pastor went on and on and when he said: God knows how delicate our hearts are, that’s why He put it inside our rib cage. He had to build a whole chest to guard it because He knew it needed to be safe. When my pastor said this, I felt like someone splashed a bucket of ice cold water on my face!

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It was definitely a wake up call for me. It is pointless to always blame other people when you get your heart broken. It is time to start accepting your portion of the blame and realize that not everyone deserves your heart and your devotion. Often times, we are so quick to say stuff like: oh! I am very emotional, or I love with everything I have in me but then nobody gets hurt but you!. It is time to become emotionally intelligent and also to ask God for the spirit of discernment. Too much time is wasted casting our precious pearls to the swine, we literally take ourselves, our emotions and our bodies which are precious pearls and cast them to people who have no business touching them in the first place.

These situationships have to go! Neither here nor there, neither hot nor cold, here today gone tomorrow. If there’s no clear definition of intent what then is the point? This heart is staying inside my rib cage where it’s meant to be, not on my sleeve, not handed away like party favors! Because giving should be reciprocated, if not you’ll give and give and give and one day, you’ll wake up and realize that you gave yourself all away and there might be nothing left.

Above all else, guard your heart. For everything you do flows from it.” –Proverbs 4:23

 

 

On mangoes and cheating spouses…

I love fruits, I really do. My favorite fruit has to be grapes, especially when they are frozen. I can write an entire post about my love for grapes. Udara is a close second (I don’t know the English name for it.) The number three spot goes to…You guessed it!!! Mangoes. Particularly the sherri and German species.

I have bought my fruits from the same woman for as long as I can remember and I truly consider her a friend. When I saw her in February after years away from home, she gave me a bagful of fruits and we spent a good thirty minutes catching up; I digress. You’re probably wondering what mangoes have to do with cheating spouses, here goes:

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So unfortunately, Udara season is over *insert tears of anguish* but the silver lining is that after udara goes, mango resumes LOL so it’s almost a win win situation for me. This afternoon on my way from Church, I had my smile in place and I headed to my favourite fruit stall. After our usual banter, I looked at her wares but the mangoes weren’t calling my name. They didn’t look ripe and they weren’t just appealing. I was still rummaging around, trying to find some good ones when I looked at the stall next to hers and saw the most beautiful, perfectly yellow, succulent sherri mangoes. I was so torn. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by buying from her neighbour but I also wanted the ripe mangoes from the next stall.

I managed to stifle my longing for the luscious mangoes, bought a few unappealing mangoes from my friend and went on home. Let’s compare our spouses to those mangoes shall we? I recently watched a show where people who have cheated on their spouses were interviewed and they gave their reasons for cheating. Majority of them cheated because their partners weren’t as appealing as they used to be or because the magic simply wasn’t there anymore. Those excuses are lame mehn! If the magic is fading, make new magic, rekindle the flames or whatever! Stay with the wife/husband you promised to love till death did you both part!

I guess my point is if I could walk away from those delicious mangoes, you can walk away from temptation!

Everyone must choose one of two pains: The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”-Jim Rohn

29 going on 60…

My birthday is always the one day of the year where I have no worries, the one day where there isn’t any cloud in the sky. It usually kicks off with the generic message that my bank sends me to tell me how much I mean to them blah blah blah, then the calls and the messages and the status updates and the everything. Some of the messages are well thought out and deeply personal and might even make me cry, others are impersonal and to the point, and somehow I already know that the next time I will speak to or hear from such people will be on their own birthday or next year on mine again. I usually don’t get any gifts (yes, shade to all my friends and family) but I honestly don’t mind because the heartfelt prayers and the love soothes my soul way more than material things would.

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So on March 17th, I turned 29. It wasn’t a cloud free day but I didn’t mind. My sister dragged me out for drinks and I got to see my niece so it was a day very well spent. But the thing about birthdays is that they have a way of waking you up! On every birthday since I turned 20, there is always one part of the day where it suddenly hits me that this is a whole new year, one step closer to the grave, one year further away from youth. I end up thinking of the things I have achieved and even more about the things I have not achieved and usually I come to terms with my life as it is but this year was different.

29 is a very awkward age for me, it feels like I am standing on the precipice of something that I don’t quite know. A year away from 30, the last year that I can officially say that I am in my late twenties and this year, the birthday reflections did not wait to hit me at a random time of day; they hit me as soon as I opened my eyes. All I could think about was all that I haven’t done. The husband I haven’t married, the babies I haven’t had, the places I haven’t seen, the feelings I haven’t felt, the book I haven’t written, the car I haven’t driven, It went on and on and on. Typically, the tears came and they came hot and fast and rolled down my cheeks in rapid succession. Ordinarily I would have let them. I would have cried myself into puffy eyes and a blocked nose and a raging headache but this time, this time was different. I got up, cleaned my eyes and played my favorite playlist. I did my makeup, treated myself to a special breakfast, went for a job interview, saw my dearest friends,  rocked my niece to sleep, and went out for drinks and I must say that it was a beautiful, somewhat cry free day.

Whats the point of this post you ask? The point is that I have grown up some. I have finally learned to consciously count my blessings and not my sorrows, to be grateful for what I do have, rather that pinning for what I have lost or I am yet to have. I Finally learned to ditch the tears because listen the eyes are the first to age; and my eyes are my best feature sooooo I better catch up on my carrots and cucumbers and glasses of water rather than crying and always rubbing at my eyes. Plus I already have eye bags, why enlarge them further?

I am only 29, but sometimes I feel like I am 60 and that is my fault, because really what is stopping me from being happy go lucky? Life is for the living, and you are only as old as you want to be. Last year, I shared 28 lessons I learned from turning 28 but this year I have just one; find some time to find yourself. Don’t be like me, so caught up in other people that you forget yourself, we only have one life, and there are no dress rehearsals or do overs. Choose yourself, it’s time!.

“You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.”
Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

We ain’t never gettin’ older!…” The Chainsmokers

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

 

2016 Review; The good, the bad, and how did that happen?

And just like that, 2016 has become last year; it finally ended. *sigh of relief* Happy new year guys! I hope you had a good Christmas celebration? So Facebook sent me a video last year, something about 2016 in review and I was shocked to see that I liked five thousand posts in 2016! Five what? Wow! So spending less time on Facebook is definitely on my to do list this year. Watching the video made me decide to look back at the year I had…

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2016, where do I even begin? I guess I will begin with the good. I am thankful for my health in 2016, the devil tried it fam! But God… I had the most severe chest pains I have ever had in my life, it literally took my breath away, breathing became torture and at some point I found myself in an ambulance and then the ER. I fought with my blood pressure all year, but I won and for that I am super thankful for the gift of good health. My only sister/best friend/better half got married to the love of her life and I got to come home and it was beautiful. Words cannot explain how beautiful it was and that was definitely the high point of my year. I had my graduation after successfully completing my MBA, and I got a job too. These are  by no means the only good things that happened to me this year but they were the highlights for me.

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Graduation day! 

Now for the bad, My country is in recession, Trump is about to move into the White House *shivers*, a bunch of my favorite celebrities died inexplicably, so many senseless killings, I could go on and on. I don’t want to say that 2016 was a horrible year, but it came pretty close and I cannot lie, I heaved a sigh of relief when it ended. Personally, 2016 whooped me pretty good, I honestly thank God for helping me hold on because at some point I had to ask myself: who did I offend, why me? My faith was sorely tested, I was pushed to my limits, and some things happened to me that my mouth just hung open in utter shock and disbelief, and it just seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I was never enough, but there are always lessons to be learned from hard times and Oh! I learned plenty.

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My mum,my sister and I

So Bobrisky became famous and is moving into a million Naira mansion really soon, how did that happen? The Dollar almost became five hundred to one Naira, how did that happen? Donald Trump won the election, again how did that happen? People who I honestly thought were my friends showed me they really weren’t and rendered me speechless, well I think I know how that happened, but still how did that happen? And the most painful of them all is that Game of Thrones is ending this year? And they won’t even give us the usual ten episodes? Common!

After all is said and done, 2016 was a year of lessons for me, and I paid apt attention and learned everyone of them. I really don’t make New Year resolutions because I never keep them, who does? But I do know that this year, things have to change. All the stupidity and unnecessary anger and strife from 2016 will definitely not follow me into 2017. Nobody will live rent free in my head, meaning no more anger and bitterness. I am not cutting anybody off in the New Year because there really isn’t anyone to cut! LOL other than my family, the people that matter to me can be counted on my hands and that suits me because less is more.

I wish you all God’s best this year, let us make this year count. Let this be the do over year, the year to put into practice all the lessons 2016 taught us, the year we learn how to say NO to  toxic people and situations, the year we become generous with our time, money and resources, to ourselves and to others, they year we actually live! Go places we have dreamed of and living vivaciously. I truly hope that this New Year brings us happiness, and peace and love…

I look forward to so many good things this year and I hope they all come true; I am also looking forward to the return of all my favorite TV shows; Game of Thrones, Greys Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away with Murder, Mistresses, This is Us, Pitch, Insecure and all the others.

Happy New Year my people! What are you looking forward to the most in 2017?

“And now we welcome the New Year. Full of things that have never been”. –Rainer Maria Rilke

“If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am.”- Cyril Cusack

 

 

 

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