The Night Visitor:

Her chest rose and fell again with a slightly unsteady rhythm. She snuggled more underneath the king-sized duvet. She was dreaming of an Equestrian competition. The main horse rider in her dream was dressed in red, and his white horse was ready to move. They were waiting for the sound of the gun shot that signaled the start of the race. At the sound of the gun, the gates were barred open and the horses stamped their feet in unison and raced towards the tracks, each horse sticking to its line. The red horse rider plunged his horse forward, albeit in full dominion of the race. He was a bold and confident rider. The sound of the gallops from his own horse were louder than the beats of traditional talking least until the horse began to wobble from side to side. There was something wrong with its hind legs. Some spectators were standing up now...any moment from now, the horse and its rider would come crashing down...

She sat up confused, sitting in a pool of her own sweat. She never was able to reach the end of this dream. She had never found out what happened to the hind legs of the red rider's horse. All she knew was the sinister feeling in the pit of her stomach whenever she woke up. This time, someone was knocking at her door. She looked at her watch, it was 2.00am. It must be her daddy. The airport shuttle must have just dropped him off. Her eyes did a quick scan of the entire one-room apartment, there was nothing to hide. She was ready for a visit from her father. She quickly removed the duvet and ran to the door to welcome her late night visitor...

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Have you ever had night visitors at weird hours? Maybe even in the middle of a dream? This morning, I read somewhere in the book of Psalms that God is a night time visitor. He comes to visit when no one else is there. He comes when you're least expecting Him to show up. He comes when you're thinking or dreaming of things other than Him. He comes to test our hearts.

Can God visit you and find nothing against you? Can He come and find purity of your thoughts and sentiments? Can He come and find that you're now a changed person, no longer controlled by the evil thoughts or desires you once had before? If He comes into your heart today, will it be swept clean and ready for a visit? Or will there be cobwebs and signs of lack of maintenance in your house?

In the few seconds of a knock on your door, there may not be enough time to clean up. There may not be sufficient time to wash the dishes or take the thrash out. There just may not be enough time. Today, bare your hearts out to God. Remove any hidden secret thing that will not look good when it is brought to the light. Remove any cobwebs or spiderwebs lurking at your door post, or any spoilt food from your fridge, lest your night visitor may get turned off by the repulsive odor or stench.

"You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress..." Psalm 17: 3

Photo by Photobucket

An Outburst of Release:

The atmosphere was tense...really very tense. Maybe it was the after effects of a heavy rain, or the rough winds that blew after the rain. Temi did not know which one caused the tension in the atmosphere, or maybe he did after all. He was walking past the houses in the alley, and beside him his best friend, Ada, was matching his footsteps with hers. They were eating ice-cream from cones. Ada had just cracked a joke, and it was funny. They both giggled a little bit, and then it was all quiet again. It felt as though they were pleading with the houses beside them to speak, and urging the inanimate objects lying on the uneven tarred road to say something, since neither of them spoke again.

Temi's over-working mind began to play games on him. "Should I tell her about the pain that shot through me when she made those accusations against me?" He asked himself. It was even painful to remember that episode. Two days ago an argument had turned sour, and Ada had accused him of being something that he was not. How could she? Ada of all people, his closest confidant. It was truly painful. Though he tried to forget the words she said, it kept coming back to haunt him.

A drop of icecream spilled unto her dress. That very drop triggered more of his anger. He resisted the urge to bring out his paper knapkin to wipe it off. She did it herself. "Gosh, am I a child?" she muttered, more to herself than to anyone else.

"I have to talk to you about that day!" It was more of a forced outburst than a sentence. But as it came out of his lips, he felt a burden drop off his shoulders.

"I've been thinking of that day too. I'm really sorry about what I said Temi. I didn't really mean to." Ada replied.

Immediately she apologized, the whole world made a 360 degrees revolution in his head and all the earthquakes, firestorms and hailstorms troubling him were subdued. Like that day never happened. They proceeded to the front steps of her house, sat down, and talked about the incident for three more hours...

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Close friends are like peas in a pod; their shared love usually slowly blends their characteristics into a liquefied mesh, making the people in context look like a blended mix of a homogeneous mixture. The closer you get to someone, the more difficult it would be to distinguish one from the other. So also is it with couples. Too many people have signified that many couples begin to look alike after a few months into their relationships and/or marriages. It's amazing. But sometimes things happen in friendships...and an outburst of release is needed...
Never feel that you cannot talk to your friend about the things that they do that hurt you. I have realized that for the friendships that do matter to us, an open line of communication is the key. We are imperfect people and every individual sees things in a different way. The things that may be bugging you may not even be on your friend's mind, but if you don't have that outburst of release and say what's on your mind, you will continue to have an emotional turmoil. Outbursts of release, in my opinion, keep a relationship close and honest. I know, because I had one of those outbursts on Saturday night, and it was really liberating *sigh*!!! Too much ado about nothing!

"Lord, who may abide in your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend..." Psalm 15: 1 & 3

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The Daunting Question:

Yesterday, someone at the bus stop asked me if I still believed in miracles. I said "yes."

Lost in a Sea of Faces:

Latifah stood with her arms akimbo. The wind was blowing right into her face, and she was scrunching up her nose, as if the act would chase the wind away. She was standing by the window sill, looking at the people walking past the house. One by one, they came and went.

She peered into their faces and saw so many things. She looked at a man in a frenzied rain coat. He seemed determined to reach his stop on time. He kept glancing at his watch. He was a master of his own time. He was driven! She looked at the woman two steps behind the man. In the midst of the crowd of people, she stopped for a second to scan the items in her purse, then she closed it and patted it. She was careful, and critically so. It was necessary. She was a watchman over her possessions! She glanced at the young boy on roller skates. He was zooming in and out of the traffic of people. To the left, and then to the right, and then straight ahead. He was practicing his balance and stride. He was obtaining perfection even with the outcry of his imperfections. He had zeal. Finally, she placed her two hands to her cheeks and touched her face. It felt cold. What was her own plight in life? To each man his own. Yet, she felt that as she looked at the people walking by her house, she slowly became lost in the sea of many faces.

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What is your own plight? Do you feel lost in a sea of faces? People are accomplishing different things each day. With each day comes the revealing of destinies. With each day comes several revelations. There are graduations each year...weddings, promotions, world-breaking deals, world-class records, Nobel prizes, literary awards, nominations, and awards. Where does your own plight lie?

Your own plight lies in the realization that you will get there if you can just believe. But when you are lost, you can only truly be found when you find God. I told someone yesterday, "there can be no counselor with a PhD other than God." He's the almighty counselor, the One who can guide you in the right path. The One who unsticks you when you're stuck in the miry clay. The One who can remove you from the grasp of the fowler's net. The One who can save you from the disaster of the battle of your own emotions. He is God, and He can find you when you are lost. Remove your face from the sea of faces and reflect on your own life for a quick second. You were made in His image. You too, even you, WILL be someone one day. Don't get lost, get found and get glad!

"...'for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found'. And they began to be merry..." Luke 15:24

Photo by Photobucket

A Speck of Dust, a Speck of Happiness:

As I clean the living room, sweeping with optimistic energetic vigor with my American-style broom, my eyes cannot help but oscillate from left to right, almost with every passing second. I am really missing the effect of a solid Naija broom. Nevertheless, I take full pride in my pretty huge puppy dog eyes that never ever seem to miss even a speck of dust while cleaning. These eyes of mine seem to have the unmistakable power to ravage the entire confines of any room I choose to clean, seeking what it may devour, never missing a thing. As I sweep, I smile, knowing my satisfaction will come when I am done. And when I am done, I am saturated with the knowledge that I did not dare miss a speck of dust. I evolve as a perfectionist standing at the center of a once not-so-perfect room. It usually makes me happy and complete...they say cleanliness is next to Godliness, although I am confident that this phrase was never in the bible, neither was it written in any long forgotten dusty scroll. But the feeling of refreshing comes with the feeling of cleanliness...
So is it with a speck of happiness. Life is a wonderland filled with mysteries, like the hidden confines and contours of a room. You just never know where some dust will fill a little crack on the ground. So also, you just never know where you will find a speck of happiness. But look, we must. Yes, me must. We must sweep the entire earth with our eyes and heart, and we must look for the various specks of happiness lying in figments all around.

No matter how crazy the circumstance, there's always happiness lying somewhere to be grasped. I've shared many times about how giving of oneself is more joyful than receiving sometimes. A man may have nothing and still give himself to the world. How? In a comforting smile, in a reassuring glance, in a a post. It's no wonder why sometimes we can look at the intricate details of a country torn in war, and amidst the war cries we still find tears of joy and shouts of victory. In Nigeria for instance, the people are still climbing an economical ladder and fighting a battle for change in corruption of their leadership. Yet, amidst the poverty of bread and gala hawkers, you still find them gisting in the middle of traffic, cracking their dry jokes and laughing loudly, like happiness was indeed their God-given right. Are they right or what? Meanwhile some rich people cannot sleep in the same country because of constant worry of the night raiders watching them closely. And so these ones choose sadness over happiness...

A woman working in the Balleyara area of Niger, albeit the poorest country in the world (check out yesterday's poverty post) had this to say after she extended her two-year contract of sponsoring garden projects for the women and children of Niger: "Nigeriens are happy, and when I am there I am happy too. I don't understand all of the reasons why, but people in Niger really enjoy their lives, enjoy each other's company, and spend most of their time feeling good, even though they live in a harsh climate and staggering poverty. I like it. I like the happiness that rubs off on me."

Yesterday, as I read my copy of Half of a Yellow Sun, I read the following excerpt, written in the context of a pitiful Biafran war. "Olanna was not sure if he began to laugh first or if she did, but suddenly they were laughing, raucously, almost falling off the bench. Other things became hilarious. Odenigbo said that the sky was completely cloudless and Olanna told him that it was a perfect weather for bomber planes, and they laughed. A little boy walking past wearing a pair of shorts with large holes that showed his dry-skinned buttocks greeted them and they had hardly responded good afternoon before they burst into more laughter."
It amazed me that they could even laugh in a time when they feared for their lives. But in life we may have fear sometimes, but it should not rule our lives. Fear is not of God, and love does not yield fear. So we must rise up to the occasion and find happiness and laughter in the mishaps of failure and craziness. Little things should make you smile. If you lock your key in your car, smile because you had the money to buy a car. If there's no real food in the fridge, smile because there's a pot of indomie noodles on the stove. If your parents don't understand, smile because God said He will never leave you nor forsake you. If something made you mad yesterday, smile because something will make you laugh today. If you truly desire something right now, smile because you have other things and you know it's only a matter of time.

For me, I find specks of happiness here and there because of my relationship with God. Because I know He's always there...just like I know specks of dust are always lurking around somewhere in the room wherein I sweep...

"Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him? That our barns may be full, supplying all kinds of produce; that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields; that our oxen may be well laden; that there be no breaking in or going out; that there be no outcry in our streets. Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!" Psalm 144: 3, 13-15

Photo credits: Emeka Okereke and photobucket.

The Loud Cry:

Despite the romantic images that can be seen in the land, such as the sand dunes that seem to extend forever, mythical cities, camel trains and elephants, the Life expectancy of one who dwells in Niger is 46 years. Oh, what a sad story. Niger, with 12.5 million people is ranked as the poorest Country of the world. The words "drought" and "food crisis" are now common place. The farmers sit on the sand in sheer remorse while the locusts freely ravish all the works of their hard toiling. They can only cry out because they cannot do anything about it. They are the world's poorest Nation today.

The dust-laden wind of the Harmattan blows from the Sahara desert into Freetown, Sierra Leone. Yes, other Countries have the Harmattan, but here the Harmattan cuts into the skins of the 5 million people living in poverty, out of the Nation's 6 million. Oh, what a number! They call Sierra Leone the "Lion Mountain," but a Lion with all it's pride would never even climb such a mountain. Ravished by the impact of their long civil war which started in 1991, the people of Sierra Leone were compelled to sell blood diamonds in exchange for brutal weapons. Little did they know that come 1999 they would have a death toll of 50,000 and an estimate of 2.5 million displaced people. We call them BLOOD DIAMONDS, but they have lost more than blood. They have lost their people and pride, and now they swim in the luxury of poverty. Where is the Lion mountain?

Burkina Faso surely must have treasured its main agricultural production, cotton. The men must have taken pride in their work. They must have sat down in groups as the sun went down, laughing and talking about the success of the land. But no more. This is a Country that will not move forward unless it has debt relief. Over the years, the Country has built up a great external debt burden. Now, they need to pay it back and the innocent ones are suffering the consequences. The children who were not yet born, but now exist...born into an indescribable state of abject poverty. A 58% poverty index! To add to this, between 1994 and 1998 there was a severe drought. As if that was not enough, there was a devaluation of the CFA franc, leading to a much lower purchasing power for the already poor people. The children of Burkina Faso are still crying out...

Those are just the three poorest Countries in the world. On the top ten list we still have Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Mozambique.

Last year, I and my other half decided to sponsor a child, a very young Indian girl...and that's what we've done so far. Just saying this to encourage you that any little thing you can do is still good. I am not in the greatest financial state to really help right now. But I know I can ask God for these Nations (Psalm 2:8). I know I can make a war cry. I know I can cry out. I know I can shout out so loud until change begins to take place. And it has already started. The question is not whether it will end, but whether you will be part of the relief. Today, I choose to cry out against poverty. In addition to that, for you my readers, if you have the means, there are many ways to help the poverty situations of the world. You can do any of these 10 things:

1) Start a Kiva Lending team, and lend to entrepreneurs in these Countries: Here
2) Donate to the Global Fund to fight against Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria: Here
3) Donate 5 cents to the global fund for every comment on your facebook wall (I'm doing this one) OR donate your blog or website’s October 15th earnings to a poverty-fighting charity.
4) Shop to fight against poverty (sounds cool, right?): Here
5) Buy a Poverty Button or T-shirt: Here OR Here
6) Visit Skelliewag and comment on the Poverty Post. For every visit 5 cents will be donated to Here
7) Do your own post on poverty or tell the great story of someone who overcame poverty and how they did it.
8) Sell unneeded items on eBay or Craigslist and donate the proceeds to battle poverty
9) Organize a "Stand Up Against Poverty Event" with friends: Here
10) What can one person do? Find out: Here

Someone Like me and you:
Muhammad Yunus, managing director of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 is credited with inventing the practice of microcredit lending more than thirty years ago. Grameen’s strategy is to offer miniscule loans to very poor people on terms suitable to them, and teaching them a few sound financial principles, giving them the means to generate income and work their way out of poverty. Source: Marelisa

The Nemesis:

It was slowly catching up with her. It was coming so close that she could smell the stench. It was the smell of condemnation. The smell of guilt. The smell of regret, and alas...death.

She was at the middle of the market place. It was loud and boisterous, because market sellers were shouting in their stalls, adamantly refusing the bargain suggestions from their customers. She was holding her shopping basket and walking through the stalls, some of which were towards her left and others to her right. A man on her right was practically screaming that this was his one-hundredth time here, and therefore he was an established customer with associated rights and privileges. "Haba madam! I be your loyal customer!"

She finally reached the end of the path. She was just about to make a left turn when all of a sudden, out of no where a motorcycle ran into her. "Jesus!!! My leg, my leg," she screamed. People had already began to gather. Some men seized the okada(1) man and demanded an explanation. Her basket was flung out of her hand in the process, and there were tomatoes, ata rodos(2), onions, and tatashes(3) sprawled all over the ground.

As the people shouted and caused a scene, all she could think of was, "Ne...nem....nemesis has caught up with me." And she began to cry...
She had done something terribly bad last night...

(1) Okada: motorcycle
(2) Ata rodos: Habanero chile peppers
(3) Tatashes: Bell peppers

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Have you ever heard the phrase, "Nemesis shall catch up with you"? Or have you even ever thought that a bad happening is a result of the punishment of past sins? Well, the idea is not too far fetched for "God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." (Galatians 6:7). But yet, there is restitution...
It is true that there are consequences for every action, yet if a man goes to God in truthful repentance, God will forgive him.

Now, there are some consequences that happen right on the spot. For instance, unprotected premarital sex can lead to pregnancy a few minutes after. And even if God has forgiven, the woman involved would still wind up being pregnant. Therefore, some rules are like the rule of gravity that is constant no matter what changes occur on the surface of earth.
Why am I even writing about nemesis? I am writing because I know there may be someone reading who needs to go to God and ask for forgiveness. No matter how hard it may seem to change, it is possible to change your ways. I met a man at the bus stop the other day who said I was beautiful. He then proceeded to sing me a song in Spanish about how meeting someone like me was once in a lifetime. No, he did not know who I was and had never met me before. Maybe he was just a little drunk and felt like singing. Anyways, I asked him if he was a Christian. And he said that he drinks excessively and he wants to change before he goes to church. I told him that sometimes you cannot change before you go to church, but you can change after you go to church and meet God.
So my point is that "Nemesis does not always catch up with you." When Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, his life was changed. The nemesis of all his murders did not catch up with him. So if there's anything in your life that you're doing, contrary to what the Word of God says, it is time for a change.

This is not supposed to be a popular writing, it is supposed to save that one person who thinks nemesis is catching up with them. And that person might just be you.

Photo by Variablesoul750 (Photobucket)

The Smell of Rain:

I had been traveling for two years now. My exploration of a juvenile lifestyle has had its bittersweet moments. There were days when I could find no insects to eat, and other days when the thick lush forests were filled with the lullabies of fat insects. There were days where sandy deserts lay miles ahead of me, and others where I was protected and shielded from the sun by the green bushes.

But I can smell it now. I can smell the abundance of rain. I can feel the onset of moistness and tenderness. I am a red-spotted newt. Notophthalmus viridescens. I have spent many years as a juvenile living on land, but all things must come to an end, and it is time for adulthood...I have to find water. Life as a newt could be fun, but I have grown to understand the wisdom of change. My larval stage was aquatic, my juvenile stage was terrestrial, and now my adulthood has to be experienced as an aquatic animal once again. That is why I smell rain ahead...fresh water. I can almost taste the freshness.

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I learned of the red-spotted newt in the moments my imagination flew concerning the smell of rain. Yes, creatures like this still exist. They spend their baby (larval) stages in water, migrate to land for some years, and then migrate back to water as an adult. It is a part of their life. They learn to walk in the direction of water. They learn to fight obstacles on their way, using their tails for protection and their eyes for sight. Until they find their treasure...a water body for the rest of their lives.
As human beings, we were also created to smell the abundance of rain. Do you know that you can tell that it will rain by putting your head outside the window and smelling the aroma of torrents blowing? The smell of the abundance of rain can be found in the freshness of the breeze. In the solitary confines of green leaves coasting with the wind on an empty street, or even as you watch tall trees sway from side to side. You can tell when the rain is coming.
In the same way, your spiritual senses must be able to smell the abundance of rain. But especially without seeing the rain first. That's faith! In the past one year, I have learned to smell the rain without first seeing it. I have learned to lean on the invisible everlasting arm of God, and to trust that He will send me my rain. And He has sent rain. He sent rain and gave my lips several testimonies. But there was dry land awaiting me ahead of the rain again. That's how life is. An intermingling of series of dry land and aquatic territories. The dry land is for training, and the aquatic for blessings. But all you need to do is stick your head out of your window and smell the rain IS coming. Don't doubt it!

"Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
(I Kings 18:41)

Photos by Photobucket & Wing Watchers

Nigeria, on the verge of Independence:

It starts with clouds of imagination, then short dreams, then big dreams...then an actualization. Nigeria, don't be afraid to dream big. Spread your wings and fly like an eagle. Your dream is not beyond your reach.

Happy Independence day today, happy 48th birthday.

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