26 Oct

All Men are Dogs…

I’ve been thinking about the danger of the printed word. When words are handwritten it carries personality with it, and if you know the writer you either respect or scoff at the words.

Quotation
Printed words however carry a bit more authority. They are certified, or so it seems and they are more easily perceived as truth.
There is a pervasiveness of quotes and sayings across the internet and I have come across some damaging ones. There are those that feed your fear, some encourage hatred, while others are more subtle.

It is important to know the source of these viewpoints, not just the person but the sentiment behind their words. Are they coming from a place of negativity or triumph? Are they self-serving so that in the end they look like a hero and you, a victim? Or are they genuinely sharing a new lesson they just learnt?

One of such quotes- all men are dogs– is used so often it has become a part of the nomenclature of our time. It may have been started by and is now echoed by women who were mistreated by men. There are also degrading quotes about women that are making the rounds, again started by low-spirited men. I have found (sadly) that hurting people spew out hurtful words. The pain is sometimes in such abundance that it glazes everything they say and those words are carried straight into our hearts.

Another genre which led to my unfollowing an old friend on Facebook is Haters gonna hate and all the other related ‘haters’ quotes. Call me a Pollyanna but growing up in an environment of love, very little attention was given to hatred or negativity in my home. We didn’t talk about people who were hated- if there were any. Everybody’s been hurt by one person or another but we are not to hold on to the pain. It becomes heavier as hurt attracts more hurt until you are bent so low, you can’t see straight ahead.

Let’s not forget the inverse motivational quotes: people think that they can bring me down, all they’re doing is setting me up for success. #cantpullmedown #Fthehaters

Question: Why are you so concerned with people who don’t wish you well? How about giving some attention to those who support and help you? Some people live in the marinade of several negative life experiences so when they hand out their two cents of wisdom, it comes out as seeds coated with pessimism.

Why do we retweet or share such updates on social media? Perhaps it’s because we can sometimes identify with the hurt and the feelings are familiar. But just because we can identify with a verbalised or written hurt does not mean we should pull out our old placards and join in the protest.

My concern is primarily for young, innocent men and women with fertile minds looking to glean some fruit from paths that are already overgrown with weeds. How about we make a pact right here right now to share only healthy, wholesome information?
Maybe if there are enough lightbulbs we will eventually drive out the darkness. Maybe.

28 Dec

What I’ve Learned For Sure

I am so excited! 2010 is drawing to a close and I am here to witness it. I started to write this post about 2 weeks ago when fear gripped me, what if you don’t make it? Kia kia I put down the laptop and said “Abeg, I no do, let the year end then I’ll write”. Thankfully the Lord reminded me that premature death is not his plan for His creation, and that my future is in His hands. So here I am!

The start of a new year has got to be my favorite time of the year. I look back on the past year and reflect on it. This year, however is very different. I am genuinely pleased that we are in the last week of 2010. This time last year I couldn’t wait to get into the new year. My attitude was more of hope, hope that the new year held better things than the previous. I was eager to say goodbye to the year as it had been a challenging one.

It is not the same today. I am excited because I still have a few days to finish up unfinished projects. I want to finish strong and start next year right. I usually write out resolutions and goals. My goals are the same, but my resolutions have altered. This time I actually have a working strategy.

What I have learned for sure:

That the challenges that  I encountered were not meant to trip me up, but to make me stronger. Instead of being afraid when trials come, I have learned to embrace them and look for the lessons in them. Sometimes the lessons are obvious like the consequence of not being careful or exercising poor judgment as a result of not educating myself prior to making a decision. Other times the lessons are subtle, like the Lord teaching and training me to rely on him and put my confidence in him. I also learned to embrace and accept my weaknesses, mistakes and failures. My weaknesses are a part of who I am. I was created with those weaknesses so really I have nothing to be ashamed of. God is made strong n my weaknesses. I have friends who support me in particular areas. For example I wasn’t born organized but I have two amazing friends, Tola and Tiwana who are natural-born organizers. I remember once when Tola visited me at the store, she got to work and sorted absolutely everything out- dishevelled desk, files, and even invoicing without having any knowledge of the business. Tiwana and I stayed at the same hotel once and I of course was unpacked and unprepared for my early morning flight the next day. When I don’t get enough sleep I generally can’t get anything done, let alone sort out suitcases. She got in there and packed all our suitcases in no time and without breaking any sweat. It was like the fairy godmother of cleaning sprinkled some magic dust in my hotel room!

I have learned gratitude.  I used to wait for great things to happen before being thankful. Now I know that there are at least 206 bones to thank God for daily, 2 lungs, one heart, a brain, and then there are the body functions. I sleep and I awake- daily. I eat and enjoy my food. I can speak, I can hear, I have a functioning sense of taste, need I go on? Then there are relationships. My husband and sons, my parents, brothers, in-laws, cousins, friends, Facebook. Lets not forget work. I have an income. I work in an area I am gifted in so work always feels like play. I look forward to Monday mornings I don’t dread it.  There is also God. I actually have a relationship with the one who created me. Not only do I speak to Him, He actually loves my company. I once worked at McDonald’s and didn’t even know the regional manager. But I know the one who created him. I start and end my day now with 10 things I am grateful for and that keeps my eyes of the things that I want but don’t yet have.

I am glad that for the first time ever, I look back on the year without any regrets whatsoever. Yes there cringe-worthy moments I won’t forget ever like when I messed up an order with a VIP client, or when I wasted my time on unproductive activities, but I have no regrets because I can now guard against them and won’t be making many of those mistakes again.

Death. We lost a loved one this year. I learned that death is certain, sometimes it happens prematurely sometimes not. It is always so sad when a young person dies but in our case we take solace in the fact that he is in heaven.  He really is with the Lord and we are thankful that God made a way for mankind not to die an eternal death. I have learned that it is far better to live and die in Christ than to live for yourself- or anyone else for that matter.

I challenge you to make a list of the things you are thankful for that happened this year, the lessons you learned, the lessons you don’t want to re-learn and close the door on the past and move forward with joy and expectation into the new year!

Happy New Year!

16 Jan

Haiti

I cried today. Not outwardly although my face looked sad and pensive and I shed a tear or two, but I was hysterical on the inside and I don’t think I’m done yet . I’m not sure which of the storylines or images I consider to be the worst. The newborn baby with lacerations on her head made me want to leave my family to go bring her home. I have a name for her already- several even.

The 11 year old girl- no, let’s make that the 10 year old boy called Aaron, my first son whose leg was trapped under the rubble. The grandmothers wailing in the streets. The man who is thankful to have lost everything but his life. The growing pile of bodies, some of them look like they are not dead but sleeping, albeit with dirt on their faces. Perhaps I don’t know what death looks like. Children’s legs. Children’s legs? They are meant for running and skipping while still attached to a vibrant body. Children’s legs are not meant to be disconnected or poking out lifelessly from underneath the broken beams of fallen buildings.  There’s a man pushing a coffin on a wheelbarrow, they keep showing him, I wonder if it’s the same clip that’s being re-run, or several trips made by the same man. This is what I see.

And this is what I imagine. People going about their business at 4:53pm, suddenly and without warning, unimaginable disaster strikes.  Four days and counting they are still hoping their loved ones will be recovered. Mothers looking at their dead babies torture themselves as they wonder how much pain their children went through before they finally died. Men drifting back into the past wishing there was no future. The past is defined as any period prior to the earthquake, the place where peace used to reign. The earthquake is far from over since their lives are still quaking. The aftershocks will come soon but only as the clean up progresses. It is after then the people can finally say; “yesterday, there was a terrible earthquake….”

Items like nutrition bars, candles, clothing, sheets and blankets can be sent to the address below. Blankets are to keep people warm at night and sheets to wrap the dead bodies. There are some links at the bottom of this post for cash donations. Beware of clicking to hoax donation sites, I haven’t heard of any yet but it has happened in the past. Stay safe and stick to Red Cross, Oxfam, Yele, etc. You can also click on links from major TV networks.

Thank you for reading, stay blessed.  

 http://www.yele.org/about-us/

British Red Cross

Disaster Emergency Fund

From Sunday 17th January Items can be dropped off at:

Adrienne Arsht Center
1300 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL 33132-1608

25 Dec

Letting go…

If I run into you or speak with you anytime between now and the next ooh- let’s say 6 weeks, chances are I will ask if you have any goals for the New Year. Its funny how very often a lot of folks tell me they don’t believe in resolutions; they tend to get broken anyway. Some say why wait until the new year to make changes in your life? It’s just a hype, they would rather live it in the hands of God anyway. No doubt there are others still who believe any reference to the calendar year is all a big conspiracy by the government to control their life.

I have a ritual I perform annually about this time. This is the sweeping away of the old and behold the slate has become new event. It is when I gleefully look at my list of yet-to-be dones, label each with a new name and then put it on my to-do list for the next year. It’s also the only time that I don’t groan while looking at my list of still-to-dos. This year a wise friend has told me to let go. If it didn’t get done, does it still need to be done? Or can I simply cross it out and move on? Today is my letting-go day. I will be giving up several goals which have morphed into fantasies.

  • Doing laundry on Tuesdays and Fridays. I’m not a robot, I’ll do the laundry when it needs to be done.
  • Have a flat tummy by the end on 2009- it ain’t gonna happen in 6 days Toks.
  • Have all my paperwork organised by the end of the year. Ha!

There’s more that I will not be carrying-over into next year, but I will be setting some realistic goals. Not ten or twenty but about three to five that will improve the quality of my life. After all it’s just one life right? Merry Christmas and a happy new year y’all!

10 Dec

Death’s Sting

Jim Rohn passed away on Saturday. I didn’t know the man personally, I never met him but I would recognize his voice if I heard him speak because  I listen to him regularly thanks to my small collection of audio CDs. Jim was a motivational speaker, successful entrepreneur, author, philosopher etc. He was funny and witty and genuinely wanted to touch people’s lives by constantly staring them toward success, and he did. I think he knew Christ but I’m not certain, I hope so.
I guess that’s what started to bother me. He lived a full life and died at 79. He impacted millions of people’s lives. As at last night there were nearly 4,000 names on his tribute page- that’s a lot in three days!

The last time a death disturbed me was Michael Jackson’s. And the time before that was a former schoolmate’s that I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. Unlike many of my school friends, Jide wasn’t one of those I got reunited with. As a matter of fact I never actually thought of him at all, there was no real reason to. But when I heard that he passed away suddenly I was perturbed to say the least. It bothered me because I knew he wasn’t the most popular kid in school, so of course I started to wonder what life as an adult was like for him. You may already know about my hyperactive imagination. Armed with memories of over 20 years ago I began to carve out Jide’s life for him- it was a sad one too, not that I wanted it to be but that was how my mind chose to weave his story. The story carried on from how unhappy he was that he wasn’t the coolest kid with the coolest nickname. Do bear in mind that the boy never told me this, it is all the workings of an animated psyche. For all I know he could have been the happiest kid around! Then I began to feel really guilty that he had this unhappy life. I felt bad when I learned that he even lived in the same city as I did for years. It got worse as I faced up to the fact that if I had found out that we lived near each other I probably wouldn’t have bothered to visit him. But all was forgotten when I was told he knew the Lord! I was also assured that he had no lack of friends.

Here’s my conclusion: No matter how full or how empty one’s life turns out to be, what is truly lasting is the positive impact you make on others’. To have 4000 mourn you in a couple of days is no small feat especially without being a rock star. And no matter what impact you make on their lives, there is no impact greater than staring others in the direction of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. In the same vein our knowledge of Christ should lead us to have fulfilled lives so that if we do die empty,  it will be because we gave away so much and not because we had Christ lacking. I pray that you live long and full and die empty.

www.punkinpatch.co.uk

www.punkin-patch.com

21 Sep

My Well Kept Secret.

One thing you probably didn’t know about me is that I can play the piano beautifully. Every note is flawlessly played, and I am able to compose music too. I have been told by several musicians  (whom I respect very much) that I have a good ear for music. I haven’t thought as far as writing songs yet but I’m pretty sure if I penned a song it would top the charts. Learning how to play the piano and other dreams lie buried within me. Occasionally they toss and turn, like they are about to awake, but then I hastily pat them back to sleep again.

At other times the sleep is disturbed when I hang out with others who woke up  a while back and are now using their gifts and talents. It is very uncomfortable, staring at the faces of my dreams.  I feel like I owe them an explanation. What if I am asked why I didn’t use them?  I really don’t have any excuse. Fear?  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out all fear. Laziness? The lazy man says there is a lion in the streets. Procrastination? Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Not good enough? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Too busy? Martha’s story- Luke 10:38-40.

So today I give you an early invitation to my award night- seriously, my 40th Birthday celebration less than 4 years from now when I will give you a grand  performance on my baby grand piano. I must remember to invite those musicians who first told me about my ear for music, one of them is my cousin O.T, I haven’t seen him in years. Details to be released soon.

www.punkin-patch.com

www.punkinpatch.co.uk

20 Sep

He loves me!!!

Ps 139 has become one of my favorite passages of scripture. It talks about God’s perfect love for man. I love the part that says; “your thoughts towards me are precious- so many, more than the sands”. Each of God’s thoughts towards us is precious. Each one of those precious thoughts is like a grain of sand- more than all the sand in the world. So that even if you could count all the grains of sand in the world, God’s precious, loving thoughts towards us is more than that. (v17, 18)

Another verse says; “you have hedged me behind and before, and such knowledge is too wonderful for me (v5, 6). Even if I make my bed in hell, you are there”. God is ALWAYS with us, even if I make my bed in hell, he is there (v8)

Dear Jesus, I thank you so much for loving me and hedging me in with your love and presence. I thank you because I am no longer in darkness. And if I were in darkness the darkness would be light to you, (v11, 12) so I am never, ever hidden from your view. Every thought you think towards me is precious. There are no angry thoughts, or thoughts of disappointment, malicious, irritating or negative thoughts. Only good precious thoughts (Jer 29:11). The reason there are no negative thoughts is because your ways are not my ways and your thoughts compared to mine are higher, even than the heavens (Isaiah 55:8). For that, I bless you- always.

Love, Toks

14 Sep

Why did I do that?

You may have heard the story of the woman who was asked by her daughter why she always trimmed both ends of her joint of ham before she cooked it. Her response was, ” Well, my mother always cooked it that way,  we’ll ask her why”. Grandma’s answer was the same, her mother always cooked it that way too. Luckily great-grandma was still around so they asked her why. Her reason? She didn’t have a pot big enough to cook a whole joint so she had to reduce the size.

A long time ago my cousin told me she didn’t sleep with pillows. That was the weirdest, coolest thing I ever heard. So I started to leave my pillows on the floor, suffering greatly before common sense prevailed.

Another time I noticed a friend wore her wristwatch on her right wrist. Of course by the next day Toks was doing the same.

These days I ask myself why I do the things I do. Sometimes I ask just before, at other times it’s a little too late, but I ask anyhow.  Why did I snap so loudly at my son when he was acting up? Was it to promptly correct him or was it to show the other moms that “I don’t take nonsense”?

Why did I accept that friend’s request on Facebook when I don’t care a hoot about them? Was it because  they are friends with the others in my connection/circle or was it because I’d like to rekindle a relationship with them?

Why did I agree to the hairstyle  my stylist suggested? Was it because I didn’t want to say no or because I was willing to try something different?

Why did I ask for that lady’s phone number at church? I know I won’t be calling her anytime soon!

Dear Jesus, I thank you for making me the beautiful woman I am. Help me to accept my imperfections as tools to make me more like you. I love you Jesus and I thank you for making me love me too!

06 Sep

Life, Actually

The common cold. It sure ain’t common to me, especially as it knocked me for 6 yesterday. You may have read an earlier post where I chronicled my pet peeves. Sore throat I think was number 3 on the list. It is a simple ailment that everyone gets from time to time, but when Toks gets it, it is no longer so simple. It affects my mood. It affects my energy levels. It keeps me irritated. It ensures I look only to self, thinking that self is going through the ringers, all for a sore throat. I want to stop ALL activity, hide under the covers and place myself on propofol (tasteless I know, couldn’t resist).

It is the same way with a pebble in your shoe. You have a head (hopefully just one), shoulders, arms, knees, feet and everything else. Yet one pebble touching just one of your ten toes on one of your two feet, which is one of your many body parts can cause you to stop your journey, sit down and work at dislodging that pebble.

A similar scenario is this journey called life. An annoying pebble finds it’s way into our grand big plans and throws us off course, causing us to sit still and take the time to make the journey less tedious. Sadly by the time the pebble is removed, we’ve missed the bus of opportunity. We catch another one but it takes us somewhere else, not to our dream destination but an alternative- one that “will do”. Some even forfeit the journey altogether and go back home, to the job they hate or the relationships that hinder.

Meanwhile there are those other travellers who are just like us  but in unlike some of us they have no shoes and are used to walking on, in and around pebbles. Every step they take is bound to be taken on pebbles. Yet they keep going because they know they will get there and they also want to, at any cost. And they arrive at their desired destination reaping the rewards that come with persistence and hardwork.

Can you ignore the pebble in your shoe today? It will not kill you. I ignored my sore throat for what might possibly be the first time in my life yesterday because I am self-employed and can’t afford to take time off work. I actually survived the day, surprise, surprise! Yesterday came and went, I worked through it all and today I am fine. I shall not spend the evening even thinking about buses I’ve missed. Thank God for countless second chances in Christ.

What’s your pebble?

27 Aug

Joy

I don’t say this to brag but I have been filled to overflowing with the Joy of the Lord. This is a very different kind of joy to what I’ve always known it to be. This joy is alive, it rejuvenates me, causes me to laugh and cry for no apparent reason. Plus I am peaceful too. I first experienced this mind-blowing joy about 10 months ago when I read a little book titled “From Prison to Praise” by Merlin Carothers. I read it when I was going through a very difficult time in my life. The only thing worse than having the hardest trial is going through it without knowing if God is even aware that you exist, let alone there to hear you when you call. That’s where I was, difficulty along with the absence of Christ. Yes I was going to church and praying daily but did not feel his presence. What I took away from that simple, small book was that the word of God says rejoice in all things, so we should-all things. I started to learn to simply believe God’s word even if it did not line up with my current circumstance. The Lord does not need our situation to validate the authenticity of His word. His word is what it is. Period.

So I believed God’s word. If the word said I am blessed and there was nill evidence of blessing in my life, I chose to believe his word rather than what I could see or feel. I am learning to walk and live by faith, what his word says is true, and there’s no other proof He has given, so we just trust him. My testimony is looooooooong, but I love to share it so PM me if you want to hear it!

But there was a problem, this new joy was intermittent, and I noticed a pattern. When I take my eyes of God, panic sets in, stealing my joy. If I miss a period of prayer, the joy slowly ebbs away. Not because prayer is the currency of God’s joy, -there is no currency- but because in His presence is the entirety, the fullness of this joy. It goes without saying then that if you leave His presence, you’ll be leaving that joy behind.
Many times I attempt to replace the joy and peace of God with temporal things, but it all fades away after the novelty of the source has worn off- the new car, new home, shopping spree, etc. Jesus on the other hand never wanes, He is constant. The other thing I noticed was that my situation didn’t change yet I was filled to overflowing with joy. Then I started to change. God allows a trial to shape and mold you- painful but the finished product is beautiful. I love the new Toks!

Jesus, I pray you will deliver us from questioning your word and our situations. Help us to simply trust you and follow your leading. You came that we may have life abundantly here on earth before we go into eternity. Make your word true, unquestionable and infallible in our lives, amen.