23 Nov

Regrets

It was 3 weeks ago as we prepared for church that hubby informed me rather solemnly that Joe Frazier had been admitted to a hospice with Liver cancer. I was shocked and sad. Sad for the man who was now nearing the end of his life, and shocked because I didn’t even know he was still alive- that shows you how much I know about boxing and even sports in general. I support Chelsea football club because Chelsea is a fine part of town and also like their jersey colour. I don’t know any of the players. I probably know the names but can’t say whether or not they play for Chelsea.

Anywho! I didn’t let on to hubby that I had no idea theman was still alive as that would have been a new avenue for him to ‘diss’ me. So he wonders out loud why he is in a hospice;  ”abi he has money problems?”  Trust me to quickly wiki him. So I start from the very begining and learned a lot.

He had a rough childhood. He was raised on a farm in South Carolina during one of the most racially charged times in America. He endured the humiliation of Jim Crow and his family, although owned a farm were not exactly wealthy. After he broke his left arm in a nasty fall from teasing their sizable hog, said arm became permanently crooked as his folks couldn’t afford a doctor, the arm was left to heal by itself. By the age of 15 began to fend for himself. Long story short, he got into boxing and that let arm became a weapon in his career.

His rivals were Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, they were the kings. Ali, who has always had a mouth loved to tease and curse, comes with the territory right? Well Somehow all that teasing and cursing didn’t go down too well with Joe and they became enemies. Later on Joe will refuse to have anything to do with Ali, even appearances and events that would have earned him some money. This carried on after he lost close to $1m on a land deal. The trust that held his money went bust and he lost it all. Funnily enough Ali also went through his own financial hell  due to mismanagement and being surrounded by vultures, some employed by him who did nothing but scavenge his fortune. His salvation came in the form of his current wife who fired everyone in sight and set things straight, charging for the use of his name, etc. I don’t know much about Mr. Frazier’s personal life to see if he also had a good woman behind him after he got divorced following a 20 year marriage. I do know however that he did sue his daughter for holding unto contracts and documents that supposedly would have made him more financially buoyant.  Apparently he was in such dire straits that he chose the one option he had. I have no opinion to air on this since I don’t know why the pikin sef was holding unto her papa’s stuff.

Through it all Joe remained bitter towards Ali, even after Ali apologised and said many of the things he said were wrong and were done to promote the fights. Here’s a quote from Mr Frazier during an interview: “I don’t mind talking about the rivalry I had and have with Muhammad,” Frazier said. “I know it’s what most people remember me for.

Well I beg to differ here. You should not be remembered for negativity of any sort. There is no pride in saying your legacy was being rivals with someone else, or worse remaining angry and unforgiving toward anyone.  Bear in mind that he was a heavyweight champion of the world and beat Ali, actually he had 32 wins, 4 loses and 1 draw and was inducted into the Boxing hall of fame. And when Ali lit the Olympic torch in 1996, he apparently said he’d like to throw him in the fire.

When asked about forgiving his opponent, this is what he said:

“Forgiveness? It’s not up to me to forgive him, only the Lord can do that. There’s no forgiveness.

“Who will be the best guy in the final round, who is the one of us two who is going to heaven and who is going to hell? I know which one it is and I sure ain’t the one who is going to hell.”

Folks, this interview was held last year. He was 68 at the time. To allow hatred to marr your life for so long is a tradgedy. It is as if his own hatred robbed him.

So Sunday had me imagining what he was thinking on his death bed. What do people think about when faced with the unwavering certainty that they will not be walking out of the hospital? Or while the nurses discuss about their shifts next week he knows without a doubt that he wouldn’t even be there? Imagine being told you have 5 days to live. Mentally you are stable enough to understand exactly what that means, you can even transport yourself mentally into the next 3 weeks but your living body will never arrive there. Your mind in fact is healthy but your body is dying and as healthy as your mind is, you cannot will yourself to be made whole again.

For some reason the word regret  has been playing around in my mind, i.e I don’t want to regret a single thing at the end of my life. I don’t want to sit and wish I hadn’t wasted my time and expended my emotional energy hating someone else, acting to please someone else or pretending to be someone else. I want to enjoy every moment of every day and be glad and rejoice in it. I want to see the beauty of God everywhere I go and even recognize that my trials are part of the tools needed to shape me into a beautiful soul, so that when trials come I’m not perturbed but happy that work is still being done on me. I want to be an excellent mum to my children and raise them well, while remaining a true friend and companion to hubby. I want to be a dependable friend, the type that has you confident to turn your back because you know I’ll be watching it not stabbing it. I don’t want to stop cracking jokes or being funny. I want to use up all of the gifts that God placed in me, they are many. I want to inspire people and make sure their lives are better because they met me.

I definitely want to keep blogging, but to do so very regularly and not sporadically. Did I mention I was still being worked on?

Thanks so much for reading!

PS;

If you are unsure about how to live free of fear or regret the one solution I have found so far is salvation through Christ. It doesn’t stop you from making mistakes or even physically dying, but it does give you a hope and a future and a new life after death.

02 Feb

Myself

It’s the start of a new month. I love all things new, especially days, months, years. I really do see it as a new slate with a chance to start all over again. I love what Jaycee said when she wrote that your new year is when you want it to be.

February holds a special significance to me because we have two birthdays in our family. My mum and my super-fine nephew. It is also the month when our new website will be launched. Yes I am putting myself out there so I can be accountable. This is one deadline that must be met.

Things are working out very well with my resolutions, regarding work and home life. The only snag is that I don’t get to speak with my friends as much as I used to, I know it is only for a while.

I have decided to become a bit more outgoing. That probably sounds rather contradictory as I just said I don’t get to speak with friends often enough. By outgoing I mean making myself available to others. You see I can be a tad bit self-centered sometimes, this is evident during conversations when I find myself thinking of the next thing to say when I should be listening. I am working on that, God is helping me as I know that it isn’t and shouldn’t be all about me!

I had the privilege to have been featured in a Christian Lifestyle magazine recently, It was very special because I totally love that mag and read it daily. I wouldn’t have been featured if I hadn’t reached out to them in the first place. Granted all I was thinking was more publicity for the business, but God had other plans. It ended up being an inspirational piece and all who read it said they were actually inspired? Really??? So I guess I need to speak to people more, be a blessing and be a better listener.

Enough about me already, see what I mean by being self-centered?

PS; Inspire Me! has been updated.

Thank you for reading

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

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

20 Sep

Autumn…

I even like the way the word is spelled. It is in a class all by itself, no other words rhyme with Autumn, aka Fall. This is my favourite time of the year. It is the various shades of brown, red, orange, copper and gold. The fact that the leaves fall down slowly, sometimes doing a twirl as they descend steadily. I love the leaves being blown around by the wind. I don’t even mind wet leaves blown on my face in the fall, so long as they are brown, lol! You will most likely catch me wearing brown, orange or green clothing or accessories. Green became my favorite colour years ago when I discovered celery green. The other green- bottle green, I still don’t like. It reminds me of beer bottles and long, boring childhood summers.

At this time of the year I usually scurry around, buying candles, cushions, throws and anything to make my home cozy. Needless to say the colours tend to be warm colors of browns, reds and oranges. I think of  scented candles with fragrances like mulled wine, hot chocolate or baked cookies. I fill my freezer with all kinds of treats as food and comfort go together. I don’t really like to go out in the Autumn, prefering instead to stay indoors drinking hot cocoa, reading a good book and watching those leaves fall from the trees. I love the sight of the squirells doing the same thing, scurrying around filling their homes with nuts before they hibernate. About now I burst into homemaker overdrive, making sure every need is met, the house is warm, smells nice and is good enough to eat.

The fact that it gets dark early only makes it better. It reminds me that I have a roof over my head. I also realise that having a house isn’t necessary having a home. A house you buy or rent, a home you create using ingredients of love, joy, peace, gratitude…

I have no idea what this autumn holds in store for me. There is so much I will be doing without this year, its hard to imagine any semblance of my autumn. However I do have a major ingredient I have never used before- a new attitude filled to the brim with gratitude, joy and peace. I am truly grateful for all the Lord has blessed me with regardless of my list of wants. I choose to be thankful for what I have and not whine about what I want. 

I pray your autumn is filled with all the goodness God has for you, Amen.

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!

31 Aug

Success at any cost?

I work very hard on the business, not because I want it to generate an income, rather I want it to be hugely successful.

A while ago the boys and I visited my cousin who had just flown into London from Chicago. While we chit-chatted with his host -a really nice man, the said host suddenly appeared on TV. He was being interviewed, something that regularly occurs because of the nature of his job. I pointed him out to the boys, It was hilarious the way their big eyes darted first to the T.V and then back at the man, over and over again, mouths wide open as they peered to make sure it realy was him. Perhaps they didn’t believe me. Perhaps they wondered how he could be in their midst, in a house and at the same time on the T.V?

This man is a human rights activist so needless to say our conversation turned to the “plight” in Gambia. First of all I didn’t even know Gambia had a “plight” I tried hard to feign interest while all I really cared about was getting PP on TV. “How, oh how do I bring up my concerns about exposure of my business purely for profit making while we discussed the exposure of the atrocious Gambian president- without branding myself as insensitive?”

I left really pleased about my education on Gambia, Nigeria and other African countries and what Amnesty international is doing to help. I left considering my own selfishness in my own little world and how we all have a part to play in assisting the other man or woman beside us. I was also glad that my quest for success had not yet seared any feelings of benevolence and that it was not too late to start.

Lord I thank you for the many gifts that you have placed within me. I pray that I use them selflessly to glorify you and to bless the people around me, for the gifts are not mine to keep, but to pass on. Amen.

29 Aug

The Lady, Du Pain & The Perfect French Manicure

So there I sat on the Eurostar excited about my very short break away from normal life. The last time I was in Paris was on my first wedding anniversary. Hubby and I were so shocked and disappointed that everything was actually in French. The knowledge that they are French people did nothing to soothe us as we listened to the 60th re-run of CNN in our hotel room- the only TV channel in English. It annoyed us to see blockbuster Hollywood movies voiced-over in French. How dare they? Eventually common sense reigned and we agreed to enjoy our holiday so we did. Lots of french bread (du pain), ham and cheese, but we did.

Fast forward 12 years and I wasn’t too keen on the sights, I just wanted to see my friend whom I hadn’t seen in 2 years and enjoy my VERY MUCH needed break. Alone. Deciding I would need a dictionary, I wondered why Costa Coffee didn’t sell them, it was the only shop without a queue. I ignored the fact that the French customs sign at St Pancras Station in London was written in French first and then English. I even pretended not to notice that the announcements in the train were in French and then translated into French-English. What I could not deal with was the newsagents who had a section for foreign publications, aka English. That was way too much to bear. All was forgotten though when I checked into my hotel, kindly assisted by Ganiyu, the cheerful Nigerian who spoke Yoruba (yo-hu-ba) with a French accent.

I had asked for a single bed- when they said single bed, it meant single-side-of-your body only. But it was my room and mine alone. It was blissful, clean and smelt nice. All TV channels were in French without the luxury of CNN this time. But it was fine. I had an attitude as I went for a walk to the market and in search of MacDonalds, wondering why I felt so superior to the French that I was unprepared to sample their cuisine. For some reason I didn’t even try to speak the language, I couldn’t be bothered and had a strange feeling they should concede to me. I guess it was my irritation at the bewildered look on their faces when I asked where the nearest MacDonalds was. It’s no wonder they are not fond of the Brits. Or the Americans.
At the nail bar the entire pricelist was in French. Surely a French Mani/Pedicure cannot be that pricey, they are the originators. Wrong! these folks charged me 67 Euros! That’s $95 dollars y’all. When she told me the price I quietly prayed she meant 16 Euros. My prayer was ansered, answer- “No, it is 67 Euros!” The mani/pedicure was PERFECT.

On my way back to the hotel I decided against listening to music so I could soak in the sounds, scenes and culture of Paris. I enjoyed doing so. It felt surreal that I was in another country, surrounded by strangers yet was so peaceful and filled with joy. I thought it’d be nice to have some French food for dinner after deciding there may be French word for Chinese which I didn’t know. On my way to the French restaurant, the smell of something familiar wafted up my nostrils. Minutes later I was in the hotel room, watching a movie on my phone and eating the best kebabs ever, served by the friendliest Turkish guys… oh well, French cuisine will have to wait!
And then Shade and I met up, but that’s another story 🙂

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.