Knowing God Through A Child

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8 years old Danny Littoi of Chula Vista (Califonia, USA) had a class assignment to “Explain God”. Below from a child’s eye, you can see God better.

“One of God’s main job is making people. He makes them to replace the old ones that die. He does not make grown ups; just babies! I think it is because they are smaller and easier to make.

God’s second job is listening to prayers and that is because people are so many including preachers, who pray when God is supposed to be sleeping.

God has no leisure (rest time) and He has no time to listen to radio or television.

Because he hears everything, there must be terrible lots of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off.

Jesus is God’s son. He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles. People finally got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified him.

His Dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all is hard work on earth so he told him that he didn’t have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did and he is helping his dad out by listening to prayers like a secretary.

You should always go to church on Sundays because it makes God happy. Don’t skip church or do something like going to the beach, washing clothes or watching television. And besides, the sun does not come out till noon anyway.

Its’s good to know God loves everyone. He is around you when you are scared in the dark. But you shouldn’t just always think of what God can do for you. I figured that God put me here and he can take me back anytime he pleases. That is why I believe in God.

 

Who is God to you?

Taking Stock of What Really Matters in Life

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We are caught in a daily rat race to make and accumulate wealth. People live their lives on a constant need to make money, remain relevant, build empires and live a life of comfort and satisfaction. What they fail to realize is that peace of mind and enjoying life has little to do with money.

The story below is an inspiration for us to slow down, reassess, and get real about how you really want to live your life.

 

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

“With all due respect Sir, but that’s exactly what we are doing now. So what’s the point wasting twenty five years?” asked the Mexicans.

 

Morale of the story:
1. Life is Simple. Know what really matters in life, and you may find that it is already much closer than you think.
2. You don’t need an impressive title, big car (or boat), or big business to live a beautiful life and be a beautiful person. In my experience a smaller living space and fewer obligations has made life even sweeter.
3. If you have a nagging feeling that you could do better, make more, and deserve to upgrade, remember that the secret to having it all is recognizing that you already do.
4. You can’t put a price on a happy life. Not even a million dollars.
5. Spend time with your amigos. The wife, children and amigos were all an integral part of the fisherman’s life. Spend time with people who lift you up and quietly distance yourself from those who don’t.
6. Instead of yearning for a big job, big car and big expense account, choose to have a big, beautiful and blessed life and live everyday grateful.

Live small so you can live big.

 

 
References:
1. Vanity of Vanities; All is Vanity (27/09/16). Our Daily Manna, July to September 2016
2. The Story of the Mexican Fisherman. Written by Courtney Carver: http://bemorewithless.com/the-story-of-the-mexican-fisherman/
3. 10 Meaningful Lessons from The Story of the Mexican Fisherman. Written by Courtney Carver: http://bemorewithless.com/mexicanfisherman/
4. Photo credit by WAI MING: http://www.waiming.com/pages/reproductions.php

The Omena-Omena Principal of Living

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I won’t be one to call myself a daddy’s boy. As the first child of the family and as an Igbo man’s first son, I was given the almost compulsory “Junior” tag attached to my name. I was named after my dad. Big honour I must say, considering the achievements of my old man. Very proud of him.

Daddy was and continues to be a quiet man. He never was a disciplinarian. Not his style. Dad never laid his hands on me growing up (as long as I could remember) but his style of discipline was what one would term “tongue lashing”.  Where he lacked in whips and strokes, he made up for greatly in words and advice.

Growing up, I learnt tons of words of wisdom from my old man but one stuck more than the rest. I call it the ‘Omena-Omena’ principal of living.

Sometime in 2014, dad was having a get-together with a few friends and they bought some expensive drinks and left them in his custody to refrigerate and what not.
So dad not envisioning that the ever unreliable NEPA (Never Expect Power Always) would afford us light throughout the night kept the drinks in the freezer. Instead of the fridge but the freezer with the mindset that the little light we might get from NEPA should keep the drinks cold enough for the event.

The next day, to dad’s utter dismay, the drinks had frozen and broken in the freezer. He was distraught.
If they were his drinks then he might not have felt so bad but they were drinks for his friends.
I was assigned with the task of unloading the broken bottles from the freezer and cleaning the freezer.
While cleaning, I saw my dad counting his losses (as any Igbo man would).

In his words, “these drinks are almost N200,000. What was I thinking putting them in the freezer. I should have known better”.
Then out of pity as a concerned son, I asked him “so daddy, what are you going to do? These drinks are expensive o”
He responded “Well. Omena-Omena. I will see if I can replace them with drinks I can afford and explain to the guys. There is nothing more I can do.”

Omena-Omena in Igbo language could be translated as “it has happened, it has happened”. Which means, what ever happened has happened, there is no point beating yourself up over it. It’s unwise to keeping looking back at life’s shortcomings and errors on a regular basis thinking of what might have been. There is no point asking yourself those annoying “what if” questions.
What if I didn’t do this?
What if I didn’t pay that money?
What if I didn’t date this guy?
What if I didn’t trust her?
What if I didn’t kiss him?
What if I didn’t tell him my secret?
What if I didn’t marry her?
What if I had just listened to my parents?

Only if we had a time machine, to turn back the hands of time and correct our mistakes. But we don’t!!!!!
Don’t you get it? You can’t do anything about what happened. But you can do something about how you respond to what has happened.

Omena-Omena is trying to tell you that instead of focusing on the pit or the pitfall, it’s time to get yourself out, clean yourself off and move the heck on.

Why focus on rotten eggs when there are fresh eggs out there?
Why focus on broken bottles when there are new unbroken bottles out there?
Why focus on a lost love when there are countless opportunities to fall in love again out there?
Why focus on lost money when you can make even more money out there?
Why focus on a closed door when there are countless open doors out there?
Why focus on pain when joy feels so much better?

Dad might have stylishly trying to make him self feel better after his debacle but he taught me a valuable lesson that has helped me since that day.

Next time life throws lemons your way, why make lemonade when orange juice is much sweeter. Throw those damn lemons away and get yourself oranges.

Omena-Omena. Move on.

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People Pleasing: The Key To Failure

 

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Jesus went about doing wonders and healing people of their infirmities. What a mighty God we serve.
What the Bible pointed out rather stylishly was the fact that not only was Jesus going about doing wonders and healing people, He was also displeasing people along the way.
In Matthew 8:28-34, Jesus healed two demon possessed men and drove the demons into people’s pigs and in verse 34, “Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they pleaded with Him to leave their region”.
Also in Luke 19:45, Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those selling. I’m sure those driven out where very angry with Him.
In verse 47 of the same chapter, “..the chief priests, teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill Him”.
Mr. Judas, one of his disciples agreed to betray Jesus for a mere thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16).
Even Bros Peter denied Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75).
And finally Jesus was crucified in the middle of two thieves. Almighty Jesus that healed the sick, raised the dead and fed the hungry.
He was hated, despised, plotted against and finally killed.

Let me shock you more…..

Are you aware that Satan, the man we also know as the devil was an angel in Heaven? He went by the name Lucifer which means ‘day star’ or ‘son of the morning’. Lucifer was established by God to be the angel of worship. Then he thought to himself “If God can get all this worship, so can I”. So he coveted the Throne of God and rebelled. This resulted in a mighty war in Heaven, Lucifer, along with one third of the angels was defeated by the Archangel Michael and cast down from Heaven to the earth where he became known as “Satan”, a name which literally means; “Adversary” as well as “Devil”, which means, “Accuser of the brethren.”

God, the creator of Heaven and Earth. The One that created man with dust. The Omini-present God. The One that never sleeps or slumbers. The God of all gods. Even God could not please one third of His own Angels.
To put this into perspective, if there were 3 million angels in Heaven, 1 million disagreed with God and left with the devil. Imagine!!!!!

If Jesus could not please everybody and even Almighty God could not please everybody, then why do you try to compromise yourself to please everybody?

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As a matter of fact, if everyone is happy with you, you would have made a lot of compromises in your life and that means you have no principles.

A principled man or woman won’t stand for anything or stand with anyone who violates his/her principles.

You are a girl that has friends who associate themselves with married men and this is against your principles. Unfriend them ASAP. They might despise you afterwards but as Jesus and God showed, you can’t please everyone.

You are a guy who has friends that smoke marijuana and gulp all sorts of assorted alcoholic drinks. This goes against your principles. Unfriend them ASAP. They might despise you afterwards but as Jesus and God showed, you can’t please everyone.

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“You can’t please everyone. When you’re too focused on living up to other people’s standards, you aren’t spending enough time raising your own. Some people may whisper, complain and judge. But for the most part, it’s all in your head. People care less about your actions than you think. Why? They have their own problems!” ― Kris Carr

“You cannot live to please everyone else. You have to edify, educate and fulfill your own dreams and destiny, and hope that whatever your art is that you’re putting out there, if it’s received, great, I respect you for receiving it. If it’s not received, great, I respect you for not.” ― Octavia Spencer

“You can’t please everyone, and you can’t make everyone like you.” ― Katie Couric

“I have made the choices that work best for me. I know I cannot please everyone, and that’s fine.” ― Marlee Matlin Best

“All I can do is follow my instincts, because I’ll never please everyone.” ― Emma Watson

“Every child is taught if you try to please everyone, you end up upsetting everyone.” ― Richard Engel

“I feel the need to please everyone is unnecessary and impossible.” ― Steve Nash

“You can’t please everyone, nor should you seek to, because then you won’t please anyone, least of all yourself.” ― Dylan Moran

“You’re never going to please everyone, and if you do, there’s something wrong.” ― Constance Wu

“To be truly positive in the eyes of some, you have to risk appearing negative in the eyes of others.” ― Criss Jami, Killosophy

“While being you and truly sharing what you do will bring happiness to others, you won’t find contentment merely trying to keep others happy.” ― Rasheed Ogunlaru

“Always tying to please others is definitely an assured path to stress and failures in life.” ― Edmond Mbiaka

“Don’t go into the business of pleasing people. You can’t please everybody. Simply do your best at what you do” ― Bangambiki Habyarimana

“The increased desire to please God and seek HIS approval will decrease the desire to seek approval from man.” ― Yvonne Pierre

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How to Stop Your People-Pleasing:
1. Stop. Literally stop right now. Practice being assertive. Practice speaking up for yourself and learn to say no. Think about the times you have said yes, when you really wanted to say no.
2. Take your time. If someone asks for a favor, take time to think about it or check your schedule.
3. Understand that your self-worth does not depend on approval from others. Your self-worth is your own perception of yourself and that depends on you. You don’t need external approval to be a worthy person.
4. Realize that you’ll never please everyone. If you please some people, you’ll naturally disappoint others.
5. Know that you can’t control what others think. It’s unrealistic to believe you can change someone’s thoughts. You can’t make someone happy unless they want to be. The only person you can control is yourself.
6. Realize that people won’t notice, or care as much as you think. Why waste your energy?
7. Have healthy boundaries. Make sure you have healthy boundaries in your life and stick to them.
8. Look after your own needs. It’s important to make choices that are good for you rather than what’s expected, or to please others. Do the things you enjoy and practice self-care.
9. Learn to love yourself. Love yourself unconditionally, as you are right now. Treat yourself as you would a best friend and respect yourself.
10. Address your insecurities. It’s important to address the underlying issues and to work on your self-esteem. Don’t be afraid to seek mental health help if you need it.

 

“We cannot please all men but we can be a blessing to many.” ― Mac Canoza

 

References: 

  1. http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/04/how-to-stop-being-a-people-pleaser/
  2. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/pleasing-others
  3. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/please_everyone.html
  4. http://www.flameministries.org/angels.htm

Listening Your Way To A Girl’s Heart

 

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Then I asked her “so why do you like me?”
Without flinching, she replied “Because you are a good listener. You listen to me when I talk. Whether I am making sense or not, you listen. I like that about you.”

Growing up, I was the kid you could term “friendly”. I was all over the place. Seldomly had arguments. Fought maybe once or twice in my whole life. I was good with the guys because I was a guy’s guy (played football and reasonably good at sports, watched football, liked girls and all). I was also good with girls because I was a girl’s guy (cute, tall, funny, smart and friendly).

In all my friendliness and seemingly good attributes, I was still as single as the number 1. How do I get myself out of this quagmire? How do I get a girlfriend? How do I get a girl to kiss me? A few of the questions that plaqued the mind of a 15 year old boy.

It’s been over a dozen years since but I overcame my worries, insecurities and shortcomings about girls by doing something that most men fail to do.

LISTENING…….

So back to the lady at the beginning of this piece. She had the opportunity of saying “I like you because you are tall and cute” or “I like you because you are funny and smart”. She might have even decided to state my prowess in bed or the small money I claimed to have but she went for the less obvious choice of “a good listener”.

I always thought listening was an easy thing to do. Everyone has attended lectures where they are bound to listen to their lecturer. Eveyone attends church/mosque where they are encouraged to listen to their spiritual leader. Everyone watches movies where they are bound to listen to the movie characters. So listening shouldn’t be a big deal. Should it?

It is……

If only men listen more to their women, we wouldn’t have so many issues in relationships.
If only parents listened more to their children, many kids wouldn’t be violated by ignominious fellows.
If only bosses listened more to their employees, you would have a happier and more hardworking workforce.
If only leaders listened more to their followers, you would have a better and more fulfilled country.
If only husbands listened more to their wives, women wouldn’t be led to cheat on their husbands.
If only Even listened to Adam, the serpent wouldn’t have convinced her to eat the damn apple.
If only most girls listen to their heads and ignored their brains, heartbreaks wouldn’t be a regular feature.
If only men listened to their conscience instead of their penis, so much infidelity would be avoided.
If only many couples listened to themselves more often, divorce and separation rates would nose dive.

I could go on and on but my point has been made. Listen more in your relationships and even in the general affairs of life. It takes courage to stand up and talk. It also takes courage to shut up and listen attentively.
Don’t just listen to reply. Listen to understand. The Bible strongly admonished in Proverbs 18:13 that “to answer without listening is foolishness and shame”. Verse 14 of the same chapter said “the ears of the wise seek knowledge”. It didn’t say the mouth of the wise, it said the ears of the wise. Quoting James 1:19 “..let every man be swift to hear and slow to speak”. As Greek philosopher Epictetus once theorized, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

To be a good listener, remember to:
1. Listen attentively
2. Focus on the speaker
3. Maintain eye contact
4. Don’t be distracted by your phone
5. Show you are listening by giving a nod or making a “hmmm, really?, huh?, are you serious?” sound while the speaker is talking.
6. Don’t interrupt the speaker.
7. Begin your response with a question if need be.
8. Don’t pass judgement.
9. Be open minded
10. Empathize with the speaker.

Always speak once, think twice and listen thrice and remember that your ears will never put you in trouble; it is always your mouth that does.

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African Parents Are Raising Women Beaters

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With the strict disciplinarian method African parents utilize in raising their children, are we inadvertently raising women beaters?
With the African tradition, it’s bride price and ownership of women ideology, are we inadvertently giving rise to women beaters?
As a precursor to this article, it’s advisable to read “African Parents Are Lazy Disciplinarians” where I explained my views on hitting children as a form of discipline.

So are African parents and the African tradition giving rise to women beaters?

Let’s take two points and bring it all together at the base of the article.

POINT 1:
As discussed in the article “African Parents Are Lazy Disciplinarians“, African parents utilize the “spare the rod and spoil the child” approach in training their children. This approach is only advocated in third world countries (try whipping your child in advanced countries like USA, UK).
How African parents and African men think alike:
A. African parents don’t understand their children. They don’t realize that as adults, even children have different temperaments.
African men don’t understand their women. First of all, they don’t understand that women don’t think like men do. That women don’t show their emotions like men do. They don’t value and appreciate what makes both genders very different and unique. They still don’t realize that women are different. So they make statements like “my mother won’t behave like this” to their wives.
B. African parents don’t see their children as equals. They feel so far superior to their children that they have no say at home. “Do as I say this is my house”, an African father will tell his child.
African men also don’t see their wives as equals at home. They are the bread winners and must have the final say. “Do as I say, this is my house”, an African man will tell his wife.
C. African parents don’t fully understand the scripture. They don’t realize that the saying “spare the rod and spoil the child” isn’t in the Bible. They also take the word “rod” too literally to mean cane/whip when it actually means something different.
African men on the other hand take Ephesians 5:22 which says “Wives submit yourself to your husbands” to mean their wives are second fiddle to them. That their wives can’t have a say at home. That their wives must do everything to satisfy them.
D. African parents are too lazy to properly train their children. An African parents sees talking to their children, finding out the root cause of their misbehavior, reasoning with them, giving them the space to make mistakes and learn from their mistakes as a waste of time. They rather save time by unleashing the cane and striking their child whenever he misbehaves.
African men don’t have the patience to find out why their wife is moody. Why his wife is acting up and disrespecting him, why his wife is talking back at him all of a sudden. Why his wife is creating tension in the house. No time. He wasn’t given the opportunity to explain himself as a child before he was flogged. Why would he have the patience to let his wife explain herself before he slaps her or gives her a proper beating.

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POINT 2:
In African tradition, a man and a woman fall in love and decide to get married. The man then undertakes the often expensive and frustrating task of buying the right to his woman’s hand in marriage from her family.
He goes to pay homage to his wife’s people. He is given a long list of things to buy for the elders, parents and village people. He pays her bride price. He provides a large chunk of the money needed for the wedding ceremony (in most cases, he is solely responsible). He pays for their honeymoon vacation. He gets a house for his new family.
From an African woman’s perspective, while her man is not spending his life savings on obtaining the rights to her hand in marriage, she just gives him morale support (financial support in some cases but very rare). At the end of the day, she spends little to nothing, she changes her surname to the man’s surname, she moves location to where her husband lives, she takes care of a man like she would a baby.

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Both points; the man spending his money and getting her rights to marriage and the woman changing her surname and serving a man connives to make a man feel superior to his wife. Makes him possessive. Gives him an unguided superiority complex. Makes him egotistic and in some cases narcissist. These culminate in a man that feels he owns no one an explanation if he hits his wife or sends her packing from the house or womanizes.

Bringing both notes together. There is strong and irrefutable evidence that African parent’s disciplinarian techniques and the African culture’s “women belong to men” mentality fuels an African man’s possessive nature and makes him prone to woman beater tendencies.

 

The Titanic Way Relationships End

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As Titanic was sinking and hundreds of people were either jumping to their death or drowning, Jack and Rose were in the ocean together. Jack helped Rose onto a wooden panel only buoyant enough for one person while he dangled in the ice cold ocean. After a little while, a rescue effort is conducted and Rose is saved while Jack dies of hypothermia (caused by extreme cold).

Watching this scene as the 11 years old or so boy that I was, I couldn’t understand why this young fine man would give up his life for this woman (not even his wife or his babe but someone else’s babe on the ship).
I cried. Not because he died, but because he was “stupid” enough to sacrifice his life in the name of love for another man’s “property”.

I have grown to realize that love is the wonderful feeling that makes people do the dumbest things. It’s that strong of an emotion. It paralyzes, it captivates, it subdues, it weakens and strengthens all at the same time.

LOVE……..

The sad part of my discovery about “love” is the fact that not only is the word often adulterated. Wherein every one with as little as a feeling of affection for another would automatically proclaim “I love you”. It seems “lovers” are not aware of the selfless nature of the word “love” that the most minute offense has caused a rift and destroyed many relationships.

Let’s take a look at Dare and Tunde’s story. These two love birds have dated for four committed years. It seemed they were destined for the altar and a life together until strife struck.

During a time apart caused by a rift they had, Dare went out with her ex on a friendly outing and in a moment of regret and childishness they ended up kissing. She regretted her action immediately and was the reason it didn’t go beyond kissing.
She decided to keep it from her boyfriend because she didn’t think too much of it.
Tunde proposed and on his bachelor’s eve party, Dare’s ex was present (as if the devil sent him). As the immature guy that he is, he boasted to his friends about making out with the Tunde’s fiancée. News got to Tunde and he was distraught. He confronted Dare who admitted to the offense and apologized but not without blaming it on Tunde.

“If not because you decided we take a break from the relationship, I wouldn’t have gone out with him and this wouldn’t have happened”, she said.

Tunde was livid and wasn’t having it. Since she refused to apologize wholeheartedly, Tunde called off the engagement.

Dare was even more perplexed. She was adamant that she wasn’t going to apologize for what wasn’t totally her fault.

That was the end of their relationship.

This is the sad case of throwing the baby with the bath water.

This behavior could be likened to dumping a 2015 Range Rover Sport worth over N30 million because it has faulty tires. If you know the quality of your car, you wouldn’t give up on it because it just has faulty tires.

If you know the quality of your love. How special and unique your lover is. How precious she is to you. How amazing she makes you feel. How treasured and loved he makes you feel. You won’t give up on him/her because of a faulty tire (a mistake or error in judgement).

As if you needed reminding, Titanic which was the biggest ship in its time was sunk when it’s base was punctured by an iceberg.

The puncture was small but the damage was grave.

Don’t let pride/excuses get in the way of an enviable love.

Next time your partner offends you.
Ask yourself…..
Is her offense bigger than ‘our’ love?
Is his wrongdoing bigger than the commitment ‘we’ both share?
If the answer is yes, move on.
If the answer is no, make it work.

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Remember, don’t get rid a Range Rover Sport because of faulty tires and end up with a Toyota Camry with good tires.

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