This blog was created to serve as an inspiration to all who read aspire, to love and to live a life of purpose.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Today's Inspiration- Hillsong's "God is Able"

I walked into Monrovia Christian Fellowship(MCF) on my first Sunday in Monrovia not sure what to expect....I wasn't even sure I wanted to be awake since I had stayed up till 4am the night before watching bootleg DVDs...I had started questioning what I was even doing in Monrovia to start with. There had been no electricity that morning as I got ready for church and the water in the tank was running low. To make matters worse, I had just crawled out of a dirty taxi...and I'm not talking about your usual "unkept" & "needs routine cleaning" taxi. This one was the kind my modest tight-fit-but-below-the-knee designer dress had never anticipated. Ever.

At that point, walking into MCF probably was the best thing I did for myself that week. The praise and worship was one of the best, if not the best. The praise and worship team was vibrant, just loud enough, coordinated and well-practiced. The sermon lasted no more than 25 minutes. Just like my attention span. The message was short, it was practical, it was Bible-based and it was clear. Just my type.. The pastor was enthusiastic, funny and eloquent.

What's more is that if you look around Monrovia, the effect of war is still apparent, and nothing (like I'm used to) seems to work as it should be...yet, the people are very hopeful...I watched as every single person worshipped like their tomorrow depended on God's grace. Its inspiring to see people who would be excused for being angry or grumpy, living content and depending on hope and faith in God.
Monrovia Christian Fellowship, Monrovia, Liberia

Ice cream after church, Naija style :-)
Needless to say, Sundays has become one of my favorite things about Monrovia. Don't let anyone tell you different, as a Christian, a good Sunday service somehow erases all the stress from the week before and gets you ready for the challenges of the week ahead.
Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.  ~Berthold Auerbach. 
For me, especially, since I've been working really hard since I've been here, by Saturday, I'm dragging my feet and feeling a bit like the multi-colored annoying "loading" cursor on my MAC notebook when my internet is slow.

But for the past 3 sundays I've been to MCF,  and each time, afterwards, I've felt like someone right clicked me, clicked "stop" and hit "refresh".

Yesterday, I was still trying to figure out where to place my purse in church so I could keep at eye on it, when Hillsong's "God is Able" came on. The instrumental in the beginning was what caught and still has my attention. Its so soothing and easy to listen to.

Whoever denies that music heals the soul hasn't heard a tune that rearranges your being. Late last year, I blogged my Got Me Through Playlist. Today, Hillsong's "God is Able" just got added to the list because it has been on replay all day today. It's probably what got me through the hectic 9am-7pm workday I had today.

Hope you like :-)

Stay Inspired....

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Candlelight for the Victims of the Colorado Massacre

Incase you haven't heard, the midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Denver, Colorado, turned into a tragic crime scene. According to reports, suspected gunman, 24-year-old James Holmes entered the theatre and released unknown gas and gun shots killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, including a 4 month old baby. Holmes is now in custody.

Find full story here.

Happenings like this exceed my scope of reason. Again, we are reminded (in an awful manner) of the fragility of life and of the kind of world we live in.

All you and I can do is pray for the souls lost, and for their grieving families, that God will grant them peace beyond understanding, like only He can. We should also pray for quick recovery for all those who were wounded in this senseless crime.
May the souls of all the victims of the Colorado massacre rest in eternal peace and May God grant the survivors a speedy recovery, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Say AMEN with me......
Stay Inspired.....

Believe to Live: John 11:4 & 25.

Hi Everyone,

Once in a while, I come across a verse during devotion that I've seen before but didn't "stick" the first time around. I'm not sure if it happens to you but the Bible is fascinating in a way that you could read the same verse several times, and each time it'll take on a different meaning....most times, a deeper one. Often times, the depth of meaning is influenced by your current situations, and the like.

Today, I came across John 1. It details the story of Jesus' friend Lazarus.

When Jesus first heard the news that his friend Lazarus was sick, he said,
“Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”
When I read on in the chapter, I was almost frustrated that Jesus stayed where he was, after he heard, for two more days. You would think that if He heard His dear friend was sick, He'd run as fast as he could to him. That's what YOU would do if you heard your dear friend was ill, right? But Jesus took His sweet time even after He 'knew' Lazarus had died.

In fact, Jesus didn't get to Lazarus until four days after he was buried. When He got there, He said to Martha, Lazarus' sister and a friend of His as well,
"I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die; and those who live and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (v. 26)
When she confirmed that she believed, she went and called her sister Mary who came and cried to Jesus. She said, "if you had been here, my brother won't have died" (v. 32).

Jesus saw her pain and wept with her (v. 35). Then He proceeded to do what He came for, He brought Lazarus back to life.

As human beings, when we face any kind of misfortune or setback, our first reaction is to grumble, complain, be depressed, question God's presence (just like Mary did) or just give up on life. Sometimes, we don't understand why God is taking so long. I'm guilty of it. Sometimes, I wonder if He even heard me at all and if He did, didn't he hear the urgency in my voice....Didn't he hear me say "I need it NOW!" But I'm learning that as a believer, everything I face can ultimately bring glory to God because God can resurrect any bad situation, as long as I believe.

Time after time, we all face a Lazarus in our can take various forms. No matter what form yours takes, take refuge in seeing your problems as an opportunity to honor God...That way, when your "test" turns into your "testimony", your faith will be made stronger.

Imagine He's asking you the John 11:26 question....Do you believe He has the power to resurrect you?

Once you answer "yes" to that question, buy yourself some patience with knowing his five senses unimaginably cover all the corners of the earth...He hears you, He sees you, He feels and shares your pain, He's weeping with you and He's coming for you. Ultimately, He'll do what He came to do...He'll resurrect you. 

Thank God its friday. Wishing you a blessed weekend.

Stay Inspired....

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Choices.....A Short Story

Disclaimer: This story is not based on any particular person's life story. It is a combination of several life stories.

I had heard so many "man-problem" and "confusion" stories this year and I've been struggling for a bit to find a way to pass on the moral of the stories without jeopardizing confidentiality and trust. I finally figured it was better to piece it all together in a single short story, taking a bit from everything I know.

To all my readers, I hope you find yourself or the person you're with in one of the characters and in the process, find inspiration to decipher whether you're choosing the right one...

*Contains Nigerian/Igbo slangs.

Enjoy :-)

Chapter 1
“What's up with the solemn faces, ladies?” Nne sashayed into the room to meet her 3 best friends.
“And what’s that smell?” she added almost in a hiss.
“Sit down abeg. Always trying to cause a ruckus. The smell is from my  neighbors cooking their native food” Chi said shifting her balance on the couch. Her face weirdly still in a question mark.
“Hey Nne” Yinka said dryly as her fingers returned to dancing on her Blackberry.
Sandra didn’t say a word. She just looked up and gave Nne a half smile.
“Oya spill it! What’s going on? Who died?” Nne said as she placed her bag on the glass table in Chi’s parlor and gave everyone of her best friends a quick good-to-see-you hug.
“We’re in deliberation right now,” Yinka said without looking up.
Nne chuckled. “Please today is Saturday. Leave all the law talk for class on Monday”
“Seriously Nne stop playing. This is serious” Sandra finally spoke.
“Ok ok” Nne said mimicking a Blackberry emoticon straight face. “What’s up?”
“Is anyone going to...”?
“I’m in a dilemma ok!?” Sandra blurted out almost angrily, wrinkling her pretty face. Sandra had always been a head-turner since their high school days. And 8 years later in final year of law school, she still could not go out and not get asked for her number. Born to a German mother and an Igbo father, at about 5’5, she had a tanned half-caste skin, a roundish cute face with a small pointed nose and was proportionately endowed in the right places.
“Spill.” Nne said almost in a mimicky whisper.
“Chi tell her,” Sandra said
Nne waited.
“So, Obinna proposed to her”
“OMG!” Nne said jumping up. Biko, Is that what you’re hiding and acting like someone died? It's great news! Where are we going to celebrate? Ashebi, here I come…Congratula..”
“Nne relax you haven’t even heard the end of story.”
“Listening”, Nne said sitting back down.
“Ok, so I haven’t responded to Tony’s proposal” Sandra said. “I’m so confused.”
“Ohhhh” Nne said suddenly realizing the root of her friend's confusion.
Chapter 2
Sandra had been dating Obinna for about a year before she met Tony. Obinna was incredibly handsome. At 6’2, he looked like he just stepped out of a magazine cover and commanded attention from men and women alike. He had narrow eyes that looked like they could permeate your soul and chocolate skin that was clearer than a new mirror. 
Obinna was from old money. His great-grandfather had been an oil tycoon in Nigeria starting an oil company shortly before his early death. His grandfather and granduncles, however, didn’t let the company die, expanding it to an international enterprise. While his uncle was the current CEO of the company, his father was deeply involved, balancing it with his duty as the current Minister of Petroleum in Nigeria.
Obinna couldn’t have it any better and when he expressed interest in Sandra, the news spread pretty fast, exciting her friends especially. When Sandra expressed her worry about his reputation as a “bad boy”, all her friends told her she’d be foolish to pass on him. Well, all her friends, except Chi.
She had said solemnly, “mmm Sandy I don’t know. Obinna is a big boy. Remember he dated Lucy from high school last year and dumped her before she knew what was happening. And he chased her harrddddd exactly this same way. Lucy disappeared from public eye for months just to deal with the heartbreak”, her eyes dimmed with concern.
“Please Chi stop being such a kill-joy. Obinna has said he has met his wife. Sandra is whom he wants to marry. He must’ve have changed for her sake” Nne said angrily. “Allow the girl to enjoy her luck. You and I need to find out if Obinna has cousins that look like him” she added beaming with her trademark naughty smile.
“Of course that’s what you’d say. Sandra, I’ve said my own. Just make sure this guy is for real. Make sure your heart is not one of his playing fields”. Chi hissed back.
While Sandra wasted time deciding whether to accept Obinna’s invitation to date, some girls she actually called friends had tried to throw themselves at him. But somehow, Obinna never relented in his chase. It seemed almost as if Sandra had become an highly-staked oil contract. He sent flowers, teddy bears and lovenotes to campus and dropped by in a different car every day of the week, just to take Sandra to class. 
Three weeks of chasing had barely passed when Sandra gave in.
Yinka, Nne and Chi rarely saw Sandra and almost every time they saw her, she was with Obinna. Sandra seemed to be happy, so they let her be. 
Eight months into the relationship, Sandra strolled into Obinna's house unexpectedly only to see another girl in his bed. He begged. She forgave.
One month later, Yinka spotted him in a party in London, while she was vacationing, making out with another girl. She called Nne and Chi to report the incident. Nne voted against telling Sandra. Chi was the one who called Sandra with the news.
Of course, Nne said in her usual boisterous manner “Biko its nothing. Men cheat. If you love him and he loves you, just set your mind to it. He will cheat but you’re the one he will marry. Hang in there.
Chi disagreed. “This is a bad sign o. He has cheated twice. No wait, you have caught him only twice. God knows what or who else he has done that you don't know about.”
“Ok, well, just see what he has to say. That’s the least you can do”
Sandra listened to Nne. She listened to Obinna. He said, “baby you know I love you, I’m sorry. Girls just can’t keep their hands off me. There’s only so much I can do to resist but it was just sexual. You and I have the real deal.” Then he hugged and kissed her like only he could.
She forgave him. Again. Then, and 4 other times. For every transgression, he bought her a gift. She had gotten a brand new Toyota, an Iphone, at least 4 blackberry phones, one trip to London, one trip to Jamaica for her and 3 of her friends and several watches, clothes, shoes and purses. Sometimes, he’d just call a boutique and tell them his girl was coming to shop. She’d go and shop, and he’d pay later. But Obinna couldn’t resist the attention he got from the girls. 
In fact, he didn’t want to.
Chapter 3
One hot Sunday afternoon, Sandra received a call.
“Hello” the voice said in a whisper. It was a female voice.
“Yes, who’s this?”
“It doesn’t matter. I just called to tell you about your boyfriend Obinna. You don’t know me but I know you. I’ve seen you around campus and I hear you’re such a nice girl, that’s why I’m calling”
“What? So, who are you?”
“Just listen. I slept with Obinna yesterday. Two of my friends have also slept with him. The guy is a dog. He thinks because he has money he can sleep with anyone he wants. My only regret was that I'm now just a number in his books. I’m not proud of what I did but it was a dare. I hear its you he’s serious about but I just thought you should know what you’re getting yourself into.”
“I don’t believe you. You don’t know Obinna. You don't know me either.”
“I knew you’d doubt me. Does he have a black scar on his upper inner thigh? On the right one?”
“I thought as much.” The voice said, and then hung up.
Chapter 4
Obinna did have a black scar in his inner right thigh.
It was on that day that Sandra met Tony. She had tried to call Obinna immediately but all 3 of his lines were busy. She then called Chi.
“Na wa o!” Chi said with concern as they settled under a canopy at Skyline Sports Club. 
“Good afternoon Madam. What can I get for you?” a waiter asked. They hadn’t even noticed him following them to their seat.
“A malt and a meat pie” Chi said not taking her eyes away from Sandra.
“I’ll take a Smirnoff and a meat pie please,” Sandra said dismissing the waiter.
“How do you feel?” Chi asked
“I’m just so confused. When will Obinna stop doing this to me? Is it a crime to love someone?”
Chi bit her tongue, resisting the strong urge to shout, “Did I not tell you so?” Her best friend needed her now and she had to just be there for her.
Sandra continued, “I mean, how many apologies will he give? You know, the sad part of it is that when I look into his eyes, I believe him. This love is blind o. Eh, Chi, what should I do?”
“Well…I just think you deserve someone who loves you and treats you like the queen you are” Chi said solemnly
“But Obinna loves me. So does his mom and sister”
If he loves you, why is he putting you through this? Let me tell you my dear, my mother always told me one thing ‘a man may love you and still cheat on you but if he respects you enough, he’d do everything to make sure his weakness does not make you a public spectacle or hurt you. Obviously Obinna is not doing that. He’s doing his thing shamelessly. He's sleeping with people who sit in the same class as you for Christ's sake. Sandy, you don’t deserve this but it’s always your choice. If you’re strong enough, you can deal with it. Me, I no fit”.
Sandy sighed and could only manage to sadly mutter “I hear you…I hear you.”
They ate in silence, each wondering what the other was thinking.
As they walked alongside the pool towards Chi's car, they noticed a black Toyota Camry that looked like it had seen better days, pull into the parking lot, parking right next to Chi’s car. Two young attractive men came out. The driver was about 5’11 with a body that looked like he lived on the soccer field but with a face that didn’t completely match it. The other one was shorter at about 5’9, was dark in complexion and took a resemblance to an older Davido.
As Chi and Sandra walked past the guys, they couldn’t have missed the eyes of the shorter guy burning through their bodies.
“Hey pretty ladies. Why are you so hot?” the Davido look-alike said in a high-pitched voice
“Hey”, they both said dryly and in unison
“Charles, let the pretty ladies go their way. You no dey take eye see woman” the driver said smiling.
“Boy relax, I’m sure they don’t mind” Charles said smiling.
The driver approached them just as the girls got to their car.
“Please pardon my friend’s excesses.” He said with a smile that seemed awfully familiar to Sandra.
“It's ok.” Chi said with a “thank-you-but-leave-us-alone” smile and grabbed Sandra’s hand.
Sandra obliged. They had walked barely 3 steps when she turned back. The men had just turned towards the entrance to the sports club.
“Please, what’s your name?” she said to the driver.
“Last name, please”
“Okehie. Tony Okehie”
“No way!” Sandra almost screamed, realizing where she knew him from.
“Didn’t you go to Babylon Primary School in Ikeja, Lagos?”
“I did.”
“Didn’t you finish in 1997? Isn’t your sister’s name Meso?”
“Yes and yes. What’s your name?” Tony said wondering where he knew this pretty face from.”
“I’m Sandra Ameni. We went to the same primary school and I was friends with Meso”
“Oh my!” Tony said suddenly recognizing her.
“How’s Meso? I’ve been trying to find that girl”
That’s how Tony and Sandra met. They exchanged numbers and started hanging out. Tony just graduated medical school and was looking for a visa because he wanted to move to the United States and pursue residency there. He was attractive in his own right. He had a long face with full lips and narrow eyes. Tony didn’t have a fulltime job yet and so he spent most of his days volunteering at the local health clinic.  
Sandra told Tony of all the events in her life. Her parents had died in a ghastly motor accident during her final year of secondary school and her only brother had moved to London in search of a better life. She now stayed with her mom’s sister in town who, as an international reporter, was hardly home.
After primary school, Tony and Meso had moved to South Africa where his father was transferred. His father died during his first year in University and he had to move back with his family to Nigeria to complete University and medical school. Meso was in University of Ibadan studying architecture.
To Sandra, Tony was just a friend and she enjoyed catching up with him. She was so comfortable with him; she shared with him her biggest fears and hopes.
Tony made good company for Sandra and he helped her get through her continuous tough times with Obinna. Whenever Obinna cheated, he was there to lend his shoulder for her to cry on.
Chapter 5
Nine months after they met, one Saturday afternoon, Tony called and asked her if she wanted to accompany him to meet up with some friends at the beach. He promised her some old friends from primary school would be in attendance. Sandra couldn’t control her excitement. Obinna had been in London for 3 weeks now and she hadn’t heard from him in 3 days. He claimed he was “busy” closing some deals for his dad’s company.
It was exciting to see so many old faces. Sandra loved hearing where they had gone after primary school and what they were doing now. Mid-way into the party, Tony invited Sandra to take a walk with him along the beach.
As they walked, on the sand, Sandra had gushing about their old friends for about 5 minutes, when she noticed Tony was silent.
“What’s wrong Tony?” she asked looking up at her friend.
“The question is what’s right Sandra” Tony said as he scooted in front of her stopping her in her tracks.
She still had a puzzled look on her face when he went down on one knee and said and he opened a small jewelry box to reveal a diamond ring, “Sandra, ever since I ran into you, my life has been going right. We’ve gotten to know each other for almost a year now and each moment I’m away from you, I can’t stop thinking about you. You have become a best friend to me and I couldn’t ask for anything better. My life is moving and I want you by my side for the ride. I want to grow with you, loving you each step of the way. I got accepted into a residency program in San Francisco, California and my visa just came through. Please marry me. Come with me and make me the happiest man alive. Be my wife, Sandra”.
Chapter 6
Sandra wasn’t sure how her legs moved or why they carried her away from Tony when he was on his knees, a disappointed expression on his face. She hadn't even realized she could move that fast. She had run all the way to the main road and hailed a cab to Chi’s house. 
“I didn’t know what to say. Why did he have to ruin our friendship like this? Doesn’t he know I have a boyfriend?” She had asked Chi.
That was a week ago. Tony had called 3 times a day since then and she hadn’t picked up his calls. When she went to let her aunty know she was staying at chi’s place for a couple of weeks, the gateman told her Tony had shown up numerous times asking for her.
Obinna finally came back two days prior. It was during their first dinner together since his return that Obinna pulled out a ring and set it on the table. While chowing down his fried rice, he said, “Darling, here’s your ring. We have to start planning this wedding. My mom doesn’t want me to hit 28 without a wife. It's necessary for me as her only son to carry on the family name.”
Sandra picked up the 3-carat diamond ring and stared at it with mixed feelings.
“Since you’re graduating in 6 months, we can plan the traditional wedding for around that time and then the white wedding in December so your brother can attend.”
She just managed to mutter “Okay” before taking a sip of her sprite to quench her sudden scorching thirst.
“Baby, please put the ring on. Everyone needs to know you’re my wife. That’s what you want abi? Besides we’re going to my parent’s house from here. I need them to see it on you” he said as he chewed and took a gulp of his beer, stopping only for a second to look at her.
Sandra obeyed.
Chapter 7
So, the question now is who should I marry?”, Sandra said jilting Nne from her thoughts.
“Yinka, you haven’t said anything. Ngwa contribute” Nne said almost ignoring Sandra’s question
“I would vote Tony. But Sandy that will mean you’d go and struggle in America. He has no money plus he’s just ok, looks-wise.” Yinka said. She was notorious for riding the gray area
“But that’s only for a short time. Tony is a good man. I hear residency is only 3 years or so, then he’ll start making money” Chi chimed in.
“Biko that’s too long. Sandy you know you’re now used to the nice things of life. How will you adjust? Besides Tony is not too much of a looker. How can you resist Obinna? The dude is hot! Don’t you know they call you guys the showstopper couple? Please don’t pass on that jor,” Nne blurted using hand gestures to illustrate her points.
“How can you even say that? Is that how shallow you are?” Chi said hissing and turning away.
“Chi please stop this holier than thou attitude.  Shut up jor, if it was you who had the opportunity to marry a minister’s son would you resist? She’s even wearing Obinna’s ring.” Nne hissed back pointing to the ring on Sandra’s finger.
Yinka took Sandra’s hand to admire it one more time.
“Nne, I won’t even fight with you today. I’m just saying marriage is deeper than money and looks. You of all people should know that.” Chi blurted in anger.
She wanted to take the words back as soon as they came out. She was referring to the broken home, in which Nne had grown up. Her father had been a legislator with loads of cash to spend. Story around town was that her mother chased him down but when he wouldn’t settle down, she got pregnant just so he will marry her. He did but it didn’t last long. They were divorced by Nne’s third birthday.
The look on Nne’s face gave away her burning anger and just as she was about to say something, Sandra intervened.
“Stop it you guys!” Sandra said
“Chi you were wrong for saying that” Yinka contributed.
“I’m sorry Nne but I still stand by my opinion” Chi admitted.
And that was the debate. Yinka couldn’t pick a side. Chi stood her ground for team Tony and Nne kept trying to convince Sandra to choose Obinna.
At that point, Sandra knew she needed higher authority.
She carried on as Obinna’s fiancĂ©e for one week, even attending a dinner his mother threw in their honor at their mansion on the Island, while she waited for her aunty to come back from her trip to Canada.
Tony stopped calling or showing up. According to his Davido-look-alike friend, he was leaving for the States in two weeks. I’m sure he heard about her engagement to Obinna. Who hadn’t heard? A picture of Sandra and Obinna smiling and looking into each other's eyes was front page in the local magazine with the caption “Most Eligible Bachelor in Town Set to Tie the Knot to Law Student”.
When her aunty walked in the door, thirteen days later, Sandra could barely wait for her to settle down before she poured her heart out to her. 
Sandra's aunty was about 47, still young and beautiful but single. She immersed herself in her work as a top international reporter.
Her aunt gave her a long hug and sat beside her. She said, “Let me tell you a story. Sandy, I was you 24 years ago. I married an 'Obinna' and dumped a Tony. It only lasted 10 years. He slept with our housemaid. He slept with 4 of my friends. He slept with anyone who would let him. I thought I could do it. I thought I could distract myself with the trips to Milan and Paris and the fleet of cars at my disposal. I thought the big house and the numerous designer clothes and shoes would be enough. It wasn’t. I was lonely. But I stayed. I loved the money, the prestige and the man I married. I hope he would change. He never did. The day I decided to leave was the day I walked in on him and my cousin. That day I woke up and I had spent 10 years of my life waiting for a man to change, and to realize I was enough for him.”
She stood up and as set her suitcase down to unpack, she solemnly said, “Don’t be me”
“What do you mean?” Sandy inquired.
“Choose the man who can’t live without you”.  She said, almost in a tone designed for secrets.
Sandra nodded, gave her aunty a tight hug and whispered “thank you”, knowing then who her husband would be. 
She had better hurry. He was leaving the next day.

***May be continued****

I'm curious to know what you think..... Team Obinna or Team Tony??? Comment away :-)

Stay Inspired.....

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Saw it, Loved it, Had to Share it :-)

Some inspiring images I came across this morning.....
Admire a man who isn't scared to show the world just how he feels about his wife :-)
This snail was in front of the apartment this morning....haven't seen a life one since I left Nigeria. Brought back good memories....
Love this! Reblogged from here.

This says its all :-)
Stay Inspired......

Monday, July 16, 2012

Incomplete Buildings in "Reconstruction"

Yesterday, for the first time since I've been in Liberia, I took a really long drive through Monrovia. Not so much of an official tour but something close.

One thing stood out to me....there are a lot of incomplete buildings. Monrovia looks like a city "in progress", a city "rebuilding".  And rightfully so, considering Charles Taylor was recently found guilty of multiple charges for his war crimes. Somehow, rebuilding knowing the elements of the damage have been put away, is easier.

The only signboard missing on the streets is one saying "Under Reconstruction". I was intrigued as I took a lot of pictures of buildings damaged by war. I'm sure by the time I was done, the driver was a bit frustrated at me for telling him to slow down every 2 minutes to capture a building. Oh well.
What inspires me isn't the devastated state of the buildings.  It is the fact that the buildings are being rebuilt and the narrow roads surrounding them are being expanded.

As I drove by the high way, on almost every block, I noticed men at work, sweating, wielding hammers and breaking damaged bricks with their bare hands...the same hands they used to stack and cement blocks, in their place.
It reminded me of what it really means to live. Sometimes, situations in life seem to constantly devastate what we've been building. One wrong turn may end a career we've been building. One event may wreck a relationship we've been building for years. One bad grade may set you back one semester in school. Sometimes, it seems like as you're building up your life, there's always something being taken away, making it "incomplete".

If you ever feel that way, maybe you can be inspired with me by Liberians who barely 9 years ago, ended a callous second civil war and who still today are taking off old damaged blocks and replacing them with new ones.

What's more is that, while the torments of war may never be completely erased, as they rebuild, the visibility of war scars serve as motivation to continue to rebuild and move forward...block after block.

Lesson learned:
If life damages your "building", take off the old blocks and replace them with new ones. Use the opportunity to upgrade whatever aspect of your life needs rebuilding. Most importantly, let the memories of hurt and damage serve as inspiration for your "renovation".
As far as I'm concerned, constant renovation refreshes your life's path and makes you better. After all, living involves tearing up one rough draft after another.  :-)

Stay Inspired...

Friday, July 13, 2012

What Love Is

This isn't my first post on love. But that post was one I thought about and put together based on 1 Corinthians 13. Today, for the first time, I defined love without thinking.

Today, amidst a really good conversation online, I was asked, "what is love?"
Within a few seconds, I had written over a paragraph...I hadn't realized I was typing so much. I don't even think I was breathing as I was typing. When I looked up, here's what I saw....

Love is unconditional. It is patient. It is kind. It is tolerant and it endures. Love means seeing another person for who and what they are, at their lowest, faults and all, and loving them anyway. Love means putting that person's interests above yours. 
Love is crying together when times are bad and rejoicing together when times are good. Love is building each other up. Love means security. It means being able to go through life fearlessly because you know someone has your back at all times. It means knowing someone loves you eternally. Love is knowing that the person will defend you against werewolves of life. 
Love grows. 
Sometimes love is tested. But when its real, it always wins. 
Can you tell that came from somewhere deep?

If you've found something like this, and its mutual, jackpot!  To everyone still looking, may cupid find you. Amen!

Sidebar: I think I've now developed a deeper interest in decoding that in other terms, so you may just be seeing more posts about this. hehehe

Happy Friday people! Can't wait to do some sightseeing in Monrovia this weekend. I'll keep you posted.

Stay inspired.....

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Aloha from Monrovia

Hey everyone!

Hope everyone is doing well...For those in the U.S., I hope the heat wave hasn't caused you any damage and for my beloved readers in Naija, I hope you're seeing the rainy season as a cleansing season and not as a "day ruiner".

Sorry I’ve been MIA…I’ve been traveling and experiencing unsteady Internet connection. You never realize how lucky you are to have constant fast Internet until you don’t have it. Like they say, you never appreciate what you have till you loose it. My hunt for internet deserves a post on its own. Stay tuned. 

I’m currently in Monrovia, Liberia for about a month, for consultant work with UNWomen, assisting international consultants to support civil society organizations to prepare an alternative CEDAW report.  UNWomen is the United Nations entity for gender equality and empowerment of women.

I’ve been here for a week and I’m still trying to make sense of the place. So far, this is what I’ve noticed…The United Nations’ presence here is deep…Because Liberia is a post-war territory, the UN is visible and prominent here. There are several UN agencies here. So far, I’ve noticed United Nations Missions in Liberia (UNMIL), UNDP, UNFPA and UNWomen. You can’t go a mile without seeing a vehicle marked United Nations. 

The country is also infested with Lebanese nationals who are making a lot of profit from the UN presence. What they do is open nice businesses that are replica of American businesses to lure foreigners who are here working for the UN and are used to that kind of comfort, then hike up the prices…for e.g., supermarkets that carry American brands and hotels that are cozy and expensive. They also buy war-damaged buildings, rebuild them nicely and rent them out to UN employees and consultants who seek comfortable places to live. I don't blame them though....Business is Business.

Things are also very expensive here…Oh my! Although, they have Liberian money, United States Dollars is what’s used as a main medium of exchange. I went grocery shopping and spent almost $200 on grocery that would cost about $75 in the States. As you can imagine, I wasn’t so happy about that.

Generally, it’s an interesting journey for me. I'm trying to stay positive, I’m learning new things, meeting new people and doing fulfilling work. I'm finding inspiration in being grateful for the things that I have that people here can only dream about. 

I feel privileged to be part of rebuilding a country that has been devastated by war. I’m taking lots of pictures and I’ll keep you updated….I have a feeling this is an experience I’d never forget. 
Stay Inspired....