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

Saturday, September 29, 2012


The Dictionary describes prayer as 
devout petition to God or an object of worship; a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, asin supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession; the act or practice of praying  to God or an object of worship.
I grew up thinking prayer was a long ritual and had to be done once in the morning and once at night.  But what I found is that if I waited till the prescribed times only, I'd forget the little issue that tugged at my heart in the middle of the day. I found that, while a prayer should be said once in the morning and once in the night, my best prayers were said in the moment I felt it. 

I've heard numerous sermons on the power of prayer.  More so, I've personally experienced the power in effective prayer.

So, today I'm sharing some lessons I've learned (and still learning) about prayer...

First, there are no universal rules on how to say a prayer. A prayer can be said anytime, anywhere. Your prayer is "your" prayer....Its whats in your heart. I'm not an conventional-prayer type of girl. I pray at odd times in odd places...while I'm driving, while I'm in class or at work, while I'm walking, while I'm cooking. I pray whenever I feel it in my heart. I don't schedule prayer. I don't memorize prayer. I just pray, whenever, wherever, whatever tugs at my heart. 

Secondly, the true appreciation of prayer lies in what it does to you as a person and not to God. When we pray, what we do is open communication with that to only can he hear us, we can hear Him too. The genuine communication, because it requires faith and trust in God, even when it doesn't bring immediate results, puts us in a better position to handle whatever we are dealing with. 
I believe in prayer.  It's the best way we have to draw strength from heaven.  ~Josephine Baker
We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.  ~Oswald Chambers
And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” ~ Matthew 21:22 
Thirdly, pray without ceasing. Prayer is not meant to be said only on occasion when we need something to be done for us. Its human nature to automatically remember to pray when things are not going so well but then forget all about it after our request has been granted. We have to live prayer, even when we have everything we need. Prayer doesn't need to be a long list of requests...sometimes, all we need to say is thank you for the little things in life, especially when you don't know what else to say. 
Many people pray as if God were a big aspirin pill; they come only when they hurt. ~B. Graham Dienert
Fourth, make prayer your first resort, not your last resort. Most people, pray only when all things fails and expect God to make their request first priority. Pray first, then using the strength gained from trusting God to do everything else. 

Fifth, prayer has to be felt in the heart. You have to believe in the power of prayer. Your soul has to be on its knees...Sometimes, we pray to fulfill righteousness, without trully having faith. Sometimes, we pray, just so that if all else fails, it will hold. Prayer shouldn't be an item checked off on the to-do list. It should be the foundation of the to-do list. As a matter of fact, you don't always have to know how to say the prayer....sometimes, its better to let her heart do the speaking, instead of your tongue. 
Prayers not felt by us are seldom heard by God.  ~Philip Henry 
God can pick sense out of a confused prayer.  ~Richard Sibbes
Sixth, Like my pastor always says, when you pray, make sure your relationship is in good shape...Otherwise, your prayer will lack the needed connection with God. Some of the things that can block your prayer from reaching God's ears are sin, pride, wrong motives, lack of compassion, disregarding the scripture, and doubt. Here's a good blogpost on when prayer doesn't work.

Lastly, be prepared to accept whatever the answer is. In humility, realize that God's will for you surpasses all your wants. In fact, recently, God's 'no' to me has become one of the biggest blessings of my life. A good prayer requires submission to God's plan for you.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7 

Stay Inspired...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Husband Gist: 7 Keys "to Finding a Good Husband"

If you’re over 23 (or younger these days), then more likely than not, your friends have started getting married. Weddings now have new meaning for you. They have graduated from being an event you attend with your parents to an occasion that gives you “ideas”. It has graduated from a "family" function to a "friends" function.
If you tell yourself the truth, before you consider any guy who shows interest in you, your mind must have taken a picture of him in a suit standing next to you. If he doesn't fit in that picture, you're not interested. In fact, you have started to analyze every "potential" relationship after "Hi, can I get your number?". You are no longer into "casual dating". Everytime you and your friends get together, a good amount of time is dedicated to catching up on “potentials”. If you’re Nigerian, everytime you visit home, or even worse, attend a family wedding, they ask you when your turn is; “when are we coming to enjoy on your behalf”, they ask; "you're next o", they tease. Worse still, woe betide you that your older sisters are married and you’re “next in line”. Worse still, if your younger sister is married, the pressure (sometimes indirect) is doubled.

Yes, marriage is on your mind (even if you pretend its not).
Before I continue, I have to add a disclaimer: I am not married (yet ;-)). So my original thoughts are yet to be endorsed. Hence, this post is inspired by long conversations with my mother and my married older sisters, cousins, friends and mentors. Also, as you can tell from its title, even though men can find inspiration in this post, its mostly for the ladies :-)
According to my married friends, every eligible spinster has at least one of four types of men in her life. I will detail their profiles and why you’re (probably) not married to them yet. But I won’t prescribe a solution. Instead, at the end of the post, because I've been so inspired by my deep conversations with the married ones, I’ll share some tips I have received and you can take the liberty to apply them to your personal dilemma.
Here we go:
1. The first love/ex: This is the guy you’ve been loving for a long time. He has your heart and probably always will. You have pictured (or planned) your wedding with this guy. Infact, your family/friends even expected you guys to have been married by now.
The problem is that he knows how much you love him so he’s relaxed: in his mind, he knows you’ll always be ‘around’.  Probably, something has gone wrong. You guys may not still be together. Or you may still be excusing his “not so serious” behavior. Regardless, deep down, you ‘hope’ he’ll still be your husband. 
2. The awesome friend: This is the guy who has been your friend for the longest time. You have spent a lot of time with him. He tells you everything, and you do the same. In fact, when either of you goes through heartbreak, you call each other for a shoulder to cry on, to ask “why are men/women this way?” He’s the person who helps you understand men. This is your quintessential buddy.
The problem is either (1) because you know everything about him and what has done to girls, you know he won't make a good husband, or (2) you guys are so cool with each other, he now sees you as his sister. He may have even hooked you up with his friend or vice versa. That closes the deal. Regardless, both of you are now stuck in the friend zone.
3. The ‘not-your-type’ guy: This is the guy who has liked you for years on end. He has chased you and never gets tired of telling you how he feels, every chance he gets. You know he loves you and he will take care of you but you just can’t get yourself to commit to him.
The problem is that he’s not your type. Maybe he’s not your typical dashing guy or not as rich as you’d like your husband. You sit around thinking "if only he was taller", "if only his nose wasn't so big", "if only he didn't have those pimples all the time" or "this guy needs to leave me alone so I can focus on "elusive but hot player guy". Either way, you don’t take him seriously even though he tells you whenever you say “yes”, he’ll marry you. Instead, you just laugh it off. You're focused on the other guy- the one who hasn't even looked your way.
4. The ‘potential’ family friend: This is the guy you see around all the time. You may have even grown up with him. Maybe your brother’s friend or your brother-in-law’s friend or friend’s husband’s friend. Either way, he’s always there at most family/friends gathering.
The problem is that you guys are cool but it never surpasses platonic conversations. He probably doesn’t even have your number.  He’s single, and you know this. You’re single and he knows this. But he doesn’t know that you “wish” he’d just notice you. You even secretly why no
one is making an effort to hook you two up.
These are the basic prescribed “types”. This list is not exhaustive. Perhaps there are more. If you think so, feel free to leave that in the comments sections. But I digress. 

If you recognize at least one in your life, you’re not alone. Regardless of which of them are in your life, your “solution” lies in these "finding a good husband" tips the married ones gave me.
1. Drop the “tall, dark, rich and handsome” criteria. God bless you if you find one that meets all those credentials AND is a great husband but that shouldn’t be your focus at all. Focus on the important characteristics of a good husband: caring, hardworking, good listener, affectionate, loyal, honest, humble, ready to forsake all others, kind, respectful, and a good communicator.
Stop worrying about what people will say about your husband- "he’s not hot enough", "your ex looked better" "your ex was richer", etc. Those people won’t live in the marriage with you. A friend of mine mentioned sometime ago that the congratulatory Blackberry and Facebook updates about a wedding are more rampant (even from those who don’t know the couple personally) when the bride is beautiful and the groom is handsome. I laughed so hard. Well, because if you pay attention, its true.
A tweet I saw last week captures my point in black and white 
-“a beautiful bride and a handsome groom will make a beautiful wedding but a prayerful bride and a dedicated husband will make a beautiful marriage”. 
The wedding is for a day, the marriage is for a lifetime. Focus on the lasting values.
2.  Focus on making yourself better. A lot of girls focus so much on finding the perfect man, they forget that they are imperfect. If you spend your time upgrading yourself (and I don’t mean plastic surgery), very soon you’ll be scraping the men off you. When I say upgrading, I mean, get educated, get closer to God, fix character flaws, dress nicely, keep a good reputation, etc. And like my mother always says, you can dress nicely/provocatively without being half-naked.  Many a time, it is in the process of making yourself better, that you find your soulmate. 
3. Recognize your Obama/Michelle when you see him/her. On the night of the Democratic National Convention when Michelle Obama spoke, social media was buzzing. Girls were talking about how they need to marry an Obama. Guys were yarning about how they need to find their Michelle. The truth is that people are only saying that because Barack and Michelle have become Obama and Michelle.
Let’s face it, Obama is handsome alright. But he isn’t the most handsome man out there. In fact, he’s a bit nerdy. Imagine you, him and Idris Elba went to the same school. You’d probably pick Idris over him. Obama is more desirable now because he has power. And Michelle, although she is elegant and intelligent, she isn’t the most attractive woman there is either. There are numerous Michelles walking around with no man because the same man who says he wants a Michelle is busy being occupied with getting the Beyonce. The reason why Michelle is so attractive now is because she has had the chance to show the world that she's an intelligent "ride or die" wife, something Barack only saw because he actually looked 'beyond'. Not to say Idris or Beyonce are not smart, but you get my point: Mind over matter.
"Don't choose the better man, choose the man who'll make you a better girl"~ Chelsea Handler in This is War

4. Be prayerful- God makes no mistakes. Tell him what you want in a husband. And sit tight, He heard you. Enough said.
5. Choose the one who feels lucky to have you. Don't make the man who treats you like an option  your first choice. Choose the one who's excited to make you his wife. Husbands aren't meant to complete you; they are meant to compliment you. As women, we get drawn to the “bad boys”. As Mary J Blige sings, “bad boys ain’t no good, good boys ain’t no fun”. While that may be true in dating, its the opposite in marriage. We listen to MJB sing about how she can’t stop loving her bad boy (the one who drives her crazy) and we follow her to keep loving the bad boy in our life forgetting that she’s been married for years. Hehe.

One of my “happily married” friends told me this- as women, our expression of love aka affection continues to grow but once a man gets comfortable, his expression of love dwindles. If you marry someone who loves you more, as a woman, eventually the love will level out because yours will grow and his will dwindle. Don’t look at me- I didn’t say it. 
Late last year, one of my friends told me she was engaged. After all the excited "OMG Congrats love!" and "how did he pop the question" gist, I asked her how she knew he was the one. She said, "Ral, I finally stopped chasing shadows and realized my one has been there for me every step of the way". Then she added, "He loves me so much and I like him enough to marry him". The last statement haunted me for a bit but after picking the mind of some seasoned and successful married women, I now understand what my dear friend meant. Just like Pastor Irukwu said (and I blogged) in his 7 Keys to a Successful Marriage, she had chosen her husband not using her emotions, but using her brain- she just made a decision to love a good man; the only kind of comitment that makes long-lasting marriages. 
6. DON’T ignore the signs. As women, we often ignore and justify every inkling we get that the man we are with will be a lousy husband. He belittles you and you say its because he wants to see you as a better person. He makes you feel like an "option" and you sit around begging him to "choose" you. He hits you and you say because it only happened once and he apologized,  it won’t happen again (even after it happens over and over again). He says bad things about your family and you laugh it off, convincing yourself that when he gets to know them better, he’ll change.
He cheats on you and you believe him when he tells you all men cheat but that its more important that you’ll always be number one. He doesn’t care about your interests or friends and you convince yourself that his interests are enough to be your hobbies too. He tells you that his ex or that girl from the office just calls in the middle of the night because they have noone else to turn to and that they are just friends, and you choose to look the other way. He’s always “having drinks” or clubbing with the boys and never invites you out with him, and you make yourself okay with the fact that he’s coming home to you. 
He tells you he’s into “business” and even though you’ve never been to his place of work, you convince yourself that he’s too “good” to be crooked. He never listens to your opinion and you credit it to him just being “a man”. When you want to break news to him, you worry about him flipping out on you, and you convince yourself its just because he’s stressed with his “work”. He treats you like you are worth nothing, and you tell yourself, it will all change once you become Mrs. I could go on and on but You get the point- Like my sister Oby always says, marriage doesn't automatically change anything. The way he was before the wedding is the way he'll be after you marry him. The only difference now is that you have to live with him and have his babies (should you choose to). The purpose of signs is to provide  direction: Pay Attention!
7. Quit the “I don’t need a man” talk, especially in public, before God and karma both start to believe you. Most women who have that “shakara attitude” really don’t mean it. If you really don’t need a man, you’d know it and think it, but never feel the need to announce it in public just so people can think a certain way of you. Yes, please by all means, focus on being self-sufficient but be humble enough to admit you’d like a “happy ever after”.
That’s it folks. Can’t wait to hear your comments.
And by the way, I hope you were taking notes, because I was. ;-)

Stay inspired….

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Frank Edwards: My Latest Inspiration

Happy Sunday!

I'm not sure why it took me this long to discover Frank Edwards but ever since I did, I haven't stopped listening. When I listen to him, I feel like he's singing from "experience", like he really means it. What I love most about his songs is that its pure praise, pure thanksgiving, pure appreciation of God and what He means to His believers....Sometimes, that's all we need to do, not asking or demanding for more blessings but just praising and thanking Him for being God.

Within a week of first hearing him, I bought all three of his CDs and they've been playing ever since. Just had to share some of my faves.

Next time you feel submerged in a life situation, try a Frank Edwards song...its indeed uplifting.

I'd love to hear what you think :-)
You too dey bless me

My personal fave- Mma Mma

Have a blessed week :-)

Stay Inspired....

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Quick Fixes & My Extra IKEA Wardrobe

Last week, I decided I needed a new closet. No scratch that. Not a new closet. An extra wardrobe. Don't ask why I needed it. And don't judge me either ;-)

So I dragged my 17 year old little brother Kennedy with me to IKEA. We walked around the showcase rooms "ooh"ing and "aah"ing till we came across a big white one.

"This one is big. It has space so it can fit alllllll (yes he dragged it out) your dresses. It's strong so it'll last. Its exactly what you need", Kennedy said matter-of-factly.

So, I bought it. What we didn't consider when we picked up the parts was how tedious it'll be to assemble something as big and strong as this wardrobe.

But we embarked on its assembly, in faith. Manual, nails, electric drill and hammer in hand, we began to build.

Three hours later, we had successfully put together the basic structure, albeit the back and the front. Or so we thought. The manual advised to place the back first, before the front. Kennedy didn't think it mattered. But I insisted we followed the manual.

So, we carried the back cardboard and attempted to place it as instructed. As we held it down to nail it down to where it was supposed to fit, it fell. We tried again, and it fell. And again, but it fell. It kept falling just before we could nail it down. For an hour we tried to fit the back. And over and over again, it fell. Even when it stayed, it was crooked. It just didn't seem to fit no matter how hard we tried.

Kennedy was getting frustrated. So was I.

"Ral but I've told you that its better we put the front first. This isn't working!" He said for the fifth time with a face that looked like it needed wrinkle cream.

"Kennedy, we are sticking to the manual so stop suggesting that and stop frowning". I said in my "big sis is talking" voice.

He didn't say anything while he tried to obediently fake a frustration-free face.

I felt bad for being rude when he was helping me. So, I continued.

"KK (as we fondly call him), go get something to eat. I'll call you after I finish with the back since its making you so upset. Ndo (sorry)".

He nodded and headed downstairs to the kitchen as I acquainted myself with the electric drill. I mustered every strength in me and held up the back cardboard to the half-structured closet. I rested my knees on the cardboard and held the cardboard down into place. It was crooked and it resisted but I forcibly drilled nails into the cardboard. It stayed in place.

It was crooked, yet it was in place.

It didn't look like it fit, but I figured "it works".

It didn't seem how the creators intended it to be, but that didn't matter to me, I just needed to pass this stage.

Thirty minutes later, I called Kennedy. It was finally the part he was looking forward to- putting in the front. We stood the closet up and attempted to place in the front.

Then we realized. It was all wrong. In the beginning, we had misunderstood instructions and had switched two vital parts so now the front couldn't fit either. That was why the back didn't fit. That's why it was crooked.

We had spent 5 hours putting something together, the wrong way. To fix it we'd have to dismantle everything and start building from scratch.  We'd have to rebuild the basic foundation for the closet to stand. When the back didn't fit, I should've known. I should've taken the hint, yet I tried to make it work, just because I was in a hurry to get done with that stage.

As I stopped to take it all in, I realized the inspiration hidden in this unfortunate situation. My extra wardrobe was teaching me a lesson. It was teaching me that quick fixes never hold up in the long run. That's what happens many times in relationships. Even when the signs that it doesn't fit are glaring in our face, we hold it down and do what it takes to make "do". Even when its keeps falling apart, we keep forcibly putting it together. We often fail to reassess the foundations. We don't want to blame foundation because blaming foundation is more painful. And its more painful because it requires tearing down and rebuilding.

The process....its excruciating...realizing that you've spent so much time building something crooked. Even when we realize after we put it together that it doesn't look the way God the creator intended it to be, we convince ourselves it will work. Its only after we've ignored all the signs and attempted to live in false happiness, that we realize that nothing can stand on false foundation....that if something vital doesn't fit, it won't work....that if the back is crooked, the front won't hold.

Kennedy and I after considering quitting and paying someone to dismantle and rebuild it, decided we weren't quitters. We took a 15 minute break and returned to work. We dismantled the wardrobe taking time to remove every nail I hammered into the wood. Then we rebuilt it the right way...this time being careful at every step to follow instructions.

Amazingly, this time, when we placed the back cardboard, it stayed. It fit. We didn't need to hammer multiple nails into it for it to stand. This time, the front also fit like it was intended to. This time, my wardrobe stood comfortably, on its foundation...the one built carefully.

At midnight, Kennedy and I high-fived each other. The mission was accomplished. More so, we went to bed wiser than we were that morning.
How the creators intended it to look

How it looked upon completion :-)
Then I added handles
Kennedy & I :-)
Who knew I could learn that quick fixes couldn't remedy a foundation-less structure, from building an IKEA closet?

Stay Inspired....