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

Monday, December 24, 2012

In the Spirit of Christmas...

Speedily pulling my car into the post office parking lot, I jumped out of my car and raced into the building clutching a bulky envelope to my chest like my life depended on it.

"Ma'm we are closed. We closed at noon", the post office attendant said looking away in a stereotypical "post office worker" attitude.

Deciding to pretend not to hear what he called me, I looked at my watch. It was 12.05pm. 

I softened my face into a pleading smile and said "please, just one package." 

"No ma'm we already closed. I already let one person in a minute ago" he replied, this time sternly.

*Oh No he didn't just call me ma'm again.*  I was about to get upset and give up sending my last christmas gift out when I suddenly thought to try an idea sparked by the numerous christmas movies I had seen.

" the spirit of Christmas", I said with a big smile.

His face immediately softened. 

"Okay c'mon". He said, defeatedly.

It works! 'The spirit of Christmas' is still alive.  The angry postman stretched a bit to help me in the spirit of Christmas. By accommodating me at my late hour, he gave me a gift "in the spirit of Christmas".

Family. Friends. Food. Weddings. Jesus' birthday. Anniversaries. Parties. Music. Church plays. Money. a New outfit. Soccer Games. Love. Family again.

Those words come to mind when I think about Christmas growing up in Nigeria. Those contributed to the spirit of Christmas. It was a special time. People came together from all over to be together, to celebrate and to enjoy each other's company. The best memory I have of Christmas as a child is spending it in my father's village in Nigeria when my cousins and I would dress up in our new Christmas outfits just to walk a mile to the soccer field to watch the local teams from the nearby villages play.  We would hound all our uncles and aunties to "gba anyi Christmas". This meant to give us money, just because it was Christmas....Every older person gave us money "in the spirit of Christmas". We would then count all our money on the 31st to see who collected the most. I remember one christmas when I had collected N400 (four hundred naira), which is now equivalent to only about $3. But mehnnn, did I think I was rich.

We would hang up christmas cards and decorations around the house. We'd put together christmas songs and dances and perform together for our parents and grandmother. We'd visit family and friends where we'd get to eat, drink a lot of mineral (soda) and meet second and third cousins who lived abroad. We'd hang outside in the compound till late at night eating suya (openly grilled meat in special sauce) and playing WHOT cards. We'd use a good amount of our money to buy knock-outs (fireworks) and play with them in the compound. Thinking about it now, those were probably dangerous for us to be playing with...hehe but those were the little things that made my childhood amazing. I looked forward to Christmas every year.

A whole lot has changed since then....both in my world and the people who live in it.

But one thing hasn't changed....the true "spirit of Christmas"...In fact, no matter how many people or cultures choose to ignore it or replace with commercialism, it will never change- Jesus, The reason for the season IS the spirit of Christmas. Christmas marks the day He was born...and for Christian's everywhere, it is the beginning of salvation. It is OUR genesis because without this day, we'd still be lost and hopeless. 
Christmas is a necessity.  There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves.  ~Eric Sevareid
I say that to inspire you to take a moment in the midst of your celebrations, the food, the family, the gifts and the everything else eventful about Christmas, to dwell on the "spirit of Christmas" say a prayer appreciating the center of this holiday...Jesus and his birth....To take a moment to thank God for the gift of Jesus...the greatest gift of say "Happy Birthday Jesus". I hope as you open your presents today that you will open your hearts in the same way to meditate on the implications of this day in your life

No matter what season you're in your life today, my prayer for you is that as you live the true spirit of Christmas, you'd continue to create memories worth celebrating and seasons worth living.
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine;Love was born at Christmas;Star and angels gave the sign.~Christina Rossetti
To all NwaVic readers out there, like Jose Feliciano sang many years, I wanne wish you a merry christmas from the bottom of my heart :-)

Feliz Navidad! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Our Hearts Are Broken Today...

It was supposed to be a good day. I added another year. So did my older sister birthday mate. I was grateful for a fruitful year. I was ecstatic to spend the day receiving well wishes from all my loved ones. Today was supposed to be my Happy Birthday...and nothing else. My phone was beeping all charger was probably tired of doing its job. 

But This beep was different. It was a Washington Post breaking news alert.

It read "At least 27 people are dead, including 18 children, in a shooting at an elementary school in Newton, Connecticut".

What?!? "Oh Lord not again!"

These innocent children. These pain-stricken parents. Not just before Christmas!

Today, while being gracious for the blessing of witnessing another birthday, my whole being is overwhelmed with grief for the 18 sets of parents who said "See you later" to their children this morning and would never see them alive. My heart weeps for the children, all between 5 and 10 years, who probably spent their last moments in disabling fear.

They were just children.
Now 20 children. Gone.
Just like that.

I can't help but ask myself what world will my unborn children come in? Are we ever safe? What would ever justify this mass loss of innocent lives? Why do we continue to be plagued with tragedies perpetuated by people who live among us. Why do these shootings occur in schools, a "supposed" learning safe haven?

So many unanswered questions. As we try to make sense of this great loss, we must take time to pray for the lost souls and more so, to appreciate life and the people in it. 

Even the President weeped.... "Our hearts are broken today....they had their entire lives ahead of a country we have been through this too many times...these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children".
I pray for all the innocent darlings who lost their lives today. I pray for all the teachers and administrators who truly gave up their lives to protect the children. I pray for all the families who will spend Christmas with one less person. I pray for the surviving children who were prematurely robbed of their innocence today.

May the souls of all those who died today in the Newton Connecticut school shooting rest in perfect peace. Only God can grant all those grieving grace and peace that passeth all understanding to survive this loss. 


Full story and updates here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

7 Signs You're Ready to Get Married

Howdy! How's everyone doing? I'm not too "fine" considering I spent hours at the dentist this morning. I always say I feel about my dentist the same way Rihanna feels about Chris Brown- I love him but I hate what he does to me :-/

In my attempt to ignore my aching mouth, I went on Yahoo to read the top stories and came across this article by Annie Daly published on Yahoo and the Cosmopolitan. It inspired me and because this blog is about posting my inspirations, I owe it to you.

More so, in the wake of my recent posts on 7 Keys to a Successful Marriage and 7 Keys to Finding a Good Husband, I think it fits perfectly in this space, at this time. After all, before you find a good husband or say "yes", you have to make you're ready to be married to that person.

In this day and age, when divorce (and divorce parties), especially at a young age, is as rampant as weddings, its imperative that you're "ready" before making that lifetime commitment. Yesterday, I watched  the movie "The 5 year engagement" and in an attempt to cheer up the Bride-to-be, her friend said "Cheer up its your wedding. You only get a few of these in your lifetime". What??? The Bible intends for you to get only one of those in life- that's why its called a lifetime commitment, making it crucial that you and your partner are ready to "decide" to commit. Forever.

Like I said, I didn't write the post, the relationship experts did. But because this is my space, I'll comment beneath every point based on personal knowledge. My comments are in red :-)

1. You've Dated Around 
We're not saying you have to pull a Jen Aniston and go through tons of dudes before you find The One. But having a few solid long term relationships under your belt does help you figure out what qualities are important to you and what makes a relationship work-so you truly appreciate your future hubs when you find him. 

Hmm, a few is vague. I would think the ideal number of relationships depends on the length of those relationships. If we're talking 1-3 years, 2 relationships will teach you all you need to know. If we're talking 3 and above years, one is enough, in my opinion. 

2. You Share Similar Goals 
Let's say he wants to do the suburbia thing stat, while you'd love to travel the globe for a few years. If you get hitched, one of you will end up're in separate mind-sets right now and prioritize different things. Settle down with a man you're more or less on the same page with: you both want to live in the city, you both want (or don't want) kids, etc. 

This is pretty much right-on-the-money. You definitely do not want to start to argue about the number of kids after you're married or have to trick your partner into a baby. Your partner will not change automatically because you have a baby. For instance, don't expect a man to be a good father to a child he did not want.

Eh heh! This is a good time to speak to all those girls who get pregnant so the man will marry you. It never works. He may marry you indeed, but you'd have forced a man into a commitment he's not ready for. You'll be married on paper, alright (that's if he's pressured into doing the "right" thing) but will you have a "real marriage" like God intended? Please don't trap a man into marrying you by getting pregnant, then expect him not to cheat. You'd even be worse off stuck in a marriage with a child and a husband who's not interested in being married to you, than as single girl. But I digress...

3. You Don't Want to Change Him 
Look, you don't have to adore everything about your guy. But you do have to make peace with the fact that he's always going to sack out on the couch and be glued to ESPN on Sunday afternoons, and he'll never stop slurping the milk in his cereal no matter how many times you say it annoys you. You can't change a man (but you can tweak him), and trying to will make you frustrated...not to mention bitchier. 

Very true. But a little upgrading here and there will not hurt. With his consent ofcourse. For example, if you marry a man who could care less about what he's wearing. My mother used to pick out my dad's outfits. He probably protested at first but by the time I was a teenager, it became  a routine that he depended on. And he always looked good ;-)

Another instance is where you have a messy husband who steps out of his boxers and leaves them on the floor whether they dropped (I know many like this!). You can work out a middle ground with him. Maybe keep a basket where he normally takes off his clothes so he can dump in there. That much change is foreseeable but changing him to the point where he'll hang them up immediately? If you succeed, please let me know...I know many wives who'd appreciate your secret. :-)

More importantly, in a good relationship, each person should be willing to be a better person for the person they're with. After all, the point is to compliment each other. For example, if your partner is not a motivated individual, you can find ways that work for their personality to inspire them to strive harder and higher.  Or if your partner is a lazy Christian, you can enrich his relationship with God by scheduling times to pray and read the Bible together. In a good relationship, your partner should make you better. 

Don't call me corny for feeling the need to quote lyrics from one of my favorite songs 'Fabulous-Make me Better' here "I'm a movement by myself, but I'm a force when we're together....I'm good all by myself, but baby you, you make me better...I'm already fly, I'm already boss but if I'm a star, she is the star...though I'm hot, together we burn it up "

Okay you get the point....BUT if you want to listen, here's the song with the lyrics. #No Judging :-)

4. Your Connection Is Tight Out of Bed, Too 
When you first started seeing each other, staying between the sheets all weekend was pretty legit. But for your bond to be strong enough for the long haul, you need more than a physical connection-meaning you need to know that you can have just as much fun together with your clothes on as you do when they're off. 

To this, I'd have to say this- Even if you're staying celibate till marriage (which the Bible prescribes), the bottom line is to make sure that you're attracted to each other, not just physically but emotionally, spiritually, and otherwise. 

5. You're Not Living Out a Bridal Fantasy 
Sure, it seems like every time you sign onto Facebook, another pal has posted pics of herself in a stunning white gown. Sigh. But remember: Getting hitched isn't about the ceremony-it's about what happens after your big day. You'd better be thinking about your future life with him, not just your future bridal party photos (and how pretty they'll look in that fab silver frame). 

Enough said!!! Be sure you're ready for the marriage and not the wedding; that you're willing to commit to being a husband/wife and not just a bride/groom. Remember, this was intended to be a lifetime commitment. 

6. You Both Try to Resolve Fights 
After you have a disagreement, it may seem easiest to apologize and move on-you know, do the whole "pretend it never happened" thing and go forward. But sweeping conflicts under the rug only sets you up for a bigger blow-outs down the road, because the issues will likely resurface if left unresolved. If you can't talk things out rationally, you're not ready. 
The key here is open communication and effort. Every relationship (even one with God) requires effort. This is a good time to insert my feelings on couples who fight publicly and choose to embarrass themselves every time they get into an argument. Fighting is normal.  Every couple disagrees on a number of things. Again, this is NORMAL. where this gets crazy is when they decide to subject people around them to an embarrassing moment when they argue or fight in public or even involve the cops/police. If your argument with your partner demands the attention of the police, please rethink it. Seriously. 

When I say "fighting is normal", I mean verbal disagreements. Physical fighting is NOT normal people! No violence is normal. Period. If your man or woman hits you, you're not ready to get married. Rethink the relationship itself. If your partner verbally abuses you, please rethink too. Ogochukwu's story should be a lesson to all. 

My mother always taught me that rational behavior demands that all conflict be talked out, rationally and reasonably behind closed doors between the two people involved. There's absolutely NO need to involve the whole world when you want to settle an argument. I recognize that some fights are so big, you need outside input. In that case, it is best to seek advice reasonably from a counselor, pastor, mentor, a parent or a sibling but it has to be someone you trust enough to not only have your beet interests at heart, but is knowledgeable and experienced in relationship matters. 

See my post on 5 Tips on Making Difficult Decisions.  If your partner is quick to yap on the phone to his or her friend or willing to call the police about a simple argument you just had, please rethink the relationship, well except the fight is so bad, your life or safety is being threatened. 

7. Your Friends and Family Dig Him 
Of course, it's your life, so you have the final say. Thing is, choosing a partner is a big deal, and your inner circle's input does mean something. It's fine if a few family members or friends aren't huge fans of you two as a couple; you can't please 'em all. But if everyone seems to think you're a poor match, ask them why. They might be onto something. 

GOSPEL! Trust me, its easier when people around you like him (for you). If they don't, before you conclude that they are 'hating', hear them out. You never know, they may see something you're too 'blinded' to see.  But I must add that when I say "family and friends", I mean those who you trust and have proved to have your best interest at heart. Be careful here.

I'm so excited to hear what you think in your comments. Is there something missing from the list? 
P.S.- The pictures are from my big sister Ogo's wedding. :-)

Stay Inspired.....

SOURCES: Carole Altman, PhD, author of You can Be Your Own Sex Therapist; Carol J. Bruess, PhD, author of What Happy Couples Do; Marni Battista, relationship expert in Los Angeles; Jen Kirsch, relationship expert in Toronto for Cosmo TV's Love Track 

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