The World can Kick Rocks

The world has been bringing me down.

It was unexpected since I’d been riding on a cloud of affirmation from God. I’d stopped looking to man for self confirmation but some how this resolve weakened recently. I’ve learned that Christianity is a constant battle. A battle between you and sin, between you and the world, between you and yourself. Even though a couple of weeks ago I felt great. I felt completely encased in His presence, in His embrace. Now I’m looking at the gaping holes in my spiritual house and wondering what the heck happened. It was so bad that during service today, I had to go outside and take a walk. I just wanted to understand what was going on. The weight of my emotions though oppressing inside the sanctuary was easier to bear in the light of the sun, the expanse of the sky and freedom of air flowing around me. There exposed to all the elements I turned inward. Still not understanding how to fix the problem, I stopped trying. I looked up to where my help comes from and asked God to help fix me. He is my ultimate doctor. As I prayed for Him to inspect my heart and reveal to me where I have been wrong and turned away from him, I slowly awoke to what I had been sleeping on. Since my friend passed I’d been using emotional blocking to cope. Unfortunately, I blocked most of my emotions including those that helped me feel euphoria spiritually. Even when I accepted her passing and worked to look to the future, I’d left myself emotionally blocked. I wasn’t sad but I wasn’t happy. I was just ok… just neutral. I’d become tepid in countenance, in reaction, in living. This way of living sapped my spirit day by day. Something I’d been working so hard to build up, was weakened by Lukewarmness. In this state the criticisms of people around me started to get to me. A general feeling of inadequateness pervaded my thoughts. As I prayed outside today I realized that my sight had shifted from God to the world for a couple of weeks now. Instead of focusing on how God saw me, on his plans for me, on honoring him with my life, I focused on how the world saw me. How they desired things from me that did not align with the calling I’d been given, how they desired things from me that I had no desire to give them.

I prayed to God to help me get back on track. Meandering around emotionally stunted and dwelling in the flesh is not where he wants nor needs me to be. It amazed me that just one incident among many smaller incidents had put me off course so much. Why is it that we can miss one day of work and still be in-sync with our profession. However we can miss one day of communing with God and can fall down a progressive hill of spiritual detachment. I said earlier that Christianity is a constant battle. If we don’t fight against the creeping fingers of the enemy, which can sometimes be ourselves, we are pulled away from the Lord and can end up meandering around like spiritual orphans.

I let the world bring me down. I can let God bring me up.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:6 ESV

Olorunfemi Oluwakemi Banwo

In Remembrance of Kemi

My friend’s funeral was on Saturday. It was 9am, the morning was not so bright… not so anything really. I cant remember how the day was. It just seemed like any other day but that we were going to my friend’s funeral. The invite said “home going” which had helped me push it from depressing to acceptable. However on the day of, as I wore my black dress, black stockings and shoes it didn’t seem so quite acceptable anymore. As if every piece of black was a nail on the truth that she was dead. Kemi was actually dead. She was never coming “home” again. At least not in our sense of the word home. I hadn’t cried since the first couple of days, when I’d been told. My coping mechanism had been to put it completely out of my mind and move on with whatever I had to do for that moment, that day, that week. Then July 18th came and I was forced to remember. I chose the biggest black bag I had, not because I had a lot to carry, but because its drag in my grip felt like an anchor. An anchor that I could balance my stride to and focus my mind on.

The service was, not to sound morbid, wonderful. A friend of mine echoed my thoughts recently. That it was the best funeral she had ever been to. Kemi had always been a force to reckon with and the testimonies of family, friends, and acquaintances all enforced that. The church was so full of people that eventually you had to stand because there were no more seats. Every aspect of the ceremony testified to Kemi’s love of Christ, from the dance, spoken word, musical numbers, and more. It was so wonderful because of the impact everyone could feel that Kemi had had on people’s lives. There was a point that I could not hold my composure, when they played two videos of Kemi talking about God and how you should “give him a try.” It was truly more than I could handle. However it was beautiful in that even in death, she was still preaching of His glory. In her days at the hospital, in the cancer ward, she even went to the rooms of other patients to encourage them. She had so much love coming from her family and her friends that she knew that not everyone on her floor had that same support. There were people who were alone in their fight. She had the giving heart to encourage them even in the midst of the biggest battle for her life. When she said in one video, that you are alive and should be happy in that truth and in that blessing, I felt so inspired. I knew my mourning was not for Kemi but for myself in losing her. She was in the bosom of our Father and in a much better place. No way would she want to come back here to the trials and tribulations. However in her absence she has given us a message: To live!

To live in Christ. To live for Him. To fully and truly LIVE. In the days since, I have been reflecting on my life.

Have I truly lived?

I don’t think so. However its not too late. For any of us.

In memory of her fight her family has set-up a memorial fund for cancer research : link.

You can also read Kemi’s testimony about how she overcame breast cancer. Published in 2012: link.

 

humility, God, prayer, notsoskinnydreams.com, christianity,

Humility

I’m in a period of re-thinking how I pray to God. A sermon was on the radio the other day, where the preacher said that a lot of us go to God with a checklist of wants. Even when they are answered we come back with more and more and more. As if our  Heavenly Father, were Santa Clause, and his sole purpose was to satisfy our wants. Even Santa Clause gave coal.

It made me think how I would feel if that was happening to me. All day long, I want this, help me with that, give me this, on and on. Then barely a thank you. If there is a thank you, a 10 sec one compared to the 30 minutes to several hours of wanting this and that. I would be pretty annoyed. I probably would hit the mute button or stop picking up calls. However our God is such a gracious and merciful God that despite our selfish nature He’s there for us. Even though He is worthy of all our praise and adoration, he gets less than a tithe of that.

“You are worthy, our LORD and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being”
Revelation 4:11

There are some examples of prayer in the bible that make me feel ashamed. That they humbled themselves so much before the Lord, and revered God earnestly and dutifully knew his word. One example is Nehemiah. Such an exemplary man of God. He saw his people were in dire need and instead of praying for the need to be filled by someone else he beseeched God to help him to fill it. He fasted and prayed for days. Preparing himself for even the smallest first step of getting the king to agree to help him (Neh 1:5-10). I confess that I don’t go to God with the meekest of hearts. There are times that I’ve spoken to Him in an entitled way, as If my experiences and the “effort” I’ve put into following his doctrines entitled me to his blessings and attention. In reality, I should just be thankful that I even have His way to follow. That I can have aspirations to walk and live as Christ did, striving to be Christ-like as the name “Christian” signifies. His ways are not burdensome, but exactly the opposite.

Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5: 3

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:30

Despite knowing all of this I’m still not humble. It’s a thing of the flesh, to desire acknowledgement for what you are supposed to do anyway. It’s not surprising that one of my love languages is “words of affirmation.” Even when I’ve done a good deed that I originally meant to be anonymous, I can’t help dropping hints or at least telling one person how good of a person I am. See, see I’m so good I did it anonymously. Cant have everyone knowing how caring I am… *smirk* Another word for this is PRIDE. To be proud of your deeds, lifestyle, ambitions, status, and more is a great way to tell God ” look at all I’ve achieved, on my own… without you.” We may not think we’re telling God that, but when we’re not humble but prideful we’re doing just that. You see if you won an award but actually won it mostly through the help and grace of someone help, you would be humble about it. You wouldn’t shout to the rooftop “YES I DID IT!,” but in humility you would be thankful for the help you received that got you there. That’s how we should be with everything we’re blessed with in life, because they are all blessings from God. We didn’t get them on our own, so why should we boast as if we did. Easier said than done right?  I know my weakness in this and that’s the first step to fixing any issue. Acknowledging your weaknesses is also a form of humility. So one by one, I’m praying that God reveals all of mine to me. This way I can perfect myself for his use.

Woman with the Issue of blood, Jesus Christ, Savior, Faith, praise and worship, notsoskinnydreams

Women of Blood

A couple of days ago, I attended a service of ordination, of a fellow church member. It was held in a place very far from our own church and in a room with many people I did not know. There came a point where we, the audience, were to give our offerings. I sat with a few aunties from my own church. Upon hearing the call for offering, they smiled broadly as if they had been personally called to the front. I wondered at all the smiles and why they were bustling about as if in preparation for something. Then I saw the flags come out. Large, brightly colored and decorated flags were thrown in the air by these excited older women. Then one was thrust in my own hand. The flag trailed orange, yellow and red colors as if it would catch on fire at any moment. I hesitated at first then grasped it firmly, myself grinning from ear to ear. As the thrumming and rhythm of the choir and band’s music took up and shook the building, we shook along with it. I led the way to the front of the church waving my flame colored flag, aunties behind me jigging and singing along with the choir and waving high their flags.

In the not so distant past I would have been too embarrassed to join in. I would’ve smiled demurely at the expectant aunties and shook my ahead, staying firmly rooted to my seat. That was before I realized what God had taken me through. You know when you die to your flesh because God demands it of you to be all His. That moment when I gave up what I’d thought the world could offer me and gave myself to Jesus Christ, because I had nothing else to live for but him. Instead of living because life was worth living, I lived because he was worth living for. It took an extremely tough time in my life that broke me, to decide between life and death. I chose death, death to the world so I could have ever lasting life through Jesus Christ. I’d seen what the world was capable off and it was Ugly. God saw my brokenness and made a new shell for me to fill.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

What I understood that day as I waved my flag high, as high as my arm could reach, was that, that death and resurrection connected me to these women. My church aunties who danced and sang, praising the lord, as if nothing else mattered. In their movements you could see a similar pattern of old pain healed and joy in a savior that had heard their cry. We were women like Hagar who at one point were struggling on our own, crying to ourselves, and seeking help or death when He heard us, saw us (Gen 16: 7-14). Or like the woman with issue of blood who had nothing else to lose but to believe that one touch from Him, even just his garment would give us a new life (Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48). That shared knowledge that Jesus Christ was the only reason we were alive today, made us the same despite our differences in age, tribe, and character. As our motley crew swayed, stomped and waved our flags around the room, we gave no care to the room full of gawkers we did not know, nor to how we must seem. All we knew was our audience was not in the rows of strangers, but in a higher seat we could not see with our eyes.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18

grief, early stages, notsoskinnydreams, christianity, dealing with grief

Grief

My friend died yesterday.

This is the first time someone this close to me has passed. I discovered that doubts, worries, and fear are not the only things that can mess up your frequency with the Holy Spirit. Grief will as well. Its like having cotton balls stuffed in every orifice so you feel suffocated by grief. Even your eyes become sore and tired. You go to sleep (if you can sleep) to grief and wake-up to it waiting there to remind you. She’s dead.

I googled “handling grief.” Google highlighted:

  1. Face your feelings. …
  2. Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way. …
  3. Look after your physical health. …
  4. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. …
  5. Plan ahead for grief “triggers.”

Number one has been especially difficult. Number two is what I am doing right now. The rest… I will figure out. I almost did not make a post today. However I know once you get off the wagon it’s hard to get back on. Writing is therapeutic for me. So bear with me if this post is not that clear nor insightful.

Of all the things that can block you from God, grief feels like the most powerful. Its not a feeling of losing faith. Its more like when you get physically hurt and the pain overshadows everything else. I tried to pray yesterday and my prayers stuck in my throat. I couldn’t even think what to say. I just wanted to wallow and praying required being hopeful. Maybe that’s not the right way to say it. It required more energy than I had or was able to direct mentally. Yes, shame on me. After failing, I got up and went to where my family was praying so I could be enveloped by prayers, even as a third party.

This morning did not bring new energy or self-motivation. However God is ever faithful. Today’s verse of the day on my bible app, I felt was especially for me.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 (NLT)

The first time I read it, I was on auto pilot and didn’t really let it sink in. However, I would come back to it through-out the day. By the third time of reading it, I could finally smile a little. I closed my eyes and said, inside me, God I just need a little time. A little time to be selfish and wallow, to grieve and not think everything is sunshine, just a little time to dig out of what I was feeling. I gave myself a day to be internal. I didn’t make it therapeutic. I didn’t focus on how I felt nor did I try to dig up memories. That is going to be a longer process that wont just be “a little time.” However I was able to shut out most of the outside noise. Now the day is almost up and there is no extension. It’s for the best. Tomorrow morning, I lead bible study. A God-send really. You cant be in a position like that and wallow, nor be selfish. It requires you opening up to God in a selfless way to be used and to minister his word. As you minister you cannot help but be healed and touched as well. Thats a wonderful benefit of being involved in ministry/the church it makes it really difficult to avoid God. Your involvement will have you touched by Him on a regular basis. During this time, I need that more than ever.