7: Crown

Crowns represent authority, royalty and kingship.
Good things ehn? But the ‘crown’ of Jesus’ day was after his life.

“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;” Matthew 2:3

Herod felt threatened by the little baby that was called the King of the Jews. In the process of hunting the baby Jesus, he caused pain for a lot more mothers and families. He thought the violence would assert the authenticity of his ruler-ship. Thankfully, Herod’s sword could not take off Jesus’ crown because God’s shield was over him.

Jesus is the true king who died and brokered the peace and salvation of his people through the sacrifice of His blood.

So what swords are threatening your crown? Your identity? Your passion? Your heart? Are the crowns within? Remember that you are only being hunted because you are an asset to this generation. You are valuable.

You are a child of the King, if you believe. And that means there is Someone looking out for you.

Trust that He will take care of you.

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“Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Matthew 2:13

Tomorrow’s toy is: Compass

6: Shield

The sword is a historical weapon of war. The soldiers king Herod sent to find and kill Jesus most likely took swords. They went in the power of the king, ready to wreak havoc on countless lives.

With swords, we remember shields. Herod’s sword could not take off Jesus’ crown. That is because

God’s shield was over him.

Here is something exciting — Jesus is your shield. He took the hits so you do not have to. The divine shield is still active today. He protects anyone who trusts Him.

Do you know that?

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“— he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30

Tomorrow’s toy is: Crown

5: Gift

Gifts!

At this time, checkout lines in many stores are longer than usual — filled with parents shopping for kids, spouses and friends shopping for each other. Stores are sending out last minute emails so online shoppers can order gifts that would come in time for Christmas. Millions of secret Santa gifts, year-end bonuses are being passed around, and the gift bag and wrapper business is booming.

It’s no surprise that there’s so much giving at Christmas. The wise men brought gifts — gold, frankincense and myrrh when they came to see Jesus in the manger, and though the Bible did not attach any symbolic meaning to the gifts, it was clear that the gifts were accompanied by worship and they meant something to Mary and Joseph.

The birth of Jesus was the manifestation of God’s gift to humanity. A gift that had a purpose – to broker a pathway back to God. When anyone receives Jesus, they receive the gift of Life and light and peace and joy that sustains them through life’s journey.
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As Jesus is God’s gift to man, so you are to your generation. This season, disabuse your mind of self-doubt. Let today’s card remind you that:

You are a gift. You have a purpose.
You have a gift. That gift has a purpose.

In addition to the greatest gift, Jesus, that unique ability that you have (or that you despise as inconsequential) is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your worship and your gift to your generation.

What are you going to do with the gift that you are?

“Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

Tomorrow’s toy is: Shield

4: Crook

My fourth toys is a shepherd’s crook.

The shepherds who visited baby Jesus must have had a crook with them — a long and sturdy staff with a hook at one end that comes in handy to manage their sheep as they forage. They use it to catch and pull back a wandering sheep, it becomes a weapon to defend against predators, it helps to balance when walking rough terrain and used to part tall undergrowth when looking for lost sheep.

“ — your rod and your staff, they comfort me,” Psalm 23:4

It’s no coincidence that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was visited by shepherds as a baby. That should say something to you — because of who He is, He is able to direct the course of life, catch you when you are wandering off into danger and defend you against predators. And He can wade through the entanglement of disobedience to find you.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and all his sheep are within his reach.

But the big question is,

Are you a sheep?

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“I am the good shepherd… and I lay down my life for the sheep.” — Jesus

Tomorrow’s toy is: Gift

3: Manger

Man·ger /ˈmānjər/
a long open box or trough for horses or cattle to eat from.

Unfamiliar voices, the bleating of sheep, the braying of donkeys — these sounds quickly let us know that the stable is no place for a baby to be born. Yet, you can almost palpate the air of love and warmth and joy.

Have you recently had an unwelcome or unpleasant change in circumstances or fortune?

Do not be afraid, for you have a champion — Jesus — who was born in a manger. It was no cot, but the baby Jesus felt comfy in the manger surrounded by the love of his parents on that wintry night.

If you look closely,

you will find comfort even when you feel out of place. In a friendly face, a soft-spoken word, the sound of gentle whispers, a light pat on your back, the unnoticed glimpses of Jesus’ glowing face will bring hope and comfort and calmness to the raging storms in your life.

And Jesus does not discriminate. He comes to whoever invites Him. If that’s your heart, He will come.

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In the vicissitudes of life, you can find divine providence.

Jesus is patting your back right now, saying — I am here. For you.

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:77

Tomorrow’s toy is: Crook

2: Music box

Do you wonder why there’s carols and so much singing associated with Christmas? Around this time, and for pretty much the rest of the year, you will hear many wonderful Christmas songs playing in stores, homes, gatherings, on TV or from any of the forms of music boxes (phones, computers, home audio systems). I believe the many songs we love to sing and hear reflect the spirit of the song which characterizes Christmas and that is why my second toy is a gramophone (P.S. I also wanted to draw something vintage, ha ha).

Chances are if I take a poll in a room, I’ll find that the majority of people like music. Experiences of awe and joyful surprise interrupting the mundane often lead to singing. Many of the characters of the Christmas story — the angels, shepherds, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon, and Anna showed us this.

The angels sang, announcing the majesty of God. The shepherds sang — in utter amazement of their divine visitation. Zechariah sang — when he received the fulfillment of a promise in his old age. Mary and Elizabeth sang — having found favor and been chosen to birth greatness. Simeon and Anna sang — acknowledging the privilege to witness to the coming of the Savior.

They sang because they were so enraptured by the visitation of the divine in their mundane lives.

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“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

Do you consider your life mundane?
At the verge of despair?
Is the Christmas miracle lost on you?

Now, rejoice, the promise is fulfilled. Your king is here. Jesus is born. And this means —

You will sing a new song.

Tomorrow’s toy is: Manger

1: Star

What’s a Christmas tree without a star at the peak?
What’s our universe without stars?

Stars keep planets in place. Nested in constellations, they provide energy in form of light and heat. Look at the sun, a really big star, around which our solar system revolves. What will we do without the sun?

Stars shine bright.

They remind us of what we want to be — bright, seen and valued. I start my toy collection with a star, because that’s how the astrologers of Jesus’ day found him. Shining bright in the eastern sky, it led them to where baby Jesus lay. They sought him, saw him and worshiped.

Why is it important to me?

Life can get pretty complicated, pretty fast especially when a lot of things aren’t in place. Let me remind you today that there is a star who keeps everything in place. Jesus provides light, energy, strength, purpose and a whole lot more to any one who seeks him. If you let him light your heart, you find that you are bright, seen and valued. He becomes your sun and shield, giving you favor and honor (Psalm 84:11).

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As I keep up this Star at the peak of the tree that is in my heart, let me ask you — does this Star have your attention?

“ — For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2

Tomorrow’s toy is: Gramophone

the 12 Toys of Christmas

Hello Friends and Readers,

I am so excited to present to you, my personal passion project with which I will wrap up 2019!

A couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me to explore the Christmas story, find objects that would pass for Christmas tree decorations and explore them deeper.

Christmas Toys?

Yes! I know you probably haven’t thought twice about the toys and ornaments you mount on your Christmas tree.

In the days leading to Christmas, I will share my list of the 12 toys I came up with. To add an interesting twist, I will present them as the icons on a deck of playing cards.

Follow this blog to get fresh notifications immediately a new posts comes out. You can also join me on Instagram here

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I wish that you will follow my journey and as you enjoy my writing and illustrations, my hope is that, somewhere along this playful but meaningful exploration of mine, you will find meaning and hope in what they represent.

I invite you to explore with me, the 12 Toys of Christmas.

Toluwanimi

List of Toys (updated daily):

Star
Music box
Manger
Crook
Gift
Shield
Crown

What do you see?

There’s this story of an intern prophet, who wouldn’t stop fussing about the enemy. He kept on going to his superior, “They’re coming… they’ve surrounded us… they’re drawing their weapons, they are…”

The veteran prophet, however, wasn’t a bit disturbed because he saw something and knew something. So he said, “Lord, open his eyes to see…” Then he saw fiery horses and chariots, around them, ready to defeat the enemy.

What do you easily see?

It’s easy to see the obvious. Our history and experiences have often trained us to see with Limitation-colored lenses. We know what’s difficult, we see what’s at stake if we fail, we see what it looks like if we don’t make the cut, we have vivid imagination of what sets us back. Challenges can be so overwhelming that you lose sight of the victuals you already have in you to overcome them.

Seeing the obvious is easy and safe. But it’s not all there is.

So here’s my challenge:

Open your eyes!

Open your eyes to see the power available in the name of Jesus. Open your eyes to see your unique gifts and opportunities you can leverage for positive change.

If you open your eyes,

You will see beyond the wisdom of this world. You will see opportunities in challenges and hope in disappointment. You will see sources of provision in times of scarcity. You will see love, truth, justice, and mercy in the moment of guilt, pain, evil and offense. You will see truth bud in the proliferation of falsehood. You will see hope and strength in the wake of turmoil.

The people that have achieved anything great have done so because they saw beyond what is in front of them and broke forth beyond the limitations of the obvious into the realm of possibilities. They saw what is around us, and in us — the virtue of the divine influence in our world.

Open your eyes, what do you see?

For your perusal, story referenced can be found in 2 Kings 6:11-17 of the Bible.

The artwork above, inspired by this post can be purchased here

Life isn’t perfect but…

Life isn’t perfect.

Never has been, never will be.

Whatever good life gives you, there’s always going to be a twist of imperfection in it.

You’re happy you got a new job, but there’s a horrible boss waiting. You’re happy you finally got the money, but the house you wanted to buy just got off the market. You’re happy you’re married, but there’s a terrible in-law. You’re happy you got a new friend, but you just discovered he has got haunting skeletons.

And so on…

Life isn’t perfect. God is.

And if you let Him, He will breathe in you hope and strength to go on. He will help you make glory out of imperfection. And joy will be your mantra.

Let Him. Everyday.

#muse