I wrote this article as an original journal entry, but I saw it this morning and felt to share it with you, writer, reading this blog.
My Musing on EFFECTIVE WRITING
As I seat before my laptop, hands positioned on the keyboard, I do not know what to write.
I’ve learnt some skills of the craft and armed with the structure of a story: I know about the SCOOP method, the Content-craft-connection method and many others, I have practiced grammar.
My teachers in the craft have hammered into my subconscious that a writer should write everyday.
I want to but find myself not being faithful to that creed.
And I ask myself, why?
I’m the only one in the room, but I hear a voice tell me: the secret to write meaningful words everyday is to live a meaningful life everyday.
I think I understand:
When I just exist – barely get by the day – I do not live meaningful.
When I do not really learning anything new, when I do not interact with people or at least the characters flying through my head, when I do not walk few steps more into the uncharted territory of my life, I do not have words to write.
The principles I weave into my story receive meaning when I’ve lived it or at least learnt it. The characters come to life when they reflect me or someone real. I portray forgiveness when I know what it feels to be offended or forgiven.
My writing makes sense when I live a life that makes sense.
My readers learn from my write ups when they are real.
When I write from my heart, the words move with the spirit and touch the hearts of my readers.
But, now, 10:28am, I ask God to help me.
My writing is as important as my life. It hangs on it.
Today, I share a line that is similar to the crux of my new book, Donut.
We all have a longing in life. We all wake up to a new day, wishing that yesterday was better than the terrible day it was. Maybe a colleague got on your nerves, your child threw a tantrum on the store, you heard that you would need to resit that exam, or your parent or loved one took ill or died.
Even pleasant experiences of yesterday fuels something in us in the New day- a resolve to go through the day again, perhaps, a hope that it will be good or better this time. So we peel the covers to face the sunrise rather than end it all in the basement.
Sadly, we face the day to chase education, reputation, career, health, salary, business, wealth and all sorts of other things- hoping that they will fill our heart with something significant. More frequently, we hit roadblocks, frustration and disappointment, even at our peak.
People chase a lot of things, but what they truly want and need is happiness. There is only little a higher figure on pay stub or a fatter bill folder can achieve. It, at best, gives a transient feeling that ends when there is a greater expenditure.
Happiness is found in fitting a square peg in a square hole.
Happiness is found in seeking the purpose for which we are created.
Happiness is what drives a wealthy American businessman when he goes on a short summer mission trip to Seirra Leone, returns to the USA, but feels his heart still beating for the poverty stricken, epidemic plagued people of the African country. He is no longer the same until he frequently finds his way back to Africa. He found happiness in putting smiles on the face of the Orphans and less privileged.
Happiness is implicated when a man leaves his lucrative carrer for a creative career which pays less, but puts more meaning in people’s lives.
Happiness is when a boy or girl finds Christ and stick to him through her youthful years, living the adventure only a heir can enjoy.
We all could use happiness. We all must find it. Or else…
Happiness is found in finding GOD and His purpose for our lives, and pursuing its fulfillment with a fervour that can only come from a heart consumed by love.
Are you truly happy?
P.S. Can you share with me what changes you made in your life in the past that has shown you what happiness truly is?
Here is a play ode I wrote as I prepared for school this morning. Thank God for smartphones – I do not have to sit at my computer desk to type.
Kindly read, laugh, pray as you oblige me.
THE WEDNESDAY BOY
It was a Wednesday, when that baby cried. The travails of nine months brought to fruition was worth rejoicing. An addition was made that cool afternoon, when the midwives sighed and family rejoiced. And the world has never remained the same. It wasn’t a perfect start to life, but it has been a worthwhile adventure.
He was a hairy and a sweet little thing. Growing in the hand of caring parents Like a budding flower, he brought new petals daily. Though wild was the world out there, the hedge kept the wolves out.
Every detail of his life up to this point has culminated to form a many-sided story of grace… because he chose the Father!
And it’s just the beginning.
Unlike some who sit and await calls and texts and then vex when their expectations are not met, I know that the volume of the calls and texts I get are not an indication of people’s affection for me.
I just kinda know those who truly care, even if they do not reach me on my birthday.
I know you care
Rather than bone or brood, I appreciate God, and everyone who has been a part of me up to this point. God put you there, and you did your part. Thank you!
For my love for poetry and prose, I carefully perused every message I have received so far – I saw a reflection of intelligence, poetical inspiration and earnest desires that can only come from children of the Father!
Thank you all!
My prayer is more of all what God’s doing in my life and yours too!
This year, I will continue to connect, learn, grow, shine.
This is my story, because it’s my birthday.
P.s: The title has no esoteric meaning. I was born on Wednesday.
The beautiful day goes on.
How do you feel when you get to the “What is your OCCUPATION” question?
When I was in my teens, I always wondered what they expected me to write. What else? Student of course. I used to envy those who were able to write Doctor, or engineer, or teacher. One day, I will be like them.
But, now, I’m over twenty and I still have to write student, thanks to the prolonged school calendar. But I do not wish anymore that I’m able to quickly write a profession.
I reckon that the forms are asking me for an occupation, not profession.
What is an occupation?
Dictionary says it’s a job – the job by which somebody earns a living; or an activity – an activity on which time is spent.
So, always, I type in STUDENT – I do not earn money for it, but I spend time on it.
But really, I’m a student.
Most days, I stay awake into the night or early morning, working on an article, studying my Bible or reading up medical texts, doing some blogging, helping people, designing or internet research, I see myself working.
I spend time.
More than once, my phone has beeped at night, a friend messaging to ask what I’m doing, awake, when I ought to be sleeping. My reply is always “I’m working.”
I’m sure they wonder what “work” it is, but just do not press further.
I have an occupation.
I spend discipline.
To many young people, anything that does not bring immediate bucks into your pocket isn’t an occupation. They hear occupation and they see money. But really, your occupation is the work you are occupied with now. Do not wish for the greener grass at the other side.
And it is good for the young to submit to the yoke of his discipline. Lamentations 3:27 [CSB]
But really, what is your occupation, young people?
For most of us, we would check one or more of these things:
School. Personal development. Healthy Relationships. Spiritual Growth. Positive Friendships. Maybe for some, marital engagement.
Where you are at present is your occupation. Embrace it. Commit to the process. Commit to diligence and anticipate the rewards coming ahead. Spend time and discipline.
In reality, do not just absentmindedly fill your forms. Set your heart upon your occupation. As long as it is a pathway to somewhere greater or more financially rewarding, it’s worth sticking with.
Yes, there’s a right time and way for everything, even though, unfortunately, we miss it for the most part. Ecclesiastes 8:6 [MSG]
Remember, this time is not a vacation; it is a time to build a strong foundation for your life. Trump instant pleasure and go for delayed gratification. It lasts longer.
Connect to God. Learn. Grow. Shine.
Buzz word: Your occupation will always pay you later on.
You might think that I put up this post because every blogger should put up something for the New Year.
I am blogging because I have something to say to you. If not I will shut up and go enjoy the New Year with family. We’re trying a roasted whole turkey menu this year – my first outside my home country.
So, I have something to say, and I will say it quick.
First, welcome to the New Year.
2015 started officially 12:00am today. But the preparations, I believe, must have started since last year’s retreat [if you took a cue from my previous article on evaluation].
HeirWalk Blog team wishes you a great year ahead. As you have stepped into 2015, I look forward to what God is going to do through your life as you connect, learn. Grow and shine in Him.
Learn a lot this year; it’s going to be a remarkable one.
Listen, God says,
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye.”
– Psalm 32:8
I believe you have a word for the year [if not, listen to one before day ends]. Mark those words you have gotten, commit to the resolutions you have made, trusting God for strength to keep them.
I hope to share greater insights about God and life with you as we year for better.
Second, check up my new online platform.
I’ve been working on a website for a while now, hosted by squarespace. It’s more like a central hub of all that I’m up to. It will contain personal information, HeirWalk Blog, the Donut Blog and the graphic design + publishing page for business.
Some days ago, I posted on Facebook, an info-graphic I designed about the importance of a retreat, and a number of people liked the post. Now, I know it is right to say something about it.
So this is why I posted the info-graphic.
As the year ends, it is important to set out some time away from the busyness and make an evaluation for improvement of your life.
The bible records in Ephesians 5:15:
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, [NKJV]
Circumspect is the word I want to bring out from the above verse.
Circumference – Inspect.
Inspect the circumference of that last phase, month or year of your life so that you can make a proper evaluation of how things went and to know an area you can improve upon.
This is important to bring out the best in our lives and this period should be accompanied by prayer and intentional decision markers.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
We all look forward to a great year 2015. But a great year doesn’t happen by chance. Our desires and aspirations do not just come true passively. The Bible says to number our days is to apply our heart to wisdom. And this is meant to be learnt.
I would share a few of the pointers I have learnt-
Just a week ago, I launched my first book, Donut, in an event I would remember for the rest of my life, but there remain many steps into the journey of purpose in publishing and passion for young people. 2015 holds the last two steps of my professional exams before I finish medical school. There are major decisions to take and goals to achieve [while I wait for the glorious appearing of Christ].
I cannot afford to just waltz into 2015 with no plan, a compass or a map. Because no one goes to war without a plan [Luke 14:31], I have set out the remaining days of the year to seek the face of God and plan the next phase of my life. Do the same.
Here are tips that could help you:
First, it is important to acknowledge the usefulness of a retreat. A time to still the noises in your mind and listen more clearly to the voice of God; a time to retire from the business or service mode of life and switch to leave mode; better still, to call yourself from the pitch of vigorous play to the bench for a few moments.
It is easy to live each day as it comes in autopilot style. The unexamined life is very convenient and suitable for a mediocre life, but I have discovered that achievers do not run on that life plan. They have periods where they retreat and evaluate. So a retreat is key.
Things to do in a year-planning retreat
Review the year
How great was 2014? Take out time for reflection, contemplation and prayers and also review your journal or life plan. Take out your journals and read through the entries, relishing the special moments of the year. Acknowledge the goals you achieved, the people you met, positive relationships you made and the impact of your wise decisions.
It is important to review your life plan for 2014 and see how much of your goals you ticked. Let the satisfaction of a work well done give you stimulus to a greater year ahead. Do not compare your year with other people’s but with the one you were meant to live according to the plans you made with God at the beginning.
Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others. Assume your own responsibility. Gal 6:4-5 [GW]
As you review, it is important to be thankful for the year. Express gratitude I’ve your successes and not boasting.
Now, it is easy to review the good times of the year, but when it comes to the not-so-great events or missed goals, it can be challenging as a crop of regret or negativity threatens to sprout in your mind.
Handle that with care!
If you have made any poor lifestyle choice, the solution isn’t to wallow in self-pity and beat your self, but to repent and recourse. Remember God’s mercy never stretches thin on this side of eternity.
Do not allow seeds of regret and negativity to grow. These should not kill your drive. At best, what you so to those details is to evaluate what went wrong, and ask God for wisdom to do it better next time.
The ones that are time-bound, gently discard. God redeems time and restores time.
Now project into the New Year.
I will advise you to adopt the solar-system technique as I am used to- make your communion with God the centre/ Sun and list your life components for next year around like planets. In choosing the priority scale, let it be according to God’s will so there would be true balance. These life components will then determine your goals, and daily activities.
For me in 2014, God was the sun.
Then the planets are my family, health and grooming, relationships, academics, my duty in university fellowship, Donut project, HeirWalk blog, business and travel (not listed in order of priority).
So everything I did was a reflection of these planets. It effectively eliminated boredom and idleness in my schedule.
While I am not fully satisfied with the state of every part of my life components, I made progress in every one and I am hopeful of a better experience in future.
Now, you must decide to erase the energy wasting pursuits from your schedule. Those things that appeared great but had no positive influence in the final analysis of your life – relationships, associations, hobbies, activities or responsibilities, and conversations – must be eliminated.
You must learn to say “NO” to stuff that trips you up and weighs you down; or boxes you against corners and stresses you out. I had to learn to say No (painfully, though) to some people, say No to some jobs and helping at some point.
You cannot do everything that comes your way, but you will need to identify when you need to delegate, defer and discard.
Set compelling goals that are SMART – specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and time bound. Then break those goals into steps that can be marked when achieved.
For example, the goal of reading through the Bible in one year made me go scout for Tyndale’s “the one year bible” so I can read daily.
Also, the SMART goal of publishing donut was broken into steps of writing, editing, review, proofing, design, printing, packaging, funding and launching [with dates]. Even if you do not meet up with all the set dates [like Donut, which was not published in June as I initially planned]; you will be near.
Schedule the year.
Seriously, your attendance in marriages, programmes, conferences and other life events should be planned and slotted into a calendar. Chances are you have a phone which can help you do this.
Those things which can be fixed and planned ahead should be added to your calendar, so you will have an idea of the spaces left for all you need to achieve in the coming year.
Do not forget to plan retreats in your year.
A friend of mine retreats the first day odd every month. Another friend sets out the weekend after every clinical rotation in medical school.
Yours might be well spaced. Whichever plan you choose, just make sure that you have time to evaluate and you live acceptable intentionally.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Rom 12:1 [the message]
Review your feeding and health status too. The weak body would hardly be able to execute great dreams. Eat well, rest well, exercise regularly and save yourself a trip to the hospital! [I’m trying this in the New Year]
2015 isn’t really a long time if you look back from now to when 2014 started, but it sure is sufficient to live a life of purpose, adventure and meaning with God at the centre. Plan now.
Make sure you get a journal to record your plans and review then daily as you walk circumspectly. I wish you a great time!
I planned re-posting the Boxing Day article I wrote years ago, but something happened yesterday I must mention to you.
I had always read about the nice tradition of parents wrapping gifts in stockings and under the Christmas tree so that their kids would open them on Christmas morning and behold what items on their wish list were granted.
I had read it in books – especially in the book I’m reading presently [ Sarah Palin’s Good Tidings and Great Joy]- that she used to make her own family gifting experience extra edgy by hiding the gifts and putting clues for the children starting from the stockings…
But I saw it with my own eyes this Christmas when I visited my cousins.
I woke up 2 am yesterday morning to come drink some water in the kitchen. The lights were off downstairs but the beam from the bedroom cast light across a corner of the living room, where the 5-foot tall Christmas tree stood near the wall mounted TV.
I spotted some colourful gift bags under the Christmas tree – which weren’t there the night before.
I was excited and happy for my cousins, as I had seen one of their wish lists the day before.
While I quietly took water and tip toed back into bed, I wondered the excitement and anticipation that will well up from my cousins when they pry open the gifts boxes to unveil what’s in there.
They didn’t get to open the gift boxes until after church.
But, one could almost palpate the gratitude in their eyes as they unveiled their gifts. I couldn’t get a camera there to capture the expressions on their faces, I would have posted it.
That’s not the whole story…
My aunt told me my bag as there too… and I experienced my own secret wish list granted – a new phone!
Gifting in Christmas is a culture that probably takes cue from the wise men’s gifts to Jesus. Or let me say from God who gave us Jesus Christ as a gift of Love. John 3:16
Individuals and families share gifts with people of Christmas day and other days following. But in English-speaking countries, the day following Christmas Day is called ‘Boxing Day’. This word comes from the custom which started in the Middle Ages around 800 years ago: churches would open their ‘alms boxe’ (boxes in which people had placed gifts of money) and distribute the contents to poor people in the neighbourhood on the day after Christmas. The tradition continues tody, though receding in popularity.
Do you know that more than the physical wish lists we write, there is a wish list in the heart of every man – that unspoken expectation of healing, that request for freedom for sin, the deep thirst for fulfilment, the yearning and longing for meaning to life and the search for true peace.
When the world pried open the gift of Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, the Bible recorded there was joy, peace and goodwill to men. These can be a personal experience of any man who will invite Christ into his or her life.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
John 3:16 [the message]
Stop to consider: have you received the gift?
Boxing Day reminds us of the importance of giving. It tells us to box good things and give.
Let me box you a gift: that’s what it means.
Romans 8:32 – He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
The first giver was God. He still is. He gave Christ and all other things we need every day – freely and abundantly. He gives us our breath, the beautiful sun, flowers; the intelligence man boasts of, beauty we go crazy about, the opportunity to know Him personally and the Spirit that empowers us to do exploit. He gives us talents too!
While the devil gives us small costly things, Jesus freely gives big things.
This should remind us to share the greatest gift, Christ Jesus, with others as we have received, through our words, deeds and life.
Matthew 10:8- Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
But you know, God freely gives us so we can freely give too. His grace is not to be hoarded but to be distributed to profit everybody – to draw people to the Kingdom and to strengthen those in it already. Doing less is falling short of His expectations.
Mat 5:14-16 – Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Everywhere we go, we should remember that we can give too. The world is dark. Evil prevails and permeates everywhere. But Christ came to give light. He has released it to those who believe and he expects us to give light to others. We are lights of the world – we should give our lights to illuminate dark places.
1 Corinthians 2:12 – Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
So now, many people do not know they have been given all they need to live a godly and abundant life. They suffer in the midst of plenty. Once you connect to Christ by believing on Him and accepting Him, eternal life and a lifetime of blessing was credited to your account. It is your duty to get to the depth of knowledge and mine the riches.
Then give freely!
If you have received Christ, why not share with someone today? A word, a prayer, a meal, a smile or deed borne with the spirit of Christ can touch someone’s heart forever.
God’s blessings as you give,
P.S.: As I unwrapped the phone from its package, I remembered telling a friend I needed a phone few months ago. She asked me to be specific before God. There, I asked for a phone. And I got it.
I challenge you, what is in your wish list?
God’s word says “Ask and it shall be given you…”
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 1 John 5:14
In the last post on this Christmas series, I wrote about Mary, the lady who said “yes” to God. She exemplified what it means to say Yes – to trust God and take a step in the direction of purpose despite the odds.
Today is Christmas Eve. The day before Christmas.
Most homes of people who celebrate Christmas will be bustling with last minute preparation activities by now. To many, the significance of Christmas lies in the lights, decorations, harmattan’s chilled winds, food and gifts. It’s a beautiful sight.
But have you stopped to consider the first Christmas? It couldn’t have been interesting like it is now. Imagine we’re playing real time: What do you think will be happening to Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ parents now?
They must have heard the instruction to go to their hometown for the census. It would not be too convenient for them, bearing it in mind that Mary was about due. But a law must be obeyed, so they had to travel uphill about 6-8 miles from Nazareth, Galilee to Bethlehem, Judea most likely on a donkey. How nice that journey would be! I can imagine a pregnant woman rocking for more than two hours in the cold!
Let’s do some quick arithmetic:
A mile is equivalent to 1.6 kilometers and it takes an adult about 12 minutes to walk a kilometer. So it takes roughly 2 hours 33 minutes to travel 8 miles (12.8 km).
Not a long journey, you say. But think of the stress a 2 and a half hour walk will have on a pregnant woman with an EDD (expected day of delivery) tomorrow! Maybe she was not walking… but a smooth 2 and half hour drive in a car is not the same as Mary rocking on an uneven road on a donkey. It’s not a funny experience.
Have you ridden a horse before? Smooth ride? Hardly. Especially for a pregnant woman. Thank God she counted it a privilege.
It’s 11:30pm – maybe they are almost reaching Bethlehem. No. They would have gotten to Bethlehem by now and heard the worst news of the century: there is no room in the inn!
So they are probably looking for a place to stay. They’ve just walked past a stable when Mary grabs her husband’s tunic and begins to cry “Joseph, Joseph I think the baby’s coming. I’m having contractions now…”
Looking right and spotting a stable at a distance, Joseph shrugs and says, “We’ve got no choice Marie…”
So tomorrow, the Saviour of the world will be born and laid in a MANGER (animal’s feeding trough!), wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Jesus Christ was born into harsh conditions, and this would just begin his journey of obedience which will stretch all the way to the cross.
For you and me.
Back to AD 2014, December 24.
He’s done it. He’s paid the price – gone to the cross and come back with victory: LIFE. That’s why we celebrate Him.
His pain brought Joy to the world. He gives eternal life and peace with God to as many as will accept His offer of life and put their trust in Him. Soon, He’ll come, this time in Glory, to take us with him to meet God in our new home.
Is His Joy active in your heart? Or will you wait till it’s too late? As you celebrate, remember the celebrant.
Tomorrow is the d-day! So, it’s Merry Christmas from me.
P.S.: Donut, my new book, is out and was released sunday [21st December 2014] in a programme held at the Alexander Brown Hall of the prestigious University College Hospital, Ibadan. Details of the distribution campaign will come shortly, and pictures of the launch event!