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I had been trying to solve this problem for about 3 hours.

My computer screen was painted with red messages I did not want to read anymore.

I’d asked my supervisor for help. He’d seen this particular error before and based on what he said, I was heading in the right direction but it seemed like each solution merely revealed another error.

Google.

Stack Overflow.

Github issue pages…

I was neck deep in comments, trying every thing I could.

Yet another error. So I continued doing what I had been doing all morning – I googled the latest error. I saw a suggested solution that looked quite different from what I had been doing thus far. Really, it wasn’t different from what I had been doing; It was just complementary. It had the potential to be the final action that would make all my previous mental exertions worth it.

But could this really have been it? It looked so simple: “Delete this file.”

I had been trying to solve this problem for about 3 hours.

My thoughts were simple:

I’ve done this before – I’ve gotten excited because someone in the comment section exclaimed, “Yes! This solved it for me!”

I’ve typed in the commands.

I’ve tried to run the program again. It seemed to be working when suddenly…

Red letters all over my terminal.

How is this different? Is this different?

But then a different thought arose:

What would happen if this was the actual solution?

There is a discomfort you feel when your life starts to go right after years of going left. I felt the anticipation of that feeling in my gut. It is the rejection of hope because thus far, all hope has done is fed you disappointment. It is the pain of breaking the locks you’ve consciously placed on your heart to keep disappointment out.

How am I to live in joy when all I have known for a long time is pain?

I’m still not used to a God of grace and mercy. I’m still not used to freedom, kindness and love. I’m still not used to a Kingdom of forgiveness. I am still bargaining, working to earn the rights to the soil I am standing on. Something must be given, something must be offered in exchange for this joy; a price must be paid.

And yet He says, “paid in full.”

I am not used to this. I don’t know how to be happy.

ng serve -e local

And I waited for the errors to roll in.

Nothing.

But you know what happened after that? I finally got into the sweetness of what I love to do – just getting lost in the code. I got to be creative. I got to build my castles in the sky and play with logic.

It’s funny… once you get that thing you never thought you’d get, you seamlessly adopt it and learn to frolic in your new reality. Joy’s not so bad. I accept it. I like it. I can dig this.

Last week, my best friend sent me a podcast by Rob Bell. It’s got me thinking a lot about a God who takes the yoke off you and simply asks you to come into Her arms. I would urge anyone that is still trying to buy their seat at the table to listen:

Alternative Wisdom (Part 6) – Sheep, Coins and Sons

Much love & peace.

Joseph

Joseph had two sons born to him before the years of famine came. Asenath, daughter of Potiphera the priest of On, was their mother. Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh (Forget), saying, “God made me forget all my hardships and my parental home.” He named his second son Ephraim (Double Prosperity), saying, “God has prospered me in the land of my sorrow.”

⤷ Genesis 51:50-52 (msg) ⤶

I love the story of Joseph a lot. It speaks to anyone who is a dreamer. But the hard thing about being a dreamer is being faced with that moment when everything goes left. At the age of 17, Joseph saw himself elevated. His dreams said, “You will be a great man someday.” It didn’t happen till he was 30 years old, not obviously anyway.

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In the end…

A Story About Two Sons

28 “Tell me what you think about this: A man had two sons. He went to the first son and said, ‘Son, go and work today in my vineyard.’ 29 The son answered, ‘I will not go.’ But later the son changed his mind and went. 30 Then the father went to the other son and said, ‘Son, go and work today in my vineyard.’ The son answered, ‘Yes, sir, I will go and work,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two sons obeyed his father?”

The priests and leaders answered, “The first son.”

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God before you do. 32 John came to show you the right way to live. You did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. Even after seeing this, you still refused to change your ways and believe him.

Matthew 21: 28-32 (NCV)

This is one of my favorite parables. I constantly find myself going back to it and, honestly, I’m surprised I have never heard it preached. This is not a joke. No one has ever preached this parable in my presence. I wonder why? Are we worried about the implications of a God who forgives those who once rebelled? I don’t know. I ran into it while reading scriptures one day and my jaw fell open. It was so amazing.

“Tell me what you think about this,” he said.

I wonder about our tendency to praise potential over product. At least, I’ve had that tendency. I’m drawn to people with potential more than people who are actually producing fruit.

Permit me to think out loud for a moment.

It could be a combination of things.

  1. I like to teach, which means I am naturally predisposed to drawing the potential out of people.
  2. My top 3 love languages have nothing to do with physical things people can do for me or give me. You can wash my car, clean my whole house and buy me shoes but it won’t light me up the same way a conversation, a hug or an “I love you” would. But then it becomes unfair, right? Some people who are genuinely trying to love me find their love overshadowed by others who feed me their grand intentions steeped in zero substance.

What if God was like that?

Thank heavens He is not.

He sees you really trying. If those lofty words mean something, He knows. And if that physical offering means something, He knows. If that grand declaration means nothing, She knows and if that physical offering is void of personal significance, She can tell. We can’t fool God with the aesthetics.

How I pray for wisdom to be like Him.

I have made many mistakes trusting in the person that seemed so amazing because of the promises flowing from his lips like honey. I have chosen the business partner that seemed to know what she was doing and promised me the world. And they have failed me.

But you know who’s a bit better in some cases? The person who doesn’t promise they can do it. Sometimes, they genuinely just want to count the cost. They don’t want to disappoint. So they approach the task at hand with sobriety and because of that, they end up being the most dependable.

I’m learning more and more not to trust the flash in the pan emotional display. I’m learning to trust the slow, steady growing tree that takes the time to dig its roots deep before it emerges to the surface and says, “Yes. Now I am ready.”

Here are some synonyms of “slow” that I quite enjoy: deliberate, unhurried, ponderous, moderate, dreamy…

I used to hate my penchant for questioning everything. I spent so much time deciding on things my peers would breeze through in a second. That is how I am. I get lost in the details. I give in to a little bit of paranoia and allow my mind to run wild with a million scenarios of how things could go given the current variables and their values. It makes me slower at many things – making decisions, getting ready, eating (because that’s also thinking time)… Getting started on anything is a long journey for me. And I didn’t like the way my mind worked but one day, I reflected on how some very technical things came to me naturally: creating a song, building a website, programming, finding the right words to describe that feeling/idea… And my paranoia, questions, and imagination became a gift. I realized my slowness was my strength.

It’s okay to arrive slowly. In some situations, it is genuinely better to question and requestion and go back to the drawing board and pray once more and prepare twice more and buttress thrice more because by the time you arrive? Oh wow. You will be unshakeable. There is nothing like a season of doubt (if you come out of it) to reinforce your faith . Yes, there are no’s that are permanent but sometimes, that no is a maybe. Sometimes, that “no” still finds a son thinking about that thing his father said. Sometimes, that “no” comes from the mouth of a daughter that is sincerely wondering and questioning, not just being a rebel for the fun of it. So let them take their time. Abba allows it.

There is no formula. We just have to walk with our eyes open and watch what people are doing. We can only pray that we will see them as they truly are. We can only ask questions and test the waters. Slowly but surely, what is within will bubble out; what is beneath the ground will break forth; what is hidden will be revealed.

Not all who say “Yes” are dependable and not all that say “No” are horrible. Sometimes, the naysayers are just being brave enough to be honest.

That was a very long tangent. My point is: in the end, you will know who was sincere based on what they did, not just what they said. So let actions speak.

This parable also reminds me of a theme I stumbled upon twice in Ezekiel:

21 Suppose wicked people stop sinning and start obeying my laws and doing right. They won’t be put to death. 22 All their sins will be forgiven, and they will live because they did right. 23 I, the Lord God, don’t like to see wicked people die. I enjoy seeing them turn from their sins and live.

24 But when good people start sinning and doing disgusting things, will they live? No! All their good deeds will be forgotten, and they will be put to death because of their sins.

25 You people of Israel accuse me of being unfair! But listen—I’m not unfair; you are! 26 If good people start doing evil, they must be put to death, because they have sinned. 27 And if wicked people start doing right, they will save themselves from punishment. 28 They will think about what they’ve done and stop sinning, and so they won’t be put to death. 29 But you still say that I am unfair. You are the ones who have done wrong and are unfair!

30 I will judge each of you for what you’ve done. So stop sinning, or else you will certainly be punished.31 Give up your evil ways and start thinking pure thoughts. And be faithful to me! Do you really want to be put to death for your sins? 32 I, the Lord God, don’t want to see that happen to anyone. So stop sinning and live!

Ezekiel 18:21-32 (CEV)

The theme is also found in Ezekiel 3:17-21 and throughout Ezekiel 18.

Value is not determined in the beginning; it is determined at the end.  And thank God for that because it means bad situations can be redeemed.

 

Amber

20 Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the kingdom of God come?”

Jesus answered, “God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. 21 People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is within you.”

Luke 17 (NCV)


I wrote this song in 2012 and revisited it last year to add some spontaneous worship. I recorded this video about 5 months ago.

(I often sit on things for long periods at a time if that’s not yet abundantly clear).

One of my favorite things about shooting this video was collaborating with nature and getting to see some lovely miracles. Toward the end of the video (around minute 4), I was singing, “dancing in deep amber joy floating in the atmosphere” when a yellow dragonfly floated down and joined me. I had never seen a yellow dragonfly before. It was absolutely beautiful. I smiled at it as it floated down past me.

The whole theme of the song is yellow light and joy, which is why I shot this outside and used a lot of yellow elements (and why I was particularly happy that nature joined in a dance with me). Thanks, yellow dragonfly; you were a happy addition to my day. Thank you, all other dragonflies that graced me with your presence. Thank you majestic birds for making an appearance in the background unbeknownst to me. And thank you beautiful blue skies and sunlight for being my heavenly gifts every day. (Lyrics are below.)

Let’s go to heaven

Let’s go to light

Let’s gaze in Jesus’ face, feel His smile

Let’s dance in deep amber joy floating in the atmosphere

It’s all right here*

oo oo oo oo oo*

Let’s break the floodgates of heaven open wide

Let’s show this earth what Jesus’ face is like

Let’s dance in deep amber freedom floating in the atmosphere

It’s all right here*

oo oo oo oo oo*

Like a light shining in the dark, I see you*

Like a fire shut up in my bones, I feel you*

And you are inescapable

Greet me with a heavenly kiss*

Put Your word upon my lips*

To fill all my spaces, occupy me*

You are inexplicable

Greet me with a heavenly kiss*

Put Your word upon my lips*

To fill all my spaces, occupy me*

(everything else was spontaneous)

Safe

I haven’t written anything in a while. It’s just been hard. I hadn’t felt inspired and I run on inspiration. I used to condescend that part of my nature but a lot has grown in me over the past year to come to a place of self-acceptance.

Fearfully and wonderfully made…
-Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Jeremiah, I am your Creator… Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.
– Jeremiah 1:5 ( CEV & NCV )

Sometimes, the aspects of yourself you wish you could “grow out of” are the parts God took extra time fitting into your soul. And (S)he did that because (S)he wanted a Buki that would only create when she was truly inspired, not when money came knocking or when people pressured her.

Sometimes, certain parts of us are off-beat or parts of us are uninteresting to soceity because they can’t easily be monetized. But our idiosyncrasies empower us to bring something to the world no one ever has or ever will. Me sitting in my chair, at this geolocation, at 7:45pm, in Nigeria, writing this post is a feeling only I will ever understand.

For some reason, the careful balance of interests, perspectives, mental strengths and experiences that all come together in this sack of flesh I call my body… For some reason, that matters.

And rather than trying so hard to be much more practical like [x person] or much more stern like [y person], perhaps I should take this sack of flesh out for a test drive and see what it can do//how far it can go.

What is your gift? What is your interest? What is that annoying thing you wish you could change about yourself that honestly isn’t sinful (just inconvenient sometimes)?

To erase yourself, to erase your hair, you heart, your skin, your mouth, your experience, the truth you have seen, is to deprive the world of something that God thought it was worthwhile to add to it.

Be unapologetically yourself and do it with love, humility and strength.

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.
-Matthew 4:18-20 NIV

Do you see what Jesus did there? He didn’t change who they were. Same men, same abilities…different goals. He essentially said: the dream you carry in your hands is too small. Let me show you all you were made to be.

So follow Him into the grand abyss and if death comes, you will have lived a life where you were truly the best version possible of yourself. And perhaps where you thought you would fall away in obscurity, head bowed in shame because you are “a sinful man,” (Luke 5:8) (S)he will take your hand and (S)he will mold you into someone whose letters the world will read and study 2000 years after you are gone.

Be exactly who God created you to be. It is the most beautiful, effortless version of yourself.

Moon Mountain

Because the bond between my divine Maker and me dies from time to time.  

6:16am – Sunday, 6 Dec 2015

I loved waking up at 4am the first few days of camp for morning devotion. As the people would sing and clap, I would look up at the bright, beautiful, big moon right above the strong, solid, stoic mountain.  

I would think about God’s majesty and brilliance; how He made us all; how He designed and created the universe; how perfect it was; how perfectly everything turned… How beautiful it all was. How could I not believe in Him? He made this.  

Then harmattan decided to be weird. A fog rolled in so thick that it covered a mountain I had come to believe was unconquerable. Never in my days there did I believe I would wake up and not be able to see something so big and immovable. I looked in the same direction I had looked every single morning… Nothing but fog; just a blanket of white, flat against a vertical landscape. To me, that mountain and the moon had become an unshakable testimony of God’s faithfulness, presence and preeminence. It was mine. It was for me. The mountain was from God to me, to all of us, to see and marvel and know, “The Divine Maker was here.”  

And it was gone and it left me feeling hollow. Praying wasn’t as good or fun or majestic or cosmically vibrant as I had grown accustomed to.  

But I looked up and the moon was still there. Slowly traveling somewhere east-like every morning; sliding little by little in the sky. And I held on to it as my one solace in a land that had grown cold with a fierce and unforgiving wind.  

And one morning as we prayed, someone led with a song that said, “they don’t understand.” They don’t understand Our love, Our bond, Our journey, the beauty that is God and me. It just looks like confusion and randomness to the outsider but I can’t convey to them the depths of the dreams I have had, the things I have seen… The things I have seen. And I fell to my knees and cried like Jeremiah. With each saline drop hitting sand and stone, I felt God more for the first time in a long time. I let Him move me again. I let Us be again and He reached my fogged up heart with that song. You see, my heart was always His, moving and turning perfectly with Him, my moon…but some seasons are cold and winds and fogs fuck everything up. What was once clarity becomes confusion. And that thing I never thought I would lose was the first thing to go… My strong, solid, stoic unshakable stance beneath my moon,  my Divine Maker. And He moved further and further away from me, losing His fullness each morning.  Because the bond between my divine Maker and me dies from time to time.

But don’t these orbits and seasons and winds just happen naturally?  

“Even when I’m at my darkest, You know me all the same…and even when I cannot see You, I feel You closer than my skin.”  

Will the pull of the moon not always be felt? Are we not one Universe? Our connection will never die. No matter how She moves, She is mine and I am hers. And she will be near me, bright and full in a new season.  

Lift up your head (You won’t let me go) Lift your head cuz help has come

Lift up your heart (You won’t let me go) Lift your heart His will be done

Lift up your hands (You won’t let me go) Lift your hands and praise the One

Lift up your song (You won’t let me go) Lift your song O ransomed son.

Song lyrics: “Even When I’m At My Darkest” by Ascend the Hill.

Stories That Change The World #15 – Letter to Beth Moore

Thought this would be a fantastic primer. I’m still working on a piece about why I “came out” as a gay affirming Christian after many years of being trained to believe a man loving a man or a woman loving a woman is an “abomination.”

Serendipitydodah

Stories have the power to change the world … they inspire us, teach us, connect us.This is the fifteenth installment in the “Stories That Change The World” series.

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