The Dilemma of Care Giving for Aged Parents

dear god, i had a whatsapp video call with my mother yesterday, and now my worry mode is activated. knowing my mother’s health is so unstable that she has to cancel two already purchased trip tickets has me really concerned about how to care for her in the coming years. next month she turns 70, and living so far away from me, with no close family members to care for her, makes me very very anxious.

i am tired of having the constant debate with her about how to care for her in the future. she refuses to acknowledge that she is increasingly becoming less self sufficent and will need to depend on others for her daily care. she refuses to agree to move to a different city where she can be in closer proximity to my wife’s family. and unfortunately i am not yet in a position to have her move in with me. this is one of those moments where i am pissed off about being an only child. and unfortunately care homes are still anti-culture in nigeria.

i don’t know what to do lord. i don’t know how to fix this or stop it from crowding my thoughts with worry. i am trying to live in contentment as you have instructed, but this matter, this one crucial decision is paralysing my faith. show me what to do lord.

A Walk in the Garden

It continues to amaze me how god randomly confirms his spoken word through everyday occurrences. yesterday, i was venting with an old friend over whatsapp chat about how i felt a little bored with my current season even though it is the good kind of boredom because i am presently living a dream life. but i still feel a restlessness despite being fulfilled. i feel like god has me walking around in a garden, just having fun. so this morning, i was doing my blog rounds and one of the faith bloggers i follow shared what god told her about strolling with god. the moment i saw it, i felt like it was a confirmation of what god wanted me to know.

when i think about it, i feel like i understand a little of what god is doing. remember what the psalmist says? he leads me beside still waters, he makes me lie down in green pastures. and also when he said, when the lord turned around our captivity we were like them that dream. walking with god, in a zen like state, is what the peace of god is meant to feel like. god is doing a work in the lives of his children that is meant to bring them to a replica of the garden of eden. a place where god provided for adam, and all adam had to need was wander around lesiurely, while tending to the garden.

i guess it makes sense that a life of toil and labor is actually the result of being seperated from god. and even though society has conditioned us to believe that prosperity must be earned through intense labor, god is trying to recondition my mind to understand that elevation is an effortless rising to the stars.

i hope that i can learn to accept this leisurely walk with god through the garden, and be content with his will and timing for my life.

12 Months A Dream

Today is exactly 12 months since God opened the door for me to become an expat. This post is a memorial for me that “Alewi, lese, Alese, lewi” – the Yoruba expression for a God who is able to fulfill his words, and brag about his track record.

looking back over the last 12 months, one thing is certain, holding onto Gods’s word, even if everything around us threatens our confidence in what we believe, is not a futile effort.  around this time last year, I was in a place in my faith that made me question the existence of god. having resigned from my job, because I was waiting for my visa to relocate to the UK, it was a huge shock to receive a denial to my application. I wondered what would happen to me now; my job offer was based on me relocating to the UK and I had practically ended my life in Nigeria. But now I understand that nothing takes god by surprise, and he always makes a way of escape. despite the denied visa, my company was willing to try again, and even willing to engage me as a remote staff until my visa application came through. and so, on this day last year, i began full time work as an international skilled professional.

sometimes, living by faith is a very exhausting experience. but one thing i have learned is that god does not leave us comfortless. there is always a backstory he gives us to remind us that “ALL THINGS” will work together for our own good. in the past 12 months, god has exposed me to a life i never imagined, i have learned to unlearn and to grow beyond my comfort zone. it has been a stretching period that was both exciting and scary at the same time.

but i am confident that it is also just the beginning. for the first time ever in my walk of faith, god has told me about the next 10 years. I have jotted down annual prophecies for my family from 2019 up to 2029. it has been humbling to recognize that i have come to a place in my faith where god is able to reveal the distant future to me. and it has also put me in a place to question how much i really trust in god.

despite having a god-announced 10 year plan, i still tremble at the thought of how it will all play out. i still struggle to internalize the fact that “Alewi lese”, and that it is not up to me to fulfill the prophecies. knowing how the story ends is meant to keep me confident of god’s plan for my future. but also remembering how the story has played out is meant to keep me content with god’s cadence for my present.

so cheers to a 10 year hope-filled future, because of the evidence of 12 months a dream.

 

 

 

 

 

Contentment

I am struggling to be content with God’s will and timing in my life. And this makes me feel ungrateful because for the first time since I began hearing god’s annual instruction, he has given me a 10 year prophecy for my life. So basically, i know how my story ends in the next 10 years. Shouldn’t this give me a confidence and lightness of my mind? Yet i find myself, typically, agonising over how the prophecy will be fulfilled. Constant internal conversations about what i must do, how i must be, where i must be, who i must connect with, what i must learn, what i must start or end, to make sure that the prophecy is fulfilled.

i know this sounds like i am trying to take on the role of god in my life. and maybe that is some proof that i am not really a man of faith as i believe. i want to see the details before trusting that god is able to do what he has said. i want to feel like i am in control, and can determine the events and outcomes that will place me in the fulfilment of what god has spoken over my life.

in the midst of my struggles, i hear the faint voice of the spirit impressing on me the need to be content. in the past 12 months i have been living a life i would never have imagined for myself. yet all through this time, i have been too future-focused to even appreciate and enjoy the season of life that i have been brought to.

i sense that god is asking me to focus on contentment, to be content with what and where he has positioned me. to live in the moment, and to stop agonizing about tomorrow. i sense that god is asking me to depend on his daily instruction rather than a programmed schedule. i hope that i can do this.

A 2019 Retrospective

In preparation for 2019, God told me it was a season of immeasurable excess. As i began to walk in this instruction, he continued to give me directions for the season. For the first time ever, god gave me a 3 year plan for 2019, 2020 and 2021. He labeled these years as the year of exposure, year of elevation and year of establishment. Since then he has gone further to reveal to me his 10-year plan for my life. But that is a story for another day. Today, I want to look back on 2019, the year of exposure.

January
January was the best and worst month for me this year because I found myself in between god’s promise and my reality. I was in the middle of processing my relocation from nigeria to the UK; an opportunity that was as exciting as it was scary. a few people knew, but mostly we were being circumspect about sharing the news, as we waited for our visa application to come through. I had put in my resignation in the office, and ended my lease with my landlord. i had committed to giving away our cars and furniture, and were wrapping up our life in nigeria. and then the news came that our visa application had been denied.  for a moment, our world stopped, and a huge weight of doubt began to push us against the wall. january was supposed to be our last month in nigeria, but suddenly we were thrown into a waiting bubble

February
This month felt like a vacuum. My wife and i drifted through life in fear and uncertainty. the refusal of our visa application had cast a shadow over our enthusiam and our faith. i questioned everything i ever heard from god, i wondered if i had made a mistake, i avoided people because of how hard it was to explain why we had not left nigeria. i felt completely lifeless. Most of our days in this month were spent in a zombie-like state. We packed up our belongings in the house, half afraid that it was for nothing. Some days we tried to be hopeful, frantically searching online for hope from other believers who had shared their relocation journey. throughout that month, my favorite search term was “relocation by faith”. i wanted some assurance that i was not alone, that others had experienced the same rejection and hopelessness that we were feeling, but had come out victorious. it helped a little, but most nights were the longest. the waiting, the not knowing what the future would look like, the waking up each morning to face another day of uncertainty, of pretending to friends and family that we were excited about relocating, while deeply fearing the worst. it wasn’t all gloom though, because in the middle of the uncertainty god had presented a slight glimmer of hope. my new company had agreed to engage me as a remote contractor while they reapplied for my visa. so even though i had resigned from my old job, i was not unemployed. in retrospect, i see all of this experience as the “cloud as small as a man’s hand” that elijah and his protege had seen just before the deluge of rain. but you see, this is the tricky thing about faith, i am connecting the dots now, 11 months after the fact, but back then it was hard to see through the rejection and fear that god may have failed us.

March

March was a reminder that many times our greatest fears are unnecessary, especially when walking by faith. despite the delay and uncertainty, my wife and i eventually departed Nigeria for the UK.  It was a period of relief and gratitude that holding on to god’s word had not been a mistake, as we immediately began the journey of building a new life. It was also a period of excitement, still mixed with a tinge of fear, at the adventure that lay before us. As usual, my over anxious mind went into overdrive thinking of how we were going to find a good house. Back in nigeria, i had already started googling and researching online about first time renting in the UK and there were a 1001 reasons for me to be worried. Yet again, God came through and we found a beautiful new build home less than 10 mins from my office. By the end of the month, wehad moved out of our airbnb into our own 2 bed apartment.

April, May, June
These months were a whilrwind of change for me. I was giddy as a school boy. God had blown my mind. Living and working in the UK was not something I had ever imagined. In my younger years, my uncle who lived in the US had regularly encouraged me to participate in the US visa lottery. But I never found it enticing. I think it was mostly out of fear though, I realize that my biggest fear for relocating out of Nigeria was wondering if I would be good enough to thrive in a more advanced environment. Back then, I was content to dream of visiting and having fun in the US, but actually living and working there was not a thought i entertained. Especially not for the UK. I had no frame of reference for the UK. I had no family ties, only knew a handful of people from my university that had moved to the UK, people who i wasn’t really in touch with. So to me, the UK was, in the words of tasha cobbs and nikki minaj, “something i had never seen before”.

over these three months, my wife and i began to settle down into our new life, learning how to live in england. everything was unfamilar and intimidating. we had to learn how to ride a bike, use the bus, program the thermostat, open a bank account, set up direct debits, register to vote, register with a GP and a bunch of other mundane necessties. while the process was quite easy because everything was available online, it was a bit overwhelming because we had to figure out most of this on our own, and it felt like being a baby again. my wife had this fear of communicating with people because she wondered if she would understand their accent, or if they would understand hers. i had the fear of proving myself to my new colleagues, when i struggled to contain their boudeless energy and excitement, or understand their sense of humor and interests.

by the end of the quarter, i had my first in-country reminder that the life of a believer is one that requires a constant “fight of faith”. despite the excitement of relocation and easing into a new role, i hit a brick wall when i received an unexpected critical appraisal of my performance from my boss. i felt attacked. only 3 months in and i had been slammed on the job. i felt it was an unfair act by my manager, and suddenly my long fear about failing to thrive abroad surfaced with a vengeance. What if i wasn’t a right fit for this job? what if i had a made a mistake in accepting this job? what if turning down the biggest offer of my life in Nigeria was a grave mistake? my self esteem instantly went down, and suddenly god’s blessing seemed like a burden. the end of june brought a drape of despair over my life and faith, and once again i began to question if i had really heard god right?

July, August, September, October
the secret to being a believer is that you are meant to interprete everything through the eyes of his spoken word. however, knowing this, and living this, are two seperate things. as i began a new quarter my faith was deflated. why would god bring me into a new job where i was instantly assessed poorly? how was i to demonstrate my competence with a manager that already felt i had not met expectations? i lashed out at god, why did you give me a difficult manager? what if we never got along? what if i was fired? i had no safety net. i had literally ended my life back in nigeria.

i tried to stay strong. i went back to my writings of what god had spoken to me, i looked for clues to understand what was going on. i recalled nikki minajs’ words  “so even when i cried i knew i’d be fine”  in the theme song for my faith (Tasha Cobb’s I’m Getting Ready) and i tried to learn what god was teaching. he had already started explaining to me that 2019 was a year of exposure. it meant i would be exposed to a new way of working, it would strip me of the comfort and competence i had gained over the years, it would stretch me beyond what i thought i could achieve, it would force me to unlearn poor working habits and relearn new processes.

and slowly i began to see the light as i dived in deep into my role. the scales began to fall off my eyes as i saw that my difficult manager was exactly like me, only more exposed and disciplined. she was the better version of what i could be, and even though i hated how much she was pushing me put of my skin, i realised she was “my dark room” where god was exposing my raw image for a more beautiful processed picture.  i spent these months travelling around ethiopia and kenya for work, and i began to experience more sunshine than cloudy days.

in retrospect, and based on the 10 year prophecy god has revealed to me, i understand that god does not evade process. there is a future that god prepares for his children, but there is also the process of preparing his children for that future. this was the main reason god had revealed 2019 as a year of exposure. it was the beginning of our season of immeasurable excess, but first god needed to expose our minds to the possibility of something we had never seen or heard before.

November, December
the last 2 months of 2019 brought for us a small sense of stability. i was more confident in my role and my job. i had experienced more of life in the UK and was gaining some comfort from familiarity. i was even beginning to adapt better to winter weather. but most eventful of all, i finally graduated from my masters programme. a programme i was so afraid i would fail. 3 years later, i was attending my graduation ceremony in person in edinburgh. again as i think over this event, i realized even more how needless it is to worry about the future when you are walking with god. i remembered how my wife and i had been hoping and praying that we would be able to afford travel cost and fuflill visa requirements to allow us visit the UK for my graduation. and yet, all along, god was planning that i would be attending my graduation not as a UK visitor but as a UK resident – paul was right when he defiined god as the one who is able to do exceedlingly and abundantly above all we think…

my wife and i enjoyed a quiet first christmas in england, indoors, and in a few hours, 2019 will be history. as usual, my over anxious mind is navigating the days and weeks of 2020, trying to peep into the details of a year that is yet to begin. i am also feeling some pressure that comes with all the end of year reflections and pronouncements that everyone makes. however, i am not particularly motivated to pray or fast or any of the religious activities typically done around this time of the year.  maybe it is because i already know what god’s will for me is over the next 10 years? 

2020 is coming…
2020 doesnt really feel like a new year for me because months ago, i already received my prophecy for 2020.  i have also come to understand that the fine print of his will is not in one big reveal, but a daily, evolving discovery. just a few days ago, god began to reveal to me the guiding scriptures for my year.  so i have now is a heartful of gratitude for where we are, and where he is taking us to. 2019 was a good year, cheers to 2020.

 

Dear 2010 Ayo

In 2019, you will be working and living in the UK. But all you are thinking of now is how to quit your job in church, and leap into the unknown.

i know how scared you are, i know how desperate you have become; but i want you to know that you made it. there were a lot of unknowns after you resigned from the church, and you experienced some sad moments, but in the year 2019 you were chosen to relocate to the UK. i know that is hard for you to believe now, but this is something to encourage you. your life will get better. you may not have enjoyed your time working in church, but that time was necessary to ground you in your faith in God. it is this faith that well see you in the coming years. you will have to hold on to this faith many times, but you will see that faith does not fail you.

everytime you talk to god, he will talk back to you. and when you trust him, you will experience a blessing. right now, you are homeless and you have to move in with your girlfiend, but in a few monthss you will be doing your dream job and making more money than you have ever made in your life.

i want to tell you that you need to learn financial management, but i know that you won’t have that knowledge then. so you will lose all the money you have after about 2 years. and you will be worse off than you are now. you will have lost your girlfriend, you will have been used and cheated on by another girlfriend. but in the midst of it all, you will meet the girl that you will marry. she will encourage you when you get to the lowest point of you life; she will be the reason you do not pack up and run back home to mummy. she will stand by you, she will marry you even when you have nothing to offer her.

after you marry her, you will begin to experience some sunshine. you will find a job working with the government, but you will hate job. you should not, because that job will be like the manna that god sent to sustain the israelites in the wilderness. you will not get a lot of that job, but you will come out wiser. and you will not starve your wife.

god will keep you there for about two years. he wants you to learn how to be abased, he wants you and your wife to build something out of nothing. you both need to learn to love ech other without the distractions comfort and luxury. this will help you guys depend on each other, this will help you both to be invested in each other, this will help you both to trust each other.

after you learn this, you will begin to see new sunshines, and you will begin to blossom, slowly, safely, pleasantly. you wil grow steadility for the next 4 years, and you will not lose your innocence or your humility. but most importantly you will grow in your relationship with god. you will depend entirely on the holy spirit for every decision you take, you will not be moved by popular opinion. and because of this god will begin to open doors for you that you never imagined.

in 2019, god will give you an opportunity to relocate to the UK. you will accept it. and you will begin a new life. i have told you all of this so that you understand the road will be long, the road will be bumpy, you will experience tears and laughters, but not one moment will be unimportant. the mistake you will make is that you will always be anxious about the future, you will not spend enough time to smell the roses and savor every moment. you will not feel your sadness as you cry, you will not double over and fall as you laugh, you will miss the moments that you should savor because you are constaly thinking of the future. a future that you would never imagine.

i am writing you from 2019 so that you know you made it this far. and when you get to 2019 you will still face a lot of fears, but all you to should remember is to live in each moment because you have a father in god who will not walk out on you. there will be more bumps in the road, there will be more battles you will fight, but you must always remember than in 2010 you felt your world had ended, yet in 2019 you will feel like your world is just beginning.

so, breathe, smell the roses, and enjoy every moment that god gives you.