Learning to breathe

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For The Love of A Country

Our first Nehemiah Project Prayermob meet-up is Saturday this week and I am excited to say the least. When I finally worked up the courage to tell y’all about it, I honestly didn’t think that it would “blow”. I just wanted to make sure I obeyed that one thing He was calling me to do. Not all of us will be missionaries in the North, Uganda or even the Amazon jungle but all of us are called to radical living right where we are. So, right now for me, “radical” looks like praying for my country on the 15th of every month and getting as many people as I can in on it. I can’t tell you that about a million people followed us on Twitter or that NPPM has 2 million likes on Facebook. I’m not even here to talk about stats because they aren’t impressive by any standards. But I’m grateful for that one person that somehow got my phone number and called me for two days straight before I finally found my phone to ask how he could help with the movement. I’m grateful for that one guy that sent me mail offering to help design the logo for NPPM (haven’t heard from him in a while and I hope he’s alright). I’m grateful for the twenty-something comments and the handful of reblogs, the shares, the likes, views. I’m grateful for Twitter followers, retweets, shout-outs. I’m grateful for that one Facebook like because, really, the definition of success has changed for me. A dear friend of mine said, “Success is obedience in that one thing God has called you to do. That, in itself, is success. Forget the Stats.” (Paraphrased)

So I’m here again talking about NPPM so you know what to pray exactly on Saturday. If you started a mob in your neighbourhood and you’re unsure people will show up and you end up being the only one, just go on and pray anyway. You were obedient so you succeeded. And if it so happens that a bunch of guys show up in front of a supermarket (it’s a mob remember) close to your house to pray, go on and do what you came to do. Then if you’re like me and you’ve wondered what to pray for Nigeria in 10 whole minutes, I kinda came up with a loose plan for us to follow:

  • Pray for peace in the North
  • Pray for our leaders (GEJ and his cabinet, governors, etc) and finally
  • Pray for the citizens.
  • Pray each point for 3 minutes then take the last minute to engage and converse with the people that turned up, take a picture together if you can and tweet it at us or put it up on NPPM Facebook wall. with the hashtag #WePrayed or #Iprayed to encourage more people to join the movement then plan where you want the next meet-up to be. It doesn’t have to be the same place. When the last minute is up, disperse like the mob that you are! That was a compliment by the way.
    I’d love if you could spread the word to the ends of the earth and with as many people as you can. If you’ve ever wanted to do something meaningful and eternally significant for your country, this is it. Don’t let the thought that this mob thing is for “spiritual” people stop you from praying. Don’t let the thought that praying together won’t make a difference either. Praying together is way better than whining and doing absolutely nothing. I don’t care what church you attend or what church you don’t attend, come 15th of June put your disqualifications and differences away and just come out to pray for your country. If we don’t care to pray for Nigeria, who will? If you still want to help out with designing a logo for NPPM, do mail me zoe_akin@live.com I’d love to hear from you.

    Don’t forget to save the date June 15th!

    Nehemiah Project Prayermobs

    I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now. Actually I’ve been wanting to do this since the Borno killings I don’t want to be numb to the fact that almost an entire village was wiped out in one weekend. I don’t want to be desensitized to the fact that innocent men, women and children are dying every day in the North while I’m down southwest having rollercoaster rides and bumper-karting with friends. I don’t want to keep living like everything is peachy when it really isn’t. It would shock you to know that over 10,000 killings have been linked to the insurgent Boko Haram sectsince 2001*. Yeah, it shocked me too. Then the Boston bombing happened, the whole of America bled for Boston, the city was shut down, investigations were made and suspects were arrested. It was then that my heart really broke for Nigeria and it was then that I really prayed.
    Thankfully, my prayers did not bounce off the ceiling and I got a response but not quite the kind I wanted or expected. I wanted for God to raise fiery, popular cover-of-Time-magazine-worthy men and women to do something-to do anything! – to get this Boko Haram menace sorted once and for all. I wanted the SSS to announce on national TV that they had caught the leaders and they were rounding up the terrorists one by one. I wanted for God to just sort them out somehow. I really did not care how as long as I didn’t have to directly get involved. I mean, praying in my room on my comfy bed is convenient and pretty hands on. It’s safe. But the only response I got was “You, Ibukun.”
    He wants ordinary, can’t-use-an-excel-spreadsheet-to-save-her-life Ibukun to get off her fat behind to do something- anything! – for her country. I’m not my idea of an ideal patriot so who would’ve thunk it’d be me? Definitely not me
    So I prayed about it some more and got ladies over at SRT to pray about it too. And I can tell y’all that there is a game plan. It’s not anything exactly “fancy” but it’s powerful. I’m not about to tell you that God showed me the Boko Haram headquarters in a vision or had an angel FedEx their sponsors’ list to me the next morning. The response was not the kind you’d expect. The solution that I got was…wait for it…prayer. I prayed for a solution and the solution I got was prayer.
    God wants people who care enough about their country to pray about it to Him, together as a nation of people that is tired of losing citizens to this madness. He isn’t asking us to join the army, He asking us to seek His face, He’s not asking us to give away our body parts or organs, He’s asking us to give away desensitization. He wants for us to be mad and hurt enough to do something other than criticise the government. And not just about Boko Haram but also about the economy, about the youth, about our leaders, about finding sustainable energy and other major stuff that we have to deal with as a country.
    Now so we don’t just talk about it and end up not being about it, we are introducing prayer mobs. Prayer mobs are kinda like flash mobs, only that prayer mobs meet up, physically or virtually to pray concerning stuff at specific times in a month. So now it’s not about when we remember to pray for Nigeria, it’s about counting down to the next time we meet up, physically or virtually, with Nigerians all over the world at specific times to pray to God about unrest in our Country. It’s about Nigerians that have hearts that can break for their country. It’s about Nehemiahhearts.
    I may have said this before at some point in writing this but I’m no “world changer”. I’m just an ordinary girl that wants to do something other than live for herself. I waited until now to do this because I was dead sure God had the wrong girl but I’m starting to understand that God is not looking for perfect people; He’s looking to perfect people. So don’t hesitate to identify with this movement. Our first prayer mob meeting is scheduled for 12:00pm, June 15, 2013. Now you can help to spread the word about Nehemiah Project prayer mobs by:
    1. Spreading the word on all your social networks, word of mouth advertising still works wonders.
    2. Following the movement on Twitter our Facebook and GooglePlus pages will come soon
    3. Reblogging this post if you have a WordPress blog
    4. Sending me an email at zoe_akin@live.com if you’re willing to design the logo and page for this project.
    5. Praying at 12:00pm (W. Central Africa (+1))

    If you’ve ever wished you could do something substantial to change the situation of things in Nigeria, this is it. Be a part of it. Tell people about it. Be about it. It may not seem like much but you’d be amazed at how far praying together with a large body of Nigerians all over the world concerning Nigeria for 10 minutes at a specific time every month can do. The answers to our prayers for peace on the North first, economic growth, leaders of integrity and all round success are just before our very eyes waiting for us to ask for them. Let us ask together.

    *The Catholic Church: What Everyone Needs To Know, John L. Allen Jr. 2013

    On Getting Twitter Back

    When I deactivated my Twitter account earlier this month, I wanted to stop to smell the roses, I wanted to try new food, to hang out with friends, talk to my dad more often and all that good stuff. I wanted to experience real life and boy did I get real life. I got a mean ass rollercoaster ride this month. I don’t think I’m going to forget in a hurry. I’m not going into details out of respect for myself (I’ve always wanted to use that line) but those closest to me know that this month, I’ve felt more burned out, drained and overwhelmed than usual. I’ve been busy up to my neck doing everything inconsequential so I won’t have to curl up in a ball to cry. See the thing is, I’m very emotional and I get cranky when I’m hungry and when things don’t go the way I plan. I don’t know how it is that I still have any friends. So right now, I’m just grateful for closure and for the fact that May is almost over.
    On the upside, I’ve managed to find me a new and better coping mechanism and new hobbies and discovered that people reading what I’m typing over my shoulder annoys me to no end. I’ve found that I like walking in the evenings and in the mornings- just before the sun comes out in its full glory. I’ve found that mono-tasking is actually better than multi-tasking, that coffee tastes better when I mix my milk separately first, that red lipstick makes my lips look like thin strips of upturned bacon, that reading a chapter of a book every day is healthy, that not having anything to say all the time is fine and that not having all the answers is fine too. I’ve found that I have friends that will stand up when I can’t and are willing to give me the best of their lives. Now I understand that past mistakes will follow you around like a nagging wife and that cutting people slack is worth it sometimes. I’ve learned.
    It’s not to say that I didn’t know how to live my life while I was addicted to this social network thing, it’s just that I wasn’t living what I knew.
    I’m not exactly ecstatic to announce to y’all that I’m back on the thing, I’m just scared shitless I’ll become what I was again. My opinion about Twitter hasn’t changed and I doubt it ever will. But I think I’m better equipped at being a “stuffer” keeping most of my business to myself. I know to pray about difficult stuff instead of announcing the calamity to some two hundred people. I know to sign out when I have work to do, food to eat, people to converse with. The only problem is that knowing to do something and actually following through on what I know and plan to do are two entirely different things. So I’m still testing the waters, I’m still wary. So forgive me if you used to think I was fun and you’re hoping I can go back to being fun. I may not be able to measure up again; I might disappear for a few days and reappear online when I can, when I want. It’s not that I don’t care that you care; I just don’t want to get sucked in all over again. Some of you may be wondering what difference 19 days off Twitter has made. Well it’s kinda like how hearing and listening are different. The difference between hearing and listening is 19 days, the difference between “acquaintance” and “friend” is 19 long days, the distance between “loneliness” and “solitude” is 19 sets of 24 hours. I’m still exploring this side of life so be patient with me…and maybe help me.

    On Giving Twitter Up

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    When I shut my Twitter account down on Tuesday, I remember thinking to myself: “My life is over”

    And it was for me. Sometimes it still feels like it is. It’s been five days now and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more disconnected from the rest of the world than I do now. However, guilt for spending hours just poring through my timeline no longer plagues me and feelings of irrelevance and inadequacy no longer torture me when I don’t get new mentions, retweets or favorites. Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired but I think if Twitterverse does not revolve around me then it should not exist…at least not to me. Now that right there is the thought train that sets me up for disappointment.

    Not many people know that my Twitter was shut down and those that do don’t see the sense in it. Heck, sometimes I don’t see the sense in it. I think a lot of things set the stage for this deactivating and shutting down business. First, the guilt for spending so much time online, then this post I read on Kelly Minter’s blog, then this post I read on Living Proof Ministries’ blog, then finally this post on The Verge. By the time you’ve read all those posts you’ll probably want to shut your Twitter down too, spend less time on it or like Paul Miller leave the internet. I’m not in any way saying that Twitter is a bad “place”. I’m saying that Twitter is pretty much a reflection of real life. Sometimes it’s distorted and sometimes it’s accurate. I’m saying that there are some people I have met in real life through Twitter that I wish I had never met and there are those that I wouldn’t trade meeting them for anything in this world. Or the next. I’m saying that Twitter gives people the chance to be what they never got to be in real life: popular, witty, “loved”, and adequate and gives them an illusion of security or a pedestal to showcase their insecurity. Twitter allows you to judge a book by its cover or by its bio. Twitter gives you shrinks, doctors, relationship experts, buddies for what looks like free. All you really have to do is give up your real life for it. Twitter says “Have entertainment and a fun virtual life in exchange for entertainment and fun real life”

    Maybe I have a serious case of lack of self-control here and I just don’t know how to balance real life with virtual life. Maybe I have more problems being present to the things that are happening around me in real life and I’m more alive to the things happening in my phone or my computer. I never want to miss a thing in Twitterville so that when I get with my real life friends we can talk about Twitter and ignore the things that are wrong with us in real life. More than half my conversations are punctuated with “Were you online when…” or “Did you see what Blah retweeted?” or “Why did you tweet this?” and I begin to address people by their Twitter handles instead of their first names. And my level of respect for you is directly proportional to the number of followers you have on Twitter or how many times your depth (or lack of it) gets retweeted into my timeline. And I’d rather have you mention me than have you call me or I’d rather mention you than call you. Looking at it objectively, most of my existence for the last, what, 6 months has been poured into knowing the latest Twitter gist instead of knowing what’s going on with my friends, tweeting to complete strangers about my father instead of calling him up and asking how life is with him, looking out for interesting or witty stuff just so I can tweet about it. It makes me wonder if any of it is really worth it.

    At this moment, I don’t know for sure that I want to delete my Twitter permanently…mostly because I’m scared that I will no longer be relevant than because I don’t want my followers to think that I’m dead. For now, I want to explore real life. I want to find a new coping mechanism, a new stress reliever, a new hobby. I like to try new stuff and maybe this is just a phase for me like Facebook was. But I want to bake cakes with my Aunt Tolu and know what’s going on in her life, I want Kiki to sniff my nail polish, like me and not bark at me so much, I want to have my mind in the room when my dad is talking to me, I want to be actively involved in conversations I have with Peju, Seun, Tobi, Seyi, Dunni, Femi and Dare, I want to experience the good stuff for myself no longer so I can tweet about it. Maybe some moments are meant to be treasured for me and me alone. And maybe some pictures are meant to be taken by me and for me alone not for some three hundred people that will never really know more about me than the fact that I talk too much, like red lipsticks and short boyish hair. Again I’m not saying that Twitter is a bad place and you should pack up, shut your Twitter down and follow me to the Promised Land. I’m saying: live-really live– your real life. Sammy says I might lose friends and contact with people that really care about me so if you’re one of them you can mail me zoe_akin@live.com. I’m not turning into a hermit. I still post journal entries twice a week, I still laugh till I start to cry and my tummy hurts, I’m still in coffee rehab, I still post stories, poems and random stuff here on Learning to Breathe, I still read people’s blog posts, I still work at Aphroden, I still meet up with a bunch of guys Thursday evenings for Bible study, I still swim and I still like Rihanna’s hair. Oh and sadly, I still use a Blackberry.

    Unfortunately, no one is paying me to stay off Twitter and blog about my new experiment (I would have liked that). I just want to explore this side of life so that if I ever decide to come back to Twitter, I can use it and not have it use me. In Jon Foreman’s words, I’m somewhere between who I am and who I could be, between how it is and how it should be.

    Photo credit: http://www.arts.vcu.edu

    Don’t “like” my post

    When I wake up with my mind brimming with ideas for a new story or poem, I hardly ever want to have to get to my laptop to type it out because, well, that would reduce the masterpiece in my mind to a mere article for your reading pleasure or displeasure. But I do it anyway because there’s no way else for you to see what I see in my head. It is not my intention to articulate my thoughts and put them up on the internet for all to see, and then have you “like” my post. No sir, I don’t want you to “like” my post at all.
    I want you to read my thoughts in five hundred and something words then tell me what you think about it. You don’t want to know what it takes out of me to sit down for an hour sometimes more to make my thoughts presentable to you then have you “like” my writing with a smirk on your face or disinterest in your eyes. I don’t want your consolation prize. I want you to read my post. I’m not asking you to like it. I’m not giving you license to hate it. I’m telling you to pick one of the two. There is no fence where my work is concerned. I broke down all the walls so there are just an open field with two groups of people, readers, whatever. Don’t waste five minutes of your life coming to this blog to like a post you didn’t even read till the end. I betcha you didn’t even check the title of this blog. But it’s fine. Just read this post till the end then memorise the title of this blog or something.
    I’m not asking you to go all literature-critic on me especially if you don’t know what that means or entails. Give me your honest opinion, is all I ask and cry for day and night.
    “Ibukun, this post was stupid and was a waste of my time” Fine.
    “I loved this post! The story was beautiful. Kept me guessing till the end. Love love love it!” Sweet.
    Just say something. Try to understand that you cannot take back the minutes you used to read the post so say something honest. Don’t tweet a thumbs-up at me, don’t IM a smile, don’t “like” my post even if you like it. Say you like it in the comment box- if you really do.
    The most difficult part of writing this post for me to accept is someone, somewhere on this planet, will still go ahead and “like” this post.

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