THE SHUNAMMITE WOMAN – 2

Hi everyone, I hope you all had a good week. So I had a very quiet weekend. It was much-needed rest, peace and quiet. Time spent alone with reading, writing, watching TV, walks, praying etc…. well mostly tv lol

I will be picking up from where we left off in the revelation knowledge lesson of the Shunammite woman and Prophet Elisha. In the first lesson we kind of traced her lineage and what it meant to come from Shunam. We also talked about her stature and character in society and how the prophet spoke a son into her life. At this point, her son has passed on and she has bravely left his lifeless body on Prophet Elisha’s bed.

O I wish I knew her name for she was brave! Hmn! She closes the door and calmly asks her husband for a mode of transportation and a servant. He says wait a minute! It is not sabbath nor new moon. What do you need to see the man of God for? “Its alright my dear” Wow! She is not screaming, not crying, no wailing, no lamentations, nothing! This woman just knows that if she could get to the man of God, everything will be alright. She reminds me of the proverbs 31 woman: SHE DOES NOT WORRY HER HUSBAND WITH A PROBLEM SHE CAN FIX!. She tells him it is well. Don’t worry honey, deal with the reapers. Get the finances straight and the barnyards full I’ve got this covered. O mercy lord!!!

Now watch this, when she gets close to where Elisha is, he sends his servant to meet her. Is everything alright madam? Your husband? Son? O yea she says. Its alright. I am amazed at how faith is chasing her. She is running, running, never giving up. Not looking at anything but her ultimate goal. And that is to meet the prophet face to face. Not until she gets to him does she break down and start crying. I can almost hear her wailing: Eeeeeehehehehe…… oooooo God!!! Why me? O man of God, did I ask you for a child? Why did you give him to me if you knew he was going to die? oooooo noooooo!!!! Please help me. He is stone cold and I don’t know what to do. She allows herself to break down because she knows she will find answers, solutions. Her precious boy will come back to life. Ha! Now Elisha tries to usurp his own power by Gehazi but she says NO! As surely as the lord lives, it is you or nobody else. Can you imagine, I mean most of us will be satisfied with a substitute. After all he gave Gehazi his symbol of anointing. His staff. He gave him instructions. He said: Run! Do not greet anyone on the way. Seriously, I would have said ok Gehazi let’s go get my son breathing. What Elisha was missing that the Shunammite woman didn’t was that Gehazi didn’t have the kind of faith needed to raise a dead person. Sometimes, nobody will do but the real thing! Cutting corners won’t do it. Representatives will mess you up. Its like inviting the queen of England to and event and instead she sends an emissary. That just puts a damper on things.

Yes sometimes only the original will make the problem go away. Sometimes talking to a friend won’t do. Therapy will make it worse, scholars will mess up your theology. Sometimes you need God himself! And like the Shunammite woman run in faith, with a straight face and your shoulders held high. Not until you reach the throne room of grace do you crumble and cry out JESSSSSSUUUUUUUSSSSS!!!!! I NEED YOU! I have a predicament and only you can fix it. My pastor aint gonna cut it this time. Have mercy thou son of David. And you stay on your knees until something happens! See because when Gehazi went with the staff of the prophet, he had no real passion to raise the dead boy. He probably just laid the staff once or twice on the cold body and gave up. Threw his hands in the air and went O you won’t wake up? Okay! Me I tried oooo. Don’t you just hate that? When folks do shoddy work and call it their best? O sometimes your problem is so big faith itself begins to chase you. This woman was just acting out her instincts as a strong woman of influence. She didn’t even know what faith meant. O but the mercies of God accommodates our ignorances when our passions are in the right place. She was running towards a miracle and she didn’t even realize it until it happened. O God give me one thirds of this woman’s strength. No no no no you are not hearing me. I said Jesus bless me with an inkling of her strength. Now this woman had no bible, she had no church to go to, she had no canticles or sacraments nor recitals. She had one thing only! STRENGTH OF CONVICTION! She absolutely believed and that was that. Now tell me if that aint faith in its purest form.

As the story comes to an end, we see the shunammite woman goes out of her land for a while, comes back and there is no house/land for her. See upon Elisha’s suggestion she moved away 2 Kings 8:1-6 because of an impending seven-year famine. Now watch this interesting turn of events. Remember she had already told Elisha she didn’t need him to speak on her behalf to the king? But now her house is gone and she must go to the king’s court to ask for her possession back. (I wonder where her husband is in all of this). When she get to the king’s court, there is Gehazi telling tales to the king about Elisha’s exploits and get this, her son coming back to life was the story he was telling. O may God grant us all divine intervention and favor. Se what she had done for Elisha, been through with Elisha    four chapters ago was still oozing out if her. Favor! Favor! Favor! Favor! More Favor!… I pray that all women who claim kingdom citizenship strive to believe only the report of the lord like the Shunammite woman.

Zoe Writes :-)

THE SHUNAMMITE WOMAN – 1

Ladies, This is a special message for you. From a very deep place in my heart to yours. I have decided to post this instead of my regular letters to God, which usually has one too many complains. So even as you read this, I implore let your deep speak to my deep.

2 KINGS 4:20-36

Let m set the stage for you :-). It’s 850 BC. Jehoram son of Ahab and the very wicked queen Jezebel rule the northern kingdom. Now if any of you come from the northern parts of any country especially in Africa like me, you will know how hot it is. Its is literally the desert. Its hot air, coupled with red sand that would paint your eye brows brownish red and render your clothes a permanent red! Now Elisa was the prophet to the northern kingdom albeit he was not liked. He was a traveling preacher who often relied on the goodness of town folk. The story we are about to tell together is set in this medieval kingdom involving a Shunamite woman. This story intrigues me! But first, lets find out more about this woman. 2 Kings 4:8 says that one day, Elisha was traveling through the town of Shunem. Shunem is a small town located in the tribe of Issachar to the north of Jezreel and south of mount Giboa. Now Issachar was the fifth son of Jacob and Leah, and the ninth son of Jacob(Isreal). So to deduce loosely, the Shunamites can trace their roots to the Jacob who is the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. Shunem means “Two Resting Places”. O to have a resting place! As it turns out the prophet Elisha had a resting place through the kindness of this great woman in a city whose name meant resting place! I find it strange that every time I have heard a sermon concerning this bible verse, she is only referred to as the woman who gave the prophet a place to rest, or the woman to whom Elisha prophesied a son.

Now watch this, the bible says, the Shunamite woman was a great woman! She had great influence and obviously was married to a man of means and affluence. Hmmmmn but wait, she has no children! Not that she seemed to be complaining but that’s the only thing I see missing in her life. She tells her husband “Lets furnish the room at the rooftop for this man who is without a doubt a man of God so he can rest, eat, write and read whenever he stops by here”. She was a gracious woman, a content woman, wise woman, had no complains whatsoever. As the story unfolds, she obviously gets what she wants and the rooftop room is made up nice for the prophet and his servant. Now one day Elisha is musing aloud to his servant. “Gehazi, this woman has been so gracious to us. I wish there was something we could do for her. But she lacks nothing” Gehazi replies ” You are right master she lacks nothing! She is the epitome of what womanhood should be . Well so Elisha who had great influence in the King’s court asks her “Do you want me to speak to the king on your behalf? May be the commander of the army? You know my word is as good as it gets. A letter of recommendation maybe? What do you need?” Now this woman is so content she replies I lack nothing prophet. Now this is a prophet who healed Naaman of leprosy and traps blind Arameans! This prophet is slick in every way and she replies she lacks nothing! I expect nothing! I live amongst my own people!  Now if you have ever lived in a foreign land like me, you would understand the enormity of her statement. She means I am free! I am not hiding from immigration! I am not required to have a green card or a workers permit. I married the man of my dreams and I didn’t have to pay him to do it. OOOO Alleluia!!! This woman knows her worth.

Well, so we all know how the story went. Elisha promises a son and she gets a son at the appointed time. Now you must understand, she did not ask for a son. A son was gifted to her. She was not being kind to be rewarded. She was just a kind person by nature. O how I wish most Americans would understand this concept! Grasp it and let it seep through their mind set. Anyway this beautiful gift she has, something she had no dreams about but got was suddenly snatched away from her by deaths violent hands. You all must understand this sometimes something you didn’t even want in the first place will be taken away just so God’s glory (Culture) can be manifest. Notice that when the boy started to complain of a headache, his father just sent him to his mother. Ooooo glory to God, I shudder to think what would have happened if the boy had died in the fields. See he was too busy with the reapers. There was money to be made! No time to waste on a little boy’s groaning of headaches and signs of weakness. Thank God for mothers.

Tragedy sets in when he dies in his mothers arms! My God, I know what I would have done if my son died in my arms. Wailing with my hands on top my head like an orphan! I will be screaming my lungs out, rending my clothes and gutting my heart out! But this Shunammite woman did none of that. I am jealous for her strength and her ability to be in control. I am sure she had a reasoning session with herself saying “wait a minute, Prophet Elisha gave him to me, if I can only get to him, he will give him to me again” …I wonder what drove her to lay the boy on the prophet’s bed. Lord the art of faith was chasing her. I imagine she told herself like the woman with the issue of blood, I will lay my boy here – On Elisha’s bed and when gets here, his spirit would have already been with my boy. Guarding him. Keeping him safe. O yes he is dead now but Elisha’s anointing will keep him safe. Have you ever felt hopeless and yet God was still keeping you? Taking care of you?

Stay tuned folks for the second and final part of this message. I promise it will encourage you.

BARAKA’S PRAYER

Dear God,

It’s a sunday evening and I suddenly feel the strongest urge to pray. But I also feel the strongest urge to write. My mind is blank and it feels as though I have absolutely nothing to say to you although I yearn to talk with you. I considered silence but my mind kept drifting away to places I’d rather not venture. In short I am feeling crappy and in need of your attention. I want to talk and I want to be talked at. I want to be quiet and I want to yell and shout and make some noise…. any noise. Instead I finished and half full pint of chocolate ice cream sprinkled with Almonds. My stomach is doing the happy dance, My weight loss goal is seriously compromised, my guilty speedometer is reading %100 and yes I still feel crappy because I need to commune with you badly. I can hear your gentle urging to just say whats on my mind. My mouth refuses to speak though. The “roaring lion” is telling me to relax – it’s a sunday after all. My back is killing me and his logic is to just lay back flat on the sofa and the pain will subside. He tells me I did all the talking I needed to with you in church this morning. Quiet honestly I can’t even remember praying in church today except for singing awkwardly, lifting my hands when folks did, closed my eyes in between songs and the occasional Alleluia!!!. Anyways, I choose to watch a comedy on Netflix instead. It cheered me up for a split second but I went back to crappy zone. You do see the huge mind battle I am fighting right? Anyways, I reckon you won because I am sitting at my desk, and I am writing you my prayer below…… I FEEL GOOD ALREADY.

Dear God,

Thank you for grace. Your capacity to love and be patient with me is so amazing it overwhelms me. I am grateful lord for this journey called life and I wouldn’t trade this gift for anything but that which you choose. Even before I start father, I come to you humbly as a prodigal daughter : Forgive me father for I have sinned and I have come short of your glory. I am sorry daddy for all the times you have whispered the correct behavior, attitude, the right thing to say and or do but I in my vanity let pride win. Thank you for remitting my sins without recollection and thank you for the power of forgiveness. Most importantly father I ask, Teach me how to forgive myself.

Dear God, Right now I commit my mind to you. I commit my train of thought to you. I bring it under your submission and under your constant supervision. Holy Spirit, you are welcome in this place right now. I am filled with expectancy at what you will do in me, with me and for me. I am glad you are in control. Please Jesus, never leave my side, my heart, my mind, my whole being for in you I live and move and have my livelihood. Break every negativity in my psyche for it is somewhat choosing to be logical when there is absolutely nothing logical about you.

Dear God, your word tells me that death and life are in the power of the tongue and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. And so right in this moment I choose life. I choose health. I choose the cheeky smile of a spoilt princess :-). I choose humility for it is strength. I choose patience for it is that which teaches my soul everything. I choose love for it is the ultimate purpose for which I live. I choose abundance and plenty. And father, most importantly, I choose YOU because you chose ME first.

Your Prodigal Daughter

ZoeBaraka

THE ROAD TO ITHAKA

Dear God,

How have you been? Its been a while since we talked via this blogosphere. You know we’ve been through so much together – You and me, I have been thinking about a blogomentary for us :-). O boy, that will be something wouldn’t it?. Ha! The life of what if’s and maybes …. I do not miss it at all :-)

Dear God, Its been a real pleasure walking with you these last couple of months. Wow!!!! I just love the way you weave, plan, strategize and literally reveal a person’s path one step at a time. Daddy, I admire your patience and your spirit of calmness. I am so glad that you are who you say YOU ARE. I am so elated and excited about you. I am absolutely into you. Looking back I can see clearly now how your patient silence has lead me to strategic meetings, opportunities I’d never have gotten on my own, doors you shut quietly with no explanations yet with a knowing smile. O how I huffed and puffed at you like a petulant  child. Sucking in my teeth and shaking violently from side to side, stomping my feet with my fist up in the air demanding power to the people. I am so grateful now father that you took all my attitude without a mumble. Where would I be now I wonder if you hadn’t been so firm with me and if you couldn’t see the future?…

God, I recently came across a poem by Constantine P. Cavafy. Lovely poem. I have read this poem before, even sent it to friends so they could enjoy it as much as I thought I did at the time. Thing is, this time around, the poem lit a florescent bulb in my mind and it came alive in a different way. Nothing had changed about the poem. The words were the same and it was still authored by the same greek guy in the 1800’s and yet it felt different, new, almost ecstatic. I imagine that my experiences have led me to this point. My understanding though poignant before has now reached a new dimension. My knowledge has finally given way to such wisdom, Wisdom I strongly suspect can only come from you. I surprise myself when I talk sometimes.

Anyway so the poem ” ITHAKA” – opens by addressing a metaphoric traveler.

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca, pray that the road is long

First of all, who on earth prays for a longer journey than necessary in a dispensation when everything is on a fast track lane? Cavafy’s poem as I read along reminded me of the Odyssey’s hidden truth, that the hero’s journey to Ithaka is the soul’s journey home. In other words pray that your years on earth are long in that your soul may finally get to its destination – Genesis 1:26- Back to when the dominion call was clear and to God’s original plan. Ancient tradition says that Homer’s epics, the Illiad and the Odyssey, combine into a grand mystery tale, understood by initiates as describing the stages and struggles of the soul’s inner journey.

When you set out on your journey to Ithaka, pray that the road is long”
full of adventure, full of knowledge...

O goodness!!! How many times have I decried the path I am on. With its bumps and turns, impatient for the destination. Wishing to close my eyes, open them in a second and I’d be at the destination? Almost like a cosmos effect. All in perfect order.

To arrive there is your ultimate goal. But do not hurry the voyage at all.

If we were to just look at this without spiritual discernment, The poet is simply saying that the destination of the journey is Ithaka, which is the island off the western coast of Greece to which Odysseus returned after the Trojan war. Odysseus’s journey was a long and difficult one. It was ten years before he was able to rejoin his wife Penelope in Ithaka. As I read this poem over and over again with each sentence gleaning new meaning, I plunged into research to find out what CYCLOPS and such meant. As it turns out, The Laistrygonians, the Cyclops, and “Angry Poseidon” were among the most terrifying of Oddyseus’ enemies. The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops were gigantic cannibals who ate most of his followers. Poseidon was a vengeful god who persecuted him for years. I imagine the poet chose these enemies to symbolize conflict, particularly conflict with people or powers that are much bigger and more powerful than us. Praise Jesus because by redemption, we need not fear these external conflicts: “…you won’t meet them / unless you carry them in your soul However. According to this worldly poet, The stops along the journey are not roadblocks, they are stepping stones. O yea I have heard that many times, seen it as statuses on facebook said it to others when they appeared tired from their own journeys. But somehow I failed to register it on my own heart. Now that I think deeply about it,  even that statement on its own is not true. Seen clearly, the journey and the destination are a single continuum – Id est,  The river pours into the sea, and they are one. Seated on the slow-moving river, we already touch the sea. O My God- You so deep! How did I miss this one?

This reminds me father of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthains. This verse made sense to me yesterday in church. 2 Corinthains 11:22-32 From the message bible : Do they brag of being Hebrews, Israelites, the pure race of Abraham? I’m their match. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I can go them one better. (I can’t believe I’m saying these things. It’s crazy to talk this way! But I started, and I’m going to finish.) 24 I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, 25 beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. 26 In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. 27 I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. 28 And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. 29 When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut. 30 If I have to “brag” about myself, I’ll brag about the humiliations that make me like Jesus. 31 The eternal and blessed God and Father of our Master Jesus knows I’m not lying. 32 Remember the time I was in Damascus and the governor of King Aretas posted guards at the city gates to arrest me? WOW!!! This man is saying he has been through all these and yet! Grace abounds for him. He still says he serves a living GOD!!! O I wish we who claim “Christianity” can say this without a doubt. Staying the course no matter what. Not allowing the “Spirituality Syndrome” to sink us. No no no no no no !!!! someone needs to hear this! You would have though with paul’s abilities and anointing, nothing could touch him. And yet here we are, seeing him flocked and stoned and still standing.

Huh! Moving on with the poem ITHAKA, The story continues: Cavafy writes on saying,

…and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber, and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can…

I think he suggests that worldly experience, the senses, a certain amount of materialism, these too are part of the journey. The physical world is the realm through which the soul journeys. Encountering marvels and terrors the soul strengthens and comes to know itself. Knowing itself in victory and adversity, the soul is finally ready to return. But to navigate through such bewildering, overwhelming experiences, the destination must never be forgotten:

Always keep Ithaka on your mind.

In order words, For us who are christ followers, Never forget the real destination. Heaven. O yes! be in the world, enjoy the fruits of your labor. Infact by Kingdom dominion extremities, we are to BE FRUITFUL, DOMINATE, SUBDUE, MULTIPLY- All that is in the world is our fathers and thus its ours. So yes strive to have the very best things in life. I tell you anyone who claims that Christianity connotes poverty needs to go back to sunday school. But all the good things in life does not mean we won’t go through the fire. No hear me good, Don’t rush through the journey, impatient only for its end. The adventure is your soul’s story. But always remember the Kingdom of God on earth. Always know who you are and whose you are. Hear Apostle Paul plead the case for all Christ’s followers in 1 Corintians 4:9-13 –  It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We’re something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street. 10 We’re the Messiah’s misfits. You might be sure of yourselves, but we live in the midst of frailties and uncertainties. You might be well-thought-of by others, but we’re mostly kicked around. 11 Much of the time we don’t have enough to eat, we wear patched and threadbare clothes, we get doors slammed in our faces, 12 and we pick up odd jobs anywhere we can to eke out a living. When they call us names, we say, “God bless you.” 13 When they spread rumors about us, we put in a good word for them. We’re treated like garbage, potato peelings from the culture’s kitchen. And it’s not getting any better.

Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what these Ithakas mean.

O thank you daddy because now I know that no matter what happens, theres always a learning curve to each experience even if the enemy tries to make us feel like we are going through these hardships because of our own decisions. The wisdom we attain with each step reveals the destination’s true meaning. And it is just as true to say that the destination’s gift is contained in the journey itself.

Ithaka has given you the beautiful voyage. Id est, Life has given each of us a beautiful journey full of stories, setbacks, mishaps, and victories.

Everyone comes from somewhere. There was a time and place that shaped us and made us who we are. For example as we reached adulthood we left home. Some went far indeed, even as this poem recommends. Ironically, the farther people get from home (physically, temporally, and ideologically) the more they want to return. – O how I miss Ghana :-). The great risk, however, is of idealizing your own personal Ithaka. In the penultimate stanza Cavafy warns against expecting too much:

Ithaka(life, God)gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

The point of life is the journey and the experiences along the way. If you go long enough you will eventually get back to where you began. As natural as this is, this starting and ending point is simply that: a starting and ending point. It is the path in between that makes life worth living.

Dear God, I now understand what the intellectual folk mean when they say humans expect too much as though life owns us something when in fact it is us who owe life. To absolutely live in the midst of adversity, death and betrayals. Father, I am not sure what happened to me but suddenly, theres this calm, this inner gut feeling strength I never thought I could posses.  Nothing has really changed with me. I am still BARAKA…. but O no thats a lie, I am new. I am Baraka with new grace. Yea I know not faith, but grace. The grace to smile still…. go through the motions and still be laughing. Jumping around like a little girl on a roller coaster ride with her daddy coupled with a sugar high :-)…. Its an amazing feeling. Its exhilarating and I am absolutely immersed in it. Thank you daddy for showing me that the fire may get even hotter but your grace is always ….. alllllwwwwwaaays sufficient :-)

Your very into YOU Daughter

ZoeBaraka

THE ACOMODADOR

Dear God,

How have you been? Well I suppose. Else I wouldn’t be here would I? It’s the first time I am writing to you in this new season so I guess I should say Happy New Year. More out of polite conversational manners or perhaps simply out of obligation the way I am obligated to call certain people simply because I am related to them sometimes. Well so Happy New Year God. What is new about the time and season? I have no idea. It may be so for lots of people but I personally see nothing new except for the fact that, now all the calendars read 2012. Thus in great fellowship of customs and norms, I wish you the very best of this year. May your coming days be better than the ones past. I wish you strength and all that you need to be omniscient and may children find pleasure in calling you God/father/yahweh/daddy/oludumari/twediampong yankopong/and all things great.

Dear God, now that my duty is done, may I proceed to tell you the reason why I write to you today. Truth is anyone who has kept up with me since I started writing on this blogosphere knows by now, I have had a very rough couple of years, somewhat lost in limbo not exactly sure what my next move will be. In these years I have read so much, more out of boredom than a need to gain knowledge, that sometimes I fear I have become too scholarly. Anyway in my philandering ways of reading I came across an author whose writing may have well drastically changed my life and pushed me to question society and its mediocrity. Paulo Coelho. I first read the alchemist out of jealousy (You see the person I was in love with then, gave it to me and told me his girlfriend was reading it or had read it) I wanted to find out what sort of person she was through that book and foolishly thought maybe after reading it my frame of thinking might become just like hers and maybe then, I’d have something to offer that man again. So I read it fervently, absorbing every word, soaking in the pictures and creating my own version in film form as I went along. My life and frame of mind did change alright after I finished reading the book but not for the reasons for which I read the book in the first place. For some unexplainable reason, there was this passion in me that refused to die every time I picked up the book. I kept it by my bedside for days. Not sure how to come to terms with the passion in me. No, Lord! it was not a passion for intimacy. It was much deeper than that. It was a constant thirst at the pit of my stomach and a fire that made my eyes light up when I looked in the mirror. And like the film “The Secret” tries to explain by way of some strange metaphysics, I began to attract more of Coelho’s books. I’d walk past a shop and there! Paulo Coelho’s “Eleven Seconds” or Paulo Coelho’s “The Devil and Miss Pyrm”. These books or rather the author haunted me on every turn. Screaming that I picked them up. Before I knew it I was reading others like Don Miguel Ruiz and listening to tapes i never knew existed. The forces were pulling me, then there was a Shaman friend, a walk in the woods, a dance to strange music, some films I’d under normal circumstances not see or even dare to look up. My passion was being stoked and it seemed just by being, it attracted more of that. In that period, I questioned everything. Even you God! I asked who/what are you and where you were. I don’t suppose I got my answers as my mind would have expected but my heart did come to comprehend you in the end. I think my mind needs a little tweaking in order to catch up with my heart in that respect though. Any way where was I? O yes! The saga of the Paulo Coelho books right? Ok so I bought all the books I could find and read, and re-read as often as I could. I had the books and yet got them on audible kindle too. Ridiculous and redundant really. I have no explanations why. In the process, life happened, I moved house, fell in love(though unrequited), graduated, moved house again, created a business, moved house again, and now I am here. With absolutely no idea what I am doing or where I am going. In the last three months, I had come to feel completely unsatisfied, no vision and no zest to move on to anything. Much like a stand still point with no roads or directions at all. I was tired and I was tired of being tired. I thought constantly of how so boring and empty my life was that I began to attract exactly that. I sat around so melancholic that my pen had ink but would’t write. And when I did, it was usually garbage. So I went back to work. I thought the pharmacy will help bring back some fire into my dead heart. I couldn’t wait to stories of patients, the occasional unsatisfied customer who may scream at me instead of their insurance, little polite conversations with co-workers and the very rare flirting with others may awaken the deadness. I went to work in this cute little town where the patients where polite. They said please and thank you and smiled constantly. More than half were on express pay and carried on as though life was this grand piano staccato. In short, I thought wrong! All the things I thought would happen are happening and I still feel dead inside. And the apparent jolly in the neighborhood only weighed me down more :-(

Dear God, I found myself re-reading another of Coelho’s books three weeks ago and that’s when it hit me! “THE ACOMODADOR HAD COME”! Thats what is happening to me….. Coelho explains that the acomodador is the giving up point. According to ancient mexican history, the acomodador is the even in a person’s life is responsible for his/her failing to progress. A trauma, failure in business, disappointment in a person and or thing, even a victory could make us cowards and bring us to a stand still. No progress or satisfaction whatsoever. It will be as though someone pulled the hand brakes on your life and you suddenly stopped living. It is said that, the Shamans of yesteryear, as part of revealing their hidden powers, first must free himself of the “giving-up” point or the acomodador. To do so, he must first review his whole life and find out where it occurred. Wow!!!

It was like a blow to the rear end of my abdomen when I read this! It jumped out at me from pages I had read three times already. I mean how did I miss this one? I could have done something and I’d probably be fine by now. I was mad at me for a while in the train. turning over and over the same leaflet in the book trying to grasp why I had missed it all those times I had read it. The pain in my heart had to come out in tears. I am sure the conductor thought I had issues which I of course did.

So dear God, in the vain of the shamans, I reckon I must review some events in my life if not all. Firstly to get acquainted with the acomodador. The acomodador is when I fell from my bicycle when I was little and never got on one again. It is when in 2007, I had an accident with the car I was driving and decided never to drive again. It is the point when I wanted to be a pathologist but flunked my biology class and instantly told myself I could never be a scientist of any calibre. I still ignorantly rave on about how I am terrible at math just because I couldn’t grasp the theories behind algebra. I mean I needed to understand logically why my chemistry teacher had short names for the nomenclature table and who? who made titration a universal theory and how exactly was it going to affect my life in the future?. My pendulum exercises in physics class was messy I couldn’t understand why my friends in class could have perfect graphs and I could not. I never strived to just be and learn in those years. The acomodador caught up with me fast enough every time I tried something new. I’d give up at the first rejection and or failure and run like hell. The very fascinating thing about this acomodador is I usually did very well at the beginning of a project/class/faith. You name it. Like in my first bicycle lessons, I had perfect balance and smooth paddling the first couple of times and I enjoyed it greatly. Then I had one fall, that gave me a little bruise and I never looked at a bicycle again. When I first found faith in the scripture union classes at boarding school, it was like I had discovered a new power! Believe it or not readers, I had the kind of faith that healed people!!! :-). I’d fast and pray and ask for something and it would happen. Just like that! Well until the acomodador showed its ugly head when my first prayer went unanswered. I gave-up instantly! Couldn’t bare to put my heart in it anymore. But somehow dear God, you found me and I had faith again…. well on and off these days errrrm actually more off these days than on.

The worst event and now that I think deeply about it, the most defining acomodador in my life would be the day I received the best documentary award at the Aniwa African film festival. I mean it was a victory no? There was cheers and congratulations and pictures etc. Then there was the call to my daddy with the news, then there was the media prints etc. A major turn in my life anyone would imagine right? I was truly happy for a moment there. Then it happened….. the acomodor set to work because for some reason, I felt I didn’t deserve the ward. Ok so my crew members may have deserved it. They had worked hard after all. But me….. me!!! I secretly felt like a fraud. Mainly because to me, the film everyone was raving about is the film I had in mind. The pictures were dull, the interviews seemed forced…. the work looked shabby and yet here I was holding plaques that said “job well done”…. Really? I was unsatisfied! I suspect this is when the story of my life really began. It was in this moment that I allowed the acomodador to lay down the rules for my dreams. This is where it began, and as I saw the picture of my BFA graduation proudly displayed in the family living room, I thought to myself “They think you have arrived Baraka” But have you? Do they know what a fraud you really are? Presenting some half ***ed shoddy work and allowing them to appreciate it. I couldn’t run fast enough to get another degree to try to prove a point when the chance availed itself. It’s not like I was going to stay and do much. After all, being labeled “a Rawlings propagandist” wasn’t going to do much anyhow. So off I took to America where all things seem possible to the normal unsullied eye. I got what I came for, and I am just now realizing the acomodador has unfailingly arrived again. She’s telling me I have nothing to offer. She says I am done for and in over my head with all the dreams/visions/decision/and apparent mistakes.

Dear God, I have let her win all my life and I will be damned if she wins this time around. I was a little mad at you for making me go through life like this. Not realizing the presence of the acomodador and how she has beaten me once too often. But I have reconciled myself to the idea that this is the moment destiny chose to uncover her face. So I wandered about in my empty apartment for hours raking my brains trying to remember events that had the acomodador in my life so as to free myself. I walked in the freezing cold for close to an hour and suddenly like a dam that had been unhooked, my memories came flooding in. It is when i rush back home, made a cup of cocoa and a sandwich, sat behind the computer an began to type furiously away. I do remember that after I had read the “Witch of Portobello’ I prayed incessantly for a mentor/teacher. Somebody I could learn from and if arrogance will permit me, maybe even teach sometimes. I prayed so hard that I began looking for my teacher in all my friends both old and new. I did not know that you had answered that prayer even before I began reading that book. I thank you for the acomodador for without her, I would never have come to this new low point in my life. I bless the acomodador utterly gross as it may seem. I accept her and recognize her role in my life. For in blessing and accepting her I set myself free of her. The one thing that we all refuse to accept is the one thing that will keep recurring. Because we devout so much passion to disliking it that, that energy filled with passion attracts more of the same it. I call the acomodador a she because I have decided to give her a name/face. An identity if you will. For by doing so, I can recognize her she appears again for indeed, she will appear again. Only this time she will go down alone. The archery says that no shot can ever be repeated, and there is no point trying to learn from good or bad shots. What matters is shooting a million times until we have freed ourselves of hitting the target and have become the arrow, bow, and target. In this vain, I take nothing from my past and my future. For Now I am learning how to be arrow, bow and target and I know with time you will guide my movements not when I want to, but when you believe the right moment has come.

Your Ever Writing daughter

ZoeBaraka

THE HUGE SIGN ON MY FOREHEAD……. OR IS IT?

Dear God,

Its been ages. How have you been? I am not sure how I feel right now …. no wait I do. I feel crappy. Its been a string of those days when I am alone and afraid. Confused and not sure who or what I am. Too many questions left unanswered and I am constantly in the mood for tears. I know I should be praising you now, giving you thanks for how far you have brought me, and  the whole shebang of gratefulness. Believe me father I am grateful its just I am having a hard time feeling grateful right now. I am having a hard time believing you are near me and love me unconditionally.

Dear God, Lately I wake feeling empty with no desire to crawl out of bed. I mean see how long it took me to finally write this post? It’s as if someone reached into my veins, sucked out the blood, and left my bones struggling to rub against each other. I am weak and tired and don’t want to pretend I want to try. See my smile faded and when I look in the mirror I can’t recognize the woman staring back at me. She looks different, pale, worn out, frail, tired and the bags around her eyes seem to be telling a story I can’t quiet grasp. She is distant and I don’t remember living inside her. Remember when I asked her what happened to her? She replied indifferently “life I guess”. It feels like an exponential existence where by body and my mind are living different lives. O please don’t even ask what part my heart plays in this tango ….. for she is dead!!!.

Dear God, I am writing to complain. Yes I said it. COMPLAIN, CRY, KICK AND FROWN. I know anyone reading this must be looking down their nose at me right now. Wondering what happened to the bubbly, full of life, tongue lashing woman who used to be Baraka. Those who believe in science may even daresay I am under a lot of stress or worst yet depressed. Who knows maybe they are I right. The “spiritus sanctus” ones will say I lost my spirit or I gave up, became weak, lost my faith or worst yet “God is punishing me” :-)…… Hilarious. Dear God, lately I get excited about a project for a few days and I spend months in the sinking boat flabbergasted as to what happened to the apparent exhilaration I had before. I lose all enthusiasm and the weariness seem to be in an abyss that wont end. A never-ending questioning of “why mes” and “how come”. In short half of the time I feel lost. Always searching…. always wanting more…. to do more , say more…. give more, receive more….. Never at peace. Every now and then, I find something that occupies me and I think I am happy…. honestly father in those times the euphoria is at an all time high. Well until the next wind of doubt blows and I plunge into months of uncertainty and inadequacy.

Dear God, two days ago, I was weighed down with the idea of being alone. Almost as though someone wrote a huge sign in bold letters “DO NOT GET CLOSE-EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL BUT NOT MEANT FOR RELATIONSHIP” on my forehead. As I contemplated my current situation and the fact that if I was a guy, I’d date me, my brother from another mother called – just when I really needed to hear from someone close (Beats me how he always gets the timing right). Anyway I was slumped at my reading desk after work completely soaked in a hyperventilation tears when his call came through. I picked up and said a calm hello as I struggled to control my voice and sound normal. But naaah!!….. nothing gets past this guy. He proceeded to make me laugh and for a split second, I even felt pretty good about my life. What I couldn’t seem to get past myself was when he explained why I seemed to be in a state of aloneness. See I was telling him how hard it is to find a person(clarifying-man) who stuck around for the long haul. According to him, I am an intimidation. Way too intelligent, funny, nice…. wayyyyyy to nice, beautiful, humble and mature. So the question is, “Is something wrong with these qualities?”. I mean isn’t that what most men say or at least pretend they want? Have I somehow become too much? His answer was no. No I have not become too much its just most women will put up with a lot of baggage these days just to be with a man and the way he sees it, I am not one of those women. I asked him if he thought I should maybe tune it down a bit and not me so much me anymore….. Apparently, doing that will only make it worst. OMG!!! I am stuck in a conflict that contradicts itself. I don’t know where that man is but according to Felix, there is someone out there ready to live with “my qualities” or “social deformities”.

Well, my “bruvs” talk shop did nothing to assuage the heavy feeling in my chest the next morning. How is it that all the prayers on my knees seem to go unanswered? How is it that I am the one person everyone says they are proud of and expect even bigger things from yet, this same one person doesn’t seem to be “cutting it”. How is it that all the really nice men in my life leave and never look back? Is there something every girl knows that I don’t? some kind of cosmic secret that people get to find out only when they are in a certain state? if so, how do I find it? Hmmmn. By this time I was close to tears but I was so tired of crying I figured hey, why not call the bestie? She always knew how to make me feel better. I am not sure where the tears came rushing from when Phil picked up the phone. It must have been the sound of her voice and the fact that I really wished she was here with me. Anyway I cried a river as I told her what was going on. The feeling of stagnation, the progress that is no progress at all, and of course I told her my theory of the huge sign I think is on my forehead. As usual, she was real and down to earth. Bottom line, there is no huge sign on my forehead or anywhere else for that matter. She tells me half of what Felix said the previous day and then some but I feel nothing…… nada! zilch! I am empty. I have given up at this point cos nothing makes sense anymore. At this point, it’s a safe bet that Phil is crying on the other end of the phone. She tells me God loves me no matter what but I am sick of hearing it. She tells me she loves me too but it don’t make no difference either. Our conversation opens old wounds and new scars are scratched and at this point, if she were here we’d be hugging and laughing. I think that for her part, Phil can’t understand why I can’t be strong anymore. Why I don’t even want to try anymore. She sounds disappointed and a bit taken aback at my words of denunciation. My little sister says the same to me in a later convo when I tell her I think God hasn’t listened to me in years. In her own words “O Baraka! you of all people? Please don’t say that”.

Dear God, How does a person who recognizes your presence sink so low? What do I do when I can’t seem to enthusiasm with which the folks at church call your name and praise you? Why am I not able to get on my knees and pray no more. How do I look back and say father please help me? See I have been here before. I don’t know why I am here again. Could it be my spirit has gone asearching again? If she has what is she looking for? Where is all the weight coming from. As most people see it, I am luck than most. I should be proud of myself and “my accomplishments” I mean, I have been there done that no? So why do I feel so empty? Like a sounding brass of cymbal. I can’t even make noise anymore. It’s a sad day when I am too indifferent to listen to bishop Jakes eloquently teaching the power in your name. Don’t get me wrong folks. I recognize his power…. o yes indeed there is a presence out there some where and it definitely is more powerful than my own existence. This reminds me of a sufi prayer I came in a Paulo Coelho book. “O God, when I listen to the voices of animals, the sounds of trees, the murmurings of water, the singing of birds, the whistling of the wind, or the boom of thunder, I see in them evidence of Your unity; I feel that You are supreme power, omniscience, supreme knowledge, and supreme justice. I recognize You, O God, in the trials I am going through. May Your pleasure be my pleasure, too. May I be Your joy, the joy that a Father feels for a son. And may I think of You calmly and with determination, even when I find it hard to say I love You.” I am not a sufi but this prayer is also my prayer. 

Dear God, I don’t know where this search will take me. I have known my journeys to be long and hard and usually I feel like I will die trying….. But I also know that you never leave me out in the cold even if I seem t have fallen of the cliff. Somehow your divine presence never eludes me. I know my enthusiasm is lost in this journey and I have decided not to hide the fact that I am weak and small and fragile and loveless. And I still feel there’s a huge sign on my forehead that drives anybody who even thought of loving me away and I do not why….. I ask you o divine presence, Inspirer of my mind, consoler of my heart, healer of my spirit. Please let your presence lift me from the pits I find myself. That your words will flow as the sacred river, and your thought rise as a divine spring. May tender feelings waken sympathy in my heart teacher for you are forgiveness. Take away the clouds of doubt and fear and scatter them by your piercing glance. May all my ignorance vanish before your illuminating presence even as new hope is born in my heart. Please teach me for I am in want. May I not turn into my fears.

Dear God, I feel I am not done writing….. but I am tired and sleep lays heavy on my eyelids. So for now I will forgive you even as you forgive. I will succumb to the covers of my bed and wander off into dream land. Who knows……. It just might be a better day tomorrow.

Your Daughter

ZoeBaraka

THE “EXTINCT” WOMAN (OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP)

Dear God,

Its been a while. How have you been? I say a huge welcome back to me from the land heavy duty “should have been tired” . It has been a hectic couple of weeks but somehow I am not as tired as I should logically be. I see how your strength keeps me as always and I daresay, if it wasn’t for your inexplicable providence, I’d break down. Why just the other day, I was telling a friend that if I had to speak of all your goodness to me and all your grace over my life,and how you have planned each and every passing moment and time, I’d need a book, a book and a book…. :-). You have been amazing in all ways possible and even when I stray your grace is sufficient for me. So there is so much going on in my life right now and for some reason, I am not even afraid anymore. Lol I have had episodes of serious convos with your left handed brother Satan and I have often caught myself laughing uncontrollably because the calmness of my spirit overwhelms me. Shooooooooot!!!! Its as if, you took me through the last four turbulent years of my life just so I could reach to the point I am right now. A place where “our brother who art in darkness” aint able to play no games with my mind. Mainly because I have tried and tested you, and I see you are awesome in every way possible.

Well enough of the pleasantries yes? I am sure my readers know what I am on about plus know me, I could go on for pages just praising you :-)…. O well, What can I say, I JUST LOVE YOU……. 

Dear God, your “re-education of a philosophized christian woman” continues in my life. Wow!!! this proverbs 31 journey is awesome and I am loving all the creative and neat ways you have adopted to teach me with. Admittedly, I have not been as consistent and as committed as I should be but you lord, you never stopped drawing me to you. Even when I pretend you aint there, you patiently wait until I come running to you in the middle of a storm cry “father where are you” and like the father that you are you always say “I never left your side ever”…. Thank you for your steadfastness. Okay so today I will attempt to delve deeper into proverbs 31:13. This particular verse fascinates me and I really don’t know why. Hopefully I will get it by the time I am through writing this.

PROVERBS 31:13a

She seeketh wool and flax

First lets break this down like we just read this verse for the very first time. Wool, of course, is the wavy or curly undercoat of a sheep which can be woven into a warm garment or fabric.  It is one of the few inventions that has not undergone much re-inventions. I mean wool is wool and we wear wool sweaters or mittens to protect us from the cold to this day. Okay breaking down further folks….. :-) Flax was a fibrous plant used in spinning. I remember this process vividly from one of the old women in my village. I  don’t know how I am related to her or if I am at all but I recall the absolute patience with which she spun while she silently hummed to herself in one of the airy thatched rooms. The fibers can be drawn out and twisted into yarn or treated for the manufacture of linen.    In biblical times and I daresay even now, the most famous flax was found in Egypt. I mean….  there was no better linen than the “fine linen of Egypt.” Now watch this. Anyone ever wondered why the 7th plague was so terrible? This judgment involved hail stones mixed with fire. The hail stones “smote every herb of the field” (Exodus 9:25), totally destroying, among other things, the flax crop.  From flax can be made a variety of materials including coarse canvas, rugged sails for ships, thin delicate scarves etc. The godly woman “seeks” wool and flax, these two basic materials to use in making clothes and garments.  The term “seek” I think means that she “selects with care”  the best quality of wool and flax or “cares for” the wool and flax.  The word has this latter meaning in Deuteronomy 11:12–“A land which the LORD thy God careth for (seeks!).”   She carefully collects and gathers and cares for the wool and flax that she will use in making clothes for her household and perhaps for others as well. My God!!! gone are the life skills class days when I was in boarding school. Our teacher (Mrs. Williams) taught us how to make an apron, a table cloth, and I even made a skirt and blouse which I wore for a while. We didn’t care about where the material came from, but this woman in proverbs was so diligent, she cared so much, she hand picked the wool and flax!!! Of course, in modern times it has become increasing difficult to do this but I see this as a metaphoric statement than literal. It means women can work with their hands systematically and thoughtfully. I read somewhere that about 90 percent of African women are unemployed, yet where ever you go in Africa, you’d see a small stall with onions, and tomatoes and others carry pans of food and selling. These women are working every day yet the statistics do not account for them because …. well it is not a “blue color” job. Thus the few “fortunate blue color job” ladies, pretend they are men, or usurp the position of men by refusing to “seek” their wool and their flax……

PROVERBS 31:13b

And worketh willingly with her hands

Okay folks, lets break it down shall we?…… The word “willingly” is from the word meaning “delight, pleasure.” She takes great delight in her work.  Rather than being a laborious and boring chore, it is pleasant and enjoyable.  This tells me that toil need not be tedious. It can be a tremendous source of pleasure and satisfaction. In our modern, computerized, electronic, entertainment-saturated society we have lost the art of working with our hands.  Most of us women don’t delight in making clothes with our hands. Instead, we’d rather go shopping for clothes at the mall which in the grand scheme of things actually affects the family budget.  O we don lost the ability to learn from our mothers how to sew and knit and crochet and mend. Suffice to say many children are too busy watching television or playing computer games to give two hoots about sewing.  Unfortunately most mothers do not even know how to do these things and could not teach their children even if they wanted to. Well my mother never taught me how to do them either, leaving me at the mercy of boarding school lol. But I do recall her making me mend my clothes when they we torn and such instead of just buying a new one. And believe me it wasn’t because she couldn’t afford to buy me new clothes and at the time I thought her cruel and cold but now I know better. Admittedly, there are times when it may be more economical, in both time and money, to wisely shop for bargains than to purchase patterns, material, zippers, etc.  The crust of the issue is a wise woman uses her time and individual resources in the best way she can. O how I wish for a movement of women who can say, I see technology, it is a good thing but it will not become me and my family. Coming from me – “A technology sold girl’ it is a huge thing. But over time I have learnt to let them go….. lol ask my metro PCS phone. There were times when she would make is light a fire on a coal pot instead of just using the gas and we’d be so mad at her. It was a hard business fanning the charcoal and trying to bring it to sizzling fire. I am not sure what mama’s motives where but I am sure I learnt a thing or two about patience just by fanning the coal pot.

Dear God, this is how far your grace has permitted me to read into this verse and I am glad you brought me through this journey. I now know why it fascinates me. It brings back some fond memories of my childhood and growing up. It was fun racing down memory lane and I did have a good chuckle while I wrote this. It makes me feel like I too can tell stories to my children that will start with “when I was growing up” – Like my parents used to say. May time never stand still even as we strive to be better women. And may your presence never leave us even as we learn from and teach other. May posterity always find us worthy. Most importantly, may the spirit of entrepreneurship find us.

Your Daughter

ZoeBaraka

THE “EXTINCT” WOMAN (OF CONSISTENCY)

Dear God,

How have you been? Its been a few days. I cannot thank you enough for how you have carried me the past few weeks. There is nothing on my mind that you cannot fix father. You have proven worthy and if you do nothing more for me God, I am convinced you have done more than enough already. Indeed there are a hundred and one things I can count my blessings for. For one thing, you still find me worthy to be counted among the living even when my sins lay bare before you. I see how your unconditional love follows me where ever I go. May your name be praised always. God, you know how I woke up this morning – My dreams weighed me down, No father they haunted me. I couldn’t understand them. I had questions that needed answers and I got none. Worry creased my forehead and tears flowed freely and just before church service I asked “God please, let today’s message be for me” “Please send me an answer through the man of God” And O boy!!! did I get one! You showed up in a big way and all you said was “Be still”…. Do nothing” … Rest in peace”…. I stopped short and my heart gave way to fresh tears of relieve for then I knew that indeed you listen when I pray. THANK YOU AWESOME GOD.

Dear God, before I start today’s writing, I must take time to acknowledge a friend. Christian Maiullo – Your enthusiasm is like a breath of fresh air. Every now and then a writer gets  to find a friend like you who takes time to read and ask questions and engage in pure conversation of minds. Your easy “vain” ways are a delight and I am glad you are my friend. I know you are reading :-) . Stay your happy self always. In this light, I thank all my readers. Those I know and them that just pass through every once in a while. I am grateful that you find my words readable :-). Namaste!!!

Dear God, seeing as how you have put me on a path of writing this logos of proverbs 31,  I formally ask you today, please give me wisdom to be more like her every day. Please give me grace to deal as wisely and as easily as the rare find of the proverbs 31 woman. And as always father, only when I am ready should you give me someone else’s heart to keep. In the mean time, teach me patience to sit under your tutelage always. Not just hear you but listen, not just see, but perceive and discern. Not just feel, but be intuitive and in tune to you and to my surroundings. Dear God, O that you will only not provide but protect the gift which you so loving give. Teach me how to sow in the right fields, order my steps that I may not step on a minefield. And when all is said and done, let them read in my eulogy that “she died, whiles living”. Today, I shall continue with proverbs 31:12. And as usual, I will break it down into two part. – I must acknowledge here,  the Middletown Bible church for their posting on the virtuous woman. It has been a tremendous well of research and borrowing for this logos. May every woman that reads and indeed every man take away from it even as you have purposed.

PROVERBS 31:12a

She will do him good, and not evil

Ok Lawd!!! help me break it down as I have read. Now folks we will take this slow and make it digest little by little. See this proverbs 31 woman is so smooth, her husband can safely trust in her because he does not need to worry about her being a liability in any form (v. 11) and because he knows that she will do him only good, and not evil.  “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor from the LORD” (Prov. 18:22).  Of course, the man must find the right kind of wife. For example, Job’s wife was a curse who only added to his trials (Job 2:9-10). When her husband found himself in trouble, she had no word of encourage for him nor for herself. In fact it strikes me as odd that after she had lost all her 10 children to death, she thought of no one but herself. She has a loose tongue that leads her to destruction when she says to her husband “curse God and die” My God ladies, do we even realize what power we have in our tongues and how we wield. O may we find grace to bridle our tongues and know what to say only when we need to say it. Some men find “a crown to their head” while others find “rottenness to their bones” (Prov. 12:4).  One of the reasons Proverbs 31:10-31 was written, no doubt, was to help guide men in finding the right kind of wife. [Some see Proverbs 31:10-31 as a continuation of what King Lemuel’s mother taught him (Proverbs 31:1-9), concluding with this description of an ideal wife for her royal son.] This tells me all men are royal and kings in their own rights if they find the right queen. Indeed it goes without saying that all women are queens in their own right if they find the right king.  The key to finding the right woman, is to look to the Lord in prayer and steadfast trust, so that God Himself might be the One who finds her.  Unfortunately, these days most men choose based on out ward appearance and seeming beauty. I posed a question in the pre-qual concerning the type of woman men would want. A friend said, he’d want an intellectual woman. He is married to one and yet, he claims he is not happy!!! Interesting thing this womanhood thing.

Now watch this – The verb “will do” is of interest.  It is not the common Hebrew verb for “do” as in action.  It means to deal out, to deal fully, to deal bountifully.  At times it even approaches the meaning of “to reward, to pay back.”  See how this is used in the bible.  In 1 Samuel 24:17 David had just spared Saul’s life even though he easily could have killed him.  Saul’s response:  “Thou art more righteous than I; for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.”   Saul deserved evil but David dealt with him in a good way.  Saul dished out evil to David but David dished out good to Saul who actually deserved evil.  In Genesis 50:15,17 the term is used of Joseph’s guilty brothers who remembered what they had done to Joseph:  “Joseph…will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him….So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil.”  They dealt out and dished out evil to Joseph but he did not pay them back in the same way.  Joseph saw God’s good and sovereign hand in it all (Gen. 50:20).  This verb is also used of the LORD who deals  bountifully with his servants. Read Psalm 13:6; 116:7; 119:17; 142:7 when you find the time. The virtuous woman deals out to her husband that which is good.  She dishes out to him and serves him that which is good and not evil.  She wants only God’s highest and best for him.   Her life and her deeds are a constant benefit and blessing to her husband. I am not sure if its why there is so much divorce these days. There is no desire to desire only the best for the other. Women are clawing and gleaning for the corner office, more money, more power, more control, more manipulation at the peril of their rightful stewardship on earth. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying women shouldn’t have dreams, and want to be more. I am saying we have no business pretending to rub shoulders with men. It don’t mean we are cowards, It don’t mean we are not “intellectual” enough. It don’t mean we don’t know who we are. In fact, it means we know exactly who and what we are. It means that we are comfortable in our skins and wisdom adorns us. Thus instead of rubbing shoulders with our husbands, we must learn to take of the cloak of “high powered woman” when we get home from work and just be wives. For that is why we got married in the first place. As a friend of mine puts it – “I did not get married to cook my own dinner” Lol, indeed he didn’t.

PROVERBS 32:12b

All the days of her life

The woman, in doing good to her husband is consistent.  She doesn’t serve him that which is good one day and that which is evil the next day.  Her husband can count on her to do him good and to be a blessing to him.  He can count on her to do this today, five days from now, one year from now, ten years from now, and all the days of her life.  She is not up and down, hot and cold.  Her godliness is marked with consistency. O granted she may have her mood swings every now and then. She may not feel like getting up and playing wife some of the time. She may need her alone time occasionally and may need her quiet more than most. But she is consistent. She is not a sacrificial wife. She is just a giving wife. O ya’ll are not hearing me. She is not sacrificial…… she is giving, consistently, steadfastly, gladly. I am not even going to go into the theory of giving, and sacrifice because, once I start, its gon take us another thousand words to end this here logos. But in due course, may God’s grace find me to write on that topic. So gentlemen, kings, our princes and warriors, watchers of our domain and rulers of all you survey…. Please make notes. I know most of you have dealt with so many inconsistent women, disingenuous women, manipulative women, and those that are just plain ignorant that, when you find the right one, you don’t even know it cos the decibel frequencies in your ears are permanently tune into “alert -incoming disingenuous woman” (robotic voice). Theres good folk out there people – When you find him/her, you will know because they will seek to do you no harm all their lives. Dear God, as you well know, this here daughter of yours fears neither death nor pain. What I fear is a cage so please don’t put me in one. Teach me how to love right and serve right. I pray thee, don’t get me stuck with the wrong person. MAKTUB!

Your Daughter,

Zoebaraka

THE “EXTINCT” WOMAN ( OF TRUST)

Dear God,

Its me again. :-) Its your lil gal lord. The one who used to cry and kick and cajole and question and coax and throw tantrums like a spoilt brat and sulk as though your beautiful universe owed her something. You remember me don’t you? Of course you do ….. The voice of the little one wailing at night like the weeping prophetess. Hijacking the phone lines of heaven like a hostage situation where the negotiator has no hope of bringing down the door. Well I hope you are well. I need to say thank you for your grace over my life for I wail no more. I wake up every morning with a new song in my heart and just like you said of the latter days, I dream dreams and see visions. O all glory to you father for my joy knows no boundaries and your blessings abound in heights and circles. May your name be praised always for you have looked favorably upon your hand maid :-)

Dear God, you know it goes without saying that you are a force to reckon with when you get going. I see you will not let me rest until I learn all you need me to learn from the proverbs 31 woman. Even more you will not let me have peace until I write it all out for all to read and learn as you teach me. Anyway as your grace has provided so will I write. And as much understanding you have bestowed on me so will I speak. I see you lord… You awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome God!!! :-). Ok now I will continue with your teaching shall I?

So last week you taught me about the 10th verse of proverbs 31 and how she is rare like a ruby. You told me that any man that found a virtuous woman was a lucky man for virtue meant strength and with it came honor. Today, you have found me worthy to teach me and my readers about the 11th verse. I am on edge father. Like a little child hopping up and down on her bed like i always do when I am happy. I am excited because I am sitting under your tutelage once more and I can’t find words to explain this leap in my heart. I know I am writing about virtue now but can I please take a moment to praise you some more. Its just in my heart Jehovah shammah. You O God are the one who is and is to come. The heavens is your throne and the earth is your foot stool. You are not quick to throw a stone daddy but when you do, just like David’s sling you never miss. Alpa and omega. Beginning and the end. You can stand against you? You wonder working omnipotent, omni present God. This whole universe is yours and all that is in it. Ooooo how can I stop praising? Whew lord! You gots to hold me now :-) else I can’t write this teaching no more :-)….. Aaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!! You live lord! You reign lord. Forever and ever lord… Glory glory glory glory glory glory glory all glory to you!!!!! Okay I will try to stay calm for at least 20 minutes so I can write this overflow of wisdom you pour on us your humble women of honor. Ayt readers today, just like the first write up, I will break proverbs 31:11 into two parts;

PROVERBS 31:11a

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.

Hmmm father, as smeagul from the Lord of the Rings will say, this verse is a tricksy one. Sadly, most husbands I know today can’t say this of their wives.(and to be fair, their wives cannot trust them).  Being able to fully trust your marriage partner is one of the fundamental foundations of a strong God-honoring marriage. This brings to memory a friend of mine explaining to be a while ago that he’d want to marry a woman he can safely leave his home to without worrying about anything. He said, he needs to be able to trust that he can tell his business associates to “leave the contract at home with wifey” “she will know what to do” wow!!! Also, again forgive me readers, I must back track to my mother’s story. I indeed remember the days when my dad would go to work or leave for a trip without so much as leaving a penny for house keeping. But when he came home, there was always food on the table, bills paid, and children still in school with fees paid. His heart was fully at rest because “his wife could handle what he either forgot to handle, or what he simply couldn’t afford to handle at the time. I must take some time here to acknowledge my mum here on this blogosphere for almost single handedly putting up 2 houses when her husband was away chasing his other dreams. See during this time, I want to believe that my father completely trusted her to call the shots although I also remember instances where she would say “I must wait for dada to make this decision”. Now don’t get me wrong folks, I believe their marriage had its own problems like any other. The question though is how is it, that most African unions are able to stand for decades even with the apparent issues? …. The women humbled themselves, and the men fully trusted!!!. See the term “husband” is the common word for husband in the Old Testament. It also means “lord” “sire” “king” or “owner.” Anyone ever wonder why men are the husbands and not the other way round?

PROVERBS 31:11b

So that he shall have no need of spoil

“No need” is the very same expression found in Psalm 23:1–“I shall not want.”  It means to be in need, to be lacking. Both here and in Psalm 23:1 it is used with the negative:  to not be in need, to not be lacking.  If the LORD is my Shepherd, then I shall not be in need because He will supply all my needs.  To reword this for proverbs 31, it will go like this: “If I have a godly wife, I shall not be in need of spoil”.

Now watch this folks – The word “spoil” means “plunder, booty, spoil.”  It is often used of booty obtained following a battle as the victorious soldiers would take anything valuable from their defeated foes and thus would gain riches from battle. Here in Proverbs 31:11 the word carries the secondary meaning of “gain.” “He shall have no need of gain” because his wife is a tremendous benefit to the family, even financially.  She is not a financial liability.  She manages the home so well and she is so industrious and productive that her efforts result in great gain and even profit. This also takes me down memory lane when my mother started her small business by selling iced water (My Ghanaian readers know what this means)… And yea yours truly carried some ice chests on her head yelling “iiiiiicccce waterrrrrr” on some vacation days. Lol that woman took no prisoners!!! It didn’t matter you were her “krachi, nose in book always daughter”. And I remember the fruit of her first profit was used to fix the louvres of the first house they were building as a surprise for her husband. I’d like to assume that this may have been the beginning of his journey of trust in her….

Sadly today some wives are so slothful and careless that they cause the family to suffer great financial loss.  They go on shopping sprees with friends and if they are westernized, incur immense credit card debt or waste countless hours each week engaged in unproductive activities (television, gossiping on the phone etc.).  How can her husband safely trust in her? After she has finished destroying the family budget, he has great need of gain considering all that she has lost!  Of course, the problem of wasteful spending and unproductive activities is not limited to women only.  Men are at fault as well but since we are just discussing women and their glorious role, we will stick to the topic. Check out the beautiful Abigail (Nabal the carmelite’s wife) in the book of samuel. See how deftly she plans to save her husband and her household although she hard a careless husband who had no respect for the future. O that all who read this will find grace to be who they are called to be.

Dear God, once again thank you for granting me understanding. I can’t wait for your revelation on verse 12 for just reading it gives me jitters. As always father, make me the woman I called to me. The wind, fire, water and earth could not break me…. only you could and I will remain constantly under your tutelage.

Your daughter

ZoeBaraka

THE “EXTINCT” WOMAN – (PREQUAL)

Dear God,

How have you been? I haven’t written to you in a couple of months and yet, I feel our connection getting stronger every day. I see you are well because every morning I see a new kind of sunshine in the horizon and I see a different face with a unique smile. You are awesome like that and I just want to let you know how much I LOVE YOU. Thank you for your grace and for your calling on my life. Its been a long long long journey and I am grateful for each storm and each set back and each betrayal…. mostly I am grateful because I see the ship that set sail three years ago on a troubled heart and wondering spirit mooring her way to a safe anchor and its all thanks to your skillful maneuvering. You are and awesome God. Now more than ever I see …. No! I know that you never start something if you will not finish it. Now more than ever I trust you completely and unashamedly with all of my heart.

Dear God, The last three months I daresay started the genesis of the real work you have called upon my life. I have been whisked away from my comfort zone within the span of a week, gone from not knowing exactly what my next move will be until I actually make it with all your help. Indeed, you took me back to where I first believed. With nothing in my hand but a few scraps and nothing in my heart but a willingness to hold on no matter what. In this period I have skinned out the form my book will take, I have birthed a business, and now recently you have ministered to me concerning womanhood and marriage using the proverbs 31 woman. I see how you work now father. For ever since you put this woman on my heart, every message I listen to, every book I read, most conversations I have and yes most dreams I have center around her. You have engulfed me with her and immersed me with her ministry. And now I dare take the baby steps I so fearfully take because I still feel I am not ready. Albeit I have written on this woman half my life if not all of it. So today I will make the first move by just explaining a bit about what you have ministered to me concerning the union of marriage and also I will start the revelation of proverbs 31:10-31. O thank you Jesus for your power to reveal and your power to save.

Dear God, You have systematically yet gently taught me that the reason why many marriages fail especially when women are the “bread winners” is that they (women) don’t consider the fact that they have a job and the fact they are able to provide for their families, husbands included a blessing but rather a sacrifice. Here I must use my mother as a point of reference as you have done with me these past few weeks. It seems to me that you have been replaying my life and teaching me through it. Thank you for that. But moving on, My siblings and I knew that her home business earned much more than daddy brought home at the end of the month, but she never let us in on it until we figured it out for ourselves when we got older. See, when daddy was away and we would ask for something, I remember vividly how she would say “Lets wait till daddy comes home” Even when we knew that not only the decision as to weather we will get what we had asked for but also the resource to get eventually came from her. Dear God, You told me hear that “She always let him have is manhood” WOW!!!!

Dear God, Its amazing how the bible teaches that women be submissive to their husbands but tells the husbands to love their wives. See its not a quid pro quo situation here. Its a duty calling here. So your husband may not be as loving as you’d want but you can still be submissive and vice-versa. Ha! Thank you God for this revelation for you are all wise and all knowing. Not that women don’t need respect you said, but they need love more and not that men don’t need love but they operate better when they are respected in all areas. Now as you showed me, its not that the woman goes about saying “yes sir master” to her husband even if his council is foolish at a given time, but that she is wise enough to know how and where to disagree with him. Now the beauty of this verse paul wrote about submission and love is that love dovetails into submission and vice -versa. See you told me in the quiet of the morning that women who really want to get married must check out this proverbs 31 woman. Now before I even start to break this amazing verse down, Let me clarify here and now ladies and gentlemen. This proverbs 31 woman was written for women of all cultures and backgrounds. All colors, shapes and sizes. Social standing, continental variations. Whatever your standing in life is woman! you are called to submit to your husband for all the days of your life! We as women will learn our husbands cultures, cook his meals, make and warm his bed, was his feet adore him no matter what and yes even if we considered ourselves women of the 21st century. O O O Now I can feel a million ladies raising their voices, snapping their fingers, bobbing their heads and rolling their eyes at me. Well now before you all do that wait and listen to my explanations lol. But there are those who believe that the proverbs 31 woman is extinct. I say hell no!!! she is alive today and if you look carefully, you will find her….. MAKTUB!!!

Dear God , now I humbly ask that you gave me grace to go through these 22 verses in writing as you have given me in thought. Ok ladies, we gon take these verses apart word for word. And thus today, I will share with you for proverbs 31-10. Some of these I got after research from bible commentary and online searches. So I will put a disclaimer here that some of the writings are not my own (Lol deliver us from plagiarism). Also, there will be other bible verses to support what I write so we can all learn together.  Ok Father although this letter is being written to you, please give me wisdom to write to the woman of today…. :-)

Proverbs 31:10a

Who can find a virtuous woman?

The first part of verse 10 literally reads, “Who can find a woman of strength?”   The term “virtuous” is from a noun meaning strength, efficiency, ability.  Here it refers to strength of character, that is, moral strength and firmness. In Exodus 18:21 we find the expression used of men.  Moses was to find “able men” or men of strength such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.  In light of this verse we can say that a virtuous man is one who fears God, loves truth and hates sin.  Moses was to look for and find such men, and the implication is that such men were not easy to find.  The expression is also used in 1 Kings 1:42 valiant man or man of strength. Thus a virtuous man is a man of great moral strength, in whom wickedness is not found.  He is a godly, God-fearing man.  So also, the virtuous woman is a God-fearing woman–compare Proverbs 31:10 with 31:30.

The Old Testament uses this expression of a virtuous woman in two other places.  In Ruth 3:11 it is used of Ruth.  Everyone in the city knew that she was a virtuous woman!  When a woman has strength of character, then others will take note and recognize this.  It will be very obvious because it is so unusual.  People are usually so morally weak and so anemic in character, that when a man or woman of strength shows up it is quite evident to all.   The other place the  term is used is in Proverbs 12:4 where we learn that a virtuous woman does not make her husband ashamed.

Proverbs 31:10b

For her price is far above rubies.

She is far more valuable and worth far more than rubies.  The Hebrew term for “rubies” may not refer to rubies, but may refer to pink pearls or red coral. A pink pearl which was found in a mollusk in the Red Sea was considered of great value to the ancients.  It is difficult to know exactly which stone or pearl this Hebrew word referred to, but its usage in the Old Testament tells us two things for sure:  1)  It was very valuable – Proverbs 20:15 and Job 28:1 and  2)  It was reddish in color Lamentations 4:7–“ruddy”.

Dear God, Who can find a virtuous woman?  She is like a rare gem.  Precious stones are precious and costly because they are so rare. If you could go out along the roadside and collect hundreds of rubies anytime you wanted to, then they would not be worth much.  It is the rare, hard to find gems that are worth so much.  Also, for some reason Father, you made most common stones unattractive; yet you made most rare stones very beautiful and brilliant and lustrous.  The virtuous woman is a beautiful woman, not necessarily outwardly, but certainly inwardly Prov. 31:30  She is not only a rare gem but a beautiful gem.

Ok lads, I know you must be feeling left out on this “womanhood expedition” But wait, you are here somewhere for with you guys, how can we know we are intriguing species huh? Ok so we already know that a godly woman is rare and very hard to find.  The same thing could be said about the godly man.  Number one on the endangered species list is the Homo sapiens pious (Latin for holy human beings). Ha! Mercy, Father; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men” (Psalm 12:1).   There are hardly any such creatures around, and the few that do exist will eventually die out!  May God in His infinite grace and mercy be pleased to raise up godly men and women in these difficult and trying days.  Well so in my quest to try to figure out how “men of the world” see women, I asked a few colleagues (and I am still asking as many as I can find) this question: “What would you most value in a woman you’d marry? A. Knowledgeable, B. Out ward beauty, C. Strength of character?” The trick though was they had to choose just one. One of the most interesting answers I got was. ” I’d want for her to work her way and earn it. I wouldn’t want to do her life for her as I am busy doing mine!!! My God do you hear this ladies?

So in this opening verse we have learned that the godly woman is very hard to find.  She is more valuable than a rare gem.  She has an inner beauty and a strength of character and a moral firmness that is lacking in the vast majority of women, even believing women. Hitting the nail right on the head, you can’t afford to be a liability. Now check this, As you will find out in the next few letters I will write to God, this Proverbs 31 woman is into everything – Business, housekeeping, lovemaking, respectability, royalty etc. This gal is a fox: She is smart, dope, pretty, smooth as ice, cool like cool aid, she’s got gumption on high alert and yet she is humble in all possible ways. Fancy why the book of proverbs ends with these verses on womanhood?

Well Dear God, as I wrote all these, you have quietly also preached to me that a woman can and must have dreams. She however, aligns her dreams to that of her husband and eventually both dreams run concurrently and parallel…. I know I have been kicking a and running away from writing this for a while. Forgive me father. I guess the reason why I feared I wasn’t “mature” enough to be the vessel carrying this load is that “How can I write about something I have no experience of? Maybe a married woman will do much better than me in this venture cos to me it is easier said than done or better still it is easier written than done. But seeing as how you wouldn’t let me escape even in my sleep, I have written and I pray O father that you teach me how to turn this knowledge into wisdom and may all women and indeed men alike who read this find grace to heed what you are trying to say. 

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