WHAT DO YOU CALL YOURSELF?!

I mean I have to give my parents the proper credit they deserve. They gave us all very God centred names. I mean you can hardly listen to an Igbo gospel song and not hear one of our names being used to edify God. That is how good our names are yeah. But it will interest you to know that I have not always rated my name like that. I have always known the meaning of the name but it did not really mean much to me. I was more upset at the fact that I did not have an English name. I had to deal with my teachers murdering the pronunciation of my name and I just thought my life would be a lot easier if I had a simple English name. It was not until I turned 17 that I started liking my native name. That was when even though I now had an English Confirmation name, I chose to be identified as ‘Ebubechukwu’. It stopped mattering to me how it was pronounced. I was proud of my name and as I kept getting more sense, I loved the name more because of the meaning. My name means God’s Glory. I say it everywhere now that I am evidence of God’s glory. If you have met me, you have touched an evidence of God’s glory. The names of my siblings equally carry such deep meanings. It is the intentionality of our parents for me.

I have said all of that to let you know that your name is important. The name you choose to call yourself means a lot. It is a symbol of your identity. Words are powerful. You have the power of life and death coming out of your mouth so you have to be really careful what you call yourself. What have you been calling yourself? What have you been letting the society and culture call you? What have you been tolerating unnecessarily? It is time to break free from the names people have called you and you have called yourself that is not really you. As far as I know, you are wonderfully and beautifully made. You are a masterpiece. Before you were even born, you were known by who matters most, God. You are special. Any name that does not recognise all these is not for you.

In Genesis 17, we see God change Abram’s name to Abraham. This comes after God covenants with him to make him the father of multitude of nations. Abram means ‘Exalted/Noble Father’. Abraham on the other hand means ‘Father of many/multitude‘. The name change is literally a confirmation of God’s covenant with Abraham.

In Genesis 35: 18 we see Rachel name her son Ben-oni (son of my sorrow) because she died as she had him. Jacob understanding the importance of names immediately named him ‘Benjamin’ meaning son of my right hand. This is coming from a father that had equally experienced a name change. In Genesis 32:28, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. Jacob means deceiver and we all know Jacob’s story of taking his brother’s birth right and blessing. But his new name was Israel which could mean ‘fighter of God’, ‘he who wrestles with God’, ‘God fights’ as a result of his encounter with God.

Interestingly, in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 we see the story of Jabez. His name means distress or pain because his birth was so painful. The name sounds like a killer. But do you know the special thing about Jabez? Though he may have called that my his mother, he knew better because he had God. Instead of being held down by the shackles of his name, he cried out to God and God granted his request. Part of his prayer was for God to expand his territory. So, he went from a man tagged as pain to a man preserved by God and successful. Thus, it does not matter what people may have called you. God gives a name change and a situation change. He will turn the situation around. Is there anything too hard for Him to do? The answer is NO. Do not even bother trying to think about it. So, you are worried about what you have called yourself and people have called you, bring it all to your Father and cry to Him. Then, watch Him turn it all around for your good. Rahhhh!

I cannot over-emphasise the fact that your name is super important and you must be careful what name you let yourself bear. So, I guess the question for you today is what do you call yourself? What do they call you?

Today is Tuesday and as you know, it is the day everything goes down at the Inspired tribe. If you are not already following the LJM Brand on Instagram, please why? Please follow @the_ljm_brand on Instagram and subscribe to the mailing list. (A little secret – love letters (bi-weekly emails) are going out today). You do not want to miss anything from this ministry of love. Do not say I have not done something good for you today.

In addition, Faith Talk with The Girls is happening today by 7pm. We will be talking more on identity. Please show up and get blessed.

YOUR GOD NATURE!!

All my life, I have heard how my baby sister (the last born) looks so much like me and even behaves like me. I haven’t always seen it but with time I have come to accept it and you will most likely find me calling her my ‘mini me’ here and there or ‘smallie’ lol. What has happened over time is that because she carries my image beautifully, I expect her to act like me in every way possible. So, when I hear that she likes things that I do not like or doesn’t like what I like, it startles me. How can my mini me not be like me?! One day, something similar happened and this time my thought process took a different dimension.

What if this is how God feels about us? God made us in His own image. Let that sink in! If your father is God, what does that make you? In essence, my name is actually Natalia Yahweh. Do you get it? Now ask yourself, do you reflect God? Do you act like somebody that has God as a father? Do you act like somebody that has the Prince of Peace as an elder brother? Do you act like someone that has the Holy Spirit as a birth certificate and best friend? What do your actions reflect?

We all have the ability to make a choice. This just reflects how beautiful God is and reflects that He indeed made us in His image. He could have created us to not have a choice and follow Him but what would be the fun in that relationship right? But now you have the ability to make a choice. Go through the Bible, look at what God did. See the miracles Jesus performed before handing you the baton and saying greater works will you do. Are the choices you are making in tandem with the set precedent? Or are you just blatantly in opposition of the identity you carry?

Of course, with my baby sister, we cannot be the exact same person. God made us all with our unique flavour. Emphasis on God made her and not me. But she does reflect me in certain things. You too have a God nature inside of you. This is why the Bible tells you not to be conformed to the culture of this world. If you focus on whose image you are created in, the God nature in you is bound to be amplified. Let the fact that you can do greater things sink in and choose to harness your God nature!

Me and My Mini Me (Interesting state)

Do not forget that today is Tuesday!

Stay blessed!

Lent Chat: WHAT AM I GIVING UP?!

As most of you already know, the lent season is upon us and it is that time of the year when we prepare ourselves for the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is usually characterised by praying and fasting. Generally, a solemn period of preparation. Fasting does not always have to be about food. I mean if you do not even eat on a regular basis, how would that be a fast yeah?

So, I started thinking of what to give up this year. I have done interesting things in the past. I have given up Instagram one time because I had an addiction of just scrolling through without actually paying attention to the content. I have given up alcohol another time and a bunch of other things over the years. This year, I was stuck. I could not give up Instagram again because well, I am generally barely on there as much and I am also required to post certain things weekly. So, I am trying my best to only open the app when I absolutely need to. I could not also say I am fasting off alcohol. There’s only one thing I really drink and I have not had it for weeks already and I am not likely to buy it anytime soon really.

So, what do I fast from? I decided that this time around, it might have to be intangible. So, how about I fast from things like anger and all kinds of negative emotions that I really should not have? How about I consciously try to display all the characteristics of love? The last few days have been interesting. It is as if the moment I decided that is what I will fast from, everything started working together to get me angry.
Last week, the internet at our home went off for two days with no valid explanation. That was two days of my work being affected. Two days of not being able to watch anything significant because I do not do DSTV a lot. Two days of restricted activity because my mobile network also decided to do me dirty. I was trying my possible best to remain calm but you see the internet company, they were so frustrating. They kept on giving flimsy replies and saying an engineer would come and fix it. As I speak to you today, I have not seen the engineer show up. But we thank God that by the end of the second day, the network was working again.

As if not having internet connection was not bad enough, we needed to get a drug from a pharmacy. It is not an over the counter drug. So, you do need a prescription. It is a drug we have bought in the past. We went with the new prescription and we were told that we need to bring the receipt of the last purchase we made before we can get the drug. It did not make sense to me. What does a previous purchase have to do with a new prescription from the Doctor? It was all shades of crazy and we had to dig up the old receipt and send it to them. Then, they started going on about how the dates do not correspond. And I am like how would it correspond when they are different prescriptions for crying out loud!!! The whole process was so annoying!

You see how certain things were just aligning themselves to get me upset? lol! I had to remind myself many times that I am supposed to be on a fast from anger. My assessment of my first few days of lent is that I have performed woefully! I started re-assessing if I can really abstain from being upset. Just yesterday, someone else ticked me off. I am beginning to feel like I am a ticking bomb. But I am reminded that I can do all things through Christ that strengths me. With a bit of retrospection, I am beginning to realise that there is something great the Lord wants to work in me this period and that is why the moment I made that commitment, everything has been working against it. I need to learn to discipline my feelings and control my reactions. They can try but it is ultimately up to me how I respond to the actions. I can choose to give up on this commitment and say, ‘well I tried a few days and it was awful’. Or I can persevere through it, learn discipline and self control and become a better version of the human being I already am – a woman with control over her emotions and responds how God would have her respond as opposed to how she feels like responding.

I have been open and transparent. I am not perfect and I do not always get it right at the start of it but I keep going because God is my why. I hope this encourages someone to keep on pushing through the period that might look and feel like a wilderness. If you are under so much attack, then know that your break through is around the corner. You can do this. Jesus is cheering you on!

And of course, Happy International Women’s Day to all our female readers. Keep shining and breaking the bias!

Declutter!!

The Christmas period was such an interesting period in my household. The main character of the drama was the amazon of a mother I have. She embarked on a decluttering mission. She said her house was too congested and must be decongested before Christmas. She went about going through rooms and sorting through things. Her storeroom received a tremendous face lift by the time she was done. She threw away things that needed to be thrown away, she gave out what should be given out and kept only what was necessary. The point of the decluttering was to identify the necessary things and prioritise them. I got bitten by the bug(as no one was left out) and was forced to decongest my wardrobe and book shelves. Eventually, I made more space for the things that were really important.

This is really for someone – It is time to declutter. You have been holding on to so many things and you know deep down you ought to let them go. You are holding on to people that you know are no good for you. You are holding on to a past that is really what it is – the past. You are tying yourself to places you should have left because of what people would think of you. You are preventing yourself from taking your next ordained step because you have given fear too much hold over your life. IT IS TIME TO DECLUTTER. I need you to get up from all of that and know that it is time to let go of everything that is in opposition to your life’s purpose. Anything that distracts you from what God would have you do has to go. Anything that adds zero value to your life has to go. Any one that tends to fill your life with negativity has to go. Toxic relationships have to go. You name it! Oh and fear, oh that has to really go! Faith and fear cannot co-exist. You have to let go of fear to walk firmly in faith. A good place to start from is remembering that God loves you absolutely.

I really do not have a prescription for everyone’s decluttering exercise but we all know what we have let choke us and hold us down. It is time to identify the important things and prioritise them. We need to get out the boxes and begin to categorise things. It is time to make more space for the important things. It is time to let go and let God step into the areas identified as trauma and everywhere else. And do not come up with excuses on why you cannot let go. You and I know you are simply deceiving yourself. This article is the confirmation you have been looking for in order to let go of everything holding you back from taking your rightful place.

On a cautionary note, when decluttering, be careful not to actually throw away the important things. Do not be in a hurry and actually pay close attention to the choices you are making. In the heat of my mother’s decluttering exercise, she threw away our monopoly board. Now we have all the accessories but no board to play on. This is because she saw the board but did not see the accessories and assumed they had been lost. In essence, do not underestimate certain people and positions God has put in your life. Do not lose them before you discover their true value. Do not be quick to judge the book by the cover. If you go on this decluttering journey, make sure you are on it with the Holy Spirit. He is the only one that can truly guide you. You do not want to be like my mum who started looking for the monopoly board and could not find it anymore lol. A monopoly board is quite insignificant but what you might lose in your haste might be much greater. Pay attention to the guiding of the Holy Spirit and never have to regret your decisions.

Stay blessed!

LISTENING EARS!!

As old as I am, when I go places with my father, he still points to people for me to greet. Constantly asking me, ‘have you greeted this person?’ He is constantly hounding me about building relationships and sometimes, I feel personally attacked because he does not even acknowledge when I make some progress in my relationship management. Over the years, some of his overshadowing definitely did upset me. And maybe sometimes I questioned if he loved me. Why was he always so hard on me in relation to some things? But as I grew older, I realised that it was all from a place of love. He was building me. He was trying to make sure that I did not lack anything. He was trying equip me for the world we are living in. He knows the importance of social wealth. Many times we have enjoyed certain privileges as a result of his social wealth. In fact, when I need certain things done, I go to my father and boldly tell him that I know he knows someone who can help me. So, it makes a lot of sense that when he noticed I was deficient in maintaining relationships, he took it upon himself to hound me about it.

Invariably, we have a Father who loves us absolutely and because He loves us, He chastises us when we are wrong. He prunes us in order for us to produce more. He allows our faith get tested to grow in Him. He is constantly working something in us and working everything out for our good. Most importantly, He has given us the Holy Spirit to be our Guide, our Advocate, our Comforter and so much more. The Holy Spirit is my navigation in this world. Just like my earthly father, the Holy Spirit points out to me ‘the people I need to greet’. He highlights the areas of my life I need to work on. He searches my heart and illuminates the places where I need more of Him. He wakes me up sometimes when I ought to be doing other productive things and He tells me to sleep when I overwork myself. He pricks my conscience when I am being lazy and should be achieving more. He is constantly nudging me. He is constantly speaking to me in the gentlest tone ever. What would be of me if I opted not to listen?

Everything my earthly father and Heavenly Father do is in order to make me a better person. What would happen if I chose not to ever listen to them? What would be my reality if I ignored every nudging, if I ignored every guidance? Isn’t that synonymous to designing my own grave? But that is what a lot of us do today. We live lives devoid of the guidance of the Navigator. We ignore all the promptings. We starve our spirit man and live solely on our understanding.

It is simply foolish to have access to wisdom and refuse to use it. The Holy Spirit knows all things. Literally, all things! The next time you are in a fix, He is the best person to consult trust me. And you know the most interesting thing, He is interested in everything down to what you wear today. You can literally ask Him to help you build an outfit. I kid you not. At the beginning of this week, I did not know what to wear to work on Monday. So, I inquired of the Holy Spirit. He brought to my remembrance a top that I had not worn in years and helped me pair it with an ankara print trousers. I wasn’t even sure if the top would fit but it did and it turned out to be a nice combination. Even my mum had to ask me what made me wear it that way and I attributed it to the Holy Spirit. Imagine if I refused to listen to the Holy Spirit, I would have spent a long time thinking of what to wear and stressing myself over for nothing.

Conversely, there was a day He told me to take an extra plastic bag to church but with my coconut head, I said no. I did not want to hold anything extra. It turned out that there were gifts waiting for me in church that I could not carry. Because of my disobedience, I limited the quantity of what I could receive. Rahhh! And I could not open my mouth to blame anybody but myself. I learnt my lesson painfully but instantly and the next time He told me to carry my wallet, I carried it even though I did not want to carry it. Turned out that I had a flat tire. Hmmm! ‘Wahala for who no dey hear word o!’ (There is a lot of trouble for those who do not listen – my best translation).

So, today I am urging you to listen more and obey promptly. The Holy Spirit is there to help you navigate this life. He is ready to speak with you and even gist with you. Are you ready to listen?

Put your hands over your ears and declare that you have listening ears in Jesus’ name!