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Story Time… Words ALive

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18: 21 (NIV) 

Let me share this funny, maybe not so funny, but successful experience I had. I have known the above scripture for a long time. As long as my days in Living Word Academy (Secondary), my alma mater. Our patron, who doubled as our hostel chaplain might have quoted it a lot of times. Maybe not as much as “foolishness abides in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it away” that preceded almost every lashing session. Those days.

So, this verse. Rightfully seated in the book of wisdom of the good book. Generously shared with us by the wisest man that lived on earth, King Solomon. It took on a greater meaning for me when I read it afresh in the course of my devotion recently.

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It reminded me of these experiences in medical school:

The medical exam is usually in two formats; the written part of the exam and the clinical part. The clinical part entails you interacting with a patient, like in a real case scenario. It is required of you to obtain a history from the patient. That is, inquire about the symptoms that brought them to the hospital, how they have progressed, their likely causes depending on the presentation, the care they have obtained so far, other aspects of their medical history, like if they have any chronic or familiar diseases, etcetera. You are then expected to do a complete general and systematic physical examination on them, proffer useful investigations to confirm or rule out suspicions, and plan a treatment for them. All of these in a specified time frame, usually 45 minutes thereabout. Afterwards, your examiners are invited and you are to present the above to them in the presence of your patient. This can be a daunting experience for a medical student, especially when you have a mean examiner.

During the course of our clinical posting, a friend of mine had one of those “mean” professors in the unit he was assigned. He was a pretty good lad and showed up for rounds everyday, that would include days he was the only medical student in the rounds. That did not go unnoticed. Not long, he was in everybody’s good book, including the “mean” professor. I teased him, “Shebi you know Professor X would not fail you should you meet him in any exam.” “Well,” he smiled, “but I would not like to meet him.” “That man has problems,” he communicated his fears. I did not, however, stop teasing him and telling him how he would surely pass if he met Professor X in the exam.

On the morning of the exam, I must have prophesied the same Prof. into his exams. I remember him rebuking me, “Anita, please, stop saying a bad prayer for me.” I was honestly convinced about what I thought – the professor being good prognosis for my dear friend. Well, guess who he saw when he was ready to present his patient? Professor X, in all his glory, unsmiling, and ready for some serious business. Thankfully, my friend had a good case; one he was well prepared for. His saving grace. Refusing to be frightened by the Prof.’s intimidating presence, and with confidence hoisted by good preparation and a vast knowledge of the case, my friend began his presentation. Cruising safely and almost arriving at the end of his physical examination findings, the Prof. cut in. Your guess is just as good as mine. He floored my friend. Now, here’s where my good – even though turned down – prophecy came to play: My friend admitted that had it been any other student, someone without that first impression in the course of the posting, they might have failed. Prof. did not fail him afterall. Phew.

My own case was before my project defense. So, this particular doctor kept coming to mind, that I would meet him at my defense. On the morning of the defense, I even jocularly mentioned, “What if I meet Dr. Z today?” Our project defense is not as serious as those of other’s, because they made it so. Of a total of 100 marks, it carries only 2 marks. Yes, you read right. For me, it was such a bother, a waste of energy and good clothes. Could it just be scrapped entirely? I didn’t see the justification in dedicating a day to this defense. That goes without saying that I could not bring myself to study for the defense. It was part of public health, so your knowledge of the course would also be orally tested. All inside of the 2 marks. Project defense was one mark, public health orals, the other one mark. Laugh harder. Asides this, I was on energy conservation mode, conserving my energy for a ‘bigger’ day, my surgery clinicals the next day. I was too lazy, even if only to read Dr. Z’s topics in public health since I had the intuition that I was going to meet him in the defense, and even verbally announced so.

When I walked into the defense room, the sight of Dr. Z almost stopped me in my tracks. But then, 2 marks… I had already passed before this defense (if I were serious enough). This was a mere formality, I trudged on. A weak smile in place, the defense began.

I said funny, maybe not so funny, but successful experience. Imagine if I had confessed negatively before my friend’s or my exam? It would have been deleterious.

If you have the energy to speak death, why not channel the energy into speaking forth life? Someone said, if you don’t have a positive thing to say, keep shut. I will advise that, too.

How has your words shaped your life? For the good or bad. Good news is, that words are life. So, build your life with the right words.

Muchos amor,

Annie. ❤

Ps: I was discussing with a friend and he said, “personally I don’t believe in the whole words and stuff of a thing.” I respected his belief, but made sure to add that it works and words are things. Yesterday, my mum furious that I handled my phone with less than perfect care, said she hated to but wished that my screen would break, just so that I may learn to handle my phone with better care. Same day, later on, my phone fell with such force that my screen couldn’t resist it. Coincidence or serendipity?

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What I’m Reading: Twisted

I’m currently reading a devotional on my bible app, Twisted, subtitled Most Misused Verses of The Bible.

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Le ne tordez pas!

Each day, when I open the plan and read the focus scripture for the day, I almost always start laughing. It is as though I can guess what the author has in mind, and cannot help but agree that, surely, those verses must have been misused. The author delves into the context in which those verses were written, who wrote them, and at what time, to help his readers understand the verses better and not misuse them.

“When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable.” – (Late) Dr. Myles Munroe

I found today’s devotional content particularly illuminating, and thought to share, to cast light abroad more hearts:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV

Who hasn’t thought of Philippians 4:13 before a big test, meeting, or game? Maybe you were the athlete who quoted it after completing a nearly impossible feat. Or maybe it was quoted to you by an old acquaintance after they explained an, “amazing business opportunity.” “Sure it sounds risky,” they said, “but just like the Bible says, ‘You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.’”

Too often, Philippians 4:13 is quoted for self-motivation alone. A more secular version might sound like, “If we set our mind to it, whatever it is, we’ll accomplish it.” Sure, “through Christ” is in our Bible version, but hopefully He’s not there to just give us strength to accomplish our goals. Does Christ give us strength to do wonderful things including athletic feats? Yes. However, the original author of this coffee-mug verse wasn’t trying to win the Iron Man or triple his income in as little as three months (neither of which are necessarily bad things). Paul was writing—from jail—to the church he helped start in Philippi.

If Paul had the power to do all things, wouldn’t “get out of jail” be at the top of his to-do list? After all, if he could really do all things, he’d be all-powerful. The next three verses give additional meaning to verse 13. Paul described experiencing poverty, hunger, want, and despite it all, contentment. Then, he added verse 13 to basically say he could do all this only because of Christ. Paul’s words were less about motivating the Philippians to accomplish great things and more about inspiring them to trust God despite horrible things. In fact, the original language reads more like, “I have strength for all things. Why? Because Jesus.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Are you in a bad break up? Rebound to Him; He makes you whole. Bad medical news? Cling to Him; He is life. Lost your job? Submit to Him; He’s your provider. Are you “in want” like Paul? Come to Him; you can be content. Through Christ, you have strength for all these things.

Consider: What trial are you facing? How can you rely on Christ for strength?”

If I were to go first, and give answer to the question posed at the end for reflection, I will say waiting; waiting for my induction ceremony into the Medical and Dental Council Nigeria. It’s been over three months since completion of my final exams. This wait has not been very palatable. Initially, it felt like a holiday, but you know how you can grow weary when it feels like you are stuck. Through it all, I have tried to maintain a positive attitude and make the most of the time. I often say, in Medicine, you don’t get a lot of spare time. So, why don’t you utilize this: Learn something new, travel to some place new, read something different, learn a skill, a language… Add value to yourself, so you can be of more value to others. I am trying to stay productive.

How am I relying on Christ for strength?

He gives me inspiration. As I lean on Him, I learn more about Him and about myself in the process. This can also be applied to the single season. You can let yourself be miserable, wishing to move out of that phase, that you fail to maximize the season. As if to buttress this, I’m on my way to church while developing this post. In the course of the sermon titled Faith For Finances, the man of God asks a question: “What level of skill/training do you have now, while you are waiting for “the opportunity?” Then he goes further, “For some of you, the training you need now is financial literacy.” I grab that and hold onto it. The waiting time is time for preparation. “Winter is coming!!!” You prepare for war in time of peace.  Now, over to you. Your answer to the question posed for reflection. I hope you learnt a number of things. I will be happy to hear in the comments section.

So much love,

God’s love and mine,

Annie. ❤

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Dear Younger Me

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Yesterday, I was given the honour of speaking to some teenagers and children about their health. When I was first called, I was not given a specific topic. The caller just said, “You know teenagers now… You can speak to them on anything that applies to their health.” Then she suggested topics like HIVSTDs, the regular things, and made me promise I would be able to make it. I was away at the time she called, but would be back by the time and so I assented to her request, still leaving room for a possible change of mind.

I thought about these children and what I could possibly teach them. “If it were women, then I could tell them about breast cancer, cervical cancer, and their cohorts,” I worried. At another end I thought that HIV, STDs as the caller suggested were worn-out topics; they have heard those a hundred times over. Then personal hygiene was too mundane. “What’s that?” I mocked the idea. “Bathe twice a day, brush your teeth, wash your undies… Oh, please! They don’t need me to tell them those. They should know those already,” I continued to struggle about what to teach them.

I even took up some teen devotional plans on my bible app, to find some ideas. Are you wondering why I was looking in my bible, rather than my textbooks or online to find what to teach the kids about their health? I did wonder, too. Especially as they were in a camp organized by a church, and surely would have had several persons talk to them about “their spiritual life.” Won’t they? To answer that thought, I reminded myself that: I am first a child of God, before a doctor. Then, isn’t every Word of God God-breathed and profitable for instruction, for conviction, for correction, for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately–behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]? Wasn’t that what I desired for these children and teens, above all? If so then, it was not out of place to look there for inspiration and guide.

I, however, could not still reach a decision on what to teach the children and teens. I was almost reaching an impasse and frankly thought about calling the organizer to cancel. That was a day before the event. I had thought about it all week but had not taken the necessary steps to cancel. While having my bath the night before the D-Day, I thought about myself in my teenage years,“What did I wish I knew more about?” I also knew I could not pass over any opportunity to speak to young children. That would be doing too much harm to the younger generation; a decision I could not live with or forgive myself for taking.

“We owe it to each to tell our stories.”

Ideas started forming in my head. I knew just where to start and how to continue from there, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide me with the right words. Are you still wondering if I am talking about their health? Yes, health, their “social health.” As defined by W.H.O, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. I was very much in tune, unconventional, maybe, if you like. I was going to talk to the teens about sex; making responsible decisions about it, having and owning their values – positive values, and of course all the in-between: menstrual cycle, contraception, unplanned pregnancy, in addition. Things I was not taught. I was going to be honest with them, open about it, and available to answer their questions, using my own story.

When I got to the venue, trepidation began to creep in. I ministered to myself: “I have the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit gives me boldness. I am bold and not timid.” It was my first time deciding to be very open with my story. I was always going to tell it, put it in a book, and tell of how God gave me grace and helped me! Oh, don’t think it is a sanctimonious story of me or one of a wanton child saved by grace. It is simply my story, of how life happened to me, and how life can happen to anyone. All the more reason I would be doing a great disservice to the younger generation, by not sharing my story with them. I may not have had someone teach me, but I can be the one to teach others.

I mounted the stage, looking into the familiar faces of some children I had always known growing up, some of whom had fast grown into teenagers and ‘young adults.’ And some not too familiar faces, too. It was my home church, which meant I grew up in their midst. Had always been among them. Still among them, even though more away than with them presently. So, they knew me. Most of them knew me.

After building on this premise, I began to teach them. And somewhere along the line, I got candid with them, about details of my story which was unknown to even some relatives. It came as a shock. My youngest brother was in their midst, I saw him look up in a mix of emotions I can’t clearly tell. I didn’t back down or flinch, I plunged ahead. It was the debut telling of my story; unplanned and unrehearsed. At some point, I was not sure if I clearly communicated it to them. I didn’t let that bother me. I would get better at this, I encouraged myself. There is still the book. I did my best to answer their questions; I made them feel comfortable to ask and pointed out that I was available to answer any questions, even beyond the meeting. I was not sure how I felt when I got back home, but I had one prayer as I left my house and all through the while I spoke to the children and teens: “God, please, use me to preserve some destinies here.” I can rest in the promise that God answers prayers.

If you could tell your younger self everything you have learned so far, so they could be one step ahead, where would you start?

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God is […]

The first time I developed an interest in the variegated names of God was when Kachee of KacheeTee.com made a post about 15 Uplifting Bible Verses on the Power & Strength of God’s Arm/Hand. A post that stemmed for the #HallelujahChallenge that took the media by storm a month ago, popularizing the Yoruba name of God, Olowogbogboro, that was hitherto unknown to many and took on a new and more powerful meaning for the few who knew it prior to the time.

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Of particular attraction to me, in the comments section of the aforementioned post, was another Yoruba name for God – Asoromaye, meaning “He who prophesizes and it comes to pass.” Maybe because I was believing God for a miracle at the time and had just (re-)read some uplifting verses, it carried great significance for me. In addition, it made me wonder just how many more beautiful names of God were out there, lying hidden from God’s people.