A Cooking Lesson

The Ghanaian ‘winter’ arrived this morning. I actually sensed its proximity yesterday, as it dropped few hints of coldness and dryness. It obviously is a snowless winter, as there is no way snow could possibly survive a few centimetres into our atmosphere; it would be incinerated by the sun!

The atmosphere was foggy, cold and dry. And It greeted me with a frigid embrace that immediately altered my routine. “Hot water”, I thought, finally accepting that this and the following mornings of the year were going to be spent mostly without the refreshing flow of cool water from the showers. Hot water wasn’t a bad idea, considering the weather. The kettle was now going to be my friend: The shower, my enemy – more accurately, my frenemy.

I had to inform one of my roommates that we were going to be sharing his bestfriend. And I did, quite impressively too:

“Brrr! I think I’m going to be joining you old ladies on the early-morning-hot-water team. Where do I register?”

He smiled and handed me his heater.

Impressive, right? Maybe (*smirk*). But totally not what happened . . .

I’m going to cook myself this morning like you always do”, I joked.

He laughed.

But that joke really cost me . . . And I mean really!

The taps were not running, but I already had my cool water fetched in a bucket from our storage tank. I had the last bit of remaining water. All I had to do now was quite simple. I had read it over and over again from some cookbook, from the section ‘Heating Water: When All You Have Is A Bucket of Water’: Heat some of the water in the kettle; Pour it in the bucket; Reheat some of the same water from the bucket; Pour back into the bucket; Repeat until desirable temperature is reached.

I followed every instruction to the letter – except the ‘desirable temperature’ part. I failed to dip my hand in the bucket to be sure I was OK with the water temperature. After three cycles of heating, I moved my bucket to the bathroom and was ready to have a fittingly warm bath in the cold weather. First drop of water . . . my skin was scalded. I jumped out with my towel straight to the room, and scrambled through the freezer compartment of the refrigerator for ice blocks to cool the water down. I got a few: But they weren’t enough, succumbing within a few minutes to the fiery heat of the bucket-water. There was no cool water within reach: The prognosis was clear and disturbing; I had to make do with my bucket of piping hot water. Needless to say, I had an agonizing bath: I ended up cooked.

* * *

Some may want to call it an unfortunate coincidence; I call it ‘The Power of Your Words’. So many people have had countless experiences like mine; where they had to pay for their words, or benefitted from them. It may not happen as speedily as mine did, but eventually it will. That’s how powerful words are!

I joked, and I got cooked. Imagine what your words could do if you got serious with saying some positive stuff about yourself.

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Just Because…

Have you ever stayed up late (and I mean very late), knowing perfectly well you have to be awake early the next morning? It sucks waking up the next morning. Really, it does. Every corner of your being craves a few more hours of quality time with your bed: But you have to be up! Sucks . . . first class! With saggy eyelids, sore eyes and brain cells working at levels barely midway between sleep and wakefulness, you crawl out of bed and shuffle your way out of your room. You bump into someone out in the hallway: Your eyes are barely open and you’re not sure if it’s your brother or sister, or maybe the dog practicing ‘stand-ups’ on its hind feet. You mumble out some two-word phrase, which you believe was “Good morning.” Actually, it ended up sounding more like “Wood warming.” What on earth is that supposed to mean?!

Ok, your morning has probably never been that weird. But I’m sure you do find yourself mumbling some untypeable words to the people you meet on some mornings from time to time. Sometimes, they’re clearly audible, “Good morning”: But why do we do that? Have you ever bothered to wonder or ask why we say “Good morning” in the morning?

Here’s our seemingly reasonable response: “It’s morning: What else do you say? Good evening?” And that’s our problem: We’ve turned it into one of those pointless routines we have to do. Nighttime? Good night! Oh, it’s Christmas? Merry Christmas! Did the needle just prick you? I think I have to say sorry.

Do you see it now? Maybe not just yet. I never really saw it until my dad opened my eyes to this fact during a Bible study. We say a lot of things just because . . . and we don’t really mean what we say. We actually don’t understand what we say. “Good morning” is not just some two-word expression we say in the morning. When we use that expression we’re supposed to mean something like: “I’m sincerely desiring that you have a good morning. And by ‘good’, I mean excellent, superb, outstanding, fabulous, ace, terrific, magnificent, awesome, wicked, and many other synonymous adjectives. And I really mean it!“ But we usually seem to be saying, “Oh goodness, it’s morning! I actually find saying this thing every morning very unbearable. But hey, the universe says we should, so . . . here’s your share of that ‘Good morning’ greeting thing. Good morning. There!“

Do you find yourself saying some things just because they kind of have to be said? Like saying “Sorry” just because you don’t want to feel awkward, and not because you really are sorry? Or saying “I love you too” at the end of the phone call just because that’s the involuntary response to her “I love you”?

Do you mean what you say, or do you say things just because you have to?

Have a good morning…and I mean it. Seriously, I really do!

Men, & Boys With Beards

Yesterday, I saw a tweet from one of the people I follow on twitter which caught my attention. It read: “Do you know some guys use powder?” Rhetorical question: spot on! That would have been one mark closer to an A+ in a Literature exam. I could smell the condescension in that tweet. I wondered if there was any problem with that so I replied, questioning if there was anything wrong with the act. He had already posted a follow-up tweet which I missed while posting my question. In short, he said “it doesn’t speak well of your virility [as a guy].” In my own words, he said a man who uses powder is not qualified to be called a man; he’s actually a phoney posing as a man without doing what real men do i.e. avoiding la poudre. How messed up can we be?

“Why bother? It was just a tweet. Unless — . . . unless you use powder. Aha!” If you are thinking along this line, I would not want to spoil your bingo moment; maybe I do, maybe I don’t. But that’s not the point.

Within that tweet, I saw one terrifying fact; we have awfully low standards.  I saw how low our standards are for putting guys in the boys’ or men’s classroom; our imaginary school is pathetic. No wonder so many incompetent guys are being put out there, tagged “MEN” and simply not up for the tasks. I can’t help but imagine some miserable principal running the institution and making these insane rules and requirements. He’s actually author of the school’s most-read textbooks, ‘Boyz II Men’ and ‘To Be A Man: What a Boy Needs To Know To Get There & What a Man Needs To Know To Stay There’.  He’s probably told his 6-year old son, “I can’t wait for the day you stop using powder. Boy, you’d sit at the table of ‘men’ on that day!” I can imagine him conducting the often-done ‘manliness-assessment interview’ – where boys who pass successfully become men: “Do you use powder? I want to verify your voice is broken; sing the bass part of the school anthem in the bass key I strike on the piano . . . Come close, let me see if you have a moustache . . . oh, and a beard too – with more than five strands of hair. Do you have the lab results from the Endocrinology Department? Let’s see how much testosterone you’ve got in you . . .” I can’t go on, sorry: There’s an endless list of senseless questions he kept asking (in my imagination) but I couldn’t stand seeing the definition of manliness being virtually trimmed down to a pile of nothingness. I totally lost interest in eavesdropping, got mad and stormed out of his office.

So, what really defines a man? We’ve deplorably reduced manliness to a bunch of physical characteristics: A chiseled and muscular physique, the complete avoidance of that thing called powder (?) . . . (that last one always cracks me up). Being a man is not about the ‘masculine’ looks, androgen levels or body make-up. It’s beyond that! A man is a guy with the heart and spirit of a man – not running away from his responsibilities, hardworking, daring, ready to serve and make a difference, and a godly exemplar for future generations of men.

We’ve seen so many incorrectly labeled ‘men’ on our streets, and I think we’ve had enough – at least I have! I heard someone once say, in addressing the ‘men’ versus men subject: ‘Any jerk can get a woman pregnant, but it takes a real man to stay and take responsibility [paraphrased].’ We’ve had enough of the jerks and phoneys – it’s back-to-the-boys’-classroom for them. Not that classroom in that school ran by that inane principal, but a new one – the real school for men – ran by God; the only place people’s hearts and spirits can truly be changed. That’s the only way we’ll ever have real men.

Figuratively-speaking, I’ll put it this way:

“There are men, and there are boys with beards”

‘Men’, are we really being men or we’re just a bunch of boys with beards?

Flight 700

Flight Into Egypt. Art by Faiqa

Flight Into Egypt. Art by Faiqa.

A little boy at Sunday School is asked to draw a picture of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus in the midst of their flight into Egypt. (The teacher had been telling them about the time in Matthew chapter 2, when an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and warns him to flee with his family from the murderous King Herod). So the little boy carefully draws a picture of a huge aeroplane and when the teacher asks him what it is, he points out that it’s ‘the flight into Egypt’, indicating Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus, who are sitting happily in the passenger seats. ‘But who’s that?’ asks the teacher, pointing to a shadowy figure in the cockpit. Growing a bit tired of all the stupid questions, the little says, ‘That’s Pontius Pilot.’

Excerpted from the book Christianity Explored, by Rico Tice & Barry Cooper

Jesus Did Not ‘Die’. He Wasn’t Killed Either.

“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again

“No man takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:17-18 NKJV)

So, yes: Jesus did not die (as in ‘just die some death’), neither was He killed; He laid down His life for us. And that’s huge!