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HELPMEET BY LOLA BABALOLA

Helpmeet by Lola Babalola

The question is, are marriages made in heaven?
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When you pick up the papers to read, you are fed with stories and pictures of marriages that have broken down. Some have been marries for a while, some for far much longer. It is those long marriages of twenty plus years that sadden me. A friend of mine who had been married for twenty four years walked away and I felt really bad. If you had stuck with for that long, why walk now? Then you read about the wife killing the husband, do you stick an association where mutual respect has been downgraded to zero? I know a young woman who says she really does not think marriage is meant for her, because she could not be sure the gentleman of today might not turn out a monster later. Why do people get married and picking from my guest today, what role is the woman to play? I do remember that the Lord is reputed to have said he He was creating a helpmeet for the man. HELPMEET. That was the word that struck me when I saw the book. It resonated with me. It is not a book for Christians alone but for women of all ages, creed and race. That was what I found comforting. I did not have to be of a particular faith. I could read it as a manual, a guide, letit be my friend on a lonely confused night.
One hundred and forty five pages of inspirational and intuitive sensing of the role of the woman in this wonderful creation.
The cover art was also interesting as it spokes volumes, the deep roots of life together on a journey holding hands and connecting.
It is a fairly long read, but I am sure you will not notice as I had to restrain myself from asking endless questions.

Let us meet the author Lola Babalola Screenshot_2015-10-13-08-38-49-1

1. Let’s get to know you
My name is Oluwafunmilola Babalola. I am an intercessor and the wife of Olajide Babalola, an Architect and generational reformer. We are both ordained Pastors and family counselors. We are blessed with six beautiful children. My professional background is strategic communications and I have quite a few years of experience from both the private and development sectors, so I consult across both sectors but my job title these days is Mum.

2. Is this your first book?
I have been writing for many years and have published my poetry on the world wide web. I am also the Founder of a pure play company called Feelnubia.com, where I have been writing for about 6 years. HELPMEET is however, my first published work.

3. Why did you write this book?
I must make a quick clarification. I will say I was the Editor but I cannot claim to be the Author of this book.

Back to the why:
Although I shared some of my personal testimonies in it, HELPMEET was written on the instruction and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to encourage women to contend for marriage of their dreams by equipping themselves with the knowledge of God’s original plan for a wife in the life of her husband. That knowledge liberated me as I wrote and read over the manuscript. It continues to take me closer to God’s heart for my marriage as I read it and I am blessed by the numerous testimonies of both single and married women who have read both the manuscript and the published work.

4. Do you think marriages are made in heaven?
I believe that each one of us is created as a unique expression of a multifaceted and gloriously complex God who is as real to us as we allow Him to be. If you invite Him, He will guide you through pretty much every aspect of your life the least of which is not marriage. In fact, I venture to say that marriage is the most important individual decision you will ever make in your life, second only to the decision to stop blindly driving one’s own life and hand it over to the direction of the only Person competent to navigate one through life’s journey. So, my answer to your question is not a simple refutation or affirmation. If you invite God into the preparation, selection and martial process, your marriage could very well be made in heaven!

5. In your view, what would be grounds to seek divorce?
This answer would depend on the worldview to which you subscribe. These days, I live my life for Jesus Christ and the Bible, which is my Standard Operating Manual (if you will) prescribes adultery as grounds for divorce. In practise however, there are many reasons why a person might seek or welcome divorce. The Bible also shows us that Jesus is big on love and forgiveness, while clearly stating that God hates divorce and for good reason too. Some of the reasons a couple might find themselves at the brink of divorce are logical outcomes of the foundation of that marriage in the first place. When we rush through our preparations and decision to marry, it is inevitable that some signs we ignored or trivialized would come back to haunt us. Furthermore, many of us do not appreciate the gravity of the covenant of marriage so these days, you hear married persons say casually: ‘I will walk’ over seemingly trivial issues.

Divorce can solve some problems but it is not always the magic pill that our fast-food convenience culture presents it to be. Many marital or relationship problems persist beyond the divorce, as couples that have children continue to deal with one another nonetheless. Divorce does not take away my poor decisions, immature management or reaction to a problem. It does not wipe out my own mistakes. It passes the buck somewhat but it oftentimes compounds the problem. My encouragement to anyone considering divorce is that each person should honestly examine their reasons. Is this situation remediable, forgivable? If not, why?

In HELPMEET, I was able to address some uncommon perspectives about divorce and I quote:Helpmeet fincvr

“There are women who have turned marital challenges and betrayals such as domestic abuse, adultery, even homosexual confessions around and built strong happy marriages out of the ruins of such calamity, while others have understandably found it impossible to navigate past those deeply difficult and painful experiences”.
Also, from another section I quote:
” It Takes A Life-Time To Correct A Marital Misstep
Even after divorce, couples find that the scars of their previous marriage lingers, colouring every subsequent relationship and interaction for as long as they live. It becomes a condition many live with, learn to manage but never quite overcome. Perhaps that is why God hates divorce because it creates a wound in our spirits from which we hardly ever completely recover. Even after they are healed, these wounds tend to cause a mutation from the scarring such that we are no longer quite who we were before we got married to that person and can never return to being the person we would have been had we not been through the experience of a failed marriage. This sobering thought shshould make us unwaveringly determined to get marriage right the first and only time.”

6. How would you advise a battered wife or an abandoned one?
In life, we have little control over the things that happen to us. The only part of life’s experiences we control is how we react to the curve balls that might be thrown to us. Both men and women have experienced physical or emotional abuse as well as abandonment. Some abusers are psychologically handicapped and require intervention to amend their responses to stress. Some find that in different relationships or circumstances, they are not aggressive or predatory. Often times, abuse is accompanied by other behavioral problems but all marital problems have a cause and effect. The effect might be disproportional to the cause but it has a cause nonetheless.

Some abuse might be accompanied with signs apparently escalating towards resulting in or serious physical or emotional damage. If the victim seeks divorce or finds him/herself served divorce papers, the truth is that divorce (while greatly damaging) is not the unpardonable sin. With wisdom and divine guidance, people can move on from divorce beyond the conventional levels.

If you have problems in your marriage, you could choose to go it alone or turn to popular wisdom. An uncommon option is in the book HELPMEET and I quote: If you find yourself confronted with marital problems,
“…you need to return to the manufacturer and turn in your warranty. Go to the Lord, the author of marriage and… give Him a blank cheque and wait on Him for instructions, which you must follow to the letter however foolish they may sound. He is able to turn around for good what is meant for the trash cans but that wisdom and technology is not in any man’s possession. You must wait on Him though, for your own specific instructions, rather than following the instructions given to someone else who was in similar circumstances.”
I must add however, that if you consider your life to be in danger, you would be best advised to first put some physical distance between you and your assailant, while you await further instructions or seek godly counsel.

Should parents help in determining the helpmeet of their children

As a parent, your influence on your children’s decision about their marriage is not so much in talking them into or out of a choice but something that begins long before you the parent even get married. As soon as you become aware that you are to be married one day, you should begin to pray about your yet-to-be-unveiled spouse, your life together and your children (biological and spiritual). This perspective adds a weightiness to your own decision which will certainly not be lost on your children as you recount it over the years to come. Marriage makes or mars destinies: yours and that of your seed after you!

One piece of wisdom that I acquired through penning this book is the realization that each one of us is part of an intricate whole. Your story began long before you were born and continues long after you would have died. You are a unique, wonderfully unduplicable expression of God and the culmination of the dreams and hopes of many, many of your progenitors who came before you, as well as an ancestor to generations to come. Your decisions and choices will impact your children and their children either as examples and a blessing or lessons and a burden to them. That singular perspective will guide your children as well as it will do for you.

8. I am intrigued by your choice of the word helpmeet? Please explain.Helpmeet fincvr
It was not my choice, actually. Please remember that earlier on, I admitted that I wrote this book by instruction and inspiration. In that sense, I was simply the Messenger.

Having said that, I do know though that the book’s title is taken from the scripture in the exact form that it is recorded in the King James’ version at the point in scriptural reckoning when man’s need for a wife was articulated by God. The Lord said: ‘I will make [man] a help meet for him’ This means a help that is apt, just right, precise and commensurate with his need. Help meet in the original text of the Bible means ‘strength’, which is a paradigm shift from the way women are perceived; as the weaker vessel.

I believe the title was chosen for that reason, to unveil the deeper and true meaning of a wife’s identity and purpose in her husband’s life. To quote from the book:

“While at first glance, the difference [between WIFE and HELPMEET] might appear to be nothing but a matter of semantics; it is actually a matter of perspective. This perspective is often what determines the failure or success of a union.”

9. What is your perspective of the true role of the wife to have a blissful marriage?
It came as a surprise to me as I read the manuscript that the true role of a wife is to live for another, to be a “life laid down”, laying down her strength and pouring out her life in obedience to God as a demonstration of God’s unconditional, unrelenting and unselfish love for her family. To quote from the book:

“It Is Not About You
Women have been sold a lie. That lie is the idea that happiness in life is about what we can get from other people, how much they love us, value us and give us. Nothing is further from the truth. A self-centred life is a very hollow life and the stuff that misery is made of. TrTrue happiness comes from service to others. Loving THEM, giving to THEM, valuing THEM and serving THEM. ‘Except a grain falls to the ground, it yet abides alone’
No fruit ever becomes a tree by sitting pretty in the fridge. It must be eaten and its seed thrown in the dirt, covered by earth, to all intents and purposes it must die: rot and decay first, before its essence is regenerated, then it germinates and begins to grow. If it wants to remain un-un-eaten, clean, pretty and comfortable, that fruit will not amount to much by itself. It will ultimately rot and be thrown away, not even fit to be eaten anymore. Yet, within that one fruit is a seed that has the potential to become a forest, if only it would let itself be thrown in the dirt and be covered by earth. When we learn to live for others, we discover that the beauty of love is buried deep within our sacrifice.”

10. Share your thoughts on the following as they affect a marriage

a) drunken husband

b) flirtatious wife

c) disrespectful children

The foundation of a marriage is a strong determinant of its outcome. The Bible tells us that “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him from them all”. The effect of problems on a marriage are determined long before those problems arise. What is your philosophy of life? Where do you get your compass, your navigational tool for marriage? Will you permit problems to derail your marriage or strengthen it? That perspective is one which we tend to choose before we embark on the voyage of marriage. Did my marriage vows include the words: “…For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health…”? Did I even hear them or did I just mumble them without any consideration for what I was saying or what the words mean? Some couples now leave those words out. That already says a lot about where that marriage is going. The Scriptures tell us about two houses: one build upon sand and another built upon a rock. We learn that WHEN the storms come, the one built on the rock would stand through the storm. Please note that the scriptures did not say IF the storms come, it said WHEN. Problems are inevitable. They just present in different forms.

Marriage is a covenant, a vow, an oath between you as an individual and God. Your spouse just happens to be a beneficiary of that covenant. What excuse will you give God for not delivering on your vows, which you made with your free will?
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11. Who do you intend this book for?

This book is written for women who are married or for single ladies whom marriage is a desirous estate. As it says in the preface:
” This book is written for both Christians and non-Christians alike, in response to the call of the Lord to inspire hope and faith in the hearts of women all around the world. This is a call to women to understand that God wants a wonderful life for them and marriage does not need to be excluded from that life. Marriage is not a journey for the feeble-hearted nor the double-minded, but you do not need to give up on your ideal of marriage. This book is written to give you a clear vision of God’s purpose in designing marriage and will help you to understand that purpose in order to give focus to your desires and aspirations. It will help you to contend for the marriage that God intends for you to have, one in which you are fulfilling purpose and within that purpose, you will be able to enter into peace, all round prosperity and walk in your destiny.”

“More women than ever are opting to pursue [other] goals to the total exclusion of marriage. If that is you, this book might not be of any interest to you”.

12. Please give us links to how we can get a copy of the book

Please search for the book on Kaymu, Amazon (Book) worldwide or Waterstones Bookshops UK, using the search parameters: HELPMEET, LOLA BABALOLA

13. Will you be interested in answering questions on a counseling basis from readers of your book?
It will be my great privilege.

14. Give us a an address where we can send such questions
Kindly email me: lola@babalola.com.

Thank you very much for honoring me and reviewing my work.

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To the Survivors…Revisit

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As the year closes, I thought, I should share some of those things that have left an impact on me. One of the things I have learnt over time is books I review tend to stay with me and some of the authors tend to become my friends. One of such authors is Bobby Uttaro.
It could be in the style of writing or the contents, Bobby’s book, “To the Survivors” has stayed with me and in a way has become a kind of comfort book for me. I live in a country where rape and rape victims are on the peripheral vision of the country. I am sure there had been reports of rape before I read the book, but my senses became real sharpened enough to take particular notice and that became depressing.
How do I mean? I came across cases of rape, from infants to elderly women for different reasons. It appears women have been under siege in my country for longer that I imagined and we don’t seem to be doing anything concrete. I am not about to start another article on this but I want to thank Bobby for at least making me know about one of the dirty secrets of humanity. To the Survivors
Rape is not exclusive to a particular nation nor is it alien to any society, I guess rape has existed amongst us from the time of the cave men, but it is the oldest shame that man has on its collective soul.
I am thus repeating my interview with Bobby today, with the hope that somehow, we will be reminded of the road we still need to follow to achieve that which we are seeking. For as long as we deny the woman the right to refuse a sexual advance, I think we are diminished by that violence.
How do I mean? I came across cases of rape, from infants to elderly women for different reasons. It appears women have been under siege in my country for longer that I imagined and we don’t seem to be doing anything concrete. I am not about to start another article on this but I want to thank Bobby for at least making me know about one of the dirty secrets of humanity.
Rape is not exclusive to a particular nation nor is it alien to any society, I guess rape has existed amongst us from the time of the cave men, but it is the oldest shame that man has on its collective soul.
I am thus repeating my interview with Bobby today, with the hope that somehow, we will be reminded of the road we still need to follow to achieve that which we are seeking. For as long as we deny the woman the right to refuse a sexual advance, I think we are diminished by that violence.
Please enjoy
To the Survivors…..Book Cover
I opened page one and was sucked in.I raged, cried, was angry and kicked but Bobby had me by the short hairs and dragged me through me, through the minds of every breathing human being making me look at a crime, issue that for us in my corner of the world we have been unable to define properly let alone classify and give it a name.
The innocent girl on her first wedding night to a man old enough to be her father as she is dragged to matrimonial bed and raped by her elderly husband . Her terrified screams and flailing arms applauded by all. She is welcomed into matrimony through the red mist of her violent entry. That was the story. In my corner of the universe, that is how you marry. In my time and age.,I learnt about this during my first visit to my hometown in the south west when I came to my family for the first time. I stood in shock as I heard the wild screams. Rape.. a word that young bride never heard of but has been made to experience as a received standard response to sexual activity. The women watched the men, resentment in their heart, hate to the mate who is brought in and polygamy grows hand in hand with hate and resentment. People of my mother’s age and some of mine. This is a hard book for me and anyone who has ever empathized with rape, assault, and even molestation and I passionately ask you to pick up a copy for yourself. It is a must in libraries and schools. In fact any public place.
I am not telling you my story, but the subject of Bobby’s book and the very painful reactions he has made me go through. I want you to meet Bobby and I hope his answers will help us.
1. Welcome Bobby to Ephesus.

Thank you for having me. It’s a blessing and honor to speak with you.

2. Can you define rape in all its ramifications as you understand it?
In my opinion, rape, especially child rape, is the worst crime human beings commit against each other as it causes the most damage to a person’s mind, heart, and soul over significant periods of time. People who are raped have their power and control taken from them. Some believe they will die during a rape and others want to die after. Think about how terrifying and sad this is. The pain and suffering that rape survivors experience can often last many years to a lifetime. But the damage caused does not just hurt the survivor; it hurts that person’s family and friends as well. Significant others are often devastated, sometimes more so than the survivor. I know of a man who was so broken after he learned that his girlfriend was raped years before. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know how to process it. It was as if nothing in life made sense anymore.
There are so many ramifications of rape, probably too many to list now. In my experiences, I have yet to see a crime that causes so much shame. If one feels shame, one will inevitably have serious health problems. Many, if not all rape survivors at one point in their lifetime, possibly even for years, have suffered deep shame. This is so incredibly sad because on top of being raped, a person most likely lives with shame for years. Shame is crippling and paralyzing. Think of the suffering people who have this undeserved shame live with and how it affects their lives and the lives of those around them.

The ramifications of rape are vast, but I will mention a few. Rape is linked to shame, anger/rage, depression, insecurity, anxiety, fear, suicidal thoughts and suicide, eating disorders, and other health issues. It causes low to no self-esteem. It can alter people’s perceptions of themselves and the world around them. Many rape survivors live in fear. Many rape survivors are physically and spiritually shackled. Rape can shatter the soul. And on top of all of these horrific effects and sufferings, many rape survivors blame themselves. But I want everyone to know that it is not their fault and that they can regain control back. Their lives can be happier and healthier if they are unhappy and suffering. The soul can be strengthened and healed.
Lastly, there are many societal and financial ramifications from rape. Rape can be linked to drug addiction, prostitution, organized crime, and our prison populations, to name a few. For example, I had a meeting at a women’s prison in hopes of getting the book To the Survivors to the inmates. At the time of my meeting there were approximately 100 women incarcerated inside. The Director of Women’s Programming told me roughly 75% of the women had been raped. Also, the Director of Mental Health Services told me 99% of the women had been raped. Why were they incarcerated? The majority were incarcerated due to drugs and prostitution. There is a clear correlation between our female prison population, prostitution, drug addiction and rape. This is also true for some of our male inmates as well.
Ultimately, rape causes more damaging ramifications than I can answer in your question, but hopefully this is a good starting point and answers some of it.

3. Is Sexual assault, rape or sexual violence graded?

Some people grade different levels, but I don’t think that it is necessary to do. I don’t think we should. Every sexual assault, molestation, or rape, is a crime that causes suffering. We should help anyone affected and not grade their experiences.

4. Rape is not gender sensitive and is prevalent in every society on the earth, what can be done to stop it?

The prevalence of rape can decrease if more people make changes within their own hearts. I believe that we can stop and prevent some acts of rape, but I do not believe we will stop rape entirely. I believe rape will exist as long as human beings live on this earth. This is not meant to sound hopeless. I am very hopeful of what can be done and I know more people can heal. I would not keep doing this work and be speaking with you if I did not see real human and spiritual growth within people. But I do believe it is important to be realistic about the world we live in and the evil atrocities that will continue to exist.

Rape is the most prevalent and least reported violent crime throughout the world. The majority of people do not even speak about it, let alone get active and help people affected. Minimal rape crisis centers exist worldwide and too many people don’t want to deal with the realities.

It is believed by some that the second most lucrative illegal business in the world is human trafficking. Billions of dollars are made every year off the sale of human beings who are forced into sexual slavery. In addition, little boys and girls are raped in homes by relatives. People are raped by their spouses. And we know that even some individuals who work in the most trusted public service positions – from law enforcement to religious clergy – rape. How will this stop? I don’t believe it will ever stop, but we can help people in their healing process and we can raise awareness through education.

Education and people intervening if they see something inappropriate is necessary for the prevention of sexual violence. Sadly, many people don’t see the signs of a rape or sexual assault before they occur. If we educate people on some of the signs, we may be able to prevent some crimes. For example, there were many signs of early troubling or inappropriate conduct in the lives of Jim and Chris, who are speakers with individual chapters in To the Survivors. If people around them were educated on the signs and empowered through that education to act, those innocent boys may not have been sexually abused. However, no one noticed, or some noticed but did not intervene, and these boys suffered.
I don’t believe we will ever eradicate rape on this earth, but I believe that we can help people in their healing process and live healthy and productive lives. We can listen to each other, show each other compassion, and empower each other. Too many survivors suffer in silence alone. But I want to tell people that they do not have to suffer in silence. They can heal and they can also help others if they choose to. Our voices are incredibly important and valuable. We can make a real difference in the lives of those who are struggling and suffering. I hope and pray for more of us do that.
Ultimately, rape can stop if human beings stop raping. It is a choice. Sadly, it is a choice that people will continue to commit and many others will continue to not speak of.
5. Would it be right to say that as much as the assaulted is counseled, the aggressor also needs assessment and managing?

So many acts of sexual violence are hidden from others. This, of course, makes assessing and managing a perpetrator exceptionally difficult. How do you assess and manage a person abusing another person when no one knows or speaks about it? This happens too often. The majority of rapists are not arrested, let alone convicted and then sent to prison. And even those who are sent to prison, how long is their prison term? The majority of those convicted come back into our society. Should more be done to manage them? Yes. But the majority of rapists freely walk this earth and commit vile crimes.

I do believe the aggressor needs counseling, but only if the aggressor wants counseling. Sadly, some people commit these crimes with no remorse. I believe remorse and redemption exist for those who want it, but not everyone wants it. If you read all of To the Survivors, you will see that none of the perpetrators showed any true remorse for their crimes.

In order for people to change, they must first make a change in their own heart.

6. Is the rapist mentally deficient and may be classified as disabled?

No. I do not believe we should call rapists disabled. People in wheelchairs are disabled. People with autism who can’t adequately communicate to others are disabled. Rapists choose to commit a crime. Some doctors, teachers, lawyers, police officers, politicians and religious leaders, to name a few, commit rape. Do we look at those professions as disabled?

7. In your book you are neither a rapist nor a victim so why did you write about it?

God. I did not consider myself a writer and never once tried to write a book until the experience of an intensely vivid dream one morning changed my life. I woke up from this dream and said, “I have to write a book.” I interpreted this dream as a vision from God. I prayed to God, moved from the bed to the computer, opened up Microsoft Word, and continued to pray. That is how To the Survivors began. To the Survivors would not be helping the amount of people it has helped if it weren’t for God. I would not be speaking with you now if it weren’t for God. There are too many people suffering, and I know this book can help with that suffering.

8. Some cultures really do not believe in marital rape as rape as they argue it is a male right to enforce their conjugal rights, what do you think?

I think this is horrible. Words cannot fully describe how awful this belief is. This absurd belief and reasoning allows for women to get raped. This kind of thinking accepts rape and too many people suffer as a result. Where does this ludicrous belief come from? Rape is rape. It is an evil crime. I believe it is a demonic and satanic crime. It does not matter if you are married or not; no spouse should rape or endure being raped. No one should be raped. What makes men inherently superior to women? Nothing. Why should a man have the right to rape his wife? He shouldn’t. There is no logical or rational explanation for this and it should not be condoned. Unfortunately, it is.

You say that some cultures do not believe in marital rape as they argue it is a male’s right to enforce his conjugal rights. I know it is hard to believe, but some women do rape men. Should women rape their husbands? Of course not. So why should a man be allowed to commit an evil crime against his wife? Why would he even want to? The belief that men can rape their wives due to their “conjugal rights” is wrong and it sanctions rape. Marriage is supposed to be about love, not rape, and complete dominance of one over another.

9. The first thing that happens to a person that has been sexually assaulted, molested or harassed is to hide, keep quiet or feel shame and they go into hiding the event, how do you identify that to help?
It is not for me to tell people how to act. It is solely up to the survivor to do what he or she wants to do. Personally, I would like more and more people to open up to a trusted individual in their lives, but I cannot make a survivor do that. Rape and sexual assault are so incredibly hard to talk about. But I believe we have to be there for each other and let others know that we will sit and listen to them if they ever need anything. I pray that more people create loving and safe environments in which people can disclose their stories and pain if they choose to. More people will come forward as more people come forward.
10. Your THP sounds wonderful, have they thought of extending their great work to other countries? Through affiliations, overseas training to create awareness to communities?

No, but I will. I try my best to get this book and these messages to countries throughout the world and will continue to do so. You are a big part of that Abiola. God bless you. Thank you for this connection and opportunity.

11. Do you have any plans to make your book available to Africa and Nigeria?

Absolutely. One way to make the book available in Nigeria and Africa is by talking to other people, posting on social media sites and through this great interview. This interview will raise awareness of the book’s existence to people in Nigeria, and I thank you for that. To the Survivors can be found online at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, kobo.com, smashwords.com, goodreads.com, and other online retailers. The e-book can also be found on my website for free at http://www.robertuttaro.com if people cannot afford the book. I want anyone to be able to get a copy of To the Survivors should they have an interest. People can contact me directly through my website if for some reason they cannot obtain a copy. Lastly, I would love to travel to Nigeria or anywhere else if anyone ever wants me to speak about these issues.

12. Share your thoughts on what you hope your book might achieve?

I have many hopes for what the book might achieve in the lives of others, probably too many to list here. I will try to answer as best as I can:

I hope people keep breathing and do not choose to kill him or herself.
I hope people will not feel shame for being raped or sexually assaulted.
I hope people will not blame themselves for being raped or sexually assaulted.
I hope people understand that they are not alone.
I hope people connect on some level with at least one person in To the Survivors.
I hope people understand that they can grow and heal from any pain they experience.
I hope people who have not been raped or sexually assaulted become more educated on how to respond to incidences of sexual violence and the suffering of survivors.
I hope people stop raping and assaulting.
I hope people understand that God loves them more than they can even fathom, even if they do not believe in God.
I hope people talk to God and listen to God.

These are some of my many hopes.

Will you be willing to answer questions on your book after this time, if you will please tell us how we may do that.
Yes. People can email me at info@robertuttaro.com if they want to ask me anything.
Thank you being on Ephesus.
Thank you for having me. It’s been a true blessing. God bless you, Abiola.
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Impressions of a spiritual kind

My first reaction when I downloaded this ebook was to give a sigh of relief that I could breeze through the reading of the book, when I saw it was only 36 pages. I settled in and open the first page then blinked. I was startled at my first experience of reading somebody talking to me through layers. No strike that, I had experienced that when I wrote my second novel Numen Yeye.
My eyebrows were raised when the first pages seemed to be questions from a Western outlook. I excused my disappointment as I recognized that I must have missed the first two books that Johanna was referring to. I am African, Nigerian, actually and specifically from that part of the country where being a woman had both its limitations and strengths. I am a Yoruba woman.
As I grew up, I quickly learnt what it means being a woman and the first things were the limitations, so I tended to be impatient with the first few questions, which had very little to do with my world concept, until we got to a few questions and Mary started talking about womanhood, now she got my full attention and happily held it to the end. The beauty of Johanna’s writing was she handed over the story to Mary Magdalene and stayed severely in the background to the very end.
Mary Magdalene has held the attention of every spiri-t striving woman through the ages. I always asked this question when I was young. How could love be a sin? What annoyed the writers of the Holy Book so much that they defiled her so unremittingly?
Mary of Magda sums it all up for me this way: That I loved a man so powerful and yet maintained my own identity even in the face of no acceptance. That was the toughest love you could hand over and the toughest role that you could be asked to fill in.
She remained a beacon for women the world over who have faced such tough choices by a male dominated society. We still raise our brows at the sound or mention of her name and have a smirk, a self- complacent smile and I always wondered that even fellow women have not done any better in giving such a painful role to Mary of Magda.
I guess the seeking soul can only find the answers within. Like Mary says, Your role as a soul is to remember
Further on she urges, Honor your intuition, it is the voice of your soul.
The only offence Mary of Magda ever committed was she loved a powerful, great man whose divinity was clear, we also denied Him to right to love one personally for Himself and punished Mary to the forgotten pages of historical slumber.
Welcome to my blog and I would be happy to have, Mary give answers to these questions. Some of them will be regular and some will be as intuition guides me.
1. Why should women be interested in politics at all, they are the guardians of the soul of the Earth?
Women are earthbound souls who chose to live a human experience. It is the systems of the Earth that often dictate destiny. Politics is part of a larger world system that should not be ignored. Unfortunately, our voice as women is often small and unheard yet we should not ignore what is laid before us in the rules of any system. Wisdom is an innate gift women birth at various moments in their evolution. They feel truth in the heart of their soul and find it a challenge to put words into motion of their divine truths. Political history has silenced many voices through their archaic systems.
The women of the earth as in all cultures and systems must never forget that the voice of a small kitten can turn into the roar of a lioness. In this age, the lioness comes out of her cage and joins others. This is not only heard but seen as a force that can change political opinions and hence consciousness. It is a cause worth the effort.

2. Woman carries the finer energies because she is expected to serve as the transition of the realms along the path of spirituality even unto divinity, how can she achieve that in today’s world of crass materiality?
Women were birthed into the Divine Feminine energy to remind the world of all that is receptive, emotional and in movement. The evolved feminine soul has realization that she is a magnet of light who holds the beam of direction to understanding the material world that serves the higher aspect of all souls. She realizes the blessings along the journey in the material world without being manipulated or held back. She is unattached to this aspect of life and understands the desires of the soul and the needs of the physical world.
Why does the Christian books find the concept of marital love anathema in relation to Yeshua who is the love incarnate of the Almighty father?
Because the books of history did not know his true Holy Heart or intention. They created a story for social consumption to fit their own needs. It is a sadness that lies heavily to see this lack of wisdom. We reach many whose hearts are open. How can anyone ever describe the light and love of the divine if their minds are closed?

3. How can love be a sin? And how did you cope with the ridicule and suspicion through the ages?
Love is the purest state of connection with the divine that exists. It is a gift to live in this state of being. The sin is the misconception that when this gift of love is shared in the state of divine intention with another it has no divine purpose.
I came to the Earth with a divine mission and still continue to be a messenger. While in the body, I often felt my soul sad and my heart shattered for the labels. I parted the veils in my mind and touched the sweetness of love in my memory. This is all that matters even now as we watch the world twist and turn.

4. When you feel divine love, you are held in the cup of the universe, and know from within what bliss can be.. how can the woman of today make that possible in the home?
Your home is a temple which is sacred. It holds energy and intention. Create a sacred place in your home where you disconnect from the world and enter into the heart of peace and love. Sacred space holds bliss naturally when created from love. Make a commitment on a regular basis to experience this space and continue to breathe in love and breathe out fear. Feel the divine even in the simple things. It must become a habit.
5. I learned that Marriage can be likened to two streams flowing together in the same direction; each feeds the other but retains their individuality like you did in Yeshua and you joining, can we learn how to do in the face of the customs and practices of the society today?
If your customs are rigid then work within the customs and create your own unique identity. This must be discussed. We see much of this today; the desire to be free and dance in your own light. Do you know how to use energy to your advantage and bend the light inward? The paradigms shift with the ages. Allow divine timing to catch up for this should not ever be an inner struggle.
6. In the past in China and in Greek stories, the kingdom of women and Lesbo became extinct first because Lesbo was invaded by men and once noble ideals was manipulated and the story was thereafter distorted and made sordid and in the case of China, the kingdom of Women was finally conquered and contained, now you predict that when the five nations allow the voice of the feminine spirituality to be heard, there might be a change for the better. Could you explain further?
I tell you dear one something you already know about this history. The threat of power misunderstood caused this. The sacredness of these women and their choices was violated with soul ignorance. As the rights of humanity, including male and female, are recognized as a choice of soul evolution for the benefit of wholeness only then will society be open and release ignorance, judgments and fear from something they do not understand. A universal global voice must be heard that is cohesive in nature and that will only occur when male and female disconnect from the rage of the warring heart and enter into the flow of the harmony of the human spirit. As long as war exists you are in duality and polarity of opposition. There is a large wave of awareness and acceptance that is emerging yet a large portion of the Earth is still dark. It will take time and as you see leadership shift the work will begin for more tolerance. It is a long journey with some stumbles for the spiritual activist. The women of today are preparing their children for this. It warms us.
7. This question is for Johanna.. When you became a full fledged psychic, what was your experience like?
Two things show up for me with this question:
A. My first official reading was with a woman named Jan who called me one night. She was going through a divorce and was about to lose her adopted child to her then ‘husband’. She had heard about me through a man I was dating who told her I was gifted as I had given him some psychic information. I did not know he was sharing that info with anyone. I told her I did not do this kind of work and her response was, ‘well you do now!’ She told me when she would call, how long we would talk, and how much she was going to pay me. I agreed. During the reading, I was guided to tell her she was married to a bigamist and he had no legal rights to their adopted child. I guided her to go back to her attorney (and hopefully she was open to this reading information) and hire a detective. She did do that and they found out he had another legal wife and no rights to this child as they were not legally married! The attorney was open to psychic readings and then she started calling relative to the case and personal issues. During the court case the reading was entered as evidence as I am in the family law court records in San Diego, County which is pretty cool. She then gave my name to others and my referral system began. It was all word of mouth.

As a result of that show, the three of us were asked to be on a TV show called The Other Side in LA. The host was very clear that I was NOT to use the word psychic so I said, ‘ok no problem I will use intuitive.’ The show begins he comes over to me and says, ‘so are you a psychic?” and I said, ‘yes’!

B. I had just started doing my psychic readings and a client invited me to a party with some of her friends. She walked me over to an elderly man and said, ‘this is my psychic.’ He thought she said ‘sidekick’ and started to laugh. I gulped down and said, ‘no I am her spiritual psychic.’ Everyone in the room gave me a funny look and turned away. This was my first public coming out party to the world as a psychic so I felt terrible. I went outside on a patio all alone and then after a bit, one by one each person came out to chat with me. They were loving and accepting and asked for my cards. I was not there to entertain them and I left feeling very loved and appreciated.

8. How can one separate a true psychic from a darn good psychologist or charlatan?
Get a referral and check their credentials. Ask them about their training and psychic development. A gifted psychic has refined their gift. They are loving compassionate and genuinely kind. If they are professional and valid in this day and age, there should be information about them on the internet. We are spiritual guides who MUST come from love and wholeness. If anyone starts to creep you out or instill fear in you, STOP THE SESSION AND DO NOT PAY THEM. You are paying for their time. They gift you the door to wisdom but their ego is not there. If it doesn’t feel right, speak up and leave. You should always leave a spiritual session of any kind feeling lifted up, confident and with a greater sense of direction. The decision is up to you to apply the Law of Action. Any psychic who tells you have to come back again and again is not trustworthy. Do your homework and trust your intuition.
9. This final question is for Mary of Magda: In the face of the fact that the world has lost its innocence and can no longer turn willingly to spiritual contemplation, has changed the signposts and women are no longer true guardians of purity, what do you suggest should be the way forward now for women?
Women must reclaim their divine feminine rights as keepers of light and guardians of an Earth that needs healing. You must start first on a journey of self-discovery, not over analyzing to discover self-love. Only then will you be a beacon of light towards the inner world of light and love. This has nothing to do with anyone else other than YOU.
I recently wrote a book called The Lost Art of Loving which is all about that journey of awareness. I have been told it is like a mini spiritual seminar for women. A return to innocence is available; we merely have to discover it once again. The soul remembers everything to take you there. Our journey as women reminds me of the inscription written over many of the ancient temples and what I saw in France while doing Mary Magdalene retreats: KNOW THYSELF. It has to start with that before you can hold the light for others to follow.

Conversations

I have something interesting to share with you this week. I do me melook forward to doing so for a few more weeks with some of the most interesting minds I came across during our recent convention. Remember I had promised to let you know what happened at this convention. I very rarely attend convention as there seemed to be more politics attached to the hosting than the event itself, but I felt this was different. It was going to be a gathering of creative minds and I looked forward to the event. Happily for me the author I had threatened to scalp for his less than admirable portrayal of womanhood did not attend. So I enjoyed myself and tried to ask a few questions around. It was like feeling my way around. The attendance was in the hundreds and there was some sort of mini book fair as publishers came to display the books of their authors. In the package given to us was a collection of poetry and I came across this one.

The Blithesome Butterfly Adder

Like the rainbow in its effulgence
You glistened into the horizon of my existence,
Your dazzling colours enrapturing my unwary soul.

Like the butterfly in its splendour
You fluttered with zest and zeal.
Your serrated wings a galaxy of beauty.

Like the rich new wine
You galloped gingerly down the goblet.
With your aroma, you compelled even the celibate appetite.
I reached out in my thirst for a satisfying drink.
Oh, what hemlock!

Like the gaboon viper
You patiently laid ambush and with avarice
You feasted on my helpless heels
Even when not provoked.

Ensconced in the bowel of the forest,
You dug your garish gash with uncommon adroitness
into the innocent tree, intent on felling it.
With feigned fervour, you ran through the streets
bemoaning the fate of the same tree.

I leap in joy for freedom,
Inured as I now am, the gash can go no deeper.
I cry in pain for your numb captives,
held in slumber and stupor by your practised pretence.

So I went looking for the poet, here is what happened.

Please tell us a bit about yourself
1. My name is Oluchi J. IGILI. I’m a female Nigerian author and a dramatist both by training and engagement. I’m currently a university teacher where my duties include instructing students both in the theory and practice of drama/theatre. I ventured, if you like, into writing because I find it as a veritable window of opportunity to express myself, my thoughts and my concerns about the world in which I live. In this regard, I share my thoughts through poetry, drama and prose fiction.

Nigerian authors seem to be very much in the background as far as international aweeness is concerned, is that a true assessment?
2. To say anything about one’s country except that which paints her in glowing colours would, ordinarily, be politically incorrect. But I think it is patriotic to admit that Nigerian authors are lagging behind in terms of awareness of what is going on on the international scene. To a very large extent, only Nigerian authors in the Diaspora have a good grasp of what obtains on the international front and in consequence, they enjoy a lot of international recognition. That is not to say that Nigerian authors living within the country cannot hold their own in terms of their creative prowess. What it simply means is that the writers in Diaspora are privileged to be to enjoy many opportunities not yet available to Nigerian authors living and writing in the country.

Your poem is striking as it suggests a deeper level of human experience. What genre of writing do you subscribe to?
3. I engage in any form of creative writing (poetry, drama or prose) that enables me to give expression to my innermost concerns for my society. Another way to put it is to say that I subscribe to any literary genre that has a clearly discernible commitment to issues that affect humanity. Without any equivocation whatsoever, I belong to that school of thought that says, art, whether it is literary art or any other form of art, should be placed at the service of humanity. Art should not be an architectural masterpiece which lacks utilitarian value. Art for art’s sake? Not for me.

At the recently concluded convention of the association of Nigerian authors, there was a move to bring the female authors together, what do you think informed such a drive?
4. Yes, I am aware of that move to bring Nigerian female authors together. Nigerian female writers are making the effort to come together under one umbrella or the other. One of such platforms is the Association of Nigerian Female Authors (ANFA) among others. The reason for this, I believe, is not far-fetched. The female Nigerian writer needs to be more visible and the best way to achieve this is to have a platform from which to seek both to be seen and heard. As much as I know that some of our male counterparts are sympathetic enough (I use that word deliberately), one can also understand that they are not too prepared to yield much space to the female writer. So, there is the need for Nigerian female writers to come together and create a strong visible image for themselves. If we fail to blow our trumpets, like they say, we should not expect any body to do that for us. And the time to do that is now.

As a published author, what has been your experience?
5. There are a number of challenges which I believe are common to writers in my clime. There is the problem of a continuously dwindling reading culture which has been worsened in recent years by a barrage of technological devices that have made reading very unappealing. Whereas in the past people spent their leisure times on reading, technological devices have provided ready alternatives that are a lot less intellectually tasking. It does not take much intellectual muscle to sit down in front of a TV screen to watch a movie or soap.
Another issue which published authors have to grapple with here is piracy which has made writing to be a non lucrative enterprise.

Tell us about your published book and how we can get a copy
6. My most recent literary out puts are a short story in Tales From the Sun and poems in One Poem, Fifty Seasons: A Collection of Poems in Honour of Sola Owonibi and they are available in leading bookshops. A collection of short stories is right now in the quarry.

Share a typical day with us
7. My typical day is basically the same as that of any serious minded wife, mother, public servant, responsible citizen and committed Christian, all rolled into one, who must also find time to put pen to paper and give vent to the creative impulse.

What do you see as the Nigerian literary scene?
8. The Nigerian literary scene has a lot of issues/problems to contend with. It seems to me that there are too many ‘writers’ who should have no business writing. In short, there are too many sub standard, poorly written works on the Nigerian literary scene. That is not to say that there are no good books any more but the not-too-good ones have become rather common place. Self publishing is another monster on the Nigerian literary scene. Many Nigerian writers do not see why they should submit their manuscripts to established publishing houses for thorough vetting. On the other hand, well known publishing houses also have the reputation of ripping off writers particularly upcoming writers. These are some of the problems the Nigerian literary scene is contending with.

I have had to convert my English from my Nigerian roots to what my publisher says will be internationally accepted format, have had such an experience?
9. Nigerian writers are no doubt faced with the challenge of writing a ‘brand’ of English language that must of necessity retain the flavour and nuances of native Nigerian languages in which they think and from which they draw their thoughts and passing same across in an acceptable format to international readers. So the challenge is about how to strike a balance between reaching the Nigerian reader for whom the Nigerian writer writes primarily and at the same time achieve international acceptability. This is not a particularly easy line to toe.

Talk to us about our reading culture and predict what may be possible in the next five years.
10. The reading culture of the average Nigerian is whittling daily, no thanks to technology such as television, telephone and other social media. Except something definite is done deliberately and urgently, the future is really bleak in this regard.

Finally what lessons or insights did the recently concluded convention offer you as an author?
11. One take home for me from the recently concluded convention of the Association of Nigeria Authors is the undeniable role of the literary artist in nation building. As noted by the keynote speaker, Prof. Toyin Falola, creative writers must connect text and imagination with policies and politics. In other words, the Nigerian creative writer must be actively involved in nation building because he has a lot to offer. This again tells us that art for art’s sake has no place in the Nigerian cum African literary landscape.

Thank you for chatting with us
Thank you for sparing time for this interaction.

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