Thursday, December 7, 2017

BEYOND THE MESS

The first time I saw the house on Gumani Road in April 2001, it was a dilapidated, “things fall apart” and bats-infested wreck of a bungalow. But the three-bedroom with two bathrooms bungalow had two appeals; its proximity to my new office in Tamale, sharing a common side fence, and the big expanse of grounds—a definite deal for my two young sons.

I had to look beyond its state at that time and created in my mind a vision of what it could be. So, I fixed my gaze on this picture of what I imagined it could become as I began to negotiate with the shrewd landlord. Shared with him my vision for the bungalow. Told him I will pay for the renovations on the conditions that he keeps my rent the same throughout my stay in Tamale and when I was ready to leave, he will pay me back for the major fixtures. Shrewd met strong negotiating skills.

I had been told that the man likes money and doesn’t like to spend on his houses. Told him that by the time the house is renovated to my taste, he would not recognize it and after I leave, he would be able to give it to the highest bidder and recoup whatever he would have to refund to me. It is a win-win. I get what I want, and he eventually gets what he likes most.  After much debate, we agreed.

The renovation work began in earnest, and in less than two months we had transformed the building into my dream and vision. We fitted the bathrooms with bathtubs. And tiled the walls and floors with elegant and bright tiles. We did the same for the kitchen. We fixed the wardrobes in the three bedrooms. The living area was divided to provide me with a study and storage space. We created a covered portico in front of the bungalow. We had a few trees removed from around the house. I could do without bats and reptiles around the house. I had the whole house and the fence surrounding the house repainted. By the time, we finished, the house stood out on the street.


I had cane furniture brought in from Accra. Made curtains and cushions with the Nigerian Tie and Dye fabric; proudly Nigerian. I had air-conditioners fitted in all the rooms. Tamale is incredibly hot. Children cannot play outdoors until the sun goes down and they are back home from school by 12:30 pm because of the heat.

We moved in. The boys had a great time playing and riding their bicycles on the grounds of the compound. I had the pleasure of hosting guests for dinners especially those coming from out of town for meetings in the office. I hosted my new church family in Tamale for times of fellowship and counseling.

It was a joy to see the house become what I envisioned it could be. So, I was pretty sad when I had to leave after just a little over two years in the house. The house will continue to hold incredible memories for me.

I was glad to see the house again on November 20th, 2017 during my Tamale Homecoming. It was taken over by an International Agency working in the Northern Region of Ghana. I was right when I said the house would eventually go to the highest bidder—it became the office of the Agency. With a dear friend working as a staff in the office, I had the opportunity of entering the building and the rooms again and was astonished at the continued transformation of the building.

Sometimes, what we see before us is a mess; the consequences of bad decisions, neglect, and failures. When we look beyond the mess, and we see with God’s eyes, we can envision what the mess can become with the redeeming and transforming love of God. With great determination and concerted efforts, we transformed a dilapidated building into a comfortable home and later into an office.

 
I want to encourage you not to give up on whatever is looking like a real mess before you today. Trust God to open your eyes to see what it can truly become. Trust God to give you His vision for that mess. You will be amazed if you stay focused on that vision and work with God to get there.

What we behold take hold of us. What are you beholding?

The mess or the miracle in the making?

Share with us something that was once a mess in your life that God has turned into a miracle. Let’s inspire and encourage one another.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Our God of Awesome Faithfulness

May 2003, the ambulance drove me out of my residence at Gumani Road in Tamale, Ghana. Collapsed lungs was an emergency requiring urgent medical attention beyond the capacity of the facilities available in the town.

I left my two young sons behind. They were still in their pyjamas that morning, looking forlorn as the ambulance took a right turn out of the gates and disappeared out of their sight on a journey I knew not how it would end. Our friends and church family held their hands. They held my sons' passports as well. Just in case...

I recalled how we had become so close to this couple with whom I entrusted my sons.

I had arrived in Tamale in April 2001 with a three-year contract. I wanted a church suitable for both my growing sons and myself. I asked and was directed to one not far from where would become home for my family. The service was conducted in Dagomba; the local language in Tamale in the Northern region of Ghana. I did not understand a word but since the spirit is one I worshipped God alongside with them. The pastor spoke English. He welcomed me after the service and requested for my contact details. I was still staying in the Hotel while waiting for the house to be renovated.

A few hours afterwards, I heard a knock at my door. I opened to meet a lady with a broad smile; "my name is Joy." I could not but agree with her. She exuded joy. she introduced herself as one of the Pastors at the main Church further away in the town. She invited me to worship with them there. She told me it would be more suitable for me as the service was conducted in English and Twi. I agreed. And that was the beginning of a relationship that has been thriving beyond my wildest imagination. I met her husband. I met her sons. I met their loving church family.

They welcomed us into their church (Lighthouse Chapel International) with open arms.
They welcomed us into their home.
They welcomed us into their hearts.

Their three boys plus my two became a five-boy club. That was most welcomed for my two boys uprooted from family and friends in their homeland, and relocated to a strange land where they knew no one or had any friends.

I thought about how close our families had become as I was driven on that tortuous journey to Accra. I thought about the friendships we had forged with that church family that was so close-knit displaying the love Christ asked us to have for one another. 

I wondered when or if I would see my children again. I prayed and asked God to keep me.

After six weeks in the hospital in Accra, my health situation was in no way better and I was evacuated to Geneva Switzerland for urgent medical attention. Our friends had brought down my sons and handed them over to my husband who had come down to Accra from Geneva. I left Ghana in June 2003 with my sons unsure of when I would be back or if I would be back.

By the grace of God, I came back November 2003 after recovering from the second Cardio Thoracic Surgery in 10 years. But I did not come back with my sons. I did not come back to continue my work that I loved so much. I came back to pack my belongings. 

It was an emotional farewell and goodbye to friends who have become family, who have become a part of our lives.
"God keep you till we meet again."
We didn’t know how. 
We didn’t know when. 
 I wondered when that day would be.
Would it be on this side of the divide or at Our Master’s feet. 

My joy knew no bounds as I boarded the plane 14 years later on November 10th as I returned to Ghana for the first time. It was the day the Lord has made. I could not but rejoice in it. A much prayed for heart desire was about to come true; the day we had longed for. I returned to Ghana to share the testimony of God's amazing grace that kept me through the storms. It can only be God, our Covenant God who makes and keep promises. The God who answers prayers.

At His appointed time. He made all things beautiful. There could not have been a better time but now. It was worth the wait.

We had counted the years as months, counted the months as weeks, counted the weeks as days and then we were counting the hours. The 35 minutes flight from Accra to Kumasi gave me a glimpse of the brilliant sun beams pierced the dark grey clouds over Kumasi. God is smiling at me. The radiance of  His face is shining on me. What more could I have asked for.

With wide open arms and overflowing joy, they welcomed be back to Kumasi and to their home and to their church. I never left their hearts in the 14 years since we parted in flesh for a season.

Four days into the journey back in Ghana, my mouth is full of words of gratitude and appreciation to my God of Faithfulness who has continued wow me with diverse manifestations of His awesome faithfulness. He kept opening one new door after the other. He kept providing opportunities to share the testimony. The response and the love displayed by old friends and new ones have been overwhelming. They are all giving praise, thanks and adoration to God for His unfailing love and faithfulness.
Attention, all ye earth
I will ascribe greatness to Our God 
He is the Rock 
His works are perfect 
His ways are just
He is a fair God
The Covenant God you can depend upon The God of faithfulness without breach and deviation. 
Good and upright is He.

Our Covenant God keeps every single one of His promised. Not a single jot of His word will return to Him without accomplishing God's purpose. you can trust God. You can absolutely on God. You can be sure He will do what He promises, at His appointed time.

Wait for God. He is the God of Awesome Faithfulness. He will not disappoint you.
He did not disappoint me. He is daily wowing me with His gracious goodness. He will do the same for you who hope and trust in Him.

Join me as I share the testimony of God's amazing grace that kept me through the storms at the following venues:
1. November 15th - Alisa Hotel, Labone Accra - 5:30pm
2. November 17th - First Love Chapel, Ayeduase, Kumasi - 6:30pm
3. November 19th - Lighthouse Chapel, Vittin, Tamale - 10:30am

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What Next?


I have not blogged in a very long while. I have watched months fly past without turning the dream of writing consistently into action. If it were possible for thoughts to transcribe into words without a determined action on my part, I would have automated my writing. But that is not possible, at least not yet.

2017 has been a busy year beyond my imagination. I have juggled many balls in the air. I managed to keep some afloat. I dropped quite a few. Blogging, unfortunately, is one of the balls that I dropped against my best intentions, despite having three platforms that provides me with the opportunities to blog and share to inspire hope and enrich lives.

Having acknowledged my shortcomings and trusting you to forgive me for not connecting with you as promised, let me count my blessings in 2017 and be grateful for the many balls I have been able to keep afloat by the grace of God.

The Book, Grace In The Storms, is going to places beyond my imagination. I know that at least 1000 printed copies are out there. I am super grateful to God for His faithfulness, and for the lives, He is using the Book to touch. The feedback received has truly touched my heart and humbled me.

We held several Grace In The Storms Events and had many opportunities to share the story in Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and Nigeria. These were avenues to share the testimony of God’s sustaining grace and to present the Book to a wider audience. I am simply awed at what God is doing with the story He has scripted of my life and the many doors He is using the story to open to me.

My instruction was to go and share the story at every place He will open the doors to me. He had not ceased to amaze me with the way He is fulfilling His part of the bargain. The Feet of Grace is taking me to places my natural feet could not have taken me.

The Feet of Grace Foundation has almost fully engaged my attention and occupied my time. We set out to make the ONE DREAM of living life without limits come true for TEN AMPUTEES in 2017. It has not been a mean feat. There have been several times that I had to pause, and I wondered how this would come to pass; “how would it be?” The support did not come from the places that I had envisaged and expected. Support and help came through many unexpected channels I could never have dreamt of.

My heart rejoices with praise as I am overwhelmed at the goodness of God. He simply pushed me to keep my focus on Him. He keeps reminding me that when He gives an assignment, He makes provision for it. The Annual Charity Walk took place in more locations in 2017 to include Kenya and Uganda in addition to the earlier locations we had in Nigeria, United Kingdom, United States and Switzerland. So far, support has been provided to procure prosthetic limbs for Seven amputees in 2017. Seven almost done, three to go. Together we can make this one dream come true for all the ten amputees.

In addition to the above, I now have a Live Video session of Inspiring Hope on My Facebook Page every Friday evening. I share messages of Grace and Hope to inspire others in their journeys especially those facing adversities and life-challenges.

The work has been intense. The grace has been generous.

But amid these, one question keeps gnawing my spirit—What Next?

What next as a wife after 25 years of marriage?
My husband and I celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary last April with praise and thanksgiving to God, and with many testimonies. It can only get better. Where do I need to make improvements? What can I do better to keep my marriage fresh, vibrant and exciting for both my husband and me? How are we doing with pursuing and fulfilling the purpose for which God brought us together as husband and wife? I don’t want my marriage to settle into the rut of routines. I do not want us to settle on the sofa of staleness. I am taking time to reflect our shared interests and common goal and vision for our marriage.

What next as a mother of two adult sons who no longer need me to parent them daily?
My first son is now an Engineering graduate, carving out his life and making life decisions. My second son is a junior in the university. Both are living between 6700km to 9450km from home. Parenting them is redefined. My role is becoming more of a counselor and adviser on a faraway stage, and a prayer warrior behind the scenes. As much as I want to be a part of their daily life, they seem to be getting on just fine without me mothering them.

What next as an entrepreneur?
My desire to be a contributing partner to my family finances has not waned despite the years of inability to earn a regular income on health grounds. The vats of needs are huge. The desire to be an inexhaustible conduit of God’s blessing is compelling. What I see in the pipeline cannot meet the needs. I am again and again learning to trust God for His provision. He brought us this far. He has been our sufficiency. I am asking God and myself, what can I do differently to generate the much-needed income. How can I be a more faithful steward of the resources available to me? How can I best position and manage my business so that it can generate consistent income? How do I carve out the time to production in my already crowded agenda? Which of my skills can I monetize to generate income? The questions seem endless.

What next as a Writer?
The books longing to be written and the manuscripts waiting to be completed have refused to let go of their hold on my heart. I cannot miss the unusual ways God is reminding me that I have several uncompleted writing assignments. Wishing will not write the Books. They will only get written when I make time to sit and write. My starting point is writing this blog with renewed commitment.

What next as an Inspirational Speaker?
Knowing where God wants me to be at each point in time is an imperative. I cannot afford to miss the opportunity that God opens to me neither can I afford to go where He has not sent me.

What next as God’s handmaiden positioned at this place and at this time for an only-me-can-fulfill purpose in God’s Kingdom agenda?

Truly, I am in the “What Next?” phase of life. Knowing and understanding the will of God for my life at this phase is critical. Clarifying my God-given vision and the steps needed to accomplish is an imperative I cannot afford to overlook.

I am taking time to seek God’s face. I am listening for His instructions. I am willing to submit to His leading, to trust Him and to obey Him. At the beginning of 2017, my watchword was “Listen, Trust and Obey.” It is obvious that God is not done with teaching me to listen for His instructions, to trust in His ability to take me to where He wants me to be, and to simply obey Him.

Perhaps, you are also in that phase where you strongly desire to know which direction God wants you to go. Then, you are in the right place to pull the plug on yourself and retreat into God’s presence. Silence the noise of the world around you, tune your ears to listen and hear God’s voice. Wait in His presence for instructions. You are in the waiting room—the place where God is preparing you for your next season.

That is where I am now—clarifying God’s calling on my life and His purpose and directions for my next season. I am confident that there is grace available for this phase—the grace that keeps me through the tests needed to refine and prepare me for the next season. I am tapping into the super-abundant grace. I encourage you to do so. That grace enables you to do what you cannot do in your human capacity. It is grace that will keep you sitting still to listen when your instinct is to engage and get even busier.

Receive today, the grace to retreat to recalibrate, renew, refocus and refresh in preparation for your next season.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Joy Of A Dream Come True

The joy of a dream come true is beyond description. My heart overflowed with praise and tears even rolled down my cheeks. It was pure joy. A long drawn out dream finally came to pass.

It has been a very long time since I posted a blog here. For those who have been long with me, you know already that I wanted to transition this Blog to the Feet of Grace Foundation website so that it would be easier to manage all the blog posts from one website. But the time I have spent here and the connections made hold a special place in my heart. You will also know that I had an assignment, which was pending for a very long time. Indeed, it has been my earnest desire and dream to finishing writing my story into a Book. 

I am greatly delighted to announce that Grace In The Storm – A Living Proof is now published.  The journey has been long and tortuous, just like the story behind the Book. Both the story behind the Book and the writing of the Book are testimonials of God amazing grace and faithfulness. My heart is full of thanks and praise to God for His awesome goodness for bringing this dream to pass.

The writing of Grace In The Storms took thirteen years. For several years, I didn’t even know how to present the story or how to end it. I wanted to the story to speak of the victory that God brings to bear in the lives of His people. I wanted the story to present a testimony that requires no explanation. I wanted those who knew me in the years of the storms to see a change that will cause them to acknowledge the goodness and faithfulness of God in my life; “they were amazed and astonished at the greatness of God.” And all the people who see me will give praise to God and glorify His name. God brought that change about in 2013 with yet another twist to it. That twist resulted in the establishment of the Feet of Grace Foundation.

The Book is selling via several outlets in Nigeria and Switzerland. It is available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle edition. 

There will be a promotional campaign on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk from April 9th to 11th, 2017 during which the Kindle Version will be available at a reduced price.

Please find the Amazon link below:


Grace In The Storms...A Living Proof - Kindle Edition

Not only is the Book now on sales, I am also pleased to announce to you that my personal website is also up and running. I invite you to check out Irene T. Olumese website where I speak and write to inspire hope for those going through life's challenging situations in whatever form.

My life story may have several chapters of pain, misery and distress but it is not a tragedy. It has been come an opportunity to inspire hope and encourage those going through difficult and challenging situations. I believe there is at least one person waiting at the end of our dark tunnel to light their candles from ours. That is why we must keep hope alive while we go through the storms. 

The good news is that God's grace is abundantly available to enable, energize and empower us, and finally bring us out on the other side to the place where victory is made manifest. My word of encouragement to you today is this; persevere in hope until you see the desires of your heart manifested. Don’t give up on hope. Don’t give yourself the permission to quit when the journey becomes tough and  is full of twists, turns and bends. Stay focused on the goal. Keep an relentless and unyielding grip on the hope of seeing your dream come true. I don’t know how long it will take but I can assure you that if this is in line with the will of God for you, He will bring it to pass, come what may.

Ultimately, God gets all the glory and honour and adoration. That is the whole purpose of our existence; to bring glory to God when we fulfill His calling on our lives.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

O For a Thousand Tongues To Sing

I remember in 1999, my doctors told me that in just a few years down the road I would have to be in the wheelchair for the rest of my life, requiring support for day-to-day basic activities.

Here am I today, shouting and screaming praises to God.

I remember in 2013, the surgeon told me that my medical history presented a constellation of risks for doing the surgery that was the only medical option left for me to have a chance at living a quality life again. He determined that I could bleed to death on the operating table.

Here am I today, shouting and screaming praises to God.

I remember a few years ago, I laid on the black leather sofa in my sitting room and I thought of Saturday, October 1st, 2016. My physical realities then indicated that it would be nothing short of a miracle to still be here in the land of the living on this special day of my life.

Here am I today, heaping praises on God.

I remember when the label of affliction screamed louder than a gigantic billboard along a highway. It was God Who delivered me for its shame.

Here am I today, dancing and giving thanks to God.

I remember when living was difficult and the future looked bleak, it was God who delivered me from death. He brought me through the valley of the shadow of death.

He restored me. He sustained me. He secured me.

I will remember. I will remember the wonderful works of His hands.

I will stop and give Him praise.

Why?

Because He is a faithful God.

For the past few weeks, I wondered, I pondered; what can I render to God for His amazing grace that 

He caused to abound to me from the day I was conceived until this day.

What can I offer to Him for His unending love?

How can I thank Him ever thank Him enough for all He has done for me?

What shall I say to the Lord for steadfast faithfulness to me?

All I have to say is, “Thank You, God.”

So here am I to sing thanks and praises to God.

But if the more than 600,000 strands of hair on my scalp are made of tongues, they simply cannot be enough to recount all the many acts of wonder God has performed in my life for the past 50 years since I made my entrance into the world.

Charles Wesley (1707 – 1788) must have been in the same position as I am right now when he composed the hymn below:

O for a thousand tongues to sing
my great Redeemer's praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of His grace!

This hymn succinctly expresses the depth of my gratitude and my earnest desire to let God know just how much I am grateful for who He has been to me. The triumphs of His amazing grace in my life is a book worth writing. I could write volumes on the triumphs of the grace and mercy of God manifested in my life.

During the next few days leading to my 50th birthday on October 1st, what I desire to do is to employ a thousand tongues to join me to spread through all the earth abroad, the honors of His name. Join me to heap praise on God.



I will stop, take time and lavish extravagant praise on God, for great is God’s faithfulness and amazing grace to me.

I invite you who know my story to join me; let’s raise together a thousand tongues to sing the praises of my great Redeemer.


This blog post was inspired by the following hymn and songs:
1. O for a thousand tongues by Charles Wesley
2. Na You by Frank Edward
3. We will remember by Tommy Walker