17 October 2014

Giving your all, even when it's not good enough.

One of my favourite lessons from the Bible is that of the Widow's mite. It speaks of a poor and lowly woman, a widower with probably no support, who was still prepared to give the little she had. So she came in to church with her two tiny coins, to drop in the offering bowl, while the rich on the other hand probably only gave a small portion of all their wealth. This struggling woman willingly gave all she had in humility, while others in a more fortunate position may have looked down their noses at her meagre offering.

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:41-44 New International Version

Learning to give my all to God at all times, regardless of misconceptions, is definitely one of the hardest life lessons I've had to accept.  There are points in life that we may feel we have nothing left to give, because it seems like we have already given our best, but we cannot continue to bask in the light of yesterdays glory. Reminds me of the scripture that speak of serving God in our youth:
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
Ecclesiastes 12:1 King James Bible
Another version says: Don't let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, "Life is not pleasant anymore."
Ecclesiastes 12:1 New Living Translation

It's not only about age, but it's about times and seasons, which are a natural process in life. The truth is that there will be times when we cannot do as much as we would like to, due to circumstances which are beyond our control. So while our hearts are still fully committed, we must be patient and learn to adapt until the new season is in full circle.

Sometimes, it’s a simple case of losing our perspective, because we can no longer see what we do have, or do not regard what we have as valuable. At such low times as these, we may not even be in the right frame of mind to sensibly evaluate what we do have, and may be too quick to dismiss it.

Most of the time we don't even know what God is requiring of us anyway, because we haven't stopped to ask. We are expecting it to be something big, extremely complex and of such unadulterated excellence that it must probably be unobtainable, but God doesn't work like that.

God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
Romans 12:6-8 New Living Translation

He has already equipped us with what we need to be excellent. However most importantly, what He needs from us is to give all we have.  It may not even be a 'finished' or 'polished' work, but in our giving of it wholeheartedly, He will take it and use it for His excellence.

You see, it doesn't really matter what other people may think of your gift, or the quality and quantity of what you’re giving, by implying that it may not be up to scratch or suggesting that it's too insignificant to present before God, just start with giving what you've got and let God do the perfecting.

Life experiences can change your perspective in an instant, a change that could last forever. The goal posts of your existence are immediately repositioned, and there is a complete transformation of the mind. You don't see life as a big competition anymore, and your priorities change because your focus has changed.

So, in all we're giving today, let our focus be on God and not on any man. Who are we trying to please anyway? God can see your sacrifice, and He alone knows how much it has cost you.

7 October 2014

Take off the mask

Are we hiding behind masks in real life? Where do you feel safe to be more of the authentic you? If you were asked to take off your mask and be all that you are, each and every day, could you do it? Without the mask, would you have the courage to express yourself in precisely the same way as you do when it's on? In the same circumstances, would you be as direct and authentic?

It is not about hiding behind masks of dishonesty, but about hiding behind masks of silence. Sometimes a mask can be a form of defence, or wearing a mask makes you bold enough to speak at all, because it encourages you to open up more and lose all fear.

Personally I am not comfortable with a mask. Why? Because words are not enough, I need my eyes, ears and heart to go before my words. So why do I still put on my mask every day?
Not wearing the mask, may cause problems with the image others have of you. When we attempt to take off our masks, we tend to find another to replace it. It's like a performance, a set expectation to respond and conform to other people’s whims. So it's like swapping one for another, until we are at that place where we feel safe enough to be ourselves, because we no longer have to perform.

So why take off your mask then? Because people will always see through the cracks in your mask, anyway! Can we be ourselves without a mask, and let others be themselves without judging by appearances?
This will in turn provide the freedom to open yourself up again, for all to see who you really are. In this day and age of social and economic change, many are still attempting to lay down their masks. In following this path, you will give others the courage and security to free themselves too. 

13 September 2014

Miss Yetunde by TNP Scribble

Miss Yetunde is one of several drawings of women with freeform locs in my collection. I am absolutely crazy about natural hair and locs in particular and find that I just can't stop drawing them. Tbh, there is hardly any representation of real ‪#‎blackhair‬ or ‪#‎blackart‬ out there in the main stream, so this is my little contribution.

My ladies are not meant to be perfect, but I aim to emphasise their African beauty with strong features and loads of natural hair.

If I cannot come up with a name for my drawing, I like to get my sons involved, and they have helped to ‘christen’ some of my drawings with African names.

It's nice to have a choice and to see images of ladies who look like me, readily available on all these products that would otherwise be non-existent.

12 September 2014

Loc Update - (4.5 yrs)

This is what my locs look like at 4yrs and 6 months. Yes, we have come a long way and I'm still glad with the decision to loc my hair, because it takes the fuss out of styling and worrying about the health or appearance of my hair, while saving me so much time and money too. Which means I now have more freedom of expression, and feel less encumbered with the drama of 'fitting in', but can devote my time to being my complete self.

The main change is in the length, because in the past I never really noticed any substantial difference until now. My locs have some pretty good 'hang time' down my back, looks fuller and feels heavier. There are several flat locs but no dragons, because I have made a conscious effort to separate them on a regular basis.

Separating Locs
In separating my locs, I try not to do it so often, but when I do, it’s always on damp hair. I do it very gently, to avoid unnecessary breakage which could compromise the health of the loc later down the line.

I also go for longer periods (months) without adding any conditioner, but when I do; it's watered down to a very thin consistency in a spray bottle, and applied as a leave in. This allows time for my hair to do its own thing for a while without the conditioner encumbering the locing process. In between my not using conditioner, I like to use tea rinses and coconut oil as alternatives.

I still freeform, but don't look like your typical freeform 'dread head' because of the texture of my hair. The only way you can tell that I freeform is from the thick roots, flat locs and abundant frizz. I love my frizz, and learnt to embrace it very early on in my loc journey because I never liked the look of freshly twisted locs on me.

Maturing Locs
Even with all the growth they have achieved, my locs feel lighter than they look, mainly because of the lack of build-up. As they mature they get more compact and this could feel like they are thinning, but they are only doing what they are supposed to do with age. So, I always try to keep the more mature parts of the loc supple, by soaking in water with essential oils. This will help promote healthy ends and ensure that they are not being neglected.

So that's the brief update, looking forward to what the future holds. Feel free to ask any questions. :)

10 September 2014

New designs for TNP Scribble

Despite multitasking on numerous projects, coupled with home life, I do think I'm on a bit of a creative roll right now.  I'm focusing all my efforts on revamping the Scribble store with some fresh designs, while this creative streak is on full blast, because it may be over any day now. Then I can get back to my writing again.

Thought I should pop in to share some of the new digital designs I have created with you, for a quick taster of what is coming up this season.

I'm very pleased with the results so far, but please let me know your thoughts. Join me on the TNP Scribble fanpage, it would be great to hear from you. :)

7 September 2014

My Scribble is My Art.

If you have been a frequent visitor to my blog, then you will know that I love to be creative and therefore have several projects on the go. That's just the sort of person that I am, having grown up in a house full of girls and being the middle child meant that I just happened to learn a little bit of this and that.

I was the one who could sew, change the fuse and fix the plug. I could plait hair, trim my Dad's nails and iron his favourite suit to perfection. I could bake with old milk tins on a kerosene stove and fix the broken tape on a cassette. Tie knots, pick up bugs and beat-up annoying boys. I could do almost anything I put my mind to doing.

So, as I have already mentioned in previous posts, one of these projects is called TNP Scribble. 'Scribble' because I have never taken myself too seriously when it comes to my art, and so I tend to call my doodling...scribble. However after selling a few pieces, I must say that it's not that bad for a self-taught accomplishment. I think we all have potential, if we are only brave enough to explore it.

I love to draw things that I can relate to, so this means there will always be an element of my Christian faith, music, performance, culture or black heritage, visible in my art. Recently, I have been exploring mixed media, creating a simple collage with mediums like fabric/fp, graphite and watercolour on sketch paper or boards.

Most days I prefer to wake up very early, while the sun is still down and the house is peaceful, but I can't sleep because there's this image in my head that needs to be transferred onto paper. On other day's I get so engrossed in what I'm doing, that once I start drawing, I forget to eat. The aim is to keep on pushing, until I hone my craft.

My art may not be to everyone's taste, but for the few who do get it, makes it so worthwhile.
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. 
- Thomas Merton