Happy New Year! Buh-bye 2017 and hello 2018! So excited to see ya. Needed this year to be OVER already and it feels like I’ve been waiting forEVER. (I’m also on pins and needles excited for Grown-ish, Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time). Yayyyy, 2018! 🎆🎆🎆
I know it’s not even 10PM here in Jamaica, but my church is headquartered in Nigeria and we just live-streamed the NYE service and it’s after midnight there, so you will take these new year felicitations and bask in the joy with me, ok? Awesome!
I’ve always dreaded my birthdays. Of the 33 that I’ve been blessed to mark as of today, 3/4 of them have been completely unremarkable. A couple of them—milestone birthdays at that—have been downright awful. So I was down in the doldrums from around the first of November and the closer it got to B-day, the more unsettled I became. Last week, I was just plain stressed. After the year I’ve had, I honestly wasn’t looking forward to the day. Then around Thursday, I saw a quote on my Twitter timeline that said something along the lines of, “the best way to get over a problem is to do something good for others.” (Don’t remember who said it and I can’t find anything like it in the Googles, so maybe it was from a Twitter philosopher. 🤷)
I know we don’t observe Thanksgiving Day in Jamaica, and I also know it has a dodgy history in the States, but I believe in gratefulness as a principle, so that’s what I’m focusing on today. Studies have shown that there are many great benefits of gratitude, from improving your self esteem to helping you sleep better. And who can’t use some good sleep in these stressful times? The Bible is also replete with verses about giving thanks, even in the midst of discouraging circumstances, and as a Christian, gratitude should be my very nature.
A few weeks ago, I blogged about being invited to join the launch team for the book Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate and Risk by Jordan Raynor. I even interviewed him and shared a bit of his story. Being outside of the US, the publisher wasn’t able to send me the paperback (😢), but I got to download my advance copy early last month. Refresh your memory or read my convo with Jordan here, then dive into my review below!
I have spent roughly half of the last six years interviewing, researching and writing about entrepreneurs and creatives. I’ve profiled them for ezines, magazines, supplements, a documentary and even my own blog. That’s well over 100 people, from those in the MSME sector to ‘bigwigs’ at the helm of large corporations. One of the first questions I always ask is some version of ‘What inspired you to start this venture?’ Essentially, what I want to get at is the ‘why’—what or who is the motivation behind starting that insurance company, or learning to make soap, or writing that book? This ‘why’ is one of the many questions Jordan Raynor explores in his forthcoming book, Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate and Risk. The book is aimed primarily at Christians who are themselves entrepreneurs or creatives, or those who would like to be but are concerned that pursuing ‘secular’ work might not be a true calling or something that genuinely honours God.
If you were here last year for the series about my experiences in the University of Iowa’s online writing workshop, then you know how stressful fiction writing can for me, even though (or probably because) I actually want to pursue it as a full-time vocation someday (whenever I work up the courage to just go for it, already!) In addition to the typical “insecure writer” problems relating to whether anyone will like my work or want to spend their money on it, I’ve also worried about whether this dream is “Christian” enough. Like any good Child of God, I want whatever I do to please Him and point people to Him. I don’t want to just write because I can put words together nicely. I want them to matter. And since I don’t want to write only Christian fiction, how does that even work?
Whenever I’m struggling with something, I always try to turn to the Bible for some answers. Actually, more accurately, I turn to the YouVersion app to look for reading plans related to my issue, which leads me back to the Bible, so same thing. 😊 In June, I found a plan entitled C.S. Lewis and the Call to Create, and it gave me some things to think about. It also led me to the organisation that provided the plan, Called to Create. I signed up for the weekly devotionals, pre-ordered the forthcoming book of the same name, and I’ve just been consuming pretty much everything they post on social media since then.
Last year, on Friday, April 29, at around 6:30PM, I walked out of the offices of my job at the island’s oldest and largest media company and took my last ride on the staff bus. I had officially handed in my resignation letter a month before, but in truth, I had emotionally quit the job several months before. Many people see my decision to leave a stable job at a reputable company as the most irresponsible of acts. How could I do such a thing, in this economic climate?! Don’t I see that there are hundreds—maybe even thousands—of people who would kill to have that job?! Versions of those questions have certainly been voiced to me by concerned relatives and friends, and by HR representatives and would-be bosses in the interviews I’ve done over the past 371 days. Only one interviewer has understood my answer and motivation, and agreed with me. In fact, she had a quote on her wall that expressed the very same sentiment:
There are many great quotes out there about the importance of having a vision, but perhaps the most powerful one is from the Good Book: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18a) It’s vital to have vision for our lives, or we find ourselves stumbling around, trying to figure out just what we’re supposed to do and where we’re supposed to go, and being miserable and unfulfilled in the process. Speaking from experience, I can tell you plainly: it stinks.
It’s still early days yet in the new year, so we have time to sit and ponder or pray and seek a vision for our lives. I reached out to my friend Yanique Griffiths, the heart and mind behind The Vision Project Company, which aims to help adults, children, couples, groups and even business teams learn how to set the right vision for their lives and projects. She shares how she approaches vision setting, the importance of faith, and how she helps others pursue their purpose.
I love Facebook’s On This Day app, which allows you to see all the posts you made or were tagged in on each day of the year, dating back to the time you signed up. I’ve had a chuckle or an outright belly laugh at some of the things I’ve written there, and enjoyed reliving a few memories. I’ve rediscovered a few things about myself, too:
I’m a joker.
I love to quote random song lyrics.
I had a tumultuous public ‘love affair’ with Asafa Powell.
I’m almost rabid in my support of Team Jamaica at international sporting events.