Excerpt for The Power of a Single Story: Compelling Short Stories of Faith, Family and Forgiveness by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The Power of a Single Story:

Compelling Short Stories of Faith, Family and Forgiveness






Eden Adaobi Onwuka





Pearly Gates Publishing, LLC, Houston, Texas






The Power of a Single Story:

Compelling Short Stories of Faith,

Family and Forgiveness




Copyright © 2018

Eden Adaobi Onwuka




All Rights Reserved.

No portion of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any electronic system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise) without written permission from the publisher. Brief quotations may be used in literary reviews.



Scripture references marked KJV, NASB, and NIV are used with permission from Zondervan via Biblegateway.com.



Library of Congress Control Number: 2017960638




For information and bulk ordering, contact:

Pearly Gates Publishing, LLC

Angela R. Edwards, CEO

P.O. Box 62287

Houston, TX 77205

BestSeller@PearlyGatesPublishing.com



Published by Pearly Gates Publishing LLC at Smashwords.

This book is available in print at most online retailers.






DEDICATION


To the Spirit of God,

without Whom I’d remain an Unwritten Sage.


For my Father and First Cheerleader:

Sir Ike Chris Stanley Udemgba {KSM}.











PREFACE


I believe with all my heart that we all experience remarkable events on a daily basis. Living in a fast-paced world, we either gloss over them or never even notice them; yet even as we pay close attention to them, they can become defining moments and strong references. Like Albert Einstein said, “There are two ways to live: You can live as if nothing is a miracle or you can live as if everything is a miracle”.


These Faith-based short stories are true stories, intentionally captured to reflect the miracles that can happen to us daily. These stories were inspired by an unplanned iPad selfie, which later became ‘The Story Behind the Picture’. It is an exciting way of tackling some important issues about our time—a few of which were shared on a private women’s forum and sparked a Faith revolution, brought about healing, and even spurred self-acceptance. So, I decided to share them in a book so that more people could enjoy and be enriched by them.


The Power of a Single Story is a fusion between fiction and non-fiction; the first volume of what I will call ‘semi-fiction’, which I would describe as the art of creatively telling a true story in such a way that it still has the literary elements of a non-fictional prose. This is no ordinary book, but transformational messages delivered with excellence and creativity.


If your Faith needs a picker-upper, this book is for you.


If you have ever experienced the despair that comes with infertility and delays, this book is for you.


If you’ve found yourself in a cycle of failed relationships, this book is for you.


If you have felt the stings of betrayal and rejection, this book is for you.


If you need a little push to make that next destiny move, this is it.


If you love a great read, a good laugh, and fun tales about family, this book is for you.


If in spite of everything you’ve been through, you hold on to some belief in Serendipity, then this book is for you.


The Power of a Single Story: Incomplete, but not inconsequential. Don’t wait until you have it all to tell it all.


Stop holding back. There is POWER in YOUR story!


~ Eden A. Onwuka ~






TABLE OF CONTENTS


DEDICATION

PREFACE

CHAPTER #1: THE STORY BEHIND THE PICTURE

CHAPTER #2: THE DIFFERENCE A YEAR CAN MAKE

CHAPTER #3: MY FUTURE SELF

CHAPTER #4: I HAVE NOTHING MORE TO GIVE

CHAPTER #5: THE BLESSING IN A MINUS

CHAPTER #6: WHEN YOUR GUARDIAN ANGEL IS ALSO YOUR TWIN

CHAPTER #7: STILL I RISE

CHAPTER #8: THE BUMP THAT PREVENTS THE THUMP

CHAPTER #9: SAVED BY A SONG

CHAPTER #10: MA…EH!

CHAPTER #11: CHASED BY A DRIFTER

CONCLUSION

GLOSSARY

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CONTACT EDEN A. ONWUKA

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS






CHAPTER #1

The Story Behind the Picture


“For it is on troubled waters,

that the strength of a sailing ship is weighed.”


It was a cold, chilly December 31st in Nebraska. The snow had made a neat, foamy frost—the kind that would leave deep shoe imprints if one dared walk on it. It was one of those year ends when all you wanted to do was hunker down on the bed and snuggle under a warm blanket; one of those days when you felt neither excitement nor anti-climax, numb with the subtle dread for the incoming New Year. Enter in the familiar drill: adrenaline pumping, high expectations, lofty goals, and resolutions that fizzle out mid-year into a steady routine. By the end of the year, that routine crashes head-on into a reality check. There’s a numbness you hold guardedly for fear that if you did not, you would bubble over with false hope or topple over with deep dope.


This was another New Year’s Eve, and I was preparing for a vigil on some countryside in a land far from where I called ‘home’. Long before selfies and selfie-sticks, I paused, let out a sigh, looked up, and took a picture. I stared at my reflection in the mirror and managed a weak, accomplished smile.


The significance of the moment was that it represented everything that wasn’t, everything I wasn’t, and everything I somehow hoped would be. I was in a transition; confused, alone, second-guessing my decision to move millions of miles away from home, and unsure of where my next rent payment would come from. I was barely surviving under a tight budget that felt “broker than broke”.


Wearing a dress given to me by a dear friend that Christmas, I was able to make the impromptu trip; a pseudo vacation to the countryside by the sheer benevolence of my twin sister who had purchased my flight ticket. I was hosted by a woman I’d known for only a few hours who let me use her guest room for a few days—a kind woman named Franca, whom I met through my childhood friend.


There I was: facing my fears and taking a leap of faith to boldly move in the direction of my dreams. I had enrolled in a graduate program my perceived ‘un-analytical mind’ (at the time) wished I hadn’t signed up for. Barely two months earlier, I was on some compulsory diet. It wasn’t a fancy Mediterranean diet with exotic celebrities doubling as Brand Ambassadors. It wasn’t a tested, trusted diet that promised the loss of abs while eating carbs. My diet was a situational one: noodles. They were what I could conveniently afford.


I remember the look [of pity?] on my roommates’ faces when I would prep my noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the narrow kitchen we shared. Meanwhile, the vibrant and rich aroma of rich Indian cuisine sautéed in a bed of vegetables and spices greeted my nostrils. I still chuckle as I recall the half-amused look my roommate Priya had when I vehemently tried to convince her that my preference for noodles was a new nutritional fad. She didn’t seem convinced.


Broken or wrong relationships have a way of making you question your validity.


So, unsure of what the next season of my life would bring, I kept asking myself, “Girl, who put you up to this?” or (in ‘Pidgin English’) “Who send me message?”


Earlier that year, I had broken off an engagement—one in which I felt strongly that I was “settling”—and decided to step out of my comfort zone alone to pursue my dreams. Although it was my decision, it left me feeling lonely and afraid of yet again attracting the wrong ‘type’ of man. I silently wondered, “Am I the wrong ‘type’ of woman?”


You see, broken or wrong relationships have a way of making you question your validity. It doesn’t matter if you walked out or if the “significant other” walked away; any walking may leave you initially feeling ousted.


“Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”

(Genesis 2:15, NASB)


I prayed that scripture for as long as I can remember, adapting the Garden of ‘Eden’ to be me, and the ‘man’ to be a man best-suited for me. For several years, I asked God to gift me with a ‘Nurturer’—a man who, in partnership, will tend and cultivate my dreams. In between, I got all kinds of men.


So, on this particular New Year’s Eve, I was tempted to end the year on a deep low, feed my fears, and starve my gratitude. It seemed the appropriate thing to do, right? Sure!


No income, funds, or rent money.

No family close by.

No relationship.

No plans outside of the immediate.

In debt for my graduate program.

Lonely.

Cold.

Hangry (hungry + angry = HANGRY)!

Oh. I can’t forget: a tad bit scared.


In the end, I made a firm decision: Be Grateful. Grateful for life. Grateful for doing it afraid. Grateful for the uncomfortable present.


I hurriedly got ready to go with my host, Franca, to the vigil to serve my heart out. She and I had spent the better part of the day cooking for the guests who would attend the vigil, and I was excited to serve those who seemed to “have it all”. Even though I didn’t have much, surely, I could serve those who represented everything I had yet to attain.


Exactly one year from the date the photo was taken, I finished my MBA on the Dean’s List in the Fourth Module AND met-dated-courted-married my ‘Nurturer’; a man who exceeded my wildest dreams of both honor and integrity.


By a stroke of Divine intersection, I obtained a rent-free room, from a kind lady named Joy, for the remainder of the program.


That same year, I enjoyed two all-expense paid trips to Disneyland, was no longer alone, and had a new family of friends, teammates, and a kind church family.


I kid you not: The storm is not beautiful. The storm can be treacherous, boisterous, and intimidating. Although there may be no beauty in the storm, I have learned to choose to be beautiful in the storm.


I was right in the midst of my own storm, holding on to dreams without strategy and faith without a sign. That unpredictable season of transition was captured by an almost picture-perfect shot. You can credit the angle, lighting, camera, or makeup for the outcome of that random shot. I credit God—and having the right attitude. When you choose to serve others, to love, and to be thankful for the little you have (despite the fear around you), you, too, will be beautiful in the storm.


The fact that the unplanned bathroom selfie reflected a beauty that was non-existent in my reality simply meant ‘Our Storms Don’t Define Us—And It Shouldn’t Confine Us’. If we dare to look up when we could easily look back (with regret), look down (in defeat), or look around (in fear), we will eventually prevail over the storm!And the storm? It soon passes on because you are a Storm Trooper, Storm Chaser, and Storm Tamer! Every storm has a lifespan called “Temporary”.






PEN THE POWER OF YOUR STORY


What has a recent storm or challenge taught you?


Write a story around a picture of yours.


When, where, and why was that picture taken?






CHAPTER #2

The Difference a Year Can Make


“Faith is evidence and substance first planted

within our hearts that we may

transplant them into our lives.”


I stood up right in the middle of Joyce Meyer’s teaching in response to a question she had asked. The auditorium was crowded. Bright halogen lights shone brightly as they hung from huge lamps that were tethered to the high ceiling of the dome we were in. You might be asking, “Why did she stand? Was she supposed to be standing?” To be honest, I had no business standing at all.


Glancing around me, trying not to be self-conscious but barely able to stay composed, I knew in my heart it was my moment, my time, no excuses, neither the time to allow ‘reputation’ to override passion nor let fear limit my faith. I stood as ‘tall’ as my 5-foot-something inches would allow. I stood for what I believed in my heart and for all I was praying for.


You’ll need Faith to walk through the doors your Faith opened in the first place.


Hubby and I were trying for a baby, trusting and believing God to bless our bedroom ‘gymnastics’ (if you are like me and weren’t exactly a “Spring Chicken” when you got hitched by not marrying in your teens, 20s, or early 30s, you soon realize that it seems like you’re in a biological race for time). There is a continuous, never-ending race our humanity imposes on us—along with those we impose on ourselves. And though meeting hubby was nothing short of a beautiful story of God’s grace; much like every good thing that comes our way, I was learning that it takes Faith to walk through the very doors my faith opened in the first place.


Continuing on…


So, we met, fell in love, got married, and while enjoying married life, started trying for a baby. Each month, my cycle let me know we’d have to wait for the next cycle…and the next. For anyone hoping for a baby, you can understand the letdown with each monthly period (or what felt more like a ‘RED’ card). Like a stern-faced referee in a soccer game, that ‘RED’ sign was held up automatically disqualifying me from playing in the game. There were crushed dreams, silent sighs, feigned brave shrugs, and almost dismissive responses to well-wishers who prodded, “When are you going to call us to eat Jollof rice?”


Delay is a reality everyone experiences; some longer than others.


You might ask, “How long had you been waiting?” My answer would be, “Long enough!” I remind women not to belittle another woman’s ‘wait’ or experience just because we feel their wait doesn’t reverberate with us. Delay is a reality everyone experiences; some longer than others. Society has somewhat made us think that if the wait does not have some type of dramatic twist to it or if it does not have a “number” of years, then it’s not worth the narrative. I kindly disagree. I have talked to people whose one-year wait was as intense and heartbreaking as those in a one-month or 10-year wait.


Waiting is waiting. The arduous burden of not knowing when it will end and the helpless realization that you have little or no control over the outcome is an emotion shared by all those who are waiting must endure. Therefore, we must honor and respect the travail of others.


But I digress.


So, on this day—February 10th—Joyce Meyer was teaching on PROCESS and used pregnancy as the analogy. While driving her point home about each stage of conception having different presentations and outcomes, she asked, “If you’re here and you’re pregnant, could I ask that you please stand up?” I stood up—and no, I wasn’t pregnant. No, my standing wasn’t a lie or an attempt at falsehood. I felt a tug in my heart and a stirring in my spirit. I looked over at hubby sitting beside me and said, “My love, I want us to take this by Faith!” He nodded a silent yet strong affirmation. He held my hands in agreement, and I stood…for US.


When you feel a tug in your heart and a stirring in your spirit, just yield.


After the service that day, I bought a pink Bible from the bookstore and wrote a congratulatory message in it to myself. It read:


“February 10. Double Divine Conception!”


My hubby and I began to specifically trust God for twin babies. A year prior, my husband’s cousin (who donates handmade teddy bears to orphanages) hosted us to lunch. I saw some of those teddies and took two out of the lot, jokingly saying to her that they represented our future babies. In line with our new prayer focus, I went back to the suitcase where I had stored the teddy bears and brought them out. I laid them nicely on the bed in the spare room and began speaking to my future ‘Twin Babies’, using the teddies as a token of Faith.


Faith is a personal declaration of your expectations based on Divine promise; not human premise.


From then onwards, hubby and I would talk to each other like we already had children. He would call in from work and ask about ‘the twins’. In response, I would let him speak to them over the phone. Sometimes, I would put ‘them’ in front of the television in the living room to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It seemed corny and silly at first, and even funny as we progressed; however, we soon grew comfortable with it because for us, our actions held a deeper significance. It was an expression of our Faith. We owned our Faith, declared our Faith, and thanked God in advance for it.


I can understand the buzz that might be running through your thoughts at this moment. Maybe you find yourself thinking, “What was the guarantee? Doesn’t that seem a bit odd? Didn’t you feel a little foolish? Isn’t it too far-fetched?” Or perhaps you are grappling with the facets of a failed experience you might have witnessed, and your reaction is: ‘Someone I know did something like this and nothing happened’. I get it. Honestly, I do—and you would not be wrong. However, I am learning that Faith is very personal.


Preoccupation with being politically-correct will leave you second-guessing yourself and limiting your Faith.


Your Faith is a personal declaration of your own beliefs and expectations from sovereignty based on Divine promise; not human premise. The reason some of us sabotage our Faith, dreams, and goals is because we CARE too much. We care about what people will think or say. We care about how we might appear to others. What if “it” doesn’t happen? What if we have to eat our words? Who cares?


I had long ago decided that my own Faith does not have a reputation. My Faith has no etiquette. My Faith isn’t conformist. My Faith is unapologetic. My Faith is not expressed for the applause of men; rather it is for a just cause!


Two months later, I kept having these nagging headaches that would not go away, coupled with a slight fever that seemed to peak in the evening hours. Fearing I had come down with a bacterial infection or allergies, I made a visit to our family doctor. He ran a couple of random tests. We were pleasantly surprised when the hospital called to tell us I was NOT sick; I was almost six weeks pregnant! We were very excited! The rest of the pregnancy seemed to go fast, taking its toll on my strength and looks. For the most part, I was strong—except for intense cravings, headaches, and waist pains.


“And these signs shall follow those that believe: In My name, they shall cast out demons…”

(Mark 17:17a, KJV (Emphasis added))


When the six-month mark came, we had a slight scare. I started bleeding slightly. I was so afraid of losing the baby and became so confused. I prayed with everything I had in me and called my Obstetrics/Gynecologist. We were instructed to come into the hospital immediately. While waiting for hubby to pick me up, I had a moment all by myself in the bathroom. As I stared at my reflection (with it staring right back at me), I remembered these words:


I could not shake off the words ‘and these signs shall follow’. It was a lightbulb moment for me. I had spent the last two hours constantly checking to see the blood, obsessed with the bleeding, anxious because of the bleeding, and allowing it to communicate to me that I was losing my baby. All along, it was just a sign. I screamed aloud, “I DON’T FOLLOW THE SIGNS; SIGNS FOLLOW ME! I DON’T FOLLOW SIGNS! SIGNS ARE NOT MY COMPASS! If I keep moving in the direction of Faith, then signs (which are a byproduct of believing) move towards ME!” Faith breeds peace; not desperation. So, I took a shower and continued making my declarations.


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