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Tobe Nwigwe went from football greatness to rap greatness

tumblr_plh6b0hx461r6ccbh_540Tobe Nwigwe’s dreams of making the NFL pulverized when the top-ranked linebacker suffered a career-ending foot injury. On lengthy bedrest, with no one visiting him, his crutches out of reach, his left leg in a full cast, the University of North Texas MVP and captain had to Army-crawl to the bathroom. That’s where, lying on the floor, he broke down.

“Tears were coming strong down my face,” he says on a Behind the Artist video. “I was on some real carnal stuff with God, like ‘Why would You do this to me. I didn’t kill nobody. I ain’t robbed nobody. I’m bad, but I’m not as bad.’ It was at that moment on the bathroom floor that God was like, ‘You have lost your identity in the game, and you have purpose in your life outside of your circumstances and your situation.’”

The injury represented a major reset for the man who once thought “you have to suck at football” to need to devise a Plan B. Today, Tobechukwu Nwigwe helps drifting youth avoid gangs, violence and drugs by discovering their God-given purpose.

maxresdefault“If you would’ve asked me what my purpose was back in college, I promise you I would’ve said something like, ‘Hit the league, money, cars, clothes,’” he says. “I literally got to the lowest of the lows because the only thing I ever dedicated all of my time, effort and energy to was football and when that was gone, I literally had to rethink life. I became like a monk as it relates to the study of purpose. Once I was able to cut off the mania of the world, I was able to figure out who I am and what my calling is and what my natural gifts are.”

His hip-hop has blasted through the stratosphere with millions of views on YouTube. Tobe is the T.S. Elliot of rap. Elliot was the most heralded poet of the 20th century who led readers to “certain half-deserted streets.” Tobe takes his listeners to the SWAT — South West Alief, Houston, the roughest of slums where he “dropped a bullet” in the fourth grade and got treated like “King Arthur with his sword raised.”

tobe nwigweTobe evokes the poignant experience of being a poor child of immigrant parents and fighting to survive in much of his music. He was a “hard-headed” kid who smoked weed, listened to Biggie and snuck out at night, to the chagrin of his mom, who prayed for him and counseled him. They were five kids in one room.

Tobe discovered he was good at football and won a scholarship to North Texas, where he ranked #5 nationally in tackles and reading defenses, a good foundation for an NFL career. The dream was coming true until his teammate fell on his foot, causing the “best worst injury of my life,” he says.

“It ended my football career. It made me think of who is Tobe outside of the Tobe the football player,” he says. “I had to realize that before I was in the sport, I had a purpose. It was a blessing in disguise.”

He planned to recover from the injury and try out for the NFL, but “God shut almost every single door to football and halted a whole bunch of stuff in my life until I made a conscious decision to let my little dreams die and move in the direction with the non profit organization,” he says.

The injury brought him close to the God of his parents, and the God of his parents brought him to his purpose: a non profit that he launched in 2016 called TeamGINI (from “Gini Bu Nkpa Gi?” — Igbo for “What’s your purpose?”) which brought “edu-tainment” to high schoolers. If there is no meaning to life, all the kids would fall into “the trap” — rap speak for a hood out of which you escape only by jail or a casket. By imbuing their existence with purpose, it is hoped kids will choose college and meaning.

It was a stroke of genius born of his own “monk-like” quest to find his own purpose. And it led him to stage two in his life: he linked up with motivational speaker PhD Eric Thomas, the “hip hop preacher.” ET, as he goes by, was making waves in Texas encouraging African Americans to dream big. On a fluke, Tobe called him and got him on the line.

“We don’t have any money right now,” Tobe told the man he watched “religiously.” “But as soon as we have some money, we want to have you come.”

ET declined the speaker’s fees and came for free. What he saw surprised him. Tobe moved the high school kids at the event as a warm-up for ET. Reportedly, ET had never seen anybody move the crowd in that way.

So he signed Tobe to be part of his motivational speakers team.

Then, team members found his Facebook page and watched a video of him free-styling. It was a video made with the family that was only meant to be fun and funny. ET thought Tobe had talent and wanted his ministry to branch out into the music of the community. ETA Records was born with Tobe as their first artist.

It wasn’t long before Tobe outgrew the team. He began uploading new music every single Sunday. His then-girlfriend, Ivory, would twist tufts of his hair on the couch as he would sing. The set was called “getTWISTEDsundays.” LaNell Grant, the kid sister of a high school football chum, produced the beats. Read the rest about Tobe Nwigwe, from football to rap.

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Christian poet Les Murray, ranked among the greatest, rose from a painful past

les-murray-and-wifeOut of “enforced poverty” in the Australian hinterland, out of schoolyard bullying, out of the raw pain of his mother’s untimely death and his father’s subsequent breakdown, Les Murray discovered he had an unmatched gift, the gift of poetry, which he dedicates in his volumes “to the glory of God.”

Today, Murray is heralded as one of the top four living English poets (the Atlantic ranks him as #1), and against the hurricane of God-hostile universities, artists and media influencers, Murray deploys his farmer wit and grit, his expansive genius and his poetic dexterity to provide a Herculean push back: Those “who lose belief in God will not only believe in anything. They will bring blood offerings to it.”

Les-MurrayThe 79-year-old has published about 30 volumes over 40 years and opened a center of gravity to counter what Psalm 2 describes as the “raging heathens.”

Born in Nabiac of Australia’s New South Wales to Scottish immigrant lineage, Murray grew up roaming the countryside, glorying in its surreal beauty, at once punishing and spectacular. He and his family lived in a plank hut with linoleum applied directly to the hard dirt floor. They raised cattle and cut timber. More often than not, Murray walked around barefoot, not by choice but because of financial constraints that he blames on the share-cropper conditions imposed by his grandfather on his parents. He was “kept poor.”

He didn’t receive a formal education until he was nine, at which time he was ridiculed in school for being overweight. Specifically, when he was a teenager, girls taunted him, pretending to make a sexual insinuation only to suddenly disappoint him and giggle at his awkward mortification. It became a cruel sport they engaged against an easy scapegoat, and it branded him an outsider for the rest of his life.

“I’ve always known that I was a subhuman redneck. We were told that early in life,” he told ABC news. “Kids who wore the school uniform, to them we were subhuman. They laughed openly at us.”

If school was nightmarish, worse demons arose at home. His mother died when he was 12 after a string of miscarriages. His father fell into a breakdown, and the young Murray felt guilty for his mother’s death while he was saddled with taking care of his father.

les-murray-as-a-babyWhen he attended in 1957 the University of Sydney, Murray felt unleashed from these burdens.

“My Mum died and my father collapsed. I had to look after him, so I was off the chain at last,” he said in Wikipedia. “I was in Sydney and I didn’t quite know how to do adulthood or teenage. I was being coltish and foolish and childlike. I received the least distinguished degree Sydney ever issued. I don’t think anyone’s ever matched it.”

He befriended some of the cultural elites he would later repudiate; he was appalled by their snobbish self-righteousness and moral morass.

Murray liked languages and cut through them as Japanese steel slices butter. He also was drawn to poetry. He devoured all of Milton in one weekend when he was 16. Hopkins and Eliot remain a strong influence.

His preponderant intellect is ballasted by his poor-born earthiness. He can “read more than 20 languages, and lift the back of a motorcar by hand,” according to his biographer, Peter Alexander.

6817608-3x2-940x627Playing Satan in a passion play at college, he met the girl who became in 1962 his wife, an immigrant from Budapest named Valerie Morelli. At was at this time that he adopted Catholicism as his Christian branch of choice. The couple have five kids. After traveling Europe, the couple resettled in Australia – ultimately deciding in 1985 to reside in his native Bunyah Valley where he wandered as a child.

After some early years working as a translator, Murray dedicated himself completely to poetry. His oeuvre includes so much natural terrain that it’s tempting to classify him with the pastoral poets, but Murray transcends the genre with a keen biologist’s eye.

If Romans says the creation of the world reveals God, Murray turns a keen eye and ear to discern God in multifaceted flora and fauna.

In “Bat’s Ultrasound,” Murray mimics the bats radar chirps with English words. It’s an inversion of “Jabberwocky” in which Lewis Carroll makes up words so that they sound like English; here Murray uses vowel-heavy words focusing on air (the bats medium). Confounding the reader, Murray ends the poem by mentioning “Yahweh.” He is saying that he hears God even in the bat’s cry.

In “The Craze Field,” Murray takes his reader to the crackled dry lakebeds and drought-stricken watercourses of Australia. In the parched sand, he evokes the badlands of the Dead Sea and descries ancient texts: Those “who lose faith in God will not only believe in anything. They will bring blood offerings to it.”

The quote is from G.K. Chesterton, the WWII-era British luminary who blew the whistle on Europe’s slide into atheism and consequent moral rankle. With no moral moorings, socialist countries massacred millions.

The delight of poetry is searching for its meaning, much like a Where’s Waldo book satisfyingly entertains those who pour over its vast cartoons looking for the red-capped Waldo. When you look up all the words and research the allusions, you thrill at the “Aha!” moment.

Murray, however, is anything but inscrutable. As a matter of fact, he has waged war on his post-modernist contemporaries not only for their skepticism but for their inaccessibility. From T.S. Elliot’s “The Wasteland” onward, post-modern poets have prided themselves on the ample use of Latin and esoteric allusions that leave their poems well beyond the comprehension of everyday readers.

This is where Murray stays true to his roots. Stung by condescending peers, he grounds himself firmly in the wisdom and words of common folk, the aboriginals and poor whites of the Australian bush.

Murray is the push back from the Outback.

To call Murray a Christian poet is inaccurate. He is a poet who happens to be Christian. Not all of his poems exude didacticism. He takes up all the styles and subjects of poetry; in his repertoire there are bawdy poems and poems about depression. They’re not pretty ditties good for illustrating sermons; they are pieces of art that weigh the good, the bad and the ugly of life.

Somewhere between grievance and grief, Murray found God. But as an honest poet, he’s no pretender. He’s courageously and candidly spelunking into mental caverns. His 2009 book Killing the Black Dog: A Memoir of Depression combines prose and poetry to sort through years of grappling with crippling negativism. It features Freddy Neptune, his depressive alter ego.

His most recent bout with depression was provoked by an old fellow student who came to his poetry reading in New South Wales. He had just turned 50, and she playfully reminded him of her torments, recalling one of the barbs with which she had pierced him three decades earlier.

Murray landed in the hospital and languished through two years of darkness. He suffered 3-4 panic attacks daily and couldn’t muster the energy to rise from bed to go into the other room to get a book. He took Xanax to blunt depression’s edge following his emergence from a coma brought on by liver disease.

After that brush with death, Murray decided reclaim his congenial spirits and to kill “the black dog,” Winston Churchill’s name for the mental disorder. He now thinks he suffers from Asperger’s. Continue reading Les Murray Christian poet.

Gummy bears work as rocket fuel. What does that mean to your belly?


Eventually the myth busters got it right. They had to devise a conical nozzle, and they had to grind the gummy bears into fine powder. But the caloric quantity represented enough stored energy to lift the rocket off its pad and launch it into the air. That’s a lot of stored energy.

Gummy bears are not a healthy snack. They are a quick trip to chubby. And they look so cute and harmless.

If you only knew the stored energy in one of those cute little prayers. Prayer packs a wallop. Just because you don’t see (immediately) the answer from God doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Slowly, surely, you’re building something for God’s kingdom.