Thursday, 21 July 2016

I saw this in one of my old notes while tidying up today.
Not sure if i have shared this here ...
Enjoy!



In a city not too far from you , a wedding ceremony took place. It wasn’t just any kind of wedding ceremony but the most beautiful and most expensive wedding ever to be recorded. The groom (named Chidi) had spared no expense to make this the best day for his true love (named Ebere). Everything from the food to the decorations and even the party favors were undeniably exquisite.
With tears in her eyes, Ebere walked down the aisle as she looked into the eyes of the man she loved with all her heart. It was a love so pure and so true and each step she took towards him felt like she was walking on soft clouds gliding across the hall.
The priest read out the vows and Ebere couldn’t stop staring at the dashingly handsome man who would in a few seconds be her husband. She felt a surge of different emotions go through her, both happy and sad, because she felt extremely blessed to have received this kind of love and wondered what she had ever done to be so blessed.
Right there and then she decided to the best wife ever to Chidi so he could see how much she loved him.
On the wedding night, Chidi lay beside his beautiful wife and as he gently started running his hands through her hair, she   smiled and said "I will make everything perfect for you, I promise"
And he started to say "you being here with me is perfection" but she had already gotten up and started arranging their holiday schedule, dusting the place and sorting out their meals.
Many years and 3 kids later, Ebere was highly sought after as a marriage counsellor as all the wives wanted to be like her and all the men wanted to be married to her. She was the proverbs31 woman in flesh!
Ebere worked tirelessly round the clock to make sure everything was perfect for her husband , her job and her counselling classes but didn’t see that there were cracks beginning to develop in her marriage as a result of the lack of intimacy!

Today I want to remind you of your first call to God which is to love God with all your heart, strength, might and soul. We often get ahead of ourselves when we assume that we need to prove our love to God .
 Gods love for us is unconditional and does not increase or decrease based on your scale on the behavior board.  
He loved you enough to die on the cross for you long before you told your first lie, or stole your first cookie. His love is not to compel you to pay him back with service or works but that we may appreciate love and love in return.
As Christians, we are passionate about serving and indeed serve we must because even Christ Himself said "the harvest is plenty and the laborers are few", so we know we must go all out to spread the gospel of good news but the key here is never to get so caught up with serving that you forget to get intimate with God.
We enjoy the rush we get when we are occupied and busy "doing" Gods work, and this head rush keeps us from listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit  in us.
As I look back to life in the garden of Eden, I notice that God made everything beautiful for Adam and Eve and came to spend cool evenings with them. If God made man primarily to serve, he would have created him in a farmers hat and sitting on a tractor, but God placed man in an already furnished garden and said, "lets spend time together!"
Service comes from a place of love and should not be seen as a refund for love.
Relax dear friends in Gods love.

You are getting better everyday.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

CREATE THE VILLAGE YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN TO BE PART OF.


photo credit : thisnortheasternlife.blogspot



There is an African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
It is obvious our parents and their parents before them realized that the task of helping a child grow and develop into a well adjusted adult rested primarily on the shoulders of the child’s parents but secondarily on the larger environment in which the child belonged to and was influenced by.
Back in the day when extended families lived not too far from each other, a village for a child would consist of uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents and even well meaning neighbors.
It wasn’t out of place back then for neighbors to look after each other’s children and correct them if the need arose.
In the present age we are in now, the team that make up your village will consist of different people who are not necessarily immediate family, probably due to changes in the structure of society and dare I say advancements in work and technology.
An example could be a family from the west moving to a state in the east for work purposes and not knowing anyone in their new community.

As I write this, I am forced to take a closer look at the village surrounding my children.
On weekdays, they spend an average of 8 hours in school.
So that would mean their class teachers and subject teachers are a very important part of their village.
 On weekends, they spend some time in front of the big box. (I wish I could tell you I was one of those parents that prevent their children from watching television, that my children read newspapers and big books all the time, but that wouldn’t be true and I wouldn’t want to portray anything but the truth of who I really am. So for now, this is where we are.)
During the long holidays, they spend some days or weeks with their cousins.
On the days I have meetings or engagements, they have a nanny who helps me watch over them until I get back.
That basically sums up the people, outside my home, who my children have to interact with regularly.
Oh of course, lets not forget our amazing Sunday school teachers.

Now the people that make up your village could be different, the important thing is for you to really know and identify who these people are. #Intentionalparenting.
I think it is especially important that we prayerfully and mindfully select the people we bring on board as members of our village. As some of you are reading this, I can imagine your faces filled with shock. “Can one really choose the people that fill and influence your children aka their village?”
My answer, YES!
You know that saying, you don’t get to choose your parents but you can choose your friends. (I’m full of ‘sayings’ today.)
In this case, the friends represent the environment you want your children growing up in.

Let me tell you a story.
My son, Jay was in a school (different from the one he is currently enrolled in).
At that time, I chose the school because the school surrounding was spacious, the teachers seemed intelligent and friendly, and the syllabus they offered appealed to the creative person I am and want my children to grow into.
Of course, you don’t need the haunted musical in Nollywood home videos to tell you the direction this story is going to take. Lol.

The teachers were a complete mismatch for the kind of people I wanted around Jay.
I will give you just one example for now, when she would mark their tests; she would draw something like this.
there should be a law that anyone in childcare services
 (esp schools) should go for psychological evaluation.



A big fat zero with a sad face in it and crying eyes, then underneath it a bold scribbling that either spelt poor and other synonyms of her name.
I don’t need to go further by saying Jay didn’t enjoy going to school.
My people, I counted my losses of paying so much in fees and carried my son quickly out of there.

As parents, I implore you to watch out for changes in your childs mood or behavior.
While some children are very expressive with their words and can recount word for word everything that happened during the day, some other children are not very good at describing and expressing their feelings but will give off signs that not all is well.
What kinds of teachers are surrounding your children?
I don’t believe in using my money to buy trouble.
 I have heard of some schools where the teachers mentally abuse and discourage the students and threaten the parents by pulling out the limited spacing card, and the parents will be afraid to remove their child because the school has a “reputation of being the best”. Hmm.
Okay moving on…

If we have ascertained that our children spend a great deal of their time in school, then it is important we get to know the teachers and work with them as members of our village to ensure our children are well taken care of.
On the first day of every school term, I like to go personally to meet the teachers. No long talk, just introduce myself and exchange numbers.
I give them a couple of weeks and then I come back to hear what challenges they are having. As the parent, I can help them better understand the peculiarities of my child without making excuses. Then together we work on making that school year the best possible one.
Now, I can’t tell you that this approach has always worked because the fact that for example, the music teacher was willing to work with me on making Jay more musically apt does not mean that the English teacher was interested in enhancing anybody’s skills.
There will always be some oddball teachers in every school.
Just ensure that their oddness is not affecting your child negatively.

If your children are older and maybe in the boarding school, your approach might be different but by all means endeavor to understand fully the culture of the school you are enrolling your child in.

While it may seem that I am going on and on about schools and teachers, I do not intend to say they are the only members of our village, just that in the season my children are in now age wise, they spend a great deal of their time in school.

For you, the village you create could consist of connecting your older children to seasoned mentors who will help them with solutions to questions they might have. You can never go wrong with a fresh perspective especially from a trusted friend, counselor or mentor.

Moving on to employed caregivers…
 Apart from the salary they receive from you which is a given, how are you equipping them to be better team managers in your village.
Let me break it down for you, if you work in an office, apart from the monetary benefits you receive, your employer sends you to receive more trainings because he/she knows that if you get better skilled, his/her company grows.
I plead with you if you haven’t been doing so before, to invest in the lives of the paid caregivers who take care of your children. 
I won't give step by step instructions on how to invest in your village but will ask that you apply the simple principle of "do unto others what you would want done to you!"

Can you identify the members of your village?
If you haven't been intentional about selecting your tribe members, will you start from now?

Rest in His love, because you are getting better.
It is a new day.

















Monday, 4 July 2016

YOU ARE THE STAR IN SOMEONES SKY.





I heard a very touching story the other day about a girl who lost both of her parents at a very young age. As if life hadn’t finished dealing her with enough blows, her family from her mothers’ side rejected her and sent her to the family of her fathers’ side, who also rejected her.
Orphaned, rejected, confused, alone and scared long before her 10th birthday, she sought refuge under the roof of a very distant relative who unwillingly accepted to take responsibility for her.
This girl’s story was filled with all manner of abuse, mental, verbal, physical, just name it but she found comfort in one thing…
There was an old woman who sold cooked rice and beans to the laborers who worked on construction sites, and she always kept a plate of food for the little girl everyday on her way to the stream to fetch water.
She didn’t know who the old woman was, but she was grateful for a warm plate of food and the love she received without fail from the old woman. They didn’t talk much, but her actions conveyed emotions deeper than any words she had heard.
Now its time for us to fast forward…
The young orphan girl grew up, got a job, became successful, got married but never forgot about the old woman who was her ray of sunshine in a seemingly dark world.
The old woman moved in with her and lived with her as her mother till she died.

I listened to this story and the first thing that caught me was the attitude of gratitude this lady had and displayed, no wonder she was so successful.
Think about it, she could easily have decided to let negative emotions dictate her emotions to her but she chose to focus on the one good thing she had.
It is also interesting to note that their interaction could have lasted maybe about a few minutes over a span of a year or two maybe, but even after many years and countless obstacles, she still kept this act of kindness, however small, in her heart.

I listened to a “star” give an interview on the television and the words he used to describe himself made me really sad.
He said, “I am a self-made man!”
These days, you tend to hear a lot of people using that term and I ask myself, do they even know what they are implying.
Are they saying that no one, not even the first grade teacher who smiled at them and said, “you will be successful one day”, encouraged or helped them along on their path?

I posted a story about a woman named Hawa Diallo, who Oprah interviewed.



The talent of this woman shone through her humility and grace.
In chronicling her story from escaping war to starting a new life, she did not hesitate to mention some people who in very different ways were bridges to her crossing over various hurdles or stops in her life. From the guard who had sympathy on her when the other guards maltreated her, to the woman who bought oranges from her while she was hiding in the refugee camp.
It might have seemed insignificant, but she recognized that those little rungs on her ladder were pivotal to her journey, however crooked it seemed.

Here is my point; I think the concept of a self-made person is entrenched in an attitude of pride and bitterness.
While appreciating that our stories are never and can never be similar, putting all the hiccups and dreariness that almost killed us on our journey into consideration, if we honestly look back we can find one or two things or people who in little ways helped us cross over pot holes that meant to swallow us.

Gratitude understands that there is a God who is active in your affairs (yes even in the dark hours).
Gratitude understands that the God of the universe works through men (including you) to fulfill His purpose.
Gratitude will keep you healthy and successful for a long time.

I want to land this plane by saying that as a parent, it is important to display gratitude to your children and explain it to them. Why?
Because by teaching them to appreciate the little things done for them, you teach them to be optimistic, you teach them to be hopeful against rough tides,  you teach them how to focus on the positive things in life against the negative and best of all you would be teaching them the best secret to a successful life.
Notice however I said display gratitude and not teach.
How you treat people especially people lower in rank or status than you teaches your children how to treat and appreciate people who wait on them.
One way my father displayed his attitude of gratitude was through stories from his past. By telling me of some experiences he had from his first job as a teenager to his travels, he focused on the interactions that pushed him and made him bigger.
I try to copy this in my life and in my parenting.
The truth is that there will always be bad in the world but by helping my children develop an attitude of gratitude, I encourage them to shine their light from within and dispel the bad in their path.
And shine they will.

Till next time, remember that you are getting better everyday.





Wednesday, 22 June 2016

START WITH THE END IN MIND



Recently Jan, my 8 year old was given a project in school, to write and print out a story for children within the age range of 5 or 6 years. 5 year olds.
For days she sat at the computer, the blank screen staring (occasionally winking) at her. 
She started with the title " The rabbit and the snail" , then after a line decided the story wasn't coming together and changed the title to "The hare and the spider". 
That didn't go too well either after the first line.
I saw titles linked with princesses and mermaids, but the delete button kept getting them.
Finally, i intervened after seeing her frustration.
(Now I think of it, its possible all that show was to get me to come to her aid immediately, hmmm)

I gave her a very simple advice:- "start with the end in mind"
Her expression was either different strokes "what you talking' bout willis" or plain old "huh"
I told her that to write a good story, she needed to see in her minds eye what she wanted to story to be about. (some writing experts might reason differently but we will talk about that later).
I told her to figure out what she wanted to write about and then the title would come to her during the writing, not before.
She looked at me, hands on her chin and asked "How can you be so sure about that?"
My answer was simple, "I have been down this road one too many times."

I find that in life to achieve anything meaningful, this rule applies. 
(Emphasis on meaningful !)


We can liken writing a goal to writing the body of the story, I said.
What do you want your story to be about?
Do you want your story to talk about princesses or fashion?
Do you want your story to teach children about the importance of honesty or to emphasise the merits of handwork?
You have to know what your goal is?
Yep, you guessed right? She was beginning to lose interest so i changed strategy.
"Let us write a fun story about a naughty tortoise who liked to trick people but at the end of the story, he lost all his friends because no one wanted to play with him anymore"
"Cool!" she replied.
With no title yet, we started weaving humour and morals into 8 pages. I had to let her have the upper hand because she was cutting off parts that didn't just make sense to her or that she felt were not relevant to the story. (and you thought your editor was harsh. lol) 
Finally, somewhere close to the end, the title came. 

One thing is certain, children might not be able to immediately comprehend all the lessons and advice you give them, but that should not stop you from continually teaching and showing them practical strategies to help them excel in life.
Trust me, they are listening (yes even the much younger ones who can't keep still or the older ones who act like they know it all already).

The lesson today: Start with the end in mind! 
See in your minds eye where you want to go or what you want to achieve, and everything will come into place once you start moving.
Practical lesson for you as you work to improve yourself, practical advice to give your children for their work and life.




You are getting better everyday.






Monday, 6 June 2016

PICTURES FROM "THE LITTLE BLUE COW" BOOK LAUNCH.

So on the 27th of May, childrens day, our book "The Little Blue Cow" was launched. (It is our book because God gave the inspiration, I put down the words and you encouraged and cheered all the way so it is our book. Yay!!)





We had a lot of fun planning and praying towards that day, thank you for all your prayers and messages.

My extremely happy face. lol



Our compere for the day introducing the guest speakers. #leadersoftodayandtomorrow



SistaPillars encouraging and shining their light for the Kingdom. #ThankYou.

Okay there is a story behind this picture. lol. I had spent hours digging up  on the profile of the guest speakers , then the night before I find out my big sis doesn't like big introductions. I'm thinking "which line out of this three pages do i cancel. lol. Lesson learnt: Don't panic on the day of your event, no matter what happens just chill. 

 

I've met really amazing people through social media. My big sis here is one of them.  This was our first time of meeting face to face and she is a truly beautiful soul. Thank you Big sis.



A sister close to my heart and a representative of our Facebook group "WHEN PARENTS PRAY".  #SmilingEfe. 





There is a major story behind this picture. So the day before the book launch, I go to pick my children from school and my daughter is on the steps crying and throwing up. She was perfectly okay when i dropped her off in the morning so i was a bit confused at what had happened. We spent the night trying to get the temperature or even the drugs down.
Lesson learnt: Be aware that the enemy of your soul is never happy when you are taking steps towards your purpose. Expect that he will try to confuse or destabilise you , so be ready with your weapons of warfare. 
Most importantly relax because your victory is certain. God has you covered.


Great things come in factory fitted packages. lol Tomi the dynamite and our very own director creamy cravings there to support us. Thanks ladies.



You won't believe that I went to high school with this ladies. Pleas excuse me while i renew my gym membership. lol. But seriously these ladies are simply amazing. #SistersForever.



Mummy time =selfie time. I love my Jan, one of the strongest girls i know.
Jay is giving us one of the avengers pose while Dave is trying to pick a microphone and try out for the next Voice auditions. lol


God gives you family so you can learn to love people other than yourself.  #SmilingRockSolidFamily
I'm so happy that children are already sending me feedback on what they have read and learnt.
I was super excited when One child wrote saying she was applying the principles she had learnt and was eagerly waiting for my next book. Wow!
Another child wrote, "It was easy to read and the story in the story was very interesting . I loved it."

God is raising up a godly generation for Himself. This book is one tool you can use to equip them with teachings that will help them build their character and faith.
You can get your copies at Laterna stores and Glendora bookshop in Ikeja City mall in Lagos.

Till next time, remember that you are getting better.


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

THE PART YOU PLAY IN ENCOURAGING OR ENDING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

Recently in the news, there have been too many stories of married men and women murdering their spouses. 
While it is true that more women tend to be abused by their partners, we won't deny that there are men being abused by their partners as well.
Reading those stories is always painful for me especially when there are little children left behind, but what really weighs me down is when friends and family of the deceased person come out to say they had no idea he/she was being abused or had problems in their marriage.
Trust me, I am all for privacy in your marriage but I sincerely believe the purpose of marriage is not for you to disconnect from the rest of the world.
Marriage was designed to build each partner up and then together , the couple work with God to establish His Kingdom on earth.
Now if a person gets into a marriage and is constantly being abused mentally, emotionally or physically, that person needs to seek help from outside that marriage. By help, I am referring to a counsellor or a support group.
No one person is meant to solve all their problems on their own, isn't that why we establish relationships with friends and family?

So the question to ask is why don't victims of abuse speak out or reach out?
1. They don't know any person they can trust
2. They are afraid of being criticised.
3. They are not sure you will believe their story.
4. They don't want to receive judgement from people.
5. They have been primed to believe that any person that can't resolve issues in their marriage is a failure, and they don't want to be seen as such.
6. They have been taught to stay put, be quiet, and just pray and one day deliverance will come, (unfortunately sometimes that day never comes)

Of course there are more reasons as to why victims usually keep their hurt to themselves but we will make do with the list above.

Now what part do you as a friend and family member play to encourage or end domestic abuse.
1. As a friend, can your friends rely on you not to "mistakenly" leak their secrets out?
Are you able to keep private matters revealed to you secret? 
If you are fond of discussing peoples problems and stories with other people, your friends will find it hard to confide weighty matters with you. 
Gossip destroys relationships but even worse, is that you would have missed an opportunity to help someone in need out.
But there is still time to change and adopt new life saving habits.

2. As a friend, are you able to empathise when someone confides in you?
Being able to empathise with your friends helps them with the confidence they need to speak out.
To be able to empathise, you should be able to be genuinely happy with their success and relate to them in the area of their pain even when you haven't gone through that hurt yourself.
You might not have all the answers ( and please don't jump to give advice and solutions when someone confides in you, it is very discouraging) but you can assure your friend that he/she has your support whatever they decide on doing.

3. I always encourage parents that from an early age, if your child comes to you about an incident or confession and you over react or turn the situation to a stage rehearsal, that child (depending on their temperament) will likely not confide in you about things again.
So as a parent, what part can you play in ending domestic abuse?
Be a safe place of trust for you child!
Let you child know that they can come to you first, not because they are dependent and still glued to your apron strings but because they know you are the one person they can trust.
Listen to them!!!!
Its easy as a parent to want to solve all your childrens problems but use wisdom is very important when dealing with your adult children.
But like we have said, the first and basic step is getting your childs trust so they can come to you.

4. As a parent, please and please, do not push your children into marriages or force them to work out their problems in the marriage if they come to you for help.
It is that fear of having no place to turn to that has led to the increase in spousal murders.

Together we all have a part to play, its not enough to shake our heads with pity at these stories circulating the news, and still go back to old attitudes that neither build us up or help the people closest to us.

I pray that the souls of the murdered victims rest in peace.

You are getting better everyday!
#itsanewday

Teaching Children the Power of Gods Word.

Make It Stick! Teaching Children the Power of God's Word
By Rachel Wojo



"In recent weeks, one of my pastors told the story of a scary encounter he and his 6-year-old son experienced. The little boy looked up at his father and said, “Dad, we don’t have to be scared. We have Jesus.” Somehow, he knew this from the bottom of his heart and the thought came to him in time of crisis. How did he know this? Because he had been taught that the Name of Jesus is powerful and so is His Word! 


Little ones can begin to understand the power of God’s Word as we teach them God’s promises and apply them in our daily lives.

Let’s take a look at three practical ways we can do just that!


1) Children can experience the power of God’s Word through encouraging others.

Therefore encourage one another with these words. —  I Thessalonians 4:18


Are you taking a meal to a sick friend?
Look up a Bible verse to encourage this friend together with your child. Have your child handwrite the verse on a card and add it to the bag or box of goodies for your friend. 


Writing a thank-you note to a teacher? Add a Bible verse about giving thanks and discuss how this verse will encourage your child’s teacher.

Sending a birthday card? Create a pretty 3x5 card of the birthday person’s favorite verse.

2) Children can see the power of God’s Word through visual reminders.

Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. — Deuteronomy 6:9


On my kitchen windowsill, I have a small chalkboard and I often write verses on this board. My children notice this board and ask about the verses and their meaning. It’s a wonderful way to introduce them to how God is working through His word in my own life! Lately God has been working in my personal Bible study time through Bible journaling. My children have been looking through my Bibles more than they ever have; they are so interested in how I am art journaling to highlight what God is teaching me. This has been a beautiful example of the power of God’s Word! 



3) And finally, children can begin to comprehend the power of God’s Word through the example of their parents. 



Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. — Ephesians 6:4

Children see the power of God’s Word in our lives when our natural responses of frustration or over-reaction are replaced with supernatural responses. When moments causing anger are filled with love, children see the Word of God living through their parents."