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My 20-Year-Wedding-Anniversary Reflection.

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As crawling gives way to toddling and then striding, so does every relationship that would stand the test of time! It is like a child moving more steadily through the physical world, un-perturbed by the unknown rough pathway ahead, but determined to thrive.

Our relationship with others should always crave for improvements and ability to reject being the ultimate mentalist! Or self-appointed mind-readers we think we are. Only if we make room for acceptance.

How often have we erringly misjudged the mental states of others, such as their background upbringing, sexual orientation, feelings, thoughts, intentions, baggages and deceptions because we feel there just isn’t enough vacancy in our hearts, anymore?

Should we allow our minds to navigate deeper into the cross-currents of the broader social world while we struggle with our differences? Is there really a perfect mate? And for people who have given up on searching or loving, should there exist a fundamental difficulty in trusting again? ‘Fear of series of strong headwinds, uncertain tacks, and treacherous eddies?

So, here I am today, August 14th 2017, exactly 20 years ago my ever so-loving-Father walked me down the hallway of The Marriage registry at City Hall Lagos, into the arms of the one true love I would ever encounter! The same bespectacled-guy I met 3.5 years earlier who couldn’t keep his eyes off my one-nation orange halter-neck romper and wouldn’t get off the wall of the newly opened Club Towers night club to dance, who’d pledged the same night jokingly ‘He would marry me someday’ on the dance floor at The Whyte’s party on Glover road and then, Oh-my-word! ‘eventually showed up at my home church, Holy Cross Cathedral by making himself comfortable in my family pew, singing Agnus Dei, like he took Latin classes in college, showing off in his brand new well ironed patterned shirt, brown suede penny loafers while driving the smallest blue car ever driven in Lagos! … #Daewoo Tico

#WE DO…then in 1997, and 20 years later…#WE STILL DO

20 3Phew! It wasn’t easy…trust me, but was worth the fight to keep on keeping on!

From the misconception of what the romantic novels we read say about marriages, to the soap operas and knowledge based books or audio we tune to! From the no-experience marriage counselors or confused life coaches sprawled all over, to the perception social media breeds about what marriage should be…that’s just 1% of the back-slap advice compared to what your destiny has to offer you…’there is no manual or directory to the quick fix we all want to know.

After decades of seeking internal peace…I’d realize Oh my goodness! I don’t know it all, He doesn’t know it all either, we are actually both still learning, and our ultimate wisdom should come from God. Alone. Period.

Isn’t it like someone giving you a relationship advice and it just doesn’t work? Their wisdom, your wisdom and my own wisdom are limited. It’s subjective and faulty. And while the implementation of earthly wisdom can and often does bring some benefit, it will not always lead us to the safety and ease we long for deep inside. Some marriages must surely pass through the burning funnel for a couple to become certified companions, while others would fall along the way if their hopes of survival is based on other people’s manual and perceptions.

20 6Let’s face it. Relationships can be cruel, Life can be scary and marriages that have refused to hit the rock after series of extended-third-party-family-or-friends-interrupters-involvement-busy-bodies melodramatic episodes have finally shut-the-front-door after them…’what’s next?

If you are reading this and wondering, How-in-the-world-did-THEY-do-it? I know right? I usually ask myself too (lol). But, God’s wisdom is perfect. It leads my heart, mind, and soul to safety and rest in a world that is filled with scary realities and uncertainties. You just have to name the challenges… We have both walked through it together…24 years and counting.

I am hoping someone reading this, at any point of their relationship would also tune in to God’s wisdom – when we hear it, yield to it, apply it and obey it – we will live in peace. Not the world’s peace – God’s peace. We will be at ease with all imperfections. Not with perfect lives, but with lives that are led and not controlled by fear and anxiousness of what tomorrow would bring in their marriages, relationships, courtship or friendship. We can and will experience peace in spite of the chaos in our relationships. Be encouraged!

Yours in HOPE as I share our wedding dance/favorite song “FOR YOU” by Kenny Lattimore.

Yinka.

 

 

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When you meet Julia, you SEE AMAZING!

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When you wake up to a new day, what do you see? Well, apart from blurry eyes and snotty noses due to sleep deprivation, congestion or insomnia, what makes you just, ‘want to keep waking up?

If you are in love, or still thinking of it, I guess you’re probably saying…’duh, my lover of course! If you are missing someone, you’d probably say…’dang! Oh precious beloved, showeth thy face!! Where hath thou!! (in your magical imaginary soberness).

And if you are like the group of people I meet weekly for support coordination therapy…’Aha! Slowly and gently rise from your slumber, squeeze your pillow and whisper into the hollow of your palm (oh please ignore your distinctive breath) and say slowly, ‘Today, I will do better, because I will See Amazing”

All said and done? Yes? C-o-n-g-r-a-t-u-l-a-t-i-o-n-s! You made it into another day! I am also cheering you on….’as I subconsciously cheer myself on too!

So, a couple of days ago, yours truly turned 45! Like…’yeah, the big 45! And I wasn’t sure if it was worth celebrating or not. Thank God for caring people around me who raised the roof and made it rock! #NoviUnconditionalLove

The much-younger me would have jumped on the next train to NYC to be consumed in the awesomeness of the city, sometimes, it’s just that train ride that does it for me, a more one-on-one time alone with me, myself and I! Just meditating  (I bet you can’t keep a city girl out of the city for long, how I missed my early years growing up amidst the hustle and bustle of a typical Lagos city amusement!) or as my parents have always dreaded all those years…’Oh, she’s started another birthday party in our living room without informing us! Phew!

But not this year… ‘This time around, it was all about Julia. The new #See Amazing kid on Sesame Street! Have you seen her? All cute and so peculiar…’representing every child with special needs…more so, Autism!

Why now? I’d ask myself over and over again. Yeah, why now Yinka?

Awareness. Acceptance. Because just as I celebrated my birthday, my childhood bosom friend and neighbor also turned 45! And happened to be the Julia we all never knew or could understand….’45 years ago!

Did we (children) know she had a unique personality? Or did we just assume she’d always been a difficult child with mental illness? Who knew about the features of a child on the spectrum then? I bet none of us did. All I knew was that I eventually got used to her mannerism as her parents were my God-parents who mentored me all through my sacramental classes at Holy Cross Cathedral then.

So, please meet Cecelia, 45, a daughter, a sister, a friend and childhood neighbor of over 40 years with autism, a rare one that survived the stare, stigma and slur but prevailed with the support of her loving and caring family in a society that condemns such ailment and is so quick to label, castigate and if possible ostracize.

Or perhaps, you also know a Cecelia?  a Julia of my generation, that stood out without condemnation even as ignorant as we were then of her uniqueness, still managed to join in the street play, still managed to attend mass every 6am with her parents, still managed to attend St. Mary’s convent, managed to get her feelings out even when she’s oppressed by lack of consistent vocalization techniques.

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Today, as I watch sesame street and I see how the world is embracing the new character of Julia – the chosen voice from the autism community, my eyes well up with tears and my heart is unable to contain the joy and excitement of knowing that finally…’every child deserves a place of acknowledgment and acceptance, and not one of isolation or disparity!  Thank you Leslie Kimmelman for the digital characterization and Stacey Gordon for the performance. Thank you autism community for starting the discussion.

When you awake to a new day, what will you be thankful for? I am grateful to God for allowing me to see amazing in every child I encounter. Tantrums and all, I still see amazing and acceptance first.

Yours in HOPE as I share Sesame Street’s ‘Meet Julia’

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Quiet Time For “MY HEART” – 3 Days to TWC’17.

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Have you ever felt like you were being swept away by the torrential floods of life? Challenges at work, relationship drama, family issues, failing expectations, a feeling of inner restlessness, doom and gloom?

Phone rings! Loud notification alerts from our various social networks! Doorbell chimes! Neighbor’s dog barking uncontrollably, kids yelling, crying or slamming the door! Co-workers absorbed in the moment and unknowingly loud with their body language! Unhealthy noises from inside our heads, you know, the one that constantly breeds anxiety and flashes a list of things we are yet to do or yet to accomplish… ‘in a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year..

Ah! don’t we all despise that thinking ground that builds restlessness and pushes us back to our edged-corners? I know I do!   

How many times have we rehearsed that perfect smile or posture, flashing only the part we want social media to see and validate? When was the last time 50 of those 1000 make-believe social media acquaintances actually connected with us one-on-one in our everyday circumstances?

Really, think about it…’deep in our hearts aren’t we just as lost as the next person reading, drooping or envying our well-packaged-showcase! If only…

How do we silence the chatterbox-world and hear from God? Does He really know our hearts? #DiscoverQuietTime@TWC’17

Oh no! This is certainly one of those days you just need communion more than ever! Just an encouraging word! A returned handshake from a stranger or a deep bear hug that soothes and set butterflies free inside us! We all need that communication both with God and men. God can quieten our spirit and refresh our soul even in the midst of a storm! We feel blessed for having good friends, mentors and colleagues to give us insight on that painful circumstance or a different perspective about our decision on life. We need it. #DiscoverHope@TWC’17

Because, yesterday I saw men as trees; huge and dominating my emotions! oppressing my job, toying with my passion, intimidating my ministry, billowing smoke into my future plans, putting a clog in the wheel of my progress…’now had become bags of stones tied to my ankles causing me to drown in an ocean of anxiety, confusion and negative thoughts, I saw myself sinking fast in this quagmire of negative feelings. #DiscoverHealing@TWC’17

I dropped to my knees and in my very sober voice, screamed from every cell in my being, “G-o-d  h-e-l-p  m-e!  ‘Have  mercy!  ‘Did He? ‘Does He know my heart?

O yes He did! yesterday, today and tomorrow as well! That is His strategy-communion:  Either through inspiring words of wisdom and management strategy from a dear friend, an edifying message from a sister, testimonies of God’s faithfulness and prayers from a spiritual mentor, joy and reassurance from the Holy Spirit,  insight from a book and positive messages on thriving on the job. #DiscoverTrueRelationship@TWC’17

12 hours later I wonder why it took so much to lift me out and cause me to soar on the winds of renewed hope, joy, optimism and vigor? I realize He made me multifaceted and so He ensured I had communion on every level in every way I needed to…’wow!

So as we count down to the remaining 3 days into TWC’17…’I am urging every woman to take a trip down memory lane of all the things still holding their hearts captive, to look into the face of the next woman you meet on the corridor of hope and flash that real authentic smile of freedom and togetherness! #DiscoverOpenDoors@TWC’17

Let’s do our hearts a favor by allowing it to examine the things that limit or forbid our communion with God. Let’s send our hearts a message…’that it is time to go on living in the fullness it was created for; to know and accept that we are not victims ANYMORE but victors in the risen Christ!

Tell your heart that it is okay to relinquish the rogue that’s been manipulating your quiet time with God, whispering false tales of desire into your ears…’Tell your heart it is time to uproot the hurts or stories or the baggage still tying you down! Whatever hindrances are lurking  in our hearts, it is time to start building up our real healthy-infectious-smile and assume clarity of vision!

I am hoping someone reading this will understand that even if he or she may hit rock bottom today, that it is okay to discover the need for a quiet time within their hearts, that no matter how far away we have been, that our emptiness will always drive us back to Him.  #DiscoverFulfiment@TWC’17

And as we Ponder, Prepare, Pack, Park and Parade the floors of Chubb Conference center for God’s visitation this week, with acceptance and assurance in our hearts, We pray “We will no longer see men as trees or the work place as a dark mine field or our past as a threat to our future! And we say thank you in advance for…’Communion!!

Yours in HOPE as we share Donnie McClurkin’s ‘I Need You’

Yinka & Enitan

TWC’17 Workshop Committee

 

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An awareness worth accepting: Embracing AUTISM!

An awareness worth accepting: Embracing AUTISM!

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Have you recently felt a kind of jubilation within your heart upon completing a project, a job or an assignment? Self-appraisal aside, how would you score yourself? Thumbs up or down?

Did you feel accomplished? Frustrated? Burned out? Confused about your career path? Are you still wishing you could have chosen a more fulfilling goal to work towards? Do you crave for acceptance or recognition from others to celebrate your victory? How would you describe your goal-driven-desire even without achieving any of the things listed above?

A couple of Sundays ago, right after church, my girlfriends and I (Kene & Tinunke) allowed our kids to play together in the lobby as we got carried away deep in a concerned conversation about career choices and how our African parents played a huge role in strict decision making for their children!

Hmm! Tell me about it! ‘We echoed amidst deep laughter, hip slapping and a cheerful pat on the shoulder as we exchanged stories of a confusing and oppositional remembrance of our struggle to decline our parent’s choices of profession for us then! Ah, you must become a Medical Doctor! Or ‘an Engineer! Or a Lawyer! …’Lol. Thank goodness we eventually followed our heart’s desire, then or later!

After decades of enduring and attempting to be like my mother, the civil service accountant or trending after the steps of my father, the articulate site developer/Land surveyor… ‘It just wasn’t my calling…’it didn’t last long! ‘Years of boring TD classes and assorted French curves with cursive initial of AOG engraved on both sides! Long sessions of Math tutoring when really my mind was focused on watching ‘Wild Rose’ Phew!

Many people are still living stress-filled lives because they never sought and discovered God’s plan and are still trapped in jobs and careers that simply do not fit into. Every day, they feel like the proverbial round peg being jammed into a square hole – isn’t that a painful and frustrating experience? Meaning…people never experience fulfilment in their work because they are in the wrong line of work to begin with just to fulfil other’s needs!

There was a passion hidden deep inside of me, yet unraveled, but always rearing its way out of my consciousness. It has to be something greater than me and I waited…and waited…and waited…’until I set my eyes on Peter, the cutest 5-year-old boy, recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder…I became his behavior therapist…’that was 14 years ago…He was my first client as He helped pave the way for my passion working with special needs children.   #LifeGoals

So, since we are in April, and its world Autism month, ‘ask yourself…’how aware am I about the term Autism, and how understanding or accepting am I, when I relate with someone with Autism? ‘Am I tolerant and capable of coping or communicating with someone on the spectrum? What difference can I make in the life of someone with Autism? Or how can I be useful to the family of a child with Autism?

It is easier to proclaim we care about someone with a disability or illness or even carry a banner of awareness when our hearts reject all the flaws that come with it!

We sometimes carelessly use hurtful and inappropriate names (crazy, weird, awkward, sickly child or dying woman) to label others just because we feel they are vulnerable or we think we are stronger than their situation? Hello? ‘Got perfect life?

Here’s one of the 10 things a child with autism would like you to know and accept, before judging…

Listen to all the ways I’m trying to communicate.

It’s hard for me to tell you what I need when I don’t have a way to describe my feelings. I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened, or confused but right now I can’t find those words. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation or other signs that tell you something is wrong. They’re there.

Or, you may hear me compensate for not having all the words I need by sounding like a little professor or movie star, rattling off words or whole scripts well beyond my developmental age. I’ve memorized these messages from the world around me because I know I am expected to speak when spoken to. They may come from books, television, or the speech of other people. Grown-ups call it echolalia. I may not understand the context or the terminology I’m using. I just know that it gets me off the hook for coming up with a reply.

By Ellen Notbohm from the book Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew, 2nd edition (2012, Future Horizons, Inc.)

We all want to be successful in our chosen profession. Whether we believe in what we do or not. Our goal is to nail it and keep moving. Your office may be downtown or just inside your front door. Your work clothes may be an elegant suit or ragged jeans and a stained t-shirt. You may be paid in cash or with crayon drawings and sticky kisses like me! It doesn’t really matter because none of these things alone makes us successful in the work place.

Our success comes from the lives we touch with real acceptance…full acceptance of all the shortcomings! #Autism Acceptance

God empowers His plan in us, but when we step into our own agenda or a plan created by anyone else, we are stepping into and relying upon our frail, limited strength. We will soon be empty and stress will flood in, filling the emptiness with anxiety and tension. Don’t waste another day just doing the “next” thing. Take a long, hard look at your work, your job, and your agenda to make sure you are in the right place – doing what you were created to do in this world.

Do more this month, volunteer to be of assistance to a family with a special needs child, and love them genuinely for life!

Yours in HOPE!

Yinka.

Autism Care Network UK

Autism Care Network, Dubai.

 

 

 

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What MY HEART needs to know…TWC’17.

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They say “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g! Would that be through food or tummy rub? Hmm. Just thinking-out-loud here!  #TimeToRefresh

I am yet to come across the proverb about the way to a woman’s heart, or is the way INTO her more important? flowers? empty promises? trust?  #TimeToRenew

But a woman’s heartfelt emotions never lie, even though she hides the bruises under her sleeves, her heart never stops beating, even when crushed by mere words. #TimeToRestore

In my Aunt’s house in Port Harcourt, where I spent my young adult life while in the University…’there is a huge kitchen, women around the kitchen table and topics that turns heads.

Young and vibrant as I was then, I couldn’t wait to fall in love and prove to them that their talk was cheap…or so I thought!

In that kitchen, there were always women who came to visit my Aunt from different walks of life for motherly advice: There were the single and high maintenance, married and moody, separated, divorced, recently rejected, frequently abused, hidden scar carrier from youth, runaway bride and complicated relationships.

Some came glamorously dressed in their flashy cars while some had to trek or take public transportation with a cranky crying baby strapped on their back. They were always inside the kitchen talking or standing by the sink wiping away tears.

And in the hearts of those women, there was always CONFUSION, HELPLESSNESS & FEAR.

Fear that this time around that mastered recipe of life won’t work for their current circumstances.

That the man who promises love and life would never propose! Or think they are not good enough!

That the single young adult girl will walk down the aisle only when she’s ready, and not when the society dictates or  calculates her biological clock!

That the man in their life will leave his meal unfinished and their marital bed untouched!

That the man they think they know will soon find pleasure in someone else’s arms or home!

That probably she has served him too much affection or not enough. That he is already too full of life, or hungry for something or someone else, and that it will be their fault.

That the womb that’s been praised so much would begin to alert restless in-laws to raise eyebrows and question the delay of childbirth or the loss of a baby?

That the wide beaded hips that swayed to the beats of the drum he so much-loved to hold would never carry the weight of his off springs?

That her place and destiny to propel would never be supported due to His insecurity or male chauvinism!

That the cold hands of death would ever separate them… so soon!

Matters of the heart of a woman may be hidden or tucked away behind the soft succulent tissues of her bosom; covered with fancy fabric woven with care, but also attacked by the  fingers that created the woolen fabric!

I don’t know about you, but for me, I want my heart to know it is okay to heal and beat again… ‘that just like any woman reading this right now to know that:  Hidden behind my skin so fair, soft and tender, that part which has been cracked once and still healing is finally ready to show the world… ‘I GOT THIS” by God’s grace!

So, as we begin to countdown to the upcoming TWC’17 on April 27th to April 29th 2017, permit me to indulge you in some surprises in store: IMG-20170330-WA0012

What should YOUR HEART expect at TWC’17 ?

  • That its time to put the past behind you and…’REFRESH, RENEW & RESTORE

  • Relax in a luxurious 2 night stay at a beautiful golf resort/conference center

  • Get served Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner…’just as you like it!

  • Participate in a One-on-One counselling to discuss those topics we keep locked up

  • Engage in Me-Healing sessions: Will I be heard? Who gets what I am going through?

  • Listen to inspiring ministration from speakers and worship team

  • Indulge in Girls night!! Shhhhhhhh. It’s a surprise! #WeGotGameNight

  • Comedy night.., ’maybe laughter and good jokes is really all a girl needs to warm up her heart! #GuessWho’sComingTonight #FemiObama

  • Workshops & Breakout sessions

  • Support group building and bonding for challenging workplace issues

  • Morning power-walk and Zumba session

  • Share your story and inspire others… #ShareYourStoryInPhilly

As you read this, ask yourself…  ‘What is a valued centerpiece in my heart? Is my heart an arbitrary harbor of commotion? A solitary confinement for hope…ONLY I bear the burden deep inside as I suffer and smile to portray a perfection that is nonexistent? Does anyone care?

Have you ever considered that perhaps God isn’t longing for you to come to Him with perfect, polished prayers, with fifty-cent words and flowery language? Have you thought about the pleasure God experiences when you simply approach him just as you are, fragments, bruises, warts and all, because He loves you? He delights in your attention. He takes pleasure when you come to Him simply because you are His.

Total Woman Movement has a spot waiting for you. Join the movement today! www.totalwomanmovement.com

Yours in HOPE

Yinka.

 

 

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That MY HEART may go on…

                                          Countdown to TWC ‘17 (Part One) do 4

Do you ever feel a strong pang or spasm within you whenever you recall a certain disheartening event from your past? Even though it’s meant to be locked-up and discarded far away from your subconscious, it still finds its way to interrupt the joy you thought you have built for the present day, and shatters all the dreams for your future plans.

Some call it unforgettable memories; many call it the past that never left; to others, it is the wound that never heals! Whatever name it’s called, believe me, every single woman reading this has experienced dealing with one or more!

We’ve all had that heart fracture, heart split, from the goofy lover-boy from down the street with tales so tall it hurts! Some from intimate family issues that never were resolved, complicated relationships, loveless marriages, lost love due to separation, divorce, death or childhood trauma that’s now affecting our adult lives.

We all know someone still battling with the weight of the pain from their past, that’s crippling their heart and holding them back from approaching a whole new life that God has in store for them!

Isn’t it time to walk out of the ICU of our mindset? After listening to people who have walked similar paths?  Isn’t it time to trust our hearts to beat again and move on?

How do we explain the fear of the thought of sex or just being touched even with the one we have been married to? Or why the addiction to sex is just a carryover of the foundation we were forcefully introduced to during our innocent childhood? Or why we have to be so insecure and never able to trust anyone again, calculating and playing vigilante with every prospective suitor? especially after trust has been broken, either mentally, physically or emotionally? How do we allow our hearts to go on? How do we love again…

“Ring-a-ring o’ roses, a pocket full of posies, A-tishoo! A-tishoo! We all fall down”

What do I do when instead of spontaneous falling and getting back up again in my childish glee and giggle, I am held down by the shackles of trauma… molestation… fingering… rape… incest… emotional neglect… physical abuse? And we hide under the umbrella of a barbaric culture that silenced the victim’s voice but uphold the face of the culprit! should we just bury it in a place so far deep in our subconscious, that it ceases to exist? Hmmm or did it really happen? Have we been brainwashed to believe it never happened? What do you think?

Volcano: 1 in 3 people were abused in childhood and carry these scars to adulthood. Sequelae: Fear of intimacy, Sexual acting out and Addiction

Frigidity: Anger, bitterness, resentment, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Dysphoria, irritability Sleep problems, flash backs, Anxiety, Hyper-vigilance.

Come April 27th to April 29th, all of the above and more will be discussed at the 2017 Total Woman Conference by seasoned speakers who will also be providing one-on-one counselling.

Forget the hurts of the past, Forsake unwholesomeness,  Forge ahead in the power and authority of Christ, Forge into new frontiers of love peace & prosperity”

And because sometimes, life is a game that will always be played on, but God’s love is always unconditional and never changes! Let’s be deliberate by being a part of the movement that aims to turn our pain into gain and propels us to become THAT woman God predestined us to be.

Don’t let the pain you are going through deter God’s purpose in your life.

To be continued. logo-tw

Yours in HOPE

Yinka & Enitan.

TWC Workshop Team.
http://www.totalwomanmovement.com

 

 

 

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Oh Snap! I have a TEENAGER in my house!

house-2When you are alone, in privacy, during the most intense period of your day, are you always calm? composed or just tolerant?

When you are in the shower or sitting on the comfort of your toilet bowl at home, does your mind begin to play a crossword reality check game with you? Do you drift or wonder into oblivion? Or you focus on some relaxing memories as you try to ignore images and flashes of the next chapter of your life?

Well…

I-do-a-lot! In fact, that is one craving routine for me! My bathroom is my go-to solitary hide-out!

As a kid, anytime I need to escape the piercing words or the back-hand slaps from my mother after I have really crossed the lines, I would go hide inside the toilet with a novel, preferably Penny Jordan’s M & B tucked inside my Brighter Grammar book, a pack of bazooka bubblegum, can of waterboy spray, drummer-boy air-freshener;  and a short prayer hoping that by the time I come out much later, my mom and her stop-over-to-visit-anytime siblings are not waiting for me in the dining room to dissect and analyze my “queer and mysterious apocalyptic ways”

house-10Hmmm, Aunty Virgie, ‘I told you she’s weird! I bet she talks to herself and her unseen pals, ‘We need to take her for charismatic deliverance! They would whisper among themselves as I sneak by and pretend not to understand their language and creep back into my room.

And today, It’s no secret in my household that, my bathroom is still my ‘thinking and hiding zone’ especially when I bolt the door behind me to keep my prying kids out! Phew!

“Open the door mommy, I need to tell you or show you something!

‘I-am-busy-now! I usually scream back as I return to my indulgence with a deep sigh of relief.

Ah! The serene sound and soothing effect of the running hot water on my skin, creating a tornado of misty steam, the aromatic lemon grass scented candle dropping its wax in unison to the beats of the water splashing….such bliss!

house-11So, my oldest daughter just became a teenager, a dainty one and not as dramatic or crazy or a firecracker as I was at her age!  #ThankGodForThat

And the more we grow together under the same roof, the more I become weak in the knees seeing how much she reminds me of me then in so many ways!

I stumbled upon her journal and there goes pages and pages of pure undocumented short stories she had written over the years, and a recent write up about her spiritual encounter at “Breathe girls only retreat” organized by  About One teenager ministry @ #BrightmoorChristianChurch and her joy at spending time alone too…in the BATHROOM!

My heart did a backflip two-miles away from my body until it dawned on me she-shares my-passion-for-writing! and for all I care, could be writing the story of my life!

And I thought about my own life … my own past … my own relationship with my mother!

And yet … there are many times when my life does not exude that joy, maybe when I was a teenager…house-12

Why?

Maybe I have forgotten what it was like to witness the wonder of His presence in my life. Those times when my life was too crowded for God, and I just needed to breathe again…

Today, whether you have a teenager under your roof, or you know a teenager who looks up to you as their roof, how much do you really know them? How are you fueling their lives for tomorrow’s story they intend to write about?

Isn’t it is so easy to relegate our spirituality to religious activity? When all they really want is to learn the path to follow? When we allow them to do more or all of the talking, while we wait on them?

house-6Oh Yes!!  There is a teenager in my house! and just like God longs for us to forever run into His arms, sharing every hurt and rejoicing in every victory, that’s exactly how every teenager yearns to wrap their emotional-arms around us, completing the peace we so desperately need!

Won’t you Join in today? and live a life that celebrates the amazing truth that opens the doors to a teenage-heart!

Happy 13th Birthday, Sophia!

Yours in HOPE as I share Jonny Diaz’s Breathe.

Yinka.

 

 

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Creating space for the time of your life: Introducing Total Woman Conference 2017

ret-4Is it almost time already? Another upcoming all-women-lets-talk-about-us-gathering? Oh-my-goodness! I am so pumped up with vigor and vitality, even I am amazed at the rate at which I have surpassed my exercise goals to date! #CurvyGoals

I am getting my body in shape and looking forward to more jubilation with the girls and at the same time cleansing my mind for all the goodies it will be receiving at the electrifying upcoming Total Woman Conference 2017!

Come Thursday, April 27th to Saturday 29th 2017, do you know that the beautiful two-toned pastel decorated hallways of Ace conference center at Lafayette Hills in Pennsylvania would again be hosting yet another rewarding and even more gratifying 3 days/2 nights women only conference? Organized by the acclaimed Total Woman Movement? #SoExcitedForTWC2017

So, if you are like me, who’s super-honey-crisp apple-high, excited and almost packing for the event; #Accept-My-TWM-High-five!

logo-twOr if you are still wondering or contemplating what’s up with this year’s conference that requires your precious time away from your preferred activities, your hard earned money or the invasion of personal space as you share a room… You-are-not-alone but in for the thrill of a lifetime with other ladies who are on fire for God and ready to help you spell the word “HELP” by just revealing the secrets of splendor in togetherness!

Do you know that as you read this, the founder and planning committee of TW Movement are busy working day and night to create a personalized “go-ahead-and-flourish baskets-workshop” just because you are fondly thought of? #Special.ret-6

They are so thrilled that you will be making time out of your busy schedules to mingle and network with other ladies who have journeyed through life’s experiences and are overflowing with available and tangible resources to help you move forward to the next level in life #Seasoned

Am talking about women who have been there, done that and are finally at peace, established and rooted in the comfort of their gifting, excelling in all profitable aspects of life and are ready and equipped to pass the baton over to you #Settled

This year’s conference promises…’nourishing, fulfilling tools we need as women and that extra burst to push past our finish line! It promises not to just scratch the surface but to delve deep into the roots of the emotional, financial, marital, career and entrepreneurial aspects of our lives. WE COME TO BE TRULY EMPOWERED TO MOVE, It promises closure to those open wounds we have been fanning for too long! It promises to build up our hopes in times of hopelessness as it gently leads us up and out of our fixation by guiding us into the new “all we can be us”.

ret-2This year’s conference promises to walk down with you to the root, deal with that, walk you up the fruit, deal with that, and walk you up to the mountain top and giving you what it takes to remain there. #ToolsToExcel

So many lessons and treasured memories I have received from the past TW conference, and so many more I am anticipating at the upcoming 2017 Total Woman Conference…the question is are you ready to create space for that time of your life with TW Movement?

It’s one thing to keep attending seminars and workshops religiously without getting the message and putting it to work thereafter! Finally saying ‘Oh, so this is it! Or “Oh yeah, I got this”, ‘Isn’t it time for us to walk out of a conference and confidently look our demons in the eyes and say OK now, I got this, you’ve got to go!! – Literally, isn’t that the reason why we come together in the first place? To help each other kick out the strongholds, nourish each other with tools needed to move forward and exit the seminar with a satisfied smile on our faces?

We come in with a burden, we walk out lighter with strategies to move to the next level!

Are you on a career path that seems to lead nowhere and wondering how to switch or re-direct your purpose? Is it a difficult relationship or a marriage about to hit the rocks? Or that incident from the past, that’s now a mental health issue but too embarrassing to discuss? Is it still brewing? Did you experience being raped, rejected or relinquished? Hmm, believe me Sisters, You are not alone!ret-7

Would you like to discuss how to achieve stability as a single mother or a widower? Are you looking for a path to recovery? Are you a care giver of a special needs child or family member, overwhelmed but fully obligated to keep on living? Intimacy discussions and how to set the mood right for a happier marriage? Are you seasoned and experienced? The younger ladies might learn a thing or two from you!

Ladies!! We are all either natural rule-followers or rebels, we try to live our lives righteously and then allow grace to come in when we don’t. We repent and thank God for His grace when we miss it knowing we have been redeemed by His mercy. Are we not so special and settled when we live freely from the bondage of falling short? So why are we still living in the past?

How many times have we had a voice saying to us ‘Just look at the mess you made?  See what you did? I told you not to do this, and you didn’t listen to me! Now look at you! ‘Instead, God reached down into our holes, lifted us up and out of it, and He dusted the dirt and shame off us! Even hugged us with the most loving and comforting embrace, with no sign of bitterness, disappointment, or anger. #Settledret-1

Is that not grace? God’s unconditional love and forgiveness in our life, especially when we don’t deserve it.

Today, if you are reading this! Do-your-victory-dance! Hooray!!’because…

You are being invited to a one of a kind Holistic Conference!

TWC 2017 is here!! To help you move out of your perceived comfort zone, to take charge of the task ahead of you, live life to the fullest by God’s grace! Which is that same freedom we are called to live in.  #BeSecuredSettledSatisfied

More to come…

Yours in HOPE!

Yinka.

*** For more information and signing up, visit: http://www.totalwomanmovement.com

 

 

 

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REBUILDING HOPE after a loss.

shine-2There comes a time in our life when we should start thinking about what we will leave behind after we die.

Well, not everyone enjoys talking about it anyway, but we should! Like, Y-e-s-t-e-r-d-a-y! Because we will all pass away someday.

What will be our legacy? How will our lifestyles be recorded into the annals of history?

Are we aware that this is a deep healing and gratifying moment that could also beAdvertisement  our only chance and opportunity to pay it forward or celebrate life by creating a setting for others to follow? 

So, do you remember how you felt when you lost someone close to you? You witnessed dreams and aspirations snatched away coldly leaving behind dark visions of despair and uncertainty about the future!shine-4

Did your life take an unexpected turn when people you love are diagnosed with a terminal illness? The big question we battle in our minds over time as we witness their pain and struggle with recovering and treatment is…’Will-They-Ever-Make-It?

Or will they disgrace death and defeat the grave? No matter what, our lives and their new journey would never be the same again.

Aha! Because an irreplaceable vacuum has been deposited in our hearts.

The fairytale life we had always dreamed of for them is no longer possible. Is it okay to question God at those very hurting period we witness with them? Or be like Job and continually keep seeking His face in the middle of it all? Is there still hope after all?  #EmpathyLeadsToHope

ekoI still clearly remember the night when my parents went out for an event….

It was Christmas of 1980, my dad wanted to impress his guests that night and had driven them all to watch Bobby Benson’s High-Life band play at the lavishly furnished ball room of Eko Hotel at Victoria Island Lagos.

Jubilant! Excited! my cousins and I (who had come visiting from Port Harcourt and UK) danced around our Christmas tree in the adult parlor as we waved goodbye to our parents, flashing our hand-held sparkler fire works! And as my dad’s car zoomed off the street, we were left with traces of rays from the street lights that eventually nudged us back inside.

But, my parents never came back that night or the next day!

Nothing prepared me for the tons of relatives who stomped into our house for the next couple of months!

There was constant whispering, cleaning or attending to unfamiliar faces who had pressed the loud doorbell that always made our dogs, Jolie and Julie mad and bark uncontrollably!

shine13The warm-natured relatives from my mother’s village in Delta State had hired a commercial station wagon named “Eni Afe” (the one we love) to transport them and their bags full of African pear and Garden egg directly from Oshimili Local government to my door step on Lagos-Island!

Oh by-the-way! Did I mention that they were always humming a moody native song and slapping their heads or their hips! Pointing to the sky as if blaming God for not being on time to the rescue! Or were they blaming the automobile company for the accident? I could barely pick their language, but was always able to identify the word “moto” as they begin to use their wrist to wipe away invisible tears.

And every time I would glare at them in fear and confusion wondering where they kept my parents!!

Ah, I-s-i-o-m-a ’Nne m (meaning My-good-head daughter or good-luck-girl-child) they would exclaim and carry me off into a non-auditioned Igbo dance and bury my head in their humongous Saturday Night-talcum-saturated bosom, like I needed to be smothered because I was missing motherly affection! Oh well, at that time, I guess I was anyway…Phew!    #ILoveMyMothersPeople

shine-14

And on the other side, my father’s Lagos-Brazilian quarters family members would all stroll in, in their meticulous apparel, puffing and huffing about how Uncle Kay (my dad) just won’t stop smoking, drinking and driving! their high stiletto competing with their pitchy British accent as they search in their patent fancy bags for a glass-beaded rosary that will be used to sanctify the house or search for their fancy hand fan even as the ceiling fan was in full motion!

I watched as they try to escape the cold nose caressing from our dogs! Their house helps or driver sneaks up behind them carrying home-baked bread and fruit baskets brought from Tom Jones area, covered with beautifully embroidered napkins.

Oh! There you are Yinkus baby! Everything is fine oh? We must book a mass for the family! Let’s thank Saint Christopher and Our Lady of good counsel! Or ‘has anyone gone to Catholic Mission to report this to the Arch Bishop? I will have my driver come get you for the weekend to play with your cousins at Ikoyi club” And then a big hug consumed with choking concentrated overdose of vintage Hermes perfume! 

Ah! play-with-my cousins-at-this-period? Hmm…’No-thank-you-Aunt! #MyFathersDramaticPeople

But, Why-won’t-someone-tell-me-what-ever-happened-to-my-parents

shine-11Thank goodness for older and notorious cousins who were very crafty in stealing top-classified family information! Last I know…they saw my Dad’s car somersault several times and crash into the edge of the reef at Bar beach!

All 4 of them (My dad, mom, late Uncle Siji and Dr. Alagoa) lost consciousness and were rescued by a nearby white garment church congregation having a vigil at the same time on the beach!

Okay…so they made it out of Eko Hotel and crashed into Bar beach on their way back home. Severely injured with the car written off! Both on admission and physical therapy for several months as I was left in denial about their disappearance until they returned home, not the same as they left in December, but alive.

At that moment and such tender age, nothing could have soothed or comforted me enough! For all I care, I could have been an orphan-in-waiting until they eventually came back home with bruises and scars so pronounced, even our dogs wept for them! Literally.

shine-12Today, as you are reading this…In homes and hospitals and confinement across the world, friends and family will soon gather around to usher in the New Year, beautifully decorated tables filled with warm, scrumptious food and gifts to give. Blinking lighted trees with trimmed gold ribbons!

It is Christmas!!

However, this day will be nothing like holidays of the past for many people.

Broken hearted families who’ve lost loved ones will struggle to keep hope alive, Friends with terminal or life threatening illness will have to struggle to catch a glimpse of what a painless season without medication or treatment would be, Lonely but committed soldiers covered in the dust of battle will patrol foreign borders, fighting for what they believe in, while their families back home long for word of their safety.

The homeless will make their way to the nearest soup kitchen, hoping for a warm meal and a smiling face as so many celebrate this day of abundance.

eko-2For some, an empty place at the table will be a painful reminder of the loved one lost or a failed relationship.

A worried husband and dad will sit at the head of the table, wondering how he is going to tell his family that he just lost his job.

A wife, struggling with emotional turmoil of an unfulfilled marriage, a beautiful young lady, wondering if the joy of the season is worth celebrating due to rejection and loneliness.

A family with a child on the spectrum still waiting for a miracle. The list of wounded hearts and unmet needs is brutal.

So, tell me, how do you create or find time to rebuild after you lose someone to death, ailment or disagreement? In all my 6 years of surviving that cancer, I have continuously struggled with the changes that’s taken over my body, my mind and my perception about life and people. I had to crave the urge to keep hoping for a fruitful life; medication, treatment and all by creating time for people in need!

For others, it is still denial of what they can’t understand and are still refusing to accept. That there could be hope because God says so, that we could still find joy and happiness even while going through that phase in life.

How do you intend to help someone going through all these the few days remaining in 2016? Would we rather patronize the needy by dropping by a shelter to suit your conscience? Send text messages or gifts when really your voice of encouragement is what they need? Label them as unfit or dying when really only God can dictate that journey! Hmm.

shine-5What gives us hope today? Even with friends and loved ones dying or shutting down around us, how do we comfort them?

You see, when we convince ourselves that life will be better when we have more money, when we find the right mate, when we get the kids raised or build the right house. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we buy a nicer car, when we get that promotion, when we are able to go on our dream vacation or when we retire.

We keep trying to find joy, contentment and peace in lifeless places and useless things.  When really, we just need to be more thankful for being alive and seek the real meaning behind the lights on the Christmas trees, it’s not about the ornaments or the beautiful wrapped up gifts! Or the beautiful glittering ribbons.

It is about building HOPE for tomorrow! and why we need to celebrate life more…especially with those going through tough time this season.

And because I witnessed my parents come out alive of that ghastly car accident at Bar-beach that had the next day newspaper headlines as “Miracle on the Beach” I certainly have no choice but to keep trusting and hoping in God even as my own strength and flesh falter sometimes!

shine-3Because I-have-been-there-with-you, on both sides…I know the feeling of a blurry future when sickness knocks or when a loved one is lost or when we lose a pregnancy/baby…the vacuum is so uncomfortably evident and can never be filled!

I am hoping someone reading this will allow their heart to beat again after a loss.

Let’s spread the love of Christmas by bringing HOPE to someone really in need of affection today and comfort the weak at heart more.

To all those we lost in 2016. Let’s be rest assured that the peace the birth of Christ brings this season is surely abiding with them.

Yours in HOPE! As I share David Gokey’s ‘Tell Your Heart To Beat Again’

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

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Does Ignorance breed Hatred?

race-1One thing is always constant in our memory. How we treat people, and how people perceive us. Since we are not all wired alike due to differences in our background and cultural beliefs, we tend to allow our biases be the appraisal tool or the judgmental stick ever presented, but never represented in its right content.

Is there a pathway or an escape route for being classified as different? Because I don’t Look like you? Think like you? Talk like you or Move like you qualifies me as a lesser being or just simply unqualified?  #AllLivesMatter

Have you ever found yourself fidgeting or uncomfortable when certain topics are discussed? Like the first time you fully understood the real meaning of racism as ‘being deprived of equality? Have your emotions been all over the place about the recent Presidential election? Excited? Astonished? Confused? Is it enough for anyone to fall into the ravine of worry, anxiety, and outright fear?    #HopeLives

Do you recall the first time you literally felt a sharp stab in your chest because you were treated differently? You checked yourself out over again! You blurted out subconsciously like a queen-bee about to be dethroned from her colony “Ah, is it not me?

race-4You must have had positive energy, but was rather served with negative vibes of unfairness and a bias attitude. Perhaps, it wasn’t intentional, but H-E-L-L-O! ’It was a discriminative slur, relatively condescending and the message surely hit home. Period.

For some few seconds, did you quickly gasp for air or cough into your palm, secretly smelling it to see if your breath was the culprit or if the perspiration caused from the invisible slap had dribbled cold sweat to your perfectly deodorized-armpit, did it play a role in this brutal emotional abuse? Or maybe all of a sudden, you finally realize that your skin color differs? Oh, could it be gender issues? Or maybe it’s the textured foreign accent that sold you out? Your ‘Rs” and “Hs” not aligning with your lingual heredity. Aha! You-are-busted!

Whatever form of prejudice you have encountered…’permit me to welcome you to the baffled world of disparity, distinction and divergence! Scholarly referred to as “different” but sophisticatedly acknowledged as racism, sexism, classicism or any of the other “ISMs”! And in a layman’s language: #Outcast

race-7During my elementary school days at CCS Victoria Island Lagos, Nigeria, my dark-skinned creative art teacher, Mrs. Benson wanted something different for the upcoming yearly prize giving day. Usually, I was always on the front line of the ever melodious Hausa/Fulani cultural dance group. I always looked forward to being thrown up in the air during the “Dan Mani O” dance or when am given the lead role to twist my tiny waist and begin the dramatic ‘Tama-yaki-tama’ dance!

There’s something sensual and feminine about the way we cover our faces with our beautifully intricately painted hands, smiling shyly, pulling the scarf to cover our innocent baby face as the groomed make-believe Fulani herds boys (mostly consisted of the 4 Akwa-Ibom boys in my class) holla in salute to our indulged innocence. The glittery dangling gold-plated bangles on our skinny wrists, the catchy black eyelids lined to perfection, revealing the unknown cat eyes we were too young to understand was there! #Hilarious

But, she had specifically declared she wanted an Indian-cultural dance group! – Hmmm…’Oh-ok! And was only selecting “Beautiful”, “Light skinned-Girls with long silky hair”. So happens my school did have about 70% kids who were of mixed heritage, what we called half-caste then, and honestly, with my Brazilian-heritage surname, I was classically considered mulatto? Or so I thought until I wasn’t selected! Oh Snap!

race-12Eventually, I still managed to shine on stage during my Hausa/Fulani dance, but as young as I was then, I was so heartbroken for being discriminated against. After all I knew all the latest Indian songs by heart, I had always sneaked out with my big sister to watch Indian movies at Plaza cinema when Mom’s not aware! In fact, I could have sworn that Amitabh Baachan and Shashi Kapoor acknowledged my commitment! (Lol)

Why wasn’t I selected to represent their culture? Ah! Was it because my mom had annoyingly made my natural hair that week with the black glossy thread (I always hated that local hairdo anyway!) And I honestly blamed my hair stylist, Sisi Joyce! (The Obalende hair-lady who had gone away to have her 6th baby)! Maybe my hair wasn’t silky and long enough like my adorable big sister, ‘Bopo who had such beautiful rich textured long hair, one to die for? Or maybe, I just wasn’t good enough?

hairWhat-was-the-selection-criteria? I wondered and contemplated and needed to understand why I didn’t fit into that group? After all, Chizo Njoku was selected, yeah! And we both had the same hair style, and if anything she was really dark-skinned! (PS: Chizoba dear! pardon me) LOL!

What made them more qualified and me less capable? Asking my mother didn’t help the issue, she was more curious and concerned that I didn’t join the Igbo dance troupe!  Seriously!!  #TribalIssues

So, chances are all of us have all dealt with one kind of discriminatory episode or the other in our lives, but then as we get older, the term begins to get more softened or intimidating. We tend to learn from it, grow with it or die in denial about it.

There is a common ground we tend to create when we encounter people of a different race or culture during a challenging period of our lives, one that’s always beyond our control.

race-5Through our journey in life, we must have encountered one or two people who deeply touched us positively or negatively and are not of the same racial background like us, and vice versa. Did we recognize that common ground of interest that created the bond or lack there of it, initially?

For me, I’d learned to set into motion the reality of fighting acceptance at an early stage, I‘ve learned to rely on my strength by using my God-given ability to dust off discrimination of any form I encounter. I have learned to walk up straight and tall with confidence and genuine power of authority as I have been so blessed to lead a corporate world that limits the voice of the minorities! #RIPGwenIfill

I’ve learned not only to ignore the underlying slurs of weakness in ignorant people around me, but shaking off  doubt and seeing it as a stepping stone of advancement for what I believe in. I’ve learned to walk into crowded seminar halls full of people who did not look or sound like me, to give presentations or teach clinical programs on topics that keep my audience  alert, awake and in tears at night concerning issues of their well-being or the life span of their children. I’ve learned to leave outside the door any form of distraction or bitterness that comes with the history, but focusing and creating a deep devotion for what I believe in, and making them crave for my worth rather than wonder on what kind of specimen or gene I am made of!  #StrongBlackWoman

What about you? How do you handle discrimination? Has it ever occurred to you that we are “still” waging an eternal war on equality and basic human right?

You see, as boring as history is today, one story considered valid in one classroom, at one time, and in one place will not necessarily be considered so in another classroom, at another time, and in another place. Our test of humanity contains the true-false item we all refuse to accept. If we are defined by the restoring, forgiving grace of God, not by our past choices, others’ voices, or our present struggles. Shouldn’t we be reminded of the value God sees in us?race-6

In Langston Hughes’s book “Ways of white folk’s (Cora Unashamed) I learned the defeating rage of vengeance on how long and frustrating it was to wait to get behind closed-doors to finally vent, after being ridiculed and humiliated for years in public. Oh Yes!

How many times have we debunked classicism (dignity and elegance) as “not in my clique” kind of experience, even in the smallest informal settings we find ourselves?  Just like my Father would say continuously when enraged about the corruption in the distribution of land ownership “My daughter, hmm’ They can’t buy class” – I thought money could? Oh-My-word!

Or have we given up on the fight on racial discrimination and would rather hang around only those we are “comfortable” with or there are possibilities of having a biased mindset about the other ethnic group due to their contexts or culture? Are we terrified of Individuals from diverse subgroups such as those defined by race, ethnicity, gender, culture, language, age, disability or socio economic status?race-2

Today, I guess religion and politics will always be biased areas because a line has been drawn in the sand and everyone must choose a side which creates that bias. But this shouldn’t be for equality, it should be unbiased and fair as possible.

I am hoping that someone reading this, as they go through one of those “less than trusting” days, be reminded that God is still in control. Yes, God does give us the risky gift of choice, but He is still sovereign and sitting on His throne. Still in doubt?

Moving forward, let’s enter a new phase and stage of life, we can be confident that God goes before us. Because of whatever circumstances we are facing, all we see is an unknown but rather intimidating future ahead of us, would you think the state of the economy is all in the rebellion against the elites? While, others suffer for it?

Are there complications that have your heart grieving and sifting through ashes? Perhaps you are trying to keep a stiff upper lip and carry those broken burdens quietly? Equality, Immigration or Generalization issues?

race-10Let’s enlighten ourselves some and shed the ignorance that so glaringly blinds us from the burning reality that surrounds us. Ignorance like darkness, clouds one’s judgment and leads one into a maze of fear, doubt, intimidation, uncertainty, confusion and if we are not careful a state of total anarchy.

The reality is that we live in a broken world. Trials and trouble are a byproduct of that brokenness. Shouldn’t we be pleading with God for an exemption clause? However, I have discovered an amazing truth that makes it easier to face every shattering moment that lies ahead, to keep HOPE alive in the CHANGE I choose to be!  #ChangeIsTheOnlyConstant

Yours in HOPE as I share one of my favorite quotes by VP Joe Biden (Uncle Joe)

Yinka.

‘No fundamental social change occurs merely because government acts, it’s because civil society, the conscience of a country, begins to rise up and demand-demand-demand change’The Real Joe Biden – an accomplished statesman and deceptively eloquent orator.

 

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