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I called him Daddy – by Folarin Lawrence

When exemplary men pass, it is often said, ‘They left vast vacuums or huge shoes to be filled’.

This is spot on where Edward Adebisi Lawrence is concerned, it has not sunk in and it very well may never do so as I continue to reminisce about his place in my life. I can only pray that I can have half the effect he had on me with my son.

In the last few weeks, I have read and re-read several tributes written by those whose lives he touched or those he mentored from broadcasting to print media. A lot was said about his mastery of words and excellence in administration, his vast knowledge of virtually anything you wanted to talk about without unnecessary embellishments and always being able to meet you at your level of understanding. 

I did not spend as much time as I would have loved to spend with my father, and if there is anything I regret in retrospect it is this one. My father was a fantastic and extraordinary human being who although to many achieved great heights in his career, his body of work speaks for itself but I know now that he only showcased a fraction of what he was capable of which may be hard to believe for most.

He was a loving, bubbly mound of knowledge and wisdom who smiled and laughed with his whole face, the dimples on his cheeks growing ever deeper in those moments. He shone so bright and lighted up every gathering he graced with his presence. He was strong in his convictions and fiercely proud of his stances. 

Growing up in our culture, men did not really profess affection but we knew we were loved by their actions. My father was an exception as I can recall many times he told me he loved me, and his actions sometimes with tough love showed it as well. I used to tell stories of when I went to visit him when I was younger, we would have deep conversations sometimes rather unpleasant but sincere, but this became so much better as I got older and began to communicate on the same wave length; we would talk about music ranging from Yusuf Olatunji to Bob Dylan, from Fela Anikulapo-Kuti to Johann Sebastian Bach.

We also discussed world history, current affairs and everything in between, these discussions were done over a meal that he prepared himself, usually his special smoked fish pepper soup, rice that he would garnish with symmetrically sliced tomatoes and onions, while the rice steamed.

Bizlaw was not perfect, he was flawed just like any of us, but I can proudly say today that he was an exceptionally special human being who had to live his life on his own terms in many ways unbeknownst to those who were lucky enough to have spent some time with him in some capacity or another. For me he was that caterpillar who morphed into a butterfly but was not allowed to fully spread out its wings to  the full extent of its splendor even with the lofty achievements and homages paid to him.

He will always be embedded on my mind and I will never forget his reaction when he did not attend a particular occasion that he was supposed to attend on my behalf, I was angry with him and he said “Junior, it is just a ceremony laden with sentiments, I’m sure you really know how I feel about you and Yinka”.

In the past year I have come to lean on this as to what is important or necessary as opposed to what is mundane and contrived. As someone who means the world to me puts it “Be intentional with the things that are important” #movingforwardwithYinka

So, today being the 1st year memorial anniversary, I am imparting to Mofiyinfoluwa (my son)… “Grandpa’s body and bones have most likely turned into dust or in the process of doing so, but he still lives in the indelible memories of him I have safe-guarded, that I can recall at any time” – memories like my father driving me in in his yellow Mazda with the wood grain steering wheel and dashboard, then taking his hands off the steering wheel saying “Look, Junior! no hands! and then seeing the scared expression on my face and assuring me that I was safe and not to worry, I was all of seven years old at that time. 

I love and miss you man.

God’s peace. 

Your Son,

Kevin Ayofolarin Lawrence.

 

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A Shift in Perspective for 2020!

A Shift in Perspective for 2020!

Let me start by sincerely asking… ‘How are you doing? Are You Okay?

For many people, 2020 has proved a challenging and tedious year. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that resiliency always wins! For some, storms of illness, financial difficulty, social unrest and depression have overwhelmingly swept upon once-peaceful lives.

Quarantines and social distancing have prohibited many from joining with family and close friends for nearly a year, and as Year 2021 approaches that will likely still remain the case for many.

More than ever all the small things have become bigger.

We’ve gone to bed puzzled and perplexed at night, woken up with uncertainties of what could be… not knowing what the next day, week or month would bring.

From eating in a restaurant to seeing a movie, to physically being able to hug a friend, or embracing outrageous political differences with little space to vent, to just listening to each other’s heartbeat when anxiety sets in, unveiling heartaches when headlines deliver sour news, or proclaim happy-thoughts when sudden glimpse of hope comes with the morning dew! we no longer discount the small aspects of life that were once so accessible.

2020 has shifted us to recognize those small things, and the large impact they have: More time alone with our conscience!

What has more time spent alone taught you?

Are we still holding back on circumstantial boundaries? Do we see only difficulty in every trial we’ve encountered this year? or forge ahead like an optimist, see the opportunity in every difficulty?

How can we evaluate these things and come back to God with a grateful heart for such revelations or new ideas?

Hmmm… ‘This year has brought so many of us to our breaking and emerging points. Family bonds once trusted are now tested, trashed or tremendously treasured! friendship values once secured are re-evaluated for sincerity or lack of depth to fill the void and empitness we now face. Loss and pain have plagued every one of us in 2020, in moments both fraught and debilitating.

From sympathizing with friends, families and clients who’ve lost loved ones to giving mental health support and encouragement about the after effects and lifelong scars of losing a baby, a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, grandparents, all alone… in a-cold isolated pandemic period.. that literally steals the comfort of a warm embrace… ‘an unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few but riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.

We have comforted each other over virtual platforms as though we were there in person! burial rites are performed in a swift due to gathering restrictions, saving the tears to swell up behind face marks or allowing some to run freely on our screens, behind the walls of isolation.

Some of us were bold enough to celebrate milestones, weddings, birthdays or graduations in very restrictive gathering! Some, grateful for an opportunity to start afresh, rebuild broken relationships or mingle again without knowing it would probably be their last in October… #RIPMrsPatriciaEwetuya-Daramola.

A shift in perspective can take us from complacency to content.

Uncertainty can be powerfully intimidating, yet we must make decisions.

Perspective is key in finding joy despite the circumstances this season.

So, like my 9-year-old daughter would explain after going through her scheduled social stories without wearing her prescription glasses, “My perspective on events is much like wearing a pair of glasses. Certain lens will help me see the blur of fear, unknown things approaching or confusion, where another lens can provide me with much needed clarity”

More quality time spent with my 3 kids and Husband of 23-years in 2020 has taught us all Calmness & Clarity.

The perspective that some of the difficulties we face now perhaps are growing us in new and exciting ways. As scary as they look now, we have no idea what kind of good God is spinning out of it.

So, as we approach Year 2021, ditching all the uproar of 2020 behind, it can be easy to feel hopeless, anxious, or even bitter, however we can choose to not fall prey to these feelings.

We can partner with God to give thanks, despite the circumstances… and continue to look up to Him!

This past holiday probably looked different around the dining room table, but connection can still occur. Video chats and phone calls will be a resource to utilize well, but real connection can still occur from such unlikely platforms.

Perhaps gratitude can be found in using these options, and we can have authentic communications of where we all are in heart and mind. This is something to be thankful for, to have exchanges beyond the weather or superficialities, but to dive deeper into outlooks, our state of mental health!

We are all struggling, but we are not struggling alone. Because there is Hope.

Again, whether you find yourself celebrating or grieving these days, feeling hopeful or hopeless, actively choose to trust God to set you free of past battles. For His ways will surely prevail in the end.

We should not discount the faith He is building in us during this time either, for through these hard times He is revealing more of the character being born in us. Birth is painful, but it results in new life.

Perhaps these hardships are birthing a new vibrancy of life for us as we approach 2021.

Happy New Year, Stay Safe as we move forward into 2021.

Yours in HOPE as I share Whitney Houston’s ‘I LOOK TO YOU’

OlaYinka

 

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May the coming months be merrier.

It started with a single picture. Then collection of old blurry birthday pictures all taken in May of 1991, 1992 & 1993. Some had the lustrous backdrop of the beautiful SB Bakare’s Mansion on Queensdrive Ikoyi, others the bustling Maxi Class restaurant on Olu Obasanjo at D-Line in Port Harcourt and some, inside the glossy emerald green walled-dinning room of my Lagos Island residence. Boxes of pictures I came across during early spring Covid19 Lockdown while decluttering my garage.

Oh, I could tell it was a festive period and my yearly impromptu birthday celebrations, as it had several young adults mostly dressed in jeans and colorful t-shirts, either on break from various Universities or recovering from the Jamb rejection letter and had gathered at my place on the Island or in Port Harcourt, at a chosen venue to celebrate my birthday.

My face lit up with joy, as I remembered the faces, then immediately was replaced with pain and sorrow.. amidst the depressing pandemic going on, I’d realized that several of the happy faces radiating warmth and youthful outbursts from the pictures were either so far away or just…No More. 

They’d passed away.

Good, Young, Cordial, Vibrant, Dear Friends: Gone! at their prime!

Even as their memories live on in the pile of pictures I carry with me, or with their immediate family members that were almost impossible to reconnect with, a feeling of despair resonated deeply within me!

How do I want to be remembered when I become just a memory in someone’s pile of picture collection?

How do we create memories? Will I be defined by my character on a good day? or be shamed by my weakness?

While happiness can be temporary, and so easily stolen by the circumstances in which we live in now, joy cannot be stolen; it can only be handed away. It is our decision to either live in joy or walk in constant disappointment.

I’ve always picked joy, sometimes it finds its way in the crowd to nominate me, I guess, ‘while been hopeful. How about you?

To fully wrap our heads around this precept, we must first understand the difference between happiness and joy. 

Happiness depends on outside circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is an internal decision we make based on the conviction of things we believe will come about, but that our eyes have yet to behold.

Even as this rogue and ruthless virus has swiftly stolen so many pre-planned joy-filled events and people robbed us of very special occasions and memories we hoped to have. Disappointed doesn’t begin to describe what we were all feeling, but we shouldn’t give up.

But I’m sure you could relate your own story of loss which occurred within the first few months of this pandemic. Graduation ceremonies, weddings, birthdays and vacations were cancelled, sports championships were sidelined, jobs were lost, businesses failed, money vanished from retirement accounts. 

Relationships are rebranded! Sex life for married couples received an instant memo of resuscitations for detour! Marriages once on eggs shells are either cracked-up fried or nurtured by test of time!

Close to my heart, there’s an uproar and alarming rate of isolation for families with special needs children while healthcare disparity tightens hopes for families awaiting conception. I’ve had to counsel and give hope to those who’ve gone through miscarriages, a topic that has always been surrounded by silence and pain, while COVID-19 has made the experience feel even more isolating.

Aha, all these trials, those very ones which ruthlessly steal our joy, they can act as maturing agents in our lives, if we manage to hold onto our faith through them. 

So, even in the midst of it all, Is it still possible that one more brutality piled on, like so many before it was finally too much?

Is it possible that this is a turning point in understanding and addressing the ways in which racism eats away at an entire society while ravaging some far more than others?

Is it possible that the past week is the beginning of real change?

 That, this is a struggle with a long history, but a struggle that must succeed.

Is this our new NORMAL?

Adaptability and Hope.

No matter where you are. No matter what you are facing. Step out in faith! May your next month, and the month after, and the one after be full of cheerfulness, gaiety and laughter; to cause or raise happiness and unspeakable joy.

In Memory of All We Lost Along The Way. . .

Yours in HOPE

OlaYinka

 

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What is it about Black Men?

What is it about Black Men?

What is it about the black male? man or child that evokes an unexplainable aura especially in the mindset of white men; for as long as we can remember? Why does his presence stoke threat, fear and for lack of other words, envy? Why is he continually marginalized, discriminated against and blatantly hated?

I have delved deep and really find it difficult to understand in-as-much as I have heard, read and experienced the bitter truths of being a black man, I still struggle to accept the perception the average ignorant white person has of me and the first thing they perceive when they see me and behold the color of my skin. 

The “blackness” of my skin, the melanin that makes up my pigmentation is not akin to the darkness and light that evil and good are depicted by, neither is it inherent in the thoughts in my mind either way.

Just like every other race – black men have dreams, ideals, ambition, aspirations, intellect, wisdom and any other lofty attributes under the sun, and yes, just as white men have every other negative attributes that exist depending on the orientation of the individual and regardless of race or creed.

When we examine slavery and all its machinations, slaves were traded commodities that were put towards hard labor without pay. This arrangement warped the thinking of the black man for a long time as he was helpless, and at the mercy of the his owners.

We have come a long way since then, but with every discriminate newsflash of injustice on the black body we recede even further away from whatever progress we may have made.

What changed the narrative after the abolition of slavery?

Simple: The former commodities or work animals- realized they possess various latent qualities. They were not just “machines” to run plantations, they were living, breathing and vibrant human beings who had been ripped from their ancestral lands and everything they ever knew and held dear to their hearts. Liberation brought clarity. These “machines” possess much more than brute force, they could reason, they could organize and lead.

A great example of the ingenuity of African Americans post slavery is the Greenwood District in Tulsa Oklahoma also known as “Black Wall Street” where fine, bright and vibrant black men established a burgeoning financial district. Greenwood was sadly destroyed in one of the worst racial tragedies recorded in American history.

The Greenwood tragedy revealed that the black man had to be contained in such a manner that they were no more slaves but continued to be dominated in ways that they will never be fully emancipated. How is this achievable? Systemic racism is insidiously embedded within every system to protect the status quo. 

In a situation where black lives are snuffed out periodically and only make it to the mainstream when it is captured on tape then, what progress have we made from slavery through Jim Crowe to Civil Rights till the present day?

I have had to explain to my 14 year old son over the years why he should pull his hood down in public and why he needs to understand that when he is out in public not everyone sees him as my son whom his mother and I will give our lives for, and that he is presumed a potential threat to any white person depending on the circumstances and perspective of who is concerned. 

The average black boy has several serious responsibilities that his white counterparts do not even think about when they step out into the world. Many of them are already disadvantaged from their first cry even before the umbilical cord is snipped, they are already labelled.

He is taught to be ten steps ahead of the next white boy in all positive spheres of life if he has aspirations of being successful. He is told especially if he happens to be a big lad to be always cautious and courteous when expressing himself especially when white people are involved, in other words “curtail his God-given talents, perspective and true feelings”.

There is an aura and an inexplicable spirituality that surrounds a black man! it is not tangible, it is not taught and it cannot be bottled, it is innate and God-given and it cannot be hidden or ignored regardless of how hard you try.

The black man’s indelible mark is etched into history from great ancient African kings to fiery Afroamerican preachers and orators, in the world of sports and entertainment, to science and technology, this is the particular sector where our “hidden figures” abound and have been historically shrouded, their intellectual properties stolen and rebranded some of which will never be recovered. 

Again I ask, What is it about the Black Male?

He is just all round special and enigmatic, charismatic yet misunderstood stylish with a killer swag yet gentle enough if just given the opportunity to exhibit that attribute, but how are you able to show that when all you chronically experienced is hatred and dominance mostly from those that are supposed to have your back.

Your neck has had the collective knees of haters and envious white counterparts wedged into it for centuries some of them not even knowing it or understanding why as this has always been the norm. The average white person who feels superiority towards a black person could not even tell you exactly why or make any sense of their stance or beliefs. 

The black family fabric in America has been continuously decimated in a viscous cycle, fathers have been torn away from their families through the fledgling prison system business that the white man has continued to profit and build a billion dollar business on the sorrow, sweat, tears and blood of the black family.

Where do we start?

There is systemic disputes in every sphere of African American life, health, education, security, employment; all designed just to keep a “brother” down, to make sure that although slavery was abolished over a hundred years ago, the slaves emancipated on paper will not be liberated mentally or emotionally. The worst thing a “free” human being can live with is an imprisoned mind.

In all of this though, I am encouraged and very much hopeful with many of the young black men coming up in the world. The current generation of youth, black or white are a movement comprised of freethinkers, they do not generally need a leader and do not readily conform with the status quo.

They are ready to make their own reality if we like it or not, they will question every move we make and will break every rule, culture, tradition that may have been written in stone, they are not here to only rock the boat, they will look to risk everything, sink the boat and swim for the shore without us and our antiquated ways.

These young generation of black brothers are on a mission and we need to get out of their way or be crushed by the momentum. 

God’s Peace.

Written by,

Folarin Lawrence.

 

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Essential Mrs. Gansy!

Essential Mrs. Gansy!

It is not often you come across a guy who has a whole lot of great things to say about his mother in law, but I beg to differ as I am one of the few.

Many years ago when I was courting my wife I visited her house on Lagos Island in the Popo Aguda Quarters, (Brazilian Quarters) she wasn’t home but her mother asked me to wait that she will soon be back. 

In retrospect, I still wonder what she saw in me at that time, that I was always welcomed to sit with her and just have great conversations on the front porch of their Brazilian style house while her husband was just in the living room behind us paying us no mind.

On this particular day after getting off the bus and taking the walk under the hot Lagos sun from City hall bus stop to #37 Oil Mill street, I met Mrs. as she is so fondly called, sitting on her front porch and after the usual pleasantries she asks one of the kids to get me a chair and some chilled water.

As we picked our topic for the day she also said she was just about to make some of her famous Delta state native soups that require very hard to find spices and vegetables and she was still trying to decide what would accompany the soup, yam flour or pounded yam? hmmm…

I said “whichever is fastest and most convenient” she decides on pounded yam and proceeds to start the preparation, all the while checking to see if her daughter was back and if I were okay seating on the porch. A little while later I could perceive the wonderful aroma of different spices, stock and smoked fish all sizzling and mingling together and sending my bowels through a tsunami of growls anticipating the taste in real time. 

I could also hear the thunderous sound of the pestle bashing the yams in the mortar and being an Ekiti man I was already rejoicing in my mind just imagining the mussels of pounded yam and sumptuous pieces of assorted meat and fish that will be paired in this meal fit for a king. 

Alas, the time came and I was called in by one the kids to come into the dining area, as I walked by the living room I could see Mr. Gansy (Her husband/Yinka’s Dad) as we secretly called him dissecting a mound on his plate paying me no mind whatsoever. 

I took my seat at the table and proceeded to deal with the meal, just as I was about to send the first soup covered mussel into my watering mouth, Mrs. walks in from the kitchen with a calm but direct demeanor and said in Yoruba; and I recal verbatim “I rarely pound yam for visitors,  but you carry a heavy weight on my hands”.

For what seemed like an eternity I didn’t know if to proceed or drop the fork in my hand. When I came to I replied “I will not forget this day”, because I already knew what I wanted and why I was waiting this long and getting offered pounded yam anyway. 

I enjoyed that meal and many more after that day and had even many more conversations with Mrs. Virginia Egogo Gansallo. She never mince words with me and corrected me with tough love whenever I erred and with time I came to realize that she treated everyone young or old the same way. 

Years after Yinka and I were married and we had our little issues here and there, she never took sides but made sure to let us understand that as long as we let peace prevail by being on the same page, making decisions together by always communicating mutually and most importantly putting God first then we can withstand any storm.

She is always the first to call to wish everyone well on birthdays complete with her very own rendition of the Happy Birthday song and also every other week just to check on you. 

There were times where I messed up, rather than chastise me she sat me down and talked some sense into me like any loving mother should and there were times she even took my side over Yinka. 

We would sit and talk about anything from current affairs to life in general, we also talked about deep spiritual issues and her insights were always very much enlightening. She talked about spiritual boldness, being prayerful and always standing in the gap for your family.

Mrs. always talks about creating memories and building a legacy by always being prepared in life and death. 

I pray that the Almighty will grant her years of great health that she may enjoy the fruits of her labor and always have the cause to celebrate and be celebrated. 

To all mothers out there and mothers in waiting we celebrate you today and always.

Happy Mother’s Day.

God’s Peace

KayLaw.

 

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The Storms of “Staying-Home-Staying-Safe”

The Storms of “Staying-Home-Staying-Safe”

As we embrace the declaration to “Stay Home, Stay Safe” ‘are we aware that there’re those out there whose homes are ‘Far From Safe? ’emotionally, physically and otherwise? But then, it seems they have no-other-choice. . .

They are stuck in uncontrollable toxic or abusive homes, thanks to the current Covid-19 pandemic!

Is it just a mental-note of outburst at alert? ‘or there’s an obvious spike in the silent-cry out for mercy and help from various families, on the verge of collapse?

Those who are vulnerable and stuck at home where they don’t feel safe or free to be themselves? ‘like being locked in a cage with the very animal that torments them with no way out? 

Sadly, for many people in households across the world, their daily livelihood and busy schedules has been their saving escape zone, secret hiding place from the ever present crisis at home!

‘A reason to get up and away from the madness at home, the liberty to open the front door and get lost for hours in the distraction of business the outside world provides!

‘To get buried under the weight of office politics & multiple school projects! ‘joyfully dress up for team meetings! compile paperwork to sign at long IEP meetings! or watch kids skip happily away to the cafeteria and so much more. . .

‘For some, it’s the energy behind the commute and the power to change the world, the zeal to create something new – always outside their home! a short escape from walking on eggshells at home! ‘a break from the storm of undeniable emotional abuse within the home. . .

While for some families, it’s dropping off kids at daycare/schools so early and usually meeting at dinner table to briefly discuss boring cuts and bruises during gym class or calls from school about upcoming teacher conference as an already overworked Mother tries to maintain balance while a distracted or absent minded Father looks on but lost in the affairs of the events of who-knows-what!

The agitation of the memories that come with the ‘Abuse’ behind closed-doors, as a stressed-out mother and her children drive home in panic.

“What will tonight hold for my Children and I? ‘Another round of beatings? Sexual Abuse? Emotional Torture? Physical Attack? Spousal Intimidation? Disability Disparity? The burden and pain of an empty house, when the other partner walks away… 

“What mood will He be in today? ‘What mood will she and her young kids find her husband today as they walk into their home? Will he be drunk or angry? He’s lost his job again! Will the neighbors hear their cry and call the cops? 

“She’s crying as her 5 kids gather around her to comfort her, ‘I won’t let him hit you again momma’, I got you! He won’t hurt you again Momma, ‘I promise, says the eldest son, He’s only a 14 year old. And He has Down Syndrome.

Well, they must experience it more now! 

They must all walk into the house to keep away from the virus outside and face the virus inside… 

Abuse or being abusive might seem like harsh words. No one wants to have to admit they’re living in an abusive home or being an abusive person. But when there’s negativity, there’s abuse! We could become selfish and manipulate other people to get our way. 

That’s why it’s important that we come together and pray for these homes and the people in them.

Abuse is defined as to “use or treat in such a way as to cause damage or harm; to treat (a person or an animal) with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly; speak in an insulting and offensive way to or about (someone).”

No one is immune to the virus of abuse. It’s only through God’s love that we can truly love one another and move forward!

Here’s How to Help Those Stuck in Abusive Homes…

Pray for Calm During this Storm!

The whole world is feeling an overload of anxiety and uncertainty, which causes people to be stressed. When certain people can’t control the world around them, they become angry, full of rage, and say or do things that harm those closest to them. Pray that God calms the hearts of the anxious and angry.

Pray for the Sanity of those in Homes that are not Peaceful or Emotionally Healthy.

For those who live in a home with an easily-angered person, there can be unrest, even when there is not rage. As the rest of the family waits and wonders if this is a calm day or a day they will see the rage.

 Pray for patience and endurance, with no safe place to go when the abuser starts raging. 

We are asking a lot of abuse victims right now to endure the abuse and/or rage, with no way to get out. Some victims at least get a break for work, or while their spouse works, but with most businesses closed, all family members may be home sharing the same space for 24 hours per day without a break.

Pray for those who are being financially abused.

Financial abuse is when one person in a committed relationship controls all the money and doesn’t equally share to provide for basic needs and the necessities of the family. This means, not only are people dealing with cruelty and abuse, they are told they can’t purchase what is needed or anything extra right now at a time when limited trips to the store for more supplies is beneficial to everyone’s health, and money may be tighter than normal.

Pray for the lonely because living with an abuser can be a lonely experience.

Life after separation or divorce is much less lonely, even without a partner, than living with someone you know doesn’t love or care about you. There is no intimacy (being known, loved, and safe) in a relationship with an abuser because of the fear that the victim is always doing something wrong and not worthy of the abuser’s love.

Ways to help an Abuse Victim (now and in the future)

  • Believe the victim.

Usually the abuser is confident and secure looking while the victim is confused, shaky, emotional (sometimes even angry), and uncertain if abuse is what they’re experiencing. Because a victim might fight back, or return evil for evil, expect that it may look like both parties are abusive. Sometimes, it only takes one person to make a relationship toxic. 

  • Listen without judgment or exception of leaving.

Experts say it takes seven times for a victim to attempt to leave before they leave for the final time. Validate their feelings (of course they’re going to feel that way) and allow them to process through what they’re experiencing. They know their abuser better than anyone else, trust them to know when they’ve had enough and are ready to leave for good.

  • Encourage victims to reach out for help.

Pray that someone points them in the right direction towards safety and security.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline:

Reach out for help.

While people are encouraged to stay at home, you may feel isolated from your friends and family. Even if you are isolated, try to maintain social connections online or over the phone, if it is safe to do so, and try to stick to your daily routines as much as possible.

For any victims and survivors who need support, we are here for you, 24/7. Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522. 

Para información en español, visita la página “En Español.”

You are not alone.

Yours in HOPE

Yinka.

 

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A Jolly ‘Good Friday’ Frejon and The Lagosian!

A Jolly ‘Good Friday’ Frejon and The Lagosian!

now serving!

Several years ago, on a typical ‘Good Friday’ celebration, in the comfort of my Parent’s baroque yellow & white Brazilian-quarter-bungalow, tucked away within the safe haven of Catholic Mission neighborhood, I would have gladly woken up to . . .

  • Clattering of deep oriental dishes arranged by color and floral patterns! Already carefully washed and wiped dried! I bet, with strict instructions from my Mom on how She’s managed to inherit and preserved them without any cracks!
  • Wooden gift baskets with folded napkins with individual family name tags, waiting on the dining table! In fact, I remember certain selected names over the years and smiles as I look forward to the delivery of the delicacy!
  • Wooden Raspado for coconuts (waiting to be cracked and scraped) The hardest part of cracking and scraping the juice from the coconut, I always managed to escape this part!
  • Black beans slow cooked over-time, over-night, large skillet pots, charcoal fire. Chopped onions, tomatoes & alligator peppers stewed with bay leaf.
  • Seasoned fresh red snapper fish, peppered cray fish, deep-fried shrimp, large blue crabs cleaned & marinated, now in relationship with each other!
  • Aroma of sautéed and stir-fried peppered snail directing traffic and confusion between Campbell & Broad street!
  • Tilapia fish, so settled and humbled in their new abode; grated garlic and ginger sauce!
  • Assorted seasonings like cloves and fresh thyme hanging around like foreign neighbors!

Oh no! IT IS FREJON DAY!

With all that’s going on around the world, I absolutely, almost forgot all those fun years until a childhood friend and my next door neighbor then (now lives in The UK)  sent me a text reminding me of how my Mom would constantly send “Those Frejon Baskets” to their family every Good Friday, and how much they’d loved it!  #ThanksAngie

Oh wow! Brought back….Good Old Memories!

Even though it was a cultural recipe passed down from my Paternal-Grandmother (The Coker’s- The DaSilva’s -The Gansallo’s) to my Mother.

Our family Frejon was usually made in large bulk and distributed out as gifts to family & friends every Good Friday!

The packaging is usually more exciting for me! The selection of dishes to use, how well the bean puree is carefully poured inside the deep oriental dish, separating the dish for the fish stew, peppered fish or separate side dish for Garri (cassava flakes) to sprinkle or side dish of peppered snail garnished with bayleaf.

As a child then, I usually just looked forward to the token (money) I get from delivery the frejon! In fact, as I got older, I became wiser and selective on which family house to drop off the ‘Frejon basket, so my tip was  bigger! Lol!

So. . .

Nothing excites a child more than seeing family members travel from far and wide just to gather on the ‘Island’ with Uncle Kayode (My late Dad) to eat Frejon, experience the great Easter Brazilian Fanti carnival! …’every April!

Nothing beats the memories of how much emphasis my mom made on the importance and value of the measurement of the beans pudding, the clove, the texture of the coconut milk when mixed to smoothness while cooking it in the paste! The aroma of grated ginger, garlic and other spices over seafood splashing and dancing in a sizzling frenzy in a big frying pan!

Fast Forward. . . Today! My Kids, The Generation Z! They don’t really care about the sizzling ginger or garlic over sautéed fish! Or why I have to feed the nation with black beans cooked so-long when I can easily pick up black-eyed beans from Taco Bell! Phew! ‘They don’t get it, right?

Amid social distancing and all that’s going on, Good Friday, hmmm.

I shall be ordering Bob Evans ‘Fish & Chips’ to celebrate with my Family – I don’t think these kids care so much about the texture of sautéed ginger snails and frejon! Maybe my grandkids…

‘I hope my Mom and my late Grandmas will understand!

Yours in HOPE,

Yinka.

Frejon (From Feijão, which is the Portuguese word for beans) is a coconut milk and bean soup which is eaten especially during Holy Week by a selection of Christians, mostly Catholics, across the world. Countries where Frejon is popular include Brazil and Nigeria (especially among Yoruba who returned to Nigeria from Brazil at the abolition of the slave trade, and settled in what is known as the “Brazilian Quarters” in Lagos Island), and also Sierra Leone on Good Friday, or for functions such as weddings.[1] Because dairy foods and flesh meat (beef, pork, goat) are strictly forbidden on Good Friday, this dish is a suitable accompaniment to non-dairy foods such as fried fish and peppered snail.


The New York Times Cooking
 

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‘To Love Un-conditionally’ Our Autism Journey

‘To Love Un-conditionally’ Our Autism Journey
Oby

As a proud loving Mother of two young awesome boys on the Autism Spectrum, my dear friend Yinka approached me to share little nuggets I learned on my journey. 

I. Was. Elated.

So, I decided to share my personal story following the diagnosis stages I went through with my sons. Which I know a lot of other parents  are familiar with as well, on this autism journey.

Stages – From a Parent’s Perspective

Shock 

“Your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Says the Doctor. 

This has come as a shock to you even though you saw the signs, and you knew your child or baby was not quite developing like other kids his age. You literally feel like your world has come to a stand-still, even though it has not. 

Anyhow you want to put it, the words “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” sounds weightier than the actual situation. 

You scramble everywhere and anywhere for a cure. You join numerous blogs that make the situation dire than it is.

  • Denial 

Family and friends tell you your child is “Ok” and “Does not have Autism Spectrum Disorder. He/she is just slow

  • “You know boys are slower” They say… 
  • My cousin was slow, but now He’s great!” They say...
  • You want to believe them. You believe them...

After a couple of weeks, you realize the Developmental Doctor was right!

Your-Child-Misses-Major-Milestones.

  • Acceptance. Get to Work! 

After observing your child for some days/weeks and much research, you accept it.

In this stage:

Breath.

Take a cup of Coffee.

Shut your eyes for a minute.

Then get to work.

  • Research, Research, Research!
  • You will find excellent and great advice everywhere. 
  • You will also find depressive tales and more tales of doom everywhere. 
  • You will also find people who want to take advantage of you (financially), promising a total cure everywhere.

You will need to diligently research to find the right therapist (Board Certified Behavioral Analyst BCBA, Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, and so on).

Get this information from your doctor, and very good blogs.

Please interview them to make sure they’ll be great fits not just for your child, but also for you and your family.

  • Avoid online scammers at all cost who promise solutions and prey on your desperation.
  • Avoid pity-parties at all cost. 
  • Avoid online groups, that make your situation seem so dire and even make you more depressed, at all cost.
  • Mental Health: 

As the caregiver, your mental health is vital.

Take care of it. 

You must be happy in order to impart happiness onto your child. 

This is important! I cannot stress this enough. 

If uncle Johnny makes you feel uncomfortable or unhappy whenever you bring your dear child to visit him, then stay away from Uncle Johnny.

If therapist Jane worsens your situation or does not really care for you or your child, then change therapist.

Have little tolerance for anything that’ll send you off to depression. 

There is hope always! Always!

Escape (even if it’s just for a few minutes) when kids are not with you, or when you have help. Carve out time for yourself.

Look for what makes you happy and take out some time DAILY. For me, I am a hopeless romantic.

I binge on all things romantic from the trilogy book “50 Shades of Grey” to Netflix’s “Love is Blind”. It makes me happy!

  • Support! Support!! Support!!! 

It takes a village! You need the support of family, friends, place of worship, care-givers. 

#YOU-CANNOT-DO-THIS-ALONE!

  • Let your Child Lead You! 

When you see a different behavior, ‘Your-child-is-NOT-WEIRD!

He/she is just different and learns everything about life differently.

Let your child guide you. Follow your child’s lead and discover how he/she learns. When you do this, you’ll see many windows of opportunity to teach your child and bring your child more to your world! It works! 

  • Positive Affirmations:

Because I am a woman of Faith, I believe in speaking words of Biblical Faith daily to my son. Speak words of Affirmation daily to your child. Teach your child to say these words daily.

When my son was much younger, I taught him a simple night prayer and to say the words “I am healed.” Now he says these daily words of affirmation before he starts his day: “I will be taught by the Lord, and great will be my peace and undisturbed composure.” (From Isaiah 54:13).

  • Excel/Flourish:

Once all these are in place, your child will begin to excel!

You will begin to excel.

Your family will begin to excel.

You are happy!

You laugh!

You play!

You rejoice!

Remember to jot down achievements, no matter how small (or big).

I call them “Praise Reports.”

Always remember that God is good, and that NO-ONE is a biological accident.

Your child is a blessing full and LOVE.

Your life and you child’s life have Purpose!

Absolutely! There is meaning to all this! In time you’ll find out. 

I love my BOYS. My life would absolutely be hopeless without them.

They-teach-me-daily.

Our dear Sons are amazing!

They show us the way daily❤️

We Love them dearly! 

I’d like to thank my amazing husband for his awesome endearing Love and full support. He is amazing!❤️

I also like to thank our awesome families for their amazing Love and full support.❤️

Much Love, Oby.

ABOUT HER: Oby holds a Masters in Electrical & Computer Engineering, Bachelors in Electronics Engineering. She worked for many years in the medical device industry with Fortune 500 companies in research & development, as well as leadership roles. She lives in Atlanta, GA and is happily married to Dr. Ekekwe for 16 years. She currently home schools her older son while the younger son attends school.

Yinka & Oby!

“Oby and I have been friends for over 30 years! #FGGC Sagamu Alumnus! A couple of years ago, we started talking more about her son’s autism diagnosis, Oby was very transparent and willing to share her struggles and triumphs, especially after knowing that was my field of specialization and passion. Overtime, she became an active member of my non-profit organization DCN “My Child Thrives” support group. Oby has been a vibrant, assertive and valuable resource to other members on the forum. She is certainly a force to reckon-with! Her witty takes on situations! her abundance of terms of endearment! as she showers group members with hope! ‘Autism diagnosis report certainly has nothing on this sassy lady!

Yours in HOPE!

Yinka!

as I share ‘Not Lucky, I’m Loved’ by Jonathan McReynolds to celebrate – April, ‘National Autism Awareness Month!

 

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Emerging from The Threshing Floor

I once travelled with a childhood friend and her family to their village for Christmas decades ago. Our destination was to the eminent village of Oraukwu in Anambra State. Approximately 20km southwest of Awka, local govt center, and about 500km (7 hour-drive) to my home in Lagos.

Adventure Mindset,  checked! Mystified Expectations, checked!

River Niger Bridge, Onitsha, Anambra State.

As a teenager then, leaving my usual Lagos city life at Christmas and pledging to spend it outside my home for the first time came as a huge surprise to everyone, but I wanted more, so much more than the usual-fancy block-street carnival party that’s always been religiously celebrated by my Lagos-Brazilian Quarter families every Christmas.

So, here I was, surrounded with very little understanding of the Igbo language spoken around me. But I was most certainly comfortable with the usual ‘Ndo’‘Kedu’ ‘Odinma’ etc. greetings from well-wishers, even as my girlfriends and host were my interpreter! Lol.

Of all the pleasant people I met, the magnificent houses built like National Theater or something magical from a classical movie tucked away behind clouds of trees and dusty unpaved roads!

The fleet of exotic cars lined up as baseline to the entrance of gigantic gates, of all the flames from exposed make shift kitchens blaring up and convincing everyone of palatable feasts in production.

Of all the performances by the energetic village dancers or new exquisite soup like Oha to consume, I was more thrilled by the action of the group of women assigned to cook. 

Oha soup
Oha Soup

I stood astonished watching as their bodies swayed in unison, wiping away sweat from their foreheads while their laughter deepens, bare feet stamping over spread-out sack-like cloth on flat ground, digging their heels harder as if deliberately commanding the out-sprout of the contents inside the sacks.

With such naïve inquisition, I later learned it was a usual process of shelling the seeds of cucurbitaceous (squash, melon, gourd) plants which after being dried and grounded will be used as major ingredients by the women cooking. 

Wow! Such an intriguing resonating revelation!

That was the very first time I encountered the term ‘Threshing Floor’ in a cultural context: an evolution and transformation of seed/ grains. Well, until I attended the just completed heartening ‘Emergence Conference’ powered by Esther’s Preparation Room.

What-an-Awe-inspiring gathering of Purpose-driven Professional women on a Mission for God!!

What an exhilarating Thursday evening of deliverance from those fancy adornments we use as cover-up and fronts to please the world!, what a deliberate cry of mercy to disconnect from what/how the world requires women to look like, a purposeful drive to adopt 3-unknown prayer buddies! ‘beautifully delivered by Minister Raeni of Nehemiah Troop Prayer Ministry!

Oh, what a remarkable and powerful Friday of prayer/prophesies that exposed and released the hidden seeds during our threshing floor seasons, the rebirth of emergence within every womb of a woman by Sister Nike Fabemgbe of London Agape Prayer ministry!

And that awesome Gala evening …the KIB Foundation Launch and SHEroes Award night! ‘seeing teams of like minded people from all works of life, coming together to bring out the Abilities in all given diagnosis of Disabilities in children, especially in Africa!

Literally, could our lives be likened to those seeds, hanging on in (sacks) and refusing to undergo garnering? ‘What happens to us at the threshing floor? Self pity? Deliverance? Security allowance? Divine provision? the difficult discussions of life we dodge? And then, what happens after? When we allow the husk, the chaffs holding us back to loosen up and become renewed?

Can you relate to that? I do.

So, often during the times of our greatest challenges or need, we may find ourselves giving way to the stress and strain that comes with it by battling one another; forgetting who the real enemy is: 

Our Refusal. To undergo. The Basic Process of Threshing.

Visions are delayed, Harsh words spoken, friendships are broken; we choose sides and draw lines.

Feelings get hurt. Betrayal runs deep. Psychological sack cloths that are supposed to be spread out and trampled over like we are walking around the walls of Jericho to bring out the savviness in us, are still being hung up as emotional decorative mirror and admired like a lesser god in our hearts! 

It gets harder to forgive and keep moving forward. And sometimes we get stuck, right there in the broken mess of it all. 

We wobble on a spiritual tightrope, fearing the slightest misstep off the threshing floor will toss us back into the canyon of God’s disapproval.

Hmmm.

Today, as you are reading this, I pray we all come to understand the blessing and pass on the lessons learned from those challenges we encounter during the season we find ourselves on the threshing floor, to accept it as a mission for evolution, materialization and possibilities to be used by God. 

To see ourselves as those seeds or grains loosening up from the chaffs of impossibilities, out of the sacks of limitations and into a new season of our lives. Not necessarily as a punishment, but as re-birth!

*** A big salute to all Esther’s Preparation Room, Katherine Israel Bolarinwa Foundation (KIB) and Emergence Conference Planning team! 

As an organization, we are humbled by the mandate we have received from the Lord to raise a new generation of professional Christian women who will dominate and impact their sphere of influence for the Kingdom of God.

There is a cultural shift coming and EPR has been positioned to be on the cutting edge of this new movement. We are actively preparing to rollout our various global programs which will empower each woman to (i) raise her leadership lid, (ii) sharpen her skills, talents and gifts, and (iii) identify the niche audience/market she’s called to serve“.

Adenyke Israel-Bolarinwa 
Executive Director
Esther’s Preparation Room (EPR)
http://www.developmentalcarenetwork.org

Thank you EPR, Women who have experienced challenges, who are not afraid to cut through threshing sacks, willing to emerge, stem the tide of childhood mortality in Africa, Women created to improve the well-being of the African child, by giving them a chance to ultimately pursue a full life – beyond any dis-abilities, any diagnosis or any discouragement!

Thanking God for an awe-inspiring 2019, as I embrace and welcome everyone to year 2020, A new year of ‘Boldness in Moving Forward”

Yours in HOPE,

OlaYinka Gansallo-Lawrence

DCN Founder.

As I share…’Lauren Daigle’s Rescue from Grey’s Anatomy!

 

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Keep Looking Up Child! a cancer journey.

 

When gathered together, we find our light.

As each spark shifts and multiplies,

Scattering its radiance on our ordinary lives

Like everything precious, before a given diagnosis

 

Or a recovering moment we hide behind forged smiles,

fancy garments, flawless makeup,

Isn’t it more valuable when shared?

Like every common miracle

Made of the effects of stars.

 

We must let the light shine

And then watch out for it falling too

On each other’s faces

During trials and triumphant

 

So, count the beams, yeah catch them

Reflect upon them

See the HOPE, live the promise.

Never hide your face in a setback

Keep looking up child,

Never hide your fear in silence.

 

Listen to those you cherish,

Hold them in your arms,

Let them hear your heartbeat

Tell your truth with tears

Tell your story with laughter

Tell your love with joy

Show the world, You are still greater than cancer!

Excerpt from upcoming book,

‘RELENTLESS’ 

fighting cancer with a story line

Its OCTOBER, cancer awareness month! Be a movement for awareness in your community!

Let’s continue to empower cancer survivors, encourage early detection/treatment, comfort families of those who lost the fight, but won the battle and count down to Team #GreaterThanCancer – OCT 26th Soup’s On Cancer Fundraising Dinner and ‘Relay for Life’ – American Cancer Society Cancer Awareness Walk on OCT 27th in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Yours in HOPE,

Yinka.

 Be encouraged as I share ‘Lauren Daigle’s ‘Look Up Child’

 

 

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