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Author Archives: Yinka (Anthonia) Gansallo-Lawrence

About Yinka (Anthonia) Gansallo-Lawrence

Life is Beautiful!

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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Kodi Shines! by Folarin Lawrence

So, I watched America’s Got Talent #AGT last night with my kids and witnessed a spectacular triumph with Kodi Lee emerging as the Champion.

My kids, 15+, 13+ and 8 at first were not as thrilled as they were rooting for Detroit Youth Choir, since we are now Michiganders, #PureMichigan! so I got my thinking cap on and did my best ‘Yinka-take’ on the issue.

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Kodi is blind and has Autism Spectrum Disorder. When it was discovered that he loved music at an early stage, that became the one positive coping strategy He maintained against living in this world where a child is ‘boxed-in‘ because of their ‘disability“.

But He was still able to steal the hearts of viewers and voters alike with his silky voice and renditions of classic ballads.

According to his mother,  “We found out that he loved music really early on. He listened and his eyes just went huge, and he started singing, that’s when I was in tears. I realized he’s an entertainer. Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world because when you have autism, it’s really hard to do what everybody else does. It actually has saved his life playing music.”

Ordinarily, He is like a little kid and his affect is typical of someone on the spectrum; but when he gets behind the keys and opens his mouth; It’s like, you have been blessed with the presence of an angel.

There is no doubt in my mind that this young man is not just “special(as the generality of people want to label him) but divinely gifted.

It is also evident in the support of his family and his interaction with his Mom, siblings and Dad. It is obvious that they have spent countless hours working on his “strengths” and his love for music, giving him the courage to go out there and not just thrive but also shine brighter than anyone else.

Each and every child with special needs or not, has been endowed and divinely blessed with unique gifts! ‘and that’s what makes us all SPECIAL.

The high point of the night for me was after he had been announced as the winner and was trying to celebrate and his mother took his stick from him so he can have a happy “tantrum” jumping as high as he dared and clapping with a huge smile on his face.

I challenge parents today to observe closely and find that spark that lights up their child’s imagination and brings them joy of accomplishment, believe me it might be the most mundane task, but when you find it, celebrate it with them every time they work hard or feel faint about it and enjoy watching them blossom.

God’s Peace,

Kevin Folarin Lawrence – is an active member of Man Voice@DCN and “My Child Thrives” – by DCN,  a Developmental Care Network Support Group on What’s App & FACEBOOK for families and caretakers of children on the spectrum/disabilities. He can be reached at kevin@dcnmail.org

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Lover’s Delight: The Shulamite Woman Challenge.

To celebrate my 22nd wedding anniversary this week, I’d decided to go down memory lane by sharing the mysteries and amusements of my courtship days with my three very assertive children while also planning a surprise lyrical-poetic date with my husband. #Spontaneous.

I wanted to challenge myself with that epic romantic charisma of Abishag, a certain biblical sister who knows how to step up her game and keep her man complete! (oh yeah, King Solomon’s beloved).

To fester excitement, I began searching through my garage for reflections, until I eventually came across an old box labeled ‘old pictures and letters’. With great expectation like that of Pip, but a lurking resentment of someone delving into a hornet’s nest! I dived into the pile. Oh boy, am I in for a surprise?

There I found my memorabilia of poems and short stories, collection of blurry old pictures stored away from over three decades starring back at me.

I felt guilty.

Then a pang of helplessness, like I have abandoned treasured friendships and memories to decay away in dusty old boxes. Urgh!

And, that’s when I saw it. Tucked away as if waiting for this day to declare its long-denied benefit! I pulled back the musty flaps and slid out what appeared to be so long a love letter!

Scribbled fragile treasures of pure declaration! Intimate words of sacred devotion from the heart. Romantic gratification of pampering words, carefully expressed through the mighty power of a common pen and paper put to work!

Oh my world! Such alluring hot raps! 

Doodle Through The Bible_ Song of Solomon 8 Faith Journal entry for Good Morning Girls (GMG) Bible Study, Free printable PDF Coloring page link at the website_ Also visit the new FACEBOOK page!Pile of Hallmark cards, love letters, created since ’1994. Carefully-cursived to illustrate a lover’s desire! Coherent selection of diction that emphasizes outpour of affection from my then boyfriend, now turned husband, with his pictures deliberately taken from L’fait studio after a patterned haircut from Choices Barber to tinkle my fancy and probably keep others at arm length.

I decided to share with my children…

Oh, what a scene! The kids started with that mocking ‘Aww… ‘so cute…

Then they burst into laughter…

“This-is-so-lame! So torturous! Who does this?  the kids exclaimed with such an annoying exaggeration!This is so archaic! ‘Were you guys in some form of Shakespearean poetry class? Why not send a text or a cute emoji to express yourself instead of writing a book! ‘There are over 1000 emojis to describe that speech” they exclaimed! Less poetic but extremely apt.

Oh-my-world!

So, many of us still have over hundreds of letters, poems, pictures with friends taken over decades of youthful discovery all stored away in casual boxes, collecting dusts, enticing molds, just like mine. Some shouldn’t be part of us anymore, some will be needed to bring the spark back into our love/sex lives, while some, we keep to remind ourselves of what love can do on crummy days.

Don’t you think the Song of Solomon is a lot like those letters hidden in the box I found in my garage? Nicely tucked away between the introspective book of Ecclesiastes and the prophetic book of Isaiah is a work of poetry that memorialized mutual attraction, romantic love, sexual desire, and enduring marriage between a man smitten and a woman bedazzled.

The Book of Song of Solomon | KJV | Audio Bible (FULL) by Alexander Scourby

To convince these kids, I devoured the pages of the Song to discover what the couple did to make it work. Well, after almost 3 decades of thinking we know it all in our marriage…’What I saw was that they flirted and fought, made out and made up, served and savored, and never stopped exploring new ways to keep their marriage fresh.

The Shulamite in the Song was a wise woman who took deliberate action to keep her marriage strong. Sauntering up to her husband as he’s overseeing the fields, whispering in his ear, Her warm breath teased his neck, Flirting with him still.

‘Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages.

Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom, there I will give you my love.

The mandrakes send out their fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my beloved. (Song of Solomon 7:11-13).

Oh dear…I didnt just cook these up folks,  because God made sure it was in the Bible for a reason. I don’t think it took too long for Solomon to change his schedule, cancel his meetings, and pack his bags to hang out with her!

Why is it that passionate romance routinely fizzles out over the years? Hallmark romantic cards has been replaced a single speechless or invisible social message! soul mate so easily becomes a roommate? Why does the rapid heartbeat of excitement in the early years morph into the heavyheartedness of disappointment in the later years?

There are many reasons why passion cools, but it doesn’t have to. That certainly isn’t God’s plan. He has a much different desire for our passiona and sensuality in marriage.

Doodle Through The Bible_ Song of Solomon 7 Faith Journal entry for Good Morning Girls (GMG) Bible Study, Free printable PDF Coloring page link at the website_ Also visit the new FACEBOOK page!

Do we understand that sexual intimacy will change as we grow older. Hormones wane. Libido lessens. Stamina decreases. Bodies don’t always cooperate. Acrobatic moves decreases. That’s a given.

But I believe intimacy can grow and mature into something sweeter, deeper, and more profound than any clothes-ripping frantic frenzy ever could be.

Today, if you are reading this, ask what’s your/my Shulamite Woman Challenge? and who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart?

Are we still in awe or astonished at how creative our thoughts can be when expressing ourselves? Can our words carry volume and live long after us? Life schedules, challenges and sophisticated social networking devices replaced the fun-fare of meaningful expression?

5 Things We Learn from the Shulamite Woman about Female Sexuality

Our love/sex Lives comes caffeinated with surprises. Modifications. Transitions. Alterations. Dispositions. And with the changes, we realize that every confidence, every affection, every devotion that is not based on a personal relationship to God will be reprobated, not only in the experience of the individual, but in the history of the world. Overtime.

I am hoping someone reading this will become more Shulamite-like through the lessons of pateince, consistency and perseveance, while love finds its root!

Yours in HOPE as I share Alicia Keys – No One

Yinka.

 

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Casualties of our TO DO list

Since my Son became a teenager and an avid soccer lover, I’ve learned the act of making his passion my focal point by heeding intently as he speaks, nodding in agreement or squinting my eyes from oblivion to keep alert every now and then as I watch the dimples on his boyish cheeks deepen.

I have also mastered hiding my boredom without rolling my eyes as He excitedly recites the history of every single soccer player in Europe.

Whether I pronounce Kylian Mbappe properly or I mix up Dybala as a Tottenham Hotspur player instead of Juventus or when I confuse Kane as a PSG team member! Phew! But, s-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y ‘what-do-I-know?

His constructive tutoring and contagious zeal are always enhanced as I venture into supporting his winning-failing team. Well, I guess am still obligated to believe in them whatever happens on the field!   #UpManchesterUnited

He once went to see a soccer match at the stadium between Liverpool F.C. & Manchester United.  Of course, he was all geared up in his favorite Manchester United scarf, hat and T-shirt.  All Excited! Expectant! Victory-Mindset!

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But He returned home sober, angered because His team lost, most of his main players were absent and probably that’s why they lost. He managed to console himself with that notion.

Oh Vinny! It is okay to still be happy with your team!

But in the mind of my young lad, mentally, He’s figuring out how to reset his task list, scratch off the feeble players, redirect his focus on how and why the opposing team scores, introduce strategic pointers, replace weak defenders with agile offence or even be able to coach the team one day.

Oh, He is making a conscious effort to also scold their old manager, Jose Mourihno, for holding back his best players: Nos 9 Romelu-Lukaku of Belgium and Nos 6 Paul Pogba of France.

He was angry at Liverpool for allowing their strong players, Nos 11 – Mohamed Salah of Egypt and Nos 10 – Sadio Mane of Senegal walk with victory and gloat over his team.

This is ridiculous! He groaned as he replayed the match in his mind.

His strategic to do list was invented!

Game of Thrones Arya's Kill List Arya Stark

After watching GoT (Game of Throne) religiously, one of the most appealing part for me was Arya’s character. Arya Stark’s list was invented when Syrio Foral, her fighting instructor  was killed.

He was Ayra’s sword fighting instructor, life mentor, and her only friend in King’s Landing. His death at the hands of Meryn Trantis was what lit the spark under Arya Stark which eventually lead to the list.

Her revenge to do list was ignited!

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When Oskar Schindler arrived Krakow in 1939, He was ready to make his fortune from World War II. Even though He joined the Nazi party primarily for his personal/political expediency, He eventually began to staff his factory with Jewish workers for similarly businesslike reasons.

When the secret service began exterminating Jews in the Krakow ghetto, Schindler arranges to have all his workers protected to keep his factory in operation, but soon realizes that in so doing, he is also saving innocent lives.

His compassion to do list was created!

So, emotional needs can be every bit as acute as physical ones.  That’s because we all subconsciously create lists of things to do.  We create tasks to accomplish, shuffle within the timelines, stretching out yard sticks to measure our plans based on trending dispositions. Sometimes, forgetting that underperformed tasks when only simply written down will not always make us effective archievers, but day dreamers and unrealistic chasers.

Those visual cues or mental notes of things we intend to do… ‘Hit or Missed Opportunities. Sometimes going as far as scribbling down goals from our imagination, crossing them out when completed or, imperfect due to pressure or just lack of motivation.

The setback with our to-do lists is usually the process.

Understanding how it can also give way to panicky outbursts when tasks we haven’t completed set in to distract or discourage our movement. ‘Can we begin to make plans for ‘what’s next so we can be free from fixation anxiety, especially when the orderliness does not materialize? ‘Can we still discover happiness and purpose when our well-planned list becomes a blurry puzzle? ‘Can we embrace our detour gracefully and not dwell on what we feel, want or know?

How well do we understand the blessings or biases behind the change, the delayed rude awakening of life’s expectations? How fortunate are we to thrive in following the new lead and understanding, perhaps that for a moment, we need to be constantly aware of our tendency to revert… to be back the way we were. We cannot always mold, manipulate or miscalculate our own destiny if we are still casualties of our expectations!

To be continued…

Yours in HOPE,

a-filha-de-Gansallo, Yinka!

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A light for her pathway – Autism Journey

 

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As the month of April comes to a close, many have spent the month bringing
awareness to the many faces of Autism. As any parent or family member who has
a child on the Autism Spectrum knows, this life is exactly that:

‘A Lifelong Experience’

I am blessed with two sons, both on the Autism Spectrum.

Now that they are grown, Ages 21 and 22, I can reflect on the many moments, early on before diagnosis, when I was full of doubt and confusion, thinking I was a terrible mom and simply did not know how to raise children.

What I didn’t realize was that I was being prepared for a life of adventure, smiles and small victories that would be major accomplishments in my eyes. No matter what, we are still parents. Parents of children that have so much potential and as their parents, we must remember that we are their best advocate.

We are also the ones to teach our children the life skills they need to survive in this unforgiving world.

As my sons have grown older, I have realized how much more they need assistance in everyday social situations. When children are younger, supports tend to be everywhere, but as they grow older, those supports seem to be less and less, especially if the child functions high enough to go to college or have a job.

Teach your child to be a good citizen that can function in society to the best of his/her ability. If your child is very young right now, this may seem a lifetime away however, before you know it, you will be looking at each other saying “Now What?

Keep in mind, while this may seem overwhelming at times, remember there are others who have been in your shoes and you CAN do this, and so can our kids!

Never be afraid to reach out to those in similar situations for support.

Together, with prayers, patience, community support and love, we can nurture young minds and raise resilient adults when we focus on their potentials now.

Written by: Valerie Lawson.

 

*For the past 3 years, Valerie and I usually meet one Friday in a month after clinicals at different Panera Bread locations to brain storm on assessment & treatment planning for children with disabilities, pray about challenging caseloads, talk- deep about life, laugh out loud & silly like teenagers over bowls of clam chowder as we continue to implement developmental disabilities initiatives. I met Valerie in class during  my practicum/residency program Fall of 2016).

Valerie is a Behavior Consultant with DCN Autism Clinic in Michigan, a caring and devoted mother to two young men with Autism, ages 21 and 22 years old.

Yours in HOPE!

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

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