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Lover’s Delight: The Shulamite Woman Challenge.

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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!

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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

7ef30640-8491-4a96-8fa1-bce282bc656fSince 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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Taking self-inventory before Crossing Over.

 

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“Sometimes only when bonds are tested, do we understand their strength, and when ties that seem to endure for a lifetime suddenly become frayed or grazed by fate, do we begin to appreciate loved ones.

We can choose to walk away and pretend that it’s all gone or forgotten, and that our pain will soon pass eventually, but its only when we begin to undo or un-learn the old ways when  approaching a new year; only then can we begin to step into our destiny”

“To unDo what’s Done” a Thinking-Corner Memoir by Yinka.

 

The unexpected death of her husband sends a woman, Agnes Browne and her seven children, ages 2-14, into emotional turmoil and financial crisis in 1967 Dublin.

She is forced to borrow money from a ruthless loan shark to make ends meet. She faces her dismal existence by selling fruits and vegetables at an open air market where she spends time with a best friend, Marion who gives her encouragement.

Wishing to escape her existence, if only for a short time, she dreams of finding enough money to attend an upcoming Tom Jones concert. She realizes her dream by accepting her first date with a French baker.Agnes_Browne_FilmPoster

Her kids pool their money so she can buy a new dress. Of course, eventually the family has to face the loan shark, her best friend passes away due to a terminal illness and…‘Go see the full movie!

(By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35036635)

In retrospect, like the above synopsis of the movie Agnes Browne, (which is by the way one of my favorite movies about Hope). We are all evidently hale and hearty witnessing today, the very last day of 2018, or for some, it’s already 2019 in their minds!

Looking back through the past months, I believe we all can boast of at least one single moment of euphoria! eventually replaced by a series of eye-opening experiences.

Some of us have slipped back into old patterns, the residual of thoughts rooted in joy, denial or self-assertiveness. We have turned a new page and laughed over our own comical situations, we have wept over inevitable losses! ‘casually strolled down life’s aisles with huge expectations; witnessed the cry of a baby at delivery while apprehensive at the thought of another child in distress.

We have reached into out wallets or bank accounts and amazed at the bountiful or perplexed at its emptiness.

Those with brewing millennial have been drawn to accept DanTDM as part of their household, British accent, blue hair and all! While also learning their dance moves, Phew! #Minecraft #Roblox #Fortnight #Scissors #Shoop

We have waited in the doctor’s office as the message of a diagnosis and prognosis goes in through the left ear and quietly exits through the right without making no darn sense…’Anyone? ‘Someone?

dantdm 3With pride, we have worn our graduation gowns as we were called upon to be given a new title of our dreams and had glowed in the beauty of our academic achievements! for others, doors of opportunities to finish up that much-delayed school-degree has been opened up, with an empowered energy  of accomplishment!

While some of us have made fruitful decisions on healthy-lifestyles commitment,  discarding toxic relationships, forgiving past hurts or deeds as we finally let go of unhealthy platforms or compromising negative vibes!

We have visited graveyards sober but grateful just to change the address of loved ones. For some, they’ve found themselves falling in love again, patched up that leaking relationship with hope, made new commitment goals and crazy enough to own it! for others,  we have been so moved by a song sang by the choir that eventually  led us to the altar in church, selflessly throwing it all at God’s mercy!

Oh! like the movie, ‘Agnes Browne’ just thinking about tomorrow was usually so exasperating…always far fetched…totally blurry, but with hope, she carried her dreams through it all, focused more on her 7 kids with an in-built perception on staying in-tune with crossing over into God’s promises, for every new year.

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As far back as I can recall, while growing up, end of year celebration has always been a huge thing in my household, especially within the Brazilian quarters of Lagos Island.

Crossing over into a new year in the 70s and 80s was almost similar to waiting to the end of year to open your birthday gift and contemplating on how to tweak  our lifestyles for the upcoming year ahead.

It’s like an entitled holiday set apart for taking inventory of our past deeds! Mental-Report card session!

A few bottles of chilled Coca cola, Fanta, Guinness bottles and soothing highlife music playing in the background was all that’s required to start a crossover street party.

You get to see a magnitude of crowd in such a rush to join others at the water front at Marina to watch fireworks displayed by the naval docks.

Lagos was safe and fun then!

Blasts of Trumpets signal welcome messages announcing to the overflowing crowd hanging at the brim of all churches’ doors, with a dire-attitude of “12 midnight must find me within the 4-walls of a church” and then a sudden and quick dismissal once the church bells stop chiming in the New Year.

Crossover mode uploading…

It sounds so simple? strolling into the new year, doesn’t it? It isn’t. Because  by the time we think we have it all figured out, God arranges a reality check to remind us that without him approaching that new year with us ; we will fail.

You see people with diverse ethnicity, religious or political beliefs, sincerely excited to see another year – together! Hugging and lavishing good wishes, prayers are offered without a fee to passerby, blessings are spelt out like it’s on a bargain! forgetting any previous debt owned, anger or past hurts. Everyone is surprisingly happy for each other, Just-like-that?

As a kid, I never understood why so many people were always saying things like “Oh, what a year’ or in my mother’s Delta dialect “Oh, how the ground has swallowed good people” or” may we never return to our vomit”

I always wondered….’hypothetically, will things be different or better as every new year comes? Will burden or pain be repeated in the new year? those we lost will certainly not be replaced, our mischiefs, mistakes, misleading thoughts will still be carried over with us if we don’t make a conscious effort to drop them now…’before crossing over.

Those things that made us uncomfortable in 2018, will we see them again? when do we get to come to the realization that knowing God’s plan for our life does not guarantee success, unless we get up and execute the plan?

#EverythingMustGoForNewThingsToGrow

washed awayFailure in never final. It is inevitable. We are frail Human beings. We are mortals.

With 2018 running behind us, and so much laid out for us in 2019, will we always be in compliance, even after a defeat?

Decades ago, my mom would gather the family together after returning from church on new year’s eve and begin her own prayer sessions as she craftily picks on whoever has sacrificially won the black-sheep personality award for the family during the year!

Ah! her long prayer points were always intentionally and fervently directed towards interceding for the redemption of ‘the black sheep’s soul for freedom, well before the new year kicks in!

Mom’s logic. No debate. Just Obey.

I tried it once with my “Millennials” at home and they had a decent conversation with me on how I could have just addressed the black-sheep prayer point thingy one on one and not wait for end-of-year-dramatic-prayer-session like Grandma Virginia#IConcur

Today, many of us reading this have significantly re-constructed our approach towards life since Jan 2018, probably done some deep thinking and mind cleansing to move forward…

I hope someone reading this will understand that our greatest opportunities to grow are often packed in the ruins of failure.

Maybe today during crossover is a good time to stop, go back to the list, and review those life lessons we have learned, checking to see where we really are in our walk with God.

 

For me, as dreadful as the term cancer is, I have lost loved ones to it in 2018! while a huge percentage are still diagnosed and on treatment!

As intimidating as the term Autism is, many kids with disabilities were diagnosed in 2018 leaving many families with heart aches, depression, denial and loneliness!

How are we embracing awareness or supporting those still struggling with life?  Isnt it part of the recipe for cross over success stories? The lives we have touched and still touching… The joy we bring to others… The unconditional love showered to others..

To undo some of what’s  already done wrong earlier in the year, isn’t it time to wake up from our lofty  ideas or dreams we’ve always been talking about?  Can we for once approach crossover with a mindset of tweaking our dreams or plans into a project?

Can we move on from procrastinating to expediting, and then declaring it? Review and Scrutinize some traditional modes of crossing over and do that which sets us apart from the crowd? #BeANewYou

dantdm 2Whatever your story was in 2018… You made it here already! Give yourself a-high-five right now if nobody will! Its time to open our windows of opportunity to accept the new viewpoint of What could be, What we can be, and finally shut out the negative humming voices within us.  It is time to #MuteNegativity.

Are our trash cans still overflowing from our self inventory taking?

T-O-S-S  Y-O-U-R  T-R-A-S-H  N-OW!

Today, as we move and meander  in the mundane, I am hoping someone reading this will take a trip down memory lane to see what can be undone or done before crossing over, and accept that there is indeed a fresh compelling awe for This perfect love that breathes and speaks beauty to all our brokenness in 2018!  ‘which will also strengthen and propel us as we cling to the beautiful promises of truly crossing over for a purpose, with a plan.

And like Agnes Browne, to turn those dreams into a big deal and do something worth remembering or comforting, as we begin to count down to the few hours left… ‘May God help us all!

Farewell to 2018, with all its lessons, loss, laughter, pain and gain.  See you in 2019.

Yours in HOPE as I share Travis Greene’s CROSSOVER.

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Mindfulness of our Battles – Cancer Awareness Month.

 

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“We can change the homes we live in, the friends we’ve known and the clothes we’ve worn…

“We could fly across the world, visit new places or investigate new planets; but no matter what our minds sought after, our challenges remain the same; to accept what it means to be human…

To embrace our strengths, our weaknesses, our dreams and to learn how to walk away or fight our battles”

Yinka, 2010 Cancer Survivor.

I’d really been looking forward to vacation and wanted a-me-time alone to relax. I had also purchased the most practical swim suit to gracefully show off my post-cancer surgery scars that I have been battling to accept for years and also to shame the after-effects of thyroid imbalance! 

#BattleWithMyScars   #NoBodyShamingAllowed

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As I sat by the shoreline, chilling out, and soaking in the sun with my family, all I really wanted was to enjoy and take in every moment of creating fond memories, not chase after or flick uninvited ants away from my towel and off my legs.

But as it seems, all of the ants on this Island had arranged a massive dance party and had failed to inform me ahead of time. Literally, I missed the battle-memo!

I was un-invited and I had to leave.

I’d surrendered, not because I was weak and frail or couldn’t indulge my very-zealous 7-year-old in spraying a dozen-can of insecticide, but…’I was learning to let go and embrace my inner peace!

How do you pick your battles?

How do you fight your battles?

Through praises or lamenting?

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MAY 2010 Philadelphia Susan G Komen Race For The Cure- Cancer Awareness Walk

These ants didn’t want me to join their beach party and I didn’t want to be there either. I walked away discouraged and disappointed as I threw a little tantrum in my head. Why should I have to leave? I’m the human here! I paid to be here! Shouldn’t these ants be out there in the dirt? why here? why me?

Not today, I muttered as I adjusted my plans, packed up and gathered my family and went to the indoor waterpark pool instead.

Here, I allowed myself to lounge on the lazy river pool tube as I was selflessly carried through with the tides from the waves.

Mission Accomplished: Battle won!

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OCT 2014 Philadelphia American Cancer Society – Cancer Awareness Walk.

So, there are times in life when things don’t work out as planned. Times when our expectations go unmet and we have to move on or make major adjustments.

Moments when we are unexpectedly approached by life’s challenges and we must decide on which battle is worth fighting…

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OCT 2015 Philadelphia – American Cancer Society – Awareness Walk

You might feel like you’re spinning your wheels in a relationship right now. Or the word “cancer” just reminds you of a hopeless ailment that leads to tortured death? a word never to be mentioned, again?

Or maybe you haven’t moved on from something because you don’t like to quit, even though your time and energy might be more effectively spent elsewhere?

Perhaps, the recovery process of a situation is just too painful and overwhelming for you or the caregivers? Or you have a scheduled medical test coming up and you are in dire need of hope to sustain your doubts?

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Oh goodness! There-is-indeed-a-battlefield of un-reconciled, unresolved thoughts going on in our minds as we anticipate how to deal with it, what’s next? and what if?

You’re not alone.

It might feel like you are surrounded by raging battles, but really…

And still, we all have to wade through stormy waters at times, just to understand why it all started.

I don’t know the particulars of your delayed blessings, unmet expectations or beach-ant frustrations, but God does. Even if you haven’t talked with Him about them yet.

Listen…

It-is-not-every-battle-party we are invited to that needs attention or attendance!
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

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OCT 2013 Philadelphia – Finish The Fight Against Breast Cancer Walk

But how can we know when to stay and when to let go?
How can we know whether we should say yes or no to that opportunity?
How can we know when our uncomfortable situation is to Refine us, to Rebuke us or to Re-route us?

There’s no simple answer, but there is a simple action:
PRAY.  Ask God for direction. Be still before Him and listen.
Be faithful to go where He leads… even if it means that you need to change your plans, your attitude, your location or vocation. Just surrender to His infinite mercies!

So, as we celebrate OCTOBER – Cancer awareness month, I am hoping we all can do more than just wear pink, look cute or display our external compassion on all our social media platforms!

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This is deeper especially when you have lost someone to cancer, and still dealing with the pain of accepting it and moving forward!

Today, I am hoping we can Call up, Visit or Engage with a cancer survivor, take them out to watch a silly comic relief movie and laugh-out-loud together like there’re no scars visible on or within their bodies!

Tomorrow, I am hoping we can Pamper the ones currently going through treatment – Be an escort to one going for chemo or radiation treatment, schedule a spa treatment or visit the children’s museum together and find humor together in the simple things of life!

As always, I am hoping we can Encourage and Pray with the one who’s lost a family member or friend to cancer by just being there for them emotionally….and then only can we confidently carry the banner and campaign for awareness, intervention and erase all hopelessness.

Yours in HOPE as I share Michael Smith’s “Surrounded – Fight My Battles”

Yinka. (Team: Greater Than Cancer)

 

 

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Fear of Unspoken Love Messages.

20180416_181356Our fears tend to lose their power when we bring them into the light. Sometimes, being in denial of a burden or loss makes it difficult to accept that someone we once casually reached out to, that was always available will not be anymore is enough to keep expanding the pit we feel in our stomachs.

It is uncontrollable.

Our mental health (how we feel and how others feel about us) is one of the greatest of God’s gifts, but we take it for granted. It hangs on a thread as fine as a spider’s web. And the smallest thing can make it snap, leaving the strongest of us helpless in an instant.

And in that instant; Hope is our protector and Love our relief.

Isn’t it amazing how hard we have to work at not letting our emotion trump the truth? Our thoughts left unchecked can spiral instantly and produce crippling anxiety. Especially when we receive a phone call and the blank voice on the other end of the line says those lines we never prepared for!

Who is prepared anyway?

The world we live in is full of love language that goes unspoken. Feelings are hidden behind cold tears to avoid rejection or seemingly weak appearance, it doesn’t mean that it is felt less deeply; or that separation leaves a cleaner wound behind. Its beauty and its pain are in its silence.

What does it take to express how we feel? To comfort a sick child? To ease the pathway for someone recently diagnosed? Or one in a difficult relationship? Or stepping into the shoes of an overwhelmed caretaker of a child with developmental disability? The hurting family? The passing on of a loved one?

Not saying it leaves them in isolation, while we battle with our regrets for a lifetime.

Some of us are not blessed with revelations or confession of expression. I still literally ball-out like a baby, whimpering in a corner, shivering like an Eskimo whenever I receive dreary-hardened news….’the loss of my 3 pregnancies left me holding on to the ultra-sound pictures for years, the receipt of the cancer diagnosis left me physically scarred for life, the dilemma of accepting my child’s delay was an eye opener and created a movement in my career and life, and then the loss of my beloved Daddy…seems like part of me was stolen, but then its rebirth ignited the fire in me to soar.

When love language cannot be spoken, only shown, then everything that makes the heart beat must be hushed. I didn’t want to be hushed. I didn’t want to be consoled. I didn’t want to be told…C’est la vie! I just wanted to yell out how much love was sifting through me at the moment of each tragedy I had encountered over the years.

‘Yinka, “Mr. G.” has gone to rest! Welcome-To-The-Club! ‘We have all lost our Dads too” and their stories began, heartbreaking, heart torturing!

There was an overwhelming feeling of warmth and emotional support as I sat facing my 4 decades-bosom-childhood-friends on the night of the WAKE inside my dad’s parlor and a complete solidarity of hope as they all held on to me the next day at Ikoyi cemetery during the burial. #ThankYouVirginiaRuthAndIfeyinwa.

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*Virginia flew in from Port Harcourt, Ruth and Ifeyinwa had scrambled their way through the crazy Monday/Tuesday traffic from VGC to Lagos Island.

So, am I really ready for that club? The-No-earthly-Daddy’s club? I remember how I had panicked and fought everyone on the day of his lying-in-state. I didn’t know what got over me, but I lost my focus and literally shouted at everyone at my Dad’s place to keep dusting or cleaning his parlor, because the undertakers were bringing him into his house for lying in…

Oh no, He was coming back to his living room for the last time, and I was losing my mind…because only his body was present. I cried like a deranged widow. My fear was evident but my spoken love was massive. Phew!

Mourning is a strange, personal, twisted road. Especially when you lose a parent. We all expect that this will be our story; we will outlive our parents. And yet they are our origin people. For the entire 46 years I have been on earth, my Dad had been too. He was a given, a constant. And now, He’s not. The reconciliation with this new reality has been harder than I’d though it would be.

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So, if you’re reading this and still struggling with a fear of unspoken feelings or still in doubt if it is okay to express it without a response. Yes! Because, our Fear is inevitable, but the proclaimed shame over it is optional. Fear is wired into our very brains, into the most primitive part of us.

And if overwhelmed with fear of expression, share it with someone you trust today and ask them to pray with you. Doing so will help them be braver about sharing their fears and feelings too. Courage is contagious.

My Healing Process:

I usually open up my office door and allow my clients (children on the spectrum) to walk up in, have a seat and rummage through my toy bags as I engage their Behavior Techs in conversation and finally shift my attention on them, always getting animated and saying…“Do you know how much I love you today? This big!! (with emphasis on BIG as my arms opens up to hug them) ‘irrespective of the behavior displayed.

And when they walk out happier or puzzled at my 1-minute sugar-high craziness, with tears in my eyes more for joy of submission and expression, I know my bottled up feelings are being expressed through the minds of these little kids gradually…

Sometimes what we need is not information or speech or a literature of the pain we already know; But consolation. Sometimes we just need to know we are not the only one going through stuff. We need not the “how-to” but the “me too” consolation.

Because we are battle-worn and tender and have already fought as hard as we possibly can for now. Let’s show our spoken-affection to someone in need of it today.

May God help us all.

PS: Big THANKS to everyone who supported me through it all. I truly appreciate it.

Yours in HOPE
Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tribute to my Father, My mentor and friend.

 

Mr Ganzy

Arthur Kayode Gansallo – Land Surveyor – Jan 8th 1933 – Feb. 24th 2018 (85 years old).

The departure of life eclipses everything’. When a death is good, the room is filled with peace, and all the pain, that went before it is forgotten. Where there was mystery and anxiety, there is knowledge, where there is fear and doubt, there is love. And when asked how to move on afterwards, I whispered, ‘I just want to DO IT (life) again with you, Papa-mi’.
‘Narratives of my Father’ – Yinka.

With Loving memories, this is how I want to remember my beloved father, Arthur Kayode Gansallo. To others, He was known as Daddy, AK Gansallo or Brother Surveyor, but to me, I have always called him “Papa-mi” ‘which made our relationship very personal and special. Sometimes even indicating affection that’s cautiously guarded with youthful zeal implying “mine only”.

While growing up, I have always been reminded of my resemblance to his late mother, Madam Emily Gansallo (nee Coker) fondly known as ‘Mama Upstairs‘ (I guess the fondness emerged from that maternal-reflection I carried with me while around him).

She usually sat at one of the bow-windows on the top floor of her glamorously decorated baroque Brazilian architectural influenced parlor; with exuberant and individualistic styled doorways, brightly painted facades and chunky concrete columns, flight of polished wooden steps with brightly colored panels and delicate floral plaster motifs of the Brazilian artisans!

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Gansallo Family House – Lagos Island.

Yeah, my late grandmother was always strategically located in such a way that she had a bird’s-eye view of both Tokunboh and Oshodi streets, at this perch she was able to view the comings and goings and ready to call out anyone who’s out of order….I grew up learning those boundaries too from my father.

Where do I start? All through my life, He’s always been my shield, especially where I usually seek shelter when I am in trouble due to my smart mouth or need to escape some sibling scolding or from my mom’s non-stop-nagging about why I needed to step up my game and claim the 1st position in class!

I usually run to hide in his home-office, where the entrance marks no-allowance to violence and the red sea for the offended-ones chasing after me! He always protected me from altered hot slaps, or sibling-beatups, listened with an open mind to my talk about life, my dreams and my future plans, and gave re-directions without being overbearing.

From my 1st primary school best literature award, his glowing face with his Polaroid camera, proud as ever! Even encouraging me to buy more books at CMS bookshop to read as we drove home from school that day and thereafter enrolling me at Teacher Pat (of St. Mary’s Private-afterschool) lesson for mathematics clinic! I remember him forbearingly tutoring me for common entrance exam and patiently waiting to pick me up at St. Gregory’s college after the long yearly 5k-Corpus Christi procession!

From the set of French curves he gave me when I informed him I was taking Technical Drawing in school and aiming to be an Architect trailing after him; to Alliance Français French school when I changed my mind and wanted to study foreign language instead, He encouraged me all through, emotionally and financially.

My 10th birthday party, where He officially became the DJ and MC, even though He practically played his own favorite music (FELA) all through, we still had a blast;

Oh, my 1st day away from home at FGGC Sagamu, the panic attack once we crossed the toll gate and the long dreary drive in his car as He continuously encouraged me about the unknown, Apparently, He had labelled all my belongings, boldly scripted in his fine cartographic hand writing ‘A.O. Gansallo’ (Anthonia Olayinka Gansallo) even on my school sandals, my red checked house wear and school bag legible enough for other students to be amused or read from afar.

He never missed any visiting days or our usual stop over at Uncle Ladipo’s (his brother) at All Saints school Ikorodu to review my report card and make plans for summer school! Phew!

I remember my 1st visit to a fancy restaurant, at Eko Hotel when I was just 9 with him, my 1st table etiquette training and tableware placement. Our religious visits to CFAO Moloney supermarket to buy chocolates, biscuits and of course Benson & Hedges and thereafter our painful visits to the dentist together.

Our weekend drive to Museum Kitchen, to listen to high life music with a sip of fresh sour palmwine! or to Bar Beach to watch the sun set or to see Grand Uncle Akin Coker at his beach house on Elf Estate, off Lekki road in the early 80’s (which was formerly Maroko swamp). Or our visit to the stadium to watch Abiola Babes and Iwuanyanwu Nationale soccer match at Onikan!

I got to learn a lot about land acquisition, families with landed properties and sometimes history behind land allocation, all mostly within Ibeju Lekki & Eti Osa Local govt. as I was usually in his company during some site visits and very inquisitive about his passion for his job, drawing up maps and calculating numbers nonstop!

My 1st & 2nd graduation from college and His advice to keep on aiming higher, not to stop there, to be all I can be, as a daughter, a wife, a mother and a woman who stands out in her generation.

One funny thing is that, He actually knew and remembered all my girlfriends by name, and would approach them when they come to visit and usually engaged them in ‘girly’ conversation, even decoding our secrets codes over the telephone! They usually call him, Mr. Ganzy of which He usually smiles at and could sit with them for hours talking about his favorite movies – especially Gremlins!

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My wedding day. (Dad & I) – Aug. 14th 1997.

I can never forget the big smile of accomplishment and joy on his face on my wedding day, 20 years ago, as He proudly walked me down the aisle, clutching the marriage certificate afterwards close to his heart and looking at me with that fondness I grew up knowing.

I thank God that I can proudly say today that I have been so blessed to have him as my Father and friend, ‘would do it again and never could have traded him for anyone! I am who I am today because of the devotion and love of my parents, more especially my father’s undying love and His belief in me.

Last time we spoke, just after his 85th birthday in January, He muttered under heavy breaths…

Yinkus baby! I am still here, even though all my friends are gone, I am counting down to your next graduation commencement” and I had joked with him saying

Ah, Mr. Ganzy, you are still very young, I will be back home soon, to complete that Autism clinic project we’ve always talked about”….we both laughed over that as He hung up the telephone.

 

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Feb. 2018 Commencement.

And those were his last words to me. 

He was a fantastic man. He was a great father, loving husband, caring brother, nurturing grandfather and dear friend to many people. To me he was more than just my father; he was my friend and my hero.

I always admired my father and had a great deal of respect for him. I pray the everlasting love and peace of God dwell with him in his new abode.

Eternal Rest, Grant Him O Lord!

Your loving daughter!
Yinkus Baby (as He fondly calls me).

 

 

 

 

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MY WAKANDA MUSINGS by Folarin Lawrence.

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I have contemplated my state of mind in regards to being an immigrant, and having lived here in the United States for so long, being extremely wary about relocating to Nigeria, my place of birth and homeland.

Is it the myriads of basic infrastructure that just are not stable? Or the fact that Africa having been independent from her “colonizers” as Shuri rightly mentioned, is yet to produce leaders that are not interested in lining their pockets and offshore bank accounts with the very wealth of the people.

If I never left Nigeria, I will definitely have survived and surely “thrived” but that is a story for another place and time. This brings me to the here and now that fuels thoughts deep enough to be labeled musings.

Last week I was in a Black Panther state of mind, after surviving the very long line at the movie theatre, buying into the excitement all over my kids and the priceless “Hmm, this-Marvel-thing-had-better-be-good” expression on Yinka’s face. We finally made it in, settled down and even had enough time to grab Popcorn!

I was whisked on a whimsical yet reflective, euphoric and again poignant journey to “Wakanda”, a place… ‘No, Kingdom I have dreamed of and been lost in at very different segments of my life most especially my formative years! A place I believed existed even at the time not being acquainted with the Black Panther universe, yet it existed in my mind’s eye.

Growing up in Lagos in the 70s I remember a society that was burgeoning, as Nigeria had discovered vast stores of oil: Bonny Light! which signifies the #Vibranium of Wakanda, which was said to be one of the best grades of crude oil at the time. And, yes at that very beautiful period in the annals of Nigerian History “almost everything worked”.

Yes, there was corruption just like there is in any part of the world, but our basic necessities were met. The general infrastructure worked. There was power, good roads, healthcare, education and most of those things politicians have since promised and have not been able to deliver.

I remember waking up in the morning and looking out of my grandmother’s window at #39 Aralile Street, Surulere on Lagos Mainland to the site of women dressed in uniformed native wear (iro, buba and gele) with long brooms and big baskets sweeping the streets.

I remember not having to be coaxed by whip wielding policemen to use the over-head bridge at Barracks Bus Stop, I remember the traffic lights at Adeniran Ogunsanya,

I remember watching Bonanza on Nigerian Television Authority Channel 10 and telling my late Uncle Jose “I Jam Blocker” (Dan Blocker) and I had just ridden my horse over my grandmother’s roof this morning while he was still sleeping”. In hindsight, I cannot even remember why Dan Blocker was my favorite actor from  Bonanza, I guess maybe because he was the biggest and he knocked more guys around.

I also remember the news on television with Ikenna Daguba, Mike Enahoro, and Julie Coker, not to forget the sports segment with Yinka Craig and once in a while Bisi Lawrence with some specials.

So, which brings me back to Black Panther’s Wakanda. Nigeria was my Wakanda, only because through the lenses of my childhood I never imagined in my wildest nightmares that a nation with boundless potentials, vast resources both natural and human, would be quasi developed as it is today whereby basic amenities are only available to the mostly affluent corrupt and the bourgeoisie few.

This is not to say that there are no honest, hardworking individuals in Nigeria, the conundrum being faced is how to replace the moral fabric of the society which has rapidly descended into a cesspool of decadence, an unbelievable callousness which unfortunately seems to have reached a point of no return.

I tell my 11-year-old son that he comes from a very proud heritage and culture, but I am also very conscious of explaining to him why it may be difficult for us to once again settle in Nigeria, but make a point of saying “difficult” and not “impossible” because I still have dreams of “Wakanda-esque” utopia, super-imposed on the African landscape with a government for the people, technology that even the western world will envy, with proud and eloquent black men, beautiful strong black women with children whose future is as bright as the morning star and older generation with histories as colorful and magnificent as the sunsets of the Motherland.

This is a dream that has yet again been awakened by the complex kaleidoscope delivered by Ryan Coogler in Black Panther. #Kudos #MustSeeMovie

I want to believe that there are many dreamers like me out there and even if we are not able to bring this dream into fruition in my generation, please begin today to inculcate these dream into your young sons and daughters here in Diaspora, give them the hope that they can and should achieve that which we may not be able to achieve, let them know whose sons and daughters they truly are.

Do not forget to tell them it is going to take the grace of God to achieve this as they will face a continuous barrage of difficulties along the way.

Here is a snippet of what is yet to come:

The “Wakanda-esque” utopia in my dreams comprises of three very uniquely diverse group of young, bright and beautiful black people in this order; Born on the Motherland, Born in Diaspora of migrant parentage, and Born outside of the Motherland often with a broken link but of African descent.

God’s Peace.

Kaylaw.

 

 

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Intentionally Filled-Up for a New Year

My favorite part of eating out in a fancy restaurant apart from the ambiance and good food is usually observing the composed and mastered display of hospitality of the stand-by waitress or waiter; particularly how they keep attentive eyes on the customer. We hear things like…

“May I refill your glass?” “Are you enjoying your meal?”
“May I get you something else on the menu?” “Is everything okay?”

Whether we see it as a glorified spoiler tip or a dedicated show of servitude, these are all part of the menu and already paid for because the motives are intentional! We-are-Being-served or Filled-up, On purpose! Simple.

One of my favorite memories while growing up was a particular visit to a fancy restaurant with my dad (inside Eko Hotel) and the exciting feelings of the warm reception of being waited on, catered for and the wide smile on the waiter’s face as he continuously came to our table to ask if he could do more!

I was only 9-years-old, but could have sworn everything on the menu tasted so good and far better than anything in our kitchen at home!  #NoOffenseMom

My Dad ordered a huge glass of Chapman for himself, and a bottle of orange Fanta for me. But, I wanted a taste of the chapman too…So I quickly drank up my boring orange Fanta and tilted my empty cup towards him…’looking up at him…just smiling, not a word uttered…’but with a child’s longing, innocence and  “feed-the-child-now face!

Papai, fill me up! I whispered in my tiny shrill voice. And He did…poured some of his drink into my empty cup, at first to taste and then more willingly and intentionally. *(Papai is a Portuguese term for Daddy of Father).

Now and every time I share the story with my 3 kids whenever we dine out….’they always laugh at me and say #Gross or ‘Eww Seriously! Mom, honestly, we don’t want to share your drink, just get ours! or Phew, that’s so #Savage… Mom!…Ah, but what-do-they-know about life?

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So, we all have those metaphorical ‘Fill it up expectation cups’ in our lives! Some hold love for others, some expect acceptance from others, while some are usually tilted sideways, facing or directed towards the wrong people, the wrong location, the wrong ideas, all waiting and expecting to be filled, loved and fulfilled by the world. Some seeking emotional comfort in all the wrong places, while others already capsized and given up on getting filled up, again or ever!

Today, as you are reading this, even though you did not meet all your expectations, would you still say you were intentionally filled in 2017? Was it a nailed-it year or are you still in the process of discovering how to slay it? Perhaps, it was a year of good riddance to bags of rubbish?

Oh, hold on!!, was it an eventful one with unlimited passion or zeal to move on? Were you initially hopeful but now downcast? Imaginatively surprised because of a new life, new birth of ideas and closures on unmerited projects?

Or like me, did you acquire relevant wisdom and surprised yourself by finally doing it? #Fist Bump! Or you lost some hope initially but gradually building up courage, again?

Anyone feel like a soaked-up squeezed-out sponge? Or on a brand new horizon because of lessons learned from the past? ‘Or still burned-out trying to meet up with someone else’s needs… ‘His needs… ‘Her needs… ‘World’s needs and just never having time to remember YOUR own needs?

Was your cup eventually filled? Full, half way or still empty, waiting, anticipating? Debating? Are you still holding up your cup(s) facing up and expecting to be filled?

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What angle is your cup tilted to? Who is it directed to? #ChangeTheAngleOfYourCup
How often do we hold out our empty cups towards others? Oh, how many times have we joyfully pour into other people’s cup, always filling it even when not prompted to? Why so?

How often do we appreciate and savor our own blessings? ’Logically, should we be expectant? What would it take for us not to focus on the inconveniences we encounter along the way that sometimes accompany the good things in our lives?

Or maybe in 2017, we have been offering our open cups to the wrong filler? And when those cups are not filled as expected…’these moments of disconnection and conviction causes us to consider the condition of our heart as well as the circumstances that surround us. Which forces us to assess soul situations, our emotions, edgy responses, unkind words, missed opportunities, snippy attitudes, and the myriad of rebellion we have got going on. Hmmm…

‘Ever thought of questioning why we keep running on empty for a purpose? Maybe it was intentionally crafted? Maybe it is because we are holding out our empty cups in the direction of people who are also holding out their empty cups in our direction too? 

I am hoping someone will embrace 2018 knowing and accepting that all things work for their good and it is intentional. That when we tilt our cups upward and trust only God to do his part, we will not have to run around to people or places, hoping to get filled up.greetings

Yours in HOPE as I share Intentional by Travis Greene.
Yinka.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yinka & Enitan

TWC’17 Workshop Committee

 

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