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May the coming months be merrier.

May the coming months be merrier.

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

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

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

They’d passed away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this our new NORMAL?

Adaptability and Hope.

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

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

Yours in HOPE

OlaYinka

 

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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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Fifty Shades of… Love? Romance? or Lust?

grey 2 There’s a great uproar over the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, some say it glorifies sexual violence against women. Some say it is like watching Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke in their 1986 erotic romantic drama film: 9½ Weeks! While others believe it’s simply another overrated exotic romance story seductively crafted in an activated-freak-mode! Whatever way its address…it is still all about the explosive part of sex-on-steroids. Period!

The movie hits theaters on Valentine’s Day and promoters are positioning the story of an abusive boyfriend as a romantic story. I’ve been seeing plenty of campaigns launched against this movie. Thousands and thousands of churches across the nation are still campaigning against this movie, but I wonder what that campaign did for the cause of an individual’s belief? Hmmm.

But really, haven’t we always been submerged in an X-rated culture where ’Sexual Corruption” has penetrated to the highest levels?

Aha! Am wondering… should we be possessed by the cause of our faith? or ’what if the same energy, focus and funding that we put into a campaign against such movies were redirected towards funding ministries that moved in healing, setting people free or empowering them to dismantle the works of darkness? What if we redirected our energies from fighting a worldly movie to fighting for the people of God to experience the freedom, love and relationship with Him?

What if we channel our sense of radicalism into disturbing issues of sexual immorality and compromise in the church, Instead of being disturbed by the act of Fifty Shades of Grey? What if, I am finally able to sleep well through the night knowing that I will not be burdened or disturbed by the thought of darkness that my fellow pew members still struggle and fight in their lifetime relationships, committing suicide and getting divorces?

What if I’m still mad that people are still tormented and harassed by an enemy put under their feet just because the church doesn’t cry out for the power of God? Which makes me tremble when I know the high price paid for provision, healing and freedom that most of us don’t experience because of corruption in our own little ranks.

Really, maybe the movie is all about silly emotions combined into a make-believe outrageous sexual acts! Honestly, I don’t even plan to see the movie, I am well equipped from the little chapters I’d stumbled across years ago, but I know there’s going to be a great debate on it, especially within my teenage shelter family! I’m not going to judge or condemn them. Rather, I will learn from their perspectives and hopefully re-direct their passion. I have a bigger fight on my hands that I’ve given my life to, which is to ‘Revive the hearts in pursuit of doing extra-ordinary things!

So, if you’re one of the thousands, upset about this movie, I challenge you as an act of protest, donate to ministries that work with women such as “The Mordecai Project” that rescues abused women or “Project Lydia” that provides opportunities for abandoned widows and orphans. Connect with PHMC’s “Plain Talk” that educates teens/adolescents on how to reduce pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Be an advocate for promoting abstinence among young girls, mentor young men to embrace inner beauty in ladies and not view them as sex toys, coach abandoned women in search of love again, be that counselor or sex therapist your church community needs to inspire and put the flame back into dead marriages or relationship. Create your own uncountable colors or shades of positiveness by igniting that fire!

Yours in HOPE!

Yinka.

 

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