Unconditional Love

As a Christian, I am privileged to feel able to approach Almighty God, any time of day and night with a prayer or a thought.

The confidence with which I enter His throne room is unrelated to how “good” I have been in the hours and days beforehand.

I approach Him, knowing I will get a warm reception. Knowing He will be gracious and not meet me with a big stick or a barrage of accusatory words. Knowing that in His presence, I will find the strength to turn my life around and do better.

I am also keenly aware that I do not extend the same generosity of spirit to my nearest and dearest.

My tongue is like a well trained, lethal sniper. Ready to berate and barrage at every turn. I do not hide my disappointment and anger at their misdeeds. I do not fail to let them know just how let down I feel. Worse still, I feel morally justified in doing so.

In Luke 9:54, the disciples considered themselves morally justified in asking Jesus to call down destruction on a Samaritan village for their cold reception of Jesus and His entourage.

Jesus rebuked the disciples, reminding them that His purpose was to save lives, not to destroy them. He said this because he recognised that only an abundance of love is powerful enough to turn the hearts of sinners towards him.

This is not blind, sentimental, mushy love.

This is a very deliberate, powerful, unconditional and generous love that chooses to believe in, and nurture the potential of the individual that lies within their current stinky and undesirable state of being.

It’s believing that better lies within and drawing it out in love.

It’s understanding that the outward change will seek will only become manifest after a million, tiny, indiscernible changes. And that our role is to feed and nurture that deep but slow work with the same unconditional, inexhaustible love that our Heavenly Father showers on us – daily.

It’s remembering that Mercy triumphs over Judgement. Always.

Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face.

And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.

And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.
Lu 9:51‭-‬56 NKJV

The journey to 50…

Today I begin the inexorable march to my 50th birthday.

No idea what lies ahead. But I draw comfort and strength from my walk of faith which started when I was aged sixteen.

I know my loving, compassionate, generous and kind Heavenly Father walks alongside me.

He is with me through the hills and the valleys. He keeps me in the cup of his hand and under the shadow of His wings.

And He leads me to unimaginable places where He reveals His glory and splendour.

Excited for the journey!

A tale of two awards

Earlier this year in the month of March, I was presented with the award on the left having completed a year-long entrepreneurship programme for African women.

I was somewhat bemused by the title “Perfect Score”. What does this even mean? I wondered.

Then I reflected on another award I was presented with one Mothering Sunday, also in the March of that year, which is shown on the right, and I was struck by the difference between the two.

My Perfect Score award was for “earning all the available programme points over the course of the 12 month AWEC programme”.

It is indeed possible to earn a “Perfect Score” for an endeavour where the criteria is clearly defined. The process of earning the award is logical and transparent and can easily be verified and justified.

However, it is practically impossible to earn a “perfect score” for being a mum.

For one, who is to say how this is to be measured? How many dirty nappy changes would qualify? How many school plays attended, meals cooked, noses wiped and clothes mended would earn one points?

When the children become teenagers, how many miles of driving from one “very important” social event to the other? How many late nights waiting up for them to come home? How many hours of consoling teenage angst and drying their tears?

On the 12 month course, one would forfeit points for not attending key meetings, and for not submitting assignments by stated deadlines.

As a mother, in contrast, how many points does one lose for failing to protect them from danger? From not serving the most nutritious meals or for bursts of irrational anger?

When it comes to motherhood, perfection is unattainable and must be left at the door as we stumble and fumble our way through the nebulous process of childrearing, gyrating from moments of elation and euphoria to deepest darkest despair and unbearable pain.

Not only is perfection unattainable as a mom, it is also, frankly undesirable.

You see, children are keenly aware of their own imperfections and so allowing them to witness your struggles and triumphs will help them navigate their own challenges from a much more healthier place.

As a mother, I maintain my sanity by embracing my imperfections and striving to do better next time.

I can only pray that God will protect my children from the worst consequences of my many imperfections so they can be beautifully, and confidently imperfect for their own kids.

Refill…

One of my goals for this month is to refill. And so, when my daughter came in to the piano room to practice, rather than have her practice with her headphones on, I chose to listen. Her is a snippet from her practice. Afterwards I felt refreshed.

I hope you do too.

Hello April: Time to Refill, Reflect, Renew, Rebuild

I love the quiet simplicity that signals the arrival of spring. A flower bud here, a blade of grass there, the warmer, brighter days…. Spring sneaks up on you, unnaounced, without fanfare but with a definiteness that is impossible to ignore.

After tumultous whirlwind that has characterised the last 12 months, it’s time to recharge the batteries, take stock and reposition for the future. April will be the time to sow the seeds and lay teh foundation for the next 12 months.

Praying for peace and grace for the journey.

Mother’s Coat of Many Colours

Coat of Many Colours by Dolly Parton

Many parts of the world are celebrating Mothering Sunday today and Church services will be dedicated to Mothers – both present and departed – for their unwavering selfless love.

Dolly Parton’s song, “Coat of Many Colours” tells of how her mother stitched together a coat for her from pieces of rags because they could not afford to buy one. And how the children at school made fun of this coat that had been so lovingly put together by her mum.

And I reflect on how timeless her message is. How mothers today continue to weave the best life they can for their children from the fragments of time, resources and skills that they have.

This is a universal struggle regardless of socio-economic status, race or background.

And so I want to encourage Mothers who are reading this today not to be discouraged. Your love is the greatest gift you can give your children.

The last verse of Dolly’s song is particularly powerful:

But they didn’t understand it and I tried to make them see
That one is only poor only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money but I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colours my mama made for me

Mothers, your patchwork coat, sewn in love is the greatest gift of all.

Happy Mother’s Day 💜.

Click here to watch Dolly perform the song.

Being in the Room Where It Happens…

It’s a well documented fact that better decisions are made when women are in the room where it happens. This is because women bring a unique perspective and are able to find creative solutions to problems faced by organisations. Today I stand with men and women around the world who seek to address gender bias in our organisations.

I am also grateful for the women upon whose shoulders I stand today. My story would not have been possible without your sacrifice and courage.

Happy International Women’s Day.

Happiness…

This verse from this morning’s Bible reading gave me such comfort.

I paraphrase:

When you provide a service that others value and are willing to pay you for, to the extent that you can comfortably live off your earnings, you will be happy and whole.

Renewed motivation to strive to provide a service of value.

#wemove.

Magical Musical Moments

Still Making Memories

A couple of days ago, my girls and I had a spontaneous sign-along around the piano. I surreptitiously captured a few seconds on camera so as not to kill the moment.

That moment took me back to our many months of music making when they were babies and toddlers, where they would sit on my lap on the floor, wiggling, clapping and playing percussion instruments in a room full of other, mostly moms, and children of a similar age.

Those sessions were our special “Mummy and Me” times during an otherwise busy and chaotic week, where we bonded over a shared activity.

I love the fact that all these years later, music making continues to be an activity over which we connect.

I love the fact that the piano room is a sanctuary in our home. A place where we go to reflect, relax and relieve tension while tinkling the little white and black keys.

A place where we process, where we cry, where we worship.

Those baby music classes helped to create a culture in our home that makes shared magical moments like this feel totally natural.

I will be sharing my personal and professional experience of how to raise a musical child in a free webinar. Do join me if you can. Sign up for free using the link below. If you make the webinar or you missed it, sign up anyway in order to receive the replay.

Tribute to an Icon

The Late Alhaji Lateef Jakande
Former Governor of Lagos State, Nigeria

Yesterday, 11 February 2021, Papa Jakande passed away, aged 91.

Papa Jakande was the first civilian governor of Lagos State, Nigeria between October 1979 and December 1983. His quiet, diminutive and kindly demeanor belied his steely determination, charisma and vision.

In July 1982, aged 10, I wrote to the governor, bemoaning the state of the roads in Lagos and the rubbish that littered the streets. I suggested ways in which his administration could tackle the issue as I was sure he hadn’t thought about the solutions I proffered.

My mother, Chief Mrs Tinuade Gbadamosi, was working with his administration as a member of one of the Schools Management Boards that he set up and she delivered my letter to him at one of their meetings.

Two months later, the governor wrote me back! His reply was generous and not at all patronising. He took his time over two pages of typed text to give detailed answers to every issue I raised. He concluded the letter with an invitation to pay him a visit. I remember my dad’s surprise and the excitement we all felt about not just his reply but also the invitation to visit. During the visit, the governor presented me with a wine coloured hand bag which I can still see in my mind’s eye today.

The bag eventually wore out and was discarded but I have never forgotten my encounter with him.

I celebrate Papa Jakande because of his commitment to providing free education to the children of Lagos State. He built hundreds of schools in the state during his four year tenure, making it possible for millions of children to get an education. He also took over many private schools, so that the State would cover the cost of education and children could be educated fee-free. I was one of those children.

Many of the Jakande schools have since fallen into disrepair and several returned to private sector operators. However, the impact of his reforms live on in those who because of his vision and passion, were able to access jobs, build careers and impact their communities in ways that would otherwise not have been open to them.

Papa, your sons and daughters salute you. Rest in peace. 🙏🏾