My Gratitude Jar

Twenty-one ways in which I was blessed in 2021:

1. Emotional Healing

2. Reconciliation

3. Provision

4. Friendships

5. Vision

6. Courage

7. Creativity

8. Growth

9. Clarity

10. Destiny Helpers

11. New Experiences

12. Knowledge

13. Physical Healing

14. New Skills

15. New Connections

16. Renewed Faith

17. Fresh Revelations

18. Rekindled Love

19. Restoration

20. Amazing Books

21. Family Reunions

Thank you 2021. Much respect for the darkness and the pain. We pulled through by grace. We move forward in faith.

Hello 2022…. We here!

Leaving a Legacy

When I was 5 years old, my dad signed me up for piano lessons. This was later expanded to include recorder and singing lessons also.

In my early teens, when I struggled to maintain my motivation, he would not let me quit, saying “you need options in life”. Meaning, you don’t know which of these skills will be your source of livelihood.

Today, on the 5th anniversary of his passing, I can only say he was so right! My chequered career has taken me from IT Consultancy to Project Mangement to Education Management and now, Music Education.

Something else Dad often said was, “When I die, I may not leave you a fortune but one thing I will bequeath you is a good education”. This has indeed been his most valuable gift to me and a legacy that has been passed on to my children, all of whom enjoy making music as part of their everyday lives.

I am a fan of what I call the “everyday” musician. Ordinary men and women, from all walks of life, for whom music is an integral part of their lives. People who enjoy music making because it completes them, not because it’s a source of their livelihood, not because it makes them famous or rich.

In our instagram feed, my music school regulary features men and women who are known as surgeons, business moguls, enginners, ambassadors and so on, but who are also accomplished musicians.

The commonly held view, especially in Nigerian culture, that learning to play an instrument is somehow detrimental to one’s academic or career prospects cannot be farther from the truth.

Indeed, learning complex harmony instruments such as the piano, using structured teaching approaches, has been shown to improve executive function, thereby enhancing one’s chances of success in other fields.

I will forever be grateful for my father’s legacy, how he gave me a well rounded education, that incorporated music alongside literacy, numeracy and science. He supported my music lessons for 11 good years, until I turned 16, when I started to prepare for my University entrance exams. Sadly, I had an unsympathetic music teacher at the time who was unwilling to adjust his demands of me musically to my academic realities and so, reluctantly, I quit. With hindisght, that could have been avoided had my teacher been more sympathetic to my predicament at the time. Music could have been my refuge from my academic workload, had he not been so rigid. But that’s a story for another day. Several years later, now a grown woman with little children, I found my way back to my first love and have continued my pursuit of music learning ever since.

For those parents who share my father’s passion, and are looking to encourage their children to maintain an interest in music learning, I highly recommend Nathan Holder’s book – “I wish I didn’t quit music lessons“. It’s available on Kindle.

And for those parents who would like to introduce their children to the joys of music making but are not sure where to begin, then I suggest you try out our recreational music clubs for starters. The clubs provide an opportunity for children to learn to play their choice of instrument in a relaxed, social setting, and are a good way to guague interest in an instrument.

Alternatively, for a more intensive expreience, you can sign your children up for private lessons on approval. This is where we give your children four weeks of music tuition, before you decide whether or not to take the plunge. You don’t pay a penny until you are certain you would like to continue with lessons. If you find that they didn’t enjoy the experience, you wont be charged for the lessons taken.

I will forever be grateful for my father’s wisdom and commitment to “giving me options” which has now touched his grand children, and I hope their children also.

Sing the old song for me dad.

your “Bibi” x

The Five Talents

We are all born with gifts with which God wishes to bless the world. Our purpose on earth is to be a blessing to others. It is when we realise this that we find true joy and happiness.

We lead our fullest lives when we do the hard work of digging deep and honing and developing our God given talents.

This is why we continue to learn and study in order to improve our craft.

The more we improve our God-given skills, the more He can use us. The better we get, the more lives He can change through us. The more confident He is to set us before Kings to do His will.

Help us never to bury our talents Lord but to develop and hone them for your glory.

Like a little child …

I was in the shower the other day when the meaning of this scripture hit me:

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said,

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Mt 18:2‭-‬4 NKJV

Little children start off totally dependent on their parents. Submitting to their will without question, trusting whatever they say.

When we choose to follow Christ, we must go back to that place of total vulnerability, allowing His will to supercede ours.

Jesus recognises that this is a process… We need to become as little children and lay aside the cynicism that slowly clouds our minds, obliterates our trust and separates us from His presence.

God desires our total surrender and trust. As adults, that is a deeply uncomfortable place to be.

As Christians, we have chosen to convert but as Jesus explains in this passage, that’s just the start. The process of becoming as little children must follow if we are to attain the ultimate prize.

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.