Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Shola Adefolalu Gaska "Foundation presents 'Sinking in Grief Yet Rising with Purpose

“PapaGod, is it that you don’t want me to know what happened? Or perhaps you are testing my patience, to see if I can trust you totally on this matter? I just need to know. Sometimes, the not knowing almost hurts more than the pain of my loss. Sometimes I feel like I am sinking under waves of pain”.

“Salt, please get over yourself. Go out there and help others going through the same thing and leave the rest to me. To stop sinking save someone else from drowning”

At first, I thought that response was rather harsh but then I got it. God loves me and if I am in the centre of His will, all that transpires is from a place of Agape love. Even when I don’t get it; especially when I don’t get it. Trusting God’s unquestionable love is the key to my peace. 

So I wiped my tears, blew my nose and got up from my place of weeping and began to write. This poster you see below is the outcome of that meeting with my PapaGod at the 2017 ROTH.

I would like to specially invite you to this programme. I am so happy with the interest shown so far. Not only have registrations coming in, I have young ladies volunteering to help (to each of you I am sending love and light). 

It is true, when you are running an errand for God, he moves for you. On that day at ROTH, he told me precisely who two of the speakers would be and who to invite as Coaches. I was anxious because I was not sure if they would all agree but that was foolish of me. If God said to invite them, I should have known they would graciously agree. And they all did. God will bless them all for me. I cannot wait to sit and listen to them all share on how to rise up from pain into purpose! And God will bless you too as you prepare to attend (to register, simply send your full name to abimbolaen@yahoo.com) and/or share this blog or the poster within your network. 

Can I just say something? While this is not meant to be a cry-fest, some of us might cry. And that would be fine. I believe we, especially we Christians need to learn to honour our grief better. I personally felt rushed as if being sad or crying was somehow a negation of my faith. The Bible says mourn...but not like one that has no hope. It does not say 'mourn quickly and move on' nor does it say 'don't mourn'. It just says when you mourn, hold fast to your hope that God's got you. Regardless, At least,this is my take on it. Come, and let's hear the takes of our three Speakers and Coaches. When I look at this poster, I just smile and bless God! So much experience and godly wisdom in one place!

So, see you on the 30th of September 2017. It will be the first Saturday after Sholly’s birthday on September 25th. She would have been 37. I hope you come join me in celebrating my AburoChild in a very meaningful way. Yes, join me as I seek to bring God-directed purpose out of my pain and I pray that, regardless of why you come, you will hear a 'word' from God just for you.

Till then, stay lifted and hold fast to your Saltiness!

And yes, Happy New Month!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Lessons From Den Haag and Paris continued

Your Turn will come. When it's Your Time

I had never been to Paris. Considering I studied French in school and have first and second degrees in it, that's pretty odd, right? But it's true. Prior to this divinely orchestrated trip, the closest I had come to a French-speaking country was Lome. 

I spent one summer there in form 3 when I was at Queen's College and another six months during my third year at University of Uyo. That's it. But I love the language so add my academic knowledge  to working in a French bank for a French boss who refused to speak to me in English (God bless you M. Riboux!), I had enough to make me pretty fluent. 

All my life I'd wanted to visit Paris. I dreamed of going there for my honeymoon. No. I planned to go there for my 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th anniversaries. No. And now, one month after my 24th one......

 I finally have!  And as I sat on "Le BatoBus" that crazy hot but beautifully sunny day taking in the iconic sights, I was a little stunned at how 'just like that' I was here. In Paris! On a boat! With my MGM! Taking photos of The Eiffel Tower! How could this be? 

      Elevator usfie een zee elevator of our 'otelπŸ˜€

                  La Tour Eiffel! Magnifique! 

Double back 365 days, it wasn't even a thought. The only reason I was there was because my trip back from an official training in the Netherland had been routed through Paris. I didn't ask for that. Why would the Travel team do that? Why? Because, clearly Sholly and God were up to something.  My turn to visit Paris had come!  More than 30 years had passed since I wished it and MY time had finally come. And People of God, I have to say, the timing made perfect sense. I had to be this age, dealing with my stuff to fully appreciate my Paris.

            Can't remember where this is but it's in Paris!
                               So it's gorgeous! 

Lesson Learned: Embrace your lane. Trust God. Don't look over into the other person's yard. The 'grass may look greener' but as Maya Angelou once said, 'but their water bill is higher too!" Stop comparing your journey to another's. God's map for your life's trek is as unique as your DNA. Everything good will come for you too when it's your turn. And your time.

                         Madame La Liberte! 

Just Step Up And You'll Do It

Confession time! I love training courses but I hate training exercises. You know, group or break out sessions? But they are inevitable. So even though I loved the content of the course I was on, I was not looking forward to the final team role play. 

But over the years I have learned to embrace my discomfort zones. And just do it. And thanks to Sholly I am becoming a guru at not sweating the SSAMS. The 'Small Stuff Appearing Mega in my Mind'. 

Time doing that is time squandered. I'm living for two now, so every second counts. So, I exhaled my fears and inhaled grace from above and decided I was going to nail it. And I did. Thoroughly enjoying myself in the process. This was one of my most fun role plays. You would have thought Birgit and I were joined at the hip! We did good and got  great feedback! 

How come? Well, first of all, I had a great partner and we prepared well. Plus, I prayed. As. In. Speaking in Tongues Prayed! And we nailed itπŸ˜‡

       Sur la route de Champs Elysees! Golden Smiles. 
                            Like Sholly's 🌻

Lesson: Pray. Prepare. Practice. Feel the Fear. Pray some more for peace. And then? Just do it. You'll be fine. And always ask yourself one question: What's the worse thing that can happen? You bungle.  So what? Will the world end? Really?  Trust me, it will not. 

But I'm confident you won't fail. Why? Because the King lives in you. He never fails so neither can you.

You will always come out laughing. 


Saturday, 24 June 2017

From Den Haag and Paris with Love: Lessons Learned format

Choose, because, Baby, Only You Can
I was anxious about going back to The Hague. As suspected, I broke down as soon as I walked into the reception area of my hotel. It was at this same reception that I had met my Sholly back then in March 2016 when she had come to visit me. It was also where we had hugged as we got ready to say our goodbyes as, 4 nights and 5 days later, I headed off to catch my flight back to Nigeria and she, her bus back to Poland. 


That was the last time I was to see my sister alive and while it still breaks my heart. I am so grateful to God for granting us that time. It took me some time to 'centre' myself by deliberately choosing to 'enjoy' re-living every moment I spent with her. I went to every shop we visited together. I went to every spot in C23 we stood on together and breathed. And smiled. And knew I'd be OK during my course. 
As long as I kept making the right choices. And I did. 
I chose to enjoy learning. I chose to participate fully. To be present. Afterwards, I chose to meet up with friends when normally I'd just curl up in a ball in my hotel room eating and watching TV. And talk about eating I chose to experience the new! Many things I'd have shunned before, I ate. Mussels! Sushi! Ceviche! I tried them all! Because you only live once! And I want to live my 'once' loudly.


To live loud, the first person you must treat good is you. Because you can't give out of an empty bucket. So, I chose to forget about everything and everyone that sought to steal my peace and focused on treating 'me' good. For me and equally important, in honour of Sholly. 
Lesson 1: Daily, we face situations or memories that seek to steal our joie de vivre. We face people that seek to keep us in our past. Beholden to our old selves. No. We must choose to not let them. And making this choice is something that you must do yourself. No one can choose life for you. It's your call. And you don't have to wait for anybody's permission.


To Choose Your 'Now', Letting Go is By Force

I left Nigeria deeply troubled. For reasons separate from Sholly and the dilemma of going or not going to Poland. 

I just felt broken-hearted as the scenes of my recent reality played over and over in my head. Being a wife and a mom to young adults can be so crushing sometimes. I cried part of the way; then watched 'Hidden Figures' and 'The Fence' till I got to my destination. Already shared how I got through the first day but do you know what I did to make sure I was not distracted in class?

I chose me. Yep. I packed all the issues, put them in a box, tied a pretty bow over it and tucked it away. You know, like men do. The only time I brought that box out was during any of the Hallelujah Challenges I was able to join. I handed my loved ones over to my PapaGod. You know why? Because I can't come and go and kill myself away! 


Lesson 2: I am a mom. True, I have some super powers but still, I'm not God. I am a wife and while it's true that the neck turns the head. Turning the head is sometimes not enough. The head needs a reset. The kind that comes from God. So, I have learned to take deep breathes and leave people to God. Let them make their own relationship beds. Pray over them as they struggle over the sheets and fluff their own pillows. Then step back. Bottom line? Sometimes, the most powerful thing you can do for a loved one is entrust them to  God.

To be continued❤️

P.S  I love these photos and dedicate this blog to these three ladies and all my course co-participants❤️. Thank you all for helping me create new memories. 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Being 49

Salt in Yellow and Blue.
One of my birthday presents.
Thank you Debbie Akindele-Ojo!

First of all, Thank You, to every single person that wished me well, sent me prayers and bought me presents on my birthday. You don't know what you did for me. 

You were all part of a Sholly-led universal conspiracy. It is clear to me. The sad thoughts didn't stand a chance that May 26th morning when my My MGM and the children stormed our bedroom singing 'Happy Birthday' and thrusting cards and a cake in my sleepy face. It just set the tone for the day. I appreciate you all a whole lot and I am confident God will bless you all for me.

I think it was my first born son that asked me first. "So Mommy, how do you feel being 49?"

Honestly, many emotions have coursed through me these past few days but I have to confess that my first emotion was pain. The pain of loss. I feel it. I won't lie. Searing pain that makes me gasp each time it hits me. Three of the four people that made up my family till I was in my twenties have gone home to be with Jesus Christ. Never in my dreams did I foresee this and it hurts. But who does? It's there underneath all of my joyful gratitude. But my joy and my gratitude trump the pain of my loss. I thank God for that. His joy in me is bigger. Glory be to God because I know that can only be the work of God's Spirit working on me.

Gratitude. When I travel back over my life and think about the many blessings, near misses, misses, the highs, the lows and the outright blunders I have experienced and or survived. How, in spite of my many inspitables, God has continued to arrange the lines pleasantly around me, I just lay flat on the ground in gratitude and humble adoration to a God who loves me unconditionally. When I look around at the people that have made up the PeoplePillar around me through the different seasons of my life. I know that, for real, God has truly done me well. 
People sent me so many pictures of yellow roses. I loved that!
I have lived ten more years than my own mother got to live. My Sholly was just 36. I get to see my 49th year. Who am I that God has my time like this? There is nothing in me that makes me better than mom and Sholly. It's just God's Grace. I must appreciate this Grace. This is why I'm determined to let God know that the extra time he's given me will bring him returns. Plenty returns. And I'm determined to prove it to him one day, one action, one person at a time. 

Mindfulness. That's the next thing I'm feeling. More mindful of my time, my thoughts, my actions and most importantly the people I allow into my mind space. Every day, my simple prayer will be: "Papa, please bring only your will my way today. And please give me the discernment to distinguish it from all the noise around me". If the thought comes or the word is spoken or the person acts and my spirit tells me it's not part of God's will for my day? Salt is not home. Mute. Erase. Delete. Blank. Them. Period. 

God is intentional about all he does. I want to be like him. I don't want to wait till I'm 50 to start living my life. I want to begin now. Right this moment. One intentional day at a time. So help me God. 

And Dear One reading this, regardless of your current age, your time to live is NOW too. 

I'm re-reading Omilola Oshikoya's 'The Richer Woman' and along with my Bible and a good Bible Reading Plan, I think I'm in a good place to start living my best, richer 49 year old life now. 

Are you coming with me? 

Let's live Loud. Laugh hard. Let our Love be a verb. And yes, let's be Yellow😊🌻

Remember, from the moment we are born, we begin to die. So, make haste while you've got time. 

This birthday photo got my laughing out loud!
Sholly would have loved this too!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

My First Birthday

Something really strange happened today. 

I was going out of my building to attend a meeting. As I got out of the elevator, I looked down at my phone and froze. I had somehow started making a call. It was to Mrs. Gaska. My phone was calling Sholly. 

I didn’t even know what to feel. So I chose to feel good; I chose to believe that it meant she was thinking about me. I could not resist it. I called her number back and I got her voice message. ‘This is Shola; you know what to do after the beep”

I called back over and over even though I know it made no sense but it just felt good. I wondered how come her phone was still on, charged and able to receive calls.  I decided to stop thinking about that and just let it go. I chose, instead, to take it all as a good thing.  I could have let my mind go in so many ways but I chose to make it go towards positive thoughts of how this could only be a good sign. Abi?

I chose to just take it that my sister was thinking of me.  The way she was thinking of me when she wrote this birthday message to me back then in 2014.  






They must be proud of you. We all are.





Shine on, baby”

Even the way she typed messages brimmed over with life! All in caps! Who does that? My Sister, that's who! Larger than life herself. Oh Sholly! 

I had other messages from you in my Facebook inbox but all those are gone now. Thank God for this one you sent to me via Yahoo mail. Thank God. And I know I will still find that handwritten one that is even older than this one. Thank you Sholly. I have no words to express how much I miss you. But I promise; I am trying to shine on as best I can. I am trying to live my life loud in your honour and to the glory of God! I am trying to do legacy-enhancing things in your name. I am trying to be present for those that matter to me. I am trying....and I will may struggle sometimes, but I will not quit.

Bliss on my AburoChild. I will save some cake for you. Say hello to Mom and Prof for me. And Uncle Abiye. And Daddy. And Pastor Eskor if you have met him. 

No, don't worry, don't mind my tears. I have joy.

I am happy. How can I not be? I get to be 49 years old tomorrow!

What a wonderful privilege! What a testimony! 

Yes, a huge testimony of God's relentless love.

Happy Almost Birthday to me!

Glory to be to God!

Forever in my heart. My ShollyBabes. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Thank You Sholly

I've been writing this blog for weeks but all in my head. But it sort of makes sense that I'm finally posting it today. Mother's Day.  

It's just me thanking Sholly for everything I've learned, started doing,  and become since she's been gone. Because she's gone. 

In church today I was struck by the fact that it's been only five months. I feel like it's been a lifetime. And sitting there I just felt overwhelmed again. And with that feeling came this heavy cloud of sadness having to deal with my first ever Mother's Day without having Sholly to call. 

But blogging, writing has always been my "Go to" when I feel the way I'm feeling. Out of sorts. Scared. Confused. Sad. Angry. It's funny though because I had the best day ever yesterday. Starting with my time with the women at the well and rounding off with family time at a family wedding. So I was feeling so thankful but somewhere something shifted and refused to shift so I'm popping a 'blog pill' to pick up my mood. 

Yes, cos life is too short to be blue. That's one of the chief things Sholly has taught  me. Sure, life is a female dog sometimes but when I remember that every moment spent in any negative head space can't be bought back; when it hits me I'm wasting precious time my sister no longer has...... God uses it to help me re-jig my brain settings. I jump back into positive mode. I must. And you must too. Trust me, depression is from the devil. They even both start with 'D'. Thank you Sholly. 

Second thing Sholly has given me is another platform via which I can truly be Salt - The Sholly Adefolalu Gaska Foundation. I was just reading Omilola Oshikoya's The Richer Woman and she talks about how God uses broken vessels to bring forth beautiful things. There is no doubt, I'm a broken vessel. Becoming Salt was the outcome of being smashed to bits by life years ago but Sholly's death? It's been breaking on another level but as bad as the pain is it feels better every time her Foundation touches a life; creates a smile. Like her smile. Thank you so much Aburo. Thank you.

Holding on to hurt is a waste of my head and heart space. I won't do it. Letting people go is something else I'm doing better. Faster too. Because I am not guaranteed my next breathe. Sholly was here on December 24. December 28? Gone. Just like that. I believe she was ready. I want to be too. Ah no, I've run my Christian race too long to miss heaven because of some quarrel or misunderstanding over a matter that probably won't matter on my deathbed. That vex you are vexing? Think about it. Will it really matter if you found out you had one day to live? Or that the other person was dying?

Finally, Shola has taught me to stop trying to justify myself before man. It's not 'wert' it. It won't work. In 12 days, I'll be 49. Wow! I lived 10 whole years longer than my own mom. Thank God because not only will I outlive her I shall also refuse to do what she did. I shall refuse to let the thoughts of man send me to an early grave. Sholly, while 12 years younger than me was so wise. She would say: 

"Bola, You raised me. You are raising three great kids. If God's not pleased. Let Him tell you. Because He's your Boss. No one else".

And there you have the last reason why I'm thanking Sholly. She was my forever Cheerleader. Even when I shared my deepest, darkest secrets, she never judged me. Now, I know why. Clearly, God hired her for me. Because He knew that apart from teaching my Young 12 year old heart to love, she would also teach my 48 year old heart to live. Not just beat. 

Thank you Sholly. I miss you more than words can describe.

Still, thank you Aburo Mi Owon.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Meeting Olaoluwa, The Wise

I met Olaoluwa a little over two weeks ago and in the one hour we sat together, he taught me so much.

He showed me how much like my Papa, my Prof I had become. I clearly have the same mannerisms as my Papa around people like Olaloluwa. I even sang the same songs bringing them from somewhere very deep in my being. Places I did not even know still existed. Memories from way back, listening to my Papa sing the same songs and move the same moves, swaying back and forth. I was stunned for one is never conscious of what one is picking up from ones’ parents. It made me wonder what mannerisms, what songs, idiosyncrasies my own children are unconsciously picking up from me.

Then Olaoluwa yawned. 

No, it was not that I was a boring guest but yawn is what you do some times. Right? Looking straight at me, he yawned and instinctively, I made a clucking sound with my tongue because of all the times I had seen Nana do the same thing when she was around people like Olaoluwa who yawned in your face. Again, I smiled to myself. There is some Nana in me too. Nana is my mother-in-love by the way and clucking at yawns, blowing gently on foreheads to still coughs were things I saw her do many times. I did them too over the years and on this day, I found myself doing them in Olaoluwa’s presence.

We are products of every nurturer we have had. 

Not just parents to be honest. In small, invisible yet powerful ways we are the sum total of all those who, at some time or the other were present during our growing up years. I am the sum total of all those who had nourished me or mine and so are you. I said a silent prayer that God should please fix it that someday, my daughter too would be somewhere doing or saying something and then catch herself because, right there, in that moment, she had just seen me in her. In a good way; a way that would make her smile like I was smiling. As I realised that I was behaving more or less the same way Nana used to behave. Doing stuff that I used to laugh at wondering how on earth people could believe these things! Lol!

My conversation with Olaoluwa was rich and meaningful. 

I did most of the talking and he was quite patient with me. Listening as I spoke to his mother through him.  Just like Nana used to do. At some point, Olaoluwa’s Papa was in the room and I asked him, quite silly a question, if he knew who that was? Clearly, he did. But he humoured me as only the wise do. Allowing me to ask questions and answer them myself. Once in a while, actually seven times in all, he would bless me with a smile.

Even typing this I remember how I felt leaving Olaoluwa’s home that afternoon. I felt rich and alive. I, this woman knocking on the door of fifty had just been taught by a five week old baby how important it is to live worthy of emulation at all times. I know this seems like an odd near silly post but don’t miss the point.

You see, whether we like it or not, we are passing on some of us into our children. It’s not even something we can stop because it just happens. So I guess perhaps the prayer is that God should help all parents (social or biological and spiritual) so that whatever is passing down from us to our progeny does not result in them having to bare their souls to a Shrink or seek deliverance later on in their lives.

I am just saying.

Olaoluwa taught me this and he might just be five weeks old but I think he is on to something here.

You and I are the sum total of all our parents and our children will be the sum total of us.

Think about it for a moment.

Olaoluwa, The Wise, Salt & Arike, mother of The Wise

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