Love

Living in the Knowledge of the Love of God

If I understand that God loves me very much, what should that knowledge achieve in me?

When we loudly and emotionally croon songs like “Jesus loves me, this I know” or “Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God…,” what does that really mean to us? What should a revelation of the love of Christ accomplish in us?

These are the questions that this post will address.

However, before we get into it, let’s attempt to describe the nature and vastness of the love that God has for us.

The Volume and Quality of God’s Love

“…I also pray that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation. This way, with all of God’s people you will be able to understand how wide, long, high, and deep his love is. You will know Christ’s love, which goes far beyond any knowledge. I am praying this so that you may be completely filled with God.” ‬

Ephesians‬ ‭3‬:‭17‬B-19‬ ‭God’s Word Translation*

“Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children…” ‬‬

1 John‬ ‭3‬:‭1‬A The Passion Translation*

“See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!”

1 John‬ ‭3‬:‭1‬A Amplified Bible*

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” ‬‬

Jeremiah‬ ‭31‬:‭3‬ ‭New International Version*

If you wish to think about the kind of love God that God has for you, I would like you to think about it in these terms:

  • very much love, love of great magnitude 
  • Incredible love, extravagant love 
  • Deep love, vast love, high love
  • Everlasting love, endless love
  • Constant love, unfailing love
  • Astonishing love
  • Deeply intimate love, 
  • Far-reaching love
  • Enduring love
  • Inclusive love 
  • A love that is beyond measure 
  • A love that transcends understanding

Think for a minute about each of these descriptions. Understand that I didn’t coin any of these. They are all from different translations of the Bible. They are all there. So, this isn’t me trying to make you feel good about yourself. This is simply showing you the truth about God’s disposition towards you.

He loves you.

God loves you incredibly, extravagantly and beyond human understanding.

If you accept his love, then you can experience its value.

If you will like to accepting God’s love today, you can start by saying this prayer: “Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus to die for my wrongs so that I can be forgiven, changed and be brought into close relationship with you. Today, I accept your love. Please be the Lord of my life from today henceforth in Jesus’ name, Amen!”

The Value of God’s Love 

I was reading about how money currencies as well as gold are valued based on a number of factors that bounce off the dynamics of demand and supply. Gold, for example, is seen to be highly valuable because of investors’ need across the globe to hedge their currencies against inflation, and the amount of gold that is available mostly in central bank reserves; coupled with the fact that we are all pretty fascinated by the metal’s beauty and durability. Perceived worth.

Similarly, God demonstrated his love for us by sending his son Jesus to die in our stead, so that Jesus would take the punishment for our wrongdoings.

God paid a high price for our freedom, for the freedom of everyone who accepts His love. The cost of our redemption was the life of another – the life of Jesus. A great price indeed. The good news is that Jesus rose from the dead; and now, he is alive forever so that we can be friends with him and God.

Everyone who accepts God’s love, just like gold, is a person of great worth, a precious and treasured person.

To accept the love of Christ means to see yourself through the lens of the value that God places on you.

  1. Free from Guilt: If you have confessed your wrongs to Jesus, you need to let go of the feelings of guilt and self-condemnation. If God has forgiven you, you must consider yourself forgiven. You must forgive yourself also. 1 Jn 1:9 reads, “God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong.” To live in the knowledge of God’s love is to see yourself as forgiven and to get rid of any feeling of guilt and shame. God and his Holy Spirit draws you to repentance and a change of lifestyle. The devil and his lying spirit calls you to a life of continually beating yourself up about your sins, seeing yourself as irredeemable and hopeless. Know the difference, and choose to only listen to God’s voice in your head/mind.
  2. Free from Self-Pity: The knowledge of God’s love reveals hope to you. It makes you understand that your tomorrow will be much better and far more enjoyable than your present. It shows you a future of possibilities. It restores the spring to your steps and a vitality to your efforts. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says that “Eyes have not seen, ears have not heart, minds have not imagined what things the Lord has prepared for those who love him.” (paraphrased). The devil makes you to feel despair, misery and self-pity. But now you know better. Do not yield to self-pity. Choose hope and joy!
  3. Free from Self-Hate: One day I was scrolling through Instagram and I stumbled on this influencer who had millions of followers. I scrolled through her page – her followers loved her for reasons I couldn’t fathom. Their engagement and fascination with her were palpable. And in that moment, I didn’t care much about the brands and products that she represents. I too hit the Follow button. I gave in to the perceived value. I was probably drawn in by her sunshine personality and community. Think about it for a minute. God loves you incredibly, overwhelmingly and everlastingly. Evidently, there is something to love about you! And yet, you hate yourself? You detest your personality, your body, your achievements? Seriously? One major thing that the knowledge of God’s love will do for you is that it will open your eyes to your worth which is a perceived worth on the basis of God’s love for you. In other words, God’s glory beautifies your life. God loves you, therefore you are lovable. Don’t get me wrong, it is okay not to like one thing or another about oneself. For example, you may not like your job and therefore can be working to change it. Or you may not like the acne on your face and can be working to get rid of it. But this point is referring to a fundamental and deep-seated loathing of oneself. I can tell you that self-hate is definitely of the devil. I pray that you will accept the love of God today and stop listening to the lies of the devil. The thought that makes you to cut yourself and purposely inflict self injury, even if as a penance for wrongdoing, is not from God. Do not listen to it. The voice that tells you to throw in the towel and choose suicide is the lying voice of the devil; do not listen to it. Instead, choose to love the life you have and everything that you have been blessed with. Choose the future that God has designed for you – a brilliant and enjoyable tomorrow. No matter how bleak the future seems right now, I want to assure you that the dawn will break.
  4. Free from Settling: You are priceless, you are valuable, a person of great worth. An understanding of God’s love will empower you to choose things of worth for yourself. For example, some people settle in an abusive relationship simply because they are afraid of being alone; and that is settling. Choosing to indulge unhealthily in junk food, shopping spree, recreational drugs or other habits simply to numb a feeling is settling. Cutting corners rather than facing one’s career/relationship/social goals is settling. Staying complacently in an undeserving job while passion/skill calls you to something more is settling. A knowledge of God’s love empowers us to drive around the corner from settling into the estate of settlement and enlargement. God’s love says, “Come on hither. Come on girl, come on boy, there’s more! Keep climbing, keep reaching. There’s treasure after this point. It’s all you’ve ever dreamed of. Come on. Come on!”

Likewise, we have been freed from fears (as perfect love casts away fears); self-righteousness (as we are made right with God only on the basis of his grace). The list goes on and on. It is such a blessing to live in the love of God!

Today, I pray that our eyes will become open to the deep, wide, vast and high love of Christ for us; that he will give each of us a revelational knowledge of God’s love so that we can be completely filled with God! 🙂

I pray that instead of guilt, we will see ourselves as forgiven and loved. Instead of hate, we will love ourselves and others deeply and wholly. Instead of self-pity, we will be filled with joy and hope. And instead of settling, we would dare to become all that He has destined us to be.

Cheers, my friend, to love and freedom.

Question: Apart from the points listed above, what else do you consider yourself freed from, as a beloved of God?

* Emphasis are mine.

Love

This Is My Life… And I Love It!

A post about self-acceptance.
This is my life.
This, right here, is my life. And that’s okay.
This place I am in, in this moment, is my life; and I am loving it!
I know. I know it may not be everything I thought it will be.
I know there are things I wish were different; things I hope will change.
But that’s okay. I love my life.
I know that I expected to be married by now.
But it’s okay. I love this life that I have.
I know that I expected that my kids will be married now.
But for now, I get to enjoy life with just them. And that’s good.
It hurts that we aren’t able to have our own babies yet.
But I am elated that I can be the cool aunt to my friends’ children.
I thought I would have been promoted by the end of this month.
But I like this opportunity that allows me to continue to work on something I am an expert at.
Yea, my classmates have all moved into corporate leadership roles.
I am happy for them. But I like that I am working on my Start-up.
I am disappointed that I haven’t yet secured my dream job.
But I am thankful that I have something that puts food on my table.
See, I have something precious, something golden: Contentment.
And when I sprinkle it over what I have,
Everything becomes more than enough, more than average.
So, when I tell you that I love this life that I have in this moment,
You best believe it!

This is my life, and I love it!

Love

Travelling For Vacation With Our Toddler

Hi Exceller-fam,

Long time no see! Long time, no blogpost!

First, I will like to apologize! If you have been following Excellerblog since January this year, you will remember that I took up a consistency challenge to upload weekly content here on the blog; and it was going quite well. (Click to read the first post of 2022) The challenge has put me on my toes and encouraged me to stay the course.

However!!!

Dear friends, we went on a family trip and I completely lost track of which day of the week or what time of the day it was! The only things that mattered were our itinerary for each day, or if it was dusk yet. Sleep, wake up, and let the fun-cum-adventure continue.

In order to stay true to the intent of the consistency challenge, I am committing to making up the total number of blogposts expected by year-end. And to you my dear readers who have consistently followed Excellerblog from the beginning of the year, do consider this as a formal change request to reset our baseline! 🙂

I thank you for trusting The Exceller Blog for your steady supply of uplifting material. Your exquisite taste rocks! 😉


In this post, I will like to mention from personal experience, some things to bear in mind when next you decide to travel with your toddler.

Before travelling, I consulted a few videos and articles from credible websites. All that information was useful to prepare me, but the actual experience was a whole 9 yards, hahah.

Life is a gift, love is a treasure, and so is family.

I hope that these tips below will provide some value or reminder for any parent out there.

  1. Long trips are BORING: I would say that any flight or car ride that is longer than 1 hour IS typically a long trip for a toddler. Prepare to mitigate/manage the boredom. I brought one of our child’s favourite books in our carry-on luggage. I turned on the airplane TV screen and enabled kids-only content. I also ensured that my phone was adequately powered so that we could have some mobile toddler games on stand-by. I alternated between these forms of engagement throughout the flight period. Most importantly, we must thank the Lord for that pretty thing known as sleep. It shortened the trip more than anything else could; plus, it gives parents some time to catch up on new releases while their little one nods off!
  1. Pack a Sack of Snacks: I hope you didn’t miss the rhyme. 😉 Snacks are life-savers! I packed a variety alongside other items for the road. In addition, after we arrived at our destination, we did a grocery stop to stock up. I would take a bunch of the snacks in our toddler’s back-pack as we went on our daily vacation activities. This is very necessary because the snacks help to fill the child’s stomach and to keep their energy up while the entire family enjoys themselves. In addition, sometimes the new environment may affect your child’s appetite and turn them off a few of their usual. But if you have a snack-pack, your young one will be sure to have something to nibble on which could sustain them until you find a proper meal which they will accept.
  1. Keep your child safe and in sight ALL the time: Toddlers are active beings. They have only recently discovered the use of their limbs at infancy, and they will not hesitate to move at the slightest side-attraction. They want the liberty to explore their environment and check out new things by themselves. However, their inherent sense of self-preservation and ability to differentiate safe from unsafe conditions are highly inadequate. They need an adult guardian (us) to do the job of ensuring they are safe ALL the time. For us, we travelled with a lightweight stroller. Our boy agreed to sit on the stroller many times but very often, he would get tired of it and demand that we get him out of it. He wanted his liberty to move about at will. Lol!!! At the airport, I saw a toddler tethered to his dad by a curly leash and I almost lost it with laughter. The sight was so funny but I thought to myself, “Well deserving for these little humans!”
  1. Remember the hygiene essentials: I am sure that every parent would typically remember this point, but indulge me as I remind you. Please carry along the essentials like a change of clothes, diapers, moisturizing cream and wipes if your child still requires them. You will find a comprehensive list of items to pack for your child’s use while on the plane on the Government of Canada website. Nothing can disrupt your vacation itinerary like not having the essentials to manage the situation when an accident happens. I went out every vacation day with a fully “equipped” backpack. I probably felt like I was a part of a Brigade chanting “Be prepared!”
  1. Carry a water-bottle: From a travel-preparation video that I watched on YouTube before travelling, I got the idea to go with an empty water-bottle while checking in at the airport. Then, as we set out each day to see sights and participate in fun activities, I filled the bottle and took it along, mostly for our toddler. It was helpful on countless occasions. The one evening when I didn’t have any more water when he needed some turned out to be my least favourite train ride. Our child was cranky, I was uncomfortable and I couldn’t wait for the ride to be over.
  1. Take along necessary medication: I took along some over-the-counter pain relief medication and menthol balm in my handbag. Of course, required medication should be provided for all members of the family including the child(ren). Remember to include any other prescribed medication being taken by members of your household at the time of your travel.
  1. Stay flexible: Be prepared to move things around in your plan to accommodate your young one. Remember that it is their vacation as much as it is yours. Their attention span is not as long as an adult’s. Their energy and endurance level are not the same as yours. What you find interesting, such as the history of a building/place/piece or the quality of building material may not appeal to them at all. Therefore, extend grace to your child. Monitor their body language to identify when they need to retire. Also, like we sometimes did, you could engage your child with games or music while you focus your attention on what interests you.
  1. Make up your mind to enjoy yourselves: This was one of the most important decisions we made! That whether we find our regular fave restaurants or not; whether we were exhausted from all the sights and sounds and new experiences, we were going to enjoy it all. And that is exactly what we did! We soaked it all in. Wasn’t that the purpose of travelling in the first place? We took lots of pictures so much so that at the end of the vacation, our son would happily shout, “Cheeeeese!” whenever everyone was together and there was a phone at hand. Life is a gift, love is a treasure, and so is family.

I absolutely enjoyed vacationing with our toddler! My husband and I have gone on a few trips on our own in the past; but I can tell you that this one was far more interesting, and for reasons other than the location of the vacation or the activities carried out.

Can you think of any other note-worthy tip for travelling with toddlers?

Hope, Love

“They Must Make Me Happy”… Or Not.

Could we love our loved ones enough to relieve them of the impossible task of always keeping us happy?

Only two persons have the collective ability to ensure our consistent happiness in life and those two person are God and you.

No one else. Not your spouse, parent, child, friend, boss, no one else. Just you and God working together.

Why are our loved ones, even with all their good intentions unable to ensure our sustained happiness?

Because they are humans

  • Humans are characteristically limited in their access to resources. (We don’t have everything we want!) 
  • Humans have limited skills. (We just cannot do everything we wish we could.)
  • Humans have limited ability to focus. (We cannot pay equal attention to EVERYthing we need to, at the same time hence the need to delegate.)
  • Humans have limited access to location. (We just cannot be everywhere we wish we could, at the same time.)
  • Sometimes, humans may have limited interest in meeting a person’s happiness-need. 😒

See? Limited. [I am making a case for your loved ones here. 😁] It is my hope that this understanding will make us less entitled and more thankful whenever our relatives or friends do their best to show us love/kindness.

Why is God capable of ensuring our continuous happiness?

  • God has unlimited access to resources. Why, he created the whole world! The cattle on a thousand hills, the gold in a thousand mines belong to him. Think about it.
  • God is limitlessly skillful and completely capable. Think about the science and art He employed in designing the human body, the yearly seasons, the solar system, the earth, sky and seas. Think about the balance in them all. God can make the seemingly impossible possible.
  • God can be everywhere at the same time. He is omnipresent.
  • God absolutely has your interest at heart. For more on this, check out my previous post.

Is it possible for someone to remain unhappy even though God is actively working to make them happy?

Yes, it is!

This is because God does not impose his will on people.

We have to intentionally open our eyes to the beauty around us and the million little miracles we experience regularly. We have to close our minds to the schemes of the devil to magnify the ugly and to make us think that a corner on our path is the destination. We may also need to let go of the offences from our loved ones and acquaintances.

We have to choose to be happy.

It is like Cody’s father in one of Cocomelon’s episodes sang to him, “You can make your own happiness.”

You can make your own happiness.

We all need to intentionally partner with God to ensure that we are constantly in a state of bliss.

Moreover, this is a command to us Christians. We are charged to walk in the Spirit, and one of the fruit of the Spirit is Joy. Galatians 5: 16-26

It is interesting that the Bible calls it “Joy” and not merely happiness. Joy is deeper than happiness.

Happiness is reactive, it tends to depend on our circumstances and experiences.

Joy is inherent, we can be joyful no matter where we are. Joy is sourced and sustained by the power of God’s spirit working in us. He comforts us when trouble comes. He opens our eyes to the miracles. He steers the people in our lives to take actions that would brighten our day. He gives us hope when things are not quite where we want it. He makes us happy!

The two persons who can ensure our continuous happiness – our joy – are God and we ourselves.

Periodt!

On the flip side of that coin. ☺️

Most of us have, at one time or another, met people who are simply impossible to please; people who you may go out of your way to do all you can to make them happy, but all to no avail.

Here is my word of encouragement, if you ever face such situation:

It is not you. 

“It is not you, it is them.”

See, people are at different stages in their lives. Some are dealing with depression, some are intrinsically negative, some are facing a hard time. They need to heal. They need to get the help they need from God and maybe professionals. And may take some time for the healing and deliverance to be completed. Please remember these and be kind to yourself.

Do we have any responsibility to those in our lives?

Yes, we have a role to play in the lives of our relations, friends, community and even strangers – everyone we are privileged to have in our lives. 1 John 3:18

  • The Bible exhorts us to gently lift those who are down, while paying attention not to get dragged down ourselves in the process. Galatians 6:1
  • We are enjoined to carry others’ burden, to lend a helping hand. Gal 6:2
  • We are encouraged to continually do good to others. But it also says we will reap the result at the proper time. Galatians 6:9 

While we play our part of doing good, there are two things we must do in order to preserve ourselves.

1. Keep in mind that you are human and God is… God: As explained earlier, we as humans are limited. Only God is sovereign. We should do our best to help others, and remember to leave the rest to God. This in itself is an act of faith.

Do your best and leave the rest.

2. Get rid of feelings of guilt: If you are doing all you can, please do not accommodate feelings of guilt if the person is not yet where you want them to be. From personal experience, I can tell how tempting it is to wonder. “Oh, is this my fault in any little way?” I have also learnt to squash that thought. 🧡

Do all the good you can, recommend any help they require and leave them in God’s capable hands in the hope that they will cooperate with Him to secure their joy.

Cheers to joyful living! 🥂

Love

Happy Second Birthday, Son!

A reflective piece I wrote to my child a few weeks after his second birthday.

Hey man! 💚💙💚💙

You bring joy to my life

And I love who you are

No one can compare to you

And that’s why you’re a star

I know that you’ll never change

And I’ll be proud of your name

Cos I’m your #1 fan.

Canton Jones – Number One Fan

NOT me dedicating the song Canton Jones wrote unto the Lord to YOU, my darling child!!!  😃😃

But honestly, those lines reflect how we feel about being your parents every single day.

It feels just like yesterday when I wrote about the journey from pregnancy to your 1st birthday and here we are!!!

God is so kind!

I am so thankful that we get the privilege to care for you in this way.

The past year has been a roller-coaster of experiences – from starting to walk to learning to kick a ball; from learning your first words to loudly breaking into a preschool rhyme or a worship song you probably only heard once!

It’s been filled with seasons when you ate everything we offered you with independence AND seasons when you refused to eat many of them.

It’s been unexpected loving hugs, high-fives and occasional playful shoves.

It’s also been filled with the exciting game of building blocks, scattering them and finding it super hilarious.

It’s been so much more than I can pen on these pages.

My heart is full and bursting at its seams.

I am thankful.

I am thankful that we have you in our lives.

Cheers to the next year of your life, son. 🥂

We will dance in the rain, play in the snow and bask in the sunlight, under God’s watchful eyes.

Love

Love Is. (Mother’s Day Edition)

“You never know how much you are capable of loving until you become a mother.”

excellerblog

I read Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood at a young, “innocent” age of 14. It was a required read for my Literature class that year. But I tell you, nothing prepared me for the trainwreck and rude shock that the book was (in a most positive way 😉). It was not like any book I had read before then – and I had read quite a few! It is not your usual feel-good or happy-ending kind. The story is raw, brutal, and realistic (depending on your perception). Buchi was a very talented writer; I love her style and her books!

The Joys of Motherhood tells the story of one of the noblest callings in life – motherhood. It addresses fertility/ childlessness; childbirth; the all-consuming need of a mother to hustle and fend for her children; the struggle to live up to society’s ridiculous expectations of mothers; and the seeming unrewarding task of giving one’s all to raise children.

Nnu Ego, the protagonist in the book gave her all to her children (her family) all through her life, never got to reap the fruit of her labour AT ALL, until she died from her labour while trying to meet the needs of her kids (she died by the roadside!) And even at death, she knew no rest because those whom Nnu Ego had left behind continued to burden her with their requests for children, and curse her when their prayers were yet unmet.

Exhausting!

I remember finishing the book and feeling rather… exhausted on Nnu Ego’s behalf! Lol I felt deep compassion for Nnu Ego. I was really hoping that she would have a happy ending. I wanted her kids to grow rich, buy her a fully equipped mansion so that she will sit cross-legged beside a beach, sipping some cocktail with her greying hair and frail arms, feeling deeply satisfied that it was all worth it – the journey of motherhood.

Oh well.

This was a major build-up, but as we celebrate Mother’s Day 2022, I would like to talk about this most-honourable role – the role of being a mother.

I would like to appreciate everyone, including myself, who nurtures life.

  • Maybe you have biological children. 
  • Maybe you bore another human inside your body for close to a year!
  • Maybe life happened, and some younger ones were thrust in your care.
  • Maybe you are a teacher who oversees and grows the minds of the next generation.
  • Maybe you are a man who for some reason, has to play the role of both father and mother.

I would like to remind you what MVP you really are.

I ask you to accept the hearty cheer, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

Love Is Sacrificial:

You know the extent of giving that this role of motherhood has demanded from you. You know how it seems to ask for all that you have – your wide range of emotions, your presence, strength, creativity, time, resources. You see how you have continued to give, how you didn’t think there was anything more on your inside, yet, when the situation called for it, you rose to the occasion. You see it. You see how your sleep was often interrupted, how you could never actually go to bed until someone was tucked in AND checked on. You didn’t know how capable of multi-tasking you were until you had to watch someone, listen to them, make a meal for them and feed them AT THE SAME TIME. You took these jobs because you wanted to ensure that you had the means to cater to their needs. You didn’t take those jobs because you wanted to be present for the children. You didn’t know you had so much wisdom until you had to guide their way. You didn’t know you could pray so long and passionately until you had to pray for your children. You easily gave your all for them, and you still do. You gladly want them to break every glass ceiling you couldn’t. You want the absolute best for them.

Kudos to you, MVP. That thing that stretches the cords of your heart every day, that makes these sacrifices become like routine to you… is called LOVE. Need I say, You are a superstar!

Love is Rewarding:

The Joys of Motherhood is a great novel. I have read it a number of times and I will love to read it again. But here is the thing: Motherhood – the role of nurturing a young(er) life is one VERY rewarding job. And you will agree with me. You know you will. How else will you explain the loud laughter that bubbles from your inside at something your little one said or did? How can you explain the deep satisfaction you experience from seeing them grow older? What about the deep rewards you get from experiences MOMENTS? Those little things that happen during your day that make you feel so grateful and privileged that you are able to care for another life. See that’s the thing. We do not need to wait till a child is older and successful before we can count our blessings – the moments are precious, they are golden, and they are worth the journey.

AND if you are a person like me whose has faith in God, I hope you know that you WILL “enjoy the fruit of your labour” because God will ensure it. God will watch over the children in your care, He will amplify your efforts at raising the children, teach them and settle them in life. And God will reward you for giving your best to nurture His creation.

Feel free to join me in dreaming about luscious rewards that include still waters, green pastures, a table loaded with edible goodies, and vitality in our bones. Dream of rewards in the form of God-fearing, thoughtful and honourable prodigies. Expect these because they WILL come. From the Good Shepherd.

I will add one last point that I heard in church today, which is related to something I am learning recently. 

Love is Doing Your All and Letting Go:

Love is handing our loved ones over to God, after we have done all our responsibilities to them. So, while carrying out our motherly duties, we intentionally commit the children to God. He made them. He loves them more than we do. He can lead them to a glorious future. Love is not imposing our personal dreams on the children gifted to us, but allowing them to flourish in God’s hand.

To every nurturer of life, I hope that you took some time this weekend to celebrate yourself. If you didn’t get the chance, I hope you get to do so in this new week. 🌹

Love

Valentine’s Special – My Firsts for God

Happy Valentine’s season, friends!!! 💜💛♥️

I was listening to my audio bible last Tuesday when I found something very interesting and instructive. God told His people in Exodus 13:2, “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.”

The first.

To consecrate something means to dedicate it to God, to make it special. As I meditated on this verse, it occurred to me the significance of making a first thing special to God. Do you remember what Proverbs 3:9 says? “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.”

Dedicating a first to God is both a form of worship and a show of love.

Dedicating a first to God is both an act of worship and a show of love.

Now, this is the season of love. It’s almost Valentine’s Day, friends. And you all know how much importance we generally attached to firsts. 😊

“The first time we met…” 😻

“The first time she said my name, …” 🥺

“The first time I met his family…”

As if the first would determine the trajectory of the rest. But won’t it?

I remember the first time @TheMrBen and I really talked. 😊 We had only met the previous day when he joined our work unit; and the following day, our shift was to oversee the production plant. Folks, we talked that night. If you know either of us personally, you will agree that none of us are typically talkative. 😃 But gurl, we taaaalkked. For several hours. We monitored the unit, drained lines, took samples, did whatever had to be done and came back to continue like there had been no pauses. 

In our minds, we probably thought we were strangers just getting to know each other. I thought I was gleaning ideas from someone who had advanced in the career path I was envisioning. We didn’t know that that night was a spark and that years after, we will be bonded in love under God as husband and wife. 🥰

An amazing first talk it was, wasn’t it?

In this special Valentine piece, I would like to highlight a few firsts we are required as Christians to consistently present to God because we love and honour Him.

The First Affection

Tomorrow, you will probably leave a note by your spouse’s bedside; do a sweet shout-out to your parents/children on social media or send a box of chocolates to that sister in church who you are hoping will get to notice you. 😜 You may even send it to her and her roommates, so it doesn’t seem like you are being too forward. 🤣

All well and good. 👍🏽

The thing is, above anyone else who has a special place in our hearts should be God.

We need to consistently check to ensure that no one becomes more important to us than God. He takes first place. And when we notice anything or anyone taking God’s place, we need to take action and rearrange. And you know what God’s love language is? Obedience to His instructions and His pattern for living.

The beautiful thing is, when we love God first, we love others best!

When we love God first, we love others well.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1

“For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me — the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!” Jeremiah 2:13

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Revelation 2:4

The first minute(s) of the day

Fewer things reflect love and a life of devotion like talking to God in the very first minute when we wake up, in that first conscious breath. The struggle is especially real with the notifications that flood our devices; and the desire to quickly flip through email and social media. But when we say, “Everything else can wait. Thank You Lord for another day. I want it to be a day with You Lord,” it is a beautiful act of worship.

Other firsts that we can dedicate to God include our first hope (not momma, not the weighty bank account), our first loyalty, our first desire and our first (and highest) ambition.

A prayer for my single friends ❤️

I pray that you will not feel pressured by the emphasis on love and relationships in this season. If you desire to be in a loving relationship, I pray that your expectation will come true soonest. And that while you wait, you will not give in to the enticement to settle for less, or yield to a “show of love” that dishonours God and your values. ❤️ I know what it’s like to have days so solo and quiet, you could hear a pin drop. 😬 And I know what it’s like to enjoy one’s space, loving oneself and others immensely. The goal is to rock godly Singlehood while waiting for the next phase. 😉 I pray that in your case as well, the wait will be absolutely worth it. 🏅

Hey, have you listened to Lauren Diagle’s “First”? Beautiful, beautiful worship song. Another theme song on my mind as I wrote this post is William Murphy's "One Pure and Holy Passion." Have a listen if you get the chance.
Love

Christmas @ home away from home!

Merry Christmas fam!!!

I hope that everyone had a beautiful Christmas celebration?! Did you have the opportunity to celebrate this year’s with loved ones at home? I sincerely hope that you were not lonely or separated from family, contrary to your preference?

The Christmas season represents different things to different people. 

For many, Christmas is that season that is filled with colourful lights, glittering indoor and outdoor decorations, giving and receiving of presents, lots of food, cookies and goodies, gifting the less privileged, singing of harmonious carols, spreading of love and loud cheers. 

It is very deserving and not at all surprising that we celebrate the birth of the most influential person who ever lived (Jesus Christ) at the “most wonderful time of the year.” Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the author of the Christian faith and without doubt, the source of the world’s greatest joy and salvation.

Now, Jesus’s birth story is quite a dramatic one, nothing like your typical birth vlog. 😃 As a summary, when Jesus’s mother, Mary was ready to put to bed, they could not find accommodation at any guest house, thanks to a decree made by the then government to conduct a census in the entire Roman world. Everyone was expected to travel back to their hometowns to get counted. 

Anyway, every hotel, AirBnB or inn were booked solid when labour pains kicked in for Mary. She and Joseph were left with no choice than to improvise! They ended up having Baby Jesus in a stable. However, none of that limited how much glory and influence that Jesus had here on earth. 😊 There is no better proof to us all that our future can be much more brighter than our past!

But I digress.

One of the things that I personally associate the Christmas holiday with is HOME – family, reunion, loved ones. Growing up, irrespective of where we had been all year round, as much as possible, we came home to our parents during Christmas. Or we would all travel back home to my parents’ hometown to meet our extended family. And you can picture how much hugs, catch-up stories, good food and love went round. This was Christmas holiday to me! We went back after the break with our love-tanks brimming!

I remember one Christmas, about 10 years ago, when I had to spend it away from home. I was an intern with a petroleum refinery and as you may know, industrial plants do not exactly take Christmas breaks. That kind of nonstrategic downtime could cause the company to lose thousands of dollars by the hour! Therefore, work continued through the holiday. It wasn’t terrible, to be honest; I recall that I was on night-duty that day, haha! And the company sweetened the deal by providing food and drinks for everyone who had to work during the celebrations. I remember feeling a tiny bit excited about the large chunks of chicken and the rather big juice box! I guess you could say that I experienced home away from home with my rice, chicken, fruit juice and the whirring and buzzing of large equipment units.

I recently read about a father who had to book about 5-6 flight tickets in order to be with his daughter during Christmas while she worked – I guess she is an air hostess or part of the crew. How sweet, although a friend of mine argued that they could have opted for the daughter not to work at all during the holiday and thus, save on the money used to purchase those many flight tickets. The thing is, since we do not know the full story nor the back story, I think we can all bask in the sweet sentiment of the father’s sacrifice because any opportunity within reasonable considerations to be with loved ones during this season of great joy is worth grabbing.

My heart goes out to those who, against their choosing, are unable to be with loved ones, spouses, parents/children, siblings or friends. We have had a most dynamic past (few) years since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Travel bans and constantly changing communing restrictions have come up time and again. Some are isolated because of ill-health. Others, because they couldn’t get away from work. And a good number have been bereaved and are experiencing Christmas differently as they grieve the loss.

Regardless of what your particular situation may be, I pray that God blesses you with joy and warmth wherever you are. See, I didn’t quite finish telling that story about Jesus’ birth. That night, while his parents Joseph and Mary sat beside their newborn who was wrapped in swaddle blankets and placed in a make-shift crib, surrounded by grazing livestock and hay, they received some unexpected guests – shepherds from a neighbouring field, whom they had never met before, but who divinely heard about Jesus’s birth and decided to track him down and to pay homage. 

Their visit and conversations warmed Mary’s heart on that first Christmas. It didn’t matter that she was away from home, alone with her husband and baby, far from her relatives and separated from the familiar. Somehow, on that night which was perhaps dark and cold, starry and silent except for intermittent sounds of cattle mooing, crickets chirping, and the bustling of humans in the city yonder; Mary and Joseph found comfort, hope, joy and especially, home.

Special shout out to young families like mine who had to spend Christmas by themselves – two adults with maybe some little child(ren)! How is it going, fam?! Loool! Well, you all can totally relate with Joseph+Mary+Jesus, especially if you have previously been accustomed to large family gatherings at Christmas. For me, I am choosing to look on the brighter side. For instance, in my home, we figured we might as well begin to have and enjoy our unique Christmas experiences which could become Christmas traditions down the road! Lots of possibilities!!!

This is me sending you and yours light, love and cheers! 🎄🌲✨🥰

Merry Christmas once again, and have a most prosperous 2022!!!

Trivia: My best Christmas song this year is “How Many Kings” by Downhere. Deeply meaningful lyrics and oh so melodious singing! 😊

Read the story about Jesus’ birth (the Nativity Story) here Luke 2:1 – 20.

Love

Happy anniversary to us! 😍

SYMPHONY ❤️

This melody to which we dance,

This lovesong scripted by God

Is one that we hear clearly in our hearts.

Our bodies sway of their own volition.

Our feet tap,

Our laughter rings!

The music is sweet 

The sound is full.

It stretches, it’s timeless

It found us, and now we move

To the symphony of our love.

Let’s never stop, my darling!

Let it never end

In this life and beyond!

Happy anniversary to us!!! 💍👩‍❤️‍👨💒❤️🎉

Wow! Another year has so quickly rolled and we’re already marking yet another anniversary! 

They say that time flies when you are enjoying yourself and in many ways, it is true for our time together as husband and wife.

Yet in another sense, it feels acutely and beautifully full with memories, moments and activities – all that we share in this life together. It’s like the painting of a skillful artist – alive and popping with shades, lighting and angles.

Immensely enjoyable!!!

Today, I am thankful our deep-throated and unapologetic laughter.

I celebrate our appreciation for the simple things of life.

I celebrate our big and scary goals.

I celebrate our moments of daring adventures; those times when we push beyond our comfort zone just for the fun of it.

I appreciate how we can pause to “smell the flowers,” to catch our breath.

I appreciate how we team up to love and build our home.

I appreciate how we’re fully reliant on God; how we pray, pray and pray again for the small and big things.

I appreciate how God cares for us with such thoughtfulness and all-encompassing keeping.

I appreciate that our consciences are alive as they are.

And I especially celebrate your signature fried egg recipe – the best there is in the entire Northern hemisphere (and dare I say, the world over! ☺️)

“It’s the everything for me, honey!!!”

So good – this life that we share!

Kizzes! 😚😚😚

Joyeux anniversaire, mon amour!!!

The Lord our God is in our midst.

He is mighty to save.

He rejoices over us with singing.

He quiets us with His love!

This is the symphony of His love for us. xx

Love, That Introvert Christian Girl

The Marriage Requirements List

“Hey Simi, what qualities would you have on your marriage requirements checklist?”

“My what now?” My BFF coughs, sputtering her drink.

I give her a pointed look.

“Wow Ticg, for someone who is mostly reticent, you sure know how to dig out really deep conversations.”

One corner of my lips lifts in a small smile. 🙂

Everyone calls me “Tris” as a short-form for Beatrice while my twin brother Bitrus was dubbed “Truce” by his rather obnoxious friends. 🤨 But somewhere along our very unlikely friendship journey, my best friend decided that I should go by “Ticg“(which she pronounces somewhat like “Tick” by the way) as an acronym for That-Introvert-Christian-Girl. Of course, everyone else kindly refused to adopt that nickname for me, but she stubbornly continues to call me that. So now, it’s kind of our thing. Not that I mind the name anyway; it is everything that I am – I am a christian, I am very introverted and I am a girl. 🤷🏽‍♀️

“Fine! I will humour you.” says Simi.

I notice that the room has gone quiet and that Bitrus, Chuks and Judith are now listening to us. Simi does a slight hair fling, immensely enjoying the attention before proceeding.

“In order of importance, I would like to marry a guy who is God fearing, visionary, TDH, richhhhh and romantic, as in veryyy caring and understanding.”

Vision: As far as your eyes can see in every direction!

God

“TDH?” snickers Chuks.

“Tall, Dark and Handsome” Judith provides.

“Oh, cool. This is getting interesting. 😀 Why don’t you go next, Twinnie?” Bitrus says to me.

I count with my fingers as I think aloud about my expectations;

“My must-haves… The guy must be born again. Spirit filled, He must have good character; it’s very important to me that I see him actually bearing the fruit of the Spirit, being loving, patient with others, kind and at the same time in control of himself…” I pause, “He must have a serious job or business, or at least be willing and ready to work. He must have the same values as I. He must have respect for everyone – he must not be abusive of others but must treat the weak, women, children and poor people with respect.”

All life deserves respect, dignity and compassion.

Anthony douglas

I suddenly realize that I have held everyone’s attention for a few minutes so I grow self-conscious and smile sheepishly, apologizing.

“Sorry guys, I got into my head for a while there.” 🤦🏽‍♀️ 😁

“No, actually that was really good, Tris” Chuks encourages.

The others concur and Simi squeezes my hand affectionately, “Now you make me sound so superficial” she whispers so that only me can hear and I pat her hand to reassure her, “Of course not, Simz. You are one of the deepest people I know.”

“What are your nice-to haves, Beatrice?” Judith urges me on with a quiet, contemplative tone.

“Umm… It would be nice if my man plays an instrument, sings, paints or something” I confide shyly.“Oh, I would love it if he teaches the Word.”

Everyone breaks into a grin and Bitrus gives Chuks a high-five. I do not know what that is about.

“Finally, maybe he could have a nice British accent, have a healthy sense of humour and know how to cook.”

“Preach it sisturr! I like me a brother who can whip together some real meal for his pregnant wife! Simi practically yells.

If you haven’t figured that out, Simi can be extra but I love her just the way she is. We are almost polar opposites. One of us loves being expressive and in the spotlight; the other is rather reserved and mostly observant but we understand each other just as well.

“Pregnant! How did this discussion drift to that direction so quickly?” Chuks shakes his head and we all laugh heartily. Simi and Chuks are usually the life of the party. 

When our laughter dies down, Chuks offers, “I can share now.” 

“Here are my deal-makers. She must be born again, Spirit-filled and must have good character, especially respect and kindness.”

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

The bible

“Only 3 must-haves?” Judith’s question echoes my own surprise.

“You have no idea how hard it is to find those seemingly common qualities altogether in just one person.”

We all take a moment to reflect on Chuks’ statement. 🤔🤔

It is true that Chuks tends to put up a jovial-boy persona but anyone who knows him well knows his deep and unwavering Christian conviction. Chuks and Bitrus are leaders of our youth fellowship.

“Sadly, most people these days chase ephemeral goals and temporary fills. People are addicted, anxious and easily distracted, with only skin-deep beauty or a given number of pack abs. Yet, we lack true compassion and selflessness.” 🙁

He lets out a long sigh and lightly scratches his beard. “Anyway, I have hope. By the consistent work devoted by my buddy Truce,” he slaps Bitrus’ shoulder loudly, “and by reason of these kinds of meaningful conversations, I think better days are just ahead.”

“Amen!” “PreachIt!” “Yeap!” Everyone around the room nod their agreement. 

After a beat, Simi says, “What about your nice-to haves? After you’ve had your say, Judith will share hers and we will end with Truce.”

Chuks responds enthusiastically, “Let’s see… An intelligent woman! Neat – no mouth and body odour. Hardworking. It would be cool if she has long and beautiful hair. 👩🏾 BUT I won’t hold it against anyone who doesn’t, because well, she isn’t her own creator now, is she?”

I love my friends. And I love this space right here. I love that it is a safe space and that we can each express opinions or preferences without judgement. 💜💜

We all turn to Judith as it is her turn.

“What?? 🙄 You guys know that I am never getting married. I’ve told you that like a million times before.” Judith snaps at us. Then she seems to notice our sad eyes and backtracks, “However, if I decide to go hypothetical, my singular dealmaker for a marriage relationship would be integrity.” 😐

Her voice breaks at the end of the sentence as she sniffs and Simi walks across the room and to give her a warm hug. 👐🏽

Integrity: A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches!

Having all grown up together, we witnessed how Judith had to deal with having an absentee father most of her childhood. Her father provided Judith and her mom with the finer things in life including a large mansion in our town and a few sleek cars but sadly, he never lived with them. There were ugly rumours about his other family in the big city. To makes things worse, during her teenage years when Judith and her mom had grown to become a part of the church family here, they learned that her dad had been arrested for insider-trading and had been sentenced to prison. The news shattered them, to say the least. They lost most of their possession after her dad was convicted but thanks to her mom’s hard work and our loving community, they sure have come a long way. Judith did not attend school for a whole term hiding away at home. When she finally resumed, she became this resentful and bitter girl. She still tags along to church and hangs out with us but she told us categorically that she had lost her faith in God’s goodness. We do our best to be just the friends she needs and whenever she starts a conversation, we respond as best we can.

I watch her now as she sniffs again, subtly wiping her eyes and sipping her drink. I smile at her to say, “I understand. It’s going to get better. You are much stronger for it” and she nods in acknowledgement.

Everyone turns to Bitrus to tell us about his marriage requirements list but I peek at Judith for a couple more seconds because I saw something else that others probably missed.

You see, that is one of the perks of being a conscious introvert like myself. There is an adage that goes thus, “The raving eyes see the roaming legs.” In my quietness, I tend to perceive more about my environment than is evidently visible, but I have learned to keep such perceptions hidden within my heart while I bid time like Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus. 

Because I can almost bet you that in those seconds while Judith tells us about her hypothetical, singular dealmaker, she held my brother’s gaze with hope in her eyes.

I am not saying anything 😜 but if you ask me, perhaps MrTruce will be receiving a heavenly vision soon. Perhaps our friend will not stay single forever. 😍 Hopefully, God would heal her heart and join her heart with one of his son’s. 🙏🏽

Never say never, unless God says so!

ExcellerBlog

Bitrus clears his throat, “It’s my turn now, isn’t it?”

“Uh-huh,” Simi responds.

“Heads-up folks! firstly, I have a rather long list.” 😬

“Bring it on!” 💪🏽 Chuks says, good naturedly.

My twin pushes his spectacles further up his nose and starts rattling off with a smile.

“The woman I am trusting God to marry must be a child of God – born again. She must be a committed worker in church. I want someone with whom I can do God’s work like evangelism and mission visits. You know, someone who is interested in fruitful works. She must be reasonably intelligent – basic IQ level. She must be moderately fashion-conscious. She must be generous, even when she has just a little.”

Kindness: She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

“That’s a really tall list, Truce.” Simi points out.

“I know… 😩😩” Bitrus groans, pinching his nose again, “Which is why I need God to either break any idol that I have in my mind, or go back into His factory if such a human is nonexistent yet.” 🤦🏾‍♂️

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. 

proverbs 19:21

“I don’t think that those requirements are unrealistic or impossible.” Judith says meditatively, surprising us all. 😮😲

“Yea?” I ask.

“I mean, isn’t Truce’s favourite Bible quote, “All things that pertain to life and godliness?”

Now we are staring at her like she grew three heads overnight. 😮😲😱

“So, if God feels you need someone with those qualities for doing all He planned for your life, I bet He has already thought to provide it.” Judith finishes.

“Wow! If it isn’t from the mouth of babes and sucklings.” Before Chuks can complete the statement, Judith flings a throw-pillow squarely at his chest and he doubles over laughing hysterically. 😆😆

Bitrus jumps in to complete his part, “My good-to-haves! Equally juicy, I really hope for a curvy woman.”

“Carnal!” Chuks says under his breath but loud enough to be heard. We all laugh at Bitrus’ expense.

“What? Not all of us were designed to prefer beauty model figures like you do.” My twin brother defends his choice. Simi catches me rolling my eyes and punches my arm. 😃

Bitrus continues, “Now where was I? Nicely shaped and preferably dark-skinned. And I will like a spouse who is homely and caring. That’s it from me.” 

“So, a true African beauty.” Chuks concludes.

“Yea, man. That’s exactly it.” They do their signature fist-bump. 👊🏽

“What I am hearing from all of us is that basically, we mostly want a professing, practicing and spiritual Christian.”  Simi says thoughtfully. “Because, a practicing Christian would be respectful of others,” she points at Chuks and me, “They would have integrity,” she looks at Judith. “A spiritual Christian would have a heart for kingdom work, be generous and kind,” she briefly faces Bitrus, “and they would be mindful of the divine vision planted in their hearts by God.” Simi finishes pointing at herself.

“Basically, yea.” Chuks acquiesces.

“Hmm… I have another question.” I drawl.

“Not again, Ticg. You started all this in the first place. Now, I’m hungry. What wants pizza?” 

I know LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.

Jeremiah 10:23
NB: Thanks to Amaka, Brighto, Trisha, Oma, Mercy and Chiomy for sharing their marriage dealbreakers and dealmakers with me. With their permission, I have cooked those up in creating the above story about my favourite fictional characters, Ticg and her friends. I hope that this article blesses you so much, because their personal values are a great inspiration! ❤️