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Sunday, 18 November 2018

4 WAYS TO FIND AND KEEP YOUR GOD CONNECTIONS

11:07


In December 2017 I became acquianited with a woman who would go on to become a mainstay in my life in 2018; her name is Nkechi Harry Ngodani also known professionally as NHN Couture.


She is beautiful, inside and out! She has become my friend and someone I enjoy connecting with, nearly every day. I look up to her and her husband in many ways and am deeply humbled when she calls me her "mentor."

God can change your associations drastically in one calendar year, and those new connections can help fashion your calendar (literally) 😉😃❤. Many call these kinds of relationships "destiny helpers." I met her face to face for the first time in January 2018. When we met,  you would have easily assumed that we were old friends seeing each other after a long time apart.

I didn't celebrate her birthday last year, because we didn't know one another at that time. Now, we can boast of traveling to Dubai together, becoming her brand ambassador,  many long and deep conversations with one another and with God together. I even wear at least one of her amazing  designs every week! My closet and heart are both full of Nkechi and the classy designs of NHN Couture!

ALOT has happened in 11 months!  I celebrate her birthday today and I use it as a point of contact for all my friends, looking for God to bless them with divine relationships.


Here are some insights on how you can get and keep your God-connections:

1. Be sensitive to the Spirit of God. Not everyone who looks good is good for you. (Heb. 3:7,15 ; 4:7)

2. Be ready to sacrifice your time and resources and be generous with the people you want to be in relationship with (Prov. 18:16; John 15:13; Gal. 6:2; Heb. 13:6). 3. Be sure that the relationship is God-honouring and purpose driven... NOT for selfish gain. (Prov. 27:17; Prov 12:26)

4. Be committed to keeping the conversation and relationship HOLY. (I Pet 1:15-17; Eph. 4:29-32)

I pray for each of you that you will be open to new relationships and that you will thrive in your purpose as God brings mentors and "destiny-helpers" your way.

Happy birthday to my dear sister and friend,  Nkechi ... I love you!


Saturday, 22 September 2018

IS THERE UNITY IN THE NIGERIAN CHURCH?

12:51






Faith, Love and Family are three words that frequently seem to flow into one another.
They are also words that have been a part of my life from the moment I could understand them. Until this day they remain very central to my life’s purpose and fruit.

These words are also central to the body of Christ and can be summed up into the word; UNITY. Every society or organization strives to ensure that there is unity in all that they do as this is critical to achieving any and every goal. The church worldwide and indeed in Nigeria has oftentimes been accused of lacking unity amongst her members. The argument about the supposed ‘disunity’ of the church is often bolstered by the fact that there are over 80 million people who identify themselves as Christians in Nigeria.  This massive number of Christians belong to thousands of different churches and over a hundred thriving denominations.


There is a belief that the drive of the church to evangelize people into their various places of worship brings disunity within the body of the church in Nigeria as it would seem that the churches are in rivalry with each other.

(l-r: Archbishop Winning Willie Bunting, Bishop Fumbi Addo, Dr. Gary Whetstone, Rev. Laurie Idahosa, Bishop Makanto, Bishop Makanto, Bishop Tina Bawa, Bishop Michael Amamieye)

This is not so.

If anything, the seemingly different drives of the various denominations have one common goal; to reconcile a lost world to the Saviour, Jesus Christ. As members of the body of Christ, this has been and will always be our supreme task.
(Rev and Rev. Mrs. Akossa; Cameroun)

Every major interaction we have should be for the purpose of sharing our faith in God and His overwhelming love. We should live with the aim of bringing more souls into the family of God. This is what Archbishop Benson Idahosa believed and modeled during his life of nearly 60 years, This is also a goal he shares through the lives of all those who walked with him and who learned from his example.

(l-r: My husband; Bishop Feb Idahosa, Apostle Zilly Aggrey-Port Harcourt- and my dad Dr. Gary Whetstone) 

During this past Idahosa Legacy Week, held in Benin City, Nigeria and over the last 20 years since his passing, the commitment of the church in Nigeria towards the Legacy of Late Archbishop Benson Idahosa and the living Legacy of Mama Idahosa as well as my husband and I has been unparalleled.

(l-r: Bishop Feb Idahosa, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, My mother-in-love Archbishop Margaret Idahosa, Pastor Mrs. Foluke Adebayo and I)

I don't know of one major ministry in Nigeria that is not rooting for our success. They are all standing by with open arms and open hearts, ready to do whatever it takes to see the continuation of the vision of the our founder through CGMI, Benson Idahosa University, Word of Faith Group of Schools, Faith Mediplex Hospitals, the All Nations for Christ Bible Institute and other parastatals. 
(Idahosa and Whetstone Family)

The unity we see in the Nigerian church community is a remarkable sight to behold. There are no factions in the upper echelons of leadership. The heads of ministry function with love and support of one another; this is BEAUTIFUL in our sight and in the sight of God. 
(Bishop David Oyedepo)


Based on the passion and unity that we have been witnesses of, the future of the church in Nigeria is certain. 
(Pastor Leke Adeboye and Bishop Feb Idahosa)

We will continue to win souls for the Kingdom. In the unity of faith and with the love of God and strength of family, we will bring healing to a hurting and broken world. We will set the example in media, government, entertainment, family, education, economy and faith for this nation and the world, in Jesus Name. We will all do this together as one; the way God created it to be.








N.B: I've got some more pictures from the Legacy Week Celebration right here:


(Dr. Gary Whetstone, Pastor Oral Onigbo and I)



 (Rev. Wale Oke and I)






Sunday, 1 July 2018

LAURIE’S 10 WAYS OF MAINTAINING A HEALTHY EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING

14:21



We all go through situations that make us feel like reacting emotionally. If we don’t handle ourselves properly during those times, we can do major damage to ourselves and to others. Emotional control is a life-skill that you will never regret developing. Recently, my friend Busola Dakolo (wife of internationally acclaimed singer /songwriter Timi Dakolo) posed a question on social media to her followers. It got me thinking very seriously.  As I was thinking, I realized that my answers to her question would be helpful to others, not just her alone and it inspired this post. Over the last 4+ decades of my life, I have come up with some time-tested ways that I personally use to maintain my emotional well-being. I’m not a professional in this field, but it works for me and I am confident that it will work for you too. If you have additional things that you do, please share them with me in the comment section.

1. Cast my cares onto the Lord (refuse to worry): 1 Peter 5:7 reminds me to cast my cares on my Father because He cares for me. That verse is the perfect encouragement for me whenever I am confronted with a situation that threatens to weigh me down. God’s love for us as His children is so all-encompassing that He does not want us to worry about anything. He has given us His nature and has made it possible for us to go through a day without being affected by the things that threaten our peace. He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit – whose fruit is Peace- so we have His arms of love so tightly wrapped around us and ready to lift every burden off our shoulders the moment we turn to Him for help. Whenever I am faced with a challenge or the voice of worry, I remember 1 Peter 5:7 and I turn my worry over to God. I like to imagine myself shaping my worry into a ball form and throwing it so far that I can’t see it any more. It totally works and gives me a big sigh of relief that God has it under His control. The true freedom from reacting to the situations that disturb our peace is by the sacrifice of Jesus and His precious blood. II Cor. 5:14. My Dad, Dr. Gary Whetstone has an awesome revelation that will give you deeper insight on his website. You need to get this into your spirit. (www.jesusexperience.com )


2. Forgive quickly and reject all forms of bitterness:  In Matthew 18: 21-22, Peter presents Jesus with a situation which every one of us will face; the need to forgive offenses.   In answering Peter’s question, Jesus told him to forgive the offense a total of 70 times multiplied by 7. That amounts to 490 offenses forgiven each time. You realize that it is a bit absurd to keep a written tally of offenses if you want to truly forgive someone. The Lord’s Prayer says “…and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”  God’s forgiveness is perfect; He does not keep a record of our misdeeds. What Jesus was saying in essence is, forgive those who offend you the same way God forgives you and holds no grudge or bitterness towards you. If you practice the God-kind-of-forgiveness you will find yourself lighter and happier. If you’re wondering how to forgive so that the offense doesn’t come back to haunt you, take a look at II Cor. 2:10. This Scripture talks about forgiving the person in the Name and person of Jesus. You don’t forgive from your human ability you forgive fully when you acknowledge that you have been crucified with Christ and it is His nature alive in you that empowers you to forgive and remit sins (Gal. 2:20).  In addition to this, forgiveness is found in John 20:23. When you remit the person’s sin, it releases you and them as well. Remember, once you receive Jesus, God has made you a king and a priest (Rev. 1:6). Forgiveness is easy when you act as a Child of God who has His Nature.  Recognizing that their sins are forgiven puts you in agreement with God’s perspective of the person who offended you.



 3. Avoid gossip: Now this is a tough one. Every culture has a story about a person who likes to gossip about other people and this tale usually ends with the gossiper falling into trouble. These days, social media seems to thrive on gossip. Opinions, rumours and speculations about people and incidents make the rounds faster than the truth does. We live in the midst of a culture that often does not bother to check the facts before declaring rumours as truth. Unfortunately with the prevalence of this behaviour, people end up hurt. Human beings will always have opinions about everything and everyone under the sun, so if you want to live a life full of peace and emotional wholeness,  guard your ears from gossip.  My personal rule is that I never accept third party information as being valid and I try to avoid filling my ears with it.  Pastor Poju Oyemade recently had this to say about gossip on his Instagram post; “Never take a position on a matter without hearing the other side. Whoever initiates a thing must also be a living witness of the account. Once a story is coming from a third party, it has been coloured. Things are always deeper than they sound.” “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29.

4. Meditate and pray at intervals throughout the day: It is always important to step back from a situation or a very busy day and spend time quieting the noise of our everyday life. Spending time in prayer helps you refocus on God and connect to His plan for your day and indeed your life. The Bible tells us that Jesus regularly took time away from the demands of life to spend time in prayer; and if you read carefully, you'll see He always walked in the supernatural afterwards (Luke 6:12, Matthew 14:23-25).  You don’t need to attend a prayer service before you get deep into the place of prayer. Sometimes if I feel overwhelmed during my day, I simply shut my door and close my eyes. I start to take deep healing breaths and I speak to my Heavenly Father. Sometimes I pray using scriptures, sometimes I simply talk to Him as a friend and unburden my soul, sometimes I’m at a loss for words and I pray in the Holy Spirit. However I pray, I have found that prayer and meditation have been a stabilizing factor in my life. I even wrote a book recently containing some of my prayers called “Laurie Prays.” You can get a copy of it on my website, laurieprays.com


5. Focus on what matters: Focusing on the important things cannot be overemphasized. The almost daily advancements in science and technology place distractions at our very fingertips. It is almost impossible to go an entire hour without some technological distraction coming your way either in form of instant messages or the shiny attraction of social media. Technology aside, the very reason why we live is captured succinctly in these words spoken by Jesus: “For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but to do the will of Him that sent me” (John 6:38). For everyone who is born again, the direction of your life is to fulfill God’s will for your life. If you live this way, you will find that nothing bothers you, you will find so much joy in life and all the distractions will fade away. At the time my husband and I were going through one of the most challenging experiences of our marriage, we made a pact to avoid distractions. We decided to turn off the television and focus on God’s plan for our lives and, trust me, the results of this time of fellowship are innumerable. Everything we do is about God. It’s not about people, so we don’t let “people stuff” get to us (Col.3:23,24).


6. Make time to play and laugh inside each day: There are 24 hours in one day and we are told to sleep for a minimum of six hours daily. So we spend the rest of the time working to ensure we have a comfortable life and fulfill God’s purpose for us. Ask yourself, when was the last time you intentionally sought to relax and have actual fun each day of your week?  We are so focused on the demands of living in the 21st century that we forget how to have fun. For me, fun is spending time with my family; my husband and my children have a way of putting a smile on my face no matter what the day was like. Medical research has found that there are a lot of benefits in being cheerful including, reducing stress hormones, boosting the immune system, increasing blood flow and oxygenation, as well as enhancing your memory and creativity.  Proverbs 15:13 “A joyful heart  makes a cheerful countenance but sorrow of the heart crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 17:22 reminds us to laugh every day.

7. Prioritize my daily To-Do-list, keeping family time at the top: Habakkuk. 2:2 tells us to write out our vision clearly so that everybody can understand where we are going and what we are doing. Without a clear plan for your day, you can end up accomplishing nothing. There is a keen sense of accomplishment when you plan to do something and at the end of the day you are able to check off your list.  Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” Planning your day must include making time for what matters the most. Plan time for God into your schedule. Everyone who knows me can testify that my family is an absolute priority.  I cannot readily think of anything that compares to the joy of hugging my children and talking to my husband about my day. As a family, our activities revolve around each other, from the movies we watch, to the music we listen to, and the holidays we take. In every day, no matter how filled with activities it is, there is always an activity we partake in as a family.  How you enjoy your family life does not need to be a replica of how your parents raised you and enjoyed their marriage. You can pattern your home life after God’s Word and find more deep joy and fulfillment with the people who share your last name than with friends who come and go. 

8. Live with an attitude of gratitude: Colossians 3:17 (BSB) says, And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Gratitude keeps you from living an entitled and selfish life which is harmful to your emotional well-being.  When we are grateful, we are happy, more peaceful and are a nicer person to be around. There is a special, beautiful fragrance that flows from a person with a grateful heart. Grateful people smile more and are less inclined to complaining. Some people have found that keeping a gratitude journal is a big help in keeping them in remembrance of the blessings of God. When you are a grateful person, you see and acknowledge that things are working for you, not against you. II Cor. 4:15-17 reminds us that all things are working for us and that our problems are temporary. Romans 5:3-5 and James chapter 1 deal with the same theme and helps you keep it all in perspective. So the next time you face a conflict, speak to it and say, "You are working for me and not against me." This disposition and confession will make you grateful for challenges and can make you smile, even through the pain.

 9. Talk about problems instead of bottling them up: My Dad, Dr. Gary Whetstone often says, “Where there’s no root there’s no fruit.” If you don’t want a root of bitterness as mentioned in Hebrews 12:14 15, then you need to deal with the issues when they first come up, not allowing them to fester and trouble you. Aim to live at peace with all men. This means that you need to grow in your ability to communicate and sometimes die to your right to be right. Don’t allow stuff stay in your heart, keep your heart pure and clean before God and man.




10. Do things for others, there is nothing that makes you feel better: My personal motto is; “a heart beats happiest when it beats for others.” John 15:13 tells us that Jesus’ sacrifice for us is incomparable to anything else. In giving His life for us, He fulfilled a purpose that is beyond any human being and did something for us that we could never have done for ourselves. Doing things for others without expecting a repayment can be the most rewarding experience of your life. I urge you to look for ways to serve other people without expecting a reward from them. Matthew 25:40 reminds us that when we help even the smallest of people it is the same as helping Jesus Himself.  If you have ever gone soul winning, been on an outreach, a missions trip or just simply helped your neighbor with something, you can testify that there is an indescribable joy that comes from serving others selflessly. This joy floods your soul and stabilizes you emotionally.


Thank you for taking the time to read through these time-tested principles which have kept me smiling from the inside out for over four decades. I pray that you will be able to heal from your hurts. I pray that you will put your life in perspective and discover the joys of living purposefully and with gratitude. May you have Jesus revealed in you and discover that He is our strength and that when we live with His nature controlling our lives, we live free from the tangled web of sin and people’s opinions. May this next season of your life be full of joy and real peace, in Jesus' Name, Amen. 



Saturday, 9 December 2017

Honor Begets Honor

14:45



They tell us that we don't grieve the way the world does, because we have hope. While this is true, the facts remain that we still grieve and that grief is not a sin. It is a natural process, designed by God to help us work through the immense pain that culminates in the sad acceptance that someone will never be a part of our lives again on this side of heaven.

I dread the loss of someone I love. If you allow yourself to love deeply like I do, you have probably felt the same way. You simply want to hold onto that person forever, even when holding on feels selfish.

This week, my husband and I attended several home going services, they were all for parents of dear friends of ours. The most remarkable one was on Thursday and Friday; the home going celebration of Sir Chief Julius Babasanmi Fatoyinbo, the father of our friends, Pastors Biodun and Modele Fatoyinbo.


We have listened to Pastor Biodun preach the word of God with power and doctrinal precision. We have been friends with the Fatoyinbo family and have seen their hospitality, integrity and loyalty in friendship, but, this time we saw this great man of God break down and cry. Even though I knew the nature of the gathering, somehow, I wasn't prepared to see their grief. It broke our hearts to see them broken.

In the mist of grief, there is always remarkable strength that emerges. His strength was revealed all throughout the weekend, but most especially when he held his mother. He mustered up supernatural fortitude and held her while she made her final declarations of love to her late husband at the graveside. It was such an inspiring and cherishable moment.

When someone has strong family values, I find myself appreciating them.  I saw first hand the love Pastor Biodun showered on his wife and children, the care and concern he has for his mother and the honor he gave his siblings, however, all of it could pale in comparison to the depth of love he had for his late father.  We could literally feel his pain as we watched him carry the burden of the entire family on his shoulders as they lowered his father’s body into the grave. As the first son, I am confident that he will continue to care for and support his mother, siblings and extended family following the demise of his much loved dad.


The Fatoyinbo Family was surrounded by friends from all over the world who honored them greatly with their presence. As I was speaking with Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, one of the guests from the U.K, he made  a striking statement that seems to summarize the entire burial weekend. Pastor Matthew said, “Honor begets honor. Pastor Biodun has honored me immensely, being here for him is the least that I could do.”





The Fatoyinbo Family honored their father this weekend, a man who spent his life building his children so that they would be honorable people.  It is painful to say goodbye to someone so dear, but, they did it beautifully with humility, grace and dignity.

On a lighter note though, I learned a new phrase of greeting from the COZA Protocol team during my stay in Ilorin . Everytime I met with any of the protocol team, I was greeted with “I celebrate you, Ma.” So, when I  greet you with the phrase “I celebrate you” you sure would know where I got it from. 😂😂😂

 At the end of the day, it taught us something great. Honor begets honor, celebration begets celebration.  Watching Pastor Biodun bid adieu to his father was a true experience of honor.






Picture credit: @biodunfatoyinbo (Instagram)

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

My Biggest Birthday Surprise

13:38


On October 21st, I celebrated my 43rd Birthday. I kept asking myself how I could be 43 years old when I feel not even a day older than 34. In my mind, I've intentionally embraced my inner fountain of youth and have been trying to convince myself that somehow there is a mistake. I can't be this old, can I? I was thinking over the times I have watched the evening news and heard stories that referred to people this age. I would hear the news anchor start off a story with... "A 43 year old woman from such and such a city was found...." As the story would progress, I would imagine this 43 year old woman as a mature, much older, probably not very attractive, maternal figure. I never saw myself as being this age. I think somehow in my heart I will remain 34, at least until my children catch up to me in age.

My husband was really sweet in the way he made me feel good about my new age. He did some of the most endearing things for me leading up to the birthday. He did a #12daysOfBirthday countdown where he posted the sweetest pictures of me every day on his social media pages and then he accompanied each post with a meaningful gift every single day for 12 days.

On my birthday itself, I was overwhelmed with so much love and so many surprises from friends and loved ones, most especially my darling husband. He organized a celebrity football match, a surprise garden "All White" party and so much more. 

He was by my side all throughout the birthday, making me feel like the center of the universe. His affection and care was simply astounding. He paid attention to every detail and did everything with precision. He even reached out to some of my closest friends and had them specially record birthday messages for me that he knew would make me smile. It was an amazing day from the beginning to the end.

I felt like I was the recipient of too much love.

I woke up on Sunday morning the 22nd exhausted. I was emotionally and physically spent. I felt so “overloved” that there didn't seem to be space to receive any more.

To my amazement, when I arrived at CGMI Church Unusual, where I serve as the Senior Pastor, I was in for more love and more surprises. I assumed that the church might get a cake for me and that would be the extent of the birthday celebrations. I couldn't have been more wrong! I drove into the parking lot only to see a beautiful red carpet rolled out for me with a gorgeous custom-designed backdrop featuring my pictures all over it. When I walked into the church, escorted by all of the Pastors, I couldn't believe my eyes! They had decorated the church beautifully in honor of my birthday and draped massive banners from the ceiling with photos of me that I had forgotten even existed.
The entire service schedule was arranged to honor me. This was deeply touching and very humbling.

The Pastors had invited my husband, Bishop Feb Idahosa, to minister the Word of God, so that I could just sit back, relax, and enjoy the service. He preached a beautiful and memorable sermon (on 3 actions that will change your life in 2018) which inspired and impacted all of us in the congregation.  My husband has a rather tight schedule of preaching assignments on Sundays, so having him speak in Church Unusual was quite the experience.  Consequently, as soon as the teaching was over, I expected him to leave immediately, but, he didn't. 




I was about to experience MY BIGGEST BIRTHDAY SURPRISE!

Apparently, the conspiracy ran quite deep because as a few of our faithful ushers brought a elegantly covered table to the front of the church. My husband called me forward and told me that there was one more surprise for me. I looked over and saw my personal assistant holding a large brown envelope. My heart and mind started racing with the possibilities of the new surprise.  For a moment I thought that there might be papers to a new car in the envelope and at the same time I found myself  hoping that he didn't buy me a car, because we don't really need an additional vehicle right now. Of course, I couldn't tell anyone all the thoughts racing through my mind.  I could only come forward and smile in anticipation of this big surprise.

As my husband talked about the surprise, the head female usher, Ify began to fold back the covering on the table to reveal what was concealed underneath. I couldn't believe my eyes! I wondered in shock... what had my husband done for me?


He published a book of my prayers under the title #LauriePrays, after the hashtag that I use on social media when I pray!!! The book contains 40 of my prayers with lovely photos and inspirational teachings.

This was so amazing to me for so many reasons, but, permit me to list a few:
1. Writing a book was a goal of mine in 2017; a goal I thought I would have to abandon, simply because I didn't give it the attention it needed.

2. Many authors and pastors seize the opportunity of launching books on their birthdays, hoping for significant donations to help them offset the printing cost. He didn't do a book launch; he did a "book gift!"  He had reprinted a thousand copies of my first book, "Every Woman's Journey," and gave copies of the book to every woman in the congregation.

3. He increased my value in the eyes of many. Previously, I had authored a book. What he did for me was make that word “book” plural. Now, I can go anywhere in the world and comfortably say that I have written BOOKS!

4. The quality of printing reflects the way he sees me. He did it with an international standard of excellence that you'd expect from any major author. He made me feel so, so, so deeply loved.


I could go on and on about how special and remarkable this gift is to me, but the truth is, seeing is believing! You need to get a copy of this book.  Allow the words to impact your life and to serve as a guide and daily inspiration for you.  Allow the quality of the book be a constant reminder for you that you are valuable and important to God. I say this because my husband models his love for me after Ephesians 5, where it says, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself for it." If a human can love another human this deeply and passionately, imagine just how much more Christ loves us, His Church. 

I would like to sincerely appreciate my husband for this epic gift and to encourage you to get your copy today.

The book #LauriePrays will be available in a bookstore close to you soon, in the interim you can order a copy of the book by sending a Direct Message on the Instagram handle @wisdomtomydaughters. 


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