Saturday, 29 July 2017

10 Things That Inspire Me About Mama Idahosa


Mama Margaret Benson-Idahosa is a massive game changer! 

She has made being a 74 year old look like a walk in the park! She has raised the bar for women all over the globe, teaching us by example how we can be strong yet graceful, professional yet approachable, spiritual yet down to earth and how a woman can break through one glass ceiling after another without any sign of trauma! 
She is renowned as the first Female Archbishop in the world, the first Female Chancellor of a Private University in Nigeria, On the home front, she is  the Mother of four biological children, four adopted children, grandmother of 8 amazing grandchildren (4 boys and 4 girls) and Spiritual mother to millions more. 

She is a highly respected woman who represents one of the shining lights of the fabric of our great county,Nigeria as she is the only wife of the late, Archbishop Benson Idahosa.

Her stature and grandiose appearance can be very threatening to someone who doesn't know the warmth of her heart. She stands tall, smiles big, carries herself like royalty and commands attention from everyone, whenever she enters a room.

As a member of her family, I have the rare privilege of knowing both her personal and her professional side, and I am inspired. 

Today is her 74th Birthday, I would like to share with you ten out of the one million qualities I admire about the great Rt. Rev. Dr. Mrs. Margaret Benson-Idahosa. (Permit me to refer to her as Mama from here on out.) 

  1. She says it like it is. When Mama doesn't approve of something or someone, she doesn't waste time analyzing why she disapproves or getting people's opinion on her opinion. She states her case and if you want to convince her otherwise, get ready for an uphill battle. 
  2.  She values family. She has 4 biological and 4 adopted children as well as 8 grandchildren. She has a personal relationship with each of her family members and even maintains a private phone number that is just for them, so that they can always reach her. She oftentimes visits our homes and spends nights and weeks with her children who don't live with her in Benin City, Nigeria.

  3. She is an avid learner. She can never be found without a book. She loves to read and improve herself. Recently, Mama and I had the opportunity to spend about 10 hours in a car together over the course of a few days. We bought an audio book and she devoured the contents like it was food. She sat in the passenger seat as I drove. As we listened to the author, Mama took copious notes. When we were between chapters, she would pause and want to discuss the concepts we were learning from the book. 
  4. She is committed to the cause of bringing hope to those who are hopeless. Her generous heart towards orphans, victims of sex trafficking and people suffering from some form of bad break in life is remarkable. She is always looking for ways to improve people's living standards and to give people the kind of love that was given to her.
  5. She is a giver! Whenever there is an offering in church, she makes sure she is the first to give. She gives generously to family, friends and even to strangers. Many years ago, I introduced her to a young man who would do manicures and pedicures for me. I asked him to make Mama his client by doing a great job on her nails. That day, he took his time and gave her the best mani-pedi that she has had in a very long time. In turn, instead of rewarding him with a generous tip, like most people would do, she turned to him and asked him what he wanted to become in life. When he told her his dream, she told him that he needs more education to accomplish it. Lo and behold, she gave him a 5 year scholarship to Benson Idahosa University! During the 5 years, he would come to the house regularly to do her nails. Every time he came, she would pay him generously and try to get more clients for him. This is just one of many remarkable stories of mama's generous nature. 
  6. She is a woman of prayer. Whenever you have a challenge, simply mention it to her and the next thing you will hear is a very loud, "Father in the name of Jesus..." She takes everything to the Lord in prayer and when she prays, she expects results. Once she has prayed for you, she doesn't come back to you and ask you how your condition is with sympathy and pity in her eyes. No way! Mama comes back to check on you and tells you that you are better because she has prayed. She always expects answers to her prayers. After watching her get remarkable results from her prayer life for the last 15 years, I must say, I also expect miracles whenever Mama prays!
  7. She loves worship and intimate times of fellowship with God. I have seen big tears roll down her face as she has experienced God's presence during a time of worship and fellowship. She keeps worship music around her all the time and is always found to have a song in her heart. She may not be the world's best singer, but, that never stops her from taking the microphone and belting out her favorite chorus of a song that the choir is ministering on a Sunday morning. Her worship game is on point. I'm certain that this is where her peace and strength comes from. 

  8. She loves her husband and has been loyal to him in death and has preserved his name and legacy. Many don't see Mama as a woman, they simply see her as an icon. If you look past the titles and the agbada-like gowns, you will see a woman who suddenly lost her husband when she was just in her mid-50's! She was young to become a widow. In the western culture, she would have been expected to eventually explore the option of re-marriage or even if romance. She still has a lot of love and life ahead of her. But, Mama is different than those of us in the west. She saw herself as married for life and even though it is Biblically allowed, in death, she has never considered herself to be a single woman. I have never known her to flirt with any man or show any kind of romantic notions for anyone other than her late husband. This kind of love and loyalty is rare. 
  9. She is conscientious about her diet and is committed to healthy eating and to taking the necessary supplements to support good health. Mama wants to understand everything there is to know about her dietary needs and about eating healthy. She has gone on many different diets since I have known her, not for weight loss, but for the health benefits. I'd say that probably half of her personal library has to do with eating responsibly and living a healthy lifestyle. In her room, you can't find a soda pop or candy anywhere in sight!
  10. She makes physical exercises a priority and has placed high value on her health and prolonging her years. She can be seen every morning either in her home gym or out taking a brisk walk  around her compound in her trainers and jogging trousers. She has studied the benefits of physical activity and can even be found to lift weights every now and then!
I am so grateful to God for giving me such a beautiful Mother-in-love.

Today, I wish Mama a very happy and healthy 74th year, full of grace and love. May God continue to answer her prayers and fill her with His presence as she worships Him unashamedly. Mama, the light from your life has illuminated my path and made my road easier to navigate. Thank you for showing me the way. 

Monday, 24 July 2017

Divine Appointments


We all experience delays, changes in plans, and surprising turn of events in our lives. How do you treat them? Do you see them as intrusions and frustrations or do you see them as an opportunity for a divine appointment?

It's possible that God is allowing this detour so that you can get on the right course, meet someone new or do something for Him that you wouldn't normally do. I have recently had a lot of personal detours in my life and schedule changes that my natural mind didn't appreciate. I've felt frustrated in the beginning, but have seen the hand of God clearly at work, as time goes on.
Paul in the Bible had some unexpected situations that turned into divine appointments. Look a his trip to Philippi in Acts 16. Paul went to Macedonia because of a vision he had from God (Read verses 9-10). He had no idea that he'd find himself in prison there. God works in mysterious ways. Even that trip to jail was God-ordained. God used Paul to bring salvation to a jailer and his family (Read verses 25-34) and to teach us many lessons about prayer and praise during trying times.

Psalm 37:24 (Amp) says,
"The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way [and blesses his path]."

Your pathway is being divinely directed by God so expect the unexpected.
God can use the inconvenient situations in our lives if we choose to see them as divine appointments.
Last night, my husband and I had somewhere we needed to be by 7:30 and at 6:40, we decided to go to a quick dinner. We didn't have much time, but, we both really wanted to eat at a particular restaurant. When we arrived, there were no seats. The host told us that to be seated at a table, it would be a 30 minute wait, or, we were welcomed to sit at the bar. We chose the bar. Yes, sometimes even Bishops and Pastors sit at bars... hopefully for the right reasons. We walked around the bar looking for where to sit, but, unfortunately there were no empty seats. Then, we saw a free spot. As we approached it, another lady saw it at the same time. We asked her if she was sitting there and she said yes, but that she was eating alone. Since there were no other seats, she asked us to join her and share the table. We were pressed for time and out of options, so hesitantly agreed. As we sat together, we began a bit of small talk and in just a few minutes, we realized that this was a special appointment. It turned out that the lady we were sitting with had a PhD in Education, taught in a University that we have a sister university agreement with, was a Nurse Practitioner and had a trip planned to visit Nigeria! Imagine the coincidence!!! Well, I'd say it was no coincidence at all. I believe it was a divine appointment that was ordained by God.  We had an amazing dinner conversation with our new friend and made a connection that could prove to be a massive blessing to both of us and our respective communities in the future.

We could have missed our appointment if we had left the restaurant in frustration or if we had allowed the uncomfortable offer to share a dining table with a stranger to turn us away. 
How many divine appointments have you missed in life? We may never know the answer to this retrospective question, but, we have the power to change our future.
I challenge you to look at every adjustment or "set-back" as a set up from God.
Expect the unexpected!
This week will be an amazing week for you, if you choose to allow God to direct your steps and stop telling Him how it is supposed to be done.

The next time something annoys you because it isn't happening the way you planned, ask God what appointment or opportunity He has hidden for you inside the inconvenience.

Habakkuk 2:3 (NIV)
"For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."

My prayer for you is that your week will be filled with Divine Appointments.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

All Good Things Come To An End


The words "All good things come to an end" is is a phrase we have heard, but oftentimes try to ignore. 
We want things that we enjoy to last forever, however, God created this world with seasons. As one is ending, another is beginning. 

Ecclesiastes3:1-4  says, "To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal, a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance."

This weekend, we said goodbye to our esteemed graduates of Benson Idahosa University, the "Class of 2017" during our Convocation. Some of the students in this graduating class have become so close to our hearts. We have embraced them like family and can't imagine life on our campus without them. It would however be wrong for us to beg and plead for them to stay. They need to move forward for their own progress in life. We will feel the void initially, but God will fill that longing for them with another set of amazing students that have an equal or even greater impact on our community.

Sometimes walking away from a familiar place, situation or relationship can be the hardest thing to do. Staying feels safe and comfortable. Many have wasted decades of their life staying places past their time. It may be that God is calling you to take that leap of faith. You will never know what is through the next door if you never move forward. Many people pray for open doors, but don't have the courage to walk through them. If you don't take action, you may find yourself "out of season."                       

We have all made life commitments to people during seasons of our growth. While we should always love and support our friends, not every friendship and relationship is ride or die. Sometimes you can have a friend that is seasonal.  Pushing that relationship forward to your next season just doesn't fit. It doesn't mean that you love the person any less; it just means that not everyone is coming with you into your next season. You've got to be okay with that, if you're going to truly embrace the next level you are rising to.

Even our attitudes can be seasonal. You may have a reputation for having a certain persona. There was a time that the attitudes and actions of that persona served you well and got you places. As you grow and mature, that persona no longer fits the new you. You aren't that same person anymore. Allow yourself to evolve with your season. Just because you have a rep of being a particular way does not mean that you need to stay that way for life. The world is moving forward and so should you.

Knowing your season is essential; knowing when to stay and when to go really matters. If it is time for you to go, trust the season, trust God and move forward. Don't let fear keep you in a place longer than God intended for you to stay.

Understand and accept the fact that you will have to walk away, even when you have made a significant investment into the success of a thing. Your role may have been just to get it to a certain level. Someone else may be the one to finish the project.                       
Know your season and timing. Don't stay committed to something past it's time of usefulness in your life.

My prayer for you is that you won't stay in anything or anyone longer than your time.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Ten Years After Ben


Today is the ten year anniversary of the birth of our first son, Andrew Benson Osarumen Victor Elijah Idahosa a.k.a. "Big Ben" or "ABOVE."

Sadly, our son lived until July 4th, just 12 short hours after he was born. He impacted our lives in immeasurable ways and will always be remembered as our first son, first child and as an important part of the script of our family.

It is hard to capture that a decade has already passed. Ten years later, the tears still leak from my eyes when we see the dates of July 3rd and 4th.  I've looked through the limited physical memories that we have held onto from his short life  and I'm thankful for the nurses in  Christiana Hospital, Newark, Delaware. They collected these precious memories for us, knowing that we would need something physical to remember him by. 

Because of God's Abundant Grace, the deep pain of our loss has been retooled into purpose.  On a regular basis, we use our pain to share Ben's story with others who suffer from infertility and infant loss. I have  peace of heart and mind and can see that God's hand has been with our family, every step of the way.

We are grateful to have been blessed with three miracle children since our loss. Having more children never erases our memory of the one you lose. We will always remember Ben and have the constant narrative in our minds of "what if there were 4 boys instead of three." 

For every one of you who has lost a child, an infant, a pregnancy or whom have suffered a stillbirth, you are in our thoughts and prayers. May the God who has enveloped us in His loving arms of comfort fill your hearts with peace. May God give you understanding in your moments of questions. May He replace your grief with joy and give you reasons to see His hand at work in your lives and families. May He give you opportunities to share with others who are hurting so that your healing will be complete. 

It seems inappropriate to say happy birthday to a child who is deceased, but, Happy Birthday Ben (III). We are grateful to God that you lived and taught us that everything is ordained for God's glory, no matter how difficult or painful. 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Anticipation; The Key To Epic Success


Ten years ago in June 2007, our world as we knew it changed drastically. It was the day Steve Jobs launched the iPhone. Prior to that, cell phones were simple, low-tech devices mainly used for making phone calls. The iPhone's nearest competition, the Blackberry, didn't remotely touch the functionality of the iPhone. The iPhone was a massive game-changer which evolved into a global life essential for all ages and a massive money-maker. It is estimated that within the year 2017, Apple's iOS ecosystem is on course to generate One Trillion dollars in revenue. Yes! One trillion dollars! I'd certainly put that in the category of Epic-Success!

What is it that made this hand held device so amazingly popular and a global phenomenon? I believe it can be summed up in this one phrase; "Anticipate the needs of your target audience."

Steve Jobs once said, "Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves."

I would dare say that "Anticipating Needs" is the one essential key to epic success in business and life.

If we were to all sit together and share our exceptional service experiences, whether it be from a restaurant, a hotel, a church, a school, a job or even a relationship or marriage, we would quite possibly find one commonality; the person or organization that served you anticipated your needs before you expressed them.

Anticipating needs before they are expressed isn't a new concept. In fact, it is as ancient as ancient gets! It dates all the way back to the creation of the earth. Before God created man, He anticipated the needs that our species would have and made him a suitable and self-sustainable environment.   This is why He waited until the 6th day to create man.

Read Genesis 1 (New Living Translation)

1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.[a] 2. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”
And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.
Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. God called the space “sky.”
And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.
Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. 10 God called the dry ground “land” and the waters “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. 12 The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
13 And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day.
14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. 15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. 16 God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, 18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
19 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fourth day.
20 Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”
23 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.
24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. 25 God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings[b] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth,[c] and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
27 So God created human beings[d] in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.
28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.
31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!
And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

There are unlimited lessons in this passage. Theologians and Scientists have examined this passage word for word and opened up worlds of information and life lessons from it. The one thing that I want us to see is how God created the world systematically with ANTICIPATION. He anticipated the needs of the grass and trees, of the animals and of man. His creation timeline was strategic in how he ensured that each organism had the power and the environment to survive and thrive.

God was strategic in His creation. 

So obviously you may not be a Steve Jobs level CEO  nor as grandiose as God Himself, but, you are important in your own right and can learn from this concept of anticipation. We all serve someone, somewhere.

Are you married? Probably, the most satisfying days that you have had with your spouse have been the days when they pre-thought details in planning a date or a weekend away. They carefully chose the room with the view, they informed you ahead of time on how to pack (or maybe even packed for you), they made restaurant reservations, planned your activities, and thought through every tiny detail which would make you not just happy but completely satisfied. Imagine if you don't reserve this kind of epic-satisfaction for special occasions but instead plan this level of dedication and care into your everyday relationship. When you love someone and want to make your connection last and flourish, try perfecting the art of anticipation.

This proven time-trusted method works magnificently in absolutely every industry of mankind. When you successfully anticipate and plan for the needs of others, you will never lack people to serve.

It's high time that we put aside our self-centered ambitions and prioritize planning for the needs of those we serve.

Roger Staubach said, "There are no traffic jams along the extra mile."

Here is an everyday example of how you can put to practice the art of anticipating the needs of others. The next time you serve someone a cup of tea, be the Steve Jobs or the "God" of tea service. Plan carefully and anticipate their needs. Serve the tea with a beautifully covered tray, a saucer, a tea cup, a teaspoon, a tea pot filled with just the right temperature of water, a variety of teas to choose from, a variety of sweeteners, lemon, different choices of dairy, some tea cookies, serviette paper and a smile. When you do this, I'm quite certain that whomever you are serving will come back again and will be grateful that you anticipated their needs.

Look for ways that you can go the extra mile. Think about the people you serve and imagine everything they might need. Think about the various challenges they might face and solve them before they erupt. Don't wait for them to tell you what they need before you have prepared solutions for them. Give them more information and support than they expect. Make them feel like they are the center of your universe and that you are prepared to go to any length for their comfort and business. When you do this repeatedly, you will not only improve your relationship or business' reputation but you will improve the culture of the relationships / businesses around you. You will make the world a more beautiful and efficient place to live in and you will demonstrate the heart of God. Remember the Golden rule in Matthew 7:12, "...in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you..." Let's get on the road to epic-success as we perfect the art of anticipation.