Saturday, December 31, 2011


TODAY'S DREAM TOMORROW'S JUNK

Okay, I am seating in front of my computer and I am supposed to be typing my blog to close the year 2011, and somehow I cannot think of what to write about.  I have received so many mails and text messages already, thanking me for my role in the authors’ lives in 2011.  So I thought maybe I should be typing a blog of gratitude… but the truth is I have been flexing my gratitude muscles for a while now, so I am kind of feeling, how many ‘thank yous’ will one person say?  But here it is again, thank you to you all for being in my corner.

I was in church yesterday and we were asked to pray for one thing concerning the New Year and I couldn’t find something to pray, however, I could not help thinking about an article I wrote and published in Effectual Magazine a while ago.  I have adapted it here so you can discern for yourself…

Before I got married I couldn’t get over the fact that at last I will have an apartment to myself and be the Lord of my manor in a manner of speaking, it excited me so much that it almost didn’t matter whether I had enough money to spend within that marriage or not, what mattered was that I had found someone I was willing to spend my life with and so even if he lived in a cave I wouldn’t have minded.

Then we got married and we had a three bedroom apartment that had just the basics, when I moved in it didn’t feel like a basically furnished three bedroom apartment, instead it felt like a castle with one hundred rooms.  Within the first year, it was just fine and very exciting, but as the second and then third, fourth and fifth years rolled by, our family had grown, we had two children with the third on the way and we had acquired quite some furniture and property.

The three bedroom castle began to feel like a very tiny hole and I just kept praying and believing God that somehow, we will be able to afford another house, much bigger so we could move in.  I wanted a bigger house so much that it almost didn’t matter where it was located or what amenities it had, I just wanted a bigger place.  Eventually, we got a bigger place, we moved in and it felt like moving into the National Stadium, I wondered if we will ever be able to get enough furniture for the house, if we will ever be able to put enough air conditioning units in and so on and so forth.

Today, five years later the `National Stadium’ has become too small again, we need more space because we have acquired so much again!  And isn’t this the story of all our lives?  We want something so badly that if not for Jesus and a lack of guts we could have killed to get, then we get it and within years and sometimes even months, it losses it’s excitement and all we want is to replace it?  The question is, when we get into the `I need to replace this mode’, and we get round to changing it, what do we do with the old?  A lot of us want to be able to hold on to the old while reaching for the new but in the end we find out that the old is just that, the old, it loses its excitement, it becomes dusty and at long last it becomes just one antique or piece of junk sitting on our shelves or tucked away inside our wardrobes, or sitting within our premises and  we have no idea what to do with them.

I have thought about our dream cars, houses, jewelry, relationships, and all the other things we like to acquire and found out that they are only as exciting as they are new, but with time they begin to lose their sheen and consequently the excitement we used to feel from just looking at them, and as a result we begin to crave new ones and the cycle begins all over again.  


                                                                 

I asked myself how we can get round this vicious cycle and I realized that there is no peace derived from acquisitions that will last, and I suddenly realized that what I should be doing is craving for ways to make my life worth while by spending it and being spent on others.  It has come to my notice that people may die but whatever we invest in them doesn’t die, because somehow they are able to pass it on to others.

So as I sit here wondering it suddenly hit home for me.  Yes I want a great 2012, but it is not because of the things I will get for myself… my sight is set on two things, first to be in the center of God’s will for me and second to be able to serve more people than I served this year. 

I am not apprehensive about how we will cope in the new year, because we didn’t cope this year, God helped us and he will help us again.  Before you make your very long list, remember that it will soon be another twelve months and everything will need to be changed again.  Make meaningful contributions in the new year, and then in December you will be able to say, ‘I lived’.  Because honestly, I lived in 2011, and in 2012, I will live too, NeverTheless.

God bless you and Happy New Year.

Sistar B

Monday, December 26, 2011

Beyond Christmas.



Merry Christmas to you all!  I do hope that the Christmas was truly merry for you and yours.  And if for any reason it wasn’t quite merry, I am so sorry for whatever it is that went wrong, remember that this season is especially for reasons such as yours.

Leading up to the Christmas, I couldn’t help but notice the desperation with which people tried to either sell me something or try to get me to buy into something! For me it was just plain vulgar and presumptuous for anyone to think that such brazen in-your-face, no-regard-for-others marketing was going to work.  Then I thought again, if it didn’t work maybe they would not be going at it so strong; so obviously it works!  My question is why?  I hear that this season is a time when people are most vulnerable.  So vulnerable that some even take their life!

And I asked myself, but why?  Well, because it is that time of year when people express so much love and passion; and excuse my cynicism, even though they don’t really feel it!  People who had not bothered to speak with me through the year, even when I most needed them, sent me a text wishing me a merry Christmas, and praying for me!

All these rather than make me feel special actually made me feel violated! I mean, I know we don’t get to speak or relate for another one year!  I therefore resolved I was not going to send a message, mail or text wishing anyone a merry Christmas except I really had a message for them.  I was not going to participate in another religious exercise just because it seemed the right thing to do.

What is the point of Christmas as it relates to me today? I wondered!  When I say to someone ‘Merry Christmas’ what will I really be saying?  Why was Jesus born?  Why is the anniversary of His birth worth so much celebration?  Why is there such a desperate need to succeed one more time in this season, and why do people say to me Merry Christmas when they so don’t mean it?

I had to press in for fresh perspective.  And here are my thoughts.  First, there is more to the birth than we tend to think.  In fact, the birth is important I agree, but the death of Jesus is the reason the birth is anything to write home about.  Jesus, some two thousand plus years ago, came in the flesh on a journey of PURPOSE.  He came that He might ‘Redeem, Reconcile and Restore’ mankind to God. Even though God, He recognized quickly the importance of accomplishing His Purpose and so everything He did was a step towards fulfilling destiny.

His wasn’t a journey in futility, it was one that had meaning and even though His living a meaningful life culminated with his death on the cross, it was for that reason He came and didn’t try to find another purpose for Himself!

Which is why while we merry, it will be important to not just have the Manger in view, let us remember that the Manger only has an essence because of the cross!  The Manger is useless without the cross.  Even your own dream cannot be worth the while until you take up your own cross and finish that which you have started! 

Back to the desperation with which people deal in this season, I can understand that we all want to end the year as successes and we all want to say we cleaned out good.  But at whose expense will this be?  To whom are we selling dust as gold? To who are will trying to sell their own birthright? Just who have we promised magic in a bottle? What is with the weight loss magic in two days?  Enough of the gimmicks and e-marketing already!!!

To those who are buying and scouting for a bargain, remember that the journey for this year started twelve months earlier, and if you have not been able to lose the projected weight in this time, no magic formula will do it now.  It doesn’t make you a failure, just gives you a reason to take up your cross in the New Year and ensure that you finish strong. 

The birth of our Lord and Saviour is about His death, it is about His finishing… and it is a journey. Your life and dream is a journey too, and you will celebrate and have others celebrate with you, if you finish!  You will make it, even with the curves and the hitches along the way.  Just as Jesus focused on the cross and He made it NevertheLess, you will too, if you understand that the end of a thing is better than the beginning.

A quick shout out to my latest Sister Bola Essien-Nelson (Of Diary of a Desperate Naija Woman), you are loved and appreciated!

To you all here is my Christmas message. ‘Beyond the celebrations, may you experience for yourself the WHY of the birth, may you align to the gains and may you utilize the opportunity therein. Merry Christmas. You are loved and appreciated.


You will make it! NeverTheLess!

Hugs

Bidemi

Monday, December 19, 2011

Naked And Not Ashamed!



Good morning, compliments of the season, and welcome to our Pre-Christmas post.  Today I am excited! Not that I won a lottery though, but excited nevertheless.

My Christmas tree isn’t up yet, but I am so excited that somehow, even though I am not good at decorations at all, I am going to do my best to put it up today, and if I am not able to do a good job of it, I will solicit help to get it done.

So why am I so excited then?  Hmm, maybe because I could sense the excitement in my team as I walked into the office this morning. They are excited that we are closing for the year today! I feel them, because even I don’t want to work another day in 2011.  But more than the fact that we are closing shop at the office is that, looking back, we can say we have had a great year, and mean it!

God has been extremely good to us, and if we don’t acknowledge the fact that He has been, it will be ingratitude of the highest order. But my excitement also goes beyond the fact that we have had a good year.  So what is the cause of such great excitement?  Hmm, you still have to wait a bit.

Last weekend, I was at a retreat with my awesome sisters and by the end of that retreat, I felt brand new.  Some how, the fact that God loves me so much, as demonstrated by our time with Him at the weekend, just makes me want to climb on the roof top and announce that God loves me, and I know.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to teach in Church something that God spoke to my heart a few days ago, and as I taught it, it dawned on me that I will not need to struggle next year.  I will not need to struggle, not because I have perfected the art of growth, both personally or in business, but because God loves me just the way I am, and He would rather I come to Him cracked and broken just the way I am, so He can do all that I cannot do.



My text from scripture was taken from Genesis 2:25, “Now the man and his wife were naked, but they felt no shame.” I saw through this scripture for the first time that I didn’t need to have a strategy for everything. I saw that I didn’t need to have the ‘i’s dotted and‘t’s crossed.  With God I can trust that every time I come in faith, trusting in His ability to be able to scale through, I do not only make it; I excel. This is the cause of the excitement that I feel.

I am excited just looking at this information against the backdrop of what God helped us achieve this year. We may have tried but it wasn’t because of that we had a good year; it was because God Himself stuck to His own plan and executed it on our behalf.

I am sure you are wondering how this helps you in living your dream; shouldn’t I be giving tips on how to begin in the New Year?  Yes, I could be doing that, but I can assure you it won’t yield much, except you know the source of your dream and hear His instructions for you to excel.

I guess I am excited because I have deliberately considered this year and I have come to one conclusion, that if it was not for God behind us, we will not be standing today.  This is why I am confident that if I stick with Him and listen to His instructions for me, next year will definitely be greater than this year.

Your year may not have gone the way you wanted, but know that God doesn’t make mistakes. As long as you are connected to God He has your life all planned out.  He wants us to be able to come to Him, naked and unashamed. With God our dignity is non existent, and it is okay to be broken.  He wants to have a reason to invade our lives on a daily basis.  Take out the facade, and next year will be great, if you will rely on His plan.

Till next post, remember that because you are connected to the best and only God ever, you will make it, NeverTheLess.

Merry Christmas

Sistar B

Monday, December 12, 2011

You can never be ready


courtesy flickr.com


Welcome and Compliments of the season to you all.  I had the opportunity of going out of my neighbourhood today and it dawned on me that the season has crept in on us somehow which also quickly reminded me that the year is spent.

As I thought about how fast it seemed the year has gone, and I wondered what it is that I can specifically say I did this year 2011 worth celebrating, I came to the realization that yes, there is a lot that I was able to accomplish this year by the grace and mercy of God.  However, I also quickly realized that if I stayed too long on that route I may be wasting precious time.

It all reminded me of a conversation I had at the weekend, where someone said to me that he didn’t do much because he was preparing.  He said to me that in the field where he wants to live his dream, you have to be very skilled to succeed, and as far as he is concerned, he needs to be sure that he is perfect before he steps out.  According to him, it was the reason he didn’t try to start at all in 2011.  He is waiting to ensure that he has everything together.

I told him his reasoning made sense, but was curious to find out if he has now acquired enough knowledge and skill to be able to start next year, and his response was “No, I still need to take so and so course as well as do this and that research before I can start.”  At this point I was curious, what is this dream that is so specialized?

And he told me he wants to start a restaurant.  “Good!” I said, “But can you cook at all?” He said yes, both Nigerian and continental dishes.  He can bake and knows how to make some natural drink or the other.  It was at this point it dawned on me that this person wasn’t trying to acquire skills, he was afraid to start.  Because I have been to a lot of restaurants where the owners have no idea how to boil water!  While this is not the best way to launch a dream, it is also important to recognize that even when you possess all the skills, you will never be able to get it all done on your own.  That is the point of the labour force, isn’t it?

As this year rolls to an end, if we spend too much time analyzing what we didn’t do instead of celebrating what we did and making plans for what we want to do next year, it will be a case of setting ourselves up for failure.  On the other hand if you didn’t start at all this year, because you will prefer that everything was set and in place, I have bad news for you, it is never going to be perfect.

Perfection is not and should never be the goal. Let the goal be to step out and make a difference, yet learning every step of the way to keep improving on ourselves.  I have learnt so much just waking up everyday looking for how best to serve my dream to my allocated constituency, than I could have learnt in any formal training environment.  Life has a way of training you and ensuring you acquire the needed skills even when you don’t enroll in a formal school.

The count down has started, and as much as you want to improve on what you already know, are you using what you know right now?

I was asked this morning what my plans are for 2012, and all I can think of is to find a way to serve more people with what I already know.  One thing I can assure you though is that while serving that number there will be hours and hours of training.

To end this post, please allow me bragging rights for a few minutes.  Effectual the “Power Digest” that we publish made it into the cloud this weekend.  This has taken our very small and personal vision GLOBAL, and for that I am very grateful to God.  Now we can serve you beyond the limits of distance and time. Just log on to www.magcloud.com and do a search for Effectual Magazine.  Download and enjoy and don’t forget to send me your comments and feedback.

From my heart, warmed with love and gratitude, I wish you a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year ahead.

God bless you.

Sistar B

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Random thoughts on Gratitude and More...



Welcome! There is so much to write that I have kind of become confused as to what to write.  Anyhow, I will ramble through all that is on my mind for today and hopefully, we will be able to tie it to the issue of pursuing our dreams as individuals.

Firstly, thank God that I am actually writing this sitting up! My post last week was done on my phone, lying flat on my back because I had just had some surgery and God kept me and saw me through.  It has been an amazing two weeks since the surgery and I cannot stop thanking God for His mercies and His grace.

Leading up to the surgery, I was full… full of ingratitude, questions, and fear.  Why of all the people in Lagos did it have to be me?  After all, I have done my best to be a decent child of God, but as always, the attitude wasn’t doing me any good.  I realized quickly that I was beginning to lose my sense of awe and wonder at the things God does in my life on a daily basis.  So I resolved to deliberately, make out time to just thank God for every thing I had taken for granted, especially the people in my life.  By the end of two days my attitude was better and my perspective was as it should be.


blogs.poughkeepsiejournal.com

You may be looking at your dream right now and saying to yourself that 2011 wasn’t a good year.  Let me help you gain perspective; do you even recognize that a lot of businesses went under?  Do I need to remind you of great banks that had to be bought over by others?  At least your own dream didn’t die?  For that, be grateful.

I remember growing up and being told that women couldn’t do a number of things, and therefore, looking at myself, I wondered how I was going to live the dream in my heart.  Looking at me today, and how, even though it seems to have taken longer than I would have liked, I am actually living my dream and I didn’t need to have a sex change.  How many things, that you were told you couldn’t or shouldn’t do, have you done a zillion times over?  It is the same with the dream in your heart.  If you have plans for 2012 and you are hoping to get the permission and validation you need, you may never get it from the quarters you wish. I want to encourage you today to jump anyway, because I mean, we were told a black man couldn’t rule the United States of America and today he is getting ready for a second term!

What about understanding why people are in your life?  Some are door openers- and we all want door openers-but the sad truth is that you will have more nay-sayers and discouragers.  Some people are in your life for nothing but to make you laugh and some are there to ensure that you cry once in a while.  While the last set is not the kind of people we want, have you ever stopped to think about the role they play?  If you didn’t need them, tell me, how will you develop the muscle to go for what you want?  What is the spice in your story, if you cannot point to one time, at least, when you didn’t think things would work out, because everyone said so!

Hmmmm! What is the point of my ramble this morning? Well, I am full and I cannot seem to be able to sort through the information overload right now, but I need to let you know, that it doesn’t need to make sense at all.  There is a point I have made for gratitude here, try it, you will be pleasantly surprised at how good you will feel.

Remember that your case is not the worst one around the block, maybe your business or dream didn’t do as well as you hoped, but see, your doors are still open which means 2012 is another opportunity for God to prove Himself concerning you.

Finally, every dog or person in your life is useful. The good, the bad and the ugly all have their day, just look them in the face and say ‘thank you’ because whatever they contributed, good or bad, is why you are the person you are today.

Every dream in your heart and hands is put there by God and I can assure you that He is more committed to your success than you can ever be.  I thank God for surgery, I thank God for people, I thank God for what doesn’t seem to have come together.
I know that beyond all these is a King within me waiting to step on the throne.  It is no different for you, you will make it NeverTheLess.

Hugs.

Sistar B

Monday, November 28, 2011

Choose Purpose...


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Just a few days left in November, and for most of us tensions are rising.  Are you feeling it?  Tension about how our long list for the year has not been accomplished and we are wondering if we will get a few more weeks to move as fast as we could to try and at least tick off some of these items so we can feel good that we did our best in 2011.  I do hope that works out somehow.  But my counsel will be, to take time out and focus on 2012 and begin to set our minds on what we will do with our year and how we intend to do it.

On today’s post, I want to tackle the issue of those who say “I have no passion.” Yes, I have come across those who are not able to emphatically say that a particular thing is their passion, they say something like “well I can do a number of things well, but nothing really excites me like that.”  And then they ask, so what do you suggest is a dream that is organic to me?

On the other hand there are also those who know for sure what it is that they are passionate about and have actually stepped out for years to pursue their passion.  They come to me and say something like “so and so is my passion, and I have worked on it for a number of years, while I am doing well at it, I still feel there is something more I could be doing.”

To both parties the answer is simple… Get Purpose! And someone is wondering, “Really? Isn’t there something more scientific that can be recommended?”  The truth is no, there is nothing more I can personally ask you to consider.

If you can do a whole lot of things well, but none of them excites you enough to be counted as a passion, then maybe you need to take a hard look at where you are, ask why you are planted there, and assess which of your gifts will bring the best value to your place of planting.  For instance if you are a mother and a wife, and you know how to cook, sew and maybe even bake, but none of these things excite you enough to be referred to as your passion, and you are wondering what you can do.  What you need to do is to look at these three strengths you have vis-รก-vis the value using them can add to your family and your purpose as a mother and wife and deploy it. 

Purpose is about service, adding value and doing good, so if I have skills as a wife and mother but cannot say I have a passion, I just take my purpose and use my skills to live it out. Before you know it, the excitement of being able to add value is bound to ignite some passion one way or the other in you.

For the man who has a Passion, say for art, and has spent years either studying art or following trends in art but has not been able to add value and find fulfillment, the issue is the same; you are pursuing a passion which if you do alone, can only feed your flesh and be about you alone, without adding value to another.  My counsel is therefore, take time and think again, about where you are, and what value you can add right there.  Which means if you are a father and husband and pursuing your passion in art has left your family living from hand to mouth with no direction or respite in sight, you want to step up to your purpose as father and husband which is primarily to ensure that your household is well taken care of and provided for. If art cannot meet these needs then, you need to begin to check your other skills and determine which will best serve your purpose.

As you begin to step up to the plate and live a purposeful life which can no longer be selfish or self centered, the excitement of adding value and doing good, will galvanize you and you may even in the end be able to tie art to your quest to add value.

The verdict today therefore, is if you had to choose between purpose and passion, please choose purpose. This is a higher level of living, where you live more for others than you live for yourself.

You will make it NeverTheless. You will…

Hugs

Sistar B

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Calculated Recklessness




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What I mean is we set out to ensure that our dream is giving more than it is taking, but we must have an expectation that the dream will give back to us.  How do we ensure this?

1. Make sure your passion will continue to drive the dream, profit or no profit.

2. Ensure that you can and others can see the effect or impact of your value.

3. Ensure that your dream has within it the capability to release others into their dreams.

4. Determine who needs your value and device a way to reach them directly.

5. When you reach them, make service the point of your contact. I mean make them know you are there to serve them. Make yourself vulnerable before them.

6. Understand and accept that you deserve to profit, thereby price your service accordingly.

7. Expect your gain and look out for it within the value you are creating and giving.

What all of this means is that yes you are running a business or pursuing your dream with what some people will term as reckless but because you have taken the outcome into consideration and actually know what it is you are expecting, you are actually calculatedly reckless.

If you run this way, I can assure you that you will get what you expect, NeverTheLess.

Till next week, keep touching lives as you pursue the dream of your life.

You will make it, NeverTheLess.

Hugs


Sistar B

Monday, November 14, 2011

More on Gain vs Value




Welcome!  I’m sorry but I just could not put up a post last week, I had a few things to sort out and that kept me out of the office through the week.  Thanks to all who have one way or the other sent feedback on posts on this blog so far.  I really appreciate your feedback. 

Someone asked me what a business is to do to make gain, while creating or giving value that outshines the gain.  Another respondent wanted to know if what I meant in the last post was that it is wrong for people to want to make gain.  On this post I will try and answer both questions and hopefully the issue of gain versus value will become clearer for us all.

The issue is never that a man or woman makes gain, the issue as I see and understand it is that the urge for making gain could be so strong that one is willing to bend the rules, compromise or even harm the other person, and this becomes the mindset of gain at all costs.  What I am proposing in the alternative is that we set out with the intention that whatever we are doing and will do, will carry a value worth more than any gain or money we may make.  Please note that what I am saying is not that we price ourselves, goods or services below cost and profit margin, but that we can make profit while still ensuring that what our clientele or customers enjoy as value from our goods or services have by far more lasting impact than the money they have to pay for it.



The point therefore is that we ensure that those we deal with have a pleasant experience that makes whatever amount they pay worth it. It is a mindset thing if you ask me.  It is a determination that people will pay for the experience they will have for every time they come in contact with us, rather than just for the goods and services

Now to the question of what does a person do to ensure that they get gain from the value they create. The answer is simple, if we are setting out with the mindset that we want to add value, to make more gain; we just need to increase the number of people we are able to serve with the value mindset. To explain it, let me use Effectual Magazine as our example. When it became clear that we were called and created to add value to women in this peculiar way, we started to service through teachings that attracted a handful of women per meeting.

We were making impact but we also knew that for our dream to make gain then it needed to serve more women.  What we then did was take the teachings and put them into newsletter formats and started to spread them to a lot more women than we could reach with our meetings. Ultimately, we realized that the women were being blessed, but we could reach a whole lot more women and that was how the magazine was born. Even with the magazine, we have constantly looked for ways to reach more women, and today our readership transcends the shores of Nigeria and Africa. 

The secret is out, if you want to make more gain, find a way to serve more people and you will be amazed at the volume of lives you touch as well as the extent of the value you are able to create. The more people you can touch with value and impact in mind rather than money and gain, the more your gain and profit goes up.

For everyone already living their dreams out there, try this simple principle and let me know how you have fared. 

Till next week, you will make it NevertheLess… I promise.

Hugs

Sistar B