A King’s Kid

Courtesy of CeProductionsShopEtsy

A statement from my devotional today really caught my curiosity. The speaker said “ remember when you feel doubt you’re a King’s kid”.

This is because “ but as many as received him, to them he gave right to become children of God” -John 1:12

God is King and that makes us a King’s kid, as long as we believe and receive Jesus.

I am loving the image of myself as a King’s kid, a princess to be precise. Reflecting on this has elevated my spirit, boasting my confidence, infact maybe even giving me an extra pep in my step today.

I don’t know about you but the thought of being a princess sounds pretty fabulous to me. What images of royalty does this conjure up for you in your mind?

Seriously this message really is so timely for me. Timely because even for just today, I needed to not doubt me, or my abilities , especially as my strength weans and I feel weary under the pressure of my doctor/ mothering TO DO lists.

After all, I AM a King’s kid , a precious daughter of the most high God.

I pray this statement settles in your spirit and encourages you too , as you read this .

Remember when you feel doubt, don’t forget that you too are a King’s Kid, and that is a very special place to be!💕

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences .

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Washing of the Feet

Holy Thursday has been one of the highlights of my Catholic Faith practice.

(I have written about this from last year if you d like to check it out here https://mindmuse.blog/2022/04/19/easter-triduum/

This year was different.

There were moments of joy watching our daughters perform liturgical dance while bringing the blessed oils into the sanctuary .

There were also somber moments reflecting on Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane and the last hours of his life.

Experiencing my favorite liturgy this year while grieving the loss of my earthly father opened up more spaces of vulnerability for me.

There are holes in my heart this year as I miss gathering with all of my loved ones.

Hearing our priest remind us that the oil of catechumens , oil of sacraments including the oil anointing of the sick “was blessed this morning at the cathedral by the bishop and about 125 priests”. He reminded us that the blessing of this oil is done yearly on this day, and could be used to anoint any of us members of the church in the coming year.

It is a good yet hard reminder of our human mortality and fragility.

A good reminder to live a life of love and no regret.

Tonight we wash each other’s feet just like Jesus washed his disciples.

There were so many beautiful moments just sitting to appreciate families , friends and perhaps strangers washing each other’s feet tonight. I have to give credit to our family friend who spontaneously captured these photos of our family for us during the act of feet washing… thank you Tom!

A beautiful symbolic act of love, humility and service.

We were challenged to reflect on whose feet we’ve washed or who have washed our own feet lately?

I can think of so many who have been of help and service to me in these past six months of grieving the loss of my father.

I will be forever grateful to all of those who have helped unburden me, in one or another.

Thank you.

This particular day of liturgy can be emotionally heavy. My grieving heart allowed it to weight tons more tonight.

I missed my Dad and yet grateful that he helped mold my Catholic faith – an endless gift indeed.

Attending the beginning of this year’s Easter triduum with our crew of almost all four teenagers ( 15yrs, 13yrs, 13 yrs and 12yrs) is also humbling .

This year, DH and I thought it best if we allowed each of the children to pick whose feet in our family they wanted to wash, as an act of love, humility, forgiveness, service .

I am sure you can relate that some feet are “ easier” or “ harder “to wash depending on the day.

Let’s just say that deciding whose feet one chooses to wash should allow us to be more speculative.

As a mother of four ( almost) teenagers, I don’t always feel like I’m crushing the “super mom playbook.”

Therefore, tonight with my heavy heart, I choose to wash your feet out of love ,humility and service.

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences .

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** DH ( darling husband)

Temples around Kyoto

Our fifth day in Japan found us waking up for a second morning in beautiful Kyoto.

DH and I woke up at 5:30 am to ride our bikes to a temple about 10-15 mins away from our ABNB into the mountains of Kyoto.

A dear friend had recently visited Japan and recommended we check out this temple that held prayer services at 6am by Shinto (?)monks.

While it wasn’t the easiest having to leave my warm bed so early on our final day in the city of Kyoto, DH and I managed to get out the door by 5:45am . We left our daughters to sleep in( teens and preteens absolutely need theirs 😴 while our sons were still traveling with their school trip group.

As we step out of our door from the quaint home we were renting on the Arcade area, we are greeted by a most beautiful morning. The city was barely awake. The spring temperatures was refreshing , unlike yesterday when it literally rained all day long, there is no rain in the forecast today…yay!

We rode down a main road punctuated every now and then with the most cherry blossoms striking their beautiful poses amidst the sky lines.

Friendly Temple sweeper early in the morning

My leg muscles and cardiovascular system was warming up fast and getting a serious work out , as we rode our bikes up those mountains. I’m trailing behind DH, as usual, and I’m close to panting for more breath.

This exertion is a good reminder for me to keep up my physical fitness, if I plan to keep being able to visit and see wonderful parts of this amazing world.

Anyways , we make it up those daunting mountainous roads through quiet neighborhood, while hardly seeing people on the road.

DH is diligently following his google map directions and I’m doing my best to just keep up .

Finally we arrive at this ancient temple built in 400AD era, and it’s intimidating with its’ charm, architectures and peacefulness.

We were the only humans in sight. There were no prayer ceremonies going on, at least not today. There are many signs posted around , except there were mostly all in Japanese sanscript, so not too helpful to us.. oh well.

DH is in his exploration haven, he seems bold as he leads the way wondering around this ancient temple grounds, as if he’d been there many times before.

My cautious African self is wondering if we REALLY are welcome to be wondering about these parts so freely, but I keep following behind DH.

It looked like we literally had the entire place to ourselves, except from the rooster busy with his wake up calls and a bird that sang out so beautifully, so boldly.

There were signs that shrine worshippers visited often, papers inscribed with prayers hanging on shrine walls, offerings made to the shrine gods, and a parked Toyota van that perhaps belonging to a temple worker.

Finally , I settled in more after several minutes of walking around and seeing beautiful reminders of peace and tranquillity. If morning had a sound of nothingness, then this was it.

Breathing in the freshness of this morning, I surrender to the creator of the day. I was no longer worried that I was intruding on another’s place, instead I started to feel like I too belonged to this place, to this morning. I was no longer afraid and questioning.

I was feeling more at home with the sounds of the mountains, although I couldn’t tell what bird or insect or animal each sound belonged to.

It no longer mattered now, I was just appreciating that that we were all there together this very morning.

In that moment , there was only one thing left to do, just BE in the moment. So I did. I found a stone bench , propped up my legs and began to attempt a meditation.

It was mostly a time for me to breathe in all the gratitude in the air around me. Grateful that I get to be in this place , at this time , with my DH, grateful for my family , for my friends, and for all the many reasons to be thankful for the life that I do have !

I hope and pray that you too can look around and breathe in some reasons to be grateful.

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences .

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Enchanted Japan💕

On our recent trip to Japan , DH described this country as enchanted, and I couldn’t have agreed more. Except for a brief layover in an airport in Osaka many many years ago, while our way to Bali for our honeymoon, we had never visited Japan.

Therefore when our 7 th graders had an opportunity for a spring break Apoogee ** school trip that could include parents, we were beyond excited to sign up to travel with them.

First we had to figure out the affordability for our family of six as well as the logistics of tagging along with our twins boys, but this 15 hrs trip made sense for our family for so many reasons!

We also have our amazing niece/god daughter who has been living in Tokyo whom we’ve talked about wanting to visit for soo long now .In addition, we as a family had also entertained the idea of hiking Mount Fuji.. I mean why stop at just Mount Kilimanjaro right?😉

Upon landing in Haneida airport in Tokyo , we meet up with our lovely family friends who were traveling on a similar itinerary as we were, their young son also traveling with the Ladue School Apogee class trip.

The first things I observed was how efficiently we moved through customs, picked up our luggage and off we were, trying to navigate the JR train system all on our own. Travel instructions were mostly in Japanese writing (Konchi), and while there were signs in English, they seemed to be in the minority, so you had to pay very close attention reading maps /signs or you missed out.

This idea of needing to pay attention is not uncommon when you travel to a new place, but somehow with the very fast pace of Tokyo’s busy metropolitan’s city with its countless trains, bullet trains,subways, buses running so efficiently on a tight time schedule ~we really needed to pay attention or risk getting lost on this huge city of close to 30 million people.

DH and our daughters 💕💕

I literally give my DH, all the travel credit , on this trip as usual , he had done so much research and pre planning to ensure that our ten days of traveling through Japan was smooth as possible. Our daughters and I had the best time exploring foods ( thanks to recs from our niece/god daughter guide extraordinaire who was quiet fluent in Japanese already), there were cousins and friend times, lots of matcha flavored ice cream and drinks, local snacks from seven eleven on every corner, and we even found Starbucks and McDonald’s there too !

We traveled in mid/late March, with a stroke of good fortune and fate , found ourselves right on the middle of the blooming of the beautiful cherry blossom season! Apparently the cherry blossom is only about 2 weeks long annually! Okay, that was just pure lucky as we could not have planned THAT!

Adaeze and others admiring the cherry blossoms
Philosopher’s path in Kyoto

DH , our two daughters and myself travelled together , while our twin sons travelled and explored with their class travel group . There trip was organized by a tour company EFJ, that included a well planned itinerary , lodging and accommodations as well as a local Japanese guide. We would meet up with their travel group every once in a while for dinner or to visit a temple together or just for a hug and a picture! This felt bold,to give our 13 yr old sons’s independence in another country,while being just a text or call away.

The teachers and parents that travelled and stayed with the group were all so wonderful, keeping us in the loop as much as possible , amidst wifi woes at times lol.

Twin A waiting for the bullet train
Early morning bike ride on the Philosopher’s path in Kyoto
Me and our Twins 💕💕

We visited several cities in Japan , mostly following along our sons’ itineraries while improvising our own plans here and there. There was A LOT of walking so make sure to pack comfortable shoes . We stayed at nearby ArNBs and hotels except for one night that we shared the same hotel as our sons in the town of Kawaguchi while visiting Mount Fuji.

Experiencing the beauty of this country is incredible, from the intimidating snow capped mountains of Fuji to the beautiful island of Mayijima with its floating Torrin temple gates, numerous beautiful temples and shrines,and the in between cities of Kyoto with its classy charm, the sophistication of Tokyo with its art museums and sharply dressed women and “salaried men” to the sobering city of Hiroshima – Japan had it all to offer an inquisitive tourist!

Beyond the beautiful landscapes of this country, I believe I was most intrigued by its people and culture. I had SO many questions.. how do they manage to keep the peace around them ? Is this really a NO gun society ?wow! Everyone seemed to simultaneously mind their own business while also showing respect to eachother! How are there hardly any trash cans and yet the streets and the train stations were SO clean?!, where were their homeless population? And how is everyone seem to be so nicely dressed, appearing to have purpose with something to do/ somewhere to go?, how are they so quiet on massively crowded buses and trains? Why do you not even smell people standing so close to you, armpits raised to hold on to poles for stability on those crowed moving trains?

I also wondered a lot about how efficient the Japanese technology appeared to be, warm toilet seats, with bauder( impressive TOTO brand!) , even in public places?!😳, bathroom so compact and efficient , random anti fog mirrors in hotel bathrooms( this was such a champion!, I mean who really wants to get out of shower , only to view their reflection in a cloudy mirror? Yes sometimes those bathroom fans just don’t cut it I’m sorry lol.

I also noticed that while I still needed to pay attention in order not to miss bullet trains which ran so precisely on time, by the seconds even! As the days went on, I became even more and more relaxed .

I was not worried about my safety in Japan. Our brilliant god daughter’s apt explanation that Japan allows for creative thinking because your fight or flight nervous system is not always activated, trying to ensure your safety. This felt absolutely true to me, it was much easier to be in the present in the moments, here in Japan.

Ultimately, this turned out to be a trip of a lifetime. I keep telling my DH that he really has a natural calling to travel planning if he ever gets tired of being a shrink lol

In all seriousness , I would love to return to Japan again very soon, not only for the amazing foods, sights and shopping. I would return for the peace and tranquility of this place. Amidst the bustling cities, visiting beautiful temples tucked in along lovely hikes and trials provided me with much needed quiet.

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences .

Click on the “follow” icon, so you can get notifications on future blog posts via email and not miss out !💕

** DH ( darling husband)

**Apogee ( gifted class name at Ladue Middle School)

Hope in Ballots

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Hope is the engine for tomorrow.

Hope allows us to create visions for our future.

On Feb 25th 2023, my home country Nigeria , the giant of Africa, held elections to determine its’ future.

This was the most anticipated election of our time, as millions had their hopes for a better future hanging in the balance.

The youth poured into the streets , to those voting polls to cast their hopes for their future into ballots.

The older generation also went to have their voices count , in the form of votes.

There were MANY deterrents that day, such as long lines that took some literally all day to vote, rain that interrupted these lines, dust storms that choose to dance and scatter INEC polling stations, sun and heat that made voters question their resolve to continue to wait in the hot sun.

Through it all, Nigerians waited patiently to cast their votes. Many were voting for the first time in their lives. Some who had started in the lines early that morning with the sunrise , could not cast their votes until the sun was down from the sky.

Finally the votes were cast. The ballots were collected , and we waited.

Nigerians at home and those in the diaspora, waited on pins and needles for the election results.

Then the silence was deafening. Days after such a hugely anticipated election, and no results ??

I was in Mexico with my American in laws and they would ask me “ any news from Nigeria?”, and I had nothing . Crickets.

This was unusual and very much unlike American elections where projections are typically displayed on TV, literally at all hours following elections.

But this was different..

I too waited , then I called family at home in Nigeria .. they too had nothing .

We were ALL waiting.

Then on March 1st, while people were asleep , the INEC * reported a winner, shocking the whole world.

This was NOT what the youth of Nigeria expected. To have their hopes dashed by reports of corruption and inappropriate handling of election ballots. To hear of many cases of election interference in the forms of violence at election polls, voter intimidation , mismanagement of the ballot counting with faulty machines that could not “ upload” election results and outright election fraud.

This was NOT what we had hoped for as we anticipated and dreamed of a new Nigeria, all those months ago.

Those ballots promised us of a new Nigeria, one with less corruption.

Now those ballots threatened to take away HOPE from us and for our future generations.

We will not let it. We must hang on , even if with the tips of our fingernails to hope for Justice.

Hope now for Justice to challenge the recent electoral process.

Now more than ever , we need HOPE for our beloved country Nigeria!

I will continue to HOPE

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences .

Click on the “follow” icon, so you can get notifications on future blog posts via email and not miss out !💕

***Independent National Election commission.