GOD(WIN) MOMENTS 🙏🏾♥️

It’s been one month and 8 days since I lost my earthily father Godwin Chukwuma Ogbuokiri . It feels like it had been a time warp characterizing both the longest and the shortest time period in my life.

Carving my Dad’s name into the rocks during our family hike through the Narrows at Zion National Park this weekend ♥️

The truth is most days I still cry from missing my Dad. I have since returned to practicing child and adult psychiatry, and ofcourse my job is centered on improving others’ mental wellbeing.

There are days my passion to help others fortifies me in those moments that I sit across from my ailing patients.

Then there days that I find others’ sadness and loss impacting mine – like hitting a healing scab and causing it to hurt perhaps even causing it to bleed all over again.

The truth is it’s not just in my practice that I am reminded of my loss , it ‘s literally everywhere!

Something happy happens and I immediately think “ oh I can’t wait to call and tell Dad”.

With GrandBaby♥️
Wearing the Chosen “People Must Know” sweatshirt ♥️
Wearing the Chosen “ People Must Know” sweatshirt ♥️

I get a condolence call from a less than familiar family friend , then I wish I could call my Dad to give me more context on that relationship, who’s that “ uncle “ again? Where do they live etc etc.

I am not sure whether these moments of longing to have conversations with my Dad will diminish with time or not , I just know that they take me by surprise and shock me right back into my reality- the one where I have lost my precious Dad to the ages💔

There have been comforting moments too , these moments that I am choosing to call “GOD (WIN) moments”.

These bring a loving thought , or a humorous memory to mind that automatically spreads a smile across my lips.

In those moments , not only am I reminded that he lived and loved us fully, but that his spirit is now with God and guiding us forevermore.

Some of these GOD(WIN) moments may feel like mere coincidences, however because I believe in the communion of saints – I know better.

Interestingly, whenever I experience a GOD(WIN) moment , I try to stamp it in reality by taking a picture, or having a conversation about it in real time with those around me. This helps me acknowledge what I am experiencing in real time and give it some level of validation.

You may be wondering what exactly are some of these GOD(WIN) moments? Well I will share a few…

The first time I had a real assurance that my Dad crossed over to paradise , occurred the morning after his death. DH * and I had changed our original travel plans and instead made a trip on that fateful Thursday to New Orleans- part of our plan to spend our wedding anniversary with my parents .

DH * made reservations at a hotel with a balcony in the New Orleans French quarters , which meant music poured out of the streets. At first our arrival into this business as usual part of town felt awkward… I had just lost my most precious father and life seemed to be moving on, as if the strangers on bourbon street were so clueless to my biggest loss.

We arrived back to our hotel after visiting my mother and siblings at the extended stay place where my Dad spent his last 10 days post discharge recovering , or at least so we thought, until he went for a routine PCP visit , had to be called back frantically to return to the ER for a ridiculously elevated white count, ended up in the ER, finally gets admitted, only to aspirate , get transferred to the ICU where he continued the fight for his life for almost 6 hrs before he gave up his spirit at around 9:15 am on 9.15.22.

If there ever was a good day to die , I suppose this might be it.

That day also happened to be the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows day. Significant for the Catholic feast day celebrating when Mary received the body of her son Jesus from the cross.

I just wasn’t quite ready to loose my wonderful father. However I was grateful that our Lady will also bring home my Dad to heaven on her feast day🙏🏾.

Recently discovering my very first statue of Our Lady of Sorrows in my bag MONTHS after I purchased it while on last summer’s vacation.

Dad didn’t wait for DH * and I to get to New Orleans.

Anyways, as DH * and I tried to settle in that first night on New Orleans , I heard a knock on the door . I exhaustedly wondered who could be knocking this late at night.?

Too tired to bother, I fell asleep exhausted in my day clothes ( a very unusual thing for me to sleep in my day clothes)

The music outside the balcony had eventually stopped close to midnight and did not start up again until the next morning.

As I peered my eyes open to the world and the new day, my thoughts wondered which reality I was waking up into, the one where I still had my lovely Dad or the one where I was now fatherless? 💔

Just on cue, one of my favorite songs came on loud over the street speakers. The song is called “ what’s up ? , by 4 non blonds”

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6NXnxTNIWkc

Still laying on that bed , I began to tear up again.

Then there was this feeling of nostalgia – reminding me of my childhood days in my patriarchal home in Aba- Nigeria where I grew up on Hospital Road .

In that house, situated in a busy African street, early morning vendors greeted the new day with their loud music, as they opened their stores with songs like “ Good morning Jesus, good morning Lord”🎤

I immediately had this feeling that my Dad’s spirit was sending me reminders of my childhood days.

I cried some more.

Still laying in bed in my pool of tears , I Immediately began telling my DH * about this nostalgic feeling about my Aba home.

As I spoke , I saw DH have a puzzled look on his face , and asked me if I heard a knock on the door, before I could answer he opens the hotel door , looks up and down both hallways- no one!

Hmm”, he exclaims and returns to sit next to me in bed.

Then as if on cue again , one of the all time love songs Celine Dion’s “ My heart will go on” from the Titanic begins to blare over those street speakers – near and far where you are , I believe that the heart does go on…🎤DH and I look at each other and in that instant it was clear , these specifically chosen songs were not just coincidental , Dad was giving us a message!

That song was very dear to my DH *for an entirely different reason …

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3gK_2XdjOdY

I knew in that instant that my “ rascal Angel Dad“ just made it into heaven!!! He likely just rejoiced with Saint Peter who opened the gates of heaven to him, met up with his favorite saint St Rita , and his music loving self just found out where Heaven’s radio station was and was already requesting specific broadcasts for us to give us comfort, reassurance and yes a healthy dose of missing you tears.

Those early morning tears were cleansing. For me, they were a reminder of the communion of saints, a corridor open to believers, reassuring us that our blessed loved ones can still love on us from beyond this life.

There has been numerous other GOD(WIN)

Incidentally, my sister and her husband also had a lovely message sent to them once they landed in New Orleans on that same day that our Dad crossed into eternity.

Coincidentally found my Dad’s hat in our ole mini van on the way to the airport to go hike the narrows this weekend

Wearing Dad’s “EST 1939” hat in his honor

Theirs was in the form of an evangelical Uber driver who provided them support on their ride from the airport .

That evening , they told us the story of the stranger who not only was their Uber driver but also a gospel musician , complete with a record deal signed by an even more famous gospel musician , who coincidentally plays concerts in Nigeria of ALL places , oh and by the way lives an hour away from New Orleans but just enjoys driving Uber in Nawlins in order to meet people…. Coincidence ? Or a GOD(WIN) moment? …. You get to decide!

I am choosing to keep my spirit enlightened by the HOLY SPIRIT to receive ALL that God is sending my way these days , especially in my time of grief and sorrow .

My brother’s revolving picture coincidentally stuck on this pic of Dad for most of the morning one day 🙏🏾♥️

This weekend we were led to leave the hustle behind and hike almost 20 miles with our children through the Canyons of the Narrows at Zion National Park.

My legs may be exhausted but my spirit of adventure and tenacity is refueled!

DH and I hiking the narrows a second time , this time with our Four Loves💕

God knows what my soul needs and I am grateful he is feeding my soul to bring me healing and strength 🙏🏾

On this trip , we also got to see the Michael Jackson ONE show as a reward after our long hike !

Seeing Michael Jackson One Show in Vegas♥️
Seeing Michael Jackson One Show in Vegas

Finally, there was also one more special coincidence this weekend that allowed for an unexpected reunion with dear friends from my high school , who happened to be in Las Vegas this weekend and seeing and hugging them brought my heart JOY.

I grew up in Aba with this dear friend💕
Meeting our Nigerian/Canadian friends
Hiking and camping at the narrows with my loves 💕
Hiking and camping the Narrows with my loves

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)

Hiking the Narrows – fall break 2022

Where does YOUR heart need to BURN with LOVE?

I encountered these words during my morning meditation and prayers on the Hallow App today, and I must say it kinda burned!

These inquisitive words were invasive, as if searching for my own vulnerabilities. The inquiry also appeared to imply that this would not be an easy process, I mean BURNS tend to hurt right?

So I wasn’t sure I especially loved the inquiry, however I valued and welcomed the challenge to at least explore further …

You see, I also don’t particularly love roller coaster rides simply because it requires relinquishing ALL my control and trusting . Trusting that the mechanics of this piece of giant metal that promises thrill and excitement will also land me SAFELY on solid ground.

I still DO get on rollercoaster rides from time to time with my family , and I am always glad I did, once the ride IS over lol.

I value that I challenged my fears and insecurities and allowed myself to become vulnerable and therefore more free.

This is what this chance encounter with these words is doing to my heart.

It is like the invitation of a shiny rollercoaster inviting me to take a chance, take a leap into the most vulnerable parts of my heart and explore.

Where does my heart need to BURN with LOVE?

I don’t know about you but I could find at least a few places where this needs to happen in order to cultivate a more enriched soil for my soul’s growth.

How about you my dear reader , Where does YOUR heart need to BURN with LOVE?

Is it in forgiveness? AND forgetting ( A work in progress for me)

Is it in generosity and charity?

Is it in kindness?

Is it in patience?

Is it in alms giving?

Is it in impulsivity and self control ?

Is it in courage to find and USE the gifts we are given?

The list can go on and on…

Ultimately, I am grateful for this chance provocative thought and welcome the challenge of where the exploration takes me.

Much like those thrilling rollercoaster rides with the kids and DH* , I look forward to conquering my fears , landing safely AND looking back to be glad I challenged myself.

I DID THAT! Thank you Disney’ s Everest or Six Flags’ Mr Freeze 😏😅

I hope you too choose to get on your own version of your rollercoaster and be triumphant in conquering vulnerabilities!

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences . Please feel free to also “follow” by clicking the follow icon, so you can get notifications on future blog posts and not miss out !💕

*DH ( Darling husband)

Champions For Christ

How do you respond to compliments about your children?.. Aww thanks, OR that’s sweet of you to say, OR yes we’re lucky they’re great kids, OR we thank God for his blessings? etc etc

All of these are appropriate response in my opinion, however I especially like to return the praise to GOD.

You see, last week a dear friend was going to be one of the leaders of the music ministry at a local Parish’s VBS (Vacation Bible School) . The theme of the VBS week was Champions For Christ.

This friend had inquired about having our oldest daughter assist her in teaching the VBS younglings. After I wrote her to inform her that she was already committed elsewhere that week, a lightbulb moment occurred to me!

It went something like this in my head…. “Well she couldn’t do it Buhhh , what if our younger three ALL could?.. I mean why not send our twin 12 yr old boys with very little dancing experience, to lead music and dance ministry at VBS?…..

It continued…

“I mean ,sure , they played little Joseph In the musical Joseph and the technicolor dream coats years ago,that ought to count for something right? Besides, they will have their younger sister who is mostly a “grandma” with her 12 yr old wisdom and her fantastic dancethletics ( I know , I know it’s not a real word lol)😉 shepherding them.”

My friend jumped on the idea once I shared it with her, maybe because she was part desperate for helpers to help her teach those random praise songs and dances she was charged with teaching preschoolers to 2nd graders, OR just a lovely friend and a great supporter of our family. I personally vote for the latter.

In any case, she bought and loved the idea and I was thrilled to unglue my kids’ eyes off their video games and TVs and get my three tweens out of the house for a few hours each day that week!

WIN- WIN!!!

A few hours after I dropped them off bright and early , the first morning, ofcourse not before I double checked that no one forgot their deodorant or water bottles. I began settling into my clinic when I got the most lovely surprise.

It was a text , filled with compliments for my kids! I have to be honest with you , my dear readers..I was glowing internally, because in my humble opinion… As parent , OUR Children can truly be OUR biggest compliment in life .

Throughout the week, the compliments kept pouring in, at times extended from people I hadn’t even met! , who told my friend, how much our children were blessing them, and how well behaved they were … HEAD SWOON☺️

Then came this layer of awakening, …I began to wonder whether I was surprised by the compliments?.. not entirely. Then I wondered if I too , give my children the evidence of my TOTAL belief in THEIR abilities consistently?.. hmm🤔. The truth is that as a mother , I find myself charged with DUTY.. duty to raise good citizens of the world. This is a duty I take very seriously, heck I even make my living (as a Child and Adolescents Psychiatris) helping others raise good citizens for our world.

However sometimes, DUTY can drown us from perspective. We forget to be PRESENT to all the good that is already around us, all the yield that our DUTY is already producing. We keep focusing on doing more and more, including inspecting for water bottles and double checking that deodorants have been applied lol.

It could be like missing the forest for the trees!

Well, this week’s Catheletics VBS at Incarnate Word Parish , reminded me to be MINDFUL of my yield as a mother . I am very grateful to be raising young citizens of the world whose inner light shines bright, even when I am not right there MOTHERING them. I am also grateful that they seem to be humble to their abilities too.

Therefore , I have received those compliments graciously AND return the praise to the one who made ALL of this possible…GOD!

Ultimately, VBS ended with a bang! Catchy songs and dances were learned by so many younglins ( and hopefully by some young at heart folks too), my lovely friend and her colleagues, did a fantastic job leading an amazing music ministry at VBS , our children got to spend more time together and grew closer this week – an unexpected gift all around!

I must say, I had hoped the week would go well, however I mostly trusted without any real evidence that our kids will emerge as real Champions for Christ. This was total bonus!

Of course they’re not perfect (yet)lol, but they danced , served as techno guy for audiovisual and bogeyed for Christ, all while mentoring young ones in the process.

I marvel at how the orderer of the universe knows EXACTLY what we need and when. We certainly ALL needed the JOYS and WINS that came from this week’s VBS.

My DH * and I very proud of our kid’s hard work and service to others this week.

Dear reader, when was the last time you took a chance and leaped with trust? How do you respond to compliments of yourself or your children , if you have them? Where is your perspective taking lens these days? I sure hope it’s PRESENT to all the blessings around you , versus muddled with DUTY.

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences . Please feel free to also “follow” by finding and clicking the follow icon, makes it easier to share these musings with you and ensures that you can get notifications on future blog posts and not miss out !💕

*DH (Darling husband)

Mothering with the gifts of the Holy Spirit

Some seasons of our lives feel heavier than others however motherhood is not typically seasonal. Once a mother always a mother , regardless of the season of life we may find ourselves .

Thankfully some days , we may feel like we are winning at this mothering thing, and then there are other days that I know that I feel like I’m frantically grasping for where the motherhood manual is hiding🤪

Typically those days feel exhausted with emotions, why am I loosing my patience? was I as supportive as my children needed me to be today, was I joyful in moments spent with them? was I firm enough in my instructions and guidance? did I get ANY time for my own self care.

Basically am I doing this mothering thing right?Perhaps you have experienced days like this yourself .

We could despair about days like those or we could look for strength through the hardships.

Luckily Enter the Holy Spirit!…complete with the gifts of the spirit to lighten our load and illuminate our path through motherhood.

I wanted to study the gifts of the holy spirit and how it’s application could enlighten my calling as a mother.

Here are the list of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit wisdom, understanding, knowledge/counsel , right judgment, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord.

While each one , may have numerous definitions. According to Catholic.com, the following standard interpretation is based on the work by St Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century.

Here are some thoughts on how I am choosing to apply these gifts of the Holy Spirit , as a mother . Of course , this is a work in progress and I may need to re orientate and focus my eye on the prize many times over whenever I miss the mark.

Wisdom is both the knowledge of and judgment about “divine things” . Pope Francis defines wisdom as ability to see everything through the eyes of God.

Therefore , knowing that God IS love, we strive to mother through the eyes of LOVE no matter the situation. This means mothering our children with all the descriptions of love as kind, patient , not envious…. never failing ( Corinthians 13:1)

Understanding is essentially the ability to “see” God.

Yup! That means seeing God through the messy bedrooms , the siblings bickering and choosing to respond as we would to God. I guess it’s gonna be a bit hard to imagine loosing our patience and yelling at God to feed the dog …. hmmm.🙄

Counsel allows a man to be directed by God in matters necessary for his salvation .

This means consulting frequently with God to help illuminate our path of motherhood so that we can be triumphant in our calling , all the way to the salvation of the souls of our children.

Fortitude denotes a firmness of mind in doing good and in avoiding evil, particularly when it is difficult or dangerous to do so..

This means courage to do what is right. It means teaching our children courage to stand up for justice and for those who are oppressed.

Knowledge is the ability to judge correctly about matters of faith and right action, so as to never wander from the straight path of justice (II/II.9.3).

Ultimately God is the giver of knowledge and wisdom. Using our “ wise “ mind requires constant consultation with God to assist in our daily discernment.

◦ Piety is, principally, revering God.

We should help our children develop a relationship and a loving reverence for God who is the creator of all things.

◦ Fear of God is, in this context, “filial” or chaste fear whereby we revere God and avoid separating ourselves from him—as opposed to “servile” fear, whereby we fear punishment (I/II.67.4; II/II.19.9).

Rather then having the type of fear that makes us want to hide shamefully from God, we should teach our children to allow them to develop a respecting and trusting relationship that deepens their connection with God.

While there is no motherhood manual , I am grateful that we can rely on these precious gifts of the Holy Spirit to help us transcend our human limitations ( John 14:23)

That certainly feels like WINNING in this beautiful yet , oh so demanding call of motherhood.

Happy International Women’s Day to all the strong mothers.. We salute you!💕

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences . Please feel free to also “follow” so you can get notifications on future blog posts💕