Book Review: Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly

Love Comes Softly, authored by Janette Oke, is a historical fiction featuring young Marty and her husband Clem who set off to the West (America) to find a better life. Unfortunately, Clem dies shortly and on the day of his burial, Clark proposes to Marty. Clark is a widower who was searching for a ‘Mama’ for his one-year daughter. Marty, who had almost nothing, was left with no choice but to follow Clark and be a mummy to Missie and if she did not like it, would head back to the East. Talk of a marriage of convenience.

The Setting

The book took readers to several centuries in the past when people lived in cabins, had farms, reared animals for their food and used horses as means of transportation. As a reader, I could picture the small cabin that Marty had to live in with Clark and her daughter and how the place could freeze during the winter and be warm during the other seasons. I appreciated the communal living where the neighbours aided each other in their activities, for instance, to clear their lands for cultivation, to build cabins or quench a fire. There was that sense of togetherness that existed among them. Although some were portrayed as extremely poor, they still managed to visit each other and present gifts when the need arose. The simplicity of life in those centuries was refreshing to read about.

Clark

Clark was introduced as a good Christian man who ‘never beats’ his wife. His ways of showing love in the book were mainly through acts of service and being generous. He did not talk much but took Marty in, gave her the space she needed to function and figure things out without forcing anything on her. He eventually became a father to Clem’s son and he did that so well.

Marty

She is the main character of the book and the story is woven around her. She was initially sad, became confused, hated Clark in the beginning for having the guts to propose to her while she mourned her husband and eventually had to learn a lot about housekeeping, cooking and being a mum. The portion of the book which got me chuckling was when she felt she could kill a rooster for dinner but did not imagine how difficult and daunting that task could be.

The Bad

The conversational language used by the characters was a bit difficult to read and understand. The accent was quite heavy, making me skip a few of those lines.

Spoiler Alert: The portion I found a little puzzling was when Clark (although married to Marty) never made any sexual advances towards Marty in all of the 149-page book. How?  🤔  I know he was a Christian and all but for a book like this, Clark should have ‘attempted something.’  🙈🙈  On the other hand, that makes the book quite clean and could be consumed by younger readers.

The Good

What later became the love that had developed between Marty and Clark was simply beautiful. It was not based on beauty, mushy feelings and butterflies but could be described as genuine love. It was deliberate, portrayed kindness, patience, care and real affection that had been cultivated for almost two years.

Love Comes Softly is not preachy and that is how readers get to know more about the birth of Christ, Easter and how to navigate through life’s challenges without giving up (when Clark’s barn got burnt). It also emphasises the Christian’s lifestyle and its ability to influence others. That is also portrayed in how Clark eventually got Marty interested in the God he worshipped.

©

The Dean’s Office (Part 2)

Read part 1 of the Dean’s Office.

Our home hasn’t been the most peaceful in recent times. It started when Shirley took that senior lecturing role at the University. The money she earns is not bad but we miss her presence at home – the kids and me. It was not as if we were doing terribly -financially- before she took that role. We were comfortably living on my salary and no one complained but you know women,

“Oh Jimmy, I need to progress further in my career. I can’t live on your earnings alone. I need to support the house too,” she said.

I knew a lot of lecturers who had very flexible work schedules and spent most of their waking moments consulting for firms but not Shirley. She is always the first to leave the house and the last to return at night. Her excuses were numerous,

“Oh. You know the Accra traffic – I needed to beat it,”

“The children can be a nuisance at times and my office is the most conducive for the articles I am reviewing,”

The children. They keep asking of their mother who is extremely busy beating all the traffic in Accra. I missed those days when she had no job in any formal setting. During that period, we had no business thinking of employing any helps for the house.

Now my excuse for men who are doing extremely well – don’t let the women work, especially when the kids are still young. If she pretends to be angry, let her be. She will get over it in no time. Don’t fall for the, “Oh! I need to support the house” mantra.

“Jimmy, things will get better in no time,” Shirley reassures me whenever I start complaining about the limited time she spends with the family. As to when the situation would improve, I have no idea.

You know what? Now I need a drink.

*******************

This morning, I couldn’t help but reminisce over how drastically my life has changed. From an unemployed graduate to a mother of three solely relying on her husband’s income while spending every waking moment writing applications, praying over them and sending them out without any response. This happened until one of my former roommates encouraged me to apply for a scholarship which I did. Jimmy, my husband, had been the only stumbling block but I managed to push him aside.

The journey has not been easy thus, when I sit in my brand new Mazda CX -30, driving around campus, I know I deserve every bit of goodness that is coming my way. I could sometimes feel the stares of not only the students but members of faculty who probably do not understand what I have been through and I am determined to rise through the ranks. Being a professor wouldn’t be enough. Professor Emerita? Possibly.

A knock on my door jostled me out of my daydream.

“Come in,” I said.

“Dr. Osei, please my name is Bernice. I am having issues with the topic I chose for my long essay. I cannot seem to find any articles to review,” she said.

“That is why I keep repeating that you students start the literature review before settling on a topic. What if no one has written on that subject? Are you going to spend your remaining three months in school creating something new?” I asked.

Another knock interrupted our conversation and before I could respond to it, Dr. Francis Smith, looking all manly, walks into my office without an invitation.

“Erm,” I said looking at the student.

“Bernice,” she offered.

“Yes. Bernice. Kindly write the topic you have chosen here. Add your phone number and email address and I will get in touch with some ideas, ok?”

“Thank you, Madam. Eh. Dr. Osei,” she responded and hurriedly run out of the office.

“Great. And how can I be of help to you, Dr. Smith?” I asked while finally focusing all of my attention on him. Dr. Smith looked exceptionally handsome in his neatly sewn multi-coloured African print shirt with navy-blue pants that fitted him so well. The sleeves were short enough to show his proportionately built muscles. With my desk separating the two of us, he bent over a little which gave me a glimpse of his hairy chest. I could smell his perfume too.

“Ahem,” I cleared my throat rather loudly, “do you mind taking a seat, Dr. Smith.”

He did, rather reluctantly.

“You showed me how to get to your office but forgot to add your phone number,”

“So you came all the way here for my phone number?” I asked in disbelief.

“And to see your pretty face as well,” he added with a smile.

“Excuse me?” I replied. Not sure if I heard him correctly.

…….to be continued.

©

Guest Post: How to Make Time for God as a Mother

The journey of motherhood is definitely a crazy one! A friend once asked me, “What makes parenting difficult?”.

My response was, “Raising another human whilst trying to figure out your own life.” Perfectly summarised right?

If, as mothers, we struggle with mommy guilt and making time for ourselves, how do we then ensure we create that time to consistently work on our spiritual and personal relationship with the Father Almighty?

Today, OMT’s Digest and The Christian Blog Ghana will share some tips to help you stay on top of your God game as a mother.

  1. Be open-minded about how you spend time with God.

Sitting in a chair and imagining God seated opposite you can also be prayer. You can talk to Him in the bathroom or whilst cooking in the kitchen. Covid has taught us that even church can be virtual. We revere Him but He also says we should come to Him anytime with no strict rules laid down. Don’t allow society to create false rules for you. It’s a personal relationship and the mode of the relationship lies with the parties involved. Even in thoughts, you can still maintain that personal relationship with God.

Don’t limit yourself!

  • Check your schedule and find what works for you.

It could be the first 4 minutes before everyone is up, the time you settle in at work before the official work start time of 8am and it could be on the road to work which is even much preferred if you have your own mode of transportation. This is because you can have a morning devotion session in the car with the kids on the way to school drop-offs and you know who can be your best accountability partner? YOUR KIDS!

Once you find that time, proceed to create a routine out of it.

  • The strength of your prayer is not dependent on the length.

Not everyone is a prayer warrior. Some are gifted to pray in tongues and be deeply engulfed in the spirit for a longer period. Praying for a shorter period doesn’t make you any less of a child of God. Picture it as this, God has many children, and some are introverts and other extroverts. Some would meditate deep in their hearts and others will prefer to speak aloud. Even with our kids they all have their unique personality traits but we accept them as they are and still make time to listen to them.

Use the style that works best for you.

  • Supplement and develop yourself with spiritual audio teachings and music.

Worship and praise music and teachings can all help to develop your relationship with God. Mensa Otabil, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen and Stevn Furtick and others all have podcasts you can subscribe to on a daily or weekly basis for FREE. These teachings can help build you up in your spiritual journey. And on days you are short of words, the music helps fill in the words for you.

One app that I find useful and would recommend to every mother is the YouVersion. This app has different devotionals on whatever topic you can think of – be it on anxiety, worry, fear, taking care of children, pregnancy journey etc. You can select a time to receive reminders to have your quiet time and what even makes it better is the audio option, thus you don’t need to read all the time. One of my favourite parts is the option it gives to users to record their prayers. Tracking your prayers and matching them to their answers, over time, teaches you to trust in God always.  

Being a mother and taking care of the home plus managing a career or business could be extremely overwhelming and if care is not taken, God, prayer and quiet times could easily be relegated to the background. It is therefore important to make a conscious effort to spend some quality time with God in a day. As stated above, the duration is not as important and the quality. You could be cooking your meals and praying or doing your laundry and be singing your hymns and spiritual songs. They are all ways of communicating to God.

Hope these tips are useful and don’t pass judgement on yourself before you try out any of these tips. Tell us how this post served you. Is there any tip we missed in the post? We would love to hear from you. Let us know in the comment section.

When Life Takes an Expected Turn

When life takes an expected turn

Towards what you never dreamt of

Or in the direction of the most dreadful

The dream that you almost swore was a vision from God which you have invested so much – shattering right before your own eyes

The battle for good health and the expenditure on costly medication with no improvement in sight

The death of a loved one who has been at the center of your prayers for several months

You almost swore that particular prayer was going to be answered.

Almost

Yet life takes an unexpected turn.

Your biggest fear unfolds right before your eyes.

When you stand to pray, there may be seeds of doubts.

Should you continue to trust and battle in prayer?

Or relax and let things be.

As they say, ‘que sera, sera

It sounds attractive to let life unfold in the direction of what or whoever.

No. Amidst your troubles, there is always that pleasant reminder of God’s goodness.

There could be a couple

Look hard – around and within

There is always an answered prayer that could be your focus when life takes the unexpected turn

Do not pile up all the bad stories to make you feel more miserable

The devil enjoys it when your heart is doubtful

Even in the most heart-wrenching situation, there is always that wind of God’s goodness blowing.

Learn to fix your eyes and heart on the good in trying times

Take each day as it comes

Cry if you feel like

Continue praying and make God’s promises your pivot.

The situation gets better and the unexpected circumstance becomes bearable.

©

The Dean’s Office (Part 1)

I know movies can be dramatic and are designed to entertain us.

“This scene is unrealistic,”

“That is too much of a coincidence,”

“The world is too large for these two to keep meeting,”

These are some of the commentary my brain runs when I sit to watch movies.

I had never set my eyes on him until the dean introduced us during one of the faculty meetings. He was tall, fair and properly dressed in a coffee brown Italian, slim-fit suit, a white shirt underneath and brown shoes to match. He seemed to have good taste in fashion.

“Dr. Osei, meet Francis Smith(PhD). He is the newest addition to the Business School. He will lecture in Finance,” the dean said.

“Pleased to meet you, Dr. Smith,” I said with my hands lifted to meet his in a firm handshake.

The two of us sat across the dean to discuss the course structure. We were still going to lecture for ten weeks, conduct interim assessments, give the students one project work to be executed in a group and finally examine them at the end of semester.

“I am glad you will be working together to make this semester a successful one,” the dean said. “But Francis, keep it strictly professional. She is definitely not your type and she is married.”

The dean said while sharing a hearty laugh with Dr. Smith.

I couldn’t tell how far their friendship went but I was simply not interested in where this joke was headed.

I packed my notebook into my bag and quickly made my way to the door of the dean’s office.

“Let’s just say I haven’t grown out of my boyish desires,” I heard Dr. Smith respond with another loud laughter which rang through the office and was followed by another handshake.

This Francis guy or Dr. Smith was good looking and God knows he looked great in that suit. Many women would definitely kill to date him but who really is Dr. Francis Smith?

*******************

My sense of style cannot be described as classy or chic or trendy. I dress to feel comfortable and on regular days, I wear my African print dresses and my natural hair is always pulled up in a bun.

Today, I am dressed in a crisp white long sleeves with a navy blue body con skirt and a three-inch high heel. This is how I dress whenever I needed to represent the Business School at meetings off-campus. The dean offered me his spot at a high level meeting with some government officials and I had to look, act and speak the part. No wonder most of the participants wanted to interact me right after the meeting.

I needed to grab some breakfast from the Senior Staff Cafeteria before heading over to the dean’s to debrief.

“There you are,”

A voice behind me made me turn and it belonged to no other than Dr. Smith. What do they say about coincidences again?

“Hi,”

“I haven’t set my eyes on you since we had that meeting at the dean’s office. We’re supposed to work together, you know,”

His eyes moved from my face, down to my little cleavage and they rested on my skirt before making their way to my eyes again.

“You could have have simply asked the dean for that information,” I said.

“You know, why don’t we sit at the table in the corner and have a little chat. The waitress could serve us,” he said.

“Second floor, Lecture Theatre 5, Room 7. You can find me there,” I said quickly while picking my meal and leaving the cafeteria.

…..to be continued

©

Can I Write?

Uncertainty is what fills my heart

Confusion clouds my mind

Should I write?

It’s been a while and I doubt if I still have the power

That ability to touch lives with my creativity

To put those thoughts into words and pour it out as I used to

The pressures of life so overwhelming that they make me want to stay away and give more excuses.

When I know I should push myself a little more and create those beautiful pieces.

Procrastination, laziness, lack of time, self-doubt, nobody would miss me – were my justifications.

But I felt the guilt and the envy which prevented me from interacting with other content creators who were still pushing it.

How are they able to create? Even when we are unsure of our level of impact and the level of motivation so low.

Maybe they have super-powers that prevent them from giving up.

Gradually the envy metamorphosed to admiration.

I began to appreciate the tenacity of fellow bloggers who never rest and keep churning beautiful pieces so consistently.

They are the real MVPs

The break was good but deep down, I knew I had to get back to one of the most liberating passions – to create, to write and to touch lives with words.

©

God: Can we Have Moment?

It’s a new year.

Another cycle – a fresh start – for some people who have loads of dreams, hopes and aspirations.

Others are confused. They are not sure whether to reduce their expectations, judging from what they experienced last year.

2020 was a little tumultuous, thus, in this new year, we ask for good health for every member of our families, loved ones and even those we do not know.

We pray for wisdom and direction to take each day at a time.

We pray for guidance to know what to do in every situation.

We pray for knowledge to ascertain which voice is yours.

In this new year, please respond to at least one of the most pertinent desires of everyone.

Help us to be good people

Teach us to love one another and to keep our faith in you instead of our abilities.

As you have taken us through a challenging year, we believe this year will be much better.

We trust in you.

To my Husband on our Fifth Wedding Anniversary

Dear Hubby,

On Saturday, we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary and for once, since we got married, I felt the years have flown by quite quickly. Five years on and I see nothing but the goodness of the Lord all around us. Nothing has changed about how I feel about you. I still love you the same way I did five years ago when we stood at the altar to say our vows, if not more.

On this particular anniversary, I choose to celebrate the five year-friendship we shared before the wedding ceremony and how that has played an important role in our marriage. We are still comfortable in each other’s presence, we appreciate and are very much concerned about each other and also laugh and tease each other and are not afraid of the consequences. Indeed, the counselors do not lie when they say you should marry your friend.

Five years on, I see growth (not just in our sizes) but in how we relate with each other. I am glad we do not restrict ourselves but allow each other to explore in whichever field God places on our hearts. I know we are better versions of ourselves, thanks to this union.

Over time, I have come to understand how to relate with you so not to cause unnecessary arguments. This strategy, I call, ‘the watch and pray method’ which involves watching you closely, stating my opinion about the issue and when I know it is likely to generate an argument, I leave it there. I then commit the rest to God and watch you and mostly, these situations that I draw your attention to, end up changing with time and when they do change, I do not see them as a win for me but evidence that God listens to our prayers. What do they say about women having a sixth sense?

The past year, especially, has had its fair share of challenges but I am still excited about our future. I know God hasn’t even started with us. Five years on and I can’t think of anyone to call when there is any form of emergency (in my definition). This includes calling you to find out if the car can carry me to next fuel station when the fuel gauge of the car indicates ’empty.’

I am glad you insisted I was the one when we first met and persisted when you proposed to me. This is to celebrate more years of staying in love and this marriage and to fighting and winning loads of battles as a family.

Love,

©

How to Grow Your Church’s Instagram Account

You would agree with me that social media is becoming a great evangelistic tool for both the church and individuals, especially, in this period of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Having managed a church’s social media accounts for almost a decade, I believe I am fit to provide some useful tips on the pertinent topic of growing a church’s Instagram account with special focus on its content. Content, they say, is king and for a church’s Instagram account, this is no exception.

The type of content a church needs to pay attention to includes:

1. Beautiful Photos: Some individuals may categorise this as ‘vanity’ or ‘too fanciful for a church’ but beautiful, quality photos draw individuals onto your page even if they not attend that church nor are Christians. These photos should not be stale but must tell stories even for those who were not present at the service. Perhaps, the photographer can capture individuals in prayerful moods with their hands raised or kneeling or lying prostrate. Individuals who may be smiling/laughing at the words of the pastor during the service could be used on the page. If the media team takes time to customise these photos with the church’s logo, it could also attract a number of followers, particularly, when these photos are shared.

2. Punchy Summaries: Beautiful photos without any accompanying words as captions make the church’s page an ordinary one. What type of captions can one post? Listening to the preacher during the service can provide the social media team with loads of captions. Which line hit the deepest? Which ones had the most reaction from the church members? How about the prophecies? And the bible quotations? A summary of them (6 lines maximum) could be used as captions. You can create hashtags for your church and use them anytime you post.

3. Posters with Captions: These captions could be boldly designed onto the photos captured during the church service. A maximum of three lines should be enough on the poster. This will save the reader from having to scroll down to the bottom of the page to read an entire sermon. These short captions on the photos could be those words which give readers hope or motivation or remind them of something useful.

Posting these type of content consistently and being prayerful about the process should allow you to grow your audience on Instagram.

Do you have any ideas or questions that have not been captured here. Drop them in the comment section.

©

Afrobloggers’ The Never Ending Story

We continue Miss Kay’s story:

Ghost witches. Teleportation. Experiencing death even in death. Who would have imagined that one could die even after they were dead? If someone had predicted to her that her life-after-death experience would be this dramatic, she would have died several years ago.

“Daydreaming again eh,” Grandma Kai’s voice jostled her back to the present.

She sat on the rock and gazed at this old woman who everyone thought was ‘dead’ but is very much ‘alive’ and training her for God-knows-what. Mona had always been adventurous but that was when she was alive. All of these puzzling experiences with her grandmother were gradually wearing her out.

“Life, for our kinsmen has always been a little complicated,” Grandma started. “You live and when you think death would bring you peace and rest, it doesn’t. There is always an assignment to complete.”

Mona looked up at her Grandma Kai and wondering what she was going to say next.

“Even in death, we’re not free. There is one last task and …”

The last part of her words became inaudible. Grandma Kai gazed ahead. She seemed frightened. As if she had seen a ghost. She held her tummy and fell off the rock. She began to wriggle in pain as if she had ingested poison.

“No ooo,” Mona screamed as she jumped from the rock to hold her grandmother.

“Not here, Grandma. Please do not abandon me,” Mona cried as she held her grandmother’s almost lifeless body or spirit.

“What am I going to do?” Mona kept uttering these word with tears in her eyes as she shook her Grandma Kai.

For what seemed like eternity, the old woman suddenly jumped up as if nothing had happened. She burst out laughing.

“Oh Mona. Mona. You are too emotional,” Grandma said. “Don’t you get it yet?”

“Get what?” Mona said. Almost whispering and shocked at the turn out of events.

“For the task ahead, you don’t need to get like this,” Grandma said.

“Like what?” Mona asked, wiping the remaining tears from her eyes.

“You need to be stronger than this,” Grandma responded. “This is the emotional-strengthening test and you’ve failed woefully.”

“Come. Sit down,” Grandma said, pointing to the rock once again.

Confused by all that had happened, Mona stood up and walked back to the rock. The night seemed very cold. She rubbed her arms for some warmth and looked at her Grandma Kai and awaited what was going to happen next.

It’s going to be a long night…

©

NeverEndingABC Links:
Afrobloggers
✓Tawa of gentlegiantsblog
✓Kadali.Bartlett of Kadaliblog published on Afrobloggers
✓Nicole of humanityboss published on Afrobloggers
✓uBu published on becominguBu
✓Tanaka who blogs at passionvictim ✓@rasmunroe who blogs at mystorymyownwords ✓ Miss Kay who blogs at misskayblogs ✓ ChristianBlogGh who blogs at thechristianblogghana

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  • Include a link to where the previous instalment can be read in the opening paragraph
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