Birthday Musings

“Mummy, when will it be my birthday?”

This is a popular question my four-year-old daughter keeps asking almost every time she hears the word ‘birthday’ and I believe it comes with being born in November and seeing almost everyone celebrate theirs before yours.

When I was much younger, I anticipated my birthdays too and that got me giddy whenever it was approaching. Birthdays then, were more of a time to eat special meals and get extra money from my guardians. Years later, birthdays meant receiving and responding to wishes over the phone and on social media. Some of the messages on social media did make me feel exceptionally special and I never wanted the day to end.

About seven years ago, I deleted my birth date from Facebook, LinkedIn and all other social media platforms and I was stunned at how quiet my birthday was. I received birthday messages from two very close friends and my family. The two friends wrote messages on the Whatsapp group pages that we belonged to and that generated more wishes and that was it. I enjoyed the peace that came with that birthday and I left the settings on the social media pages as such. That gave birth to my new way of celebrating my birthdays.

My preference for quiet birthdays has even heightened the more as I grow and a cousin who also celebrates his birthday in June (a few days before mine) always comments,

“Birthdays are indications that you are drawing closer to the grave.” This sounds funny by when you think about it, it is true. My preference for quiet birthdays in recent times do not imply I sit the whole days and reflect on my death. Mostly on my birthdays, I eat cake, go to dinner or make dinner myself and eat with the family and the newest activity is to generally spend time reflecting and praying.

In these quiet moments, I begin to appreciate what God has done for me in the past year and I start to look forward to the new year (age). One of the areas that I cannot thank God enough is how much I have grown – not in physical terms – but in maturity and within my spirit. I have learned to be appreciative of who I am as an individual, what I stand for and where God wants me to be. I have learned to be comfortable in my skin and to enjoy my own company. I am more forgiving. I can withstand very challenging situations without giving up on my faith (which wasn’t so in the past) and I love myself more.

On this day as I celebrate a little over three decades of life on earth, it is my prayer that God continues to preserve my life as He takes me through another 365 days of getting to know Him some more.

How do you normally celebrate your birthdays? Has it changed over time? Do share.

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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.

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#WBC2020 – How to Support Brands on Social Media

Using social media tools, in my line of work, have revealed the competitiveness, indifference of some followers and the various tactics or tricks used by individuals and brands. These attitudes, sometimes, kill the spirit of a brand and this post aims to suggest some of the ways we can show love and encouragement to each other in this virtual world:

1. Let’s focus on the Overall Goal

This point is aimed at brands/individuals that share similar goals. For example, bloggers – we all aim to constantly get individuals to read our posts, thus, let’s not hesitate to support one another by clicking on links to other blogs to read, comment, like and share.

This is what is expected but that is not always the case. On Instagram, in particular, individuals and brands tend to swarm on a page when there is fresh content. They follow, like both the post and page, astronomically increasing the number of followership and when the page administrator is not looking, the number of followers drop drastically.

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I’m not too certain why people follow to unfollow but that is not a good practice.

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2. Let’s Show Kindness

Creating content consistently is not easy, therefore, do not take those in this space for granted. If they are redirecting you to products, follow the link and buy. If they come out with books, please buy them. If they recommend products, ensure you take a look. This is a way of supporting this skill.

3. Let’s Show Support

Let’s help one another so we are able to achieve our overall goals. There may be individuals and brands who may not necessarily be in your niche but are using their platforms to push worthy causes – let’s give them the push.

On WordPress, let’s follow other blogs, let’s read, like and comment on each other’s posts. On Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter – let’s support one another by liking, remaining loyal followers and commenting on each others’ posts. Let’s avoid seeing each other as competitors but rather one big community promoting different causes.

This post was originally written on 23rd February 2018 and titled 3 Ways to Show Love on Social Media.

***This is 21/22 of the #WinterABC2020. The prompt is to recycle an old post and bring it back to life.***

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#WBC2020 – 4 Social Media Accounts I Follow & Why

Limiting the number of social media accounts I follow to only 4, in this post, is almost tortuous but here we go:

1. Heather Lindsey is a preacher, fashionista, vegan, mother of three and a wife. You can get a sense of her life through her posts. She is truly an inspiration to young women and I admire how she confidently posts everything (almost) about herself, family, husband and children on social media. She has a huge following and most of her posts go viral. I follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

2. Dromobaby is a page I discovered not too long ago but have succeeded in watching almost every video on their page. They feature women and husbands (sometimes) who share stories about their pregnancy journey. Some of the guests they feature are hilarious and others share sad stories. One that I wouldn’t forget in while is a woman who lost her twins after she delivered them. πŸ˜₯πŸ˜₯ They feature Ghanaians (mostly) and I follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

3. BabiesbyBazal, Coos_n_Clicks, ElomAyayee, Twinkle_toes_inc (they are four different pages πŸ˜„)- these are businesses that take maternity shoots and family photos as well as photos of babies when they are as young as a week old till when they are about eight or nine or so. I love the creativity behind those shoots. The end product of the shoots are pretty and surreal that they will make you feel like having babies. πŸ™ƒThey are all Ghanaian brands and I follow these pages on Instagram and Facebook.

4. Liezer-legacy productions – I love comedy and this page shares skits of some hilarious individuals/comedians that we have in Ghana. The recent satirical quiz they produce is so funny that it trends on YouTube. I follow them on Facebook and I’ve subscribed to their YouTube channel as well.

**Can I add my Church’s social media accounts or you are tired? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Which social media accounts do you follow and why? Do share.

***This is 9/22 of the #WinterABC2020. The prompt is 4 Social Media accounts and why you follow them.***

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#WinterABC – Social Media, 4 Lessons

The day I started assessing profiles before accepting friend requests on Facebook was when I knew I had been liberated.

No mutual friends meant I wouldn’t accept your request. The numbers no longer mattered. I started using security features, approving posts before they appeared on my timeline.

Social media is whole world out there, it dawned on me and more lessons were picked afterwards.

Social Media, a ‘pressure’ tool

Before I had my wedding, I made a request to the photographer not to share any of my photos online. I didn’t share any of them on my page either. My wedding was not the most luxurious but I felt it had the potential of putting pressure on the unmarried, those seeking relationships etc. I thought of that follower and currently, I ask myself several questions before I share posts.

Social Media, the big brother

The fact that people are watching your every move without speaking to you is one thing that scares me about social media. I liken Facebook (and other platforms) to that compound house with a lot of tenants shouting. Some followers may never comment/like your posts and they see you offline and say,

“Are you going to post that as well?”

πŸ€·πŸΏβ€β™€οΈ I didn’t know we were friends on social media. I make the mental note to be more cautious about what I post.

Social Media, a tool that distracts

Looking for a way to be unproductive, watch that video on YouTube or Tik Tok or Facebook and similar videos start appearing in your feed. Keep clicking on them and that is how you waste your day. It is good to use apps to monitor how you spend your time on social media. Take a break if you need to.

Social Media, an avenue for inspiration

It’s not all gloomy on these platforms but social media provide creatives with inspiration at an affordable cost. Through blogs, Facebook and YouTube videos, one can feed on ideas of others.

What lessons have you picked from social media? Do share.

***This is 6/22 of the #WinterABC2020. The prompt is 4 things I’ve learned from social media.***

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10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging

Seven years ago, I fell in love with the act of blogging. I thought the most essential skill needed for blogging was to be a good writer and writing was something I enjoyed so, cool beans.

Instead of feeling proud for blogging consistently (well almost) on different platforms, here I am in 2020, sitting behind my laptop and reflecting on some of the stuff I have discovered for myself on this journey.

In 2013, when I started, I wish someone had told me that:

  1. Blogging was not just putting words in electronic format but it was a deliberate act that required a lot of dedication and consistency. One needed basic blogging, marketing as well as some graphic designing skills.
  2. Using WordPress (the one I am most familiar with) is like managing any other social media platform. It requires constant engagement with your readers and other bloggers.
  3. Knowing the purpose for starting a blog is key since that would guide you to select a suitable name, design and topics for the blog.
  4. It’s your space, don’t limit yourself. If a particular niche is restricting your creative abilities, you can gradually make changes to the blog by including other similar subjects. That should provide you with topics to blog about.
  5. As much as you’d say your blog is not a personal one, it would be great to fold up your sleeves a little bit. Write a few things about you so readers get to know the face behind the blog.
  6. If you are concerned about getting a lot of followers, keep being consistent and engage with other bloggers as well. Read their posts and leave fair comments. They MAY notice and follow you (stressing on ‘MAY‘).
  7. What is the ultimate purpose for the blog you are creating? Is it for monetary gains, to market your writing and editing skills or for socialising purposes? That must dictate your tone, your choice of words and the style of writing you’d employ.
  8. Don’t get intimidated by other good bloggers instead, engage with them and let their works inspire you.
  9. You do not need to be present on all the social media platforms to promote your blog. That may even be counterproductive. Being present on one or two additional platforms should be enough (especially if you are the only one managing content on all of them).
  10. The WordPress app on your phone doesn’t bite. On the other hand, it allows you to blog easily. Use it!

How long have you been blogging and what lessons have you picked up? Do share πŸ™‚

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10 Lessons from the Lockdown

1. You can’t please anyone. Don’t even try to.

2. Humans are not as powerful. A ‘small’ virus has proven that.

3. Wishing someone a ‘happy new year’ and ‘happy birthday’ would have a new meaning henceforth.

4. There may be times that money, clothes and possessions won’t matter.

5. There are several interesting bloggers writing relatable content.

6. Reading and commenting on other blogs is essential. Don’t just write, read and comment on other blogs.

7. I think I can blog fulltime if I have my basic needs met. 😁

8. Twitter is a useful tool for promoting your blog.

9. Working from home takes a lot of effort and will-power.

10. Physical church service over online church service. Any day!

*This is the final post of the 21 lockdown blog challenge. It’s been an exciting 3-weeks of creating posts and interacting with other bloggers all over the world. I feel my world is a lot bigger now. Thank you for making my lockdown worthwhile.❀*

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How a Typical Lock down Day Looks

2 am? It’s not even morning yet. I close my eyes and try to go back to sleep. I remember the number of covid-19 cases Ghana has recorded and if there is anything I can personally do about that.

4:44 am? I wake up fully, pick my phone again and send out devotionals to my church’s Whatsapp group pages. I forward links of my pastor’s audio broadcast while contemplating on what do next – Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, WordPress?

5:30 am? I have wasted some time on those social media pages. Where is the YouVersion? I read the verse of the day, share that to my social media platforms and read several of the devotionals they offer and pray. YouVersion is awesome. Remember to check it out if you haven’t.

7 am? Mostly I would have taken my bath and in the kitchen listening to the radio while thinking of what to have for breakfast – pancakes, puff-puff or something easier to prepare.

8 am? Little girl wakes up and that is when my day really begins since I virtually have to force her to do everything – brushing her teeth, bathing, eating. That takes so much of my energy and I can’t wait for school to resume.

10 am? I’m supposed to be working from home so I sit behind the laptop and turn the TV on for the little girl. On good days, I am able to complete tasks. On bad days, I just lie down or play WordCross or read to the little girl or fix puzzles with her or watch Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig or Abby Hatcher (I’m tired of seeing these cartoons).

1 pm-2 pm? I prepare lunch which mostly serves as supper for me.

3 pm? Depending on how productive I have been, I pick the laptop and still try to do some real work from home. Intermittently, I check to see who has posted anything for the lock down blog challenge. I read as and when I find the time.

8 pm? I work on the blog for the day. I sometimes send and read emails for work at this time. This is the most conducive time to do anything productive since my little girl would have had her supper and bath and either preparing to go or will already be in bed. Implying no interruptions and more productivity.

10 – 11 pm? Sleeping and praying time.

Weekends or Weekdays? I can’t really tell because the days are all the same now. The only difference is that I still laundry on Saturdays.

**18th post of the 21 day lock down blog challenge and the writing prompt is: Take us through a day in lockdown**

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How to Make Plantain Frittata

I watch a lot of videos from Tasty, Food Network and other individuals with food channels on YouTube and Facebook and, I like to try out new recipes but these haven’t always been success stories.

Recently in this lock down period, I saw a number of videos on how to make bread pudding and when I tried it first, the bread did not soak well in the mixture. I tried it the next day and the result was even worse than the first. It was so bad that nobody ate it and I had to get rid of it the next day.

I tried making puff-puff the other day (also from videos I had seen online) and the results wasn’t the best either. It did not rise like what I saw in the video and I was later advised to add baking powder.

The few success stories I have had in my kitchen (from watching online recipes) are in the preparation of pancakes and plantain fritatta.

To make plantain fritatta, the ingredients required include:

2 ripe plantains

6 eggs (depending on the number of people eating)

6 sausages,

2 bell pepper,

2 large size fresh tomatoes,

A pinch of salt to taste,

Cayenne pepper,

Slices of onions.

Cooking oil

Method

In about about two table spoonful of oil, add slices of onions, bell pepper and tomatoes. Stir-fry till golden brown.

Deep-fry the ripe plantain separately.

Break the eggs into a bowl.

Cut and add your sausages to the eggs.

Add desirable quantity of cayenne pepper and salt

Pour the stir-fried vegetables into the egg mixture and whisk.

Oil your baking tin and pour the egg mixture into it.

Place the fried ripe plantain on top of the mixture.

Put the mixture into the oven and bake for 20 -30 minutes and that’s it.

Frittata is simple to prepare as the ingredients are easy to find, especially, in this lock down period. It can be eaten as a full meal or an accompaniment to a full meal. Try it and let me know what you think

Today marks Day 12 of the #21lockdownblog challenge and the subject is to provide a guide on how to do something.

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5 Reasons Online Church Services may not be for All

All of a sudden, Sundays or Saturdays do not imply wearing one’s favourite dress, leaving home and finding a physical location where we are ushered to a seat to pray, sing, dance, listen to a sermon and fellowship. In the last couple of days, attending a church service, for a lot of people, has a whole new meaning which implies turning on your Facebook or Youtube or Twitter and watching your Pastors preach, thanks to the Covid-19.

Even though a lot of people are quite excited about ‘churching’ online, there exist some challenges or conditions that make this mode of worshiping not suitable for everyone and here are some of the reasons:

  1. Internet and Smartphone Accessibility: This is the truth. A number of us in Africa do not have access to the internet or the electronic device that enables us to access the internet (now powering our church services). Internet accessibility /usage is mostly common in the urban areas and quite limited to a specific age group (usually the youth). According to the Africa Internet User Stats, only 37.8 % of Ghana’s population has access to the internet. Out of the population that has access to the internet, 5 million are Facebook subscribers. As a social media manager for my church, when I shared the mode through which the church was going to worship now, the question someone posted was, “Are we now cutting off those who do not have smart devices?
  2. The cost of streaming online: According to another report compiled in 2018 by the Alliance for Affordable Internet, Ghana’s internet cost is the fourth cheapest in West Africa but genuinely, how many people can afford to stream an hour or two’s service online without checking their remaining data or receiving notification for the telecommunication network on the amount of data they have consumed. Data cost does not provide individuals the peace of mind to enjoy the church services online. For the church to also constantly stream online, they need to re-strategize and that may include getting sophisticated devices to produce quality videos/streams. This may come at an extra cost and how many churches can afford that?
  3. The level of distraction is higher for the viewer: Last week Sunday, I vowed in my heart to involve myself fully when my church started streaming. I successfully prayed and sang and immediately the sermon began, there was a sort of disruption from the internet providers making the viewing difficult. It was at that point that my little girl started disturbing to which I assumed that she was hungry. That was how I ended up in the kitchen to prepare food for her and everyone and when I got back, the service had ended.
  4. There is some amount of belonging when we meet physically: After working hard all week, some of us genuinely look forward to getting into a physical space to pray, sing, listen to a sermon and meet other members to fellowship. Sometimes, a word from another church member may encourage you or someone really singing and crying during prayers may touch your heart to also seek God earnestly. So how do we ensure we fellowship on these virtual platforms? What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.Psalm 55:14
  5. Some churches and pastors are late to the online party: In the past few weeks, I can almost feel some sort of awkwardness and shakiness in a number of pastors who, hitherto this pandemic, were very confident standing in front of large gatherings to preach. It seems nerve-wracking as some of these pastors, who were born before the era of social media, are now being forced to stand in front of cameras and preach to an empty auditorium or office of a sort. Some churches did not really take the effort to build an online community and now that most services need to be held online, there is some struggle to even get members to watch.

This period, indeed, is very unusual (and we pray it ends soon) but there are several lessons that needs to be picked up by individuals, churches, Christians etc. We pray that whatever lessons we pick up now will be used to make our lives better after this global pandemic. Remember to pray for the world.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Data Sources: Internet World Stats dot com

Alliance for Affordable Internet (2018)

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