As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves grappling with the shadows of stress and mental angst. It seems unbearable at times! Yet, in the midst of the darkness, there is a resilient light within us waiting to shine. That’s why I want to encourage you through my newest YouVersion Bible plan that you CAN make it through dark times!
I wrote and published this Bible plan now because seasonal depression peaks at this time of year. As such, I wanted to provide a 3-day Bible plan with practical advice that anyone can apply. What’s more, I narrated this plan so you can listen on the go! Download, take notes, and share with your friends and loved ones. We can make it together!
Sometimes, we are faced with dark situations that cause us to believe we don’t have what it takes to make it through. Allow me to encourage you through this three-day devotion that you CAN make it! In this devotion, you will get practical, perspective-shifting advice on how to conquer adversity, anxiety, and toxic thoughts, and live a purposeful and fulfilling life.
My original plan
Along those same lines, I shared my first Bible Plan on YouVersion in September 2023: “Distractions Causing Distance [From God].” I modified and shared this plan with YouVersion to encourage you. There are many distractions that exist to distance us from our family, our friends, and, most importantly, our Heavenly Father. In this 4-day devotion, I share how we can defeat three daily distractions and allow our loving Father to restore our connection with Him and others!
I’m elated to have the opportunity to continue reaching people through Parent-Child-Connect! Thanks for your continued support!
*Quick commentary from Olaolu: I created Parent-Child-Connect to provide resources for parents, teachers, and mentors to connect with their children. I believe a large part of that mission is to use my platform to encourage and spread hope! With that in mind, I am excited to share the virtual stage with a great friend who has been like family to us since we started active duty service in 2013! Meet, Aubrie Owens aka my wife’s bestie. She is excited to speak out and share small portion of her story to encourage, educate, and empower you! Like, share, comment, enjoy!*
I have been contemplating writing this, and I have finally decided to speak out. Social media tends to highlight happy moments, but in truth, it’s not all happiness. I have been struggling with endometriosis for many years now. For those who don’t know, endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is “a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus” (source: mayoclinic.org). They say one in every ten women struggle with this condition. It has caused me infertility and pain for many years, and I have had countless miscarriages and heartbreak because of it. It hasn’t all been heartbreak though. My husband Kyle and I have also had many joys giving birth to a beautiful daughter named Yuri and watching Ava be a wonderful big sister. I have also been fortunate to have amazing doctors and family/friend support.
How it started:
Around 2013, I went to the ER with abdominal pain. The doctors discovered a cyst the size of a softball near my ovary, and they determined surgery was the best option. During the surgery, they identified that I had severe endometriosis. They advised me to immediately start consulting a fertility doctor if I would like to have children in the future. This led us to visit multiple doctors which, in turn, led them to prescribe me multiple medications. Numerous Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments resulted in many miscarriages. Finally, in 2016 (our last IVF attempt), I became pregnant with Yuri.
After months of heartbreak and disappointment, we finally conceived a child! However, I wasn’t out of the woods yet. In 2017 I almost lost my life, and we almost lost Yuri. I had appendicitis that resulted in sepsis, and Yuri and I would spend months in the hospital trying to recover.
The journey continues:
I have accepted the hard truth; it is time for a full hysterectomy. Though I am extremely grateful that I was able to conceive my two children, I do not want to continue to live with the pain. I do not write this for sympathy but in hopes I can reach another woman who is going through a struggling time. Whether you have had to endure a chronic illness or disorder, a miscarriage, or pain that led to infertility, I am here. We as women must choose what is best for us and never let others dictate how we feel.
Today, I ask for good vibes and prayers as I go in for surgery. I’m going to be straight with all of you, I am scared. The last time I went in for surgery I almost lost my life and my child. But I am thankful for the support of my family, friends, and wonderful doctors. I am appreciative of my husband who has supported me throughout many trying times. He held me as I cried over the children we lost. He spent countless hours with me in the hospital when I was ill, and stayed most nights with Yuri in the NICU.
As silly as it sounds, part of me feels like I am losing my ability to be a woman. I will never be able to carry another child. It is especially painful because people often ask, “are you going to try again for a boy?” I’ve decided my health and my body means more to me than bringing another life into this world. Getting to spend time with my family pain free will be the most rewarding joy.
I write this today as an encouragement to you all. Speak out! Do what you feel is best for YOU. In a world of uncertainty, your happiness and your health is the number one priority.
Happy Saturday my friends! I hope you had an amazing week thus far and your weekend is even greater! My weekend? Let’s just say it has had a unique start. I underwent an appendectomy!
No matter how big or small, I always try to find a lesson in each of life’s circumstances. So what could I have possibly learned from an appendectomy? Well, the first thing I learned is that seeing a medical professional early on can make a huge difference. This was the first time in my life that I did not attempt to “tough it out.” The medical professionals were able to fix the issue in the early stages (before the infection in my appendix worsened and rupturing became a threat). But there was a larger life lesson.
The life lesson: We must quickly address life’s hurts and pains.
Let’s backtrack for a second: I woke up this past Thursday feeling normal. I went through my morning routine and showed up at the gym at 6 am for my one hour Yoga session. Such a relaxing start to the day ☺️. As the morning progressed, I began to feel a small pain/discomfort in my stomach. I initially thought it was nothing more than gas (sorry if that is TMI 😬), but I wasn’t so sure anymore by the time I arrived at work. It was getting worse throughout the day, but I was reluctant to express this feeling to my peers. After all, they probably already assumed it was COVID, so I did not want to cause alarm. There was no hiding it, because I am always jovial; striving to be the one to bring brightness to the room. Contrarily, I was quiet, withdrawn, and exhausted. One of my colleagues even said, “Are you ok?…You look like you are really hurting.”
Luckily, I was responsible for picking my son up from school that day, so I had an excuse to leave early. When I made it home, I laid on the couch and slept. I tossed. I turned. I tried lying upside down. I took Tums… Anything to relieve what I thought was simply “trapped gas.” That evening, I told my wife the words that let her know I was actually in pain, “I am going to the doctor in the morning to see what is wrong.” She knows I HATE hospitals, so she knew it must have been serious.
I arrived at the hospital Friday morning, still playing the tough guy role. I imagined they would hand me something to quickly relieve the pressure in my stomach and allow me to go home. At this point, I just wanted to “rule out appendicitis.” I mean seriously, my phone was on 40%, and I left my charger in my vehicle; I just knew this visit would be short! I was wrong.
After reviewing the Computed tomography (CT) scan, the surgical team came into the room to confirm I had appendicitis (a condition in which the appendix becomes inflamed and filled with pus, causing pain. Source: Mayo Clinic). Thankfully, I sought help early enough to avoid a rupture. The surgical team presented me with two options:
1. Take antibiotics to “hopefully” reduce the inflammation.
2. Remove the appendix to eliminate the chance of reinfection.
I chose the latter, and the rest is history.
Why did I share that entire story?
I was able to identify several parallels between my life and my recent experience.
1. Pain is an indication of something more serious. Sometimes we become so accustomed to emotional hurt and pain that we ignore it. We consider ourselves “lone wolves.” We “tough it out” because we do not want to look weak. We mask our pain. We pretend we are ok. We attempt to become numb to the pain. We ignore it in hopes that it will go away. The downside is it does not go away; it just intensifies. Then, we find ourselves attempting to treat the symptoms with things that may cause the pain to temporarily subside only to find that the pain only increases–requiring more temporary treatment measures. We focus more on covering/treating the pain than identifying the root cause.
2. Though they can see straight through our ruse, we attempt to hide our pain from others. I knew I needed to bounce back after the first time my colleague asked, “are you ok?” So I ran to the store and grabbed tums and ginger ale. After about 30 minutes I said, “I feel much better after my Tums, ginger ale, and [lightly salted] veggie chips!” I said it in such a way that I even started to believe it. I told an occasional joke or two to throw him off. Meanwhile, the pain was worsening, and he wasn’t fooled. How often do we do this? Instead of admitting we are in pain and seeking help (or allowing others to help), we attempt to hide it. “I’ll be ok.” “I was built for this!” “Pain is weakness leaving the body, right?” Those are just a few of my go-to quotes. What are yours? Regardless, no one is falling for it anyway, so why not just get the help we need?
Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.
3. I got the help I needed. I like to think of myself as a pretty tough guy, but I challenged myself to do something different this time. I decided I would get help instead of self-medicating. I am so glad I did. The surgical team informed me that my case was worse than they originally assessed via CT scan. Meaning, had I not gotten it taken care of, I risked rupturing my appendix (potentially fatal). We should normalize seeking professional help. Attempting to self-medicate our problems tend to make things worse. I learned this from previous injuries, and I am encouraging you to do the same. Do not try to do this on your own. Stop trying to hide or mask the pain and get the help you need to remove the root cause. Which moves to my last point:
4. You must address the root cause. When the surgical team presented me with options, I felt the answer was obvious. To me, Option A was: The surgical team would immediately treat the symptoms in hopes that the problem would not resurface. Option B was: The surgical team would remove the root cause which will immediately hurt more but has a greater chance of preventing future pain (reinfection). I chose the latter because that option addressed the root cause–my infected appendix. Simply reducing inflammation would have led to temporary relief. Chances are I would have returned to the hospital with the same pain in the future. So yes, I exposed myself to risks and pain associated with surgical removal, but in the long term, I do not have to worry about my appendix becoming reinfected… Because it is gone. Addressing the root of the pain was the right answer for me, and I believe it is the right answer for all of us. Healing and recovery may hurt and take time, but I will confidently endure knowing I made the best long-term decision for my health.
I know facing hurt and pain is a challenge for all of us. It can be scary and make feel vulnerable and weak. However, we must address the root cause of our pains if we want to live a healthy physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual life. Today is your day. This is your sign. Allow me to be your friend today who is pointing you towards seeking help. We can do this together. I believe in you!
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We are excited to announce the newest addition to the Parent-Child-Connect Book series!! Horace the Horsefly is a story for the little readers (ages 2-5). In this short story, we will practice animal sounds and sight words.
Here is a sneak peek!
Description: Horace may not feel well, but he realizes that greeting his friends really brightens their day! Sometimes a warm smile and a wave is the best medicine anyone can ask for. Come practice animal sounds with Horace as he greets his friends in the language that each of them can understand!
Hello great people! Recently, I was watching a movie called “Arrival” on Hulu. Here is a brief description I found on Google:
“Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.”
I will not give my opinion on the movie (because it is irrelevant for today’s topic). However, there was one quote at the end that got my wheels turning. 🤔
“If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?”
-Actor Amy Adams playing as Louise Banks (Arrival)
I started to pontificate on this slightly modified thought, “What if I could see ‘the end?’ Would I change what I am presently doing?” The easy answer is YES! But how?
1. Start Imagining
In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey said, “begin with the end in mind.” This requires foresight, imagination, and vision.
Our [your] ability to imagine in high definition is our [your] super power!
Try this: Close your eyes and see your children in the future. What kind of personality do they have? Do you know what brings them joy and fulfillment? What opportunities exist for them? Keep imagining! This is a high definition imagination moment (e.g. if you cannot taste the coffee that future you is sharing with your child[ren], just keep letting your mind wander!)
I’ll give an example. Brea and I imagine that our children will create healthy relationships, maintain a positive mental attitude, and be financially stable/free. That’s “the end,” but how do we get there??
2. Start Building (in reverse)!
Ok, so now that you have a clear picture of “the end” what do you do? You start building… in reverse!
Let’s take financial stability/freedom for example. We asked ourselves, “what does financial stability look like for our children later in life?” We imagined our children comfortably traversing through three key areas of finance: giving, saving/investing, and enjoying.
1. Giving: We truly believe Acts 20:35 that says, “…it is more blessed to give than to receive.” So not only are we extremely transparent with our giving, we encourage our children to do for others! Give their time and their talents. Give [donate] a percentage (at least 10%) of the money they earn. We want them to feel and understand the value of promoting the welfare of others.
2. Saving/Investing: I admit, this is a tough skill that requires discipline and practice, but if mastered at a young age, our children can ensure their future financial stability while building a legacy for future generations.
Currently, we are teaching our children to save using a couple of different “baskets.”
Basket (A) is call “short term savings.” The short term savings basket is used to get things that require them to save for less than ~30 days. For example, my 7 year old would work for a couple of weeks to earn enough money to purchase a $15 toy.
Basket (B) is called “long term savings.” The long term savings basket is used for things that take longer than ~30 days to save for. This is a little harder for the younger ones, but my 11 year old would work hard for a few weeks to purchase some brand new shoes…… Yea, she’s at that phase in her life. Bring back the little cute puzzles from Dollar Tree!! 😬🙄🥴… I digress.
You get the point, right? We are teaching them to consistently put money aside vice constantly working the “instant gratification” muscle (we will get to that in a second).
Lastly, we introduced my oldest to the concept of investing in mutual funds, and thanks to the Financial Literacy Flashcards by the Finance Doctor (shameless plug 🔌⚡), we have been able to teach her some valuable financial literacy terms! In the future, we will likely open a custodial Roth IRA, show her how we consistently invest for her college expenses, etc. But for now, we are slowly exposing her to the concept of long-term investing at a pace that we feel is appropriate.
3. Enjoying: This one came natural for our children–nobody had to teach them how to spend/enjoy money. And guess what? There’s nothing wrong with that! By mastering the other two key areas, our children will be able to reap the benefits of their hard work. We are not flashy people, but there are a few luxuries that we indulge in as a family so our children understand that there is nothing wrong with treating yourself! In fact, it is a must for a healthy lifestyle. Work hard, play hard!
And that’s it! That is just one of many examples of how we are building our lives in reverse. See how easy that was?!
Now it’s your turn. Give me an example of how you are (or will start) living your life in reverse!