A letter to my wife…

Dearest Juliana, 

Your birthday is here again today! Not only that, but it’s also our traditional marriage anniversary. Tomorrow will be our wedding anniversary. You know all this, and you might have heard it before, but it’s still important that you hear it again…that, 

you’re the best of life’s blessings to me and I am eternally grateful 

I have been grateful every single day since we set out on this journey less traveled by many for fear of many unknowns and heartbreaks. I don’t have to say it every single day for you to know I am, right? I know you’ll agree because even though I know your ears are so sweet and always wanting to hear something (news, gossips, sweet nothings), hearing the same thing everyday will bore you to death. See? I know you too well 😜.

Typical of me, I always lose some sleep on occasions like this watching you sleep soundly and also lost in thought over how far we’ve come and how grateful we should be for God’s divine providence that has kept us. I usually sing in my head a few lines from that our favorite song that goes like… 

“Your Grace and Mercy brought us through.

We living this moment because of You. 

We want to thank You and praise You too. 

For Your Grace and Mercy brought us through”

Sometimes I shed a few emotional tears that you never see, for a man must never be seen crying, even if they are tears of joy or gratitude for divine providence, right? 😂🙈


We were younger than most folks when we started out and still younger when we got married. I know how we always laugh when we remember how that “our very young members are getting married” announcement was made in Church and I know how that makes you feel 😜. I think laughing is one of our good perks because we always someway somehow find something to laugh about. I love that a lot…please don’t ever stop laughing with me? Aww! 😂

It feels like a lot of years have passed and we are still young and still stuck in our lovely twenties (we just can’t wait to get out of it huh? 😂). But the good thing about us being young is that we had a tremendous amount of zeal, faith and belief in what we had as true undying love that’s willing to go the extra mile. And surely the extra mile we went. I still see that zeal, faith and belief in you and it’s simply beautiful to behold, you never know…I see a lot of things. If you like call me “the seer” like we used to secretly call someone back in our school days. 😂🙈

Truth is we know our own love story and life story…nobody can tell it better than us. At best, they can only misrepresent it, even they that have been the closest to us. We know better all the things we have been through…the good, bad and ugly. I know you will laugh here because you know a lot of our folks think we’ve never seen ugly days 😂.

But all in all, the best part about you and I on this beautiful adventure has been God…how He keeps orchestrating things in our favour. 

With Him, our relationship has been one heaven of an adventure; one I wouldn’t trade for anything. It’s all been worth it…all the love, all the sacrifices. May we never take God for granted. 

Two years of distance marriage gave us academic laurels plus some beautiful life lessons and adorable memories of living apart. That was amazing, let’s try it again 😜.

One year living together has given us it’s own share of amazing memories topped with a beautiful bundle of joy that only you gets the privilege of naming “Sweet Face“. Such an adorable product of our secret antics in the night must surely have a sweet face 😂. I know you wished she came in your birth month December so you can boss over me but sorry she couldn’t wait to see me 😜.

Three years of marriage and we can finally say “me + you = three“. Trinity is good. 

Now we can go back to achieving some more academic laurels, or better still stay put and make more cuties and sweet faces? 😜

Truly, on this occasion of your birthday, I’m just thankful for how God has made it all work out so well for you and I’m proud to have you in my life. 

Now let the celebrations begin! Happy Birthday Dear! Savour every moment!

Yours truly,

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017

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The relevance of a wedding registry and how modern couples can make the most of it

Imagine receiving wedding gifts that you don’t get to use years after your wedding. How possible is that? Well, it is very possible and very true in my case. And I believe it’s not a unique experience but one that is very common to many marriages. It is often the case especially when your loved ones who gave the gifts didn’t know what exactly your needs were and were left to just assume what will be useful to the newly married couple.

Recently my wife and I decided to reorganize things in our home and in the process, we chanced on a number of things including boxes of porcelain dinner sets, spice containers and some cookwares which apparently were gifts on our wedding. There were also some fabrics which never got sewn because apparently, they have either gone out of fashion or were not our taste in clothes. Those are just a few examples but that’s not the first time we realized how some of our wedding gifts turned out not immediately useful to us, and it still reminded us of how we would have traded them in for something immediately more useful, or probably should have done things differently like using a wedding registry. We personally had a lot of those stuff before getting married and they just became needless. Imagine having a blender or a microwave and being gifted same as a wedding present. Do you throw them away, gift them to someone else or keep them hoping the ones you already have gets faulty so you can use the ones gifted to you?

Simply, we failed to use a wedding registry and that’s why we experienced all that!

So, should there be weddings without receiving of gifts then? Well, I don’t know, but I don’t think majority holds a wedding without expecting gifts. The purpose is not for gifts but we naturally do expect gifts. And this may be funny but for some people, weddings are a huge financial investment and as such, they attach with it high expectations of receiving something back at least, otherwise they get depressed.

Giving of gifts is just how we show our love to people who are getting married.

There were things we didn’t have when getting married and we would have appreciated those items more if we had received any of them as gifts. But how would our loved ones (guests) know or have the slightest idea of our real needs or wants? It’s never an easy job planning a beautiful wedding. It is neither easy trying to get a meaningful gift for modern couples; it’s a near mental torture because you want to give something that would suit the occasion and that would most importantly be appreciated because of how relevant or useful it would be to the recipients.

That’s where a wedding registry like Zola comes in as a very beautiful resource for wedding planning and creating a unique wedding registry that represents a couple’s personality and style. Their beautiful online registry is very catchy, with easy starter guides and should typically be the go-to for modern couples that would love to create a free registry. The couple can choose a wide variety of wedding gifts they want (from a lot of major brands) and then their friends and family can access their gift list on the online store. It’s simple, fun, fully personalized and offers a lot of possibilities beyond the traditional way of doing things. A couple can get just anything imaginable.

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A wedding registry is like a wish list but not a secret one hidden in your heart; but one that openly communicates to your family and friends (wedding guests) the items that you would love as gifts and that will be useful to you in your home. It’s like telling your guests literally “if you want to buy me a gift, this is what I want”. See it like someone asking you out for a drink and asking you what would you have. It’s a beautiful and elegant way or platform to ask for gifts tailored to your tastes and Zola is a sure bet.

It’s a great resource as it saves your loved ones the mental agony we all go through when picking a gift for someone because nobody likes to give a “not so useful” gift and nobody loves to receive one, especially not us modern couples whose tastes are quickly changing. Ever experienced how awful it feels when you give someone a gift and you never see them use it? Also, with the registry, when an item on the list has already been purchased, you will know so you wouldn’t have to purchase the same thing and the couple ends up having three blenders and not knowing what to do with them or having to trade them off for something else (if the registry has a good return policy). In essence, with a wedding registry a couple avoids ending up with a bunch of gifts they may not like or need.

A wedding registry is an amazing life saver for millennial couples and there’s a lot you can get out of the best ones like Zola.

Even if it is cash gifts you end up receiving from your guests, you can personally purchase the specific lovely items listed in your registry and it is always a joy for your guests knowing they contributed to or helped you get the best gifts you needed (must-haves) even if they didn’t personally purchase them for you.

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Where to start on creating an awesome wedding registry then? It is always important to work together with one’s partner to set up a registry that captures the needs of (or gift items for) both partners and make sure there’s a wide price range of quality gifts (that can be cherished for many years) that your guests can select from. They must be gifts that suit or reflects your unique lifestyles or personalities and things that you will regularly use. The common things are mostly good kitchen or culinary items because you will always cook as a couple or host a lot of friends and family for dinner; or bathroom and bedroom items because a lot of sizzling moments are shared together there; or general items for the living room like decors that makes it shine because it’s the first space people see in your home. That pretty much covers every room in a modern couple’s home, right?

You may also include gadgets for family entertainment or items for outdoor life and travel because you will be having a lot of romantic getaways. You can also include some exclusive or fashionable items that you may only have a once in a lifetime chance of acquiring on a normal regular shopping spree but that you will adore forever. We all have that one thing that we only get to admire during window shopping and who knows, dreams do come true and by including that in your wedding registry somebody may just surprise you and give you a joy of a lifetime.

Nonetheless, you must know your target group (guest list) and know what they can afford so you can structure your registry accordingly. And not just what they can afford, but when you keep your family and friends in mind when choosing items for your wedding registry, you can almost guess what category of gift item each of them might give you. That maximizes your chances. And it will be important to set up your registry early to give your family and friends ample time to make purchases. Never also forget to send a thank you to anyone who manages to get you a gift. It’s just nice to be appreciated I think.

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Sample personalized registries on Zola

Anything is possible with a wedding registry because you are in control. So, jump onto Zola for your next big celebration and have fun with it. We all enjoy the experience of doing something new and there’s always new ways of doing things and achieving great results.

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017

Marriage & Personal Development Author

TODAY’S CHURCHES

Today’s churches are not content with small membership that they can be sure are true practicing Christians. They are not interested in small branches either. Church growth targets are more about good financial standing than about depopulating hell and discipleship. High church attendance equals growth in offertory and that’s where the story ends.

Church growth targets are more tailored to either profit-making projects or merely having the biggest auditorium (membership), usually under the guise of the word of God reaching many. Need we talk about the expensive popularity-influenced programme advertisements, hyped conferences and expensive guest speakers and “ministers”? Oh, big edifices are good especially because it would attract rich and high class people to the Church. Don’t we know rich people are attracted to the appearance of church buildings and repelled by sloppy appearances and concerned about where their expensive cars get parked; and of course not in the parking lot of a Church with cheap edifice/architecture?

Stationary pastors who no longer go out to the field, the hinterlands to propagate the gospel but are content with once-a-year evangelism programmes that never get to rural areas. Going to and setting up churches in rural areas is not lucrative enough. Of course that would defeat the business model operation of the Church. Right? Pastors no longer honour invitations to rural Churches to go and preach because there’s no financial incentive.

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Sunday praise and worship sessions so short and so not as uplifting compared to the spirit-filled experience you have playing same songs or listening to them on radio in your closet. Choirs interested in setting aside other times aside normal Sunday services for high cost worship/praise programmes 12 times in a year to entertain themselves (very little outside folks or sinners attending), under the guise of it serving as a means of evangelism.

Funny church membership rules linked closely to financial obligations under the guise of the church burying members when they die, or attending/officiating their celebrations, etc. Membership never comes into question during the collection of the many offerings they have instituted like Sunday/Mid-week offertories, special offerings, tithes, appeal for funds, “covenant offerings”, “first fruit offerings”, thanksgiving offerings, “annual harvest contributions”, church building offerings, Pastor’s appreciation offerings, Pastor’s car offerings, pastor’s birthday offerings, “all night service offerings”, “deliverance service offerings”, etc but only when a “member” who has fulfilled all those responsibilities dies or falls into some category of need. Then the Church says “where is your membership card and record of contributions?” Then they say “yes, we agree he’s been attending this Church for so long but because he’s not a “card-bearing” member, we are not obligated to do one, two and three”.

When the Pastor is so rich with material things but the members lack both material and spiritual things then something must be wrong? When after all those contributions or offertories the monies end up in buying private planes and jets to fly high in luxury, buying and riding exotic cars and living in expensive mansions when members live in abject poverty, then something must be wrong? When the monies are even used to build universities that are then priced so high members children themselves cannot afford; when the Pastor now preaches more motivational messages than salvation messages and more about how to make it in this life than how to make it to Heaven, must we start getting worried??

Well I don’t know. But I guess I could be right to say that there is an increasing perception among Church members that the Church is increasingly becoming unconcerned about their lives in the public sphere and only interested in their monies. Whatever they go through to make ends meet is no business of the Church but what they must give to the Church is what’s important to the Church. After all, the Pastor will find a way to tell you God will always provide even when you give all your money to Him every month and go home empty. And you must give because all the money you have belongs to God.

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Some say Churches now only command compulsory financial obligations and not willful giving. Some say the church is now so interested in money and profits that it’s a shame they even request two offertories at church wedding ceremonies of their own “members” and later give them some very meager amount as the church’s own donation because they are not “welfare contributors”. As if that is not “shameful” enough, the new trend is Churches collecting two offertories at funerals! Two offertories: one for the Church, one for the bereaved family. So funeral grounds are also now money making grounds for the Church?

Some say they can bet their lives that there can never be a “no offertory Sunday” ever in their Church and wonder if money making and profiting is not increasingly being the focus of the church, then why can’t that happen.

Some bemoan the “psychological methods” used by Pastors or Churches in extorting from members instead of biblical willful giving and the imposition of levies on members like in secular associations/organizations.

Some say they understand the Church has fiscal responsibilities but there’s a difference between the Church having fiscal responsibilities and the Church operating a business model and thus if we try to operate the Church as a business, we will find ourselves at odds with God’s design.

Again some have observed that the new trend is to find Pastors now preaching that complaining about giving to God (they mean themselves or the church they mismanage) or not giving to God so much that you feel it cost you like David did is a sin/unfaithfulness.

What’s true however (and perhaps the Pastor cares less about) is that, when people feel like they are only being used for their finances, they will eventually leave the Church. Trust me; it will not be hard to find that most highly successful (rich) church members share the sentiment that the only value their Pastors seem to place on them is the fact that their tithe pumps so much money into the Church or their pockets. There’s a reason why most billionaires either don’t go to Church or choose to give their tithes to foundations or non-profit charities they have created and the reason is simply the financial mismanagement of the tithe/monies by the Church, and the lack of accountability thereof. They wonder why they give millions to the Church yet the “food they have put in God’s storehouse” never feeds the poor, needy and deprived in the same Church they give to. They wonder why the Church will rather focus on building big edifices and holding wasteful programmes with the money and not feed the poor and needy in the Church instead.

What’s the calling of the Church again? I keep forgetting because all I keep seeing is Churches running like corporate businesses.

Well, I guess the line between church and business is too thin that it gets so confusingly messy! Whatever the case is, watch out for manipulative Churches and Pastors and don’t let the Church decide your destiny. The Church cannot take you to Heaven; only Christ will.

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My simple rule is: Don’t do Church; Do Christ!

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017

Marriage & Personal Development Author

 

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Every girl lives for her wedding day

​”Every girl lives for her wedding day”???

Well, embrace your wedding day…prepare for it, celebrate it.

But after that few hours of fame, the spotlight on you will be gone forever…and the real work starts.

What’s scary?

Truth: “the first year of marriage is hard…really hard“.

And it’s even more when you don’t work at marrying somebody with similar goals, dreams and passions but rather in pursuit of the “soul mate” fantasy.

If only we (especially ladies) will think and prepare more for the marriage as we do for the wedding… like how we make sure, and spend sleepless nights planning for nothing to go wrong, a lot will change in marriages.

Why women especially? Because they are powerful stakeholders of the home. A lot depends on them; even though running the home is an equal partnership. 

~Credit: Frank Powell

 (Edited and expanded)
©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017

Lateness at our weddings

I had written this a long time ago but could not publish it because a couple of friends who got married around that time would have said it’s about them. Funny it is, but I have learned one thing in recent times that timing is very important even with publishing of my posts and I still have unpublished posts that are over a year old. So now that at least I know of no close friend whose invite I am honouring soon, I feel at liberty to publish this. Lol.

I thought the day and age where we used to keep people waiting hours at marriage and wedding ceremonies should have been long gone now but sadly it’s still with us. If there was any glamour in it in years past, my dear bride and groom, it’s no longer glamorous. The age we are in now, time is of big essence to throw away waiting for a bride and groom for hours. It adds no value to anybody’s life to have to wait hours for a marriage/wedding ceremony to start. It doesn’t make any bride or groom too any more valuable than they already are. If anything, it rather looks disrespectful of people’s valuable time and for you the bride and groom, it creates a bad image on you especially when you are of the educated or elite class.

Of course we all know sometimes things don’t go as planned and some unexpected stuffs can cause delays but seriously, for hours? Hell no! It’s unacceptable! Of course it’s your day and all your guests have put off important things for your sake just to show their love; but don’t take them for granted! It’s a choice you have to make way before the wedding day.

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In this part of our world where marriage is not just between bride and groom but a family affair, it makes it even more important that you accord a little bit of courtesy to important family members most of whom are way older than you that at least you should respect their time. It surely is very annoying when your entire family and important guests gather at the time you yourself has given them and now have to wait for you for hours!

Ok, we in this part of the world are never on time so that’s why if it’s supposed to start at 12pm you let your invite read every 10am? Oh come on! A few minutes late may be pardonable (doesn’t mean it’s encouraged), but not 2 hours late for God’s sake! But that’s what our educated brides and grooms are doing to us.

When I was getting married my wife and I agreed that we are educated and should not embarrass ourselves with excessive lateness. We were glad and even more put on edge when the presiding Pastor also stressed same to us during our last meeting with him a day before the event with the words “you guys are learned so don’t act otherwise and keep everybody waiting”. And he was glad after the ceremony that we did not disappoint him and all the people who had travelled from very far to honour us.

There were circumstances that could have made us late especially my camera man deciding not to show up on time. I remember leaving to the Church without him doing the coverage and sending strict instructions to my wife and the bridal team not to wait for him and that I would be so pissed if we had to go against our “no lateness” resolve because of him. Luckily, he was able to catch up with my wife and the bridal team on their way. So as it were, things didn’t go as planned and he couldn’t cover the dressing and preparations before the wedding as agreed and yet wanted to hold us against our resolve, demanding we wait for him. Annoyingly though he saw nothing wrong with it because according to him it is unusual for weddings to start almost on time and that almost all the weddings he has covered started at least an hour after start time.

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It is very unfortunate when at a wedding guests begin to make comments like “If I had known I would have taken my time and not come on time or at least eat before coming” just because by the time your reception starts (going by when programme was supposed to start), your guests would have been dying of hunger just because of that little cocktail or buffet. Of course a start time of 10am for a church wedding does not mean groom must be there exactly 10am because they arrive first (that will be great though) but both groom and bride not arriving so many minutes or hours beyond start time in my opinion is disrespectful of people’s time!

Well, maybe it’s just so ingrained in us that we just can’t help it. Then again I thought we only do that while here at home but no, we do it even when we are living abroad. I almost left a wedding of some friends when I was in the UK had it not being that it started to rain just about the time my patience run out. And the atmosphere in the Church that day and the embarrassing expressions of the Pastor, officiating ministers and the groom who had to wait hours for the bride (yet everybody switching to happy mood the moment bride finally entered as if they were not boiling and complaining moments ago) is one that I can never forget.

Shame on us!

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

Marriage & Personal Development Author

 

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Weddings

Many are ready for the wedding but not the sacrifices that come with marriage. All their preparations have been for the wedding ceremony…not for the journey of marriage.

The only times they have read or devoted serious attention to anything related to marriage was when they were planning the wedding. And if they be Christians, then the only times they have had marital counsel was during their premarital counseling or those rare times short marriage sermons came from the Church pulpit. Beyond these, they would have made no further efforts on their own to read, learn and acquire marital knowledge.

Preparations for a wedding and preparations for marriage are two different things, or are they not? One ends but one continues throughout the length of your lives together, or it’s not so? How can any serious business like marriage survive without good preparation and continuous acquisition of related knowledge? Or don’t they say to be forewarned is to be forearmed?

Yesterday I visited a family friend whose marriage had broken way before mine started. She’s way older than me. Apparently, I had once shared some marriage truths or knowledge with her and gave her some materials, videos, movies, etc. At a point in our conversations, she said something to the effect that she wished she had all those materials and information I gave her when she was still in her marriage and that all that knowledge that she has now would have helped her save her marriage. She bemoaned her ignorance at the time. I was sad for her but was still grateful for her comment.

She made me realize that knowledge is everything and that timing is important. Knowledge at the right time is powerful and life saving.

Nonetheless we are human and cannot know everything. And even if we do know everything, and have applied all that we know, we still have flaws and cannot save everything, marriage included (a failing relationship/marriage can only be saved when the two parties are willing). That’s where God’s super-duper Grace comes in! Grace…we all need it, for in the end, though knowledge be important, it’s not all about knowledge.

God help us and our marriages that we will not live life with a belly full of regrets!

Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

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