Hi! Welcome to Tosé Talks (which is really just a fancy name for my blog). Here's where I talk about life, love, music, God, worship...basically, stuff I care most about, in the realest possible way. Hope you like!

Love Sung Live- My experience 

"Hi Tose, some bad news, unfortunately..."

That was the first line in the text I received from the photographer I had booked for Love Sung Live. Hey, stuff happens so normally i wouldn't mind really. Except this was coming the afternoon of the 20th of October- a little over 24 hours before the Love Sung Live- my self-hosted house concert at Icontowers. I was right in the middle of Wilkos purchasing scented candles- an item on the list the venue decorator asked me get. I honestly didn't know what to do. I felt panic rise from the back of my throat. Flashbacks of Love Walk EP launch last year and my regret of not getting a professional photographer started coming to the fore. But i remembered something I had read from Dean Graziosi's book '' Millionaire Success Habits'' where he shared a story of JJ Virgin and her son Grant who happened to be in a terrible, potentially fatal hit and run and how JJ could have focused on feeling bitter and getting even but instead made the unusual decision to focus all her energies on making sure her son not only pulled through but thrived. She didn't even press charges! Well what i was facing right that moment could not be anyway compared to that but I chose to do the same thing: focus on a solution. So on the phone I got  while I continued with my shopping

This was just one of the many pressures I was under. Included in the mix was the fact that I had 13 mostly unknown songs to prepare for (I was still writing one of them) and had gotten busy helping out a friend with his live recording scheduled for just the weekend before and my local church's Women's Conference holding the weekend after. As Ose and I were the worship band coordinators we practically had to attend every rehearsal including the Thursday and Friday prior to Love Sung Live. This meant I never got a chance to rehearse fully with the 'band' (Well i wouldn't really call it that as It mainly consisted of Ose on keys and a guitarist friend of ours from church. We were keeping it stripped back).

In fact, I didn't get the chance to do much at all, especially plan and promote. Yes, I know: I couldn't have picked a worse time to hold the show. And as if that wasn't bad enough, I. Was. Broke. Granted, it wasn't a huge event but even tiny events take money, honey! 'But why didn't you start planning and promoting instead of leaving things to last minute?', you might be asking. Well, I didn't exactly leave everything to last minute but planning was at best lack lustre. Why? I was nervous. It was a live headlining show and I was trialling out new songs and I wasn't going to be leading people in worship in the sense that we know it (and I admit that has become my comfort zone). I was just going to sit and sing and tell stories. I was scared! And i'm not proud to say that when I am scared, I procrastinate. Still dealing with that one...

Nevertheless, I was determined to go ahead because of this vision to create a 'Love Oasis' - A space people could just come bask in God's presence and love and leave strengthened and encouraged. Also, I had promised my fund-raising backers that i would treat some of them to an evening of live music which is not something I do to often. Most people by this time know most of what I do is online-based, crazy as it sounds. So Love Sung Live had to be special. Had to be awesome. Period! This meant I had to heavily depend on well-meaning folks who love and support and what i do.

WARDROBE

Luckily, I had picked out my outfit 2 weeks prior. I had been down this road enough times to know I didn't leave stuff like that till last minute. (Case in point: picking up my Love Walk EP launch outfit the morning of the show.)  I kept it simple using mostly what I already had (leather pants and ankle-length boots) and shopped for just a top with the help of a dear friend. I am terrible to shop for by the way. I just can't seem to make my mind up. If you are like me, then know that it helps to go prepared i.e with a clear idea of what you want e.g black sequin top. If you are really really like me, you might end up with a yellow one but hey, it'll shave off a couple of hours from your search. (yes, hours. For just one top. Diabolical, I know!).

Did I mention my makeup artist and friend flew in from Scotland? This was a true case of everything working together for my good because you see, I didn't have a makeup artist until she confirmed she was coming. I was ready to do it myself. Certainly wouldn't have turned out as great. I felt so beautiful!

As for hair, well, I absconded from seeing the Loctician that week because i had to divert the funds to something else. What's a girl to do? Curl it up and spray on some glitter that's what! Loved the end result too :)

TICKETING

Via Mama Eventbrite. Only tricky part was my deciding to create a paid live streaming ticket category. Since we were going to sell through Eventbrite (considered Concert Window but that would have involved the extra step of customer signing up to watch and I didn't want that). So decided to set it up on almighty Facebook. This meant I had to add people manually to a closed group. This was no problem but I reckon as the show grows in audience, this would be difficult to keep up, unless there was someone managing the page...which can be arranged I guess. Had a couple of friends help out at the door too in case we had walk-ins

VENUE SET UP AND DECOR.

I didn't even think I needed to get someone to handle this until I realised how very not to so good I am with that sort of thing. It was interesting to see the sort of ideas my dear friend came up with especially for the food and drinks table. in keeping with my 'relaxed atmosphere' theme we had scented candles which I absolutely loved. Next, I wanted bean bags. Sounded good in theory so borrowed a few from another dear friend. Do you how much space those things take?? I'll have to find another way of creating that atmosphere without them going:) especially if I plan to keep using IconTowers. 

 

FOOD

I made a decision to include this though I knew it might make things a little tricky. Remember my lack of funds challenge? So I couldn't just give it to someone to take care of- I gave it to several people! Small chops, nothing fancy. I am blessed with some awesome friends and a great church family so made requests and got some folks to handle things one item each. Really turned out well, I must say! 

THE SHOW

We had been to the venue several times so it wasn't new but we still needed to get there early enough to set up the place. We at this point is Ose and I. Our beautiful venue decorator was next and then guitarist, violist (she had a special appearance) and MC for the evening. All friends giving a friend a hand.

Cameras, Lighting, Sound and other techy stuff- Totally lost when it comes to these so let's just say, we were extremely fortunate to have a venue like Icontowers! From the crew to Pastor Fred barking out orders to make sure the live stream went on without a hitch. It is a visual production studio and they sure know what they are doing. The only let down was the sound as we were unable to get an engineer to come out and handle that side of things. Ose and few friends had tried to set this up. But tweaking is impossible when you get on stage unless of course the mixer is just right beside which it wasn't. it sounded amazing in the room. But can hear the faults in the recording. Hey, it wasn't the end of the world. We still had an amazing time! As for photography, I'm glad to say after much calling around I was very fortunate to get a replacement for a great price- and he takes great pictures too, as displayed in headlining picture of this blog post :)

The entire set from start to finish was about 1 hour 30 mins. I literally just sat and sang and told stories...and cried. (God help me with this crying thing!). Almost ruined one song as I cannot cry and sing and the same time. But folks didn't seem to mind the emotion so I guess it worked! :)

SONGS

I'm glad to say I did finish writing that song (another simple reason i love my morning walks so much) called 'Road To Gold' aaannd it seemed to go down really well! Which is always a great thing! My voice held it's own and I believe God was glorified. I did hear LOADS of bum notes listening back later but no one seemed to notice in the room and/or didn't care. To be honest, neither did I!

 

 

FINAL NOTE AND THOUGHTS

I can describe my experience hosting Love Sung Live as a woman in active labour. It may not have come through in all i've said above but so many times I felt like cancelling. I even promised myself I wouldn't do a thing like this again. But then I had the 'baby' and voila! All the pressure and strain is forgotten and I want do it again and again! And I will. Hopefully, with more resources at my disposal. Here are a few lessons I picked up along the way:

1. Prepare to be stretched especially when you are trying something new or treading a path less travelled. It's all part of the beautiful tapestry of your journey

2. A vision still in your head is still in dream phase. It takes courage to achieve anything and we all have some of that inside

3. Do not underestimate the power of delegation and team work. You and your talented self can't do it all. 

4. Good friends and a good church family are worth more than gold!

5. Try and relax. God's got this and He's got you! Communication and constant 'checking-in' with Him will help, I promise

6. Pray together as a team if you can. No actually, prioritise and make it happen! When all's said and done, God's presence- or as scripture says, the anointing-  is what makes the difference.

 

Love Sung Live is a show specially designed to be held as a house concert. Would you like host your very own Love Sung Live right in your home? Send me an email at writeme@toseofficial.com or just leave me a comment below

 


Meet ups- In The Flesh 



This post might not resonate with everybody. But if you are an 'introvertish' homebody, read on...

I recently stumbled on an advert on TV: A young man sharing on the benefits of face to face contact vis-a-vis virtual. It was presented in spoken word form. Maybe that's why it stuck with me. Or perhaps it was because a friend I hadn't seen in a while, someone I didn't even reckon to be a close friend asked for my number, called me up and suggested we meet up for a cuppa at a local Starbucks.

My first reaction was shock and to my shame, suspicion. Especially as she had to travel farther to me than I had to her. What did she want?? Turns out to my amazement, ALL she wanted was...wait for it...C-O-N-V-E-R-S-A-T-I-O-N.

So meet up we did. We talked about life, love, marriage, kids, work...anything and everything we had (and didn't have) in common. And I must say, in spite of my initial reluctance (I had actually prayed she would cancel...tsk...tsk), it was one of the best 2 hours I had spent with someone in a long time. It was simply conversation. Not a business meeting. Not to check out how useful the person in your career (don't lie your mind goes there sometimes).

I had forgotten what that was like.

What's 2 hours worth in virtual time? Probably 4 hours of texting on Whatsapp, broken up in segments, whilst chatting with 10 other people at the same time. Am I trying to knock down virtual connections- Gosh, no! I have been able to connect with folks I'll probably never see again or live in the same country with again, this side of eternity. I'm grateful for phones, social media etc. But won't it be nice to use social media and Whatsapp to arrange meet ups with folks we CAN meet sometimes?

I worry that our generation is fast losing what 'up, close and personal' looks like. What it means to connect with another person across a table. To be able to see them laugh and look into their eyes. I'm thankful for facetime, and Skype and Google Hangouts and the like. But that's really not the same- kinda like watching your favourite artist in concert live compared to watching online. Given the choice, I think I know which option I'd take.

I understand how challenging this might be sometimes. We live busy lives. We are constantly on the go and if you are a homebody like me, It takes a lot to leave your home. However, as it is a decision I have made, here's how I plan it out:

1. I pick 12 friends (one for each month of the year)- or people I just generally want to get to know better in advance .

2. I call or text them to SCHEDULE a meet up with, one at a time- once a month maybe more if you have the time but certainly not less than once a quarter.

3. Whatever, we decide unless it was a mutual decision, I pay. My treat.

You could even make it more of a group meetup than just one person. The one person thingy is just a personal preference for me. Easier for me to handle. Some friends might offer to split the cost but sometimes that won't be the case especially when it is with someone or people who doesn't really know you.

Apart from the benefits of meeting up with someone face to face, Isn't this just a great way of being a blessing to someone, even if it's just once a quarter? And no, before you go there- I am don't have loads of cash stashed somewhere neither is this process easy for me, particularly because I am naturally shy. Heck, If you are looking for me at a networking event, you'd probably find me perched in one corner of the room. Even saying the word 'networking' has the potential of causing me to break out in a sweat. Why? Cause I worry I won't know what to say. 


But I do it anyway driven by a desire to just do something nice for someone else, and then it's just simply amazing to connect with someone in the flesh. I would hate to loose touch...literally.

Anyway, that's my talk for this week. What do you think? Do have anymore ways to make flesh to flesh contact easier in our present day with it's challenges?

Write!  





I've been really intrigued by studies I have come across on how much writing down your goals AND reviewing them consistently affects your ability to achieve them...by 42%! How? Well, it's simple: writing down your goals and reviewing them tells your mind that you really, really want this and mean it and somehow prepares to make provision for it.

The result? An igniting a new level of productivity and ideas that simply 'thinking' won't achieve.

Isn't it amazing that the bible instructs that we: 'Write the vision and make it plain'? Yeah, this stuff was God's idea!

Writing brings clarity and allows those dreams of yours start the journey from just wishes to reality. Personally, I have noticed when i write down my goals I connect dots along the path to achievement that just weren't obvious to me while they were still in my head. If that's no encouragement to get to writing, I wonder what is.

Err...and no you don't have to be a master at writing, or an author. In fact, it is preferable to write in your 'every day voice' if you know what I mean. No word crafting necessary. Just write as clearly as you see it in your head. Not just once but constantly. Everyday if you can manage it. If like me, you are all about fulfilling purpose then this activity is not optional. 

Now talk to me: Do you write down your goals and dreams? If you do, how many have you ticked off so far, if any?

The Juggling Act- How these well-known moms say they achieve balance 


Balance. This ever elusive concept. How do you achieve it? Is there any such thing as perfect balance? This is a huge one for me and I had to seriously ask myself whether it was even worth writing about as it is such a big old topic with loads of opinions which are not necessarily helpful. But the reality is, with so many important things requiring our attention, usually round about the same time, we are going to have to find a way to master this art i have called juggling . And as much as I know this applies to both men and women, I believe you would agree with me if I said women, especially moms, seem to feel the pressure to achieve this balance much more than men. I know I have experienced (and still do) my fair share of that pressure. As a result I am constantly on the look out for what others have to say on the matter, whilst I find what works for me. Here's what these well-known moms had to say on the matter:

1. Christine Caine (International speaker, wife and mom of two..amongst other duties)- "I myself have to constantly adjust my life..I think the less we try to create an A+ B =C and a formula and the more we allow it to be something that's organic and spirit-led, the more effective we will be" (excerpt taken from the "Q&A Week 3: Marriage, Motherhood and Ministry" podcast. Listen here)- I really loved listening to Chris on this topic especially as she debunked some un-biblical, stereotypical  view points. Most importantly, I think what she shares in this podcast will break chains of guilt off women who have desired more than just being good wives and mothers.

2. Alicia Keys (recording artiste, wife and mom of two)- "It's tough. What I've realized is that you can schedule yourself into your life. Not to say that it's easy!...I make sure to schedule time with myself and my husband, just like I make sure that there's plenty of time for us to be together as a family" ( 2012 Interview with Wonderwell. See full post here). And I agree. Tough sometimes feels like an understatement but recognise that it is a challenge that can be managed with the right tools.

3. Amy Grant (recording artiste wife and mom of five (yes, five!))- "When you lean into faith, you approach life with a kind of trust. Not that everything in life is going to go perfectly, but there is a purpose for everything.” (Excerpt from Belmont Vision article. See full article here). Trust. Very vital. Or you would drive yourself crazy with what you could have/should have/would have done better.

4. Jada Pinkett-Smith (Actress, business woman, mom of two (three if you add her step-son)- "You always have to remember to take care of you first because when you stop taking care of yourself, you get out of balance and you really forget how to take care of others" (Not sure of the source but you can watch full interview here). Another interview I really enjoyed. There's just something about having 3 generations of women sit in a round table discussion...anyway, I digress...Jada in her usual fierce, no-nonsense manner gives an honest view on balancing life as a wife and mom.

5. Erica Campbell (recording artist, reality TV star, wife and mom of three)- "I take one day at a time. I don't try to do everything (I know that sounds..kinda crazy cos it seems like I do everything" (TV Episode of Being titled  "Being Erica Campbell). Ha! Ya think?? Watching this woman juggle so much, makes me feel tired! You guys probably already know I have massive love Erica. As an artist, yes. But she resonates even more with me as a person and fellow woman, probably because I can draw quite a few similarities in our lives. For instance, she mothers 3 little persons like me and the roles of our husbands (as it relates to our artistry) is almost identical. This show was quite a good insight to the life she leads. You may be able to catch re-runs on the BET website.

Tosé's Two Cents: What I've learned so far...
  • Put God first: Spend time with him. Seek first His kingdom and righteousness...(fill in the blank space) and everything else tends to fall into place.
  • Don't try to be like everyone else. Find out what works for you and your family and do that
  • It helps to be super organised. Check my post on this here.
  • You give a lot and are constantly pouring out. Make time to replenish yourself!
  • Ask for help! Delegate where you can.
  • Don't try to do everything. Recognise times and seasons. There's a time for everything
  • It's tough! Recognise that and seek support where you need it. Remember loads of people are in generally in the same boat as you
  • You WILL drop the ball- take a wrong turn, make a wrong choice- sometimes. Don't beat yourself up about it. Learn and move forward, trusting God's grace is sufficient to fill in the cracks and knowing His strength is made perfect in your weakness.
So, I'd really like to hear from you. Tell me: what works for you? Be sure to leave a comment on your best 'balance' tips below (PS: you'll have to login or register to comment. Should take you about 30 secs. Thanks!)

Thanks a million to taking time out of your busy schedule to read this. Be sure to share if you found it useful.

Much love and blessings,

Tosé

My Top Ten Christian/Worship/Gospel Songs of 2015 

 
It's December and almost Christmas! Finally done with my shopping and I am pretty proud of myself for finishing FIVE whole days before Christmas (yeah, I'm your typical last minute dot com shopper). We have a tradition in my home of buying new music every December. Albums. Not singles(Note: I said BUY. Apparently, as an artist myself, I believe in doing unto others what I expect in return) and my little boy, almost 9 years old now, has constantly nagged me all week about how we 'reeeaaally reeeaally'reminding need new music. Why the tradition? Well, for one, it's our way of making sure we buy new, current music every year, just in case we haven't all year round (not that it ever happens that we absolutely don't buy ANY music all year). But I guess more important is the fact that we play the living daylights out of each CD all year round that by December we desperately need to hear something new. Sadly, We are not a constant radio listening family. However, we noticed they seem to recycle the same set of songs all the time anyway so nothing lost there. Generally though, I do enjoy buying CDs and I much prefer the physical copy to the MP3 one. Just my personal preference.

So yes we get desperate to change but there are some of those songs that you simply don't grow tired of hearing. It is to those songs this post is dedicated. Don't forget, this is just my opinion. I would really like to hear yours (opinions, I mean). Mind you, this list will feature songs released 2014 into 2015 and it is not in any particular order...just so you know.

1. Broken Together (From the Album Thrive by Casting Crowns)

Casting Crowns are probably one of my best Christian bands of all time. They are just one of those bands, I'm almost certain I'd like anything they release. I'm constantly on the look-out. Yep, I guess I'm a super fan! I love how they preach in song and in my opinion Mark Hall's song writing is simply off the chain! I absolutely love the simplicity and down right honesty of this song. Maybe a little sad, but it calls for deep musings on relationship matters, primarily marriage but for all other relationships too. Everyone can relate- And I think everyone did as the song seemed to enjoy massive air play all through this year.

2. Pressure (From the Album Life Music Vol. 2 by Jonathan McReynolds)

 This is one of two songs of Jonathan McReynolds on this list and I would have gladly added 3rd and 4th, if I had the space. This bro is on fire, man! Gospel music aside, you have to respect the this young man's artistry. Sheer genius in my opinion. I thought Life Music Volume 1 was amazing. With volume 2, he simply knocked it out of the park! I read a Facebook post where he said the growing popularity of his music has been mostly down to word of mouth..No kidding! I am definitely one of those mouths. Again, the beauty of this song is how well it cuts across. People -especially we church folk -can relate. There's always something special about a song that refuses to hide behind "christianese" and speaks truth, plain and simple. And when you have a combination of beautiful singing, attractive melody and ridiculously good lyrics what do you get? Pressure (the song. Not the emotion :))

3. Alive- (From the This is living Album by Hillsong Young and Free)

If you are like me and love to jump around on and off stage then this one's for you. It's a really jumpy, feel-goody song with a very catchy pop-groove to it. Truly makes you feel..well..Alive!

4. Can't live without You (From the album Withholding Nothing by William McDowell)

I truly can't get enough of this song. The high point for me is Nicole's Binions vocals..pure, simple...almost lends itself to the character of innocence. Hardly contains any of the vocal thrills and frills you come to associate gospel music with(which is great by the way).A breath of fresh air in my opinion. 
 

5. You are the Pillar (Single by Florocka featuring Lawrence Haynes) 

​Actually heard this song within hours of writing this post. It isn't often that a song hits me right between the eyes the first time I hear it. But this one did. So much so that it HAD to make it into my top 10. An amazing remake of the popular Nigerian worship song. This guy doesn't seem to have any musical limitations! A pity I don't understand the Yoruba language so obviously some parts where lost on me but the other bits more than made up for it. Even Ose (hubby) raised his eyebrows a few times whilst we listened (again). And those who know my music director hubby, know he is a tough one to please. Love it!



6. Limp (From the album Life Music Vol. 2 by Jonathan Mcreynolds)

This is the second of the two songs from Jonathan McReynolds on my list. To be honest, I struggled to choose between the songs Limp, Maintain, Christ Representers, just to name a few. Amazing body of work this guy has. With Limp, he yet again takes the listener on a walk down honesty and vulnerability lane. I know the two songs Pressure and Limp have parts in common with the repetition of the word 'limp' and 'Pressure' but you tend to get that when it's the same songwriter. I can relate and I'm sure fellow songwriters reading this can too. Having said that though, it is still amazing lyrical work.

7. Shake (From the album Welcome to the New by Mercy Me)
 
Another amazing song by veterans Mercy Me. Love love love this song! It doesn't matter where I hear it , I can't stop myself from getting my soul-train-head-bobbing groove on. But my absolutely favourite bit of this song is within it's fun and playful melody the truth of the believer's victory in Christ is evident! All the more reason to head-bob, if you ask me.

8. I luh God ( From the album Help 2.0 by Erica Campbell)

OK, shoot me, but this song HAD to be on my list...I can't help myself: I 'luh' this song!!! I know there are some who disapprove of not just the use of the ghetto version of the word 'love' but the fact that it is a woman in her 40s acting like an 18 year old 'in da hood'. To be honest, I think that was the whole point- to shock listeners. Well, consider us duly shocked, Erica! This song was soooo left field. No one saw it- or her, for that matter-coming. But that's what's so great about this song. In a world where music is now a dime a dozen and you have artists literally growing out of your ears in your genre alone, you have to do something to stand out or you will fall by the way side, no question! I think she's done an amazing job re-inventing herself. Love it. Love her!

9. Ever Be (From the album We will not be shaken by Bethel Music)

One of my new finds, actually. Heard it for the first time on Natalie's grant Be One Album released last month and simply fell in love with it. In all honesty, I think I prefer Natalie's version but no matter, it is still an amazing song. A great addition to one's daily quiet time, me thinks.


10. Bigger (From the Album Songs From My heart by Evans Ogboi)

Another clever remake of a popular Nigerian Worship song by the multi-talented Evans Ogboi. This one brings tears to my eyes. Again, I think a lot has to do with how 'relatable' a song is. Yes, it's a known song but it's the delivery of it that catches your attention and literally blows you away. You know a song has hit home when you can't get it out of your head. Yep, Bigger does that to you. And guys, anyone catch the song's video directed by Fred Williams?? Awesome stuff! Do check it out if you haven't already.


I can't tell you how tough it was narrowing down this list to just ten 10 songs! There have been a few I have been tempted to include. But which of the 10 above do I take out? Ha! A girl's gotta make a decision. So there. Hope you enjoyed it. Lemme know your 2015 favs in the comments below.

Lotta luv,

Tosé

2015 has been a amazing year for me and my family. God has been good and gracious to us. I am so thankful to Him. And I am thankful to and for you too- Yes, you! For your love and support without which I couldn't do this. I am fully persuaded that 2016 would be an even better year for us all, by His grace. Amen!
 

Musician Mommy- Tips to help you get and be super organised 


OK, in truth you don't have to be a musician or a mommy for this apply to you, if you need a little help organising your life. I know I am still very much a work in progress in this area and I find a lot of 'creatives' are the same. The "musician mommy" caption is just my reality at present so I speak from that place. It takes a lot of self discipline to get  and keep organised and there's nothing like having to juggle a home, young kids and a career to force you to do it...or you simply won't get anything done. 

I remember listening to an interview by the very talented Patti Scialfa- wife to Bruce Springsteen and every inch a very talented musician in her own right- where she talked about being on stage, playing guitar and forgetting to tell the baby sitter that her child had piano lessons. Or times (and this I can soooo relate to) where she more or less sneaks out of the room to write and as soon as the kids (who were previously doing something else) heard the the first guitar chord they looking for her asking what she was doing..like she was committing some kind of infidelity! The reality is, it's not the same like when you were a teenager eating off your parents food and money and only having exams to worry about. That's not to say exams are not a lot of stress. I know I felt like the life was being squeezed out of me after every exam I had to sit for but I must admit that my present day to day life now makes exam stress look like a leisurely walk in the park. Take it from me, the sooner your learn how to organise your life the easier it will be. Not just for you but for your nearest and dearest.

The almighty to-do list

To me, this is simply a no-brainer but I am not one to assume anything so if you are yet to make acquaintance with this simple but effective life-saver I don't know where you have been! Be it paper or digital (mobile phones IPads etc), you can't go wrong with this. The trick is to find what works for you. I like to make 'funnel-like' to-do lists. I'm almost certain it is called something else out there but by funnel I mean start broad and gradually narrow it down- so year to month to week to daily to do lists. I find my greatest challenge to be the daily ones where as a mum to young children, no two days are the same, no matter how much routine I introduce and we have PLENTY! Don't be afraid to move things round and carry over to the next day, if you must


Be realistic

Don't overload the list...or yourself- They say Rome wasn't built in a day. Well same goes for whatever venture you are in even at the very challenging start up stage. It's better to get a little done than none at all because that's what's likely to happen when you get too overwhelmed!


Have specific 'must-dos' for the day

These are the ones, you simply cannot carry over, the ones with deadlines attached to them (a good deadline practice is to set a personal deadline date 2-3 days before the actual deadline to give you time to deal with any last minute incidences that so often occur). Get these out of the way first!

Prioritise! 

I know how tough this one can be when you have a million things fighting for your attention- all equally important..or so it seems. But in truth, how much priority a thing has could just be time sensitive. For instance, giving my kids my full attention is my priority from about 3 pm when I go get them from school till their bed time. During this time, I sort out homework, dinner and get involved in those long winded conversations young kids like to have. Once they are in bed, my priority shifts to something else like this post i'm writing today. Other times, it could be a song I have been itching to play on the guitar. For the sake of this tip, the next one is is very crucial.

Get a Calendar!

Allocate a time duration for all your tasks. Quite, frankly, this is the medium your to-do list thrives on. Your calender gives you structure and even helps you decipher how much to load up into a day. It is good practice not to commit to anything you haven't put into your calender. For this to make sense, you have to have the last tip below on lock down...


Practice saying 'No'

​Go on. Say it: "NN- OO". That wasn't too difficult, was it? Simple but powerful, those two letters! I find most people find it hard to say No simply because they are afraid people would be offended. But don't you think they would be more offended if you probably fell through on your commitment or found you were not doing it whole-heartedly? Haven't you found yourself saying things like " I wish she had just said No instead of standing us up". Most of the time, I don't think it's about what is said but how it is said. Online Entrepreneur, Ramit Sethi actually made up a nice short script you could use to politely say No, especially if you are corresponding via email:
 

Hi NAME,

Thanks for this invitation. I’m flattered! Unfortunately, I’ve got my priorities set for the year and this just doesn’t fit in. Again, thanks for thinking of me.

-YOUR NAME

Love it! Above all, If you've done all you could not to offend and still ended up doing so, simply because you said No, then tough! (for the other person of course!). Bottom line, time is one of the most precious gifts given to you by God. Spend it wisely and guard it jealously.


Keep at it!

I couldn't stress this enough! We are all works in progress and process and it takes time to change habits, no matter how short a time it takes a particular individual. So yes, you WILL drop the ball a few times- don't beat yourself up about it. Remember what I shared about process and excellence? Check it out here. Learn, move on and keep at it. Walk and work towards the perfect you God made you to be. That's what grace is for. Use it!

Much Love and Blessings,

Tosé

The Worship Song List- 5 steps to effective song selection 


Over the years, I have found myself answering countless questions as well as helping folks with their song selection for worship sessions. In time, I have come up with what I hope is a straight forward approach to mastering this little activity that could potentially be the make or break of a congregational worship session. I considered using the word "perfect" in the place of "effective". But you probably know there is no such thing as a perfect song list. Plus if you lead worship, you probably already know of those times the Holy Spirit seemingly messes up your 'perfect' song list.

I know there has been some negativity towards the worship song list, the general idea being that the Holy Spirit should be allowed free reign. Whilst I agree with this 100%, I don't see how the worship list works against it. The worship song list helps you prepare..."zone in", if you like. Besides, If you give Him free reign right from the song list preparation stage, there shouldn't be an issue, right? Great! Glad we are on the same page (I pray!) Before I get to down to business I'd like to state some matters of fact:

1. The fact that the song is current does not  mean it would work in today's session, in today's list. I have been in gatherings where because the song is current, the worship team squeezes every ounce of life out of it. Oh c'mon guys, you can do better than that! That's not to say you can't sing it frequently especially if the song was recently introduced to the congregation and the idea is to get the church used to the song. However, there is a way to do frequent and not do overuse. 

2. The fact that you personally like the song does not mean it should make it on the list. Now, don't get me wrong. You should be happy and comfortable with every song on your list in order to give your best. But the non-negotiable phrase in the preceding statement is 'Give your best' and if you have to work the songs to the point where you are comfortable then so be it. The fact is this: you are not priority on the song list. Your song list really should reflect the heart of the father at that point in time. So if you are not really "feeling" the songs, work it! But don't worry, God's got you covered. The Holy Spirit's help, brings the scripture "He works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" to life.

So unto the crux of the matter:

1. Liaise with the Helper himself- Okay, I'm sure this goes without saying that, if you intend to lead from the Father's heart you would at the very least liaise and work hand in hand with His Spirit. Why? Because your task as much as it is an art is very much a spiritual exercise. And whilst you can do without it, if you goal is to be as effective as you can be, then you would be wise to involve Him in your song selection. I've been leading worship for almost 17 years and till date, I still start my song list preparation with "OK Lord, how would you want me to lead your people?" (Sounds a little cheesy but understand my heart behind it). However you choose to do it, you save yourself a lot of unnecessary angst by just involving Him. So, you've got that out of the way...now what? Well, step out in faith and apply the steps below as He leads...

2. Find a theme- This kinda depends on how God works with you. With me, sometimes I get an actual theme...like 'God's love' or 'Encouragement'. Other times it is an actual song. Whichever way, hone in on a theme and structure your list around it. Trust me, this singular step will revolutionise your song list preparation.

3. Look for the "headlining song" - Now that you have found a theme, you need to find a headlining song. If you got your theme from a song, then that song usually ends up being the headlining song. If you only got the theme as a message, you would then have to find a headlining song that fits into that message. What is a headlining song and how does it help in preparing a song list?A headlining song is just something I use to describe the song that ends up being the focal point from which the other songs on your list build around. It is the pinnacle of your list. Usually this song is found in the middle or end of a song list. Why do you need this? Because an effective song list is one which takes the people on a journey, not a merry-go-round. Think of any good book you have read: It would most likely have a beginning, a middle and an end, to put it simply. It would also have a climax (headlining song). The most impacting worship sessions are like that and your song list should express this. Remember, when you lead people in worship you don't just lead them to sing a bunch of songs. You lead them to express love and devotion to God. It is an experience, not a chore. With headlining song in the bag, you are ready to start on the actual list. 


4. Song thread. The journey- Now that you have a theme/headlining song, you need to find songs that you can build round the theme. So say, we are honing on the holiness of God. It is pretty obvious that your list would contain a song or two (including the headlining song) speaking on the holiness of God. But for the rest of your song list, it is best to focus on other facets of God that compliment the actual theme and find songs that fit into those facets. For example, when you think of God's holiness you imagine the awesomeness of His presence, His being etc. so find songs that speak of these. One of the easiest ways to find 'complimentary songs' is to say the words of the song instead of sing it. This is the starting point. Then, you would have to free style your words kinda like you were praying and expressing worship using just words not music. Here is an example:

Holy is the Lord God almighty. The earth is filled with His glory (Lyrics to Chris Tomlin's Holy is the Lord)
(Free style starts from here) What an awesome God He is, I stand amazed in the beauty of His Holiness. Who is like unto our God...

...and so on.

The challenge is to then find a song that fits nicely into my 'freestyle' words...with the words I just used above, songs that speak of the awesomeness of God (Like William Murphy's Lord 'Awesome' comes to mind. Do I hear you ask 'what if I can' t find any songs'? Well, make one up! It doesn't have to be perfect. Just trust God to give you utterance as remember you liaised with Him before venturing out. Mind you, several amazing songs have actually been written in a bid to fill such song voids. In my early years as a worship leader, I found I had to do this quite often as I didn't know a lot of songs at the time. If your time slot is say, 20 mins, you are probably looking at 3-4 songs in total including the headlining song, depending on the length of the actual song and transitions between songs. Mine tend to be pretty long so sometimes I end up leading only 2 songs. My advice is to always start off light and then increase intensity as you go down your list to either culminate in the headlining song or to prepare the ground for the headlining song, meaning you would likely end with something less intense than the headlining song. There is really no hard and fast rule to this. This is just what has worked for me over the years.

I should probably mention the importance of the music and keys to the songs and whether a key change would be necessary. First the music: Some songs are more suited as "start off"songs and this is not only because they are up tempo songs. Drawing from our examples above..the song 'Awesome" works better as a start song than "Holy is the Lord" so if I was doing both songs I would start with  'Awesome' and transition into 'Holy Is the Lord'. As for the keys, though this isn't always possible but I would advise trying to stick to the same key where you can. Keeps things simpler. And no, you don't have to sing the song on the key it originally was written in, though it is good place to start when considering what other keys that might work. Again, it is important to take the congregation on a musical journey, just as you are doing with the lyrics. Work with your fellow musicians to achieve this because there is nothing worse than having lead singer and musicians on different pages.

Transitioning between songs- For those who may not know what I am talking about here, I am referring to those spaces in-between your songs. Worship leaders tend to use these periods to encourage the congregation or introduce the next song...I know loads of people prefer to just "wing" this bit but I actually think in the spirit of all I have have shared about having theme and taking the congregation on a journey, it is wise to consciously prepare or have a very good idea of what you will say and do at these points so you are sure to stay in line with your theme.


Those are my 5 steps done, guys! Again, please know that the essence of this post is not to make your worship sessions so rigid and regimented that God Himself couldn't break through the ranks, even if He tried! Simply use as a guide if or when you get stuck.

Remember:

Thoughts and tips?
Comment please!.


Much love and blessings!

Tosé

6 things I am massively grateful for...off the top of my head 


So I know I'm not American and I don't live in the US but I truly admire the fact that they set aside a day and called it Thanksgiving. I think it's worth taking advantage of, even if it's just to have an excuse to think (and hopefully talk) about those things we are most grateful for in the year. As the title of this post connotes, I have deliberately decided not to plan what I am going to write ahead of time, just to see if I can actually think of 6 things I am grateful for..off the top of my head :). So here goes:

1. Hope: I know this is a bit of a weird one to start off with but it was the first thing that popped into my head. In the light of the recent attacks on Paris and Nigeria, it is easy for non-Christians to find ammunition for their claim that there is no God. And while as a Christian I cannot fully comprehend the "Why" or the "How", there's a light inside me that was switched on the day I got saved and I have come to recognise this to be hope. Hope that there is a bigger picture. Hope that regardless of what my eyes can see, God is good and His mercies endure forever. So I can press on in the face of life's uncertainties. We'd be lost without hope! Have you ever come across a person who seems to have lost hope? It's a scary thing, believe me!

2. God's Love- Those who know me closely know there's no character of God that resonates more with me than His love. When you've had to deal with insecurities and lack of validation like I have, the unconditional love of God is like a fountain to your thirsty heart. It is home. It is safety. I am forever grateful for the gift of His eternal love that could and would love an unloveable person like me. Constantly. Consistently.

3. Family- Obviously, this had to show up at some point! Yes, I am always grateful for the gift of family. Family aren't only those you share blood and name with. Family
are those folks who SEE you and are cool with it. They might not even get you but they love you and support you regardless. Some of you reading this are one of such to me so let me say it here: I am grateful for YOU!
I am equally grateful for the gift of a man like Ose. Words truly fail me when I think of this dude! If I honestly, ever doubted the existence of God, the fact that he brought this man alongside me to do life with should be sufficient to get rid of those assailing doubts. Ah! Plus, the bonus of three of the most adorable, smartest, coolest little people that call me "mummy". I am truly blessed amongst women. They are my testimony, my song! 

4. Sense of purpose- Tele-evangelist, Writer and Speaker, Andrew Wommack says: " If you can live without knowing God's purpose for your life, you will!". If you are not in pursuit of purpose, you become one with wherever the wind blows. I am grateful I can see enough to enable me move in the right direction, in my pursuit. I tread sure-footed, knowing if I start veering off, God steers me towards the right course again.

5. Music: Again, those who know me well know music is probably my oldest, dearest friend. It has had the most profound effect on me from as far back as I remember. Memories of different phases of my life find a resting place in the songs I sang at the time...heck, it's how God finally reached little old stubborn me. Specifically as a worshipper and a person who leads others in worship I am so grateful for this beautiful gift of expression. Better still, knowing God digs it too, so much that He takes turns in singing over us, makes me even more grateful..if that's at all possible.

6. My Career: Even as I write this, my eyes well up. To think that I can actually call singing for the Lord a career deserves an article all by itself. Several even. I think I'll call it Chronicles of a reluctant Worship Leader. This year in particular has seen me literally step out of my comfort zone and dare to believe God and His word over me concerning this. Has it been easy? Gosh no! What's the fun in that?? I feel the stretching even as I write this...but stretching is good. Stretching means growth. And I havegrown in leaps and bounds. From reaching the grand final of the Open Mic Singing Competition- the only Christian Act performing on a mainstream platform- to finally completing my debut EP set for release in the second quarter of 2016...where do I even start sharing my gratitude for this? More details on this soon!

As I write, so many other things I am grateful for are springing to my head- health, provision, a new house- a real "Count Your Blessings, Name Them One By One" kinda feeling. But I promised 6, I'll stop at 6 so you don't call me a liar! Now, It's your turn: I know it's a pretty overdone exercise but I'd very much like to know the top 3 things you are most grateful for in your life's journey this year. Just list them. Put your comments down below :). I'd love to hear from you

Much love and Blessings,

Tosé

3 Pieces of advice I would give 19 year old worship Leader Tosé 


I know what you are thinking so let me quickly put your mind at rest: This is not an "Oh, how I wish..." post, I promise! I am not one to dwell on what should have been. With time, I have come to recognise and acknowledge the BTS (Behind The Scenes) factor which I have termed simply to identify the bunch of stuff that happens that our naked eyes are not privy to, but thankfully God presides over. So, why this title? Well, I am a strong believer of not only learning from mistakes but teaching from your mistakes with the hope that someone will learn and subsequently avoid them. Against popular belief, experience isn't necessarily the best teacher. So that being said, here goes: 

1. Opportunities don't fall on your lap. Go get them!: Well, Ok sometimes they do but that's more the exception than the rule. Sometimes, you literally have to go in search of them. Other times, they are there waiting along your path. But unless you are "tuned in", you'll miss them. You see, God brought opportunities my way to make and share the music he had given me to a much wider audience as far as back then. I didn't take up these opportunities and this was primarily because somewhere at the back of my mind, I expected to BOTH be approached and pursued. I felt I was that good at what I did. But who ever said talent was enough? You better be hard working and persistent or you'll carry your talent and that pride of yours with you to the grave.

2. Stop striving for 'perfection' in your tasks. Strive for excellence: Are you asking what the difference is? Well, so did I. To me, they were one and the same thing. But with time I have come to realise that the striving for perfection comes from a far more underlying problem - fear. And boy, did I have that in bucket loads! Someone once described perfection as fear in high heels. Ha! I totally agree.

Excellence on the other hand is having a vision- an image in your mind's eye- and not being afraid of the process it will take to get there. You are not afraid of making mistakes. Instead, you learn from them and persistently strive to be better. It sounds so simple but in my study of successful people, I have found this to be a common trait. Can I just be real with you? I'll be lying if I said that now well into my thirties, I have a complete grasp over this particular advice. I'm still very much a work in progress and I learn everyday.

3. Don't hide behind the music: My relationship with music was and still is a very passionate one. Before becoming a Christian that passion bordered on obsession. I had a lot of issues as a growing teen and the only way I found peace was to get lost in something. For me, that was music. Music also became the perfect mask. Why did I need to hide? I didn't like myself and didn't see how anyone would too. But music was something everyone loved so I said to myself "Do that skilfully enough and you'll be golden". So I thought. But authentic and honest worship thrives on allowing yourself be vulnerable first before God and then His people if you take on the privilege of leading them in worship. Your effectiveness as a worship leader almost solely depends on this. Music is not a covering or camouflage. It is a tool. Use it skilfully in leading God's people to express their love and devotion to Him. I'll share a bit more about this in a later post

So I ask you: what advise would you give your younger self today? Please comment below. I'd love to hear from you :)

Share the love!
 If this post has been useful to you in any way don't forget to like and share

Much love and blessings

Tosé

Praysong... 



I believe in me
Because I believe in You
I believe Your promises
I believe they are true
You won't let me fall
Or hurt my foot against a stone
I trust You
I believe in You