Friday, 2 April 2021

Turning Forty


Birthdays are fun. You get to celebrate with the ones you love. They get to shower you with lots of gifts, love, and food. It's a good thing. What I enjoy most about my birthday is that it makes me reflect – to look back on my days and years on earth and try to make some sense of it. I woke up this morning thinking, "Wow, I'm turning forty!". So I started to reflect -  think back on how I have lived my life so far. The decisions I made,  the ones I am still making and how they will impact the rest of my life.

 

The thing with reflecting is that it sometimes fills you with emotions you didn't anticipate. This is why you want to make sure while reflecting, you are looking through the right lenses. You can't look back and compare your life with another person. Now, I know how hard it can get with all the seemingly picture-perfect posts you see of other people’s lives on social media. It's hard not to compare and ask the why questions. We both know that doesn't help one bit, so if you get something positive out of this, you have to look back on your own life and yours alone.

 

Let's talk about one of the first emotions you may have to deal with as you reflect, and that's regret. The 'if-onlys' and 'why-didn't-I' are sure to tumble right in when you open the door to the past. But that's not the point of this. My husband always says, "you make the best decisions with the information you have." So if you made a bad decision, you don't have to look back on your life with regret. It would help if you looked back with wise eyes to learn from your past mistakes and ensure you can take those lessons with you into the future. Mistakes really are a good teacher, as long as you don't let them break you.  Take notes from your mistakes, learn from them and move on.

 

Another common emotion you may have to deal with as you reflect is fear or loss. The paralyzing thought of terror from incidents that happened beyond your control is a biggie.  Life often throws some really devastating punches that look like it's a total knockout. Know that you are not alone and reach out to someone for help. It's not a sign of weakness but a strength to own up to your fears and get help. You can reach out to your family, counselor, or support group; that's fine, as long as you reach out for help. The moment has past, you need to overcome the scar. Brave up and take control of your fears. It hurts, and there are no words to describe your loss, but you can't let fear rule the next phase of your life. Get help to move on.

 

Now there is also the feeling of happiness that can elevate you as you look back. The incredible satisfaction that comes from getting it right, doing your own thing, dancing to the tune of your life, and winning. You look back, and you are happy, ecstatic at your achievements. That's great, and you should relish those memories. You did it, and you should be proud. I love those feelings, and I live for them too. Still, you have a whole lot more to do in the future, so don't live on past glories. Press on to even greater successes in the future. Give yourself a pat on the back and a kick in the butt to move ahead and do even better.

 

The truth is you never really move ahead in life if you are still hung up on the past – regret, fear, or even happiness. Life is definitely not a sprint but a marathon. You don't stop running until you get to the very end of the race. If you stumble, steady yourself and keep going. If you fall, get up and run again. The joy of the race is running, and as long as you are still running, you are still in the race.

 

As I turn 40, I look back with joy and pride in the life God has allowed me to live. I have had moments of joy, sadness, loss, doubt, regret but most of all, faith. I'm proud of some of my choices, embarrassed at some others, and still waiting on the verdict of how some others will turn out. But in all, I'm hopeful, excited, and ready to take on the years ahead.

 

Even if it's not your birthday soon, I'll like to invite you to take stock of your life until this point and write out what the end game will be. Then make sure every moment of your life from here on consists of little steps that add up to the end game you want for you. No cheating, no looking into another person's garden to see how green it is, no giving up before the whistle is blown. If you are still breathing, you are still running, so don't give up just yet.

 

Gear up as we enter the next phase of our lives together. I'm excited; it's going to be grand!

 

 


Scriptures to brighten your day.

"Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; For the future of that man is peace." Psalm 37:37

 

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. "  Jeremiah 11:29

 

 

Blog post image by  Artturi Mäntysaari from Pixabay


Wednesday, 17 March 2021

The shoulders we stand on

 


Written by Jumoke Eniola-Odepe

 

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has" - Margaret Mead.

 

March is Women's History Month.

 

Rightly so.

 

With over a century-old women's rights movement, women have crossed many rivers to get to where we are today. 

 

Over the years, women have fought for the right to vote, equal representation in government, the right to equal pay, and a host of other rights. 

 

We, the younger generation of women, are proud to be in this era because of the work that our female forerunners have done {and are doing}.

 

Some of the women who paved the way for us are known; some remain unsung heroes. 

 

We knew nothing about the three women mathematicians who worked in NASA as human computers till the 2016 movie "Hidden Figures" brought them to our screen. 

 

Based on the non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly, the movie brought to us Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. 

 

In the face of segregation by race and sex, the brilliant work of these three African American women was pivotal in propelling the first American orbital spaceflight piloted by astronaut John Glenn in 1962.

 

In 2018, shortly after the movie, a bipartisan bill was introduced to designate the street in front of the NASA headquarters as "Hidden Figures Way." 

 

On June 12, 2019, the street was officially so renamed in honor of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and "all women who have dedicated their lives to honorably serving their country, advancing equality contributing to the space program; in the United States."

 

These women went before us, opening the doors for other women to work in space exploration and aeronautics research.

 

In pre-1929 Canada, based on a narrow interpretation of the law, women were not regarded as "persons" and therefore were not eligible to sit in the senate. 

 

A group of 5 prominent Canadian women activists, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby {the Famous Five}, challenged the interpretation of the law that excludes women as "persons."

 

On October 18, 1929, in the celebrated Person's case, Lord Sankey, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, announced the decision:

 

"The exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours. And to those who would ask why the word 'person' should include females, the obvious answer is, why should it not?"

 

October 18 has been declared Person's Day in Canada. A day dedicated to honoring the bravery and determination of the Famous Five and the historic decision to allow women's equal participation in all aspects of political life in Canada.

 

We stand on the shoulders of these women.

 

In Africa, we have Grace Alele Williams, the first Nigerian woman to obtain a Ph.D. in mathematics and the first female vice-chancellor in Nigeria. We have Mo Abudu, the first female to launch a pan-African TV channel in Africa. 

 

A cloud of female forerunners surrounds us, pioneer women, shattering diverse glass ceilings held up against us and showing millions of women behind them that impossibility is nothing.

 

We stand on the shoulders of these women. We see their work in our everyday lives. They have amplified our voices. They have extended available seats for us, opened more doors for us, and made us walk a few inches taller.

 

We, in turn, owe it to one another to pull each other up, to open the doors for one another, applaud the success of one another, and ensure you're not the only woman in the board room.

 

We owe it to the next generation of women to provide mentorship, keep pressing on, and paving the paths, so the next generation of women can thread on the paths we pave.

 

About the Guest Writer

Jumoke Eniola-Odepe is the author of two hilarious books, Memoirs of Great Ife and The Accidental Bride. A lawyer by day and a writer by night, she received her Bachelor of Laws at the University of Ife and her Master of Laws at the University of Ottawa. She is a lover of summer walks, family cookouts, and everything indoors during winter. She and her husband live in Southern Ontario with their two extraordinary boys. You can visit her online at www.activepens.com

 

 

 Blog post Image by PC

 

 

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Take a pause, breathe.

 


Sometimes life is a crazy frenzy, and it's so easy to lose it completely in an attempt to put everything in order. Truth be told, we can't always control everything. We all need to learn to move in a rhythm the puts us in charge and still allows life to happen. If you feel your life spinning out of control, pause and breathe. It's okay to veg -out, take a break, do nothing, and recharge. Once you have a better grip, retake the reins and go with the flow of your life. Here is an article I wrote on managing your day with spaces to breathe (click to read).

 

Take a pause, breathe.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Heart, Soul & Mind.


It's February, and love is in the air. Valentine's day is just around the corner, and my mailbox is filled with advertisements. Offers from companies that tell me their products will give me the best love experience that I have ever had. From dinner for two to a weekend at the Maldives, promises that entice me to believe my acceptance of their offers will give me something unforgettable.

 

Don't we all love the romantic expression of love? And we should. If we take a cue from our creator, he has shown us that the ultimate expression of life, is love. Read with me the book of Matthew; in chapter 22, one of Jesus’  disciples asked him what the greatest commandment was. What was the one thing that trumps it all, the shortcut to being right with God? Without hesitation or deliberations, Jesus answers him in verses 37, 38, and 39.  " Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

The disciple asked for a shortcut and got it – Love God, Love others. There! Right at the beginning of the sentence is a word that has hunted humanity since its existence. The search for love and to be loved has created some of the world's most tremendous pain and pleasure. Interestingly, when He gave us the command to love, He directs us to the One to whom we must love first, and that’s God.

 

To love God is no small request, as Jesus goes on to explain. It isn't something you do with careless attention. It's an all-in, whole-hearted devoted kind of claim. To love God, you must love him with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

 

With all your heart:

It’s a phrase that speaks to our emotions. You know the feeling that comes from liking something or someone. That excitement when you see the person your heart desires, yes that. God is calling us to love him deeply and wants our heart to belong to him above all else. We need to feel our love for him that we smile at his words and laugh in delight at his promises. We weep at his heartbreak when we see the pain in his world. We speak up with courage at injustice because our love demands we do. To love God, you have to feel for him and with him, with all your heart.

 

With all your soul:

When you love God with all your soul, it goes beyond feelings. It's an unseen tie. A bond. A connection. Like with a very close friend or your spouse – that unseen cord connects you in your spirit. It makes you Soulmates. You get each other. You know each other so well; you can anticipate each other's next move. To love God, you must move beyond expressing your feelings to learning and connecting with God on a deeper level.

 

With all your mind:

The mind is just a tricky little thing that will destroy you if you don't control it. Your thoughts can guide you or kill you, depending on how you have trained them to reason. To love God, you have to align your thoughts to his. You can't let the lies and destructive images of this world to plant and take hold of your mind that you start to doubt God. Or even worse, begin to lose your faith in God. You have to align your thinking to how he thinks, which is all spelled out in his words. Your thoughts must reflect his and hold steady even when the winds of life toss you around.

 

Heart, soul, mind – that's what I call a threefold cord that can't easily be broken.

 

Do you want love? It's not in the bed of a stranger or at the bottom of an empty bottle of alcohol. Do you want love? Then take the words of your creator and turn to him. Love God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul. As you do, you will experience his love for you, which was always there, by the way, on a much deeper and more satisfying level. And when you experience God’s love, it satisfies you completely.

 

Now that we got the first command covered: love God, how about we take a look at the second command: Love your neighbor as yourself. Well, that should be simple, do to others what you want to be done to you. If you don't want someone to steal from you, then don't steal from others. If you want someone to give you a gift, then give someone else a donation first. It should be easy, but you and I know it's not. Here's the trick if you are working on the first command to love God, the second command to love others will come naturally to you. 

 

Let's sum it up as you prepare to celebrate this season on love: Love God and Love others and watch your life bubbling over with so much love coming back at you.

 

 

 post image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Monday, 25 January 2021

Good Times

 


I smile when I listen to people talk about the good old days or a time in their life when everything was great and going precisely according to plan. You see the spark in their eyes as they retell happy tales of the great days when life was great. You watch their lips curl up in a satisfying smile as they talk about the abundance they enjoyed in either wealth, peace, power, or even human connection. You get drawn in rapt attention as their bodies get animated at the point the story gets to a crescendo as the adventure peaks. Then you watch their shoulders suddenly drop as they descend from the heights of joy when the story takes a new turn into today’s realities where things are not as great as they use to be. 

 

When I listen to tales of the good old days, I often wonder, "what happened to you, and how did you lose it all?" Sometimes you get a glimpse of the tragedy in a moment of absolute openness when the storyteller forgets himself and shares his uttermost regret—a wrong decision, a timing missed or a destructive habit that was left unchecked. One reckless action or inaction suddenly turns the entire story around.  So in my quest for finding a life worth living, I always make it a point to listen to such accounts and learn what not to do.  So when I read Proverbs 27 verse 23 to 27, I just had to pause and think about it.

 

“Be sure to know the state of your flocks

and pay close attention to your herds;

for riches are not forever,

nor does a crown endure to every generation.

When hay is removed and new growth appears

and the grain from the hills is gathered,

the lambs will provide you with clothing,

and the goats with the price of a field.

You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed you—

food for your household

and nourishment for your maidservants.”

Proverbs 27: 23 - 27

 

Solomon's words in these verses hold a lot of meaning for me, and I'll like to share them with you. I want you to be able to look back and see the good old days, look around you and see the great moments of today and look ahead to see the glorious days of tomorrow.

 

A sage man wrote Proverbs, and I love the prose, but I decided to take a stab at rewriting these verses in today’s expression and from my humble understanding. Below is my version of Proverbs 27: 23 – 27, and it will be the subject of our discussions today.

 

Take stock from time to time,

Know the state of your affairs at all times.

For in life, you get some, and you lose some. Nothing lasts forever.

Power always changes hands, and the transition is inevitable.

When times change, and the tide turns,

You can only profit from what you invested.

The proceed from one will support another need,

Today’s investment builds tomorrow’s growth.

If you do this, you will have enough to meet your needs,

You will have enough to spare for others.

 

Not bad, right :) Let's look at these in 3 buckets or nuggets of wisdom if you wish to call it.

 

Nugget 1:

Take stock from time to time.

Know the state of your affairs at all times.

 

Successful people keep an eye on the most critical aspects of their lives from time to time. Here lies the first thing you need to do, know what's important to you and protect it. Keep an eye on your health, monitor what you do with your finances, assess the relationships in your life. And if any is falling short, you should make a plan to quickly course correct. If you are on a winning streak with your finances, don’t get too cocky. Acknowledge the season and put some away for the future. Don’t go crazy and keep spending. If your health is at its best, excellent, you should make a plan to stay on the healthy path and not assume your body will stay that way forever. If your kids are the epitome of loving, obedient children, bask in it, but know influences are around them. So make a plan to continue to lead them down the right path. The reason is simple, and it's in the second nugget.

 

Nugget 2:

For in life you get some, and you lose some,

 nothing lasts forever,

Power always changes hands, and the transition is inevitable.

 

Nothing lasts forever is not a cliché; it's a fact of life. The tide always turns, change always happens, and you have to be ready when it does. Cultivate the habit of looking ahead, anticipate change, and plan for it. You can't be a leader forever; you will need to hand over the reins of power at some point. Your money-making machine won't always be there. At some point, a new business coming into the market will throw you off course. You have to learn to look ahead, anticipate, make contingencies and have back up plans for when things change.

 

Take a clue from Joseph and the famine's story in the Bible; you have to have the foresight to store away grains in the seven years of plenty ahead of the seven years of famine. Why's that, you ask? The answer is in nugget 3.

 

Nugget 3

When times change, and the tide turns,

You can only profit from what you invested.

The proceed from one will support another need,

Today’s investment builds tomorrow’s growth.

If you do this, you will have enough to meet your needs,

You will have enough to spare for others.

 

Nugget 3 starts with the word "When." Not "if," but "when," because it’s only a matter of time, the tide will always turn. So when it does, you have got to be ready for what comes next. If you have abided by nugget 1 and 2, which is to take stock at all times and invest today for the future, then you will have enough to carry you through the lean seasons. It’s like the saying, ‘you only get what you put in it.' If you haven't put some money aside for the rainy day, then when it rains, you will get drenched. But if you have put aside a little at a time in the days of plenty, then you will have a fallback plan—something to carry you through.

 

What I love most about this is, it’s not just about having enough to sustain yourself and your family, but you will be able to help others. Don't you hate when you meet someone with a genuine need, and you can’t help because you don't have to give? Horrible! We need to give back to our society and those around us, and you can only give what you have.

 

Summing it up: Keep a close eye on your affairs and take stock often. Look ahead and anticipate the changes that may be around the corner. Put a little at a time in savings and life investment for the rainy day. And when it eventually starts to rain, enjoy the proceeds from your investment and share it with the world around you.

 

Cheers to good times yesterday, today, and always!

 

Blog post image by  Angela Rose from Pixabay

Saturday, 2 January 2021

2021 - A New Beginning

“Jerusalem, stand up, shine!

Your new day is dawning.

The glory of the Lord shines brightly on you.

The earth and its people are covered with darkness,

But the glory of the Lord is shining upon you.

Nations and Kings will come to the light

of your dawning day.” 

Isaiah 60: 1-3

 

It’s a new year and the dawning of a new beginning in so many ways. The past year was filled with many stories that we will all be telling for years to come. Some great but many sad ones. Despite whatever we endured in the last year, it's nothing compared to the greatness stored up for us in the year 2021. Our bible passage today is from the book of Isaiah. It talks about a time when God's people get to experience the glory of God in their lives again. That time is now.

 

If the past year left you in pits of disappointment, despair, loss, anger or fear, here is a word of promise from the Lord to you: it's time to rise and shine. This year, the Lord's glory will come over your life and will shine brightly on you and your household. Despite whatever may happen or not happen around you this year, you will experience his presence in your life.

 

God's light gives you direction. This year you won’t stumble or fall. The presence of the Lord will guide you and direct your ways. You will make the right decisions and will craft out the best plans for your life.

 

God's light gives you warmth. This year you won't feel alone. Whether you are single, married, or surrounded by family and friends, the light of God will warm your heart always. You will feel his presence all around you wherever you go and whatever you do.

 

God’s light shows you off. This year you won’t stay hidden. The light of God will launch you into destiny moments where you will shine brightly and bring glory to God. Whether it’s at work, or school, with your kids, or a talent you nurture, this year, God's light will launch you into greatness, and you will succeed in all you do.

 

As we step out in 2021 with our eyes fully set on God, drop all weights and sins that will keep you from rising this year. The light of God is shining on you no matter what, but it’s up to you to stand up and shine.

 

Think about a balloon. As long a weights (like heavy stones) are tied to it, it can never rise, but it rises when the weights are dropped. The fulfillment of the promises in Isaiah 60, verse 1 only happens if you drop the weights.

 

So what's holding you down? Weights of anger? Greed? Evil thoughts? You know those things that you do, which silences the spirit of God in you and pushes you out of God's presence. It's time to drop them all so you can rise and shine. This year make up your mind to always take the high road and stay on the path of living right with God.

 

While human strength cannot help you drop the weights, the spirit of God can. As you start the year, ask God in prayer for the help of his holy spirit to drop all weights and sin. And as you do, you will see the light of God shine brightly on you, and you will arise and shine.

 

Welcome to 2021. This year you will have new beginnings of greatness in your life as you experience God's light shine brightly on you and as he gives you something new to launch you into his planned greatness for your life. Amen.  

 

Blog post image by Flash Alexander from Pixabay 

Saturday, 5 December 2020

A New Song

There is a saying you may have heard; it says, "music refreshes the soul." The Soul – the very essence of our being. It is the part of our existence that lies between the world we live in and the world our spirit seeks to dwell. It is the part of us that lives on long after we are gone from this world. It is the part that seeks out its creator, the one our creator seeks. The Soul is the core of our being; it's the eternal being.

 

When disaster strikes, you may feel the pain in your body and could very well recover from it. However, if you let that deep dark feeling of loneliness and depression sink into your Soul, it will destroy your entire being. Look around you, see how worries, anxieties, and fear saps out life from souls around you. The hardship of our world serves to create a troubled soul. A troubled soul is a fertile ground for seeds of greed, wickedness, and evil to grow, which eventually grows into lost souls.

 

Since our world is riddled with pain, how can we protect our Soul from being consumed by troubles, pain, and wickedness? One way I have learned to keep my Soul free amid pain and anxiety is to sing. Music does refresh the Soul, especially if you are singing songs that inspire and renews your mind. You can't sing songs filled with anger, misery, fear and expect your Soul to escape those feelings. On the contrary, it's just going to dampen your spirit. It would help if you sang a new song. A song of worship to God. A piece of gratitude for the life you have. A song of hope for the future. A song of forgiveness and love for those around you.

 

I have found my Soul refreshed, freed, lightened, and renewed when I lose myself in songs of worship to God. Worship frees your Soul and brings you into God's presence. Psalm 16: 11 tells us that in God's presence, we will find the fullness of our joy. When you enter God's presence in worship, your burdens are lifted, pain is healed, and hope is restored. His presence releases your Soul from all worldly tension and frees you up to soar.

 

This month of December, make a note to yourself to sing a new song. A song of praise and worship. Break out in dancing in gratitude to the most high God, our ever-present help in time of need. It's been one tough year that I doubt anyone will forget in a hurry. A year of difficulty, loss, and pain that has left lots of souls troubled. You don't have to stay in a state of despair; come into his presence with worship and watch him do a new work in you. As you worship, your Soul is freed, restored, renewed, and made alive again. Music does heal the Soul, so free your Soul in worship to God.

 

This the season of joy – keep singing.

 

Blog post Image by Rob Slaven from Pixabay