Monday, 5 July 2021

Turning around, again.

 
"When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Psalm 126 (KJV)

 

The words of this verse are beautifully written and intertwined with restoring hope that sinks deep into the soul of anyone reading it. It’s a simple description of a time when things turned around, again, for a group of people. The essence of this verse can be seen in the very first few words you read, “When the Lord turned the captivity of Zion again, we were like them that dream.” The third word in the verse clearly outlines Who turns things around, God. When God decided it was time, he turned the stories of their lives around. In a moment, they went from being captive to being free.  

 

As you read on, the fifth word stands out. The term "again" means this has happened before. Interesting, God turned their captivity around as he had done before. So, it isn’t a fluke or a one-time deal, God did it before, and he can do it again. What a comfort for us who believe in the turning power of God. 

 

Can you think about a time in your life when you felt trapped? Think about a time when you felt overwhelmed by situations, and you thought it would destroy you? Can you remember how you came through that? Those moments passed, and those feelings of despair went away. If you can think of at least one time in your life when you were down, and God stepped in and helped you back on your feet, then he can and will help you through whatever you may be facing now.

 

I have kept a memory frame on my bedroom wall for years now. It’s a small rectangular board with sticky notes framed. On each sticky note, I wrote a short phrase that described a memorable time – a moment when God showed up and helped me turn impossible situations around. I keep this frame to remind me how powerful God is and how faithful he is to his word. And every time I find myself in a bind beyond what I can handle, I look up at the sticky notes and remind myself 'if God did it before, he can do it again'. Then I ask for his help to turn things around again.

 

What’s your story? What are those incredible feats that God has accomplished in your life – debt paid, survived the crash, found hope? Those should go up on your wall and deep in your heart. Cherish those stories, tell them to your kids, remember them always because God can turn around any situation.

 

Remember all he has done for you and use that as a reference point to believe God to turn things around for you. And when the Lord turns things around again, it'll be like a dream.

 

 

Blog post image by Игорь Левченко from Pixabay

 


Thursday, 3 June 2021

Just visiting: On assignment to earth

Image by tookapic from Pixabay

I spent the last five years outside of my home country on international assignment with my workplace. International assignments are fun, a great learning experience that you should try if the opportunity presents itself. It’s often filled with the thrills of first experiences that come with living in a different country, among other people.

 

I have enjoyed learning about other cultures, tried some new meals (not always successfully), learned about five words of the local language, and freed the little girl in me to explore some fun activities. This experience expanded my mindset on many styles and customs vastly different from what I was accustomed to in my home country.

 

Being on an assignment outside your country can be fun; if you love trying new things. It stirs your sense of curiosity and the drive to acclimatize and succeed at your mission. You would need some time to settle, which could be challenging but easier to handle since you know that whatever joys or sorrows you face will only be temporary, and at some point in time, you will go home.

 

This fact helps you handle a lot as an expat living in a different country. You live with a sense of purpose. You know your time here is short, so you work hard at the assignment you were given to ensure you excel and make your time worthwhile.

 

As an expat, you enjoy every moment outside and still want to stay connected to that part of you representing home. You don't forget who you are and where you come from. You honor your heritage and hopefully represent your homeland proudly in the way you live. To keep you grounded, you seek out communities and connect with people who help you stay connected to home- people with the same taste in food, language, values, and cultures.

 

In my years of living as an expat, I have come to appreciate the value of belonging, the satisfying feeling of knowing you are not alone. My community made my time out of home incredibly warm, enjoyable, and rewarding.

 

Now, as I look back on the last five years, I feel a sense of pride in my accomplishment, knowing I had a great time, did my best work, and connected with a great community of people.  I look forward to the end of my assignment with joy, knowing every pleasure and pain was so worth it.

 

My expat experience has helped me relate more to my Christian journey. It has given me a better meaning to life and God's purpose for bringing us all to the beautiful place called earth. We are expats on assignment to the world and will return to our home country, heaven, when our work is done.

 

One of the most asked questions people spend their lives trying to figure out is, what my assignment to earth is? What's my purpose in the grand scheme of things? While there have been many books and articles on how to find your purpose, I dare say it's not as complicated as it is made out to be.

 

My company sent me on an international assignment to solve a problem that I had the right skills and experience to solve. That's why they went through all the trouble and paid the bills to relocate me temporarily. In the same way, your assignment on earth is simply the problem you can solve. It aligns with your skills, natural likes, and experiences. That's it; that's your assignment. That is why you are here.

 

There is a lot to do to keep the earth running and functioning well, and you have to find your niche, where you fit well and contribute to our society as a whole. It may be a substantial one-off project like discovering a new energy source or an everyday occurrence like helping a little kid learn to read - no matter the scale, every function is equally important to have a whole functional society.

 

Whatever natural passion, energy, and skills you have, apply yourself 100% to it. That's your purpose, not something magical-out-of-this-world that should be accomplished with grandeur. It is, in fact, the problem you are naturally situated to solve. And whatever that is, find it, get skilled at it, and give it your best shot.

 

While on the job here on earth, enjoy the different foods, and cultures, and people you meet along the way. That's also part of living. Remember that at some point, your assignment on earth will come to an end. When it does, you want to be able to look back and smile with pride at what you have accomplished and the simple things you experienced.

 

We are natives of heaven, on assignment here on earth. Wherever you are on the face of this earth – find your natural flair, align it to a problem and step up to solve it. Enjoy every moment and experience - happy and sad, that comes along the way. Live well as Citizens of heaven  - kind, patient, loving, and peaceful people. Stay connected to your heavenly father, nurture your relationship with God. Keep a community of Christians to help you stay grounded.

 

Living is fun; enjoy your assignment here on earth and when your time is up, look back with joy and a sense of accomplishment.

 

 

 

Monday, 3 May 2021

Look Ahead

Look ahead, God says

The plans I have for you is good

It’s easier to look behind, I know

But I’m asking you to look ahead

 

See the meadows on the horizon

The lush green grass covers the fields

Listen to the rushing waters of the stream

As they flow between the mountains

 

Look ahead and see

Beauty and tranquility that lies in wait

The opulence of your destiny enthralls

All who see the picture in the mosaic

 

When you look with the eyes within

You see what I see

When you can see what I see

You move the heavens to act

 

Look ahead to see

So you align your plans with mine

Look ahead and embrace

The brilliance I have prearranged for you

 

 

Bible verses to make you smile

“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43: 18-19

 

 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29: 11

 

 

Blog post image by James Wheeler from Pixabay

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

A Lesson in Humility

 


I felt the rage of anger burn in me, like a hot flame devouring a dried twig. Why was I so enraged by the words of a friend?  I sat with my legs crossed, one swinging on top of the other. My back straight with indignity. My brows raised, half-listening as my friend tried to explain her position on the issue we both felt so strongly.

 

She said I was wrong! How dare her? What did she know of the situation except what I had told her? I was waiting for her to finish talking so I could defend myself.

 

I wasn't wrong!

 

Or was I?

 

What if I was?

 

What if I was! The thought of being wrong alarmed me. I stopped my internal tirade and felt the heat of anger immediately melt as the reality of my probable mistake settled on me.

 

Anger gave way to guilt as I considered the reality that I was the one in the wrong.  I realized the source of my anger wasn't injustice; it was simply pride. The situation had bruised my ego, which was about to cost me a good friend. Aha! I wasn't going to let that happen. I valued relationships even more than being justified.

 

Just like me, you may have experienced moments wherein a flash of anger, you did something you wish you didn't. That feeling of hurt helps you justify your reaction, and you lash out to the parties involved. They have to have it. They deserve it. It's their fault; you explain in your mind. But what happens when the moment passes, and the dust settles? Do you still feel justified? And does your action feel right? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, but the destruction most times is just not worth it.

 

When others offend us, it's only natural to stand your ground and make them pay. As followers of Jesus, we have been called to take the high road and let things be. We need to be humble enough to ignore an insult for the sake of peace. Matthew 5 verse 9 reminds us that "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."

 

To be a peacemaker, you have to be humble. Now I know this is hard, and as someone who always likes to be in the right, I can tell you it isn't easy to be humble and let the other guy save face when things go wrong. Like you, I am learning every day to put my pride aside, humble my heart and allow peace to take its hold.

 

Now being humble isn't a sign of weakness or grounds for being taken for granted. It means you deliberately allow others to look good because you are secure in knowing who you are and because you value the other person. You don't always have to prove a point, you don't always have to respond to an insult, and you don't always have to give someone a piece of your mind. Yea, I'm also learning to do this.

 

If everyone went about trying to be correct, this world would be in a state of chaos.  Imagine driving on the road, and a vehicle starts driving straight at you in your lane. You know you are on the right side of the road, but this driver keeps coming. You have space to yield on your side; would you keep going and have a head-on collision because you are in the right of way? No friend, common sense says yield, and except you have a death wish, that's what you would do in that situation.

 

In the same way, bible sense is saying, be humble and take the highway. Be a peacemaker as you are a child of God.

 

 

 

Blog post image by Image by jotoya from Pixabay

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.