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.

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