Saturday, 8 August 2020

Three Little Angels on the Northern Line to Edgeware

Written by Folashayo Oke

 

I spent a whole afternoon with my friends, we had not seen each other in a while, and it was a lovely reunion. We spoke about what we had been doing, the future, relationships, and just generally hung out.

 

After such a lovely day, it was time to head back home. I got on the northern line to Edgeware, with a broad smile on my face reminiscing on the day I had. Suddenly my daydream was cut short by the voices of a couple arguing; they looked like they were in their mid 50's. The wife seemed furious and yelled on top of her voice, saying she will sue her husband. Her embarrassed kids tried to calm her down to avoid a public display. Her husband had a depressed look, worry lines all over his face, and his eyes were red with fury, he was the description of unhappiness. The kids tried to separate them with tears in their daughter's eyes, pain, confusion, fear, and embarrassment; you could tell that the occurrence wasn't happening for the first time.

 

When the commotion was over, I took the time to study each passenger on the train. Right across me was an old lady, she looked ill, her daughter tried to make her smile and told her all kinds of stories, but her face remained the same, no emotion instead filled with inexpressible pain. On my left was an overweight teenager who barely looked up except when a couple of teenagers about her age got off at a stop. All of them in their size six outfits cracking jokes and having a good time. When they were all gone she let out a sigh and put her face back down, no smile, no hint of happiness, on my far left was a hungry-looking man, the sole of his shoes had worn out, his torn sweatshirt, and his bag had a hole in it, he looked miserable.

 

At this point for some reason I felt despondent, the memories of the day I had was all gone, and all I felt was pain, I wished I had a way to make everybody feel better, to take their pain away and see them smile, even if for a brief minute. There was complete silence everywhere except the sound made by the train as it blazed over the tracks. The atmosphere was a mixture of the wrong kind of emotions; sadness, fear, regret, pain, loneliness, shame.

 

Two stops away from my stop a woman got on the train with three little girls, they were between the age range of three to four years, the woman looked tired, but the three girls had huge smiles on their faces, "finally a breath of fresh air" I said to myself if only there were a way to share this around. Suddenly one of the little girls walked up to the overweight teenager and said with all innocence "I love your hair, it makes you look gorgeous, I wish mine were like that," she called out to the other little girls to come to see, they all loved the hair. After a few minutes their mom called them to get back to their seats, they wave goodbye to the teenage girl whose head was now up high, and her face had brightened, she had this massive smile on her face.

 

A few minutes later, the older woman sitting across me dropped her book. Before I could reach it, one of the little girls grabbed it and gave it to her. Just before she went back to her seat for no reason to hug the old lady, her painful emotionless face turned into a smile, showing her incomplete dentition, and even when the smile faded away, her eyes still looked happy. The little girls were on their sit and suddenly started singing the famous Barney song. 'I love you,' the couple who had been fighting earlier looked at them and smiled and then looked at each other and smiled as well.

 

The train stopped at the last stop before mine, and the little girls and their mom got off, on their way out they all wove to the wretched-looking man sitting close to the door, he looked shocked at first, and then he spun back, the look on his face I can never describe, but I'll try and say in one word "priceless."

 

In a brief moment, three little girls completely changed the atmosphere on the train. Everybody was smiling, watching them walk away with their mom through the window. The teenage girl looked more confident, and the old lady still glowed in her eyes. The couple held hands now, and their kids looked happy, while the man at the door still had his priceless look. 

 

Often, we get carried away by the hustle and are continually living in the shadows of our shortcomings. We think we are too fat, too skinny, too slow or too fast. We forget to live, forget to feel, and bask in the feeling of pure and innocent happiness. Not the kind brought about by a specific item or person or thing, but one that comes from deep within, the feeling of pure satisfaction and content of just been you, of been where you are, or only been alive. I was reminded of that today in the strangest of ways by three little angels on the Northern Line to Edgeware.

 

Don't ever forget it!

 

About the Writer

Folashayo Oke is an Ex-investment banker turned Content creator. She is the Managing Director of Suss Productions, a leading production and content creation company in Lagos, Nigeria. 

 

As a producer and screenplay writer, she has been involved in the creation and management of several creative projects for international and domestic brands. She has also co-created, scripted, and produced highly successful web and TV content, including the well-acclaimed Inspector K (Season 1 and 2) and The Sauce with Red TV.

 

She also worked as the on-site Producer for Yvonne Orji's HBO comedy special, "Momma, I Made It" and several Live, scripted and unscripted content. Besides her success in producing creative content for brands, she also contributed to the theater renaissance in Lagos, Nigeria, through the writing and production of four original musicals and over 30 original songs in collaboration with This Present House.



Blog post image by  Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Making better decisions for successful outcomes



“Pay close attention to what I am saying. Farmers don’t just plow and break up the ground. When a field is ready, they scatter the seeds of dill and cumin; They plant the seeds of wheat and barley in the proper places. They learn this from their God. After dill and cumin have been harvested, the stalks are pounded, not run over with a wagon. Wheat and barley are pounded, but not beaten to pulp; They are run over with a wagon,  but not ground to dust. This wonderful knowledge comes from the Lord All-Powerful, Who has such great wisdom.”  Isaiah 28: 23 – 29 (The Promise)

I like how the verse above starts by saying Farmers don't just plow and break up the ground. It indicates that some thought goes into what they do. Every action the Farmer takes is calculated and for a reason. Nothing is left to chance, and nothing is without a purpose. It is a reminder of how we all need to re-channel the energy we have to live our lives wisely and in line with God's will.

What can we learn from the Farmer's story and his admirable wisdom for planting and harvesting? I picked up on four key things that can enhance our ability to make better decisions and achieve successful outcomes in life.

1. Timing
“When a field is ready…"  Isaiah 28:25

Verse 25 starts with the cornerstone word – When. We've all heard the famous saying, "timing is everything." That comes out so right in the Farmer's story. When the field is ready, he scatters his seed. Not before, not after. One of the excellent skills we all need to learn is knowing the proper time to take action. Some people learn this by experience, others by listening to someone else. For me, I have learned how to read the times by listening to my heart. Call it a gut feeling or intuition. Whether you discern the right time by intuition or experience, knowing the right time is key to achieving your desired outcomes.  You have to always be on the lookout to know when your fields are ready so that you can plant.

2. Action

“…they scatter the seeds of dill and cumin; They plant the seeds of wheat and barley .."  Verse 25

The verse goes on to talk about what the Farmer does. He scatters the cumin seed on the ground, but he plants the wheat underneath the ground. Like knowing the right time, you have to know the right thing to do. You can't stop for a selfie in the middle of a sprint.  Its neither the right thing nor the right time for that if you plan on winning the race. Knowing what to do is uber critical; there nothing as sad as seeing someone with a great opportunity that didn't know what to do with it.  Such opportunities move on to someone else. Be wise, read the times and when the time is right, take the right action for that time.

3. Location 

“…in the proper places." Isaiah 28:25

The Farmer reads the time, and when the time is right, he plants his seeds in the proper places. Anyone in real estate will tell you to think of the location when you consider buying a property. You can't build a mansion in a slum and expect to charge a premium for it. Some plants are desert flowers, while some grow by riverbanks. For each of these plants to flourish, you have to plant it in the right location. You can have the right business idea and pick the best time to start it, but if your customers can't find you, it won't work. Just like reading the time, and knowing what to do, knowing where to do it is critical to your success.


4. Skills

“After dill and cumin have been harvested, the stalks are pounded, not run over with a wagon. Wheat and barley are pounded, but not beaten to pulp; They are run over with a wagon,  but not ground to dust" Isaiah 28: 27-28

As we read on to verse 27 and 28 goes on to describe the action of a very skilled farmer—a farmer who knows what he is doing. The Farmer pounds the stalks of the cumin, and the wheat is grounded but not grounded to fine dust. The Farmer is skilled; he knows his stuff. He has mastered the art of his trade, which is what we should all aspire to. You can only achieve this through learning and experience. To be the best, you have to train to be the best. You can't sit and watch movies all day and hope to excel in your trade. You have to horn your skills over time. Like the Farmer, you have to put in the work to get the desired results.

The wise Farmer's story calls out four things that can help us make better decisions and achieve a more desired outcome for our life.

1.    Understand the time to know when to take action
2.   Take the necessary action when the time is right.
3.   Make sure you are in the right location to ensure it works.
4.   Know your stuff; you can't fluff it.

The story closes out by saying, " This wonderful knowledge comes from the Lord All-Powerful, Who has such great wisdom.” That's comforting to know that if we find ourselves falling short in any way, we can ask God for help. He gives wisdom to anyone who asks. And with his help, we can stir the course of our lives in the right direction to achieve the desired outcomes that God has in his plan.

Recommended reading:



Blog post image by Pexels from Pixabay


Monday, 22 June 2020

God watches us at all times








This week, my family and I read the book of Psalm 121 during one of our daily devotions just before bedtime. This Psalm is one of my favorites because it talks about how much God loves and protects us at all times. It holds a lot of truth and comfort that comes from the knowledge of who God is. When found, this knowledge makes you feel safe and secure in the arms of our heavenly father, especially in uncertain times like this one the world is going through.

Recent happenings have threatened the world we know and challenge our sense of security.  We have seen lots of people fall ill and others fighting for their lives on death beds as a result of the COVID pandemic. The aftermath of the lockdown has left families struggling to make ends meet as the economy goes into recession. Companies have had to do many job cuts to stay afloat while some other companies have closed up.

Just at the point the world's economies started to reopen gradually, a new heightened sense of fear and despair overshadows us as we face another tragedy linked to racial injustice. No matter what corner of the earth you may reside, recent events have touched every one of us.  Whether the pandemic, economic downturn, or racial injustice outrage.

While we tried hard to keep our little ones safe and reassure them, we realized we needed to turn them to someone who could keep them safe and encouraged. We found these assurances in Psalm 121. As we read the scripture together, we discovered three truths about God's watchful eyes, and I'll like to share them with you.

Let's start by reading Psalm 121 together:

"1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore."

The chapter tells us about the writers’ need for help as he looks to the hills. In the olden days, people lived below the mountains to find safety from enemies that may advance against their settlement. The mountain formed a sort of wall to protect them from outside attacks. The Psalmist weighs his option at the start of the chapter, as he considers seeking refuge from the hills or God. He decides to trust God instead, and then he goes on to say why.

God made heaven and earth and controls everything that happens in it, which is why we should also turn to God in our times of crisis. The world we know today may be strange to us but not to God. He wasn't caught unaware by what's happening today; he didn't doze off. He created the earth, and he's got his hands on the control.

God is with us at all times.
When you read through verses 5 and 6, it talks about how God watches over you and stands at your right hand to provide a shade of covering for you. He gives a covering by day and night. Day and night represent some of the times and seasons we go through in life. Like a job loss, loss of a loved one. You are not alone; God is still standing close, covering you with his compassion and love to heal you. You can turn to him at all times; he is always watching over you.

God is with us at all locations.
When you read on to the first part of verse 8, it talks about how God watches over you as you come in and go out. God keeps his eyes on you as you go about your day. He knows where you are and what you are trying to achieve. God sees you at the bank trying to get the loan. He sees you as you attempt to tutor your kids during homeschooling. God is always with you.  Even when you don’t feel his presence, he is with you and will never leave you alone. You can go about your day with confidence, knowing you are not alone. The maker of heaven and earth is with you always.

God is with us now and forever.
The last part of the chapter talks about how God will keep watch over you now and forever. That, for me, is the ultimate promise. God is not just looking out for you today; he promises to look out for you tomorrow and forever. So you don't need to worry about what will happen tomorrow, God's got you, and he will be with you through everything that life brings. We may be going through a crazy trying time now, but don't lose hope for your future. You are not alone, not now, not ever. You can always say God has a plan for me.

Psalm 121 gives us hope of God's presence and guidance through these trying times. This year has been tougher than most years we’ve all been through, but stay strong in faith knowing that God is with you at all times, in all locations, now and forever. Trust God’s plan.

Recommended reading:
1.    A work of art


Blog post image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

 

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Mindfulness: Living in the moment


Guest Writer: By Rev. Folashade Evelyn Ezekiel

Right now we are living in unprecedented and unpredictable times and everything seems very anomalous and surreal. For the last few months, the world has been on lockdown because of a killer virus which has led to the reality of social distancing, homeschooling, face coverings and a completely different way of life from what we have been used to.

In this very shaky, flaky, and uncertain world, we live in. Life is lived in moments and the quality of our life is determined by the sum total of our moments. These moments are like tiny building blocks that make up a grand design called life. Therefore every moment should be carefully crafted like a piece of wood in the hands of a master craftsman and savored like the first drop of water on the lips of a thirsty man.

Moments should be experienced and enjoyed with mindfulness and presence of mind. Moments can be in the form of a hug from your toddler, a smile from the one you love, a nice fragrance from your favorite flower, taking deep breaths, helping someone in need, or the exhilaration that comes from achieving little successes. It is in these moments that you truly live, It is in these moments that you feel, It is in these moments that you truly grow and mature.

It is folly to spend your life in the endless toil of chasing after moments only to ignore them in search of the next moment. Working hard day and night to fulfill the expectations and expectations of the society thereby bowing to the will of the Joneses. It is in vain to keep searching for and working towards a destination called ‘there' only to realize that ‘there’ does not exist.

Don’t live your life oblivious of what is going on around you and blind to all the blessings that God has given you. You have not truly lived until you make it a habit to participate in your life not as a spectator but actively being a part of it. Take time to pray, take time to meditate on God's word, take time to breathe, learn to laugh, stop to smell the roses, pause to enjoy the little successes on your way to the big successes and take a moment to pat yourself in the back and say- job well done.

“Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16 AMP

As every day passes you are gradually using up your borrowed time here on earth. So it's up to you to make every moment count.


About the guest writer

Rev. Folashade Evelyn Ezekiel is the Senior Pastor of Jesus Foundation Family Manchester. She is a Pharmacist, a prolific speaker, writer, worshipper, Life coach, film producer, and the creative arts director of Creative Space @JFFI. She a passion for personal growth, helping people discover, develop, and gain mastery of their God-given gifts and potentials. She runs the YOU CAN BE BETTER series.



Recommended reading by Seye Oke
  1. Now, then and the moments in-between.
  2. Defining Moments


Blog post Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay


Thursday, 21 May 2020

The integrated, functional and purpose-driven woman


Juggling is an act, and no one understands the act of managing many moving parts better than women do. Think about work, kids, family, community, and all the other things we are responsible for or involved in. This balancing act is critical to ensure we are happy and successful in all areas of our lives. One thing that helps us maintain balance is being authentic–that is, true to who we are and who we were called upon by God to be.

As a woman, I find myself dealing with the many areas of my life —family, career, relationships, self-worth, and Christian living— which may, at times, be in conflict with the other areas. It’s a constant challenge to make decisions that benefit every area of my life. However, to function holistically,  I need to find ways to integrate these different areas so they all work together.

I have come to realize that one of the ways to do this is to figure out what God’s plan is for each area of my life and to focus on accomplishing that plan. It’s taken me a while to figure this out, but along the way, I’ve picked up some useful nuggets that I would like to share.

In this 5-day devotional for women, which I have aptly titled Her Sides, you will learn how to focus on the important things to help you stay well integrated, fully functional and true to your purpose. These stories will encourage you to apply the unchanging truth of God's word to the five key areas of your life: family, career, relationships, self-worth, and Christian living.

Ultimately, our goal as Christians should be to have a wholesome and authentic life, no matter what area of your life you are looking at. Download your free copy of the 5-day devotional today, and share it with the lovely ladies in your life.

Download here

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*Blog post image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Sunday, 10 May 2020

#inspiringwomen

Dear Moms,

Here is a nugget of truth to help you through this pandemic and the new realities we have to deal with as we work and school from home.

We don't need supermoms in this period, we just need moms. Loving, healthy, sane moms. #inspiringwomen

Happy International Women's day 2020

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Why did God create me?

Why did God create me?

That’s a question my son asked recently. For many people, it may have been answered a long time ago. Those who don’t believe in God may never have considered it. But it’s a question that others, including me, re-evaluate every once in a while as life changes.

To know the purpose of a thing, look at its function and design. When you inspect the designs of a teacup and a spoon, you can work out what each of these items may be used for. So here are three aspects to consider when pondering my son’s question, “Why did God create me?”

1.    Evaluate the function and design.
The first thing you need to do is take an inventory of yourself. Look at your design, i.e., the gifts and natural abilities that make you different from others. What are you good at, and what can you do with ease? On your journey to discover the purpose of your life, you need to prepare an inventory of your gifts. Nothing complicated. Start with some obvious strengths that everyone would agree you have, like “good at math,” “works well with computers,” “can learn many languages,” “has a natural love and deep concern for others.” Write a list of your natural traits, things you are good at, and skills that you excel at.

2.   Identify opportunities to use your strengths and gifts.
Self-discovery often leads to self-fulfillment. Once you have prepared your inventory of self, seek opportunities to use the strengths you have listed. Sometimes you find opportunities to do what you are good at by your own initiative; sometimes, other people will point out an opportunity you can pursue; sometimes, you’ll stumble across one by chance. However it happens, you need to make the most of these opportunities. If you genuinely care for others, you can use that strength to reach out to people who are hurting and just spend time listening to them. If you have a natural eye for beauty, you can paint a picture that leaps off the canvas.

This step is really important. You can’t just sit on your oars and hope. You need to actively pursue opportunities to use your gifts—in your community or church group or among families. And every time you do use your skills, you will improve them even more. There is always a need out there. Your job is to find the needs that you can naturally fulfill. And with the internet, you can scout the entire globe.

3.   Fellowship with God.
In addition to using your natural abilities for good in this world to fulfill your purpose, there is the ultimate purpose for which God created us: to be in fellowship with him. Our lives will continue to be empty and meaningless until they are filled with a love that can come only from having a personal relationship with God. Without this relationship, no matter how gifted an individual may be, he will always feel empty and hollow, will always be asking, “What else is there?” Our relationship with God is the only thing that can completely give our lives meaning and purpose. Otherwise, what would be the essence of life in this world but to eat, drink, make the best of things, and die? No, God desires that we have a rich and meaningful life through our faith and communion with him and that we have hope for a life after this one in his kingdom.

The answer to the question of why God created you and me lies in our very DNA. The answer is to use our natural abilities to make our world better in ways big and small while maintaining a relationship and constant fellowship with God.

Nothing else matters.