inspirational, motivational, peace, relationship, Uncategorized

Relationship Tape

What a wonderful metaphor I encountered innocently last week!

One of my students claims that she is very clumsy. This I learnt as I observed that her 12 inch (30cm) ruler was broken and repaired with…scotch tape and her spectacles handles were taped to the frame as they had broken off sometime ago.

As we joked about her clumsiness, a thought hit me. Many things can be broken and repaired simply by applying tape or glue. I myself had broken my cell phone once and repaired it with tape. Many torn pages were held precariously together with tape or staples.

If only it were so simple to mend broken relationships!

Image result for relationship tape

However relationships are formed between living, breathing, emotional beings. We grow into relationships, daily doing things to earn trust, to build rapport, to show support and to demonstrate our love for another human being or for that matter an animal, a pet.

The human ego , the psyche, is extremely fragile. Some more than others. It takes time to forge bonds. They are tested time and time again. And sadly in an instant of volatility, one mistake, one harsh word, one misunderstood emotion or one misstep can cause those carefully crafted to bonds to snap!

Perhaps it is a good thing that this type of breakage is difficult to repair. Had it been easier then less effort and time would be spent on trying to build rather than break down bonds.

What if there was some sort of relationship tape or staple or glue that  could be used to mend a broken relationship or heal a hurting heart?

After we laughed about this direction that our conversation had shifted into, it became clear that there is a way.

Of course nothing worthwhile comes without a lot of hard work. So this “relationship tape” comes through the practices of faith, humility, gratitude and forgiveness.

Each one of those is a huge mouthful for anyone. In today’s technologically advanced world, people have become worshipers of the Universe. Alternatively they claim to be atheists or highly open minded so that anything goes. Faith though is integral in any undertaking. We do things not knowing the final outcomes and that in itself is faith.

Spiritual faith gives us a freedom and strength to be able to release perceived or real hurts and helps us to see the good in spite of the bad. It provides for us a foundation of integrity, morals and values that is needed for the development of civility and social consciousness.

Humility, gratitude and forgiveness come with faith. That does not mean it comes easily. We are human and hence imperfect beings. No matter what our religious persuasion or faith may be, practicing these big guns of character definitions is difficult. Difficult not impossible.

By adopting a humble approach, we can see things with new lenses. We can learn to put others before self. Not easy by any standard but with daily practice it becomes more integrated into our behaviours.

Gratitude makes us cast a backward glance and recognize the good that others may have done for us, even the ones who are currently doing something to bring pain. It makes us see the small efforts, not just the large gestures.

Forgiveness is perhaps one of the most difficult practices. But when we incorporate faith, gratitude and humility into our habits, then forgiveness comes much more easily.

Our “relationship tape” then is formed by the melding together of faith, humility, gratitude and forgiveness.

The next time you mend a torn page or stick a broken ornament, remember that relationships can be mended too…with the right “tape”.

 

bounce back better, inspirational, motivational, resilience, stress management, Uncategorized

The Lighthouse

 

Picture this: You are stranded at sea in a boat with a small crew and it is a stormy night. The waves are crashing all around and the night is outstandingly dark. The boat bobs unsteadily along as water sprays and hits you with unbelievable force. Navigation becomes difficult, almost impossible. Then… a brilliant, steady and reassuring light, gradually growing brighter, appears in the distance.

The captain steers in the direction of that lifeline, that glow of safety and comfort. The boat draws closer and closer to the shore. There is a huge crashing wave which almost sweeps the boat under. Almost. The boat is temporarily thrown off course but the captain soon recalculates and gets the boat back on track, a little closer to his destination. This happens over and over until finally he is able to cast anchor. Thank goodness for that beacon guiding him towards the harbor.

Your life’s big dream or goal is like that beacon from the lighthouse. It should remain shining brightly in the distance guiding you closer to its final accomplishment. No matter what life throws your way, no matter what obstacles you have to overcome, you keep your focus on that goal.

Having your life goal clearly defined and written or drawn to concretize it, ensures that it saturates your thoughts. It then directly influences all your actions and decisions. It impacts on your education, your choice of spouse, your house, your children…

The best dreams are infused with passion based on your innate gifts, your talents, your skills, your knowledge and your preferences. My own dream has always been to be a philanthropist. I started taking action many years ago; I started in a small way, working on my own. As time progressed I worked with some enthusiastic persons in a group we formed just for that purpose.

When my life was thrown into turmoil and my circumstances changed, I had to take some time to re- calculate my personal GPS. Having done that, I have readjusted my sight on the guiding light of my dream and am still slowly taking steps to achieve that goal.

All of us need to have a clearly outlined, detailed life plan or big dream as I like to call it. That dream ought to be guided by our unique gifts.  Having such a dream written or drawn so that each day you can look at it, means that even in turbulent times, you will be able to recover and take positive action steps to bring you back onto the course of your dream.

Do you have a tangible life plan or big dream? Are you working toward it consciously or not?

grief, inspirational, Uncategorized

Ode to True Love

My grief and gratitude are best expressed in the following:

Tall, black and beautiful,

Hair resplendent in the sun

Piercing eyes, frisky gait,

I can’t believe that it is now too late.

Once a roaring lion,

Fighting to protect your dominion

Yet with a heart full of love and devotion

I am filled with deepest emotions.

Even in your darkest hours

Moving to ease my insignificant burdens.

Love so unconditional, so true

I wonder how many have had a love like you.

Good bye my dear and trusted friend

You have served and served so well.

As the pain and suffering are put to rest

I rank you among the best.

Love comes not only in human form

But more genuine love comes from a dog.

My four legged beauty, my Girlie oh

I bid you now the final adieu!

girlie

book launch, inspirational, motivational, spiritual Journey, Uncategorized

My Video Channel

Today I would like to encourage you to visit my you tube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7-LqjgWAoeXuGLc3GIYPIw/videos

 

The channel has some video interviews, an attempt at a book trailer and a brief clip of the book launch for my first book, From Lion to Lamb.

 

Hope you enjoy looking at these and please leave a comment to let me know what you think.

 

May your day be blessed profusely.

 

 

education, inspirational, motivational, religious, Uncategorized

Relying On God

 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Chronicles 16:9

 

Image here

When I first read this piece of scripture, my heart leapt. To my mind, this is a most beautiful passage of scripture that speaks powerfully about the Lord’s commitment to us and reveals the depth of commitment we ought to have to Him.

Today many popular television programmes are talent shows, usually involving singing or dancing. In the seventies in our beloved country, a televised production of a talent show called “Scouting for Talent” was aired. Mr. Holly Betaudier, an esteemed son of our soil and cultural icon was the host of that show.

Mr. Betaudier, fondly referred to as Holly B, developed a hunger for local culture as a child. The springboard for his involvement in media and entertainment came as early as the 1940’s when he began working with the U.S. Armed Forces radio service network, WVDI.

In 1962, our local state media Trinidad and Tobago Television, TTT, was inaugurated. Holly B began his cultural and entertainment odyssey when he joined TTT at that time. During that time the soon to be popular show, “Scouting For Talent” emerged.

Mr. Betaudier was relentless in his quest for local talent. He encouraged singing including originals and  local songs as well as remakes. He welcomed all types of dance and instruments, reflective of our multicultural background. He even accommodated comedians and monologues.

The show was the only avenue for public exposure at that time for our local artistes. In fact many of our local entertainers made debut performances on that show. Holly B sought after excellence. He sought out those who had confidence, talent and commitment. He supported those who were willing to put their talent to the test on his programme.

Incentives abounded for participants, including many giveaways. Actual prizes were given out of course, but there was  the thrill of being televised to a national audience. In those days programming was limited to our only television station at the time, TTT. This translated into the national population having to view that programme during prime time on a Tuesday night. Scouting for Talent was sometimes done in the studio but many times Holly B would take to the road. He did indeed “scout” for talent, searching the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago for worthy talent, eager to reward them for their commitment to excellence and local culture.

The passage in 2 Chronicles evoked images of Holly B to me. Here was a man who searched all over our twin island, seeking people who were also seeking him. He wanted to showcase talent; they wanted to have their talent showcased. What a win-win situation!

We too can be in a win-win situation. The passage tells us of God’s search for people who are believers so that he can give them due support and strength to maintain their faith. Let us look at the passage in greater detail. What was the historical context of the passage?  Who was being addressed? What came after those words? How can we make our hearts perfect to him? What is the promise if we keep perfect to him?

The books of Chronicles were written as narrative histories and genealogies. Both books are supposedly written by the same author, the prophet Ezra. 1 Chronicles deals mainly with Kings David and Solomon but it also traces the background of David’s monarchy from the time of Adam to the reign of King Solomon.

2 Chronicles continues with the history as told from the perspective of Ezra. The first sections of this book deal with King Solomon’s reign and the building of the temple. A history of the kings of Judah follows and the book ends as the temple of Solomon is destroyed.

It is proposed that these chronicles were documented in part to emphasise to the people that destruction is pre-destined for those who disobey but those who maintain their promises and commitments to God will be blessed. This is shown repeatedly by the prospering of the good kings and the suffering of those who fall into sin.

Thus the Chronicles are written to document the religious history of Israel. This was addressed to the Israelites in general so that they could study the practices of the past leaders and recognize what was required for a successful reign. It has been suggested that these two books were written to highlight key elements to the Jews after their exile; these elements were inclusive of giving due glory to God, gratitude for God’s covenant to David and the need to be completely devoted to God in order to remain in his favour.

It has also been postulated that even though it was written for the people at that time, it may be extrapolated to our individual lives and communities today. By careful study of the historical content of the Chronicles it is possible to discern under which kings there was prosperity or defeat. The Chronicles also lend themselves as modules of valuable leadership skills, qualities and actions necessary for the flourishing of a monarchy or people…and naturally, to the elimination of certain behaviours which could prove detrimental.

The chapters preceding 2 Chronicles16 focus attention on King Solomon and the building of the temple along with other duties.  In other preceding chapters we read of the fall of Judah, the splitting of the Kingdoms, North and South divisions, the reign of the Southern Kings, Rehoboam and Abijah. Then we read of the reign of Asa.

Asa’s reign represented a time of prosperity for the people. He was observant of the will of God and of the covenant made to them. He instituted religious reforms and proved worthy of the grace and favour of God. However even he fell from grace.

In his thirty sixth year of reign, his kingdom was under attack. Instead of relying on God for victory, Asa undertook to negotiate on his own behalf. He sent silver and gold from the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple to King Ben-hadad of Aram to break a treaty with King Baasha of Israel, who was attacking Asa’s Kingdom.

Hanani, a seer, visited Asa soon after the attack was withdrawn. He told of God’s displeasure. He recalled that Asa’s successes thus far were due to his faithfulness and submission to God. He told Asa that had he relied on God, God would have given him control of the attacking army, as was done in the past.

This is the point at which the scripture comes into play. Hanani reminds Asa that God seeks to support the faithful and those of integrity. He seeks them out relentlessly, just waiting to grant them overflowing blessings, to grant them victory over their enemies. All God wanted was for Asa to continue in the traditions with which he had started.

Asa would not hear of it and continued to live without repenting. Several years later he contracted a foot disease. He refused to acknowledge the Lord even when thus weakened. He eventually passed away without submitting to God, even though he underwent great suffering.

From this lesson we learn that God wants us to rely completely on him. He wants our intentions and desires to be pure. We are called to live with strength of conviction in his will and to be examples of good character and spirituality for those who will come after us.

If we apply the teachings in these books to future generations of David’s line, we see that the ultimate King in that line is Jesus Christ. All other Kings, regardless of their greatness in their reign, sought to be perfect but only in Christ there is perfection.  That perfection is what our salvation is.

Extension of the principles of Chronicles leads to a comparison between the temple built by Solomon and the Temple of the Spirit. One temple was destroyed after one hundred and fifty years; the other cannot be destroyed for it is the figurative house of those who believe in Christ. The promise for believers is that God is seeking to bring us to him at any cost. He is willing to forgive us and restore us if only we would seek him out fervently and faithfully, with prayer and repentance.

Let us do like those contestants in the Scouting For Talent show; let us seek God as we perfect our actions armed with the knowledge that he too is seeking us out, ready to make us all winners.

Relying on God alone for support

Kneeling every day as I fall short,

Will make me a winner

As God scouts the earth for repentant sinners.

 

God’s words and my actions:

Today I will use every opportunity to be strong in God’s word by:

Relying completely on God and praying and repenting with integrity.

 

Thank you Lord, Amen!

inspirational, motivational, spiritual Journey, Uncategorized

The Choice

“When the clouds have blown away,
The skies, once again, clear and bright,
and the mood around you is light.
You realize you made it through,
Somehow you managed to survive.
Unsure if the darkness is really over,
If soon that too will be a distant memory-
Unsure but certain that now
Out of the red haze,
You are not the same person you were before.
By choice you sink into despair,
By choice you rise: stronger, more determined, better!”
inspirational, prayer, religious, Uncategorized

Prayer for Today

Here are the headlines in our three national daily newspapers. This is the stimulus for the prayer today.

    

 

Heavenly Father, the light and life of this world, we rejoice today for this is your day. We give you all praise and thanks for your works in and around us.

Lord we come before you in humility and sorrow. We live like there is no greater tomorrow. Our young people are being killed by the bullet and we seem to have lost all control.

Have mercy upon us O Lord. We know that we have done wrong, are still doing wrong but today dear Father we cast off all attachments to wrongdoing and sin and come before you with repentant hearts.

Help us dear God as a people, to move closer to you. Help our hearts to be filled with love for our fellowman. Help us to find ways to bring this violence and devotion to violence to an end.

Touch the hearts of those who have grown so far from you that they have lost touch with humanity, compassion and respect for life.

Show us a way forward to bring harmony and peace back to our nation and to lead our young people in the way that is right.

These things we ask in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,

Amen.

 

inspirational, motivational, prayer, religious, spiritual Journey, Uncategorized

Prayer for Peace

In this post join me in praying for an ease to all the violence, murders, crimes, abuse, hatred and general ill-will making headlines nationally in Trinidad and internationally.

https://www.google.tt/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwallpaperswide.com%2Fdove_of_peace-wallpapers.html&bvm=bv.108538919,d.eWE&psig=AFQjCNFSHXFYSONLBHmwFlLcNgCUNEwXwA&ust=1449488850638766

We come together Dear Lord in your name, as we pray for your Holy Spirit to descend on us. Surround us with your grace, mercy and purity that we may be able to face any situation with equilibrium and calm. We pray that we react to others in love, knowing that love is the antidote for anger, rage and hatred. Let your peace descend upon our nations. Keep us protected as we strive to keep peace in our spheres of influence, through your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ we pray,

Amen.

Add your own prayer , asking specifically for what you need in your community. Please leave us with the blessing of your added request in the comment box below.

inspirational, motivational, prayer, religious, Uncategorized

Prayer Group

Today I want to start a prayer group. It is a group open to all and for all. I will keep my contributions short and simple. I urge you to join in at anytime, offering prayers for anyone, for any reason. Let us join together to keep faith alive and to offer hope in a time of ever dwindling hope.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/d0/78/e2/d078e241c0b1cc95376b49681cd4b348.jpg

The theme for prayer today is thanks.

Heavenly Father, I give you thanks for the blessing of life. For the smell of fresh air and the sound of the rain as it pours down on the rooftop, I give thanks. For being able to speak, to eat, to see and to hear, dear Lord and for the gift of love to and from others, I praise and thank you Lord.

I am grateful for the gift of family and friends and for all those I do not know. All honour and glory to you Dear Father for your mighty works every minute of every hour of every day, in Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

May the Lord bless and keep you.

You may join and contribute to the prayer group by leaving a comment or your own prayer in the comment box below. Your contribution to the prayer group would be very much appreciated.

 

inspirational, motivational, relationship, religious, spiritual Journey, Uncategorized

Building Blocks

 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”                                                                                     1 Corinthians 3:10

 

Sunday lunch plate:

Sunday Lunch courtesy Trinichow.com

A traditional Sunday lunch in Trinidad and Tobago consists of rice, beans, stewed chicken or beef, callaloo, macaroni pie, ground provisions and a fresh green salad. This is usually accompanied by a large jug of juice. Having such a wide array of dishes, there is generally enough left over for the next day.

Callaloo is a well-blended hodge podge of ingredients. To the unfamiliar eye it may appear unappealing – a thick, green mush. Once you get past the appearance, it is absolutely delicious and very nutritious. But what really is a callaloo? What does it consist of?

Image found here

The main ingredient is the dasheen bush leaf. The leaves are obtained from the taro plant (Colocasia esculenta) and are best for cooking when young and tender. Some people use the “rolled” leaves :younger leaves which have not yet matured to unfurl in all their glory and splendor. Others use the more mature, open leaves. The leaves may be folded or shredded and the stems are sliced.

To the bush, tender, sliced okra pods are added. The okra produces mucilage when sliced and cooked. This helps to improve the viscosity of the final callaloo. To obtain a thicker product, a greater proportion of okra may be used.

Image found here

Good crab is another staple for a great callaloo. Some cooks use salted meat as an alternative to crab. This is particularly useful to cater for persons with seafood allergies. The best type of crab for callaloo is the “blue crab”, although any type may be used depending on availability and budget.

Image found here

To these three basic ingredients, the flavourings are now added. Chipped pumpkin adds flavor and nutritional value. The taste of the callaloo depends on the right blend of chives, parsley, celery, fine thyme, garlic, onions, hot pepper, pimento peppers, salt and black pepper. There are also some “secret ingredients’ added by various cooks; these are indeed “secret” and personal and are best revealed by individual chefs.

The pot is “set” as we say, by placing the crabs or meat into the pot first, then adding all the seasonings, the pumpkin, okra, a green hot pepper and lastly the dasheen bush stems and leaves. These are covered with water and coconut milk before placing the pot on the lighted stove.

The coconut milk is traditionally obtained by grating dried coconuts and washing the grated flesh with water. The liquid which results after squeezing out the flesh and straining is called the coconut milk. Today, the coconut milk may be added as a powder obtained from the supermarket.

When the mixture has boiled and been allowed to steep for at least thirty minutes, all the flavors become infused and the leaves become soft. At this time it is ready for blending or “swizzling”. Traditionally a swizzle stick was used but now an electric hand held immersion blender could be used for this step. This ensures that the mixture is homogeneous and smooth in appearance and texture.

Image found here

The final result is rich, thick, green and flavorful soup. It is strengthening. It is delicious. Those who are adventurous enough to try this green ‘goo’, in spite of its daunting appearance, are pleasantly surprised by its effect on the senses and tastebuds.

Even though all who make this dish using the same, basic ingredients and follow the general procedure outlined previously, the final sensory outcome may differ. As was mentioned each cook has their personal adjustment to create the best callaloo. Some use crab, others use salted meat and still others make it a vegetarian delight. The blending process may be longer or shorter depending on the cook’s preference for texture. These variations to the method underscore the different tastes of callaloo from different kitchens.

In Corinthians 3:10 we are told: “I have laid the foundation… but let each one take heed how he builds on it.” The basic recipe is set but the alterations made determine the outcome. It is our privilege to have a blueprint for life given to us by Christ. It is our duty to cautiously construct our lives using that blueprint and adding to it, not our personal interpretation but the building blocks made available through God’s Word.

Let us carefully review the foundation upon which we must build our lives and then identify the blocks which are to be placed on that foundation. After the Mosaic Law, came the gospel through Jesus Christ. In the gospel we are told that the two main commands which we must follow are: to love the Lord your God; and to love your neighbor as yourself. These two form the foundation upon which we are to build our lives.

We cannot say that we have faith and approach our heavenly Father in prayer, if we do not have love for our neighbours. Even our enemies deserve our love; our non-judgmental love. We cannot truly love God if we harbor animosity for anyone. The challenge we face in this foundational structure is to be able to love those who are unlovable or difficult for us to love.

So if someone does something to hurt you, you need to love God so much that there is no place in your heart to harbor the effect of that hurt. In other words, in obeying the first command you shield yourself from missives that are designed to make you susceptible to breaking the second command.

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So our foundation from Christ is love: God’s great love for us which commands us to love Him and to love our neighbours. This love we display must be pure; it is not a fickle love; it is not an intimate love. Rather this love is a mature, inveterate, deep-rooted love for humanity which mirrors God’s love for us, even though its value can never approach the value of God’s love.

What then are our building blocks? According to Phillipians 2:3-4, upon the foundation of love we need to lay humility. This humility must manifest itself in service to others, valuing others above yourself. This must not be advertised or done in a flashy manner. No, it must be done humbly, letting the receiver of your service feel valued and honored.

Service could mean lending a helping hand to someone who is unable to help themselves. For instance an elderly person may be unable to do simple household chores. This ought to be a wonderful opportunity for you to render service with humility; a chance for you to roll up your sleeves. Without fanfare, you can delve into such tasks as clearing a yard, mending a fence, tending to plants, doing groceries, or cooking. It does not matter what task you select; it should not be for personal glory; as long as it helps someone, you undertake that task, clothed in humility.

James 2: 14 -17 provides us with another building block: charity or generosity. Whatever resources you may have, however limited they may seem, take from them and give generously and graciously to those who may be more in need than you. Do this along with the first building block of humility.

Again charity does not need to be announced. There is no need for a megaphone or Facebook post. Give so that your right hand does not even know what your left hand is doing. This block requires some measure of detachment. When you disconnect from the tangible, from material possessions, then giving becomes second nature. It becomes easy to give and deny yourself without being sanctimonious.

Finally Romans 12:14-21 provides the cement to bind the building blocks together. Humility and charity come together in love. A loving response to an unloving gesture can soothe the savage beast. Have you ever noticed how quickly an arrogant and hubristic manner can be undermined by a soft and gentle response?

Image found here

In my lion years, as described in my first book, From Lion to Lamb, A Spiritual Journey, I was the arrogant one who would be tamed by a loving word or deed. This is one lesson I learnt well and increasingly practice. Perhaps one day I will master this lesson! We are usually unaware of the type of turmoil, mental, spiritual, emotional, or some combination of these, which manifests as a physical misdemeanor. This is why it is critical to respond compassionately especially when wronged.

These foundational blocks laid by Christ may seem foreboding. So too our Callaloo appears unappealing. However, just like the dish, the building blocks of humility, charity and love prove to be sensory delights bringing joy and satisfaction to the famished soul.

 

When things of this world no longer have a hold on you;

When neither king nor beggar you shun

When you can give and live and love in peace,

Then you build on God’s foundation.