Poetry: I’ll Go Where You Send Me

 

I’ll Go Where You Send Me

by April Ojeda

 

I’ll go where you send me,

I’ll write words you lend me,

But fall out of step on the way.

Distracted by options

And prone to disruptions

Oft veering off-course. God, I may

Run far off and leave you

Then call when I need you

I mean well—don’t trust me to stay.

Night terrors they haunt me,

Pursue and then taunt me;

Foes, ravenous, seek out their prey.

In grace you forgave me,

In mercy you saved me,

Absorbing a price I can’t pay.

New sense of direction

(From your resurrection)

Sets wandering feet on toward day.

So I’ll go where you send me

And trust that you’ll tend me,

Good Shepherd, teach me to obey.

 

 

 

About April Ojeda

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Ojeda is an educator and writer from Oklahoma. She teaches high school English and children’s Sunday school. She lives in the Texas Panhandle with her husband and two children.

Contact Ojeda at eaojeda4@gmail.com.

Also, enjoy Ojeda’s poems, “be” and “Saturday Morning” in the Lost Pen Magazine.

Interview with Author and Coach Joké Solanke

Once again, we are blessed to welcome a dynamo of a Christian woman—I grew tired reading about everything she has done! Whether you’re looking for inspiration, motivation, or just to be encouraged by discovering how a sister in Christ is serving her Lord with passion, please take a few minutes to meet Joké Solanke.

Hello Joké. Can you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

My name is Ibijoke, but people call me Joke (Joo-kay). I am a Nigerian by birth, an American by naturalization, a Jew by covenant. I am an adventurous person with a belief that there is an answer to every question, solution to every problem, and hope for all situations. I am a mentor and coach, and I love pioneering new initiatives. In the workplace, I have been in management for about a decade and have also served in different leadership positions at local churches both in the United States and Nigeria.

What is your educational and spiritual background?

My educational background includes: two bachelor’s degrees (Mathematics and Nursing), a master’s degree in Nursing and a couple of certificate programs in Leadership. I am also a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with practice privileges in the State of Georgia. I have been in some sort of Spiritual leadership since my teenage years, having served as a zonal pastor during my undergraduate years at Ogun State University in Nigeria and then as a member of the Redeemed Christian Fellowship Executive in the capacity of the treasurer. My first experience of salvation happened in 1988 during my high school years through my Chemistry teacherMrs. Orowale. She took an interest in me and invited me to a Sunday evening Bible study group at her residence, and that was the beginning of my spiritual journey. My faith is anchored on the finished work of Christ on Calvary. I believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his second coming. I believe in the supernatural, and I have experienced the supernatural.

How did you get into ministry? How do you share your mission or vision?

I see ministry as an opportunity to serve your gifts or talents. Based on my perspective, I have been in ministry since my teenage years. My philosophy about ministry means that you do not have to be officially ordained before you can serve. You only need to discover your giftings and be willing to share with others. Specifically, I have been opportune to serve my gifts on the platform of teaching, administration, and intercession as a teenager. In the course of my journey, I was ordained as a Pastor and have served as a co-pastor for 15 years, led youth groups, women’s group, couple’s forums, Christian education, Intercessory groups and have always volunteered in any area of ministry with needs on a temporary basis. Although I don’t see myself as a choir or kid’s minister, I have served in those capacities to help lead and grow the departments until the church was able to get on board people with a specific calling in those areas. Recently, I founded Blossom Life Outreach with the purpose of helping people find the meaning in every challenging life situation and circumstance. In 2014, we launched out as Thy Kingdom Come (TKC) Outreach with a focus on women. Our experiences led us to the discovery of a universal need to help others navigate the maze of life, irrespective of age, gender, race, religious affiliations, or any other differentiating human-constructed standards.

 

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What genre do you write and why are you drawn to it? 

Writing was a discovery I made in an attempt to solve a work-related problem. I needed an authentic answer to the question of how to effectively manage the performance of other people despite all the numerous imperfections. I was struggling with building the type of team I envisioned. I did not see a prototype of the team I wanted around any of my mentors, so I decided to conduct research on the leadership style of Jesus. My findings were more than the issue of team building. I ended up with a 12-chapter book that has an answer to various leadership issues like vision, succession planning, mentoring, conflict management, information management, networking and much more. My writings are purpose driving, with a focus on either solving a problem or providing insights into life issues. My second book titled The Problem of Identity was written to help people struggling with identity see how they arrived at their current situation and the way out of identity crisis. My third book, which is scheduled to come out, was written at a time I was going through life changes that I did not anticipate. I used nature to provide the reassurance that no life situation is permanent. I also emphasized the consequences of indifference, if we are not intentional or prepared, we can become a victim of life’s seasonal changes and circumstances.

Do you think God has a purpose for your work, and if so, what?

I know that God has a purpose for my work, and as I said earlier, my purpose is to help people find meaning in life no matter how hopeless things may appear. We have recorded testimonials from people we have been able to impact, and this is a motivation to continue the assignment.

 

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What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned about yourself and/or your ministry since you decided to walk this path?

One of the lessons I have learned about myself is my uniqueness. I have discovered that God called me to carry out a specific assignment, and he has deposited within me all the necessary resources needed for me to get it done. I have discovered that I do not have any limitations besides the one in my mind based on my belief systems. This has really helped me to know how to remove some of the things that appear as limiting to my progress—to change any behavior, I have to change my belief system, and I have been able to accomplish this by looking at things from the perspectives of the Word of God. Another lesson I have learned is that I cannot do life alone. My gift is not meant for me, it is for other people, and I also need other people to serve their gifts for my survival. The survival of a mango tree hinges upon things in its environment, if the environment is right, the mango tree will be able to produce and serve its fruit. The same way, I am very particular about the environment I position myself because I can either be enriched or impoverished through my interactions with the environment, especially other humans.

Who/what are your biggest influences?

My biggest influence is Jesus Christ, and sincerely, my relationship with Him has helped me find meaning in my life even when things seem to be upside down. I have multiplied numbers of people who have been great influences in my life. One thing about everybody’s influence is the fact that they are transient in nature based on situations and needs. However, there are some that stand out over time, such as the late Dr. Myles Munroe; Pastor Obed; some biblical characters: Joseph, Esther, Deborah, Mary, Elizabeth, Abigail, Paul, Daniel, Jeremiah, Solomon, Job, Elijah, Elisha, The five daughters of Zelophehad; my kids; some of my siblings; my work team; and generally people I lead or I’m responsible for, to mention a few.

What are your goals when you write an article or book? How do you hope your readers will respond?

My goals when I write are to see people glean wisdom from my writings that can change their perspectives and help them implement necessary changes that can improve their lives.

Do you have another job or do you write full-time? Other hobbies or interests?

Writing is a passion that I developed along the line, and I’m still cultivating the art of writing. For the past decade, I have overseen two outpatient dialysis centers as the facility administrator for a Fortune 500 company. More recently, I became a board-certified family nurse practitioner. I am actively involved in coaching, mentoring, team building, professional development, and offering guidance to staff in those clinics. In the past, I have worked as a high school mathematics teacher and a bedside nurse in acute and chronic settings.

Some of my hobbies include hiking, which I do at least two to three times a week, sightseeing, listening to music, writing quotes, coaching, and reading. I also love to travel.

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of your ministry and how do you cope with it?

The most difficult aspect for me is keeping up with time. I believe there is a timing for everything, and opportunities can be missed if things are not done at the appropriate time. Learning to prioritize what is most important and making sure I don’t compromise the needful is a task especially when everything seems important.

Do you attend a church? Can you tell us about it?

I am a member of West Cobb Church in Powder Springs Georgia under the pastoral leadership of Pastor Stan and Terrisa Coleman. WCC is a family-friendly church with something for everyone. I love everything about this Church, and the most impressive for me is the ministry focus on the Youth and Children. There is a very intentional and dedicated effort in grooming the next generation for Christ. This is lacking in most Churches I have interacted with over the years. The community focus is also commendable. WCC has adopted neighboring schools and routinely sponsors and support some of the school events. I currently serve as a bible study group leader and at the Welcome Center to greet new members.

 

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What advice would you give to aspiring writers or those wanting to develop a ministry?

My advice to aspiring writers or those wanting to develop a ministry is to first of all resolve the problem of identity and be on a quest to discover purpose. It is very important to address these core issues because there is a tendency to be confused when you step out before a clear understanding of who you are, what you can do, and the why behind what you are doing. A clear vision will save you from confusion; it will keep you grounded during opposition and trials and also help you keep your focus on your goal. Another important thing to consider when launching out is the fact that there will never be the right time for anything you want to do—you will have to make the time right.

Can you tell us about your future goals?

I am working on releasing my third book, Understanding the Seasons of Life, by spring 2019. I have four other books that I am currently working on: Depression, Purpose, Leadership, and Marriage. I will be hosting Blossom Life Conference 2019 in Atlanta from September 20 to 21 and continue the weekly life group with young adults age 18 and above.

How can our readers contact you?

Website: 

Email: blossomlifeoutreach@gmail.com

Phone: (404) 618.6300

Follow us

Facebook:  @blossomlifeoutreach

Instagram: _blossomlife

Twitter: _blossomlife

 

I hope you enjoyed meeting Joké as much as I did. Please leave her a message below or visit her directly on one of her social media/contact platforms. 

Blessings!

— Delia

Dyane Forde on The Flashback Show

Thanks to Noble Acquah for interviewing me on the Flashback Show!

Also, check out the video below for my video commentary about serving the Lord in the workplace as a social worker while building the projects He’s put in my heart. 🙂 Enjoy!

 

https://youtu.be/DPPxgbL_R7Y

Noble

My guest for todayonTheFlashbackShowisDyaneForde, a Canadian writer, author, blogger, and editor. She has self-published 3 books, a fantasy trilogy called Rise of the Papilion, and manage 2 websites on writing-related topics.
Please tell us something about yourself?
Guest:My name is Dyane Forde. I’m a Canadian writer, author, blogger, and editor. I have self-published 3 books, a fantasy trilogy called Rise of the Papilion, and I manage 2 websites on writing-related topics.
In addition, I am a social worker. I studied social work at McGill University in Montreal and have worked at various community groups and government institutions for 20 years. Currently, I work with people with intellectual and physical disabilities and autism.
I am also a Christian, and was saved at the age of 12.
How was your growing up?
Guest: As mentioned above, I was 12 when I came to…

View original post 1,882 more words

Part 2: What’s God Got to Do With It? Motivation Matters

In the first part of this series, we talked about our identity in Christ and how that relates to our gifts. When Jesus died on the cross, it was to buy us back from the curse of sin. When we chose to follow Him, we became God’s children and committed our lives to His service. The Holy Spirit enables us to walk with God and empowers us to fulfill our life’s mission until the day we pass on. That’s the general purpose for our earthly existence. How we live that out on a daily basis, including the expression of our creative calling, needs closer inspection.

At the opening of this series I’d asked:  Why do we create? There are a ton of reasons, but it’s likely that when we examine them, our main motivation will have something to do with us.

‘I love to write/sing/dance…’

‘I just can’t help composing/singing/writing…’

‘Art is who I am…’

‘I’d go nuts if I couldn’t express myself…’

Etc.

Notice the ‘I’ in those statements?

 

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Is it wrong to find pleasure in our gifts? I don’t think so. God loves us and He wants us to be happy. But, I think it’s important to note that God is the true source of our peace and joy and that any other source will be incomplete and, ultimately, unsatisfying.

 

Galatians 5:22-23  (NIV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

Unconvinced? Well, here are a few questions to consider. What happens when you don’t sell many books? Or the post you spent ages writing for your blog doesn’t get any likes? Or your book proposal is refused, or your song rejected by a producer?

What about the time spent away from your family and the money wasted on products or services that failed to deliver?

What about those feelings of loneliness or confusion when nothing works?

What about when your dream fails?

Do you get angry? Bitter? Are you exhausted? Anxious?

Are you disappointed in God?

 

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In case you’re wondering, I’ve been there. It’s humbling to admit, but it would be wrong of me to pretend otherwise. I’ve seen my dreams melt away, I’ve sacrificed time and money only to see nothing come of it. I’ve cried out to God asking, ‘Why?’, as recently as a few days ago.

And the answer has consistently been: ‘Look up. Deny yourself, and follow Me.’

I thought I was humble. I thought I was submitting myself to His will and doing everything right. It was only when everything ground to a halt and I had nothing going for me that I could see how much of my self-worth was tied to needing to succeed. Once it was just me and God, I could begin to see that I am who I am because of Him. Jesus is my righteousness. If I never write another book or blog post again, if this blog fails or I never score that big book deal, or whatever, He’ll accept me just as I am.

He accepts you just as you are, too.

If you are tired, overworked, frustrated, anxious—ultimately disappointed in God, ask ourself why. Rejection and failure hurt, sure. It sucks to be mentally and emotionally drained from going full-tilt for so long. But, listen. This is the time to throw yourself at the foot of the cross and ask God for help. 

 

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Here are two points to reflect on:

We run into trouble when we think that success is the result of our efforts

We are called to work. We are called to be  good stewards of our gifts. And know that we are accountable to Him for how we use them. (Matthew 25:14-30, parable of the talents)

But, we have to remember that God is in control and, if we let Him, He will see to everything, including the results. The moment we let our identity and sense of well-being depend on the results of our work or efforts, we’re in trouble.

We run into trouble when we don’t fully submit to the Lord

This is an ongoing, daily process. It is also impossible to do on our own. But with God’s help, we can.

James 4:7 (NIV)

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

The importance of submitting our motivations to God has become increasingly clear to me. We might want to do good by reaching tons of people for His kingdom, create programs, build incredible ministries, but if there is any self-indulging or self-pleasing motivations involved, our plans are in danger because it opens the door for pride.

Psalm 147:6 (NKJV)

The Lord lifts up the humble;
He casts the wicked down to the ground.

 

So, how does that affect us?

If you are stuggling to hear from God, find that your ministry has stalled, feel stuck, lost or confused, then maybe this is His way of getting your attention. I know this has been true for me. The more I submit to His correction and discipline, the more I discover His grace, wisdom, and kindness. God sees everything, including the incoming roadblocks and the weaknesses in our character, and He deals with us in accordance to His love and wisdom.

God is concerned about our success but even more so about our well-being and our relationship with Him. When we walk with Him, our lives will become the greatest testimonies of His greatness, and the works our our hands the physical manifestation of that truth.

Here are a few verses that have helped me :

James 4:3 (NIV)

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

 Mark 14:38

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)

 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

I’d like to know what you think. Can you relate? How have you coped with disappointment, overwork, stress, etc? What verses encourage you? What lessons have you learned through your creative challenges? Let me know by leaving a message below!

Blessings!

–Delia

Imagine It: Pursuing Our Creative Call Together

I’ve been a social worker for 20 years. The profession wasn’t my first choice. I kind of fell into it because, though I didn’t know what I wanted ‘to be’ when I applied to university, I did know that I wanted to help people. That started my professional journey into the harsh realities of human suffering. People’s lives were messy, complicated, and, often, painful. As a naturally empathetic person, I often felt overwhelmed and helpless. I struggled with my role as a helper to the point of getting sick, and the thought of doing the job until retirement drove me deep into waves of stress and anxiety. 

But, recently, that began to change once I started to see things differently. 

Lessons from the prophet Micah:

This morning, I felt the need to read the Word. That’s a big deal for me, because for a long time I struggled to pick up the Bible and read for more than a few minutes, if at all. But lately, I’ve begun to look forward to my time with God, and the more we talk, the more I realize the need to support our relationship with the Word.

As I said, this morning I felt the need to read. So, I flipped through the minor prophets until I came to Micah and stopped at this: 

Israel’s Misery (NIV)

What misery is mine!
I am like one who gathers summer fruit
    at the gleaning of the vineyard;
there is no cluster of grapes to eat,
    none of the early figs that I crave.
The faithful have been swept from the land;
    not one upright person remains.
Everyone lies in wait to shed blood;
    they hunt each other with nets.
Both hands are skilled in doing evil;
    the ruler demands gifts,
the judge accepts bribes,
    the powerful dictate what they desire—
    they all conspire together.
The best of them is like a brier,
    the most upright worse than a thorn hedge.
The day God visits you has come,
    the day your watchmen sound the alarm.
    Now is the time of your confusion.
Do not trust a neighbor;
    put no confidence in a friend.
Even with the woman who lies in your embrace
    guard the words of your lips.
For a son dishonors his father,
    a daughter rises up against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
    a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.

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Aside from my work, like a lot of people, I’ve felt generally discouraged by the chaos in the world. The news is depressing, everyone is decrying injustice and fraud, and we are killing the environment. Even the movies we turn to for distraction are often bleak and dystopian in nature.

When I read Micah, I realized that what we are seeing and experiencing today is nothing new. The evil, malice, disregard for decency and rebellion in our relationships inside and outside the home have always existed. His world sounds just like ours! 

Then I thought:  what we bear now during one lifetime is what God has been bearing since the Fall. 

That put more than a few things in context.

Thankfully for us, Micah doesn’t stop there: 


But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,

    I wait for God my Savior;
    my God will hear me.

Israel Will Rise

Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
    Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
    the Lord will be my light.
Because I have sinned against him,
    I will bear the Lord’s wrath,
until he pleads my case
    and upholds my cause.
He will bring me out into the light;
    I will see his righteousness.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the darkness and despair around us, but this verse reminds us that we have reason and cause to hope. This verse reminds us of God’s faithfulness, that He’s trustworthy, and that He is the Light. If we trust Him, He will lead us out of despair to Him, the safest place to be. 

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As a social worker, I’ve always known that I can’t solve anyone’s problems. Most of my families’ issues are too big for any one person to solve. Once I accepted my weakness and turned to God for wisdom, He brought the solutions and resources that were needed. Eventually, I understood that when I trusted Him and focused on what I could do, that made the difference. The results might be small, but many small successes accumulating over time eventually result in one big solution. 

How does that relate to Christians using our talents?

Whether we are a professional or an amateur, God gave us gifts and talents for a reason. Yes, we get personal pleasure out of them, but what if God has a larger, more global purpose for our work? God could easily swoop in and fix everything, but He chooses to use people, often regular, even atypical people, to change the world. 

Our stories, photographs, plays, and paintings might not seem like much, but art is often the vehicle that stimulates change. Think of all the books, speeches, essays, painting, plays, and movies/documentaries throughout history that have packed such powerful punches that influenced social change.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NIV)

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

We, as Christian Creatives, figure into God’s Master Plan. If we all do our part by serving Him with our talents, can you imagine the global impact it could have?

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Imagine that. 

 

 

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