Archive for ‘purpose’

June 6, 2010

Finding Purpose in Tragedy: Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon

Be the One: Serve

In life, it’s not what happens to you, but what happens in you and through you that counts. When adversity visits your life, you have two choices: to be a victim or to be a victor. Victims allow life circumstances to get them down, and they spend their lives asking others to redress the grievances life has dealt them. Victims are needy and demand to be served. Victors, on the other hand, rise above the challenges they encounter. They rebound from life’s hardships with newfound strength, and they use their strength in service of those around them.

A Train of Tragedy

Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon was born in 1860 to a wealthy family in Savannah, Georgia. Far from the typical Southern belle, Juliette was willful and tomboyish, always in search of adventure. She was the type of person never to be caught sitting still; she enjoyed trying new things and traveling new places.

In her mid-twenties, the first of a series of misfortunes struck Juliette. Suffering from chronic earaches, she sought medical care, but doctors mistreated her. As a consequence, Juliette lost the majority of her hearing in one ear. The following year, Juliette was married, but as she and the groom exited the ceremony a grain of rice, tossed by a well-wisher, lodged in her good ear. While attempting to remove the grain, a doctor punctured her eardrum, and Juliette lost hearing in her second ear.

For someone who enjoyed an active lifestyle, deafness could have been devastating, but Juliette persevered. She moved to her husband’s estate in England where she became a favorite in social circles. Her humor and vivacity made her a sought-after guest and celebrated hostess.

However, Juliette soon crossed paths with tragedy again. Her husband’s alcohol abuse and infidelity contributed to the gradual decline of their relationship, and in the middle of divorce proceedings, Juliette’s husband died from a stroke. To make matters worse, he bequeathed his substantial estate to his mistress rather than giving it to Juliette.

Choosing to Get Up Rather Than Give Up

Having lost her hearing, her husband, and her home, you would have expected Juliette to feel bitter and victimized. However, at this very point in her life, she chose to serve. Somehow, she moved past her own tragic circumstances to see the good she could do for others.

Having befriended Sir Robin Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, Juliette became intrigued by the Girl Guides, Britain’s sister organization to the Boy Scouts. The Girl Guides program awakened passion in Juliette, reminding her of youthful adventures from days gone by. With the help of Sir Baden-Powell, Juliette returned to the United States with a notion to launch the Girl Scouts.

Over the next 15 years, Juliette devoted her life to pioneering the Girl Scouts of the USA. She founded its inaugural troop, authored its bylaws and handbooks, and solicited its startup funds. Thanks to her tireless recruiting and relentless campaigning, the Girl Scouts program blossomed. The organization was such a source of joy for Juliette that, when diagnosed with cancer, she hid the illness as long as possible in order to continue advancing the scouting movement. While she never had children of her own, by the time of her death Juliette had an “adopted family” of more than 160,000 girl scouts. Her legacy lives on today in the 3.4 million young ladies who belong to local Girl Scout troops in America.

Questions for Reflection

Where do you focus the majority of your time, on self or on service? When the hardships of life show up at your door, do you back down or rise to the challenge? On your journey through life, will you allow yourself to be victimized, or will you be the one who claims victory over adversity and serves others out of your strength?

John C. Maxwell is an internationally respected leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold more than 18 million books. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries worldwide. Each year he speaks to the leaders of diverse organizations, such as Fortune 500 companies, foreign governments, the National Football League, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books that have sold more than a million copies: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. His blog can be read at
April 7, 2010

The Cherokee Chief: Making My Life Count

I found this fascinating article via a link a facebook friend posted. It made me think about a lot of stuff. Not about the Cherokee nation, though I’m sure that was probably the intention of the article in the first place, but about life. And how transient it can be.

She was on the board of the Freedom Forum and Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations, which plans to name a scholarship for her. WEWIN founder Susan Masten said “She was a true warrior and an excellent leader in the sense that she worked tirelessly to improve the lives of everyone else, including her own people, and she did it in a humble way. With all the attention she got and the awards she received… that never changed who she was as a person. She had a very big heart.”, Wilma Mankiller, Cherokee chief, dies, Apr 2010

As I read about this woman who I had never even heard of before, one thought kept ricocheting through my mind: when I die, what would people have to say about me?

It was a sobering thought. I am not yet 30 so by conventional wisdom I still have a lot of years left to live. Right? Who knows. Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone. The future is the one bit of real estate no one can actually purchase…at least, not life in itself. That is a finite gift.

So I might not be able to tell how many more years I will be on earth for, but I can tell for sure that at this minute, this particular moment, I am here, living and breathing. What I do today (NOW) is what counts eventually. That – the little moments of my life – is what makes the sum total of what folks are going to be saying about the kind of woman I was.

What I got from the life of this woman as briefly narrated in the article was that whether it is in the things I write blog about, or the things I say, or the relationships I keep; I need to make every moment count.

January 16, 2010

Preparing for the New Year – 10 Questions to ask

I got this questions from a fellow blogger and I just knew I had to answer them…for one, they make me think andreflect. If you like the questions, feel free to copy them and use on your blog, I don’t think she’ll mind. So, here goes!

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?


2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

dexterity as I tackle studies, work, family all without any stress.

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

Pay a lot of attention to my husband.

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

Fasting and Fellowship (Church attendance)

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

Reading novels – restrict myself to a certain number a month.

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

Pray for the leadership and be available to serve.

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?


8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

Be consistent in my Christian life

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

Make a Prayer list for each day (I used to do this in my teens, don’t know what happened).

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Be a good mum and build relationships

July 14, 2009

30 Day Neatness Challenge

I was reading a novel this morning where there was this extremely neat lady who was studying an untidy man and envying him his ability to be gloriously untidy, with abandon! OK. It’s obvious of course that I was not only reading fiction, it was romantic fiction. Neat people NEVER envy untidy folks, if anything; they are smug about being so perfect. [From the tone of this post, it’s easy to know that I’m not one of the neat ones]

1081186_clothes_washer__I have tried so hard for years to learn that art of neatness…if you do not think it is an art, try being unwillingly untidy. My mum complained and moaned; it just wouldn’t work. I tried for my mum; no progress. I tried to be tidy for my fiancé; even worse. So I just gave up. I really couldn’t be bothered to iron my clothes before putting them on neither could I be bothered to fold away my clothes after taking them off. As long as I could do clean, what did I care about tidy?

But it bothered me a lot. Made me feel like some sort of failure (I like to think that I can do and be anything I set my mind to). I even spoke to God about it, but somehow, I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it. See, it would have been fine if I actually loved being untidy. But I wanted to be tidy almost desperately. Then, something happened a few days ago.

My mum usually complains about how I didn’t do this in the Kitchen or how I did that in the living room; somehow, I never seem to get things right. Or that’s what I thought. Well, a few days ago she let it drop, veeery casually you understand, that with all she’s seen of me in the past year I’ve been home, she’s confident that I would make a good homemaker!!

Now, from an African woman, that’s high praise indeed. From my mum? I was working on air. But I couldn’t help but wonder why she had so much to complain about if she felt I was doing fine. I guess that’s how mothers are – when it comes to training their daughters, they aren’t ever satisfied. But that comment made me think; if I could get a hang of this housekeeping thing, maybe I could manage the neatness thing too.

So, I decided to try once more to be tidy; this time around, for me. Not for my mum and definitely not for my fiancé (he’s supposed to love me the way I am and that’s not just romantic fiction). I read somewhere that if you do something consistently for 30 days, it becomes a habit. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to consistently, for the next 30 days, make my bed each time I get up in the morning. I usually jump out 1122196_bedtime_2of bed and hit the floor running, but I’ll take time out. If I can master that, I’ll try hanging or folding up my clothes. It doesn’t seem like much, but for me it is. I’ll tackle this neatness thing one chore at a time. [Maybe I should stop thinking of them as ‘chores’]

This is what I call my 30 Days Neatness Challenge!

I started yesterday and when I worked into my room after a hard day’s work, I had a broad grin on my face as I sank unto my made bed. I guess my dad is right; as you lay your bed shall you lie on it.

April 27, 2009

Something For The Week


No one can mature and accomplish their life purpose in a vacuum. No one succeeds without the help of other people. No one learns without interaction with other people.

– Jan Silvious (Women of Faith Devotional Bible)

July 8, 2008

Journey to self…

I have heard and read stories about a man or woman who would leave family and friends to go and discover self. Since industrialists embraced the use of the production line and communism lost its hold in other parts of the world, the desire for self discovery has been burning bright in most people.

Over time, several methods have been employed one of which is withdrawal. We hear of folks who withdraw totally from everyone and everything, then go to a Tibetan Monastery in order to reaffirm their individuality.

I think self discovery is more than just an expression of individuality – even though that plays a major part. Self discovery to me, is realising that unique purpose for which I was created. I do not know if isolating one’s self is the answer, however I know that for some, they found their self nestled in the arms of society. And I guess this was the case with Barack Obama. This was what I read on the New York Times website

In fact, Mr. Obama, the son of a black father and white mother, was on a search for racial identity. In his memoir, Mr. Obama reflected on the grainy, black-and-white images of the civil rights struggles that his mother showed him when he was a boy and how they reminded him “that I wasn’t alone in my particular struggles.”

(Read the whole article here)

Senator Obama began his self actualization in community. Really gets one thinking. An African proverb says there are many ways to the market. I guess the American equivalent would be there are many ways to skin a cat.

My own journey to myself is still a long long road. And thus far, it has been eclectic; I have found myself withdrawing from people and immersing myself in people alternatively. I do not think there is any one specific way to know your purpose and reason for living but then, I am still on the road to discovery and would appreciate all the help. How has your own journey been thus far? Have you finally discovered who and what you were meant to be? What methods did you employ in that discovery? I would love to hear from you.