How to Shaku Shaku in the Storm

Let me start with a Disclaimer: I am not here to actually teach you how to Shaku Shaku. And if you do not know what that is, it’s the latest Nigerian dance style that has stormed the internet over the last few months. In an attempt to jump on this new dance wave I have watched endless YouTube tutorials and music videos, let’s just say there’s a very small glimpse of hope. 😂

If you are a student like myself you are probably in a storm or about to encounter one, and by storm I mean the long-awaited exam season. Stress levels are high, deadlines are fast approaching, exam dates creeping up not so slowly. And for those who aren’t students, I am sure you can agree that there are some storms that you may or may not be currently in. Each gospel has the account of the Jesus calming the storm, here it is in the Gospel of Matthew 8:23-27 :

23 Then he [Jesus] got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Do we sometimes feel as though Jesus is sleeping in the midst of our storms? Whilst the waves were raging Jesus was sleeping!! He was cool, calm & collected. Imagine that. When Jesus wakes up he rebukes their fear and unbelief. That same rebuke may apply to us right now Jesus is asking:  “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” When we trust God correctly, there will be very little room left for fear.
The thing with the disciples is that they had reasons to have faith despite the raging sea; they had seen Jesus perform wonders in the past, they had seen people like the Centurion who displayed a big trust in Jesus and most importantly Jesus was on board. It takes great faith to trust that a “sleeping Jesus” cares about us even when he seems very silent. A bible commentator says: “There are many Christians today who seem to think the boat is going down! I am tired of the wailing of some of my friends who take that view. The boat cannot go down. Jesus is on board.” (Morgan)
The boat cannot go down: Jesus is on board.
 Key points to take from this story:
  1. Jesus is Lord over all; He has full authority & power over the circumstances that we face. Jesus appeared to have left them in the midst of their chaos but in reality, he was always with them – the same way he has never left our side.
  2. We Must trust Jesus in the storms of life
    • Storms often reflect our lack of trust in God – Sometimes we need to become weak so that we will learn to rely only on Christ’s strength
    • Not all fear is wrong, however, when our fear is excessive and causes us to panic & not think of God’s control over our problems – it is.
    • If we are so focused on a problem & can’t see God’s control over it, we are not trusting him.
  3. Storms should drive us towards God; One thing I have learnt about the storms of life is that the more we trust Him in our current storm, the more we will know Him and be able to trust Him in the upcoming storms.
  4. Storms hit us unexpectedly and without warning; thus in order to survive we must be prepared in advance. NOW is the time to prepare for the storm, if we don’t learn to trust God in the calm of life we will not be prepared to trust him when the storm hits.

Once upon a while ago, I heard: life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. A bad habit I have adopted whilst at Uni is playing music whilst revising and recently because of this new dance style – Shaku Shaku I find myself getting up every time a suitable song comes up to practice my moves. 😂😂 I’m literally dancing in the storm, my revision (which is driving me crazy) is there but I’m dancing instead.  What am I trying to say? This is the attitude we should have whilst in a storm. The reason we should be able to dance in the rain is that we understand that we have a firm anchor – God. I am reminded of the hymn:

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

So there’s only one main step on how to Shaku Shaku in the storm and that is to anchor our faith in God’s promises and presence. The purpose of an anchor is to prevent the raging waves from smashing the boat into the shore and to stop the boat from drifting or being swept away. And so the same applies to God’s role when we encounter storms, He keeps us sane despite the adversity around us, He gives us serenity amidst the hustle and bustle of life.

Here are some of God’s promises to claim as we encounter storms in our lives:

  • God will keep me in perfect peace because I trust in him and my thoughts are firmly fixed on him. (Isaiah 26:3)
  • When I pass through deep waters, God will be with me, and when I pass the rivers of difficulty, I will not drown. When I walk through the fire, I will not be burned, the flames shall not consume. (Isaiah 43:2)
  • The Lord’s loving kindness never ceases. I am not consumed, for his compassions never fail and they are new every morning, Great is His faithfulness. The Lord is good to me because I seek Him and my hope is in Him. Therefore I will wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentation 3:21-26)
Fully trusting and relying on God & His promises means that in spite of the circumstances you can dance in the middle of the storm because you know; God will be with you, you will not be consumed, you will not drown and you will come out better and stronger to face the next storm. Faith is not an automatic thing, we must choose to exercise it daily, and sometimes you have to recall previous storms and remind yourself of God’s faithfulness. He hasn’t failed you in the past and he would not start now.
So I urge you today to drop your anchor and stand on the Rock of Ageslay a firm foundation in God and His Word and you will be able to Shaku Shaku in the Storm.
To all my fellow students, Go smash those exams and remember the same God that brought you here is still on board with you and will take you even further.
Stay Blessed
Dara xx
P.S: Students check out my previous blog posts for exam season for more encouragement & prayers :When fear creeps in… (for those who become very fearful & anxious during exam season), Do your BEST and He’ll do the REST (has a prayer especially for procrastinators) and Commit it to the Lord (a revision tool that works for EVERY & ANY subject).

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Happy New Month – May

In this month May you learn how to embrace every season with grace and gratitude. Because in every season there’s a lesson God’s trying to teach and wants you to learn. May God use what appears to be difficulties to launch you forward in life. Have a lovely May! xx

Sweet and Sour

My favourite cuisine after Nigerian delicacies is Chinese. As a family tradition, when celebrating a birthday it is customary for us to go to our favourite Chinese restaurant. Everyone apart from my dad orders Sweet and Sour Chicken Hong Kong style with egg fried rice or noodles. As the name suggests it has a sweet and sour taste, it is strange to imagine how this would taste having both flavours on the same dish but it’s actually very appetising. I digress…

Over the last month, I would describe my life as a sweet & sour experience; I’ve had moments in which people have upset, annoyed or made me angry, I’ve had unfortunate things happen like breaking my phone again and losing money, but it in the midst of all that I’ve also had sweet moments; going horse riding with my sister, going to the theatre with my friends, useful and educational experiences whilst on placement like getting involved in surgery.

What I found myself doing was focusing more on the sour moments, when the sour things happened it felt as though my whole world was crashing around me, I let it control my emotions and place me in an overall negative state. The more I focused on the negatives the more I spiralled in despair. So one day I decided enough was enough, I gotta start focussing on the more sweeter aspects thus the more I did that the more positive my overall outlook was.

The bible put it simply in Proverbs17:22; A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. It is healthy to be cheerful. A merry heart is as good as medicine. Negative emotions and feelings such as anger, unforgiveness, worry, anxiety, fear, resentment and bitterness cause many physical illnesses by raising our stress levels. When we solely focus on all the negatives our spirit is crushed, we become stressed, overwhelmed and may eventually become ill as a result of emotional fatigue. As you can see there is a relationship between our attitudes and our physical well-being. God doesn’t want us to be a slave to our emotions but when we allow our emotions to rule us we let that happen. In my devotional by Joyce Meyer entitled: Trusting God, she advises us that “to manage [our] emotions and life [we] need to ask God for His wisdom instead of trusting [our] feelings”. The more stable our emotions are the healthier we will be. So, how do we trust God to help us manage our emotions instead of letting our emotions manage us? Below I have explained a practical method I used.

Of course, focusing on the positives may not completely remove the existence of the negatives in our lives so I decided to write a list. If you are like me and love making lists to organise yourself, your life and thoughts you will find this useful. I made a list entitled: Things that are threatening my peace. I wrote the list, prayed over it and ‘put it in God’s hands’. If there were things on the list that had an obvious available solution, I initiated the solution and crossed it off. One thing on my list was that: I kept losing money. This was because I had lost £15 in cash and was so frustrated after my search for it was futile. After writing it on my list, I left it in God’s hands and decided not to let it continue to keep me down. About 2 weeks later (I had forgotten about it by now), I was out for dinner with friends and as I reached to collect my Nandos loyalty card from my purse to my surprise my £15 was folded up behind it. What I thought was lost, was right there underneath my nose, isn’t God great? By leaving it in His hands I saved myself 2 weeks of continued anger and stress. There are still some things on my list but I trust God that gradually these things will eventually be resolved and my peace will be fully restored.

To finish with one of my favourite quotes (I have many favourite quotes haha😂😂):  Those who leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything – Anon. Let’s pay attention to the words “Leave” and “eventually“. Often times I am guilty of “leaving” things in God’s hands but then go about worrying about how God will fulfil His promises. 🙅🏾 That wasn’t the deal. By praying to God I am supposed to trust in Him, to rely on Him totally and “eventually” I will see the way He has been working behind the scenes.

When we pray for something we may not get an instant answer but we should trust that God will “eventually” let all things fall into place. He is not deaf to our prayers, not blind to our tears nor silent to our pain. He sees and will deliver. 

Undiluted Points to take away from ‘Sweet & Sour’

  1. There are sweet & sour moments in life but we should not let negative emotions rule us
  2. A cheerful heart is good medicine – positive thinking is the way forward
  3. Cultivate a habit in which you continually and purposefully place & LEAVE things in God’s hands
  4. When you leave everything in God’s hands you will eventually see God’s hands in everything
  5. TRUST TRUST TRUST God’s plan and timetable

Stay Blessed,

Dara xx

P.S Students stay tuned for an Exam Season post that will be coming out soon.

Happy New Month – April

“Coincidentally” April fools aligns with resurrection Sunday this year. Satan has been fooled big time. Because of what Christ did on the Cross we only face the “shadow of death”, death lost its sting. We face the shadow of death because Jesus took the full reality of death in our place. The shadow of a dog can’t bite, the shadow of a sword can’t kill and thus the shadow of death and all the devil throws can’t destroy us. Whatever you may be going through be assured that the victory is already yours. You will have the last laugh! Have an amazing April!

Happy New Month – March

Despite your present circumstances, look to Jesus your shepherd – our very present help in time of need. As the famous Psalm 23 says; “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of evil I will fear no evil for you are with me”. The valley you may currently be going through is not a dwelling place or destination you are merely passing through it. Whilst going through the valley remember that our shepherd’s presence may not eliminate our problems, but his presence eliminates the fear of evil. Don’t let the enemy convince you that you’re alone, because you certainly aren’t.

Have a Marvellous March! xx

…as yourself

You may or may not recognise that the title of this post is the end of a verse that is repeated in several portions of the Bible (to be exact in 10 separate passages). Here is the full text as it is found in Mark 12:30-31:

30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment.31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Whilst preparing for this post I was certain about the points I wanted to raise with regards to the topic of self-love, but after researching and studying more of the Word there is an additional angle I will be presenting. Over my teenage years, I have come to realise that the relationship I have with myself sets the tone for every other relationship I have. If I love and appreciate myself those around me are more likely to do the same. If you don’t love yourself whether it be your appearance, qualities or characteristics it would be a lot harder to appreciate and love the positive aspects of those around you.

What is self-love? The dictionary says it is “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness”. Now self-love can be seen as both a negative and positive thing, as with all things in life one needs to strike the right balance. On one hand, a person can be prideful, arrogant and believe he/she is better than everyone else, which is a sin. And then there is naturally loving yourself. Naturally loving yourself is to be thankful for how God made you. Whilst searching for bible verses about loving yourself there isn’t an explicit command to do so and I reckon it’s because it is something that naturally occurs in humans. However, what I did find was the connection made between loving your neighbours as yourself and warnings against certain types of self-love.

So going back to the key text about loving your neighbour as yourself, it is not explicitly a command to love yourself, as this is our default position. The society in which we live in doesn’t lack self-love. The command is telling us to love others as we would ourselves. Our actions and attitudes towards others will be motivated by love, specifically the one that we display towards ourselves. As believers, if we lose the motivation of love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for the good in them and only see & focus on their faults. The real problem in our society is the excess of self-love. If we cast our minds back to the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, only one of the men that passed the injured man was a true neighbour. The Levite and priest failed to help the man in need not because they loved themselves too little but because they loved themselves too much and as a result put their interests first. However, the Samaritan showed true love, he gave his time, resources and money with no regard for himself. His focus was outward and not inward. Now loving your neighbour as yourself doesn’t mean that we must love ourselves before we can love anyone else; it means that in the same way we take care of ourselves and are concerned about our own interests we should do the same towards others.

We are reminded in Philippians 2:3-4 – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.” From this passage, I have learnt the following:

  • We don’t tend to do things out of love, but rather for our own desire for benefits or praise (selfish ambition) | the bible warns against this
  • Doing something through conceit is to have excessive pride in oneself, self-interest and self-preoccupation
  • When we put away our selfish ambitions, our conceit and tendency to be self-absorbed we will naturally have more concern for the interests and needs of others
  • Paul isn’t saying it’s wrong to look out for our own interests, but that we should NOT only look out for our own interests
  • Loving others requires humility, valuing others and always making an effort to put others’ interest first. Anything other than that is selfish & vain and far from God’s standard.

Now I am not saying that we should see ourselves as worthless because after all we are made in God’s image and that makes our net worth veryyyy high. The balance that we need to strike is that you and I are God’s unique creation, loved by God in spite of our sins (& many flaws), and redeemed by Christ. We should respond to His love by sharing it with those around us.

As I mentioned above loving others requires humility. I probably haven’t finished a post until I’ve included a thoughtful quote so here is one by Rick Warren: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less”. True humility is service to others, service to a cause greater than your own personal ambition.

My prayer is that the Lord will fill us all with a humble spirit. A heart of flesh that sees the best in others and doesn’t focus on their flaws. May the Lord remove the spirit of pride, jealousy or boastfulness from our beings. May God also help us to remember His great love for us, and as we remember this may we be able to share this love with those around us.

Key Undilutedword points to take away;

  1. Focus on the strengths of others and don’t point out their weaknesses & flaws
  2. When we as believers lose the motivation of love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for the good in them and see only their faults.
  3. Focus more on how you can share God’s love for you with others
  4. True humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less
  5. Love yourself but don’t let that stop you from putting the needs of others ahead of yours

Stay Blessed!

Dara x

Have a Fruitful February!

If He did it before, He can do it again. The same God who got you through your past trials, is the same God with you now. If you find yourself faced with a Red Sea situation and it seems as though you can’t move forwards, backwards left or right, remember the God who parted the waters of the Red Sea can part the sea in your life. He will make a way, where there “appears” to be none.

Have a fruitful February! xx