July 2020

July: arguably the best month has arrived, yet I’m still mentally in pre-COVID March. You may or may not feel the same, but I urge you to switch your mentality. God is in the business of turning your disappointments to divine appointments; Your hurt into hope; Your anger into abiding peace. Open your eyes and perceive the new thing God is doing. Don’t remain stuck in the past or in the old way of doing things – this places God in a box and He cannot be confined by our human wisdom & comprehension. So delight yourself in the Lord and He shall surely give you the desires of your heart. God can still redeem that which you “thought” you lost.

Have a Jubilant July!
Dara

June 2020

Unbelievable to think we are already in June. It is natural to feel emotionally depleted after the whirlwind of events we constantly face but don’t be disheartened. Jesus said “In this world you’ll have trouble but take courage: I have overcome the world.” So, I urge you to lay ALL your burdens down at Jesus’ feet so He can fill you up with His perfect peace. Hold onto the promise that God heals the broken-hearted & binds up their wounds. My prayer is that in this crooked world we will shine bright & not let the darkness steal our joy & hope.

May 2020

Although we are living in uncertain times there is one thing we can be sure of – God remains faithful. In this month, make God your focal point. If we gaze too much on our current circumstances we become dizzy & feel sick, so divert your attention from the noise of the world (news & the like) and tune into the Living Word of God that states “And it came to Pass”. Our struggles, pain, worries and concerns haven’t come to stay but to build our character. God is not a man that He should lie so saturate your mind with scripture & good report.

Have a Mindful May!

Dara x

April 2020

You wake up on this April Fool’s Day to find out Corona Virus isn’t a prank after all 😭 tragic. We are in this world as a ship at sea and the circumstances around us make us prone to be tossed around so without an anchor shipwreck is imminent. But I’d like to ask: Will your anchor hold in the storms of life? Where have you placed your Hope? Hope is the anchor for our lives so it’s essential we place it in a force that is strong & steady – The Rock of Ages. There is no reason to be downcast, worried or defeated when your Hope is in God. Place your hope & confidence in God’s Word and your strength will be renewed.

Have a well Anchored April! x

The Pursuit Of Toilet Paper

People pursue several things in life; pursue materialistic things such as possessions, some pursue friendships & relationships, some pursue goals & achievements and others pursue things that a value can’t be placed on. The list is endless but the overall gist is that we are all in pursuit of something; but whether that pursuit is worthwhile or realistic is another question.

I have always wanted to share my thoughts on what I consider are worthwhile pursuits and it seems appropriate to discuss it now. It will not be a surprise to you that people across the UK and perhaps globally are in pursuit of toilet paper because of the current pandemic: COVID-19. Yes, the virus is spreading quickly but FEAR is spreading even more rapidly leading to some irrational pursuits of materialistic things such as tissue paper. I’ve heard people ask – why are people buying tissue paper?, and honestly, I cannot think of a specific reason to explain why the aisles are empty and people are fighting over toilet roll. At the end of the day it all boils down to fear, fear causes us to do irrational things and as I like to say “move mad unprovoked.” I would like to challenge us all to pursue PEACE in times of panic and chaos so this an appropriate time to discuss this.

Here are some definitions of the word pursuit:

an activity that you spend time and energy doing

an attempt to achieve something

the act of trying to achieve a plan, activity, or situation, usually over a long period

I would like to add that the pursuit is an intentional task in which you have to be willing to put in the required effort where necessary. To be in pursuit of something worthwhile a person has to remain focussed on that goal. Chris Gardner who is known for the inspiration of the movie The Pursuit of Happiness said: If you want something go get it. PERIOD.

The Hebrew word for “peace” which you may already be familiar with is “shalom”. Shalom – is a condition where there is freedom from disturbance: outwardly and inwardly. It also means safety, wellbeing, happy, friendly, healthy, prosperity and favour. In the New Testament, we are introduced to the Greek word for peace which is “irane”; it can mean peace, prosperity, one, quietness, rest, to set at one again and to restore. Isn’t the concept of peace a great thing? I am sure you will agree that it is and therefore is a worthwhile pursuit.

The devil deceives us into believing that various things in this world can give us the peace we desire, these include finances, relationships, social acceptance, achievements – however, they are all counterfeits of the peace which can only be found in God. I experience peace when I distract myself from the realities of life and deliberately ignore responsibilities however this sense of peace is temporary and before I know it I am back in a spiral of confusion, fear and panic. We are told in John 14:27 ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ‘ the peace that God gives can’t be compared to that of the World. Life can be so unpredictable as we can tell from the COVID-19 pandemic; all that once provided safety and peace is now under attack -this is why we should not get complacent with a false sense of peace. As Christians and people of faith, we are to pursue real peace – God’s peace which surpasses human understanding (Philippians 4:7). 

Steps to Pursuing Peace

  1. MAKE ROOM
    • The enemies of peace are fear, anxiety, greed, ambition, anger, envy, pride. These compete for our inner peace. We can’t have the peace God promises if we are holding onto these traits. Therefore we need to take the necessary steps to remove & manage these elements in our lives.
    • “The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace. A persistent simplification will create inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one’s life.” – Peace Pilgrim
  2. GET TO KNOW GOD
    • Eliminating negative forces will only provide temporary peace. Eventually, some other crisis or issue may arise which threatens your “world” and once again you are in a limbo between peace and worry. True peace must be something more.
    • Martin Luther said “True peace is not merely the absence of some negative force. It is rather the presence of some positive force.” This positive force is God.
    • A popular saying goes like this: NO GOD NO PEACE. KNOW GOD KNOW PEACE. Job 22:21 says, “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.” How do we get to know God? Simply by spending time with Him and in His Word.
    • Now that we’ve been advised to #stayathome we have less busy schedules and whilst it’s easy to squander this time on social media apps (I’m guilty of scrolling endlessly on insta & creating TIKTOK videos), we should be intentional about spending quality time with our creator the positive force that can grant us peace.
    • One important fact to remember amidst the storms of life is that GOD IS IN CONTROL. Regardless of how much or how long the sea rages when God deems necessary it shall be still on His command. God allows all that happens to us to occur to fulfil His perfect plan and purpose. Even though the facts about a situation creates turmoil the unchanging truth about God’s nature and character creates peace.
  3. ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
    • I am sure it’s not a surprise that this is on the list as you all know how I feel about positivity – Negative energy genuinely repulses me.
    • It is easy to get agitated and focus on the negatives. Let’s use Coronavirus as an example; every day the news is filled with negativity. Newscasters are constantly reporting the number of cases and deaths – what about those that are surviving, recovering? What about the initiatives and new technologies that are being discovered? I’ve had to leave the living room whenever the news is on simply because there is nothing positive and it just aids and fuels more fear & anxiety – enemies of peace. Similarly, we have to physically and mentally remove ourselves from a space of negativity to fix our minds on positive things – that way inner peace can flourish.
    • As Christians, we are commanded to not be conformed to this world (its fears & anxieties) but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). You can determine how you think in any given situation. Chose to refocus your mind to a new topic instead of dwelling on that which will steal your peace. Chose to trust God and He will help you. By guarding your mind you guard your peace thus inner peace will be yours.
    • Isaiah 26:3 says; [God] will keep in perfect peace, those whose mind is stayed on you Because they trust in you”
      • In Hebrew “perfect peace” = shalom shalom. The repetition highlights how profound this promise is.
      • The message version reads: People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole.
      • Here we see the importance of the mind: When we keep our minds settled on God, He will give us peace in return. God will guard us against the devil’s attacks of distress.
      • What your mind is stayed on communicates what you trust in. If you truly trust God your mind should stay firmly fixed on Him and Him alone.
  4. BE STILL
    • As I mentioned earlier the pursuit is an activity so “being still” seems contradictory however being ‘still’ allows us to truly sense God’s presence.
    • Whilst being “still” we can read and meditate on the promises God is communicating to us; that way we can be assured that God’s peace will infiltrate all areas of our lives.
    • The presence of God is not the absence of trouble. He is a very present help IN time of trouble. Despite the raging storms, I pray that you have the overwhelming assurance that reminds you: God is your only shelter.
  5. BE OBEDIENT & WALK IN GOD’S WILL
    • Psalm 119:165 says; Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
    • If God reveals light to you, walk in it and do not insist on doing your own thing. This is illustrated in this favourite passage of mine: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22-25
    • At the start of this year, I felt very uneasy, as though my heart and mind were battling each other. Choices and decisions I knew I had to make due to the light God had shown me in His Word but I was trying to do my own thing. I did not get the peace of mind I desired until I decided to stop being stubborn and align myself with God’s Will and Word.
    • Whenever we feel a sense of unrest we should ask and search whether we are doing something that isn’t in harmony with God’s Will? When we seek the answers to that question we find explanations for the discord within our soul.
  6. BE A PEACEMAKER
    • The same way you gain happiness and love by giving it away is the same way we retain peace. We ought to be peacemakers; when we spread peace we receive peace. This follows the simple principle of reaping what we sow; if we sow strife and discord we will surely reap the results which are enemies of peace.
    • One of the ways we can best advertise Christ and showcase our lives as Christians is to emulate peace. Be that light in a world filled with darkness, chaos, fear and anxiety.
    • I urge you all to communicate God to an anxious world, even though there are a lot of reasons to fret choose peace!
    • This time at home should be used to reconcile relationships and live with peace with others (especially family members we are having to spend more time with during the Lockdown)

Let me close with another all-time favourite memory text from Philippians 4:6-7; Be anxious for nothing but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guide your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

You may or may not have enough tissue paper in your homes but I urge you to follow the steps discussed above in pursuing peace and most of all pray that the Lord Himself will grant you peace because He is the source of true peace.

Stay Blessed, safe and at home!

Dara

 

References:

Finding the missing peace by Doug Batchelor

March 2020

Waiting is a foreign concept in today’s fast-paced society, so when we are forced to “Be Still”, it’s frustrating. You may be waiting for some good news, change in circumstance or status or simply waiting for a day/event whatever it is – the wait is worthwhile! Just like a mother needs to wait 9 months to see her baby you need to wait. When a baby is removed prematurely from the womb there are associated issues; so don’t be in a hurry. Waiting time is not detrimental it is developmental! God is transforming you into the best version of yourself.

Have an Ah-Mazing March.

Dara xx

When Specsavers isn’t good enough

We are more than halfway through January but I still want to wish all my readers a Happy and Blessed New Year!

A random fact about myself is that I used to wear glasses when I was younger (probably at the start of last decade 😜) however after a few years I was told I didn’t need them anymore as my eyesight had been corrected. I was so happy because I hated my appearance with glasses. 🤓

I was diagnosed as being long-sighted. For those who aren’t familiar with that term, a long-sighted person can see objects at a distance but closer objects are usually out of focus. The opposite is short-sightedness; a condition where distant objects appear blurred while nearby objects are clear. These conditions of the eyes amongst several others can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses and even laser eye surgery. Without adequate correction, a person will continue to have blurred vision.

So what happens when Specsavers is not enough? – you are stumbling around, confused, unaware of what is happening and what is to come. May I propose to you the idea that some of us Christians are suffering from spiritual short-sightedness. Our vision does not have the clarity that is needed to successfully navigate through life’s circumstances. So where do we go from here? Hold that thought.

I’ve recently gotten into one of my favourite hobbies again: reading. In the past 3 months, I’ve read 6 novels; 5 of which were written with multiple narratives. This a writing style in which I’ve grown to love. In the past when I’ve read a book with a single narrator, I could not help but feel as though I was not getting the whole truth. With a single narrator, there are unknown aspects of the story that do not come into the light until later so for the majority of the time you are kept in the dark. The truth of a story is made up of a variety of viewpoints. The more perspectives you have the closer you are to having a better overall understanding of what is happening. Come to think of it the person who probably has the greatest advantage is the author because he or she has a bird’s eye view of the sequence of events from the start to end. Similarly to the novels, our lives also have an author who knows the end from the beginning, He sees the bigger picture, I’m sure I don’t have to spell that out to you.

The new lens I want to encourage you to intentionally use is God’s. This omniscient being says:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts

Isaiah 55:8-9

This text clearly states that our thoughts are not compatible with God’s thoughts. It would be foolish to assume that we know God’s thinking and planning. How can we know more than our creator? As humans, we try to fit God into our mould of thinking but this is the wrong way to approach life, we are to conform to His perspective. This distance between God’s thoughts/ways and our thoughts/ways is constant; God will always remain God and us mere humans. Isaiah 55 reiterates the fact that God sees things from a higher perspective, like an author who has the overall picture of a book, like a bird soaring high in the skies. This higher altitude allows things that would not be otherwise seen whilst on the ground to be seen clearly: So why not trust His perspective?

An unbeliever judges events and things by worldly standards, by his or her senses; this lens is defective as it is doesn’t reflect God’s perspective and it often leads to frustration, discontentment and disappointment. A person who wants to view life from a perfect perspective needs to consider God’s views and values in everything.

A person who wants to view life from a perfect perspective needs to consider God’s views and values in everything.

I’m currently reading ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren and there’s a chapter solely dedicated to ‘Seeing life from God’s view’. Pastor Rick says ‘The way you see your life shapes your life. How you define life determines your destiny” (p.41). I will share more from this book in a future post but a key point that was made is that ‘life on earth is a temporary assignment therefore this should alter our values’. The deciding factors for the decisions we make should be based on eternal values and not temporal ones. Earth is not our final home, we are just passing through so we will experience things that do not make sense to us and sometimes only in hindsight will certain scenarios in our lives make sense.

Life is a test. This metaphor for life can be seen in various biblical stories. God tests people’s character, faith, obedience, love, integrity and loyalty. In the bible, we have examples of those who failed God’s tests (Adam and Eve in Eden, David) and those who passed God’s tests (Joseph, Ruth, Esther and Daniel). One thing we know about God is that He is interested in our character and not our earthly achievements or possessions thus He uses tests to develop and reveal our true character. The specific tests God may put you through this year can’t be listed however we can predict how God may test us through what has already happened in the bible; major changes, delayed promises, impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism and even senseless tragedies. Personally, in hindsight, I notice ways in which God has tested my character; during those periods I was frustrated, angry and confused but when I decided to switch my basic inadequate ‘human lenses’ to God’s perfect perspective, I understand that God is developing and testing my character. Therefore this year when you are going through a trial or you’re faced with confusion seek answers from God: What do you want me to learn?. The best way to seek these answers is to communicate with Him and engage with His Word. When you know that life is a test you realise that nothing is insignificant in your life, you just have to use the correct lens to comprehend what is occurring.

When you know that life is a test you realise that nothing is insignificant in your life, you just have to use the correct lens to comprehend what is occurring.

To conclude I want to share the lyrics of a song I came across last year called ‘Perception’ by a group called Livre’:

one may see a storm

another might just see rain

it’s all a matter of ones perception

Perception by Livre’

I’m sure I don’t have to stress the importance of positive thinking once again but knowing that our thoughts are often flawed and unreliable should prompt us to observe how this affects our perception. Being aware of God’s perspective is vital in navigating the world around us. Without trying to adapt to a glimpse of God’s perspective there is a high likelihood that we wander with negative emotions and dissatisfaction associated with a lack of understanding our experiences.

Finally, remember that “every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” James 1:17. This ultimate goodness of any gift must be measured in light of eternity, so some things that appear good now may lead to our destruction – I pray that we put on an eternal God-given lens/perspective on all that we encounter: Life is a test & Life on earth is temporary.

Stay blessed,

Dara xx

P.S – Please share and bless your friends & family.

Jan 2020

I declare that in 2020, God’s goodness & mercy shall follow you through all the days of this year & decade. May your life be radically transformed by God’s blessings that people wouldn’t recognise you. Most of us are spiritually short-sighted; our vision of the future is blurry. So in 2020 entrust the unknown future to a known God – the one whose promises are YES & AMEN. Let His Word & promises be the laser eye surgery for you to see clearly from His perspective.

Have a Prosperous New Year!

December 2019

Welcome to the final month of 2019!
You may have been hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, struck down in the past year but through God you are still alive, not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned and not destroyed – there is HOPE. God says in Isaiah – “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.” So align yourself with this promise & see how God will work miraculously.

Have a Delightful December & see you soon in 2020!

August 2019

As humans we waste valuable time and energy any time we think we know better than God. There are times when we cannot make sense of the circumstances we are surrounded by so we feel buried and somewhat hopeless. But just like a buried seed even if all we see is darkness we must believe that growth is inevitable. A planted seed has the ability to reach its full potential so when you find yourself in a dark and confusing situation trust that this is the refining process in which you’ll burst forth from and blossom.

Have an Awe-filled August!