May 2022

As you have stepped into May, I urge you to stay plugged into God. By spending time with the True source of light, your life will be illuminated and darkness eliminated. Additionally, light shines through “cracked pots”: although life shatters us remember that God’s light shines greater through cracked pots than those that pretend to have it all together. May God’s light shine through your life and perform wonders.

May you have a Magical May!

Stay blessed,

Dara xx

March 2022

Andy Mineo once said that “the opposite of faith isn’t doubt it’s when we believe we have everything figured out”. A lot of us fall into this trap, we become fixated on our set plans, schedules and lists because we believe it’s what’s best for us. However, God’s interruptions are invitations to something more significant in our lives. Don’t miss out on God’s move because you’re busy making your lists and schedules. May God interrupt your plans and substitute them for greater things in your life.

Have a marvellous March!

Stay blessed,

Dara

JOY IN CHAOS

How far into the new year are we allowed to go before it becomes socially unacceptable to say Happy New Year? Some believe that after the 1st of January it’s already weird to say Happy New Year whereas there are some Nigerian aunties and uncles who beg to differ and will still greet you with a Happy New Year in April. This is the first time I am formally addressing my blog readers so no matter how deep into the year we are, I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year!

The first few days and weeks of this year have been rather reflective for me and I’m sure for many of you reading it has been the same: You reflect on the past year and ponder on what the year ahead holds. Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish theologian once said “Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards.” I love this quote because it is only when you reflect on the past that you have an appreciation of what has happened and you gain the strength to face tomorrow. The year 2021, looked different for everyone, I can speak for myself and say that it was not all smiles and laughter. Often my tears, frustration, and pain were masked behind a simple yet infectious smile. Some might say that’s being fake but I tell you there are times when you have to faith it till you make it. I will speak more about this on my blog and podcast this year. At the start of last year, I shared a blog post entitled “Roses are red, God is on my side, in 2021 I wanna be…”; under the shadow of God’s wings. So throughout the year, my main goal was to reside under God’s wings; this meant trusting God wholeheartedly. I have learned that when you reside under the shadow of God’s wings as we are instructed in Psalms 91, you will certainly have JOY in chaos.

Joy is in an unexplainable emotion, as I have previously stated in a previous blog post. Joy is superior and different from happiness. Happiness is dependent on what is happening, but Joy is dependent on God. Since God never changes, Joy is always in abundance. What does this look like? Having Joy means that your world may appear to be crumbling but you wake up every morning with peace that passeth all understanding. It means knowing that God will supply all your needs according to His riches even when your bank account is in red or the payment is declined. It means knowing that God is a problem solver even when your situation seems impossible. It means knowing that God is a way maker even when it seems like you have run out of options. It means knowing God is the light in the darkness even when all that is around you seems dire, dark, and hopeless. It means knowing God is a promise keeper even when people say no to your requests or doors get shut in your face.

It means knowing God will you give you joy amid chaos.

I am sure this is not the first time you are hearing the phrase “Choose Joy”, it is easy to choose joy when life is going your way, things are working out as ‘you’ planned. However, when the table turns and the clouds turn dark and it seems like you are running up an escalator going down it’s harder to obey the command to choose joy. When God inspired Paul’s writings to include this command He knew the future won’t always have clear sunny skies and there will be trying moments, where we want to throw in the towel yet the command, remains unchanged – choose Joy in Chaos.

The ability to choose Joy in chaos can be illustrated and understood by nature, let me explain. In the natural world, chaos looks like natural disasters: avalanches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, dust storms, floods, tsunamis, tropical cyclones, blizzards, heatwave, droughts, thunderstorms, tornadoes, firestorms, wildfires – these disasters are notoriously known for their impact on everything in their path. In particular, we hear about houses and trees being uprooted thus causing more damage. Taking myself back to geography class I recall that there are a variety of measures put in place for areas at risk of these natural disasters to minimise the extent of chaos caused. For example, making sure the house sits above flood level protects it from flooding; bolting the house to the foundation helps it withstand earthquake tremors; storm shutters protect glass windows from shattering, and so on…

Likewise in our lives, we also have situations that threaten to ruin, shake and uproot all that we are familiar with. Just like the houses have reinforcement against natural disasters we can also have that assurance by having a firm foundation. That’s how you’ll make it when the wind is blowing and threatening to knock you out. 

The ability to choose Joy in chaotic moments is based on the foundation we lay. In the bible, there is an account about a metaphorical natural disaster: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders which can be found in Matthew 7:24-27. This parable summarises that although the houses looked the same on the outside their foundations (sand or rock) differentiated them. The real foundation of our lives is usually hidden, the storms we encounter reveal the foundations we have. In this upcoming year, the storms of our lives will test our foundations, so we all must lay firm foundations that will keep us grounded.

How do we lay firm foundations?

The surest foundation is The Word of God, in which we are taught to trust solely in Jesus Christ. We are also reminded in John 1:1 that Jesus is the living Word of God. Jesus is the rock that holds us together when storms threaten to uproot and displace us. Do not base your foundation or faith on feelings, experiences, or in people – it must be based on Jesus Christ. If a person’s foundation is built on a miracle God demonstrated in the past, when it seems like God is now silent and has not answered their house will be devastated if that was their only foundation. However, if you know it is Jesus that holds your life together and you develop that solid relationship with him you will always have the ability to choose joy in the choas.

Maverick City Music released a song last year entitled “Firm Foundation” – you must check it out if you haven’t done so yet. Allow me to use the lyrics to make a declaration to you:

Christ is my firm foundation, The rock on which I stand. When everything around me is shaken, I am glad my faith is in Jesus because He has never let me down. He is faithful through generations so He won’t fail now. Jesus is faithful in every season. I have Joy in chaos, I have peace that makes no sense. I won’t be going under. I am not held by my own strength.

I do hope you treasure the words of this song and take steps today to build a firm foundation that will sustain and uphold you through this year.

Stay blessed,

Dara xo

Happy New Year – 2022

As you embark on this 2022 journey, God will make everything that concerns you to work out as He intends. May God open the doors that need opening and close the ones that must remain closed. The specific details of the year may not necessarily be made known to you but one certain thing is that God is by your side so there is no reason to be fearful. In all you do count on God and not yourself, count your laughs and not your tears, count your gains and not your losses.

Have a fabulous start to the New Year! 🎊

Stay Blessed,

Dara x

December 2021

A favourite emotion of mine is JOY. It is independent of our daily battles & struggles but dependent on God. Unlike the UK Sun, God’s presence in our lives is constant and never dries up. May Joy be the genre of your life. As the year draws to an end, draw near to God’s promises and experience the strength only His joy provides. Any wasteland you may find yourself in will not have the final word. When you remember the past year and your mind wanders down a gloomy and unpleasant path, STOP & REJOICE. 

Choosing joy and remembering who God is and what He has done will not only turn your frown upside down; it causes His light to radiate and give you a permanent facial glow.

Have a Delightful December!

August 2021

As the year progresses and our hopes & dreams either get accomplished or seem further away: stagnancy lurks around. Therefore, I declare against the spirit of stagnancy in your life. I Declare that you shall bring forth good fruits, the works of your hand shall be blessed, may your mind flourish with grand, tangible & creative ideas. Your destiny helpers will find and catapult you to your divinely destined destination; backwardness shall not be your portion in any segment of your life.

Please accept my apologies for this delayed message 🙊

Have an Actively energised August!

Dara xx

July 2021

Regardless of what 2021 has thrown at you as we step into the second half of the year, I urge you to remain confident that the good parts are coming. Just as the walls of Jericho fell down flat after marching around seven times, may the walls of Jericho between you and God’s perfect promises for you come tumbling down. You may have gone through the dark, less glamorous seasons but be assured that the good parts are coming. In the beginning, there was darkness but when God stepped in and said let there be light, there was light and it was GOOD. Therefore I declare that in this seventh month of perfection, you will clearly see the goodness and hand of God. You will march into your miracle and the walls previously built up against you will fall down flat.

Have a Jaw-dropping July!

Stay blessed,

Dara

May 2021

Of all the metaphors used to describe God; God as an eagle whose feathers I can stay under is a top favourite. Life is filled with diverse challenges, choices, change and characters but under God’s wings, we are blessed with His presence, protection, provision, promotion, prosperity and preservation. There’s no protection for the young bird that strays away from the nest, so in this month intentionally decide to trust God and take cover under His wings because His promises cover ALL bases.

Have a Miraculous May!

April 2021

Wouldn’t it be a relief to find out that the past year was an April fool’s joke and life would return as normal? Unfortunately, that’s not the case but, God is a ‘God who restores’, so we always get the last laugh. Don’t take things that are happening to you too seriously; learn to laugh as it lightens the load you carry. The password into God’s presence isn’t necessarily the loudest cries but is thanksgiving and joy. Declare that: My mourning will turn into dancing, and my mouth will be filled with laughter and joy. I exchange my pain & heartbreak for a garment of praise. My cup is not just half full; it is overflowing.

Have an Amazing April!

Stay blessed,

Dara x

The weary world rejoices

If I asked a room of people to raise their hands if they were sick and tired of the year 2020, I am sure majority of the people present would raise their hands. It has been a weary year, to say the least. Many have suffered from loss of loved ones, job loss, zoom fatigue, cancelled or postponed plans and not to mention the loss of security, freedom and peace of mind. The dictionary definition for ‘weary’ is “feeling or showing extreme tiredness, especially as a result of excessive exertion”, synonyms for the word ‘weary’ include; tired, worn out, exhausted, fatigued … I am sure you can add your word to describe how this year has left you feeling. 

When listening to my Christmas Gospel Playlist (link here), the lyrics of the popular carol – O Holy Night stood out to me.

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

O Holy Night – Adolphe Adam translated by John Dwight

Pay particular attention to the words “a thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices“. 

The state of the world 2000 years ago when Jesus came to earth does not seem much different from the world in 2020. The prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-2 unfolds five consequences of sin (wrongdoing) and what Jesus was coming to do about it. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings (news) to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;’ Isaiah 61:1. The society at that time was poor, broken-hearted, held in captivity, blind and oppressed. Likewise in the year 2020, we can say that we see; poverty, oppression, injustice, sickness, suffering and hopelessness. Despite all we have experienced this year I still have a thrill of hope. What is this thrill of hope?

To those who were around when Jesus came as a baby into the world, His coming was met with a variety of reactions. Some had not expected him to come as a babe in a manger, they thought a knight in shining armour was going to overthrow the government by a revolution. However, God’s ways are different and higher than the ways of man; he used an unexpected pregnancy to bring Hope to a weary world. The good news for you and I today is that although Jesus came, lived and died he also resurrected so He remains with us. We are told in Matthew 1:23: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” To me, the title – Immanuel, has a twofold meaning in terms of His proximity and empathy. God is nearby so we can lean on and rely on Him. His nearness/presence means that we don’t have to go out of our way or go through great lengths to find Him – all we need to do is call upon Him. As we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. Secondly, as God the Son, came to earth to live and dwell among us he knows and understands the struggles that this world is filled with therefore He can empathise with us. Jesus is with us, to comfort, enlighten, encourage, guide, protect and defend us. This should surely give us a thrill of hope. Additionally, when Jesus was leaving earth He said the Father will send the ‘advocate’ / ‘helper’ which in Greek is the ‘paraklētos’ – this word describes someone who is called to one’s side especially to one’s aid. The Holy Spirit is available to us all to give us divine strength that enables us to undergo trials and hardships. We have a thrill of Hope because of the work of God, The Spirit.

There are several weary people in the bible so you and I are not alone, fortunately, there is also a wealth of encouragement in the scriptures. In Matthew 11:28; Jesus asks those who labour and are heavy laden to come to Him and he will give them rest. What burdens do you still hold onto today as a result of the disappointments and stressors of this year? Place these burdens in Jesus’ hands he wants to take care of them for you. Isaiah 40:29,31 tells us that: ‘God gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.’ those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. For us to receive strength from God, we have to admit that we are weak, it is okay, to admit that the year has not gone how we expected, it is okay, to be honest about our feelings, this vulnerability allows us to be filled with God’s strength. We are instructed to wait on the Lord to renew our strength meaning we actively wait and seek Him whilst He is near and with us. The text in Isaiah says our strength will be renewed, this means we already had this strength when we first came to God but this world, this year has drained it however we are given assurance that God will jumpstart us and give us fresh strength to move forward. This should give us hope for the new year ahead of us all. The result of this renewed strength is the ability to “mount up with wings like eagles” and therefore soar above the circumstances that are thrown our way. Finally, the Psalmists says; God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1); indeed He is a present help in trouble. In God, we have shelter, protection and Hope amid troubles.

So as a weary world, I ask you to rejoice and be glad. Considering the year we have had it may seem strange that I am asking that of you as you probably have a growing list of complaints. However rejoicing is a command we are repeatedly instructed to follow, Philippians 4:4 says: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. This was written by Paul whilst he was in prison yet this letter to the Philippians has a theme of having joy despite one’s circumstances. The joy Paul talks about wasn’t just based on optimism or having a positive mindset, it was more of confidence that God was in control – GODFIDENCE. Joy in the Lord. Unfortunately, I cannot promise you that the festive season and holiday traditions will fill you with joy or that when the clocks strike midnight on the 31st of December things will get better but there is still a thrill of Hope. Cling to Jesus today for in Him there is unwavering hope.

As I mentioned earlier and as stated in the lyrics above the world is filled with sin and there is so much darkness around; the pandemic and events that unfolded in the past year made things even more unbearable but that is the reality of this broken world we are in. Life on earth makes one weary but that is why we have been given this gift – Jesus who came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Jesus’ eventual death on the cross defeated sin and the effects of sin in our world and thereby giving us hope and a better ending when we are in our final home – heaven. All this would not have been possible without the birth of Jesus; so the birth of Jesus (then) and the continual presence of Jesus (today) is a reason to have a thrill of hope.

The Undiluted Word take home-point: In a world where we are weary of injustice, weary of inequality, weary of pain & suffering, weary of constant sad & bad breaking news, weary of disappointments, weary of corruption, weary of disasters, weary of mental turmoil, weary of exploitation and to sum it all weary of the consequences of greed and the deceitful nature of mankind we have a thrill of Hope; because of Jesus we can rejoice in all circumstances. Cling tightly onto Jesus and allow him to make your heart glad as we await his second coming that will change the course of our current lives.

Seasons Greetings to you all!

If you would like me to pray for you about that thing that has made you weary or continues to wear you out feel free to send a request on this link.

Stay Blessed,

Dara

In a world where we are weary of injustice, inequality, pain & suffering, corruption, disasters, mental turmoil, exploitation and to sum it all up – weary of the deceitful and fallen nature of mankind we have a thrill of Hope; in Jesus we can always rejoice.