Happy New Month – November

As 2018 draws to an end, you reflect on its highs & lows, celebrations & disappointments, blessings & what appeared to have been “curses”. God wants us to know that comfort and growth do not coexist. For oil to run from an olive it needs to be shook, beat & pressed, you may have felt that you’ve experienced that this year. But that’s not where the story ends you’re more than a conqueror. Make this declaration: God will deliver my miracle & blessings at His appointed time so Lord infuse me with patience & hope. Have a blessed November! xx

From a place of Victory

The date is 24th August 2018 and I am writing this blog post from a position of Victory. I’ve said in a previous blog post that as Christians we should fight from a place of Victory and not for victory. So back to my initial point, I just finished resiting some medical written exams. I had not been successful during my first sit but I write this post in faith and Thank God for the Victory he has granted onto me.

For me this is not only a faith-building exercise, it is also a way for me to firstly testify about God’s goodness and secondly, encourage you all. It feels very strange that I am thanking God and testifying about how he brought me through another year of medical school when I can’t physically see it in front of me, but I am more than assured that there is power in Praising God in advance. Where do I begin? I want to keep this short, but that may not be the case depending on how the Spirit leads.

It is often difficult to avoid worrying about the events that unfold in our lives and the hurdles that come our way. We find ourselves falling into a trap in which we ask God why? But the truth is we may never truly get to know why we end up in certain situations or why God makes us go through seemingly longwinded paths to make it to a particular destination. As Christians, it’s important to cultivate a habit in which we aren’t always trying to be the detectives and figuring out God’s plan & purpose for our lives because as I said it’s GOD’S PLAN. We can’t expect to know more than our maker, that’s not how it works.

Fighting from a place of Victory is not easy at all, the enemy detests this so He’s already trying to get into my head but as I go through this experience, I’ll keep adding to the list below which are ways I maintained my stand in fighting from Victory.

  1. Gospel Music
    • Listening to gospel music has a very calming effect on the listener and it is an opportunity to partake in praise & worship
    • There is power in Praising God in advance
    • Some songs that have been on repeat for me include; Won’t He Do It by Koryn Hawthorne, Praise on the inside by J Moss, Olowogbogboro (The outstretched hand of God), Great is the Lord by Jonathan McReynolds, Victory belongs to Jesus by Todd Dulaney
  2. God’s Word
    • God will use all possible routes & means to communicate to you and encourage you
    • The Bible plan devotions and bible texts I read during this whole period were very applicable to my circumstance – it was as though God was directly speaking to me.
    • 29/08, Another devotion – Happy You, Happy Life! by Drenda Keesee: “If we stay in God’s word, we are able to fight successfully. Don’t wait till the evil day to prepare; instead, meditate on God’s Word day and night. If an attack comes, God’s Word stored up inside of you will quench it!”
    • Some other devotions that helped me during this time were: Stay The Course Because God is Faithful to His promises, Goliath Must Fall: Winning The Battle Against Your Giants by Louie Giglio. Both of which I highly recommend and can be found in the Bible App Plans section (links can be found below)
  3. Positive Affirmations
    • The devil is a pathological liar, he wants you to doubt all that God has promised you. The best way to counteract this is to use God’s Word against him
    • Everything the Devil whispers into your head you profess the opposite.
    • Another thing I did was that when I was leaving campus, I repeatedly whispered: “I am returning in September as a 4th-year student”. There is power in the tongue!
  4. Inner Circle – Support Network
    • I can’t stress this enough, having an inner circle with godly people is the way forward. An inner circle is a group of people (friends/ loved ones) that you trust and are open with. When you are down and want to give up, these people will continue to encourage you and pray on your behalf (an amazing feeling)
    • There were some days I would be so fixated on the soon coming of my results that it hindered me from enjoying myself even whilst on holiday. However when I shared how I felt with those in my inner circle they sent words of encouragement which eventually lifted my spirits. They prayed for me and with me even when my faith was shaking.
    • Don’t be disheartened even if you feel as though you don’t have an inner circle, God will send unlikely destiny helpers to assist you. I have a friend who I spoke to occasionally in my 3rd year of Uni who been through a similar situation (having to resit his exams in the past). He had kept in touch with me since the first sit results came out, he assisted a lot in my preparation for the resits and continued to keep in touch & encourage me during the wait. God certainly placed this person in my life to be nothing short of a blessing.
  5. The Name Of Jesus
    • On the 25/08, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a gospel concert. I am certain that God specifically orchestrated that whole experience from me being able to secure the tickets even though they were sold out and then making it “on time” despite being late for an hour and a half.
    •  Earlier that morning my devotion said: I am intimately involved in all your moments, and I am training you to be aware of Me at all times. I have taken up residence within you; I am central in your innermost being. Your mind goes off in tangents from its holy Center, time after time. Do not be alarmed by your inability to remain focused on Me. Simply bring your thought gently back to Me each time they wander. The quickest way to redirect your mind to me is to whisper My Name. When I arrived at the event you will not believe it each ministration had a recurring theme which was about the power in Jesus’ name. Definitely not a coincidence – the Holy Spirit was moving and had directed all my steps that day.
    • The name of Jesus is very powerful, Whisper, Shout, Scream it. If fear and anxiety threaten to paralyse you and you can’t say anything else, His Name is more than sufficient to redirect your thoughts and mind back to Him.
  6. Prayer is a major Key!
    • Pray Pray Pray!
    • Specific prayer points I had:
      • God, please give me the courage to deal with the outcome of this trial in a mature way. 
      • God give me your peace that passes all understanding.
      • Lord, I believe but help my unbelief. 
    • Share your request with people of God that you trust & are comfortable with; your friends, family, pastors. You can never have too many prayers being sent up on your behalf.

The time was 3:33pm when I received an email;

I am pleased to confirm that you have…

I had successfully completed the academic year and was through to the next chapter. This was a confirmation of what God had already promised me, an earthly confirmation that I had reached my place of Victory. At the beginning of this post, I told you I was fighting from a place of Victory and not for victory and I am here to testify now that as a 4th-year medical student God has brought me to that place of victory.

Thank you for being a part of this faith-building exercise, I pray that you will also be encouraged and reminded that “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see”. My prayer for you is that as you fight from a position of victory may you receive your report saying: I am pleased to confirm that… 🙏🏾

Leaving you with this final passage: James 1:2-4; Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. We don’t really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure. It is easy to have faith when everything is going well, but can we still keep that faith when our world appears to be turned upside down? This scripture says that the aim of testing our faith is to make us mature and complete, therefore instead of complaining and throwing tantrums when life doesn’t go as we’ve planned, open your eyes to see the opportunity for growth. I once read a quote: Great things never come from our comfort zones. Thus in order for growth to occur it is mandatory for us to be made uncomfortable. Faith thrives in discomfort. 

I tweeted this a while ago and I think it is very appropriate to end this post:

Stay blessed,

Dara x

P.S – If you have any prayer requests please feel free to send me a message via this link: Prayer Request form

Links to the Bible Plans discussed above:

  • Stay The Course Because God Is Faithful To His Promises – Sometimes God seems to work so slowly. We wish things could be the way we envision them RIGHT NOW; yet we must trust that God is building a bigger vision, weaving our stories together into His rich tapestry. Pastor Bayless Conley teaches you to remain stable, having a heart free from anxiety and full of confidence that God will get you to exactly where you need to be on time. https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/2768-stay-course-because-god-faithful-to-his-promises
  • Happy You, Happy Life! – God has an incredible plan for your life, but it starts with discovering your joy in His presence. In this 14-day devotional, Drenda Keesee combines wit, humour, and encouragement to create a dynamic and prophetic space to encounter God. When we create space for God to move, He never fails to meet us in a powerful way! Get ready to embark on an eye-opening journey toward a happier you. https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/11177-happy-you-happy-life
  • Goliath Must Fall: Winning The Battle Against Your Giants – It’s likely you have a giant in your life that is holding you captive, intimidating you, and stealing your joy. Adversaries like fear, rejection, comfort, anger, and addiction stake a claim and gain a foothold in your heart. In this seven-day reading plan, Louie Giglio examines the David and Goliath story to show how those giants can fall: by focusing on the size of our God, not the height of your giants, and by walking in the victory Jesus has already won. https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/4024-goliath-must-fall-winning-battle-against-giants

Errr so I almost drowned… 

Around this time about 8 years ago I was involved in a swimming competition. From what I can reconstruct from the story, it was a sunny and bright day, myself and my team members were preparing for a relay race in an outdoor pool. So 13 year old me ( I think) eager to show everyone that I had reached the 25m milestone in swim school put myself forward and It was decided that I will be the second leg. It seemed pretty straightforward to me; my teammate that took the first leg swam towards the deep end where I was waiting to dive in. I had never been taught how to dive in but hadn’t told anyone, it couldn’t be that difficult right? As my teammate reached me, I instantly did what I perceived was diving and entered the water. And that’s all I remember properly, probably a few moments later I felt a tight grip around my waist as I was hauled out of the water. The designated lifeguard had come to my rescue & thankfully I’m here to testify years after the incident. 

Think about your worst day ever. One of my apparent worst days was when  I was on holiday in Nigeria and my iPhone was stolen from me. I remember screaming and crying for hours. The type of crying that you get snot coming out of your nose. I was very UPSET and ANGRY. I also remember being extremely scared to tell my parents because of how they would take it. So I ask you again up to this moment what has been your “worst day”? That one thing you thought will finish you or that you wouldn’t be able to get past… Did it end you? Clearly not, you’re here reading this blog post. That is just to show that your worst days are just one of many bad days that’ll come and go. Those 24 hours will come to an expected end. Whilst in the midst of that day you probably couldn’t imagine ever getting past it but let me assure you that you will and you can live beyond your worst days! Trust me whilst I was crying my eyes out over the tragic loss of my phone I didn’t think I would be able to move forward from there, but here I am over 5 years after. Alive and kicking with an iPhone SE (smashed up screen but you get the point). Plus my parents didn’t even take the news as badly as I had perceived.

Okay, the example of the phone may seem quite meniscal but we tend to do the same thing about other things in life.  Maybe it’s a failed assignment, poor grades, unpaid/overdue bills, doctors health report, failed or failing marriage, an unfaithful spouse, disloyal friends, pathological liars, betrayed trust, wayward children, unemployment … we lament and cry over it instead of remaining focused on the one who holds our future in his hands. 

God says in Isaiah 43:2; When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.”

Let’s dissect this verse

1. Trails are inevitable 

  • Note the verse says when you pass through the waters, it doesn’t say if which suggests you may go through waters. So they are bound to come. It’s as though when we signed up to be Christians we also signed a waiver – Hey Devil hit me with your best shot.
  1. You will Walk through the fire.
  • I don’t know about you but if you had to go through danger wouldn’t you run through it. The last thing you want to do is take a stroll. But here we are told you’ll go through the fire as though you weren’t in a hurry, you aren’t bothered or aware of the fact that doing so may get you burnt. It’s only someone that is anxious and scared that will want to run through the fire. This will not be your portion In Jesus Name.

3. Nothing is New

  • The metaphors used have already happened; at the Red Sea (the Israelites passed through the waters) and then the 3 Hebrew boys were thrown into the fiery furnace and they weren’t burnt
  • God has already exhibited that he can do what seems impossible to the human eye and mind, it wouldn’t make much sense to ignore this and distance ourselves from such miracles. We should claim these promises in Faith that If he did it before He is more than able to do it again. (Check out my post: If He did it before. He can do it Again if you’re interested in this topic)

As I’ve mentioned above trials and tribulations are inevitable in our walk with God, it’s as though we have a bullseye target on our backs. However, when we go through rivers of difficulty there are 2 possible outcomes; we either drown or we are forced to grow stronger. If you go on your own strength, you are more likely to drown. If you invite the Lord to go with you, he will protect you. If it “appears” as though you are drowning like I almost did Remember your lifeguard walks on water and He is ready to haul you out.

Think about your equivalent to my stolen phone example (it could be something of similar or greater severity). That circumstance that threatens to overwhelm you, drown you or burn you. As you think about it make this declaration:

When I pass through the waters, God will be with me. And through the rivers, they will not overflow me. When I walk through the fire, I will not be burned, the flame will not scorch me. My clothes will not even smell as though I have been through the flames. I will not look like what I have been through.

Key Undiluted points to take away:

  1. Bad days don’t last forever. Search for the silver lining in a seemingly disastrous day or circumstance.
  2. God can immensely bless you through the “bad” circumstances you are in. I say bad in quotation marks because it wasn’t intended to be a bad thing. Change your perspective and instead of asking “why me?” ask “How is God going to bless me?, What does God want me to gain from this experience?”
  3. The bad days will come but when they come remember your lifeguard (Jesus) walks on water and He will always come through on your behalf.

 

Stay blessed,

Dara x

P.S – Listen to the song Oceans by Hillsong, I believe it gives a really good summary of the topic discussed. Stay tuned for more blog posts.

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).

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.

Living our best life in 2018

First and foremost – Happy New Year!

New Year New Me? Does that sound like a phrase you are familiar with? Some people detest hearing that phrase as it seems unrealistic for one to completely change and be a new person after the clocks strike midnight on the 31st of December. Okay, so if it’s not new year new me, how can we make this year different from the last? A phrase that was thrown around a lot last year was “I’m living my best life”. For those of you who have never heard it till now – it’s a statement made at the end of a sentence declaring the actions you are doing are causing you to live your greatest life possible. 

I don’t know about you but I want to live my best life, not many of us would want to settle for a mediocre life. Towards the end of last year I noticed myself saying the phrase “I’m living my best life” more and more. Examples of when I believed I was living by best life included; travelling to France for my 20th, going to Disneyland, travelling to 5 different American states within 15 days, eating out and eating good good food, crossing things like golf, pottery and going to a west end theatre show off my bucket list. Even though those are all valid examples of living my best life, after coming across a tweet on twitter (see below) I believe there’s more to living your best life.

After seeing the above tweet I couldn’t help but consider the truth behind it: If I am not living for Jesus am I truly living my best life? I am reminded of Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Here we find a call for Christians; to represent Christ at all times – wherever we go and in whatever we say. The bible goes on to say in Psalm 37:4 – delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heartTo delight in something means to experience great pleasure and joy in his or her presence. This can only happen when we know that person well. Therefore if we are to delight in the Lord, we must get to know him better.

Earlier on in Psalm 16:11 David says; you make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermoreIt simply states in the Lord’s presence there is fullness of joy. David had full confidence that his life with God-both now and forevermore – would be marked by the highest and best pleasures. This is a life lived above shallow entertainments and excitements.  Thus to truly live our best lives we must actively seek to remain in the Lord’s presence.

I came across another tweet which stated: Our best life is in obedience to God’s Word! – not far from the truth is it. In Matthew 6:33-34 we are admonished to: Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. What I then concluded was that in order to live our best life possible we need to be obedient to God’s word and a prime example in which we can show obedience to God is by seeking his kingdom above all else – Above all the trivial things this world fools us into being preoccupied with. Only then can the aspects of “living our best life” be our portion.

Now my final verses to share with you; Psalm 34:12-14

12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

Here are some Undiluted words to take away from that passage. If you want to live your best life;

  1. Keep your tongue from evil 
  2. Keep your lips from telling lies 
  3. Turn away from evil 
  4. Do Good
  5. Seek & Pursue Peace

I would say those are all pretty self-explanatory points and essential keys to follow in order to live our best life in 2018.

Now I leave you with Joyce Meyer’s words:

May your 2018 be filled with nothing but the BEST that God has in store for you. Go forth and  seize every opportunity to live your best life possible for God and yourself.

Stay blessed,

Dara x

P.S – Hope you’ve stopped collecting Ls, if not I guess you need to be reminded of last year’s New Year Post – https://theundilutedword.com/2017/01/05/a-year-without-ls/  😜<<
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Shout out to God 2017 edition

As we are in the final hours of the year 2017, I believe it is only right to take a moment to reflect on the past year and Thank God for his faithfulness.  One of my favourite quote by Zig  Ziglar says:  The more you are grateful for what you have the more you will have to be grateful for. Here is a wordle  that summarises the things I am grateful for and the prayer requests God has answered on behalf of myself & my friends and family.

Here is a list of the things I have learnt this year (including quotes that have resonated within me);

  1. Hard work always pays off
  2. When you pray in faith , God already answers your prayer
  3. A grateful heart is a magnet for more blessings
  4. The smallest step in the right direction can turn out to be the biggest step of your life
  5. Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny
  6. When you put God first you will truly never lack any good thing
  7. Never doubt that God can do the impossible; he can turn the mess you’re in to an awesome miracle
  8. Always take the opportunity to be a blessing unto others

There were times in this year when things didn’t go as I would have loved them to go, but what I learnt was that bad days are just that -a bad day not a bad life : therefore for that I am super grateful.  A friend on Instagram shared this verse which I thought was really interesting; Deuteronomy 8:2-3 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

What I learnt from this was that God brings you to a place where all you can do is depend on Him. God wants us to be in a position where our total dependence is on Him. We have to rely on God beyond our own knowledge and ability.

Finally, I want to say a big thank you to you my readers, thank you for encouraging & supporting me. I said it before and I’ll say it again Thanks be to God for sustaining and using me as a mouthpiece to spread His word. I learn a lot from the posts I share and thus my relationship with God continues to be developed. There’s morework to be done, but I know I am on a journey that is getting me closer and closer to God.

Stay tuned for my New Year’s Post on living your best life in 2018.

Happy Almost New Year!

Stay Blessed xx

Stay connected to the plug!

Plugs are those that always come through for you. Your plug might be a member of  your family or a friend, it can even be someone you least expected. By now I’m sure you get that I’m not talking about an appliance plug. A plug usually has something that you need and they give it to you without being asked.

A friend giving you their Netflix password. An aunt connecting you on her Spotify Premium for Family. A friend that offers to pick you up in the dead of the night. A friend sending food to your house. Mum hooking you up with that good good food.

Amazing right? If you don’t have a plug you are definitely missing out.

Where are you going with this you may ask?

In life, God is our ultimate plug.  Your go-to-guy, your number one. As the book of Matthew says: He knows the things we need before we even ask Him (6:8). Now let me share an analogy with you, so you have a better understanding of what I’m explaining. Have you ever been in that situation where your phone battery is running low and you quickly run to get your plug to save it from dying? Now, iPhone users can relate to this, your phone has been on 1% for the past 5 minutes and it’s still going strong until you click on snapchat and the next thing you know you are staring at your own disappointed reflection as your phone has now completely died.

When would have been the most appropriate time to get your phone connected to the plug? obviously, wayyyyy before it showed signs of extremely low battery. That is exactly how we should be with God. We need to remain connected to Him 24/7 (Disclaimer: I’m not advising this should be done with your phones), it shouldn’t be when we’ve exhausted all our power that we turn to God.

I’ve just moved into a new house for third year, whilst setting up my wifi an error occurred and the next available date for an engineer to visit was over a week away.  Fear and panic rushed through my body when I realised I had to wait sooo long before I was reconnected to wifi 😕 How was I supposed to survive without it? Hmmm, would I have panicked that much if my connection to God was disrupted for over a week? <foodforthought>

I’m reminded of the passage in John 15:4-5:

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

The Word abide in the bible means: to stay (in a given place/state/relation), dwell, endure, not to depart, to continue to be present, to remain as one, not to another or different. The fruits listed in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are the fruits that we bear when we abide in Christ. You may not be able to see the roots of a tree but you can tell what tree it is by its fruits, likewise if we are rooted in Christ those around us will know by the fruits we display.

How do we Abide in Christ?

  1. Abide in His Word
    • We need to constantly spend time reading & meditating on God’s Words. The Word has 3 main functions:
      • Word keeps us from sinningI have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11)
        • Jesus used it whilst being tempted by the devil in the wilderness
      • Word gives us continual guidance (Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105)
        • Principles to help govern our life
      • Word gives us life, a world view, philosophy 
    • The Word of God is like living water, however society is constantly dehydrating us spiritually. As a result Jesus is evaporating from our lives. Unless we actively do something to rehydrate ourselves we will be left dry.
    • Personal devotions, listening to sermons and spiritually feeding our soul is essential
  2. Abide in the Church 
    • The church is the body of Christ, so it is not a surprise that christian fellowship is a way in which we can abide in Christ
    • Being in the environment of christian fellowship is useful as it gives us accountability
  3. Love – Abiding and Obeying
    • It’s impossible to abide in Christ & live rebelliously
    • Jesus explicitly says if you love me you’ll keep my commandments, therefore we need to obey Him and walk as Jesus walked
    • 1 John 2:17 – whoever does the will of God lives forever

If we were as concerned about being plugged in to God in the same degree as plugging our devices wouldn’t we be living great lives?

Without any juice, what good is a phone? It’s a useless piece of aluminium, glass incapable of functioning in the purpose in which it was created.

In the same way, what good are we? If we aren’t plugged into our power source daily we are nothing and as the book of John says we can’t do anything worthwhile / of eternal value. The rest of John 15 explains what happens when we abide in Christ and the conclusion I got was When we abide in Christ, circumstances can’t dictate our happiness. Abiding in Christ is a means by which our joy may be full (John 15:11).

Key Undilutedword points:

  1. Stay Connected to the Ultimate Plug – God, without him we can do nothing worthwhile
  2. Abide in Christ via reading His word, fellowshipping with believers and obeying his commandments
  3. Share your plug with others – the more you walk with & abide in Christ the more you want to share him with others
  4. Be the plug for others!

Stay Blessed,

Dara xx

 

 

A Year Without Ls?

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of the year when resolutions, plans & goals for the year are being made and also a time when some resolutions have already been broken. I am not here to suggest more resolutions for your list but I wanted to give some food for thought as we begin 2017, by reflecting on an experience I had in the last days of 2016.

Since the start of 2016 my family had planned to travel to Nigeria for the Christmas break and so by mid 2016 half of the ticket fare had already been paid. As the days drew nearer, the excitement grew more and more, it had been ages since we had all travelled as a family. The day of our departure arrived, we woke up early and got to the airport in good timing in order to check in and collect our boarding passes. To our shock the man behind the counter told us we could not check in until we contacted our Travel Agency as something was not right with our tickets. This was far from what we expected, to cut the long story short we sat and watched our 9:44am plane to Lagos, Nigeria fly out of Heathrow. Despite all our planning and praying something had gone “wrong” and was out of our control. It was not until we were all back in our house later that afternoon we realised what had really happened. We were not in Nigeria and we were really uncertain about the possibilities of getting another ticket / flight to Nigeria. My mum said I understand how those in 1844 must have felt. 😭😂😂 This was a perfect phrase to explain how disappointed we all were.(For those who don’t know 1844 was when seventh day Adventist Christians predicted/expected the 2nd coming of Jesus, but to their great disappointment he didn’t.) For the rest of that day, we were pretty much silent while we moped around. The next day: Tuesday, we didn’t have a confirmation from the travel agency about tickets to travel so we sat at home. After a while, my mum said even though we’ve been disappointed we have to somewhat carry on with our lives instead of sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves. That evening we watched 2 movies together as a family and laughed around. Despite our predicament, we enjoyed the family time we had because we are not all usually at home at the same time (apart from Sabbath’s when I’m back from Uni). Unaware of what was still to come, we laughed, shared stories and relaxed. Very late on Friday evening, we got a confirmation from our travel agent that we would be able to fly on Saturday evening and arrive in Abuja on Christmas morning. Wow? This was not what we expected, we were eventually going to travel to Nigeria, and now we had the extra opportunity of travelling to Lagos via Abuja (a place I had never been to). The excitement kicked in and to cut the long story short we went to Nigeria and spent the festive period with families and friends. For those of you who have me on social media (especially snapchat), you could tell I had a blast!

So what am I trying to say? Yes, we may have disappointments thrown at us but it is important to view them as positive experiences. Towards the middle to end of last year, all I seemed to see on social media were people talking about Ls ( Losses) which could have been financial, emotional, social, academical, related to friendships etc. you name it.  For example, my family not being able to travel to Nigeria on that day was a major L. It’s perfectly valid for these Ls to be seen as negatives, setbacks and disappointments so it makes sense for people to be determined that in 2017 they will not be collecting Ls.  However, from my experience that I described above, I learnt that even though we do have these setbacks and disappointments our responses to them are very important. My family and I could have spent those extra 6 days at home, feeling low, sitting in our rooms and not talking to each other. But we didn’t; we took advantage of the situation and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Every cloudy experience in our lives has a silver lining. I never really understood the phrase silver lining, but now I have a new light to its meaning. Cloudy experiences which we don’t understand are bound to happen, things we don’t like or didn’t plan but if we stay alert and optimistic we will be able to see the blessing that has been disguised into that experience. If we get bogged down on how bad the experience is we will not be able to receive the blessing. At first, it can be really difficult to understand how an L could be a positive thing but if we believe that all things work together for those who Love God (Rom 8:28); we will understand that some of those Ls are a display of God’s Love. Then we will truly understand that Every Disappointment is an Appointment with God. 

So in this New Year, I urge you don’t count your Ls (setbacks, disappointments and Losses), Pray that God will use those experiences to display His Love towards you and eventually make things work together for your good.

Even if sickness may be an L I collect,

I know that: The Lord will restore my health and heal my wounds. When I come to him he will give me rest. He will save me from my distress.

 Even if I may collect academic Ls,

I know that: He will make a way where there seems to be no way. When I ask God for wisdom, he will generously give it to me without finding fault. He shall grant me favour with my examiners, lecturers and peers.

Even if I may collect financial Ls,

I know that: God will meet all my needs according to the riches of His glory. He is also able to do exceeding abundantly above all that I could ask or think. Because I seek the Lord I shall not lack good things.

Even if I may collect Ls from relationships with friends or family,

I know that: God will give me peace that passes all understanding. He will give me insight and direction in order to make the right decisions. The Lord will help me see my blessings in disguise. 

 Finally, to answer the question posed in the title: this year may not be free of Ls but it certainly isn’t God free.  Even though we may receive what seem like Major Ls, sometimes it takes an overwhelming breakdown to have an undeniable breakthrough. Pay attention to how God turns what seem like Major Ls into Ws ( Wins)

Wishing you a glorious & blessed year,

Dara x

P.S – Don’t forget to send your prayer requests on the prayer request form here.

Shoutout to my mood board 👊🏾

Count your blessings

Yes it’s not thanksgiving but Thanksgiving isn’t the only time of the year we should be thankful of God’s Faithfulness. 1 Thessalonians reminds us to give thanks in all circumstances however since we are near the end of yet another year, it’s only right to remember and celebrate God’s faithfulness.

An old song I’ve always sang since I was little goes like this “Count your blessings name them one by one. Count your blessings see what God has done. Count your blessings. Name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” Only when we go back and specifically name each thing God has done in our lives and those around us can we truly be able to appreciate his faithfulness.

Since I resumed Uni in September there have been many things that elicited stress (who knew renting a house could be so problematic?). As a result my housemate and I found ourselves in a spiral of  never-ending complaints. Before we knew it talking  about our problems became one of our greatest addiction. Not too long after we both decided to break the habit and talk about our joys instead. Counting our joys helped us remember that despite the fact that things were not necessarily going “right” there were still ways in which God had been faithful to us. And long before we knew it the things we had previously complained about started to straighten out.

The amazing thing about God’s faithfulness is that it never runs out. “GOD ’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great is [his] faithfulness!” Lamentations‬ ‭3:22-24‬ ‭MSG‬‬
Last year I did a shout out to God, and so it’s only right to do a quick sum up for this year. 

In January, myself and my friends were struggling with finding a house for 2nd year and eventually after loads of prayers & many house viewings we got one.

In February, I prayed for myself and other friends who had exams, deadlines & interviews and God came through for them individually.

In March, I was especially thankful for the life of my mother as we remembered all mothers. My prayer for them still stands : May they reap the fruits of their labour.

In April, I was eventually able to complete an assignment that was giving me sooo much headache. Thank God.

By May, I had started another 4 week block of hospital placement. Thanks be to God I didn’t faint like I had done previously and the teaching was amazing. I also found out that I received a distinction in an assignment I’d submitted earlier 💃🏾🙌🏾

Jumping to June, exam season 😳! Well thanks to God I survived it, very intense exams. But through it all June 8th came and I had completed 20% of med school.

July came round and I was thankful for the gift of life as I turned a year older while celebrating in Cornwall with old and new friends. I was truly able to appreciate God’s creation. 😍😍

August, was a month filled with more exams which was not my intention. Instead of enjoying all of my summer a chunk of it was once again dedicated to exam preparation 🙃 This was by far the hardest month of the year for me; I was tested both mentally and spiritually. Having said that I enjoy experiences like this because of the lessons I come out with – Amidst the storms of life it’s important to keep your eyes focused on God. 

September, I passed all the exams I sat in August. Which meant a variety of things, for one I was going to start Year 2 Medical school in a couple of weeks. And secondly, I was finally going to become a British citizen 🙌🏾 🇬🇧

In October, back into the groove of Uni; lectures, placement and living off campus. I was honestly lacking a lot of motivation and confidence but with heaps of prayer, stirring by the Holy Spirit and encouraging words I regained all I lacked and was starting to get all my work done more efficiently.

November came round quickly, and I must mention how grateful I am for my  friends and family because burdens are lighter when you share them. 🙏🏾 Had my Citizenship Ceremony and now I’m officially British. 💃🏾 The hassle of living with no heating and hot water caused me more stress than my course but eventually it was all sorted  out. Great is God’s faithfulness! 

As I write this post in the month of December, there are a number of things coming up – I’ve got an exam, submission deadlines to meet and some travelling. But I’m rest assured that my God who has been with me this far will not abandon me. 🙏🏾

So there we have it, 12 months of Thanks/Blessings. Go through your year and count up all the blessings God has granted onto you. I’m sure you’ll agree: God has been Faithful.

Wishing you all a Merry Festive season and I’ll be writing to you again in the New Year!
Stay Blessed,

Dara xx