The In Between

Earlier I stated that one theme for 2016 is “Transition”. When I first heard that word I was EXCITED…that was until I reached the “in between”. Change is always exciting until you have to WALK THROUGH it. My Goodness. Though the in between can be really difficult and often feels lonely, I continue to be reassured of how good and necessary it is.

The in between looks different for many of us. Sometimes it is a few days, sometimes a couple of months and for some it may be many, many years. As I have walked through my season of the in between I have found that it is most challenging for me because it causes me to BE PRESENT. As an avid dream chaser, when I am placed in a season of transition it causes me to stop looking toward the future, stop focusing so much on what is to come and to pay close attention to what the Lord is showing me in the present season.  It forces me to focus on my TODAY and not my TOMORROW. (Yes, I know that Matthew 6:34 clearly states the significance of being present but I am a planner and I don’t normally work like that.) 

Today I was processing all that the in between has stirred inside of me and was reminded of one of my favorite stories: Mark 6:45-52.
Verses 46-51 states the following: “And when He had sent the multitudes away, He departed to the mountain to pray. Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves, beyond measure and marveled.”

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What I find interesting about this passage is the fact that I believe Jesus knew His disciples would encounter this storm in their journey from one city to the next. I believe that He knew that their journey would reveal their fear in their time of transition. Seeing that they were already afraid of the tumultuous storm overtaking them, they then see a “ghost” walking toward them and were greatly troubled. Knowing and seeing all that transpired this was His response: “BE OF GOOD CHEER! It is I; do not be afraid.” It states that upon saying this, He got into the boat and that caused the storm to cease. Not just the external storm, but the storm stirring in the hearts of His disciples.  In that moment He spoke peace to their fear by exclaiming “BE OF GOOD CHEER!”

If you’re like me and you’re in a challenging season of transition I believe that this is exactly what the Lord is speaking to us in our season of the In between. Though it is hard, though fear may try to creep up it’s ugly head, though it may be uncomfortable; i’m reminded of the words of our loving Savior:”BE OF GOOD CHEER, THE SITUATION YOU ARE IN IS NOT A COINCIDENCE-IT IS I; DO NOT BE AFRAID!”

Be of Good cheer my friends. 🙂

Perfect Peace

Today I was reading the news and I found myself asking God “Why”?

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Why was that four year old child beheaded in front of her mother in Taiwan?
Why is North Korea preparing it’s nation for a famine?
Why is Isis still getting away with hurting so many innocent people and negatively impacting the lives of so many?

I feel like fear has heightened substantially in our world the past few years. As someone who travels often and with the recent bombings in Brussels; I have found fear trying to make my mind it’s residence.

The response to my very valid questions was this sweet whisper from Holy Spirit:

“I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on ME, because he trusts in ME”~Isaiah 26:3
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I began to ponder the phrase Perfect Peace.

His promise is not to only bring us peace but PERFECT peace. What is the difference between peace and perfect peace?  The past few years I have learned Peace is not only something that we can tap into but a person: Jesus- The Prince of Peace.

I did some research in the Greek  language and found that perfect has many meanings- a few being: COMPLETE, FINISHED, and MATURE.

His promise isn’t just to bring us peace for a moment but peace that is all encompassing. Regardless of how scary, hard or unsure our situations may be- we have this promise: As we fix our minds and worries on HimHe promises to bring us Complete Peace in the midst of it all.

If you are anything like me and have begun to question the Why’s behind many events that are happening around the world. Or, maybe, you’ve found yourself full of worry or fear- I pray Philippians 4:7 over you:

“And the Peace of God, that transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

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May His Perfect Peace bring you rest.

Make Failure Your Friend And Dream Again!

I spent time in Nigeria in August and Abba opened a door for me to be featured in a national magazine. Though the last article was published this month, I am still receiving countless messages from my Nigerian friends seeking advice, prayer and affirmation.

One young woman sent me an email about her desire to pursue a specific Career but her surroundings were telling her it was impossible. They were tired of her trying and failing. Because of this, they continued to remind her of her past failures. She stepped out in faith over and over again and she felt that she failed over and over again. It happened so much that she began to identify herself as such; a failure.

When I was younger, my mother signed my sister and I up for piano lessons. My mom is an amazing pianist and wanted my sister and I to carry on that gift. However, we had a piano teacher that thought that we were too difficult to work with and thought it was impossible for us to ever learn. She gave up on teaching us after a month of lessons. I’m sure that she didn’t think that her words would impact me so deeply-but they did. I tried to relearn the keyboard in college but couldn’t get over the fear of failure that followed me from the lessons that I took when I was young. A couple of years ago a friend gave me a keyboard and challenged me to dream again. I secretly dreamt of writing my own music but never thought it would be possible seeing that the only instrument that I played was the Euphonium.  I allowed my desire to write my own music continue to be a hopeless dream; that is until I was going through a difficult season and couldn’t seem to connect with the Lord in my normal ways of worship, prayer, or reading the word. I saw the keyboard at the side of my room, sat down on the seat and allowed my fingers to dance along the keys. What my words couldn’t seem to communicate, I began to release through my fingers. I began spending HOURS just sitting at the keys, listening to notes and composing music. I am not Mozart but I proved the woman that said it was impossible for me to ever gain the discipline to learn how to play well, wrong. What may seem like an impossibility to one- may not be to God.

I’m here to tell you that you are NOT a failure, you’re a risk taker. You are a visionary, a dreamer and a success chaser. I’m here to tell you to not allow your surroundings to tell you what you can and cannot do. Though others are okay with living in fear and keeping things “comfortable” I encourage you to be YOU and continue to step out of the comfort zone. As long as you honor the Lord in all you do, He is Faithful and will honor you. Though it seems like it is closed door after closed door, keep knocking! Eventually that door of opportunity will open. I encourage you to make Failure your friend and decided to dream again. You’ll be surprised at the fruit that will be produced from your resilience!

I encourage you to chase those dreams that seem scary, too big and impossible and watch The God of the impossible work on your behalf!

It’s Time to Dream Again! 🙂

Transition

My goodness, it has been an eventful and busy six months away but thankfully: I’m back. I’m hoping to jump on the bandwagon and update my blog every other Sunday (please extend some mercy if I forget to do this one week). I can tell you that the past six months have been full of travels, stretching, growing, surprises, love, joy and thanksgiving.

I titled this blog as “Transition” because that is exactly where I am in my life. Every year I ask the Lord what the word of the year is for me and every year He faithfully tells me. This year I received two words: “Transition & Family”. I had no idea what to expect out of this year, especially after receiving two promising words, but I am in anticipation to see what He unfolds. I can honestly say that much transition has occurred over the past few months not only in my life but also in the lives of those I love. A few things that have changed are the following:  I  have fallen in love, responsibilities at my job, seeing promises fulfilled for family members, less ministry and travel-more family and community.

I am someone that LOVES cultures, loves learning about cultures, loves experiencing different cultures and because of this love, I have been able to travel and get hands on experience on what life is like outside of America. I also found myself looking for the next plane ride, the next adventure and have shared many goodbye huddles in the Portland Airport. Watching my family lovingly wave goodbye to me as I gleefully sprint to the gate that seemingly opens another door full of opportunity and adventure was never something I reflected on much until. That is until the Lord began to speak to me this past January.

At the beginning of this year the Lord really convicted me regarding where my priorities were. I have spent so much time away from family, serving in various ministries, traveling the world & loving on the least, that I forgot to prioritize the people that mean the most to me. He began to put such a passion in my heart to see ministers become reminded of what their first ministry truly is and to see families and relationships restored.

So with that, I would like to preface this next statement to let you know that I am BY NO MEANS AN EXPERT! I am just a young woman that asks a LOT of questions, spends a lot of times watching how relationships adapt & grow and someone that has a burning passion to see the restoration of families in the body of Christ.

Feel free to join me in this new journey. 🙂

Song of the Month!

Those that are close to me know how much I admire people that live a transparent life. For years I have prayed and asked the Lord to help me to walk a walk that is authentic, transparent and always points others to Him. How can I point others to Him when I am not sharing the good, the bad and the ugly? Now I know that there is wisdom and discernment that comes with this request because lets be honest, there are people that are out to see you fail and fall. However, I do not want to live a life bound to self-protection and fear. I constantly challenge myself to push past these defense mechanisms and trust the Lord in all areas of my life.

Today I was reflecting on the fact that where I currently am in my life I NEVER would have thought I would be. Like most young girls, I had goals and aspirations for my life. I always believed that I would be married by the age of 23 and have kids by the age of 25. However, at the age of 28 I do not have the title of mother or wife and yet I feel as rich in blessings and appreciation as my friends who are gifted with these titles. Though, I have not met the goals that I made for myself at a young age; I have been able to see many of my deep heart desires met. I have been able to get up and travel spontaneously, I have loved on people in the lowest places to the highest level of varying societies, I have watched my physical and spiritual family expand, I have watched the love and power of God completely transform lives, I have learned about the heart of worship from countless nations and so much more.

Isaiah 55:8-9 states; “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” I must say that I am so grateful that God saw it best to see my plans for my life and supersede them with His plan for my life.

I have been blogging for a bit and many of you know that music is one of my passions. Growing up in a family where quality music was constantly played I decided to dedicate one post a month to a song that I have on repeat in that season of my life. Seeing that I am missing my Nigerian family, I deemed it best to introduce you all to a song that was played for me while I was in Lagos. I heard it and immediately fell in love. Thanking the Lord for where He has me in this season. Truly Content. 🙂

He Answers Prayers.

I’m sure you may remember a previous entry where I shared my disappointment in being unable to speak about Jesus on-air. Well 3 days before I left Nigeria God opened another door that exceeded my requests.

I was at the youth Congress and the day before this happened I taught a bible study to the youth about how to let your light shine regardless of your circumstance. There were beautiful girls from the Northern part of Nigeria, where Boko Haram is, that were the most attentive and were the first to raise their hands to ask questions or to share. After the bible study I was able to sit and listen to them explain how things are going in the North and the reason for such horrific happenings in their part of the Nation. In the midst of such hate, these beautiful women fearlessly stood and believed that their God would continue to save and protect them. Their Faith was not shaken.

The next day I was sitting and watching the various competitions take place when one of the leaders pulled me aside and told me that she wanted me to be interviewed through a television station. This time around I didn’t want to be seen and was unsure of what to share so I avoided it at all costs. Here God is finally answering my prayers and i’m trying to run from this opportunity. I began to slowly walk towards her and the cameras, scheming a way to get out of it. I began to act like I was organizing the already straightened chairs, then I went to my purse about 5 times to try and “find something that I lost”,  I then proceeded to “hear” someone call my name and need to converse with me. The woman caught on to my circus act, called my name, and said a commanding “COME!” Well played Amira…So much for being discreet. :/

There I was AGAIN, camera in my face, unexpectedly interviewed. This time was different, not only was this TV station in Nigeria and neighboring countries, it also played in the United Kingdom. As soon as my mouth opened Holy Spirit took over and I heard myself begin to speak prophetically over the people in the North- encouraging them to keep the faith, reminding them of who God is and to continually cling to Jesus. I knew that without a shadow of a doubt God ordained this meeting and whatever He spoke through me needed to be heard. I felt such peace and rest KNOWING that He was accomplishing all that He meant to accomplish during my trip.

After the interview I went to the hotel and was not feeling 100 percent. I ended up missing the evening meeting because my body began to fight illness. In bed I began to get really hot, then really cold as my body shook. This happened all night and I remember waking up and declaring that my body is a sickness free zone and declared the blood of Jesus from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. I woke up the next morning and though the shaking and temperature change stopped, I still felt ill. We had the morning meeting which was absolutely amazing and was on our way home. Unfortunately, there were many delays and I got home later than expected. The fact that I got home despite the delay is another answered prayer. It seemed that people were praying that I would stay in Nigeria and because these people can pray and get swift answers to their prayers, things began to happen that made it seem as if I wasn’t going to make it home.

Thankful to be back at my Uncle and Aunts house, I was exhausted and still experiencing sharp pains in my body. I knew I was leaving the next evening and wanted to spend quality time with my family and the kids before my departure. Unfortunately, I woke up still feeling ill and slept most of the day. I shared with my Aunt and Uncle what I was experiencing and they coupled prayer with medicine thinking that I may have come down with typhoid fever.  A few hours after taking the medicine I began feeling much better. It was also the time to say goodbye.

I really hate Goodbye’s. Like, really. Especially to people that I consider to be family. I was all packed and ready to go and as soon as my uncle began to pray for my trip home the tears began to flow. It was hard realizing that I didn’t know when God would allow me to be back in the midst of such beautiful people and that I wouldn’t be able to spend my afternoons with the kids and my evenings with my brothers. These kids and my brothers truly modeled who Jesus is to me. I spent the last few weeks teaching them bible studies, worshiping with them, praying with them, dancing with them, learning the language from them, understanding the culture from them and so much more. There were many people who exemplified Jesus to me but as a group, I would say the kids and the guys did.

After saying goodbye to some of the women on the compound, the tears finally subsided and I was in the car on the way to the airport. My Uncle’s Personal assistant shared that one of the Moms from the compound requested to speak with me. I picked up the phone to hear one of the girls I connected with the most. We began to speak and she shared how upset she was that I didn’t get to say goodbye. You see, my leaving was rushed and a little unexpected so I was unable to say a true goodbye to the children. I made my best attempt to stay strong, tell her I loved her and that I would see her again but as soon as I heard her sweet voice begin to crack I began to cry with her.

Before arriving in Nigeria I prayed and asked God to give me a heart for the people so that I would be able to minister to them effectively. Little did I know that as I received a heart for these people, He would use them in a significant way to minister to me. I have watched them be hospitable, be relentless in their prayers, choose joy despite circumstance, selflessly love and portray Jesus so well. From My Aunt and Uncle, to the children, to the parents, to the people in the village, to my brothers. I have learned from them the Power of Love, the Power of God and the Power of Prayer.

“You Are Making a Great Impact In Nigeria!”

Everyday there has been unexpected surprises from the Lord. I feel like He may be breaking some issues of control that may be lingering. You probably are reading this and thinking “Amira? Controlling? NEVER!” Surprisingly, I am not perfect and there are still pieces of me that God has to break off in order for me to look more like Him.

Two days ago my Uncle woke me up and informed me that I would be on live television within the hour. Hearing this, I excitedly got ready and practiced every Holy, Super spiritual and convicting scripture I could find. I was going to talk about Jesus, on public television, in Nigeria?!?! HALLELUJAH!! Praise the Lord! Blow the Trumpets in Zion! I mean, I REALLY was ready for this opportunity. I got to the station and they informed me that their topic of discussion was “The Role of the Youth in Nation Building.” My first thoughts were: “What is it with people asking for my advice for the Youth in this Nation?!? Can’t they tell that I came here to scream Jesus from the roof tops, to the valleys, to the Garbage dumps, to everything in between?” Thankful for this rare opportunity, I went on and pleaded God to open a door for me. There I was; on live television, in front of millions of households in Nigeria and 7 neighboring countries, anticipating the Anchor to say something that would open a door allowing me to scream “JESUS IS THE WAY!! Give your heart to Him today for He alone is worthy!”

30 minutes and a segment later it never came. 

I was able to share my knowledge of the “career aspect” for the youth but the interview ended and I was thoroughly disappointed in the Lords set up. I reminded the Lord “I did NOT come all the way to Nigeria to do the job that I have at home. I came to proclaim YOU!” Despite my judgement, the Anchor enjoyed our discussion and asked me to come back for another segment dedicated to “careers for students”. She wanted it to be during the week “when more people would be viewing”. I said “sure” not really expecting to hear anything else from her. I went back to my Uncles house disappointed. I felt bummed that I didn’t get to say Jesus’ name. Not even once. 😦  I understand that our actions can scream Jesus but He provided me with this platform and didn’t open a door for me to talk about Him? Seriously?!?!?

Today after church I was walking around the compound saying hello to people and loving on the kids. Two of the Mama’s stopped me and said “Wow, We saw you the other day!” I initially thought they were talking about the night that I had a spontaneous dance lesson with some of the kids on base. One of the Mama’s said “No, on Super Screen”(The name of the television station) she then shared “I was so impressed with what you shared and liked hearing you. It hasn’t even been a week and you are already making a great impact in our nation” It took everything in me not to cry. Here I am lamenting at God because I wasn’t screaming His name like I planned and He is showing me how the interview honored Him. How I was able to have people of other faiths in these nations open up to me because they weren’t closed off with my initial “coming to Jesus statement”.

This evening I went to a Youth program that was powerful. However I was pressed for time as I promised the kids on base that I would be back at a specific time to teach them to rest of the routine. Anyone that knows me knows how I am about timeliness and being punctual. I went to the youth program and though it was amazing, I kept my eye on the clock. I ended up getting back to the base an hour and a half later than I promised. It was too late for the kids who were now home spending time with their parents. To say I was sad is an understatement. I already love these kids so much and was looking forward to seeing the joy on their faces as they learned this dance. I went to one of their homes to ask for their forgiveness and ensure that they weren’t too disappointed in me. As soon as I walked into the door they all smiled and swarmed me with affection. TALK ABOUT LOVING LIKE JESUS. I wish I could say that if it were me, I would respond that same way but I am shamed to say that I wouldn’t. These kids showed me how love forgives swiftly and taught me that it truly “does not keep records of wrong.”

Some have said that I am making a great impact in Nigeria but I would correct that statement to say that Nigeria is making a great impact in me.