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Tricky, tricky, summertime

Summer isn’t usually my best season spiritually. The lack of structure often throws me off balance, and because in the past, I didn’t have the best work ethic and discipline, my spiritual life often slacked. But this summer has been different. It’s not anything I’ve done differently, but it’s about a God who’s faithful whenever we ask. I prayed to God that this summer, I would draw closer to Him like never before, and despite being only a few weeks in, I can see a noticeable difference.

I realize now that I had been in a season of my life that has come to an end. Over the past seven or so weeks, from about the beginning of May till early June, it was as though a dark cloud hovered above my head. I’m not being dramatic. I’m usually very joyful, even in the face of the gravest situations, but for some reason, I found that I wasn’t feeling that Jesus joy down in my soul.

Today I write because I am in a different season. I am in a very different time. I feel this energy in my spirit and I know, I just know, that the next season of my life will be amazing. Amazing like bright colors and fireworks in the sky. Amazing because me and Jesus have just has another intense season and I’ve come out of it invigorated. 

summer

Here are a few things I’ve learned

What goes on inside you is more important than what goes on outside. I used to think that crises only happened externally. I used to think that problems only come at us. Now I realize that the things from within can cause much more turmoil to your life than the things from outside. I was so fearful of my post graduation season that I felt very crippled. I had prayed and fasted and trusted God for so much that when He did grant my requests, I did not even remember how to be joyful and how to praise Him. I was in mild denial that He had done all that He did. How pitiful. We ask and ask from God, and then He does, and we don’t even know how to react. Thankfully, I regained a new balance and I look back now in total awe of God’s mercy. 

I’ve learned that when Jesus is sitting in your boat, you can be at a storm and still have peace, perfect peace that the world cannot take away from you.

It is important to note what you do when you don’t feel your best. I wouldn’t ordinarily share this, but I did a fast that I believe loosened the post-grad lethargy I had been feeling for a few weeks now. I didn’t eat for three days, and on the last day, I had a very important phone call. Although the meeting didn’t go as I’d hoped, I clearly heard the Lord telling me to go and eat, although it was only about noon and I had planned to eat at 6pm. I felt like David in 2 Samuel 12, where he pleaded with the Lord to spare the life of his first son with Bathsheba. The Lord rejected David’s plea and the son still died, but right afterwards, David bathed and ate, although he had been in mourning and prayer for one whole week.

After my phone call I ate, knowing in my heart that God had perfected all that concerns me. He has perfected every single thing that concerns me. Isn’t that an amazing promise? He has perfected every single little bit of every tiny thing that concerns Alheri. Isn’t He amazing?

I wrote about the fast because I think fasting is an amazing spiritual exercise. When we take our minds off food and our physical needs, we wait on God in a way that we wouldn’t ordinarily do. We lay ourselves out before Him and indicate that we’re desperate, we’re serious, and we’re ready to hear from Him.

I knew that something wasn’t right with me. I knew, without a doubt, that I was going through a season, and that God was calling me to “come up higher,” and now that I look back at how I responded to that call, I can only thank God for the spirit of obedience. I want to to encourage you to fast. When times are hard, fast. When all is rosy, fast. When you feel spiritually stale, fast. You can go any period of time, but make a deliberate and intentional effort to wait upon the Lord. It is always worth it.

thinkkk

In the past few days, I spent a lot of time asking myself why I write this blog. I don’t necessarily see myself as an encourager or an inspirer. All I do here is share my journey with God, because I strongly believe that in the word of the Lord, there is inspiration and encouragement. I share what God has done for me, because the testimony of the righteous encourages.

I believe that as I say what’s on my mind and heart through the different seasons of my life, you too are encouraged in your journey with God.

I pray that you encounter Him, that you go farther in your journey with God, not merely because you’ve heard about Him, but because you want to experience Him for yourself.

If I get to heaven and one person points at me and says I encouraged them in their journey of faith, I will be eternally satisfied. Just to know that you read my tiny corner of the world wide web and were encouraged to live a life for Jesus, that’s all I want. That God will use me, everything about me, to bring glory to His name. That’s true fulfilment.

If you’re giving up, please don’t. Jesus sees you and He heard your heart’s cry. He will pull you out and He will come to your comfort. Today I have joy in my heart that is bubbling and literally keeping me up all night studying the word of God and pressing further into Jesus. That can be your story, too. This can be your reality.

Jesus has promised that all those who come to Him, He will in no wise cast out. Give your heart to Him today and watch Him transform your life.

Xx.


Featured image from here. 

A heartfelt note to all my friends

Dear (insert your name),

I fight alongside you.

I may not know what you’re going through right now. Perhaps you’re looking for a job and trying to figure out the next steps of your life. Perhaps you’re going through family crises, and you’re wondering why your lot in life is so bad. Or maybe you’ve just suffered the most devastating heartbreak, or maybe it’s a loss. You’re grieving and you’re hurting. You’re asking many questions, you’re crying yourself to bed every night. You’re sinking deeper in the hole and no one seems to hear. No one understands. There’s no one to speak with, no one is listening to you.

You’re at the end of the rope, you’re about to give up. You’re just on the verge of ending everything. You’re asking God if He loves you, if He can hear your voice, if He even knows you exist.

I want you to know that I fight with you, on my knees, in fasting, and in prayer. I want you to know that even when I may not call you, it’s only because I don’t have the right words to say, and I don’t know how to be a friend to you in this season. But please rest assured that I am waging war for you and alongside you.

I want you to know that your tears are not unheard, your cry is not in vain. Even though you may not see us, there is a cloud of witnesses giving for you, loving you, praying for you, presenting your case to the court of heaven. The God of heaven hears you. He knows what you need. He sees your heart’s need, and He will grant it according to His power.

I heard something very exciting from a sermon over the weekend.

Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”

Let’s take a closer look at this verse. God meets our needs according to His riches, and not from His riches. Because He meets our needs according to His riches, when He gives to us, He gives in proportion to what He has, and not merely from a portion of what He has.  God’s riches are infinite, therefore He meets our needs to an infinite measure. Giving according to His riches means that He cannot give bad or half-hearted gifts because that is not in His nature. He can only give you the best gifts because He is the best Father.

What is bothering you today? What is on your mind?

For those of us recent grads, I understand that these days may feel dark and lonely. Perhaps there’s pressure from your parents asking what the next steps are, or maybe from your friends. All these people in your life may mean well, but at the end of the day, there are only so many times you can say “I don’t know” to people without having them think you’re being unnecessarily sneaky.

I want you to know that I am praying with you, and I take my office as a friend very seriously. I do not want you to know me and live a mediocre life. I do not want you to watch the blessings of God and not partake of them. I believe that we are all called to succeed, to live a prosperous life and be in good health. I want us all to excel. 

Take a look at the verse below:

“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name, He will give it you. Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.

John 16:23-24

Jesus has promised that He will give whatsoever you ask the Father in His name. And He wants you to ask until your joy is full. He is not tired of your voice, He wants you to stretch your faith just a little further, until your joy is full. Don’t settle, ask until that joy is full!

Let’s keep trusting God together. This is only a season and everything good will come. Believe and hold fast, this too shall pass. You’ll be stronger, wiser, and more pruned for the Master’s use through this difficult season.

Here are a few words from my devotional this morning:

“Even the floods did nothing but lift [Noah] heavenward and the wind only wafted him on his way. Everything outside the ark was in total ruin, but only inside was rest and peace.

Without Christ Jesus we perish, but in Him there is complete safety. Noah was so shut in that he would never desire to come out, and those who are in Christ Jesus are in Him forever. We will never come out from Him, for eternal Faithfulness has shut us in, and our evil enemy can never drag us from safety.”

Because I have nothing else to give you, I place you in the love of God and in the peace of Jesus. All I ask is that you please remember to share your testimonies with me!


My devotional is called Look Unto Me by Charles Spurgeon (I know, I’m a little bit of an old soul, using a devotional written by someone who lived in the 19th century. :p)

What I see…

This post is continued from yesterday’s. Some months ago, I wrote this prayer on my blog, here’s an excerpt:

I want you to break me. I want you to break my heart and tear my spirit apart. I want you to lead me to those deep, deep waters where I will stand with nothing else but a broken spirit and ask you to take complete authority.

I want you to lead me to the end of myself so that I find myself in you. I want you to remove every avenue for me to apply my human wisdom so that I rely on nothing else but you. I want you to utterly confound me with serious challenges that will lead me only to You. I want you to confuse me, turn my senses, experiences, and personality on their own heads.

Take the things that I hold dear and place them far from me so that I run in only one direction: towards you. Take all that I have so doggedly pursued over the years, whatever it may be, and show me just how insufficient it is.

Make me more like you. That sounds very easy, and it’s something that we say all the time. But this time, I mean it. Your glory was in your cross, give me my own cross. Your dominion was in going to the pit of hell and obtaining the keys to the kingdom, take me through hell and bring me back out so that I can stand securely on your own word alone.

Teach me what it means to need you, to long for you, to yearn for you. Teach me what it means to be thirsty for your word and to be unsatisfied until I find myself in you.

No matter what it takes, do it. It may be painful, it may be rough, I may not even understand. Just do it and do it your way.

I maintain that prayer today. Even now that I don’t understand why I feel this way. (Honestly, I think I’m just really homesick. I haven’t been home in three years, and there’s only so much Facetime and phone calls can do. Especially after through graduation, when everyone has a chorus of supporters and friends, from near and far. I did have people to support me, but I always looked forward to my mother’s beaming eyes and my father’s proud shouts “that’s my daughter, that’s my daughter” as I walked across the stage. Well that didn’t happen. I shouldn’t be this sad, should I? But I am. Whatever. Really, I do this all for them, for my family, and since they weren’t there to share in the moment, it’s seemed so insignificant. God is still here, thought, so that’s something.)

Graduation-1


I wrote this one week ago. I’ve come to such a wonderful place right now, it’s almost unimaginable that I felt that way just a short while ago. Anyway, please come back tomorrow for the update. 🙂

I know, I know, many of you are expecting to heat the best and the latest from my camp. It’s been an amazing ride with the Lord so far. I’ve drawn much closer to Him in these past few post-graduation days, and I’m so at peace, and so excited about the next phase of my life as things have come full circle in my journey in the U.S.

Here are the very vague details (annoying, I know). I’ve got a job with an amazing tech company so I’m leaving the U.S. at the end of the summer. I’m trying to secure a summer internship so I don’t sit at home and get fat. So far I’ve spent my days mostly talking with God, hanging out with friends in N.Y. (but mostly at home because no money to be flexing up and down the city), and sleeping. I’m enjoying this time, I really am. Eating home food and having my favorite friends around my hasn’t ever been more blissful.

How are you all doing? Tell me, tell me.

Also, don’t be like me and try to pick the negative from the positive. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and on the Father, and rest in the company of the Holy Spirit. It’s all you need in this life, till you join them in heaven!

 

What do you see?

The more I sit and think about the past few weeks, the more true peace and security seem elusive. I always thought that graduation would be this momentous occasion where all of my life’s questions would be answered. I thought completing my thesis and doing well at it would bring me such fulfilment and accomplishment and purpose. I thought getting a job would calm all of my heart’s fears and secure a bright future for me.

All of those things have happened. I graduated, with a good result. I got a dream job. But there’s something missing.

I know, I know, I sound very spoilt and ungrateful. Yesterday a friend of mine told me that in these past few weeks, all I’ve done is complain despite having a lot to celebrate. I don’t know why, but that’s very true. I’m searching for a true north, for some place where I can lift my eyes away from the banality of daily living.

I should never have taken a break from blogging. I forgot how much joy and peace I derive from sharing the Lord’s goodness on this tiny slice of the internet. But I did take the break, because I wasn’t in the best place mentally and I didn’t want to write unless I had the best and most uplifting things to say. Unfortunately, I don’t, but I hope you’ll bear with me as I work through all these emotions and thoughts myself.

There’s a fear that has been bubbling in my heart for sometime now; that I would get to the end of my life and look back with only one question: and then what?

That was the same question I had on my mind after submitting my thesis, and after receiving my results, and after getting my job. And then what?

It’s the same question that woke me up today at 4am and that left me staring and staring at the rising sun, until I dragged myself out of bed and into my quiet time with God.

I have concluded that in all of these things, if we don’t have God, then we don’t have anything.

Graduation

I am literally living my dreams. This is the period when I should stand on this cliff, just before I set sail into my glorious future, embarking on a remarkable career, and making lots of money, and supporting my family. Just as I have always dreamed. I have waited, and prayer, and hoped, and believed for the days I’m living now, but there’s just some feeling in the back of my mind that I can’t shake off.

It has manifested in many different ways over the past few weeks. It’s come as disillusionment, fatigue, and worse of all, envy. Extreme envy. I don’t consider myself a jealous person, because life has humbled me enough to know that someone will always have something better, and that my worth is not based on the standards of the world. But some days ago, I heard the best news from someone very close to me, and in the split second before I shared my congratulations, I questioned God. Why does this person keep winning at everything? Why can’t they just feel a little pain or suffering? Why can’t I have this one thing that they have?

That’s a very dangerous place to be, in fact, it’s the most dangerous place to be. It takes the focus off God, and causes us to not only glorify the idols in our hearts, it also causes us to hate others and spew negativity.

I have been very afraid of confronting these feelings because I don’t want to sound ungrateful. Yesterday my diploma came in the mail (because there was some delay in balancing my accounts so I didn’t get it on graduation day.) When I opened the envelope, I stared at the glossy piece of paper, all written in Latin, and said a quick prayer to God. I finally had it; a diploma to state that I had completed my undergraduate education at a prestigious institution. I was officially released into the world to do great things. But I looked at the diploma and thought how much it paled in comparison to the many questions I have on my heart.

I always thought that my pre and post graduation season would be plagued with questions like where am I going next? Would I get a job? Bla bla bla.

All those are answered, and somehow, God has come through to show me that in all things, it’s only He that matters. We can attain perfection in the eyes of the world, but if Jesus is not exalted above all things, nothing really matters.

 

All the feels

It’s only a few days to my graduation. I don’t know how I feel. This morning I woke up at 4am and I thought about the fact that I’m about to leave my school, my friends, and my life as I know it. It’s a big change. But I have a bigger God.

I don’t know what’s next, but whatever it is, I’m excited to walk in the rain with God. All I ask is for the grace and strength that I need. Pray with me, will you?

That said, enjoy this little song that has made me smile since Priscilla reintroduced it to me.

Have a wonderful week!

The Grace of Waiting

This is a period in my life when I have to wait. I have more to look forward to than more than I look behind at. I have a glorious expectation of life after graduation,I know that God has planted some good seeds in me that I will explore in the coming future. I wonder what life as a working class lady would be, especially when I know that there’s no going back to school at the end of the summer. What is going to change in my psyche? In my life? In my spending patterns? Even in my relationship with God?

For the most part, I am looking forward to (and praying about) joining a ministry where I can serve. I want to find a home church where I can serve in whatever ministry as needed, but preferably one of the “hidden” ministries like housekeeping lol

With all the great expectation in my heart, one big question I have time and again is the question of grace. Do I believe that God will hold me and never let me go? Do I believe Him enough to not worry about my tomorrow?

I always tell people in this season that I’ve been more fine that I thought I’d be. I thought I would be freaking out and crying myself to sleep every night because of some monumental changes that I didn’t fathom.

That hasn’t been my experience. Apart from two or three days last week when I had some weird emotions, I’ve been mostly fine. As I search my heart, I realize that the grace of God has changed something in my mind.

John 10:25-30 says:

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

I read that passage a few days ago and it hit me. We are nestled both in the hands of Jesus and in the Father’s hands. Nothing can take you out of there. It’s a wonderful comfort to me. Jesus is holding on to me even more than I think I am holding on to Him.

Waiting

I tend to be like Peter at the Mount of Transfiguration. When I’m having a good time in my spiritual life, I want to remain on the mountain. I want to build a tent and remain pitched there. But the true walk of faith in God comes in our everyday, mundane activities. We really see God move in the people we are in the valley and on the plains.

Some of us have idolized the so-called spiritual experience to be the glorious times when you get a trance or see a vision or have a dream. Those are wonderful times, but what we do in the still, quiet moments of waiting is more important.

This is a reminder to me as I count down the days, and pray and wait for a dream job, and hope for a wonderful life ahead. The most wonderful day of my life is today. Today is the day that the Lord has made and in it, I will rejoice and be glad. If Jesus has me in His hand today, He will have me in His hand in one month, one year, and ten years, and for the rest of my life. As as He said in John 10:29, He will give me eternal life!

For everyone waiting for something, I pray that God grants you the grace you need!

Amen!


Featured image from Giphy.

Homesick already

The past few days have been a whirlwind of emotions.

One week ago today, I was freaking out about a paper I had to write for my sociology seminar. In one night, I wrote a 20-page paper. God is real! That was also my final undergraduate paper.

On Monday I did my thesis defense. I’m graduating with honors.

I’ve spent the better part of Monday (after the defense), Tuesday, and Wednesday talking with friends, sleeping, and being hungry lol (I’ve actually been too lazy to go get food)

Today I woke up at 9:30am and came to my office. I guess sitting and lazing around was messing with my mind, so I told my boss I was bored and I wanted to work. Actually I just want some money haha. But as I take my final rounds around my college campus, it’s finally dawning on me that I’m graduating from college. In 10 days, I will no longer be a student of my college and I’ll officially have a degree. In International Relations and English. The best decision I ever made here!

Last night I did a lot of thinking. I thought about my performance in school so far, and especially how I wish I performed better in my first year and my sophomore year. Usually I wish and wish that I could go back in time and be serious with school from the onset. But for the first time, last night, I felt immense gratitude at even completing school and pulling through those years of extreme sadness.

I don’t know, I don’t know, but coming to the end of this phase of my life, there’s one overwhelming feeling and it’s gratitude. I didn’t mean to write about gratitude in this blog post, but I guess that’s what’s on my mind.

I’ll miss my college campus. I’ll miss the quiet serenity and near boredom of this place. Nestled among the hills, here lies a paradise where minds are challenged and dreams are made. I am graduating with honors. Allow me take that in. I usually performed so badly in secondary school, I honestly believed I was a dunce. Lol. So I spent most of my time in the school chapel, because I was chapel prefect, and it was the one place where I could forget my shameful academic performance. But today, merely seven years later, I am graduating from university with honors. Lol. Today’s failures will be tomorrow’s successes.

I’m so grateful for my experience here. All the lows, all the highs, all the failure, all the disappointment, the friends, the professors, the experience. The intimacy with God I’ve gained!

I remember dark moments when I was stuck while completing my thesis. I sat on my bed bargaining with God.

“Lord, just as you made a way for the Israelites at the Red Sea, please help my stories make sense. I’m stuck here. Please dissect this story/ essay and give me a way out,” I would say, consumed with desperation.

God always made a way.

I wish I had a recording of my thesis defense because it was a glorious experience. I had three of my favorite professors discuss my work like it was magic. My english professor called my writing lyrical and rhythmical. I had to confess to them that the musicality and beauty they saw in the writing wasn’t at all my doing. I just sat down and wrote and somehow, God did the magic.

I don’t know why I’m writing all this because also this morning, it dawned on me that it’s 10 days to my graduation and I don’t yet have a job. I freaked out a little bit.

But I find peace in knowing that I’ve done all that’s there to be done. I’ve done my part, physically. All I can do now is sit and pray and wait. Really, sit and wait.

Psalm 37:7 is my word for the season:

Be still before the Lord

   and wait patiently for him;

do not fret when people succeed in their ways,

   when they carry out their wicked schemes.”

I guess this is the part of the blog where I encourage someone, where I tell you that all will be well, that you will succeed. That you are smart and beautiful and courageous and strong.

But here’s what I’ll leave with you: God will never ever fail. He is our rock. Stand on Him, believe Him, call upon Him. He never, ever fails.

See y’all tomorrow for another amazing testimony!


Featured image from here.

The Final Stretch

It’s funny how a short span of time can reveal very much. In the past few weeks, I have worked harder than I’ve ever worked throughout my four years in university. I don’t really think I’m very hardworking or resilient. In the past, I struggled to find activities that completely capture my attention and keep me engaged for long periods of time. But in the past few weeks, as I’ve been wring my thesis, I’ve come to see and love a new part of me.

I have seen that when I put my heart to something, I can work round the clock to make it happen. Writing did that for me. The fear of graduating with regrets that I could have worked harder kept me going, and on Monday, May 1, I submitted my thesis. I should do the mandatory Facebook and Instagram posts thanking God and my friends and fans for the victory haha. But I guess I’m either happily boring or haven’t fully accepted the fact that I finished my thesis to actually get around to doing those yet. Or maybe I never will. The “likes” are great but then, what? 😀

Today as I sit in my empty office at past 10pm, begging God for grace to complete my final paper, I reminisce on the journey that this final semester in college has been.

If I could go back, I would do certain things differently.

For one, I’d take much easier classes. I have taken all higher level classes and done very well in the past, but throw in a 150-page thesis of all original work and you have a little complication. I worked very hard for one of my classes and yesterday, when I got my grade, I literally sat on my bed and wept like a baby. Lol. You don’t want to perform badly in your final semester in college, do you?

So if I could go back, I wouldn’t take that class. I would focus on more fun and relaxing classes. But when you’re in a situation like mine- where I had a hold on my account (for the umpteenth and last time) and had to literally take any classes that were left, I cannot complain much. I did my best, I really did. And although I don’t think that class favored me, I move on with joy.

Random fact- did I ever mention on the blog that I had a head concussion this past semester? I found it very funny, but from the warnings I received at the health center, it was quite a serious case. Oh well, here I am, standing and almost done with college, despite having a head concussion in my final semester.

Today I’m just checking in with all you all to say that God is good and His mercy endures forever.

runningAlso, randomly, I feel like my body has almost betrayed me in these past few days. On Monday, I literally felt like my mind and body shut down. I also had horrible stomach cramps, and I couldn’t get my mind around typing one more word after I submitted my thesis.

I have had to beg God and to cajole myself into leaving my room to finally start on my final paper, which will be submitted after this all-nighter I’m about to pull.

Advice for the kids- take the most fun and least stressful classes you can find in your final semester. Also, pray that you don’t have any holds on your account so you can actually take nice classes and not just what’s left. Lol.

That said, I’ve missed my blog very much. I’m happy that I don’t put myself under the pressure to produce spiritually profound material anymore. At this point, I’m more focused on just writing one sentence after another, because the ability to do that is in itself a miracle.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers, may God be with you. I can’t wait to eventually share all the mighty testimonies that are headed my way!


Featured image from giphy