My Atlanta Testimony

As I sit here, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, in my new apartment having just completed my first week of my new job in Atlanta, I am in awe. I have to talk about the absolute and total faithfulness of God. I am hoping you are like me and nothing inspires you like a good story of triumph. These are special moments when you can just see the faithfulness of God in your life or the life of others is truly breathtaking. These moments have to be shared to encourage others and bring glory to God. So here is mine.

Early 2016, I was seeking God for answers, I was ready for a new job opportunity, feeling restless and knew I had more to give in almost every area of life. in a moment of prayer, God shared with me that I would move to Atlanta. In Atlanta, He shared that He would grow me in every area of my life, career, family, purpose, everything. My reaction to this revelation was not excitement, I immediately responded, “No God, I am not moving down south and especially not to Atlanta. Not interested, what is the plan B?”

So the back story is Atlanta was a place I never wanted to be.

Let me level with you and share, when I moved to DC, I truly believed I would never leave. You see, I experienced DC for the first time as a summer intern while in my undergraduate studies.  I fell in love with the hustle and bustle (so exciting!), the metro (unheard of yes, I know), the monuments, tons of people to meet, the constant things to do and yes, even the politics. It was such a complete difference from Jacksonville, Florida where I was currently living.

And I knew, without a shadow of a doubt or so I thought, DC was MY city.

I tried to move to DC for about a decade and finally I got a job opportunity, once I arrived, I I jumped right into all DC had to offer. And I soon found, DC was not all that I thought and hoped for…because of me.

I soon tired of the constant hustle and bustle (it made me anxious), the metro (it was always breaking down and super expensive), the endless dating but no long term commitment (what happened to the white picket fence?). I found, the things that initially attracted me to DC were now major dissatisfiers. DC is a wonderful city with amazing people, but I was the problem, I did not know what I wanted. So I moved out to suburbia which I found to be much closer to my pace but close enough to the city for work and occasional weekend visits. There I was living in a state of compromise, a treaty if you will, when God dropped the bombshell of Atlanta in my lap.

Over the course of the next three months, God changed my heart so much so that I began to look forward to moving to Atlanta. It is SO awesome to me that God knew what I needed even when I did not. In hindsight, Atlanta is EXACTLY what I needed and wanted…but did not know.

One of my favorite Bible verses, Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take.” His way is best for us, over time, it became less about Atlanta and more about alignment with God’s purpose for my life. To be out of step with God became a scary place for me and I was committed to following Him wherever He led…even to Atlanta.

Once I was onboard with His plan, God then told me to start telling people. And get this, He told me to tell them I, as in God, said you are moving there and I am going to do great things for you there. Sooooo again, another pregnant pause in our discussion, “Ok, ok, God, I just got comfortable with Atlanta and now you want me to tell everyone I am leaving because you said so. Eeeek!” But I was obedient and began telling friends, associates and anyone who God told me to share the news with. Most times, I got a surprised reaction followed by logical questions like, “ Well, when? Or how?” To which I had no reply except when God makes it happen. Next followed a look of confusion from my comrade, often an awkward pause and then a perfunctory, “Oh well that is nice.” 

I learned to get really comfortable with the awkwardness and accept it as par for the course. 

This was not quick process, for six months, that was my answer and there was no movement on God’s part, no job, not even an interview or inquiring phone call, just nothing but crickets. Not even a hint that there was anything brewing or in the works.

When you are walking in faith, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Each of us is waiting on something, whether it is a job, a husband or a wife, a child, a financial breakthrough, a healing, whatever it is it is so important to be obedient in the waiting process.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMETHING GOD WANTS YOU TO DO WHILE YOU WAIT. DO IT.

You may not understand, I know I did not. Do it anyway! People may think you are cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, let them, you just keep the faith.

GOD DID NOT GIVE THEM THE WORD, HE GAVE IT TO YOU, YOU HAVE TO WALK THIS THING OUT.

I now know the people I shared my move to Atlanta with would serve as witnesses to His works. Maybe, He may not want you to share His revelations with anyone but there is something else you need to do. Matthew 4:4 says, “ Man must not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The biggest thing is to be obedient to whatever God tells you to do while you wait.

Enter 2017.

In January, I went on a spiritual retreat with girlfriends, we spent a long weekend in Ocean City, Maryland,  praying, fasting, seeking God, reading the Bible together, encouraging each other and spending time with God together and alone.

The day after returning home from the retreat, I received a call from Emory Healthcare in Atlanta with a job interview. One of my friends worked for Emory and shared my resume when a job became available. It was exactly the type of job I was looking for with major opportunities for advancement. I knew in my spirit, the job was mine. I interviewed over the phone and within two weeks I was in Atlanta for in person interviews with the staff. But wait, it gets better…

During this time, I was tapped to share my testimony with over 200 women. I told these ladies about God’s faithfulness in my life and declared the job as mine. As I shared my testimony, I began to learn about my purpose which is to share the love and power of God through public speaking and empowerment. But wait..

In February, I kicked off my ministry with a ladies brunch, I again shared my testimony and also had a speaker who addressed the importance of pursuing God’s purpose in our lives. And then…

About two weeks later, I received the long awaited phone call and was offered the job in Atlanta. I accepted and began the move to Atlanta. Wow, I am still in awe as I write this.

See, it really was not about Atlanta, it was truly about the journey that God took me on to get there, my faith got expanded like never before, I discovered my purpose along the way and God used me to inspire hundreds of women with what he was doing in my life. He also used me to inspire the women in my own personal circle, to encourage them to seek purpose and ultimately seek God. He did all of that on the way, not at the destination but on the way.

It makes you think is it really about destinations or do many victories and life changing moments happen when you get on your way?

Keep the faith and keep your eyes open, God is moving all around us. 

XOXO,

Yinka

Beauty Trap

Hi Darling!

Beauty is an addiction and an obsession for many.

This world has equated the worth of women to the perception of their beauty. The impossible measure of beauty has caused many so much pain and that was never God’s intention in making women.

Many of us are always seeking the magic answer that will make us more beautiful, more desirable to the world. I just got finished watching 30 minutes on Youtube of mid-twenty wholesome, beautiful girls spending an inordinate of times transforming themselves with endless loads of makeup into glamazons. Amid compliments of “girl, your face is beat” and “SLAY….” they are just a shadow of their makeup-free, fresh-faced selves. When did we get so obsessed with our looks to the detriment of our inner beauty? When did we get so obsessed with ourselves? Trust me, I put myself in this category as well.

God made us beautiful, every single one of us.

Each one of us, He knit us perfectly in our mother’s wombs. When we were little, we knew we were magnificent and no one could not tell us any different. Slowly but surely, somewhere around grade school, the self confidence, the internal assurance began to crumble.

I remember one incident that especially hurt my self esteem. My mother had gone out of town and I was staying with a family friend. I really adored the daughters of this family, the older I worshiped and the younger I adored. On one particular day, it was just myself and the older daughter in the house. She was on the phone talking to a friend and complaining bitterly about me, “Her hair is so nappy and so thick, god, it is ugly!” In the next room, I heard every word she uttered and remembered the shame and embarrassment.

Subconsciously, I believed that something was wrong with me, with my hair and maybe I was not as amazing and beautiful as my mother told me.

As I grew, whenever there was a rejection it seemed like a confirmation of that destructive thought, “I am not pretty, I am not OK as I am.”

So I got in line, I permed my hair, I wore makeup, I wore the right clothing, I worked on being friends with the right girls and sought affirmation from men. I was elated when I received it and crushed when I did not receive it.

But no matter what, there was always this emptiness, I equate it to a black hole because the affirmation and the acceptance felt good for a little while but eventually I was needy again.

This world is unforgiving with women and it can never affirm us, people can never affirm us, only God can.

We have to go to God to find our worth to find our true beauty. He is the only one who can affirm us and fill up the black hole with his love, acceptance and encouragement, not people.

So here are my top five reasons why God can be the only answer to the aching question, “am I beautiful?”

Top 5 Reasons to Seek God for Affirmation

“A king’s heart is a water channel in the Lord’s hand:He directs it wherever He chooses.” Why waste your time seeking affirmation from ants when you can serve the Almighty God? He controls all things and all people.When God is rooting for you, He can turn the heart of your boss, the heart of your spouse, the heart of your enemy to benefit you. Proverbs 21:1 says in the Lord’s hand, the king can provide abundance, favor and blessings to God’s chosen. Look at the stories of Esther, Joseph, David, Daniel, and many others in the Bible who God hand picked and elevated through the governing powers of that time. Stop sitting at the kids table when God has a seat for you with adults.

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 says fearing the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom and those who fear the Lord shall be praised. Fleeting means vanishing quickly, short-lived brief and swift. So therefore, if you have hung your life on being beautiful what happens when beauty fades? Do not root your worth in temporal things.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Your beauty should be innate as much a part of you as your energy and your soul. Beauty should not be something you can take off or put on for that matter like jewelry, clothes or makeup, it should be baked into your spirit. Taking on the character of Jesus, his humility and his kindness is beauty incarnate. When you find your beauty in worldly things in your external looks, it is counterfeit, not lasting. Find your affirmation and worth in the character of Jesus.

“For it was You who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful and I know this very well.” I read Psalm 139:14 countless times but I understood this verse much differently as I grew closer to the Lord. God made every single one of us, each person He handcrafted with precision and purpose. I do not know if you have ever knitted before, I tried it for a half a second and gave up in frustration. Knitting is not for the impatient, it is for the precise, the painstaking and the patient. And God took his time with you, He was precise, He was particular and He was purposeful. God makes no mistakes, He made you for a time such as this, He made you to look just as you do and you are perfection in His eyes, bump what everyone else thinks.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly that you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” I was whining about some small annoyance to a dear sister friend in Christ, she listened patiently and then quoted Romans 12:3. It snapped me right out of my self-obsessed coma and I thanked her quickly for the correction. A huge reason why we crave affirmation is to feed our always hungry, never satisfied egos. Behind all of it is a sin that has proven to be the downfall of many including our enemy, that is PRIDE. Ladies, we have to check ourselves, check our prideful attitudes and our obsession with self. Jesus never thought of Himself only others, He was extremely obedient to God to the point of dying for us. We, too, must lay down our focus on self and focus on Christ.

God-dentity Part 1

Hey Darling!

Who are you?

It is a loaded question that stumps many. The dictionary defines identity as the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. Each of us has a self-defined identity whether you acknowledge it or not.

So what is your identity?

I asked several people this question and after a long pause, many launched into lengthy descriptions of a role, a position, demographic characteristics, status or even their achievements. The responses consisted of am an employee of a certain organization, a mother of three, a wife, part of a certain social group, I live in this certain area of town, I am part of this socioeconomic group, I am part of this ethnicity or even drive this type of car. I also heard responses based in skill, talent or achievements pertaining to intelligence, hard work, wit, extraordinary talent or even financial acumen.

Most of the responses were quite impressive but all flawed. All flawed because they are completely and utterly fickle and can fail us at a moment’s notice.

What happens if you lose your job? Or you get sick and are unable to maintain your appearance? What if you have a financial crisis and can no longer maintain the lifestyle you have built?

I am not spouting doom and gloom, this is just the course of life, we live in seasons and the only thing constant in life is change.

What happens when you have built your identity on something so shaky and it fails?

It is just like the parable, Jesus taught in Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus says, anyone who listens to the word of God is wise and builds his home on solid rock even with the violent storms and flood, the house will stand because it is built on stable and sound foundation. However, those who do not obey the word of God, build their house on sand and when the same storms and floods come, the house will collapse with a mighty crash.

Yowch!

These two homes represent two disparate ways of life. I imagine the homes could be identical, Jesus does not say but imagine the same aesthetics, same square footage, same room placement, furniture, down to the hard wood floors.

However the foundation makes all the difference, under pressure, one will endure and thrive, the other will be destroyed.

What is your foundation based on? The unstable and sinking sand of the world or the powerful bedrock of God’s unchanging word?

Spend a few moments thinking about your own identity, is it sandy or rocky?

If you are still baffled, think about this, how do you introduce yourself to others? Where do you spend your time? How do you spend your money? These are often telltale signs of where our sense of identity and self-worth lies.

I can honestly say my foundation was based in sand for a long time and in the storm, my house collapsed so I know this to be true. I based my identity on my possessions, other people’s opinions and affirmation of me, my social standing etc. It did not sustain me, people disappointed me, the stuff did not fulfill me and most hurtful of all, I failed myself. But by the grace of God, my house was rebuilt, this time on the rock with clear dependence on Jesus and placing my identity in Him and only Him, Before launching into a discussion about how to form our identity in Jesus, let’s start at the beginning with how God formed our identity.

Let’s take it back to Genesis, yes, the beginning of it all.

In the beginning, God created the foundation of our world horizontally, light and dark, sun, moon and stars, water and land. Then God began building vertically, first the trees and the plants that are formed in the water and land, then the animals that feed and depend on the trees and plants and then God created the pinnacle of His creation, man to rule over all of his creation. Genesis 1:26 says, Then God said, let us make human beings in our image to be like us.

You look like God, let that sink in.

YOU LOOK HOW GOD LOOKS.

If you really meditate on that, it will change your life. It is impossible to feel negatively about the way you look or anything about you, if you live in that fact.

The perfect and all powerful God looks like me. The flip side is you definitely cannot think negatively about the looks of any other person because he or she also looks like God. This truth will change your perspective about the appearance and characteristics of yourself and others.

You were made perfectly and intentionally, Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

At a former job, one of my co-workers is a knitting fanatic and invited our whole office to attend a knitting class right outside of Washington DC, in Alexandria, Virginia. I have always thought I was decently coordinated but knitting made me feel like I had six thumbs and one elbow. In short, I was bad, knitting is not my gift. But i did pick up on some key truths regarding the art of knitting that helped me to understand this verse better.

Trust me, knitting is truly an art.

Real talk, knitting is complex but also delicate work, much more so than sewing or crocheting. Before you can even get into the exciting part, you have to “cast on” which is the foundational process of knitting. If you make a mistake especially in the casting on process, you have to start all the way over.

Also, knitting is not quick work, it requires patience and persistence. My knitting co-worker needed several days to knit a scarf and several weeks to knit a sweater! Knitting is painstaking work without immediate gratification, it takes time to create a masterpiece worth presenting to your loved one. Hopefully, you are catching the parallels to the handiwork of God in your mother’s womb, He made you complex and He took His time, He was patient, He worked with precision yet delicately in love. When you came from your mother’s womb, you were His masterpiece, sculpted with His perfect hand.

I do not know about you but that fills me with so much confidence and joy to know the Creator of all things, heaven and earth, took His precious time to painstakingly form every part of my being.

And we are fearfully and wonderfully made, each one of us unique and different like the stamp of our thumb prints. Even identical twins, though they make look the same have different thumb prints, so amazing!

So I have to ask, where did we get so deluded?

We began to believe we need the external things of the world for validation of our identity. But God made us in His own image and not only that made us perfectly in our mother’s womb. The things of this world will convince you that you need more, need to do more, have more and just be more than what you are. However, God says, I made you enough from the beginning, no worldly additions are needed, you are enough. As you allow me to live in you and use you for your glory, you are free to be your best self, who I created you to be.

I hope this has encouraged you to know how loved and precious you are to God.

We are just scratching the surface, next week, we will dig into more discussion of how to form our identity in Jesus.

God-dentity Part 2

Hi Darling!

Imagine a beautiful baby princess who is stolen from birth and forced into slavery.

She grows up as a slave with no knowledge of her royal background and who she actually is. The king searches for years for his baby girl tirelessly but cannot find her and bring her home.

After thirty years, he finally locates and rescues his daughter. He is elated that he has found the one he loves most and is excited to be with her and restore her to the royal lineage.

Returned back to royal surroundings, she has a crown on her head, her clothes are beautiful with people now attending to her every need but, she still wakes up unconsciously preparing for a day of hard labor. Although she has all the benefits and surroundings of a queen, her mindset is still that of a slave. Often, this is the predicament of many Christian women even after we have accepted the Lord into our lives.

Although, we have been saved, our mindset is unchanged because we do not fully understand who we are and what has been given just for us.

When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, it erected a massive and untenable chasm between God and man. Even at that point of separation, God made a promise that he would reunite us to Him and He did that though Jesus.

When Jesus died on the cross, there was a Great Exchange, where He bore all of our sin, shame and wretchedness and in exchange, we received all of the beauty that is God, all the light, perfection, goodness, kindness and love.

Therefore all of our sin died with Him so we do not have to experience the shame and egret of the past or fear of the future.

However, many Christians have not truly received the full blessing of the Lord. We have not truly taken advantage of the grace that God has given us through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I do believe this pains our Heavenly Father.

How do you feel when you sacrifice all that you have for another and they treat your sacrifice carelessly or worse do not even acknowledge or use it?

Owch.

As women who love the Lord, we should see it as our obligation and duty to live the abundant life God gave us.

I am not speaking of prosperity, although that can certainly be a blessing from God, I am speaking of freedom from spiritual bondage and of living in the fruit of the Spirit with love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, self-control.

I remember there was a time when I felt guilty for being too happy and surely something bad would happen next.

No! Not God’s will

So because of Jesus, who are we?

HONORED

I am clean in God’s sight. I am honored and loved by Him. Isaiah 43:4

VALUABLE

The blood of Christ saved you. This blood is of great worth and no amount of money can buy it. Christ was given as a lamb without sin and without spot. 1 Peter 1:19

BEAUTIFUL

God thinks I am beautiful. He sees no flaw in me Song of Songs 4:7

BLESSED

I am blessed by God and He surrounds me with favor as with a shield. Psalm 139:13-14

PRECIOUS

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them. Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand..Psalm 139:17-18

HOLY

For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him. Ephesians 1:4

LOVED

No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

These are just a few characteristics of your identity through Jesus and there are countless others articulated in the Bible.

Sometimes, it can be hard to believe these things when everything indicates differently.

How do you overcome negativity with God’ss truths? With the Word of God.

I can honestly say when I first began reading the Bible, my thoughts did not change overnight. It happened gradually and it was those day by day tests of casting down negative thoughts, choosing to operate in faith, believing God’s words over my own negative thoughts.

I would prop certain Bible verses on the dash of my car and say them over and over to myself, my favorite was, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God, for those who come to Him must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

I still have to renew my mind consistently to fully live the abundant life. Consistency has been so important for me to maintain close relationship with God and actualize who He created me to be.

Determine a routine for renewing your mind about who you are in the sight of God.

When you hear something negative cast it down by saying, “Nope! God said I am chosen, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, I belong to God that I may declare the praises of Him who called me out of darkness into His wonderful light!”

AMEN!