July 2017 has been such an incredible month. This month I’ve loved how God’s been teaching me lessons in three key areas of life— dreams, our relationship with Him, and the keys to any future romantic relationship. I wanted to be honest about what I’ve learnt, in the hope it’ll encourage you, too, so here are the three key pointers I believe He whispered to me during this season… enjoy:

 

1. ‘Live out your dreams fearlessly.’ (Purpose)

By far the biggest lesson I’ve learnt in July is how beautiful things become when you simply decide to pursue your dreams and do so fearlessly. Back in January my best friend and I vowed to scrap the fears and ‘what if’s that were holding us back from simply living out our true honest selves and pursuing our dreams like there’s no tomorrow. We realised that fears—of people, of inadequacy, of failure—were stifling us and so many of those around us, and determined that 2017 would be the year we let go of fear. We were so determined that we voice-recorded the prayer and conversation, to keep ourselves accountable!

Seven months later, by God’s grace and much hard work (and frequent FaceTime catch up sessions!) we have both achieved some incredible feats in our careers, and July has been a month of celebration and elevation into new seasons for us both. Personally, I would never have thought that I would be a published author at age 20—but God and His ways are simply extraordinary, and He is capable of all that is beyond anything we could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)! I am so grateful to Him for what He’s allowed to come to pass this year so far.

So here is my advice to you: drop the fears that are holding you back from living out your dreams. Jesus came that we would have life to the full (John 10:10). Determine your purpose by merging your gifts with what moves you most in this world; prayerfully walk with God along the path away from slavery to fear and out of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is not where He wants you. If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to step out of the boat. This radical walk of faith and trust in Him was never going to be ‘comfortable’—and if it ever becomes comfortable, it might be time to start questioning why. God has immense plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11) and His flawless words and promises over your life will always prove true (Proverbs 30: 5-6). Take the plunge. With God for you, no one can be against you—and no-one can thwart the plans He has for you if you keep your eyes on Him. As the title of the book I’ve been reading most recently says: feel the fear, and do it anyway! Your destiny depends on it.

 

2. ‘Trust Me.’ (Walking with God)

If you’re a Christian, you’ll know that trusting God is key to our relationship with Him, and that hearing the instruction to trust Him can feel cliché. Dangerously, we can become very complacent in this and in appreciating what it actually means and feels like to trust Him. July reminded me that deciding to trust God (and yes, it is a decision, and sometimes a repeated one!) can often feel extremely uncomfortable, and He revealed to me that we can trust Him wholly in some areas and hardly in others, all at once.

I’ll be honest—I had reached a stage where I really thought I’d gotten the hang of trusting God because I trusted Him in many areas—from my studies to my health and His protection. But over this month, He gradually revealed to me areas where I trusted Him less—even though I believed I trusted Him completely—and it took a deep and sometimes very difficult process over a few weeks to uproot the root causes of this distrust. Sometimes we (especially those of us who’ve been Christian for a while or who have platforms of influence where we share the Word) say we trust God… but living out that trust is a very deep and different thing to simply talking about it. Wherever you’re caving into fear right now in your life, or battling with frustration, you’re probably not trusting God. It’s as simple as that; difficult to swallow, perhaps, but very straightforward. And a Christian who doesn’t trust God is an uncomfortable paradox.

Take some time to slow down and be raw and vulnerable with Him about those areas you find it difficult to trust Him with. He loves you so deeply and so dearly, and in His perfect love He wants you free of fear (1 John 4:18). There’s nothing about you He doesn’t know (Psalm 139), and He simply wants you to be vulnerable with Him. He is, after all, immensely moved by intimacy with you. I learnt this month that trusting God means trusting Him in every area.

 

3. ‘Trust My timing.’ (Love & Relationships)

I’m always super shy about writing about relationships on my platforms and I have no idea why, but this area is something the Father really spoke to me about this month, so I’m going to grin and bear it just for you! 🙂

On Sunday I got back from a beautiful two-week family trip, which was precious on so many levels. Our group of family members and in-laws comprised people from age 86 right down to age 17 and, importantly, several couples who have been married or together for 15 years or more. The trip was beautiful for so many reasons—mainly because it allowed us all to bond again after a hectic year—but what I especially appreciated and witnessed during it was the bond of friendship between each one of the couples.

I’ll write about this more one day, but God really revealed to me the preciousness of the friendship that should and must be underlying in any long-term romantic relationship if it is going to be healthy. I realised that the key to life-long love was friendship. Our generation has somehow reduced romantic relationships to image—the #relationshipgoals craze being a prime example—when really there is so much more to love than that. Image is what others see when they see a couple; it’s what they project onto a couple. Love, on the other hand, is what the couple has when it’s real. And the foundation of that love is a profound, true friendship. I pray nothing less than that for you, reading this, if you’re in a relationship or trusting in God for one!

And so, evidently, July has been a month of continued lessons and growth. I hope these three have blessed and encouraged you. Be sure to purchase your copy of my book, ’Heart Shards and Lip Balm’, for more wisdom—and thank you to everyone who has been purchasing; you have blown me away.

I’m excited to see what next month will bring!

See you in August,

Imani x

Follow:

 

 

This month’s post is super special for me. As all those who follow me on social media probably know by now, June has been the final month in an 11-month process of writing a book. My debut book, a poetry collection of 100 self-care poems and affirmative notes written to and for the reader, will be published worldwide and available on Amazon from Friday 7th July. It’s called Heart Shards and Lip Balm, and it traces the journey from hurting to healing. And I am so very excited, thankful to God, and grateful for all the support I’ve received from friends, family and followers. Truly, to everyone who’s shown support: thank you so much.

Elsewhere, June has been a month of immense blessings and opportunity. I finished my second year of university three weeks ago, and have since been planning a year abroad. And as I write this, I’m on a train headed across the country for a weekend of wedding preparations and excitement, as an amazing friend I made in my first year is about to tie the knot, and I’m a bridesmaid.

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet, and instead let you read about the book on the page I’ve created specially for it. I hope and pray it blesses you — it is, quite literally, love, in a book, written to and for you for when you’re finding it hard to love yourself. Heart Shards and Lip Balm, out on Amazon on 7.7.17.

Enjoy — and see you in July.

Imani x

 

P.S., there’s more on the book in my latest video.

 

Follow:

 

 

She recently swanned onto my Instagram featured in my Mothers’ Day post looking flawless as ever, and casually broke the record for the number of likes I’ve ever received on an Instagram post — just, you know, casually. I’ve been trying to get the same number of likes since and yeah… no.   🙃   Lol!

I’m her only child but I still have to share her with about 20 other girls who’re convinced she’s their mum, too. And she loves all of them, every one of my friends, as though they were her own daughters. Which really doesn’t help.

She radiates grace, elegance, love, wisdom, warmth and she’s set a standard of motherhood and womanhood that I can only hope to match one day. And yet she lovingly guides me closer towards it every day.

She is, of course, my amazing mum. And I wanted to take this post to honour her, since last month was her birthday month. I also wanted to honour some of the other women, particularly preachers and speakers I’ve come across, who have seriously been inspiring me over the past few weeks, and who hopefully might inspire you, too.

 

 

Mum

Our relationship is characterised by deep, close friendship. Not in a way where I see her as my age mate or my equal — she is my mum, and I respect and honour her accordingly. But in the sense that she is and has always been my very best friend. We have been through innumerable ups and downs together, things the world will never know about, and she’s raised me as a single mum for the past fifteen years.

Even writing this, I can already tell the words in this post aren’t going to be sufficient to convey even a glimpse of how much I love my mum and how precious our friendship is. It really is beyond words! So I’ll settle for saying some of the things I appreciate most about my mum, and some of the things she’s taught me. I know they’ll bless you, too:

 

1. You can do anything you put your mind to if you believe in yourself.

She and my dad were very intentional in naming me Imani, which means faith, and as I grew up it became routine to remind me what my name meant. ‘Belief.’ Including belief in myself and in my ability. That self-belief has carried me to where I am today. Thank God for parents who instil that in their children from a young age. I hope to become one of them.

 

2. Keep it simple.

Mum takes pleasure in the small things. She loves gardening, she loves cooking, but above all she is a people person and finds immense joy in simply loving others and encouraging them and showering them with warmth and affection. It is simply impossible to feel unloved in my mum’s presence. She’s taught me to take pleasure in the simple, constant things — nature, heartfelt conversation, family, quiet time, good food — and it’s something I’m so grateful for.

Linked to this, she’s also taught me to protect my peace. To maintain perspective. And to know that nothing is worth stressing over. Give it to God, and know He’s working it all together for your good.

 

3. The power of love, warmth and affirmation.

My mum is the queen of these three. You’ll feel it as soon as she walks into a room. At the end of a conversation with her you’ll leave with a renewed sense of who you are and how unique, precious and powerful your very existence is.

 

4. The value of conversation and of the ability to listen.

Mum and I have been talking non-stop since I was a baby, to be honest. The only thing that’s changed is the nature of the problems I’m facing; everything else — her wisdom, the amount of love in her advice and care in her voice, her ability to discern and decipher dilemmas, her availability to listen — has remained the same.

 

5. Perseverance.

Failure is simply a step in the road to success. You are not your failures. Giving up is not an option. Rest, reflection and learning from your mistakes are.

 

6. There is no-one in this world you cannot speak to.

As Mum would say:

You were raised to be able to interact with the richest of rich, the poorest of poor, people from all nations and backgrounds, and to allow each one of them to feel at home in your presence. There is immense power right there.

7. You were not raised to be ‘average’ or ‘mediocre’.

You owe it to yourself to strive to be your best self.

8. Know your worth.

(And know the worth of those around you, too.)

9. Stay humble.

Vital. That does not mean dimming your light (that’s fake humility). It means knowing that what’s yours is yours, and no-one can take a seat God ordained for you. So it’s okay to let others go first. There is room for everyone and every single person around you is unique, valuable and precious.

10. With God on your side, you’re unstoppable.

Stand tall, be confident, and remember your Heavenly Father flung the stars into space. There’s nothing He can’t do.

 

As you can tell, I am so grateful to God for my mum! It was so lovely to treat her on her birthday weekend, shown in the pictures in this post, with three views of London — one from the top of The Shard, one on a bus tour and one over dinner on a boat on the Thames. Three words to sum up my mum: loving, caring, discerning. I hope I’ve inherited some of those traits!

 

 

Inspirational Women — my current Woman Crushes

Aside from my biological Mum, I also have recently come across a number of spiritual mothers — older, wiser women in Christ, whose names I wanted to share with you. I pray some of their material will encourage you; click on their names to watch some of their videos:

  1. Dr Jasmin Sculark (also known as Dr Jazz) — preacher, pastor and hilarious. I admire her sass and her carefree spirit, also the fact she makes walking in heels onstage look so easy!
  2. Bishop Ernestine Reems. She’s an 80-something year old lady who doesn’t mess when it comes to giving REAL advice to us younger women. She is AMAZING!
  3. Joyce Meyer (my all-time favourite!)
  4. Ifeanyi Adefarasin (the video begins with her husband in the intro). First Lady of House on the Rock Church, a megachurch in Nigeria. Her husband , Pastor Paul, is also an excellent speaker.
  5. Dayo Benjamin-Laniyi. Entrepreneur, singer, woman of God. Extremely inspirational speaker.

Funnily enough, it was Mum who introduced me to the last two, after attending a women’s conference where they were both guest speakers! This is another thing I love about her – she seeks out inspiration and passes it on when she finds it!

I hope this post has inspired you in some way. Mums — whether biological or spiritual — are a blessing. Be inspired to honour your mum and mother-figures, and the women in your life who inspire you. Ladies, seek inspiration from them so that you are able to become the very best woman you can.

And as an added bonus, here’s a life-changing talk led by one more inspirational woman, Caroline McHugh, for anyone struggling to simply be themselves or to find their purpose.

 

Lots of love!

Imani x

Follow:

 

April has been full of beautiful learning curves. They have been rapid, but they’ve been beautiful, and at one point it felt like a learning curve a week! This was the month the Lord took to begin teaching me the arts of leadership and surrender. I pray what I’ve learnt will bless you…

 

 

Lead

About two weeks ago, I found myself working 11-hour days on an internship at an Investment Bank in the City. Now anyone that knows me well knows that I’m a morning person, but waking up at 6am in the HOLIDAYS?! LOL! It was a struggle! (Can’t believe I used to do that every day for school!) I loved the internship—it was an excellent opportunity. But somewhere during the week, I got overwhelmed. Because I was working such long hours, my time for everything else was squeezed. It got to the point where I couldn’t give as much attention to the people around me, to whom I usually give 100%— all 5,000 subscribers, everyone on Snapchat, everyone on Whatsapp, everyone on Messenger, friends and family. It was a struggle. In that season I realised that for as long as there’s only one of me, and my platforms are growing, I cannot give everyone the full-on love that they have come to know me for. I’m the same sized pie, but my audiences are growing (which I am ever grateful for! Praise God!) and so more people want a piece.

God taught me in that week that sometimes in order to serve people, you’ve got to separate yourself from them. That means becoming less available and accessible when necessary. At the end of the day, I learnt I cannot pour out from an empty cup, I’ve got to keep myself full and refreshed in order to serve others, and as things grow it is going to become increasingly necessary to be selective and discerning in who I interact with and how I interact with them. I love easily, so it’s a process, but I am learning.

If that’s you too right now, know that you’re not on this journey alone. He is an expert at teaching leadership; He is, after all, the best leader, and the best teacher.

 

Surrender

It’s not easy. Lol! Sometimes it feels as though it goes against our human nature, intelligence, ingenuity, creativity. We like to be in control of things, to solve problems. I think that as a creative, when I see obstacles my immediate response is to use my ingenuity and creativity to come up with a way of getting around them. This is good in some scenarios, and my creativity is something God placed in me, but I’ve learnt that in those seasons where He is looking to bless us as His children through inheritance (rather than the blessing being anything we could creatively find a way to get our hands on in our own strength) it doesn’t work. Some things—often those most important and desirable to us—simply will not be given to us until we have surrendered our desire for them back to the One above them all. Another thing—it is a dangerous thing when you feel entitled to a blessing (symptom: anger/frustration toward God because He hasn’t given it yet but you think it should be yours). A dream, vision, or prophecy which is not surrendered to God is an idol; conversely, when we surrender our desires to God, often we find He blesses us tenfold later on down the line.

My encouragement to you is this: that thing you’re seeking so earnestly and with all your heart; that thing you so desire; that dream and vision you’re so passionately pursuing? Invite God into the journey towards it, and surrender it to Him. Remember that He so desires to bless you as His cherished baby girl or boy. Know that when you come to His throne, you have His full attention. Know that He is not a God who wishes to do well but is impotent and unable; He is a God who both desires to bless you and is omnipotent—nothing is impossible for the Lord (Luke 1:37)! Know that your life is connected to the supply line of Heaven. Know that, while you’re waiting for that thing, He’s working—and remember that He fulfils all of your needs (Psalm 23:1).

Focus in the meantime on serving Him in your current season; reach a place where you are so focused on your Kingdom Assignments (sometimes called Purpose Projects—the things He’s given you to do now, in this season, for His glory) that you desire nothing but to serve Him. Align your heart with His. Then He’ll give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). Seek Him first, and watch your godly desires fall into place around you.

In the Bible, during the month of April, I’ve read from Numbers through to 1 Samuel and a recurring theme has been the importance of obedience. I’m learning that surrender to His Will and His voice out of love for Him is the very foundation of obedience.

I pray these encouragements and lessons bless you. One of the most precious privileges of being a Christian is the opportunity to simultaneously lead and be led—to learn the arts of authority and surrender—which at first glance seem to contradict each other—all at once.

Love,

Imani x

 

 

 

 

 

Follow:

 

Lioness. On safari in Tanzania, 2016.

 

I was unsure as to whether to title this post ‘The Ride of your Life’ or ‘The Adventure of a Lifetime’. A lot of my posts’ feature photos are taken while travelling and these ones I took while on safari in Tanzania. Looking back at them, and planning this post, I was trying to figure out which title would best suit the post. And I’ve realised that both, in the end, suit it perfectly. Here’s why.

During this trip to Tanzania, as I explained in my latest video, I faced one of the most trying seasons of my life which, honestly, was one of those battles that takes all of your might, strength and faith to get through. I think every adult has their first serious, memorable test of character, and that was definitely mine. I finally plucked up the courage to speak about it, and I am so grateful to God that it’s blessing people. If you’re in a dark season, please watch the video as I made it with you in mind, and it’ll give you a tried-and-tested, step-by-step template to get out of your storm, right now.

I found it so hard to film that video because my channel is deliberately focused on light and bringing love, joy, life and encouragement to people’s hearts; I rarely talk about deep, dark topics like depression and dark seasons, and when I do I try only to speak about them from a place of healing. I love that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness, and I am grateful He gave me the courage to film it and be vulnerable. I’m far from perfect, as we all know, so I am happy for the world to see that because He gets every ounce of the glory — none of my victory in that trial was me alone. And I am so thankful that God loves us and fights for us in our battles, and we have only to be silent (Exodus 14:14).

So here’s my encouragement to you. You’ll notice that on this page are some snaps of the lions we saw while on the safari. I want to encourage and remind you, if you’re in a dark season right now, that as a Christian you are not fighting this thing alone, and you have the upper hand. Why? Because our Heavenly Father is the Lion of Judah, and He protects His children like a lion protects its cubs. No evil will conquer you. There’s a song I’ve been singing and declaring as a battle cry when I’m facing a trial (Lion and the Lamb by Bethel Music), which I pray will bless you. Its lyrics read:

 

Our God is the lion,

The lion of Judah,

He’s roaring with power

And fighting our battles,

And every knee will bow before Him.

And our God is the lamb,

The lamb that was slain,

For the sin of the world

His blood breaks the chains,

And every knee will bow before the lion and the lamb,

Every knee will bow before Him!

 

 

 

It’s a beautiful reminder that for as long as the Lion of Judah is on your side, you are more than a conqueror, and you will conquer this season. The photo above served as a reminder of this for me, too. Driving this close to a lion in Tanzania was one of the most thrilling, petrifying, humbling, exciting experiences I have ever had. Our jeep had to stop as this lioness decided she wanted to cross the road about two metres in front of us, looking us dead in the eyes the whole time! Take it from me, having looked a lion dead in the face: when a lion is looking you in your face, with an expression that says, ‘don’t try me, boo. We both know who’ll win this fight,’ you won’t even think about messing with him or anyone on his side!

As His children, that’s exactly the protection we have when God, the Lion of Judah, stands beside us in our battles. In fact, He goes before us, fighting before we’ve even reached the battlefield. Nothing can touch you. And anything you’re facing right now is moulding you and refining you into pure gold; you can’t be pure gold without going through the refining fire. Studying the book of Job a little while back, I came across Job 23:10, which has now become my mantra for getting through those dark seasons. Job, in the midst of his darkest season, holds on to God saying, ‘But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.’ If you’re in a dark place right now, that could be the verse that gets you through this season. Hold onto His Word and His promises and your sure knowledge of His love for you, because these never fail. And I’ve found that, as we conquer more and more battles, and as He teaches and moulds us through each storm and each victory, we begin to learn that walking beside Him, the Lion, is truly a privilege and the adventure of a lifetime.

And so, looking back on what seemed at the time like the ride of my life  — the most turbulent, dark, testing rollercoaster season I have ever faced and which He brought me through — I see now in retrospect that that season was never, ever going to be the be all and end all of my adventure story. Indeed, the ride of your life, the dark season you might be in now, will simply amount to one chapter, an episode of trial and beautiful triumph, in the wider adventure story of your lifetime spent in God’s unfailing and unconquerable love.

Be encouraged, boo. Light is at the end of the tunnel and it is coming.

Love always,

Imani x

 

Follow: