Anxiety, Back To School Series, Motives

Back to School: What Excites You

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.  Read this week as our writers will share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  So, come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

I can’t sleep.  I’m so anxious, excited.  Clothes laid out, sleeping on my hands so my fresh new hairdo won’t mess up.  New clean white kicks.  I’m ready to impress everyone so they can see how “sharp” I am. Oooh, I hope “Johnny” notices me since I’ve matured a lot over the summer.  I’m ready!  I’m on Cloud 9! I wake up before normal time.  I get dressed.  I don’t have an appetite for breakfast because my nerves are going crazy.  It’s officially the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.  Seeing my friends is priceless.  The different teenage groups gather, and the hating nature begins. It’s day one of an unpredictable school year.

It’s funny how at the tender age of 15 I was anxious and trying to impress those around me.  I was so excited for the first day of school, not even being aware how the preparation for the first day was going to affect me and the rest of my life.  My excitement stemmed more from trying to impress my peers. However, I wasn’t putting my energy into trying to impress the right person.

The first mistake we commonly make in life is being anxious. Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ.” (NLT)

 Secondly, we focus on ourselves way too much.  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility considers others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others.  Our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5 NLT)  I wonder if Jesus was selfish and told God, “Daddy I’m sorry, but I’m not shedding anything for people that don’t like me.”  I’m so glad Jesus is not like man.

Last but not least, we are here for a purpose of pleasing God.  There’s nothing wrong with us being excited or having joy.  God wants that for us.  But God also wants our hearts to be connected to Him, our spiritual desires to be with Him, and our fulfillment of life to surround Him.  As women we should seek God.  May we find complete fulfillment in the relationship with Him.  Psalms 63:1-5 says it best, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and wary land where there is no water.  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of food; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” (NLT)

Dear Daddy ,

You are my joy and I thank You for all You are to me.  Thank  You, Lord, for speaking to my heart so that I may hear You.  Help me to seek Your approval and not that of man. I love you Lord.  You are my everything and all I need to excite me! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to survey your life and see what or who excites you? Who are you seeking to please? If God is not first on your list, I EMPOWER you to re-prioritize. It’s okay to be excited about the first day of school, work, marriage, etc. but it’s important not to forget who blessed you with those first days!

In what areas have you sought man’s approval over God’s? How did you overcome that?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: The Ultimate People Pleaser

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Ms. Hassanah White is a dedicated member of Faith Walkers Church in Birmingham, Alabama where their motto is to “Walk it out by Faith.” She also serves as a member of the Praise Dance Ministry. Hassanah is a true professional in the realm of marketing and customer service. She’s a proud mother of a very energetic little boy named Jaden. Hassanah believes laughter and prayer are the best medicines for any situation. Her favorite scripture is Hebrews 11:6: “And without Faith it is impossible to please GOD, because anyone who comes to Him must BELIEVE that He exists and that He REWARDS those who earnestly seek Him.”

Back To School Series, Children, Prayer, Speech

Back to School: On the Way to School

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.  Read this week as our writers will share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  So, come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. (Psalms 91:2 NLT)

This morning I noticed my daughter was really hyper or as I call it, “on 10”!  I’m sure part of it had to do with her NaNa coming to visit this week and the sweet tea she allowed her to drink for breakfast.  Can’t trust Grandmas!  At any rate, I wanted to snatch her in the midst of her speedy transitions throughout the house, but I remembered a promise I made to God when she first started attending school.  I promised to never yell at her before she went off to school because I didn’t want her to have a bad day.  I knew that my words could speak either life or death to my daughter (see Proverbs 18:21) and I eventually took yelling out of my discipline strategy all together.

My daughter continued her morning routine of talking seventeen miles a minute (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree) and dancing throughout the house.  I sternly redirected her towards getting dressed to avoid being late.  She was obedient and we then proceeded to our vehicle.  When I strapped her in, I told her we were going to pray all the way to school, and we did.  We thanked God and prayed about her behavior this morning and her future actions at school. As we pulled into the parking lot, we sang our school song as we do every morning and she hopped out into the arms of her teacher.  I was confident that she would have a good day!

I share this story because it is imperative that we not only send our children off to school on a good note, but help them recognize that God is a present help when they need to learn self-control. Furthermore, they need to know that God is not just at church, but He walks with them during school.  I remember getting on the bus every morning to face this girl that used to bully me all the way to school.  I hated riding the bus because she was so mean to me.  I felt so alone and contemplated telling my Mom, but I didn’t think it was that serious to tell anyone.  So, I prayed every morning that the mean girl wouldn’t try to start a fight with me.  I recall another incident in high school when I failed a try-out for the drill team captain.  That loss hurt me to my core because I wanted it so bad.  I cried for days and the only thing that allowed me to move forward was the prayers my mother shared with me during that time.  During those instances, I imitated what I saw my mother or other Christians do in times of grief and trouble.  They prayed.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for my children.  Thank You for trusting me to be their guide here on earth.  Lord, I ask that Your Spirit cover them with Your precious blood.  Father, I pray that every encounter is used to build and enrich them.  Help them to be a leader amongst their friends and to share the love of Christ.  Lord, I pray they remain focused while in class, obedient to the rules, sensitive to those that need them, and strong when they face challenges.  Father, please protect the teachers, staff, and administration.  I pray they operate under Your anointing through order, fairness, humility, love, kindness, and intelligence.  Lord, please protect my children on the playground, at practice, and to and from school.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to pray over the child in your life before they go to school.  Pray with them and for them.  They need to know that God is their refuge in times of confusion, fear, trouble, misbehavior, bullying, and defeat.  When they recognize that you go to the Father on their behalf, they’ll imitate you.  I refuse to accept that prayer has been removed from schools.  Teach your children to pray!  We do not know what they face every day and the burdens they carry.

What are some ways you incorporate God into your child’s school life?

Read a related EmpowerMoment:  Take Time for Them

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As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is a College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Ed and Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) She and her husband serve as Co-Service leaders and Co-Group leaders of SustainedLove, which supports marriage get-a-ways from Family Life. Khalilah also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment. Khalilah resides in Millbrook, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their two daughters. They attend Vaughn Forest Church. Check out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

Assignment, Back To School Series, Commitment, Completion, Graduation, Motivation, Persistance

Back to School: To the Graduation Line

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.  Read this week as our writers will share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  So, come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  (Galatians 6:9 NIV)

I didn’t know what to really expect about my first day/year of college.  I remember being so nervous about starting college and being a freshman all over again.  I became so nervous that I felt physically sick.  I was entering a new season and change looked scary.  However, I made it through my first day of college and my first year too.  I eventually became comfortable and familiar with being a college student attending a university in a city close to home.  College was actually not a bad experience, but my grades proved otherwise—I went from a straight ‘A’ senior in high school to a ‘D’ and ‘F’ student in college. It was during my sophomore year of college that I began to experience a setback.

Some time before this setback, I changed majors.  I changed my major from Art & Design: Graphic Design to English: Professional & Technical Writing.  I only picked graphic design because people kept saying that a career in computers would be lucrative.  So, I thought this program of study was best because I could make money and still be creative.  Yet, I shifted majors after failing one or two of my graphic design classes, much prayer and a conversation with a stranger that ended with this question: “Why are you working with computers if you love to write?”

After I switched majors, I began to excel, yet my GPA was so low it was hard to recover and so I was dropped.  I had been dropped (yes, dismissed) from the university and I also lost my financial aid.  I had been dropped because my GPA was continually low, and less than 2.0 and I had been placed on academic probation again although I was working hard and rarely missing class.  I was shocked and in dismay.  I could have let this setback overcome me; however, within a day of finding out this news I inquired from my school’s officials on how to get back in school.  I was told that I had to petition to get reinstated and get my financial aid back.  Staying out of school wasn’t an option so I immediately tried to resolve it.  I filled out some petitioning forms basically describing the cause for my poor academic standing and why I wanted to get back in, etc.  Then I had to visit my dean for the first time.  I remember sitting outside her office with the door open, waiting for her to be done conversing with another student.  The student, who was a young man, resembled a child sitting in the principal’s office waiting for the principal’s judgment.  When done, he walked out and as he passed me, the dean looked at me and said in her motherly tone, “Now what’s your problem?”  Her greeting made me so nervous.  I went into her office thinking that I didn’t ever want to see her again, especially under those circumstances.  I had to explain to her that I had been dropped and the reasons I believed my GPA was low and not improving.  I remember telling her it could be that I had been working too many hours and studying less.  I had been working two part-time jobs for a while and I remember with one I worked 70 hours in 10 days.  I also was trying to still bring up my GPA but I had failed the same math class at least twice.

So she helped me to come up with a plan of action.  I needed to study more and work fewer hours. The dean had mercy upon me and reinstated me.  Praise God for His mercy!  I didn’t just get reinstated, but my school released my financial aid.  I had to take student support classes where I was taught how to write research papers, take tests and manage my time.  I also sought math tutoring.  I was determined to succeed and I excelled in my major.  We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:12 NIV)

There were other trials and tribulations that I had to overcome during college.  I had to overcome my fear of public speaking when I took a speech class. My grandmother, whom I shared a special bond with, passed away. I had family issues and past wounds that surfaced that led me to seek counseling.  I had a financial aid issue once or twice again.  I had sarcastic relatives ask me how long it was going to take me to finish.

When I finally reached the end in 2007, it was a relief and I was at the season of completion.  I was doing well, passing all of my classes, and enjoying all things writing related.  I had been praying well before graduation.  I prayed to the Lord to let NOTHING hinder me from graduating.  The day I graduated, I was happy, nervous, and proud of myself.  The ceremony was beautiful because I was getting my Bachelor’s degree, and my class was the first class to graduate out of the newly built convocation center.  I was also the first person of my family to graduate from college.  When I walked across the stage, guess whose hand I had to shake?  Yes, it was the dean I had to face in bad circumstances.  But now I faced her with a smile and with the evidence that I had successfully made it to the end amidst trials and tribulations.

Going to college was not just an academic experience, but a life-learning one.  I learned so much in 7 ½ years of college.  I learned to be patient.  I learned there is a time and a season for everything.  I learned that God’s grace can carry you through.  I learned to persevere and that all things are possible with God.  I learned that tests and trials define your character and strengthen your faith.  We need not just arrive at salvation, but let’s strive for that Crown of Life through maintaining our faith, patience and dependency upon God.  Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  (James 1:12 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your mercy and grace.  Thank You for always finishing what You start and being a God of excellence.  Thank You for teaching me patience and perseverance.  Thank You for strengthening me and loving me beyond my failures, weaknesses and disappointments.  I thank You for every test and trial which strengthens my faith.  I thank You, Daddy, for giving me a destiny and I pray You continue me on that path to live and fulfill Your purpose for my life.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to maintain patience and perseverance to the end.  Maintain your faith through the tests and trials, waiting periods, and the process.  Never give up what God has ordained for you.  Hold fast to your faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Trust Him through every test, trial and storm.  Ask the Lord to perfect His patience in you and give you an understanding of the lesson behind each test and trial.  Know all things are possible with God if you believe. 

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Ms. Tannika Moore loves the Lord and loves to write!  Besides writing poetry or editing written work for family and friends, she currently works for NEIU Educational Talent Search program.  She help assists Chicago public high school students with their reading, writing, etc. as well as helps them consider and prepare for college.  She, like many of her students, is the first of her family to graduate from college.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in English-Professional & Technical Writing.  God, the Creator and Great Father has also created her to be a Compassion Person and Encourager and so she loves to encourage people according to God’s Word and help them to see, think and become better thru her support, actions and writing.  Her favorite scripture comes from Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Back To School Series, Honesty/Truth, Kindness

Back to School: Let Your ‘Soul’ Glow

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”. Read this week as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences. Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. (Acts 5:1-5 KJV)

Later in this story we find out that Ananias’ wife Sapphira told this same lie and died instantly too. Sometimes we really don’t understand the consequences of a “little” lie. What seems harmless at first can have unintended consequences. When I was ten years old I was fascinated with the idea of getting a Jheri Curl. Don’t laugh. I really wanted one, so much so, that I lied to get it. See there was one small catch to converting to a Jheri Curl. To get a Jheri Curl, you had to wait at least three months from your last relaxer. When the beautician asked me the date of my last relaxer, I made up some date that I thought would meet her approval knowing full well that I had just gotten a relaxer a few weeks prior. Everything was going fine as I felt the “curls” and juice hit my neck. Then came the announcement: “I’m going to cut your hair because the curl didn’t take. It looks like you must have recently gotten a relaxer.” Snip – “sniffle sniffle,” Snip-Snip – “sniffle sniffle.” I was crying as I saw my hair hit the floor below. Why did I lie when I had the chance to tell the truth? How was I going to go to school with no hair? I didn’t want to face anyone. If only I had been truthful.

Just as I imagined, school was harsh the next day. The more people teased me about the “teeny tiny, not quite curled Jheri Curl” the more I cried. The guys were particularly harsh and the girls followed suit. I was sent to the guidance counselor and she let me sit in her office all day. She tried to make it better but nothing could convince me that it would get better. I couldn’t understand why people were mistreating me. I was still the same person on the inside. The smart, funny, tough little girl — yes, that was still me. I just had a new hair-do. Sure my outward appearance was awkward but that didn’t change who I was internally. As time passed, my hair grew and the jokes subsided but I learned valuable lessons from the experience: all lies have consequences and to judge people based on who they are on the inside and not on their outer appearance.

Throughout my matriculation in school I found myself in different places in these situations: the person being lied to, as well as the person mocking someone else. Can you find yourself in either of these situations? The lie you willingly tell to get what you want. You manipulate a situation because you aren’t patient enough to wait until the time is right. You maneuver things in your favor and they don’t quite turn out like you want. Maybe you are like the kids at school. Have you ever mistreated someone because they didn’t fit your appearance standards? Their clothes weren’t up to date, their hair wasn’t what you would approve, you judged them based on what sins you believed they were guilty of or maybe you made fun of them just because of others. In school, these traits are all too common but these aren’t traits of the King’s kids. Lying, manipulating, vanity nor judging are pleasing to God. Remember everything that glitters isn’t gold.… for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. (I Samuel 16:7 KJV)

Dear Daddy,

Forgive me for the times when I have been dishonest or manipulative to get my way. Thank You for loving me enough to provide opportunity for correction and opening my eyes to learn the lessons. When I place myself in a seat to judge others based on their outward appearance, remind me of the times that others mistreated me based on my outward appearance. Give me the courage to speak truth even when the outcome may not favor what I want. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to reflect over your life and recall the times you manipulated a situation to make the outcome favor you. Repent and ask God to remove that spirit from you. I also EMPOWER you to treat others based on who they are on the inside even when their outward appearance doesn’t meet your standards. Strive to be more Christ-like looking at character instead and let your ‘soul’ glow!

Can you relate to this EmpowerMoment? Did a lie that you told come back to haunt you or maybe you were on the receiving end of other’s harsh judgment? Share your story with us.

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Ms. Chancee` Lundy lives in Washington, DC and is an entrepreneur as she is the co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC, an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend and community servant. She has used her gift of public speaking to lead workshops across the globe speaking to crowds as large as 10,000 people. Her guiding scriptures this week are Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Back To School Series, Change, Trusting God

Back To School: Embrace It!

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.   Read this week as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

My boys go to a charter school in the city and are amongst the first kids to go back to school early.  Needless to say they are hardly excited about how their cousins and friends get to stay up a little later for about a week or so longer than they do.

This year was a little different though; they were really excited about the first day of school.  They couldn’t wait to see some of their friends that they hadn’t seen over the summer or the newly renovated building.  I was excited for them and looking forward to hearing about how awesome their first day had been.  When they came home, they had plenty to tell me and my older son was more excited than my younger son.  When I questioned why he was a little down, he told me it was because most of his good friends were all in the same class together but he was in a class full of students he didn’t know.  He really wanted to be in class with his friends.

As I sat there looking at my baby boy with his bottom lip poked out (just as cute as he could be), I started to think.  It is funny how we always want to get ‘something new,’ but have such difficulty when what we get isn’t what we had in mind.  So quickly we lose sight of the new blessings and beginnings God gives us because they don’t look like the ones we were expecting.  This could mean going to get a Cadillac and being approved for a Chevy.  It could be feeling like a guy was the one who got away and nobody would ever replace him, but KNOW that God had a reason for giving you the new beginning that He did.  We have to stand on His Word—And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)  I told my baby that he has the best of both worlds!  He has all of his friends from last year that he can hang out with at lunch and recess and the opportunity to meet a lot of new friends!

I think as we reflect on the new school year for ourselves and/or our children, the beginning of the last quarter of the year 2012, and the upcoming changes in season, we need to continue to be open-minded and thankful for all things that are new, regardless of whether we asked for them or not.  We need to be patient, pray for discernment and wait on God to reveal His plan for our purpose in this and every season of our lives.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for constantly showing me that when You are doing a new thing it is always what’s best for me.  Thank You for being patient with me and continuing to order my steps even when I am reluctant to do as You would have me do.  Please continue to manifest Your Will for my life upon me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to accept and embrace ALL new things and opportunities that are bestowed upon you!  REFUSE to allow the enemy to convince you that anything ordained by your Heavenly Father is anything other than a blessing and His Will for your life!

What new things and opportunities has God bestowed upon you that maybe you didn’t embrace at first?

Read a related EmpowerMoment:  Expect Greatness

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 Ms. Tiffany Huff is the devoted mother of two boys, a blogger, lover of food and travel, and aspiring entrepreneur with a passion for helping others live out their purposes. She is looking forward to growing in her walk and honoring God through sharing her EmpowerMoments. One of her meditation scriptures is Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Attitude, Back To School Series, Direction/Guidance, Evangelism, Grandparents, Growth/Maturity, Mentor/Mentee, Obedience, Sin, Submission/Surrendering

Back to School: Rebel Without A Cause

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.  Read each day as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

Growing up I was a bit more than your average “church girl”: Sunday – Regular Service, Tuesday- Choir Practice, Wednesday- Bible Study, Thursday- Prayer Meeting, Friday – Teen Ministry, Saturday- Junior Usher Board Meeting. I could quote scripture all day and was known as the over achiever in Sunday School. I wasn’t a member of just any church. I was a member of an Apostolic (Pentecostal) church; one that had many rules and standards: zero makeup, no jewelry, and no pants for women. While I was in elementary and middle school these things were okay for me. Sure I was teased about always being in church and the fact that I never wore pants, but I believed wholeheartedly in what I was doing. Furthermore, my grandmother made me and there was no questioning of her rules.

Then came the summer of transition. I was a 14-year-old bona fide teenager and headed for high school. I started “smelling myself” and questioning this strict regimen. I began secretly changing clothes when I left home so that I could wear pants and even got some lipstick. Boys entered the picture and the late nights began. My attitude completely changed and I became resentful of the life that I was forced to live. See I grew up in the house with older brothers and male cousins and they weren’t subjected to this harsh life, so one day I decided no more. My grandmother came to wake me up for church and I responded with a loud, “I’M NOT GOING!” The blow up was big and I defiantly stood my ground letting her know that no switch, belt or any other form of correction was going to change my mind. (Of course I said all of this after being chased out of the house to the front yard.) Eventually, she decided to let it go and this was the beginning of my “emancipation” from church slavery into the street life and academic failure.

And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. (Luke 15:11-13 KJV)

Thus began my journey as the Prodigal Daughter. At the young age of 14, I made a decision to stop making church a regular part of my life and dropped all of the strict standards that I was beholden to. I began to hang out until 3:00am, go to the nightclubs and started drinking. Although I would hang out with guys, I would not have sex and I would never smoke marijuana. For some reason in all of my rebellion those things were off limits. In my own mind, my behavior was okay because this is what my brothers did, I was staying out of “real” trouble and I wasn’t pregnant. My first semester in high school was the pits. I loved school and was quite studious; however, I kept getting in minor trouble that came with major consequences. Tardies to class (from staying out late) landed me in the Student Adjustment Program (SAP). SAP was like in school suspension but this is where “bad” kids were sent: fighters, people who disrespected teachers, and low performers. This was not my crowd. I was in Honors classes and participated in extracurricular activities even with my wild ways so how did I end up there? Originally I was sent for 3 days but then I got in trouble while in the program and landed an extra 40 days. WHAT?!! I got out of the program and was sent back AGAIN. It was difficult to keep up with my class work especially since this high school material was so new. I received my first set of BAD grades. To this day I never forget those grades because they made the difference in me graduating in the top ten in my class and coming in at #13. I felt like I was stuck in a downward spiral but at the same time I was hesitant to give up my new life.

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 KJV)

One day I overheard my grandmother mentioning to someone that she was contemplating sending me to reform school. Wait a minute! In my eyes reform school meant jail and I, my friends, was not jail material! It was as if a light bulb went off. God showed me how my rebellious living could shape the path of my life. I thought about my brothers, who unfortunately had served time in the juvenile detention center and jail, and I was determined that would not be my life. I was in the valley of decision regarding my life. I could learn the lessons from them without experiencing the path they were on.

While it would be years before I became a regular attendee at church and I never quite went back to the strict religious standards, I picked my Bible back up and began to study His word. I practiced self-discipline. I dove into my schoolwork, got heavily involved in school and community activities where I could make a real difference and joined athletic teams. That experience my freshman year in high school shaped so many others. It helped me avoid situations later in life. I was determined that I would not be a failure and disappoint the woman who worked so hard to provide for me or my heavenly Father who protected me while I was in the streets. I would no longer be a “rebel without a cause.”

Dear Daddy,

I am sorry that my rebellious living brought so much pain to those who gave their all to support me.  Thank You for saving me from myself. If it wasn’t for Your mercy and Your grace I would not be the person I am today. Lord, I am grateful for the training that I received as a child, the mentors that You sent me and the epiphany You gave me regarding my life. God, I ask that You help me share my story and be a beacon of light for other young women. Thank You for taking the time to come after this one lost sheep. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to look back over your journey and be grateful that you are not where you could have been. If you are on a path that leads to destruction, I urge you to consider your ways and ask God to reveal the best path for your life. Lastly, I want you to think about one young woman that you know who could use your guidance. Make a decision today to get involved and be a beacon of light for her. 

As you look back over your life, were you ever a rebel without a cause? Share your story with us.

Read a related EmpowerMoment:  The Night We Almost Died

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Ms. Chancee` Lundy lives in Washington, DC and is an entrepreneur as she is the co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC, an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend and community servant. She has used her gift of public speaking to lead workshops across the globe speaking to crowds as large as 10,000 people. Her guiding scriptures this week are Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Back To School Series, Procrastination, Throwback Thursdays

Throwback Thursday: The Longer You Wait – The Longer It Takes

It’s Throwback Thursday! This EmpowerMoment was originally published on December 16, 2011. Enjoy this blast from the past. Also, school has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School.”   Read each day as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

Tis the Season…for “Ms. Richard, what can I do to pass your class??”  Yes!  It’s the season of “Can I have some make up work and/or extra credit?”  In past years I have killed tons of trees and feverishly created and copied packets for students to complete over Christmas break…NOT THIS YEAR!! Instead, I used a workbook for my Constitution unit.  Back in October, I had the students purchase the workbook and have been assigning pages out of it since then.  Of course, some students did not purchase the workbook or bought it and never opened it to do any of the assignments.  Now that these students are failing or are close to failing, they want to know, “What can I do to pass?”  My response was, “Complete your workbook from cover to cover!”

I have never seen so many attitudes at one time!  “What you mean Ms. Richard?  This gonna take me all break to do this!”   I simply said, “the longer you wait, the longer it takes. If you had been doing the work all along, you wouldn’t have as much to do!”

Later on I was reflecting on all I have to get done.  I have to deep clean my house, finish shopping for the Christmas dinner I’m hosting, and go shopping for gifts.  This is in addition to life outside of  the  Christmas season; I need to grade and record several assignments, sit down and pay some bills, and the list goes on, and on, AND ON!!

Just then my words came back to me, “…the longer you wait, the longer it takes…”  Yes my students have an issue with procrastination but so do I!  Procrastination is “the act of willfully delaying the doing of something that should be done,” and in some people it is a habitual way of handling any task. There was so much I could have been getting done all along.  Instead of letting my students’ papers pile up, I could have graded an assignment or two everyday.  Christmas comes at the same time EVERY year so I could have been purchasing things throughout the year and had them ready.   Oh and my house–I wouldn’t have to do such a deep clean if I had been more diligent in weekly spot cleaning.

Now my attitude was rising, “WHY???? Why did I let this stuff pile up like this?”  Because I kept telling myself, “I’ll do it tomorrow, no rush, I’ll get to it!”

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1 NIV)

So here I am coming up with a plan TODAY so I can get everything done.  One cure for procrastination is more diligence, regardless of the task. We should be supremely motivated to be diligent in our work, since we are ultimately serving the Lord. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23 ESV). If we put our hearts into our work, as this verse says to do, we will probably find it difficult to procrastinate too much.  Yes, my weekend is pretty much shot but I will take this as a lesson to NOT procrastinate because, “the longer you wait, the longer it takes…”

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for giving us the ability and the strength to do all the things that we need to do.  Help us to be more diligent at getting tasks completed.  Give us wisdom to prioritize and manage our time efficiently and effectively so that we can complete every task You have laid before us.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to STOP PROCRASTINATING!!  There is so much we have to do in order to build the kingdom of God and reach the individual destinies we have for our lives.  We have no time to waste! 

  1. Pray and ask God for wisdom and guidance
  2.  Make a list of all the things you have to do
  3.  Write down a deadline date next to each task
  4. Prioritize how you will get each task done in an organized and timely fashion
  5.  Get to work!! 

Ladies, do you have a problem with procrastination? Share your story or words of wisdom with us.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Rebuke the 7 Dwarfs

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Ms. Katrina Richard is an up and coming professional residing in Chicago, Illinois.  She strives to incorporate knowledge and life-skills to teenagers in her profession as a high school history teacher.  Katrina is very active in her church community where she serves in the prayer ministry as well as in the nursery.  She has a passion for serving in the lesser known areas of ministry because she believes every facet of ministry is important to kingdom building and spiritual development of the believers. Her favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Accountability, Back To School Series, Growth/Maturity, Leadership

Back To School: Pausing Peer Pressure

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.   Read each day as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

“I don’t like her.”

“Why not?”

“Just because.”

“Did she do something to you?”

“Nope, but my friend doesn’t like her, so neither do I.”

Ladies, how many of you are guilty of such a conversation at some point in your life? I’m pretty certain that a good number of us have been on the giving or receiving end of this exchange at one time or another. I know I have! In elementary school I was the victim of such idiocy. One girl disliked me so an entire group chose not like me as well. By the time I made it to high school, I was hating people simply because my friends were hating them. Fast forward to college and I was the one dictating who we should and shouldn’t treat nicely. Although I played very different roles in each of these scenarios, one thing remained consistent—each included a horrible case of peer pressure.

Many of you reading this are probably thinking that peer pressure is just a problem that we deal with in school, but I beg to differ. Many of us adults are guilty of engaging in activities at the suggestion of someone else, situations which we otherwise would have chosen to forego.  We may (or may not) have grown past choosing our friends and enemies based on what others feel but we still fall victim to the pressure of our peers from time to time. Do you recall when your neighbor wanted to help you get a job at her company and she encouraged you to add some fluff to your resume` — peer pressure.  Remember when he convinced you to have sex after you declared a life of celibacy until marriage—peer pressure. What about when you sat around listening to your friends gossip about the girl down the street?   Sure, you didn’t add anything to the conversation but you didn’t stand up for right either—peer pressure.

In Exodus 23, verses 2 and 3 clearly admonish us against such behavior: “Do not join a crowd that intends to do evil. When you are on the witness stand, do not be swayed in your testimony by the opinion of the majority.” (NLT) We are to be witnesses daily for the Gospel. It is imperative that our testimonies and lifestyles are not dictated by the majority’s worldly standards. We have a duty to choose right, even when it is not popular. We cannot be afraid to go against the grain to maintain God’s standards for living!

I am most inspired by a very recent and familiar story of one man’s courage to stand up for what he believed in and not give in to the pressure from his peers. Dan Cathy, President and CEO of Chick-Fil-A, chose to stand on his belief that God reserved marriage for man and woman, and not those of the same sex.  I am well aware of many who challenged his stance and I am sure Mr. Cathy recognized the threat that such controversy could pose to his restaurant’s bottom line. However, that didn’t sway his testimony! He chose to stand for what was Biblically right over what was popular. Even after knowing the consequences of choosing right, will you stand for God or give into the pressure of your peers? I’ve learned that God will bless you when your life blesses Him. (Look at the lines wrapped around Chik-Fil-A!)

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for the times that I chose to follow people when I should’ve been following You. Give me the strength and will to make decisions that would glorify You and not taint my witness for the Kingdom. Please grant me the courage to go against whatever goes against Your word, even if it means going against those closest to me. Today I choose to stand up for right! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to challenge peer pressure. If the temptation to do wrong is too strong for you to resist when you are in the company of certain individuals, you may need to reconsider their position in your life. EMPOWER your stance for the kingdom by choosing to do right!

How do you ensure that you are not tainted by negative influences? Share your tactics with us below.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Flee!

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Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant. She is extremely passionate about women’s spiritual advancement, hence the founding of EmpowerMoments. As an avid reader, Kristen enjoys reading the Bible and other non-fiction pieces. Her driving inspiration is when God says to her: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) She currently resides outside of Chicago, Illinois with her wonderful husband and three lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.

Back To School Series, Conviction, Forgiveness, Patience, Teacher/Student

Back To School: The Wildcat Ways

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.   Read each day as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

I started working at my new school in early August and I absolutely love my job.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I love this school so much and it hit me—“The Wildcat Ways”.  Our mascot is the wildcat and we operate under four principles: respect, responsibility, readiness, and safety.  These four principles are called “The Wildcat Ways”.  During the first few weeks of school, I spent an extensive amount of time modeling and practicing these principles with my students.

I love the principles because they invite structure and they hold students accountable for their actions.  I thought students had mastered “The Wildcat Ways” until they had a bad day.  I found myself reprimanding them and helping them realize the wrong they had done.  I was so hard on them for not following the “Ways”.  I screamed, yelled and fussed for about 30 minutes until I had an ‘Aha moment‘.  I thought about how many times I had strayed away from the principles that God had instilled in me.  I thought about the many times I have to be reminded of scriptures and the Word of God.

How could I be so hard on them for being kids and messing up when God has not been hard on me for messing up over and over?  God has let His expectations be known and sometimes I still don’t do what’s right.  You know what God does?  He puts me back on the right path.

When I am not respectful to His will…God reminds me that, “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13 NLT)

When I am not being responsible and accountable for knowing the Word and how I am supposed to live…I am reminded that I am to study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2: 15 KJV)

When I am not ready for my assignment or for the next season in my life…God reminds me, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

When I am out of the Will of God, not practicing safety, or not guarding my heart…He reminds me that He is my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence. “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. (2 Samuel 22: 3-4 NASB)

The next time I am ready to throw a tantrum because my students are not actively engaging in “The Wildcat Ways,” I am going to remember that I don’t always do everything I am supposed to do and my Daddy always forgives me and lets me start anew.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for being an understanding God. Thank You for protecting me when I wasn’t being respectful, responsible, ready or safe in Your will for my life.  Continue to mold me into the woman of God that You will have me to be.  Daddy, I need You to continue to guide my thoughts, words and actions when other people don’t do Your will.  Teach me to love with an agape love, the same as You love me!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to remember to be respectful to God in everything that you do.  I EMPOWER you to be responsible and accountable for living in the Will of God.  Always be ready for what God has for you and be ready for attacks from the enemy. Learn to be patient when people are not operating in excellence and remember that God forgives you, so you need to forgive them.

What are four principles you are maintaining today? When was the last time God had to remind you about being patient when people are not operating in excellence?

Read A Related EmpowerMoment: You Know Better!

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Mrs. Keviyona Ray is an ordained minister and co-pastor of The Christ For All People International Church. She is passionate about sharing the word of God with everyone she encounters. As a professional, Keviyona is a teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She loves her ministry of teaching and changing children’s lives. She is a devoted wife and mother of a wonderful daughter. Two of her favorite scriptures are Jeremiah 1: 5: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” and Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

Attitude, Back To School Series, Character, Direction/Guidance, Self-Control, Speech

Back To School: Trifling!

School has begun for most students across the world so for the next two weeks, EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.   Read each day as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

Thinking back over the 18 plus years of schooling I have embarked upon in my lifetime, I immediately thought of a multitude of joyous occasions to share with our EmpowerMoments readers.  It was then that I recognized that the most influential lesson I learned was a result of my very first suspension from school.  As my Spanish teacher distributed the graded exams from the week prior, I laughed and giggled with my tenth grade friends certain that I had passed with flying colors.  When the paper arrived on my desk full of red marks, my first reaction was to blurt out, “This is trifling!”  As I searched the entire sheet for an indication as to why I received such a low score, my teacher approached my desk and sent me directly to the principal because ‘I called her trifling!’

Trifling!

It was when I arrived in the office that I realized just how serious everyone else was taking this one word.  In my mind it was my phrase of the month, nothing more than a mere cliché that I had adapted for everything. I was issued a two-day suspension and a phone call to my parent; I became even more enraged because of the disciplinary actions taken.  My verbiage of choice was not one that deserved a bleep or a sensor; yet, I was being penalized to the fullest extent of my school district.

“For your iniquity teaches your mouth, and you choose the tongue of the crafty.  Your own mouth condemns you and not I; your own lips testify against you.” (Job 15:5-6 AMP)

Two days of suspension and a month after being grounded, I still didn’t fully understand what I had done wrong in this situation to have my social life placed on pause.  Back then I chose to use the word in a very loose context but the definition was purely insulting.  It did not make total sense until I grew older and developed a personal connection with God for myself.  Just as my teacher felt disrespected by my preferred adjective, I would be even more appalled if my relationship with the Father was labeled with such an offensive and harsh term.  Recently, a guy that I know challenged the depth of my love for Christ in a joking manner, but I ended up feeling the sting of his words much like my teacher did back in 2000.  At first I wanted to send him to the nearest principal’s office to be reprimanded when I remembered that Romans 10:9 boldly states that if I believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and God raised Him from the dead, I am saved without dispute.  It was then that I realized just how serious my actions were years ago and I FINALLY accepted my punishment.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for allowing me to learn the lessons, even if they occur years later.  Help me to stay sensitive to the words I speak into the atmosphere for they can easily become applicable to my life.  Fill me with words of Your love so that people will be able to see You and none of me.  Please keep me grounded in You that my ears, eyes, and mouth gates will continuously bring glory to Your Kingdom at all times.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Women of God, I EMPOWER you to think back over your days and look at the bigger picture of it all.  Even the happiest times taught you a lesson that can help you to become a better Christian.  Never allow the enemy an opportunity to let his “trifling” ways shine through on a child of God like you.  Have a Blessed week. ☺

What moments from your past or current school days have taught you lessons in becoming a better Christian?

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Ms. Latasha Sampson is an accomplished writer who is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Human Resources Management.  She resides in Nashville, Tennessee where she is a faithful member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. She serves tirelessly with the Evangelism Team there.  Latasha also works at Mt. Zion as a member of the Administrative Support Staff. Her favorite scripture is “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.” Isaiah 54:17