Accountability, Career, Commitment, Courage, Faith, Trusting God

Stand Up for What You Believe In!

A few weeks ago Chicago Teacher’s Union made headline news. We went on strike to prove to the city and the world that we were worth far more than the District was offering us. Now I am going to be honest when the vote first came up a little less than a year ago I was all for it because I didn’t really believe we would go on strike. When reality set in and we couldn’t report to our place of employment I became discontented because I had to evaluate what we were fighting for. I had a choice to make; I could cross the picket line or I could stand in the fire. The main reason I was indecisive is because I was thinking about not getting paid. God had to remind me of how many times He has come to my rescue and bailed me out. I was reminded that I need to keep my life free from love of money, and be content with what I have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:12 ESV)

The same way I had a choice to make with the Union, I also have choices to make with my beliefs in God. Regardless of going without and losing money, I didn’t go to work because I believed some kind of change would come. In Mark the 5th chapter, a leader named Jairus believed that God could raise his daughter from the dead. When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. (Mark 5: 21-24 NIV) As Jesus was going to Jairus’ house, some people ran from his house and told him to leave Jesus alone because the girl is dead.  Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5: 36 NIV) How many times have we believed God would do something and people would tell us we were crazy or we should spend our time standing up for something else? I have been desperate for Jesus to come into my house and people have told me it’s too late, leave Jesus alone, and find something else to stand up for.

When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5: 38-42 NIV)

Imagine if Jairus had not stood up for what he believed in despite what people said. He would have missed His blessing. His daughter would not have lived again. How many things have we let lay dormant because we are scared to stand up for what we believe in? I want all of you to have the same belief in God that Jairus had, that God can do the impossible. Stand up for what you believe in!

Dear Daddy,

Continue to give me the courage to stand up for You and Your son Jesus. God, I am asking that You guide my footsteps and my words so that I won’t stray away from my belief in You. I am asking that You give me the same faith that Jairus had in the Bible, believing that You can make the impossible possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to stand up for what you believe in. I dare you to put all of your faith and belief in God and watch how He resurrects a situation that has laid dormant in your life. Remember ladies, if you don’t stand for something with your spouse, your children, your employment, school, people, thoughts, etc. you will fall for anything!

Although others may doubt, what are you standing up for because you believe in it?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Blinded By What I See

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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.”

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Blessings, Career, Contentment, Employment, Encouragement, Faith, Faithfulness, Goals & Dreams, God's Grace, Miscellaneous, Patience, Patience, Persistance, Preparation, Restoration, Spiritual Therapy, Strength, Transitions Series, Trials, Trusting God

Transitions: Trampled on the Floor

The past few years of my life have been ones of transition, endless waiting and sometimes disappointment. I’ve alluded to and written about it many times. Long story short, I left my job in Texas to start my own business and moved to Atlanta for a three-month transition. In my mind that is all it would take before the business was up and running and I could move to my real destination, Washington, DC (because this is where the business was based). That three months has turned into over two years and I reached a point where I was tired of telling people that I was moving anywhere because I just didn’t know when/if it would happen. As a matter of fact, I actually told people I was moving to Washington, DC nearly two years before I left Texas so in total this has now been a four year wait. If you have had any experience with God you know that many times your best made plans aren’t a part of His plan.

But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor. Micah 4:12 KJV From my brief study, I found that sheaves are stalks of grain and they were gathered on the threshing floor during harvest time for a two-step process. First the actual grain was separated from the chaff. To do this, oxen would pull a metal spiked sledge that would break the heads of the grain from the stalk or they would just trample them. Next the broken stalks were tossed into the air and the wind would blow the lighter chaff away while the heavier grain would fall back on the floor where it could then be gathered for use.

My time of transition has been like the sheaves on the threshing floor. I went from making a very lucrative salary to making zero, zilch, nada. Months would go by and I had nothing but what I could borrow or get from someone else. My mini-vacations that I would frequently take turned into staycations in my room. I found myself in an “asking” position when I was usually the giver. Shopping excursions were non-existent as my belly became wider, clothes became tattered and shoes wobbled to the side. When I could no longer afford my health insurance, the aches and pains started. I went from being a mover and shaker, featured in Ebony Magazine to feeling insignificant. Finally my car called it quits. Although I grew up poor, THIS was a very unfamiliar position. Throughout this process I have felt a gamut of emotions: happiness, depression, bitterness, envy, contentment and disappointment. I had good days and many bad ones. During the process, I felt beat down and trampled but it was only to extract the good grain. Without the threshing floor, the harvest would be incomplete.

I had to learn more about myself and have many things extracted and tossed so that in the finishing process only the good grain was left in me. Sometimes God humbles you by removing the frills and unnecessary things to get you to the place He has ordained for you. A place where you are truly dependent on Him and can recognize that it is His goodness, and not your own doing, that gets you your blessings.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:13 NIV Admittedly during this process, my faith wavered; yet, God remained faithful. Did I get everything that I wanted when I wanted? No! However, He absolutely never failed to supply my needs. This month (July) represents a turning point in my life. After a little over two years in business, I received my first paycheck from my business one that will come consistently versus “some” money at any random month. From my time in the threshing process, I know how to use my money wiser so that when God grants me the increase that I need and desire, I will make sound investments versus temporary gratification. My “giving” strategy will be a lot different because when I couldn’t give I realized that people would always find a way without me. It made me realize that I was a resource and not their “source.” I learned that lesson for myself as well. As I sit in a hotel room now after a second trip of apartment hunting in Washington, DC, I have ultimately learned that if we can only learn to trust God and His timing He will prepare us for our harvest.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for my time in the threshing process as You prepared me for the harvest. I ask that You continue to let those traits, people and other characteristics that are not useful blow off of me into the wind. Help me to be anxious for nothing because You have told me that in due season I will reap a harvest. You have been faithful to Your Word even in the midst of my doubt. God, I ask that You continue to build my faith as I move into the next phase that You have prepared for me. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to trust Him in the process. Although it’s hard because what you see what’s happening in other people’s lives (marriages, babies, career advancements, notoriety, goal accomplishments, financial prosperity) may seem foreign for your own. Know that He is preparing you for your harvest by extracting those things that aren’t useful for that next phase in your life. Trust that He is faithful to you because it is who He is and who He has always been.

Are you waiting on God and feel as if it is not going to happen? If you examine yourself, is it that God has you on the threshing floor? Share your story with us in the comment section.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Seasons Change

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Ms. Chancee` Lundy lives in Atlanta, Georgia 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: every where 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.

Career, Goals & Dreams, Growth/Maturity, Submission/Surrendering

Let Go of the Life Calendar

When I began graduate school in August 2010, I knew for a fact that I would be graduating before the close of 2012.  As I progressed through each class, earning one “A” after the next, I was even more certain that I was going to finish in December 2012 with honors.  As I listened to all the favorable comments about my future from my professors, I was sure that I would be in my cap and gown before Christmas 2012. 

“However, no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” (Matthew 24:36 NLT)

A few weeks ago I decided to stop by my academic advisor’s office to make sure everything was on track for my commencement at the end of the year.  She began by praising me for my 4.0 GPA, but when I switched the conversation to graduation her excitement abruptly left the building.  She nearly broke my heart when she told me that I would not complete my program until March of 2013!

As the day progressed, I continued talking to God about my feelings of defeat and anger.  My mind was at war with the thought that I had done all of this work only to miss what I considered to be my deadline.  I continued to gripe and complain until God decided to put me in my place.  He clearly stated that the reason my expected graduation was delayed was due to a lack of readiness.  “Be dressed for service and well prepared…” (Luke 12:35 NLT) I would need those extra months to get totally prepared for my future career.  God told me to stop focusing on the date, but rather focus on making sure that I am prepared for where He is getting ready to take me.  A shift in the natural realm will only be possible if I am willing to trust what He is doing in the spiritual!  “…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1Corinthians 2:9 NLT)  

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for putting me in my place!  So often I get caught up in SELF that I forget that everything I go through is so You can get the glory.  Help me to remember that my time has NOTHING to do with Yours.  I must always remember that You know what’s best for me regardless of the circumstances.  I will no longer place emphasis on deadlines, but I will instead give You TOTAL control to change my calendar of events as You see fit.  Have Your way Daddy!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to stop allowing that calendar of life to weigh you down!  Remember that if God promised it, He will deliver when you are spiritually, physically, and emotionally ready to handle it.  While you are busy counting days, God is already aware of the moment that He will allow you to receive the very thing you have asked Him for…so WAIT for it! Be Blessed! 🙂

What event have you decided to erase from YOUR life calendar? Tell us about it in the comment section below!

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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

Assignment, Attitude, Career, Growth/Maturity, Humility, Patience, Preparation, Trials, Trusting God

Stay In Your Season

“I hate this place! I will not finish this year at this school! I understand exactly what you mean girl. The boss is crazy and I am not feeling this.”

This is the conversation that I found myself having in 2011. I learned a lot about myself this year. I learned that I was an emotional creature. I let my emotions guide my decisions sometimes (well, all the time).  Let me give you an example. I have written in previous posts that I was thankful for being back in the classroom. From August to November I had the worst experience as a teacher that I have had in eight years. The students walked in and I thought, “I can control these kids because they are just going to do what I say.” I figured it didn’t matter what it took because the kids were going to complete my work because I said so. Guess what happened? I was firm and they didn’t care. If I raised my voice they raised their voice. There were days I would assign work and less than half the class wouldn’t even attempt to try it. I know you are wondering how this makes me emotional. Well I was crying every day, I was losing my hair, of course I was gaining weight again and I was angry all the time. Through these emotions I came to the conclusion that I was leaving that school. I spoke to some of my spiritual family and told them my plans and they had my back. I made up my mind that I would abandon the same kids that every other teacher has left. I went on an interview and what I thought was my way out was really a message from God.

I talked to the interviewer and she questioned me about lesson planning, teaching, behavior management and my passion for kids. As I spoke to her I heard myself saying I have met students that didn’t want to learn. It has never been this hard to teach kids. I need structure in my life and I just really hate my place of employment. I know you are thinking, “Keviyona, you have lost your mind!” No! I had not lost my mind but I had heard God’s voice. God spoke to me and said, “What happened to you trusting me? What happened to you staying in the race? What happened to you staying in your season of preparation?” I pondered and said I have always thought I was walking into my season. The more I consulted God, the more insight I obtained. I realized that every day of our lives is a season. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV)

Let’s look at seasons in nature to get a general idea of how seasons work. In nature, things come forth, grow and fulfill their purpose and die. Notice that winter and spring are times of preparation. In the winter the ground gets very cold or freezes, which kills germs or bacteria that could be harmful to crops. Plants that have died during the previous season decay and help replenish nourishment to the soil. Then, as the late winter and early spring comes, the soil is plowed and made ready, seeds are planted, nurtured and grow…Then in summer and fall, crops mature and are harvested. The farmers then sell the crops for money and use the money to support their families and enjoy the good things of life. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. (Ecclesiastes 3: 2-3 KJV)

I was in my season of winter. God was trying to kill my old way of dealing with issues. I was used to moaning and complaining to the people that love me and not saying anything to the people that were inflicting the pain. God was killing everything that I thought I had done on my own as a teacher. Yes, I am guilty; I had a spirit of arrogance on me as a teacher because I was labeled as “one of the best in the school.” God had to humble me and make me realize that it doesn’t matter how many degrees I have or how well I know instruction, I need to depend on Him for everything. Instead of God letting me run away from my job He made me face opposition head on. He told me to stay in my season!

By staying in my season of winter and not running to a new school, (this doesn’t mean that I won’t leave when the timing is right) I have seen a shift in the atmosphere. I’ve seen kids that would not do it at first start to work for me. I have seen students eager to learn. I’ve seen students that are ecstatic because someone really believes in them. I have seen students tell the trouble makers “shut up so Mrs. Ray can teach me something.” I am at the beginning of my summer where there is light at the end of the tunnel. I can see the flowers blooming. I can see my growth and my student’s growth. Most important, I can see God on my job. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

Had I not stayed in my seasons of winter and spring, I would not have realized that God was preparing me for the next season in my life. I wouldn’t have realized that I had more to learn even though I am a “vet” in the teaching profession. God had to humble me as a teacher and take me outside of my comfort zone in my winter season in order to prepare me for my summer and fall seasons, which bring leadership. I learned that there is not one season in my life but every season is a lesson that I have to learn in order to go to the next level. And we know that God causes everything to work togetherfor the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8: 28 NLT)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for allowing me to have seasons of preparation and seasons of harvest. I thank You God for teaching me that I must go through seasons in order to reap my harvest. I thank You for covering me with the blood and putting me back on the course and the plan that You have for my life when I stray. I thank You God for teaching me to stay in season! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Women of God, I EMPOWER you to stay in whatever season you are in. Remember that whereever you are in your life, that God is preparing you for greatness. God does not want you to change the course in the middle of the season, He wants you to endure to the end. I EMPOWER you to go through your season of preparation in winter and spring and reap your harvest in fall and winter. Stay in your season!

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Seasons Change

Mrs. Keviyona Ray is an ordained minister and co-pastor in training 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.”

Assignment, Career, Encouragement, Faith, Favor, Inspirational, Trusting God

Listening To Your Voice

At the age of 24 (turning 25 in a few weeks) God has placed me in a position of leadership. I am a Program Coordinator at a non-profit and I am a supervisor for two employees that are both older than me. Actually everyone in my office is about 5-10 years older than me, and at times some can treat me like I am their subordinate. I know this is because of my age. At times I feel out of place myself, but then I remember that I prayed for this position and that I have worked in non-profit in various capacities for the past six years. Those I work with probably have no idea of the sacrifices I’ve made in order to be in a field that I love and feel called by God to pursue. The enemy would love to have me doubt my ability. Truth is everything I have comes from God; I am not “special” but I am being obedient to the call of God on my life. Recently, I started reading a devotion on faithfulness. One of the “memory” scriptures came from II Chronicles, a book of the Bible I do not read often and that’s when I stumbled on (or as I would like to think was divinely guided to) King Hezekiah and Sennacherib. My current predicament is similar to that of Hezekiah. At the age of 25 Hezekiah became king and had to go against King Sennacherib a mighty warrior king:

Sennacherib’s officers spoke further against the LORD God and against his servant Hezekiah. The king also wrote letters ridiculing the LORD, the God of Israel, and saying this against him: “Just as the gods of the peoples of the other lands did not rescue their people from my hand, so the god of Hezekiah will not rescue his people from my hand.” Then they called out in Hebrew to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to terrify them and make them afraid in order to capture the city. They spoke about the God of Jerusalem as they did about the gods of the other peoples of the world—the work of human hands.

King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this. And the LORD sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the commanders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons, his own flesh and blood, cut him down with the sword.

So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them on every side. (II Chronicles 32: 16-23 NIV)

I was so deep into this story that I actually researched Sennacherib, and according to Wikipedia, Sennacherib means Sin has separated my brothers from me. Can you see how God orchestrated this? God used a man, whose name literally means sin to come against the people of God so they could see and believe that their God, the God of Israel is one to keep those promises.

I would like to leave you with a word from an EmpowerMoment commenter: Faith is acting like God is telling the truth.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank You so much for keeping Your Word. You never said trials, tribulations and tests would not come my way, but You promised to see me through. Lord, I know You are only asking of me to have the faith that You can and will do what may seem impossible to me. Remind me that anything is possible if I keep my hand in Your hand. You can deliver me no matter how close defeat might look. You spoke this entire world into existence, so speaking life into my situation is nothing for You. I thank You in advance for hearing and acknowledging this prayer. Keep me encouraged Father, and help me not to ignore those times when You are asking me to spend more time with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Lovely Ladies of God, no matter what your age or position I EMPOWER you to stand firm in God’s Word, in His promises to you, no matter what the enemy may tell you. You know that God is a God that cannot and will not lie; it is not even in His character. If HE spoke it to you, HE will be the one to bring it forth.

Ms. Renee` N. Chaffin is a single mother who has a heart for helping those less fortunate. She has been active in the non-profit sector, whether through volunteerism or professionally, for the past six years.  She is passionate about sharing the love of God, her testimony and empowering people to discover their true potential that was bestowed on them by King of the Universe. Renee` is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration. While on her pursuit of higher education, she is on a seven year journey to challenge God to do ‘exceedingly and abundantly above all she can imagine’ in seven areas over the next seven years. Check out her journey at http://radical7even.wordpress.com. Her favorite scripture is I Peter 5:6: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

Career, Marriage, Prayer, Singleness

Is This What I REALLY Want?

I’ve had several personal requests before the Lord lately.  There are three specifically that God dealt with me about this week.   1) I want to be financially comfortable to the point that I am able to sow into other people and also help others in need 2) I want a challenge in my professional life 3)  I want the Lord to continue to keep me content in my season of singleness but PLEASE LORD PLEASE, only let it be a SEASON!!  My greatest desire is to be a wife and mother.

“…Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV)

God has really been dealing with me this week on these requests in particular.  First, I got a call from an acquaintance. He was telling me  about his latest financial shortcoming and I found myself rolling my eyes on the phone and thinking, Lord please don’t let him ask me for no money! RIGHT THERE, it hit me “Is this what I REALLY want?”

Second, I facilitated a professional development workshop and the saying is true that teachers are the WORST students! Again in my mind I said, “Oh they can have this foolishness!” RIGHT THERE again…“Is this what I REALLY want?”

Third, my married Godsister and I were talking and somehow we got on the subject of marriage.  She gave me a PROFOUND analogy of the reality of marriage.  That thing FLOORED me and when I got off the phone AGAIN…”Is this what I REALLY want?”

We have a habit of making requests to God and then having in our minds exactly how we want the answered prayer to look.  I want to personally like everyone God uses me to bless.   I don’t want to have to deal with the challenge of trying to motivate my colleagues; I want a challenge that I can achieve without having to deal with them.  Oh and yes, I want a husband and children but I don’t want to have to sacrifice anything or change my ways and habits.  We must understand God does NOT operate this way!

“…from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked…” (Luke 12:48b)

Much what? More of what you ask?  More PRAYER, More FASTING, More GRACE, More MERCY, More GIVING, More WARFARE!!!!  So for those of you who have requests before God I ask, “Is this what you REALLY want?”

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for granting me the privilege of making my requests known to You.  Help me submit to Your will even as I present the desires of my heart to You.  Give me wisdom, peace, and strength knowing that, “…You know the way that I take and when You have tested me, I will come forth as gold…” (Job 23:10 NIV) In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to TALK TO YOUR HEAVENLY DADDY!! Thank Him for all that He’s done, who He is, and who He has been in your life, but also BE HONEST with Him and make your requests known to Him.  But remember, “…To whom much is given, much is required..” (Philippians 4:6 KJV) and really ask yourself, “Is this what I REALLY want. Am I ready for what I’m asking for? “  I pray that your answer will be YES!!

Read a related EmpowerMoment: The Long Eyed Lesson

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.