Death, God's Peace, Trusting God

Your Will be Done

I just recently lost a patient, and I’m taking this one especially hard. She was only 38 years old with a husband and two young children. She was one of my first primary breast cancer patients. I treated her. I encouraged her. I loved her. I fought with and for her in her battle with cancer. And she died. She wasn’t supposed to die! What did I do wrong? What could we have done differently? In the last few weeks of her life she started complaining of a headache. I documented it. Treated it. Gave her new meds, took away meds, encouraged adequate hydration and maintained her blood counts. She still had a headache off and on. She had been receiving a particular chemotherapy regimen in treatment of her breast cancer and we were right at the end where we’d order a PET/CT scan to see if the cancer had decreased or gone away completely. We never got to do that scan because before we knew it she was being admitted to the hospital due to the onset of seizure activity. Brain MRI revealed the cancer had spread to the meninges of the brain. With this knowledge, her already guarded prognosis (outlook) immediately took a nose dive. I was devastated. I’m still devastated to be honest. My heart literally aches at the void her death leaves for her family, especially her husband, children and mother. Lord, why?

Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes. (Psalm 115:3 NLT)

Though it was not clearly indicated nor was it “standard of care” to do so, what would have happened if I had ordered a scan when the headaches first started? Would the situation have turned out differently? However, the end result would have been the same, as it was God’s will. But it still stinks. I thank God that I had the opportunity to positively impact her life and share God’s goodness with her. I wanted God to heal her. I prayed for God to heal her. I didn’t want her taken away from her family. Yet, I know that you never know when it is your time to go and it behooves you to be ready.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42 NIV)

She’s gone now. Her family is left to pick up the pieces. This takes me back to the place when my mom died…heart wrenching, gut tearing pain. I have learned a lot from this situation and I know it is cultivating me as a health care provider. But God, does it have to be this way?

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)

Glad to be girded up in scripture to help me in times of weakness, grief and sorrow. I’m praying so hard for her family right now. I wish the outcome could have been different but God didn’t ask me. Nevertheless, He is the only one to turn to and lean and depend on. His love endures forever.

Dear Daddy,

Grant us peace in the midst of the storm. Help us find solace in knowing we did all we could do. We know nothing comes as a surprise to You in Your omnipresence and omnipotence. Thanks for reminding us that You alone are in control. Help us to accept Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you as I EMPOWER myself to stay in the race and to not lose hope. I EMPOWER you to help all you can while you can. I EMPOWER you to do what you can while you can. I EMPOWER you to make your life mean something today because tomorrow is not promised. I EMPOWER you to continue to look to God even when it seems He’s not doing what we want. I EMPOWER you to trust Him and to trust that He knows what He’s doing no matter how it may seem.

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Mrs. Coretta Collins is a wife and mother who enjoys reading, writing, movies and spending time with family and friends. She is avid about health, healing and helping which serves her well as a Family Nurse Practitioner in a hematology and oncology practice. Striving to be led by the Lord throughout life and having overcome significant challenges, 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 a hope and a future. Coretta is a member of St. John A.M.E. Church, Birmingham, Alabama. She resides in Calera, Alabama with her awesome husband and two wonderful sons.

 

 

Courage, Death, Gifts/Talents, Health/Sickness, Obedience, Purpose

My Testimony: She Shifted

Happy New Year EmpowerMoments family! We have surely missed you! As we kick off the new year, we are beginning with a series entitled “Testimonies & Lessons”. We believe Revelation 12:11 when it says that we overcome by the word of our testimonies. We pray that our testimony and lessons from last year will EMPOWER you to triumph this year! May God bless you and make 2014 the greatest year of your life thus far!

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

When I found out about our Testimony Series, I started thinking to myself, I don’t really have one. God has me in the season of planting and rebuilding, so breakthroughs and the fruits of this season have yet to sprout. But God kept dealing with me to write about the one thing I don’t want to write about — my Aunt’s death and how it became a testimony in my life. I don’t want to talk about it because it is still too fresh, I am still in denial, and I feel guilty for grieving so hard when I know my cousins are grieving harder. But “to obey is better than sacrifice”. (I Samuel 15:22 NKJV) I am a witness that God can use your gift to bless you.

Around the fourth of December I received a call from my Dad that my Aunt had a stroke, was unconscious, and on a ventilator at the hospital. I was so distraught, yet strangely peaceful at the same time. I was almost mad at myself for having that type of peace. My Auntie was a firecracker. She loved hard, fought hard, talked hard, worked hard, everything she did was 1000%, from her love to her anger. She was so authentic. She understood my “not so saint-like” moments. I told her secrets that I was embarrassed to tell others and she would talk me through them telling me what I was going to do!

About two or three years ago I noticed my Auntie started acting different. She started talking about the Lord more. I noticed a Shift. She shifted into a woman who became verbally expressive of God’s goodness. As the year progressed her Shift became more evident.

As God would have it, I had to travel to Atlanta for work the week she was in the hospital. As soon as my plane hit the ground I rushed to the hospital to see her. I wanted to keep ignoring the voices in my head that she wasn’t going to make it. But I knew what God sounded like; I was in denial. On the drive there I was in a fog. God kept talking to me about my Auntie’s life and how she Shifted. She became the woman He wanted her to be and her time to celebrate with Him had come. At first I was angry because I felt He took her before she could enjoy more of the prosperity that comes with submitting to God’s will here on Earth. I wanted her to experience more of that, but God continued to confirm to me that she had Shifted, and now it was her time.

He also said to me in the car that it was time that I Shift. It was time for me to Shift into the boldness of the call of ministry He placed on my life. I didn’t want it. My words to Him were, “God I don’t read my Bible enough. I don’t pray enough. I’m not obedient enough. I’m not good enough. I don’t know enough.” Seeming as though He totally ignored me, He began to give me orders about how He was going to confirm the power He had placed in me, through her. He said these exact words, “When you touch her, she is going to Shift, and then you will know.” I’m thinking to myself, yeah right God.

See, for the past few years I have doubted my gift. I was never sure if I was acting out of emotion or if it truly was God. He said, “Today is the day I will confirm it for you.”

I arrived at the hospital and saw my Aunt on life support. My first thought was, “Lord, I’m definitely NOT going to touch her, I might break something or hurt her. You are going to have to literally move my hand; I don’t even know where to place it!” My Dad was in there with me and he started rubbing her arm as he and I were casually talking. I heard God say, “Your turn.” I responded, “You gotta do it; I might break something. You will have to take over; I just can’t.” We waited and chatted some more and lo’ and behold I found myself caressing her arm, relishing in her warm soft skin that I always remembered. I began to think that I was hallucinating because her machines started acting weird. My Dad screamed, “What happened, did you see that?” I froze and stood there and watched her vital signs rise and her eyes flutter and open. I almost fell on the floor but my legs were stuck. God spoke and said, “See, just as she Shifted in her life, it is now time for you to Shift and operate in the gift; I put it in you.”

My Aunt died that next morning and I would be lying if I said that I was ok with that. I really wish that her movements weren’t reflexes and that she was in recovery right now, but God already confirmed that the “strange thing” that was going to happen wasn’t to bring her back to us. Rather, it was to use her to confirm His power, that I really do know His voice and should now walk in boldness operating in my gift.

Dear Daddy,

Over and over again You show Your power, Your majesty, Your glory, and Your omniscience. I am grateful that my Aunt received Your gift of salvation before she died and that I was able to experience her Shift into the Woman of God You were molding all along. God, it is my prayer that just as You held my hand and guided me to the brink of my Shift, that You do the same for my Sister in Christ reading this EmpowerMoment. Lord, it is my desire that You confirm in her Spirit the direction You will have for her to go and the confidence she needs to get there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to Shift. It is time to put old things away and Shift into a life of obedience with God. Is it time for you to Shift into a new dimension or to Shift some things around? I’ve Shifted to walking boldly in my gift from God. I’m a tad scared at times, but I’m dedicated to learning, refining, growing, and understanding more and more about this gift He has trusted me with. I EMPOWER you to seek your heart and your ways and Shift where God says so.

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As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is a university administrator. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “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) Khalilah also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment. Her passion is mentoring young women and marriage empowerment. She resides in Orange Beach, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their two daughters. They are members of New Beginnings Christian Center in Foley, AL.

Death, Sin

A Walk With The Dead

This year my Father’s Day was different, life changing, and uncomfortable. My husband, our girls, my in-loves, and I took a visit to the cemetery to visit my father-in love’s grave. Let me warn you that I was all the way uncomfortable and sad in the car riding to the cemetery because I knew that this would be a time of tears and I have never walked in a cemetery. When we arrived at the cemetery, we did not find his tombstone right away so we decided to break into groups and look. I instantly became uncomfortable as I thought of how I would be walking on top of dead people.

As my husband and I searched for his father’s tombstone, we both couldn’t help but to glance at the others along the way. We saw infants, toddlers, children, teens, young adults, middle-aged adults, and elderly adults. Neither group settled the uncomfortable feeling I had. I continued to think how I was walking around a whole lot of dead people, the earth under my feet didn’t even feel normal, and this was a first time experience for me.

As we continued to walk, I uttered loudly, “Walking with dead people just doesn’t feel right”. We all laughed, but the Spirit began to witness to my Spirit,It is not supposed to.” We finally found my father-in love’s tombstone and had a moment of reflection. We all began to dwell on how precious life was, how short it is, and how when you truly cross over nothing matters anymore (you’ll even let people walk all over you).

On the ride back home, I kept thinking about what I said, and the Word of God came to me. For out of the abundance of your heart your mouth speaks. (Paraphrased from Luke 6:45 NKJV) This is what the Holy Spirit witnessed and downloaded into me: “Sin brings death. Are you still in your sin? Just as you were uncomfortable being around dead people, how do you think I feel when you’re in sin and not being fruitful? So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11 NLT) After hearing that I had to examine myself and realize I was in sin. Even though I was fruitful in many areas of my life, there were other areas of sin I was well alive to and should have been dead too. I found myself being prideful in my knowledge and not easily forgiving others, but forgiving others with condition. Those are sins and I had to confess them, receive Jesus’ forgiveness, and depend on the power of the Spirit to be confirmed. I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to always make me aware when my life is like a cemetery to Him.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for being a patient and long suffering Father. I thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit. I thank You that He leads us to truth and conforms us to the image and child that You desire. I pray that You would search our hearts. Let us know of the sin we are in so that we may confess and turn back to You. Oh how we need You! Our lives need not to be like cemeteries, but should be like delivery rooms, bringing life into every life we come in contact with as well as bringing life into this dark world. Father, let our allegiance be with You and Your word and not our flesh and this world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

I EMPOWER you to search your heart. Any sin that you find confess it, receive the work of the cross, and the forgiveness of your sins so that you would bear the life that the Father desires you to have!

How do you maintain your worship to God?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Living Saved Is An Inside Job

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Mrs. Lisa M. Purnell-Marshall is happily married to the wonderful and inspiring Antoine L. Marshall. She is the proud mother of two gorgeous girls. Her voice is one of the leading and authentic voices for breast-feeding, especially for the African-American community and Generation Y. She currently works inside of her home and plans to become a professional licensed lactation consultant in 2014. She and her family are members at Spirit of Liberty Church located in Markham, IL. Embracing the love that God has for her, Lisa labors to live an acceptable and pure life through the leading and keeping of the Holy Spirit so that her attitude, words, and actions attract the glory of God. In her free time she loves receiving manis and pedis. Her favorite promises that she find comfort and reassurance in are: Psalm34:19: “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” and Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God, God's Love, Love, Miscellaneous, Restoration

The Dress

This past week I pulled a dress out of my closet that had been hanging there for over three years. The reason it’s been in the closet so long is two-fold:

1. I had gained weight and not been able to fit the dress since I last wore it.

2. It was the dress I wore to the funeral of my first love, the father of my children.

At the beginning of this year, I decided that I was going to make my health a priority. As I made lifestyle changes, I started shedding the excess weight I’d been carrying around. Although I didn’t know where I would wear the dress next, I knew I would be able to wear it in a matter of time. When I took it out of the closet last week, I had no problem putting it on and it actually looked better than it had the first time I wore it! But it was bittersweet.

I was now going to wear the dress to the funeral of my nephew, my sister’s son.

One day last week, I was on my way to the mall to purchase the last outfit I would ever buy my nephew, the one he would go to his grave in. It was then that God began to speak to me about the dress. He told me that while I considered this dress as my ‘funeral dress’, it was a representative of so much more. Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV)

The black dress actually represents God’s love for me! He loves me so much that He has built me up and given me the strength to face the challenges of the black dress each and every time I have been confronted with them. When I had to bury the father of my children, God made sure that I stood strong, was able to love and comfort my children and recognize that even though I was hurting about how he was taken, I got better instead of bitter because of the love of God! When I had given up on myself and my desire to live a healthy lifestyle, was overpowered by the fear of gaining all the weight back again, there that black dress hung as a symbol of strength once again, reminding me that God loves me and will give me the strength to overcome the battle I have with my weight. On those mornings when I didn’t want to get up and do my workout, I could see that black dress; it stood out amongst all the clutter in the closet and I continued to push through.

As I was trying to mentally prepare myself to go back to the funeral home to make the final preparations for the homegoing service of my nephew—whom I will always remember as the snotty nosed little brother I never had, who I have lost so much sleep over this past week because of the way he was taken—I recognized once again that when it came time to step into that black dress and head to the funeral, the love of God would be all around me, holding me up and giving me the strength I needed to take each and every step that day!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for always being the strength that I need when I feel I have nothing more to give, say or do. Thank You for loving me through all of the good and bad times and assuring me that You will always be right by my side. I pray that when doubt begins to creep in, I will first look up and call on Your name because I know that I can do all things through You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Mighty ladies of God, today I EMPOWER you to embrace the strength that you have as an heir to the kingdom of your heavenly Father! Refuse to allow the doubt of people and situations to have any effect on that which you know to be true and continue to stand on His word!

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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.”

Abortion, Comfort, Death, Encouragement, God's Love, God's Mercy, God's Protection, I Am Free Series, Inspirational, Pain, Self Forgiveness, Spiritual Therapy, Throwback Thursdays, Trials

I Am Free: The Love Letter

It’s Throwback Thursday! Enjoy this blast from the past. To commemorate our nation’s independence this week, we are featuring a series entitled “I Am Free”.  Read this week as our writers share how God has delivered them and set them free!

I am FREE from my past!

Dear God,

I have been hearing how people are so “blessed and highly favored” or “too blessed to be stressed” but Lord, I need to be real for a moment. I have been holding onto something and it is eating away at me. I am still mad that You birthed me to a crack head mother and a dead beat dad. I was probably a mistake and not even supposed to be here; I definitely could tell that I wasn’t wanted. I am still upset that You allowed my uncle to rape and molest me without coming to my rescue. How could You do this to me? All of this hurt and anger I have built up has made me to live a life full of mistakes, pain, and hurt. I made a mistake when I aborted those babies and I regret it every day. Are you punishing me, still? God, I am so sorry, but I didn’t know what to do; I didn’t know who the father was. I am so upset with myself for disappointing You. On top of all of this, the one woman I did love and whom I considered my mother, you took her away from me too. So how can I walk around as if I am blessed and highly favored? I’m hurting; I’m sad, mad, and angry. I feel left out Lord…I thought You loved me. I cry myself to sleep at night because I’m lonely and sad. I’m depressed at the thought of not being loved by anyone. I stick out; I don’t fit in, why am I like this?

Love, Your Wounded Baby Girl

Dear Daughter,

I chose your mother as a vessel to be used by me. Before you were created in her womb I knew the plan for your life, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  I took my time to knit you together (Psalms 139:13). I was there, although grieved, when you were sacrificed and your virtue stripped from you. But I am also a God of restoration. I heal the brokenhearted and I tend to your wounds. (Psalm 147:3) I made a promise to you that I am with you always even to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:20) You say that you aren’t attractive, I say I made you in my image.(Genesis 1:27) I made you fearful and wonderful. (Psalms 139:14) I made your hair like lamb’s skin, your eyes like the sun, you lips full like ripened fruit, and your stature like the rolling hills. I made you on purpose, I made you like me…you are beautiful. My spirit was grieved when you aborted those babies and of course I also know of  your other wrong doings.  But remember that son I sacrificed? He shielded you with His blood and mercy and presented you to me faultless (Colossians 1:22) Walk in freedom my dear! Your earthly mother was my angel, she taught you how to fly, take care of yourself, and she showed you me. It was time for her to return so that you could do what I have for you to do. There are younger daughters that walk around in guilt and shame every day. Who can touch them but you? Who can show them that I can heal the wounded heart but you? Who can show them that a daughter of a crack head can be a Queen of Success, but you? My Son can plead on your behalf because He took on all sin. You can plead on someone else’s behalf because you have walked where they have walked. Don’t hold your victory, share your story to edify me that someone else, some hopeless little girl like you once were, can be saved. You were restored a long time ago, now walk in it. I love you.

Love, God

This letter was written from parts of my life and the various lives of women that I have encountered on my journey. As Christians we sometimes seem insane to believe and love a God that has allowed misfortune to happen to us. But what the devil meant for your bad, God will turn around for your good. Sister, know that God loves you and the triumphs we overcame are stalks of wisdom that can be used to heal and comfort someone else. And know this, all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). It takes time to heal, but in time you shall be healed.

Dear Daddy,

I know sometimes I get angry or ashamed of my past. “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears. (Psalms 39:12)”. Teach me how to let go so that I can use what You have implanted in me for Your Glory and to help someone else. I know that you are a rewarder of those that diligently seek You. Heal my wounds, and if they are already healed, strengthen me to walk in your boldness with liberty. Help me to bless someone that needs me; keep my eyes and ears sensitive to her call. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today, EMPOWER yourself by sharing with God all of your angers, fears, and disappointments and TRUST that His word will not return void.  Psalms 6:9 reminds us “The Lord heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Start seeking to encourage and EMPOWER others that may be going through what you have OVERCOME. God has given you confirmation in His word that you are already restored and healed, for His word says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 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 43:18-19)

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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 energetic four-year old daughter. They attend Vaughn Forest Church.  Check out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

Black Music Month Series, Comfort, Death, Grief, Spiritual Therapy

Not a Good-Bye, but a See You Later

June is Black Music Month! To celebrate, each of our EmpowerMoments will be based on Black music for the entire month. This includes Black songwriters, producers or performers. Stay tuned as we use various genres of Black music to tell our stories and exemplify the beauty of God’s love! Happy Black Music Month! Dance as if no one is watching!

Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow. (Psalm 144:4 NIV)

This is for my peoples who just lost somebody
Your best friend, your baby, your man, or your lady
Put your hand way up high
We will never say bye (no, no, no)
Mamas, daddies, sisters, brothers, friends and cousins
This is for my peoples who lost their grandmothers
Lift your head to the sky ’cause we will never say bye

Bye Bye by Mariah Carey

This past week I have learned that three young parents under the age of 30 have recently died.  Most of the deaths were unexpected.  At 25, I am not faced with the thought of death often.  So to experience death this many times for those who seemed to have so much life ahead of them has been difficult.  It makes me appreciate life more because we truly don’t know when our time is up.  One thing that brings me comfort is the fact that I know that these individuals died in Christ so I will see them again.

This EmpowerMoment is to encourage you ladies to remember each day you have here on Earth is a gift.  Do not waste time holding onto grudges or wait too long to reconnect with someone that has been on your mind.  I recall having seen one of the individuals that passed just a few months prior.  We talked about our children and how we should get together soon; unfortunately we never made the time to do so.  I admit my attention is spread pretty thin.  I am a full time single mother, part-time graduate student, full-time employee, but at the end of my life I doubt these will be the things that will catch my attention.  My relationships with others will be at the forefront of my mind.  I know this to be true because when one of these young women passed all I could think of was all the times I could have made more attempts to spend time with her.

She was a person with a sweet spirit who was always willing to help the less fortunate.  My friends and I have decided to do something for her young daughter and I made a promise to myself to call, write, text or see someone that has been put on my spirit.  I don’t want to have another regretful memory.

RIP LaChant Kelly, Mudi Mafemi and Peaches. Gone, but not forgotten. We will meet again!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for each day that You have given to me and my loved ones.  Forgive me for any time that I have not used my time and resources wisely.  Help me to be loving and kind to those around me so I may properly glorify Your name.  I ask for a special outpouring of Your Spirit for those currently grieving.  Give me the strength and courage to handle each task You have set before me.  Help me to not get caught up in the lie that I will always have more time.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to make each day the Lord has given you count. Go after dreams deferred, reconcile broken relationships, and take risks. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us, but make sure you remember, “It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

Please keep the families of LaChant Kelly, Mudi Mafemi and Peaches in your prayers.

Listen to Mariah Carey’s “Bye Bye”:

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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.”

Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Grandparents, Grief, Inspirational, Spiritual Therapy

Death, Where is Your Sting?

Death can be something that takes your breath away, especially when it’s unexpected. Even though it’s a part of life and we all know it is an appointment that we cannot avoid or reschedule; it’s pain is like no other. Unfortunately, I experienced this last week. My Grandma passed unexpectedly while visiting someone out of town. Because it was unexpected, there was a surreal feeling that caused my mind to be in a zone for a week. It was as if my whole day would pass by and I couldn’t really tell you where it went or what happened. Then during the week, the Comforter (Holy Spirit), did His job that He does so well. He reminded me…

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4 KJV)

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:8 KJV)

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15 NLT)

I was encouraged to know that Holy Spirit will comfort me in this time, even in death we belong to the Lord, and Jesus faced grief before as well. God let me know through the Holy Spirit, He would help me get through this painful time if I allowed Him to. It’s nothing wrong with mourning; however, we have a choice to move on or park in it! I had a choice to dwell on my Grandma being gone or I could think about the things she taught me, the great times we shared together, or how much she has impacted the lives of others!

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

I take joy in thinking about how my Grandma influenced and impacted so many people in a positive manner. Everything said about her at her homegoing celebration told of how much of a servant, encourager, and selfless woman she was! I rejoice and thank God for allowing our paths to cross! Today, I’m better knowing and focusing on the great work she has done on the earth! Death doesn’t sting because I’m thinking of the lovely, admirable, and praise worthy things, not her absence!

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?  (1 Corinthians 15:55 NLT)

Dear Daddy,

I thank You that death does not have victory in my life because it did not have victory in Jesus’ life! I thank You for spiritual eyes to understand death is the beginning for those who are in You. So right now in the name of Jesus, I bind up the spirit of heaviness, grief, deep hurts, and sorrow. I loose peace, comfort, joy, praise, and healing! I rebuke any unclean thing that will cause my joy and peace to be stagnant or cause my heart to dwell in a state where I can’t receive Your healing and love! I thank You, Father, for divine healing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to release any past hurt, pain, sorrow, or grief from the past or present and walk in your healing TODAY! God was not caught off guard by what happened! He wants to heal and comfort you. I EMPOWER you to make a declaration today that you will allow the Holy Spirit to do His job!

In Loving Memory of My Grandma:

Esther M. Griffin
October 24, 1932 - April 23, 2012

If you’ve experienced grief or deep hurt, how did you move past it? Share your story to encourage others.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: No Grandmothers on Grandparents’ Day

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 Ms. Rodnisha L. Anderson resides in Chicago, IL and serves as an elder at Life Redeeming Ministries. She works diligently with the Singles and Intercessory ministries. She is married to the Lord and becomes whatever she needs to become to reach the people for the building of God’s kingdom. Rodnisha truly desires to witness successful single women thriving in the kingdom of God.  Her favorite scripture is 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

Death, Grief, Growth/Maturity, Pain, Praise/Worship, Spiritual Therapy

When It Hurts

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  Psalm 34:1 NKJV

If you have been around Christians for any length of time, I’m certain that you’ve heard this statement at least once if not many times.  It’s a powerful statement, for it declares that regardless of what may be occurring in life, you will continue to praise God.  It’s an easy declaration to make when things are going great, kind of sort of good, or okay, but what about when it hurts?  When you are disappointed, broken, distraught, delayed, empty, and seemingly defeated, can you still bless the Lord?

Saturday our congregation found itself in mourning as we lost the life of a wonderful teenager, Miles Blackwell.  When I arose on Sunday, the first thing that came to mind was, “What will worship be like?”  For the past several months, worship has been indescribable.  The presence of God has been so overwhelming that members hate missing service and Sunday worship has become a hot topic for Facebook (also referred to as Spacebook by our pastor).  How would people worship after suffering such a loss?      

As I pondered the possible shift in worship, God reminded me that worship is in order even when it hurts.  Worship is not something that we do only when “we feel like it.”  Instead, “Praise is what I do, EVEN WHEN I’M GOING THE THROUGH, I’ve learned to worship You.  I vow to praise You, through the good and the bad.  I’ll praise You, whether happy or sad.  I’ll praise You, in all that I go through, because praise is what I do.

Praising God in spite of hurt can be seen through two great characters of the bible.  In the first chapter of Job, we find that Job loses ten children and all his earthly possessions, yet he bows down to worship God (Job 1:20).  In Genesis 22, Abraham similarly worships God after being instructed to sacrifice his only son whom he loves (Genesis 22:1-5).  Here we have two men, broken, mourning, hurt, but still worshiping.

Through these men, we come to understand what Jesus means when He speaks of true worshipers.  “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” John 4:23 NKJV.  True worshipers bless the Lord even when it hurts!  It’s not enough simply to praise God when things are well.  True worship requires that we sacrifice our feelings, emotion, pride, and yes, our very lives to bless God (Romans 12:1 NLT).

Unfortunately, in this life we shall encounter mountaintops and valleys.  There will be days when blessing God will come with ease.  But, there will also be days when praising God may seem hard.  I pray that when the latter days come you remember Abraham and Job and continue to worship even when it hurts.  We certainly did!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for giving us the strength to worship during hard times.  When it hurts, help us to remember the One whom we worship, rather than the things that we endure.  Teach us how to bless You at all times, understanding that You are worthy of praise even when it hurts.  Father, we bless You for the wonderful God that You are.  May Your name be exalted throughout the earth.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to worship God when it hurts.  Practice blessing God not only during good times but also during times of difficulty.  God is seeking true worshipers.  I urge you to let your worship be real.

In Loving Memory of Miles Blackwell

 Read a related EmpowerMoment: Praise the Lord Anyhow!

Ms. Latasha McCrary is an active member of St. Luke Christian Church in Huntsville, AL where she serves as a Young Adult Facilitator and is training as a Life Skills Coach. She is passionate about the practice of law and views her profession as an extension of her calling to serve. Latasha firmly believes that “Service is the price we pay for the space we occupy” and is grateful for God’s continuing favor evidenced in her life. “By this I know that you favor me, because you have not let my enemies triumph over me.” (Psalms 41:11)

Death, Faith, Growth/Maturity, Inspirational, Patience, Submission/Surrendering, Trusting God

The Most Heartbreaking Time of Year…

…Or is it?

It’s that time of year again…at least it is for the Midwest!  Leaves are changing colors, time to switch out tank tops for sweaters…YES! The season is changing!  When you think about it, it is an incredibly profound time of year; the whole climate zone goes through an extreme makeover.  For me, autumn has always been the most beautiful time of year and I have newly discovered it is also the most heartbreaking.  Recently, I became very interested in what exactly happens when seasons change.  I always HATED science in school, which is why I’m now a history teacher. (Funny, but true!)  However, I knew there was a reason God placed this on my heart so I decided to research my favorite time of year.

Autumn is the transition period from summer to winter.  Summer represents life, abundance, warmth, and happiness while winter represents death, lack (no growth), cold, and sadness.   One would think winter would be the most heartbreaking but once something is gone, it’s gone.  David said it best “…but now that [it] is dead why should I [mourn]?  Can I bring [it] back again?” (2 Samuel 12:23a NIV) So then what does autumn represent??? The PROCESS to death!   

When the full extent of what happens in autumn hit me, at first I was incredibly sad.  “This beautiful landscape is dying!  Why can’t this just stay?  God! Why did you set things up this way?  Why does this have to die?”  At once God led me to scripture, “…I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds…” (John 12:24 NIV)  It made so much sense to me. God set things up this way so that re-birth, rejuvenation, and progress can take place!  If there is no winter, there can be no spring!  If nothing ever dies, then nature cannot birth something new, rejuvenate, or replenish itself.  Ok God, I get it!! Great!!  But God would not let me leave the subject alone as if He were saying, “Nope!  You ain’t got it yet!”

I started to examine my own life and the “season” change going on within it.  I realized I had been asking God the same kinds of questions regarding my own situation.  “I love how my life is right now! I love who is in my life right now!  Why can’t I stay with him/them?  God! Why did you set things up this way?  Why do these relationships and friendships have to die?”  God led me further down John 12, “…The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life…” (v. 25 NIV)  I knew then what nature seemingly has known all along– one must submit to the will of God in order to get everything God has for them.  That means WHATEVER God wants to kill/sever/remove from my life, I must accept it. I cannot love my life so much that I don’t submit to God’s will! Yes, I will be the FIRST to admit that this is not an easy task especially when you really love or are attached to the thing God wants you to let go. However, we MUST trust God!

Autumn is still my favorite time of year but now for a much more profound reason.  Even though nature is in the process of passing away, there is an extremely graceful and peaceful quality in nature’s behavior.  Summer calmly goes away allowing winter to come in.  I wondered how demise could be so graceful as I walked through the park the other day, and this scripture came to mind, “…he who dwells in the shelter of the most high will REST in the shadow of the almighty.  I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1 NIV) Nature can rest in the will of God because it knows God has everything under control; God will restore everything that was lost plus more.  I hear you God: I submit to my season change! 🙂

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for being an all-wise God that knows everything about us and knows what’s best for us.  Thank You for the awesome destiny we have in You and we are so grateful that You continue to come after us to move us toward that destiny.  We ask that You continue to help us submit to You in every area of our lives.  Please give us wisdom to accept and NOT fight the season changes of our lives.  Lord, we believe but please help us in the times that we struggle to believe that You HAVE US and that You know what’s best.  Help us to know who/what You want to remove from our lives and then give us strength to do what You want us to do.  Also, please help us to not become stagnant and enusre that we are ALWAYS moving toward the amazing destiny we have in You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today, I EMPOWER you to SUBMIT to your season change! Follow these two steps to aid you in the process:

1) Let it DIE!  Whatever God wants to kill in your life whether it is a bad habit, unfruitful relationship/friendship, and/or unhealthy personality trait…LET IT DIE!  God wants to give you something so much better than what you think you can’t live without!

2) REST in God!  Yes, change is painful. Letting go of something/someone that you really want is no easy task but take comfort in knowing: “…that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…”  (Philippians 1:6 NIV) God knows EXACTLY what He is doing!

Check out these related EmpowerMoments: Seasons Change and Life After Death

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.”

Death, Family, Grandparents, Grief, Inspirational, Spiritual Therapy

No Grandmothers on Grandparents’ Day

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)

I checked my e-mail the other day only to find several reminders for upcoming holidays with an option to send greeting cards to celebrate.  Labor Day was the first notification to be deleted followed by Patriot Day.  The last notice was for Grandparents’ Day.  I instantly remembered when I set the reminder way back in 2006 so that I would be sure to contact my grandmothers.  I clicked on the subject line only to find that this year the holiday fell on my 26th birthday- September 11th!  Normally, I would probably be ecstatic but instead my heart grew heavy because both of my grandmothers passed away a few years ago.

“We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV)

I had been to a multitude of funerals in my life but I had never experienced the loss of someone that I LOVED dearly until one week after I graduated from college.  As I drove home for the Christmas break I never thought that I would be celebrating Jesus’ birth the same week I buried my maternal grandmother.  She had been sick for quite sometime, being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis ten years prior.  She battled with the disabling disease until lung cancer took her final breath in 2007. 

Even though my paternal grandmother was in great health before she passed, I tried to spend as much time with her because I had witnessed God take someone special away before I was ready to let them go.  However, no one could have guessed that a small fall in the kitchen would cause her to miss her annual trip down south that she was in the midst of packing for.  We definitely did not think that the Lord would be ready to call her home at the first sign of a blood clot as a result of her stumble. But in May of 2008, God took her away without letting anyone say goodbye first.

“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up.  You will increase my honor and comfort me again.” (Psalms 71:20-21 NIV)

Ladies, at that point I was hurt beyond belief.  God had taken away two people that I loved dearly without any notice.  I had watched my ailing Grandma cheat death on many occasions. We would pray hysterically until the enemy would release his grip but this time there was nothing we could do…God had His hand out waiting for her to grab a hold.  As for my Granny, I never saw it coming.  I felt like someone had stabbed me in my back because I was still recovering from my first loss only to loose again.  But who am I to question God’s work?  I did not understand then but what seemed like chaos to me was an opportunity for us to grow closer. 

As much as I hated to experience that pain, God was ready for them to spend eternity with Him.  He gave me twenty-two magnificent years with them and in that time I had created and stored life-long memories to help me when times got rough…and trust me, it does get rough!!!  Sometimes I reminisce and can’t stop smiling and others I can’t stop crying. Regardless of the emotion, when it’s over I feel God’s love surrounding me even more. 

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for those ill feelings I expressed when I lost my loved one.  Thank You for restoring me when the enemy tries to make me feel that I have lost apart of myself because they died.  Please continue to comfort me in my time of sorrow for I know that my strength comes from You.  Allow me to focus on the wonderful memories rather than the pain from their absence.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to allow God’s love to mend your broken hearts.  Your loved ones are absent from this world of sin but are spending eternity with a world class Master!  Be Blessed Ladies! 🙂 

This is dedicated to my two personal angels in the sky: Johnnie Elizabeth Horne and Margie Sampson — Happy Grandparents Day!

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.  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