Kindness, Love Series

Love is…Kind

For the first two weeks of February, EmpowerMoments will be doing a series entitled Love Is.  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV) We pray that you are EMPOWERED, enlightened, and blessed as our writers share what Love Is based on God’s Word!

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Recently upon exiting the grocery store, I noticed a lanky young man standing near the entrance/exit.  He was wearing a thin jacket or  and jeans, and I think he had on a hat but no gloves.  He looked as if he was either waiting on a ride or possibly waiting in the store until the bus came.  Outside, it was snowing and very, very cold.  I could see he was cold and I felt empathetic towards the young man.  I thought if I am cold with what I am wearing, surely he is cold with what he isn’t wearing.  He was not dressed warm at all; he had on no layers of clothing.  I immediately wanted to help him in some kind of way.  I pulled out my black gloves, one of the few pair I keep on me, and gave them to him.  He gratefully took them with no problem and I was relieved that at least I could help keep his hands warm.  Nonetheless, I prayed that God would keep him completely warm as I finally exited the sliding doors.

Whether someone blesses you with a night off from preparing dinner for your family (see Better TO GIVE Than TO RECEIVE), blesses you with the money to meet a financial need, blesses you with money for a new coat like I was blessed with or blesses you with encouragement to make it through a lonely or hard time, love is showing itself by its kindness.  Whether you bless a shelter with barely used clothes, bless someone with a smile and a warm hello, bless someone by babysitting her child so they can get some rest or bless someone who doesn’t have transportation with a ride to church, you too are showing that love is kind.

If love and mercy had a child, it would be kind.  Being kind is showing sympathy or understanding, being considerate, agreeable, generous, beneficial and charitable.  However, kindness is more than just doing nice things for people; it is BEING kind no matter what.  We are to be kind even to the people who talk about us, look at us sideways, and get on our nerves.  I’m not saying be naïve or gullible, or even let people abuse you, but remember that kind is a characteristic of God and kindness is one of the fruit of the Spirit.  “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. (Luke 6:27-29 NIV)  So as daughters of the Only Wise God and King of kings, we are to exude His character and become more like His Son every day.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your loving kindness.  Thank You for being mindful of me and genuinely concerned and compassionate towards me.  Show me how to continually and genuinely exude Your love, mercy and kindness to others.  Give me the grace to be kind no matter what the situation or how a person is before me.  Daddy, please also give me the discernment to know when and how to show your kindness to others.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to be K.I.N.D (Keenly aware of others needs, Integritous, Nice and Devoted to God).  Show God’s unfailing love every day.  Someone needs your smile, your hug, your attention, your prayer, your help, your extra pair of gloves, or that spare coat you haven’t worn in a while.  Most important, they need to know that the Lord loves them and He died on the cross to save them and have eternal fellowship with them.  

Find ways to demonstrate God’s love to others every day.  Please visit http://www.volunteermatch.org  if you are interested in finding opportunities to volunteer with nonprofits.

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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 helps assist Chicago Public School students with their reading, writing, etc. as well as helps them consider and prepare for college. God, the Creator and Great Father has also created her to be a compassionate person and encourager so she loves to encourage people according to God’s Word and help them to see, think and become better through 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.”

Family, Gentleness, Hospitality, Kindness, Relationships

Welcome

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:17-20 NIV)

Two weeks ago, my household changed.

As I held my now 3-month old nephew (too adorable!) for the first time, I watched as my younger sister and her friends loaded one big garbage bag of “stuff” after the next into my living room. It was so much stuff that I felt overwhelmed for a second, but it quickly passed away as I looked on the ones I loved. Reality set in, my sister and two nephews were moving in.

My family and I had been praying and preparing for this as best as we could ever since we found out that my sister wanted to move back to Illinois. She was living two or three hours away in another state but because of certain circumstances, she decided it was best to move back home. “I’m up here basically by myself,” she said. The family members (on her father’s side) who were up there with her were now incarcerated. Additionally, three months before she gave birth to my new nephew, she experienced such tragedy. She received a call that her boyfriend was shot. He, a well-known tattoo artist and in the midst of getting his life back on track, was robbed, stripped of even his clothes and shoes, and fatally shot in his head. He was murdered senselessly, never getting a chance to see his unborn son. I couldn’t imagine the pain my sister must have been experiencing. Yet my family and I have tried our best to help her cope. One thing that is certain is that God is a comforter and a healer, and I trust that He will continue to administer healing to my sister and this young man’s sons who have to grow up without their dad.

So when my sister expressed moving back home, I understood why and the season. The rest of the family and I welcomed her and my nephews with open arms. Now it isn’t peaches and cream or all gravy over here all the time but we are managing and maintaining our family and household. We have had to make some adjustments but I believe my sister has settled in nicely. I have realized that in this season I will get to see my nephews more, help my sister and also share God’s love and Word with her and my nephews. Mostly every night I have my 3-year-old nephew pray with me before bedtime. This is a treasured moment and a chance to emphasize the importance of prayer even at an early age. Yesterday I didn’t even have to say let’s pray, he asked on his own (smile).

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for welcoming me into Your kingdom with open arms and eternal kisses. I thank You for being such a great Father and supplying me with Your unfailing love. Thank You for Your daily mercies and not turning me away when I came home. I also thank You for expressing Your love through me and to me. I thank You for being the Comforter and a healer also. I love that even during difficult times, You can use our experiences for our good and bring life and blessings our way in the midst of it all. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to embrace seasons and others. Embrace all seasons that come your way by rejoicing and remembering God is in control. Open up your heart, forgive and embrace others with the love of God. We should be compassionate like the man who welcomed his son back and love on our family, friends, the fatherless, the hurting, and even those deemed “hard to love” even if they have strayed. We should not say “I told you so” or hold record of wrongdoing. We should also pray continually for repentant and humbled hearts as God opens the door for many to come into His eternal kingdom.

Has God told you to roll out the welcome mat for someone or has someone done it for you? How have you used this experience to show God’s love?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: For the LOVE of Family…

TODAY is the last day to support EmpowerMoments in the Black Weblog Awards. Click here to vote!

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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.”

Assignment, Generosity, Growth/Maturity, Kindness, Love, Obedience, Servitude

Maybe I’ll Say Yes…

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others…”(Philippians 2:4 NIV)

I’m pretty sure that many would agree that 2012 is passing by at a quick speed.  Not only is time passing by so quickly, but life is full.  It’s very easy to be too busy with life, family, work, church, and other responsibilities.  Almost every person I know—young, old, male, female, married, or single—complains about how busy he/she is.  When one is busy, which seems to be always lately, there is not enough time to fit in every responsibility and others too.

How does one find time for anything anymore?  The safe thing to do is say ‘no’ to anything extra, especially those unplanned and spontaneous opportunities that pop up.  We couldn’t possibly say yes right?  We have to go to work, clean the house, pay some bills, or we are just plain ol’ tired.  Well here is a wise and friendly reminder courtesy of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes those things that spontaneously show up are opportunities for the Kingdom of God to advance!

The things you will be rewarded for in heaven are not the houses, cars, clothes, bank accounts, or careers that you attain here.  The things that will matter most are the things you have done for others because of Him.  Calling that elderly person who has no family and talking to them for a while, inviting your child to lay in the bed with you while you watch a movie and share laughs, giving a single mom who needs a break a twenty-five dollar pedicure, or writing an EmpowerMoment for a friend who didn’t have enough time to write one are those things that matter most.  Taking every chance to walk in love and express love to others is one thing that can surely move my Father’s heart!  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. (1 Peter 1:22 NIV)

This EmpowerMoment was given by the Holy Spirit at an unplanned and spontaneous time.  I was on my way to sleep when I received an email from one of my team members.  She was so honest and genuine in her request for help and although I was tired, the Lord said otherwise.  I must agree that a time like this is when you get the best testimony and juiciest experience.  I’m glad that when my sister called and asked for my help, I paused before I spoke the word ‘no’ and replaced it with a ‘yes’ so that this reminder could get to you.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your unfailing love!  I thank You for giving me the wisdom to know when I need to proceed and say yes.  I thank You for giving me the heart to love and express love towards others.  I pray I continue to trust You and follow Your lead each day as You bless me with more opportunities to give You glory and express Your love.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, the next time something pops up unplanned and not on your agenda, I EMPOWER you to do the following: Pause and Pray.  Ask the Holy Spirit for discernment and instruction of what the Father desires for you to do. He may give you the go ahead of saying ‘no’ or maybe He will make you replace it with a ‘yes’.  Try it and see what happens!

Are you finding time to have these kinds of experiences?

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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.”

Forgiveness, Fruit of the Spirit, Gentleness, Growth/Maturity, Humility, Kindness, Patience, Throwback Thursdays

Throwback Thursday: If You Live In A Glass House…

It’s Throwback Thursday! This EmpowerMoment was originally published on July 12, 2011. Enjoy this blast from the past!

I know we have all heard the saying “If you live in a glass house don’t throw stones.” Three months after God called me to be a minister, I messed up. After being celibate for a while I had sex and got pregnant. I thought I was going to die. All I could think was ”What will people say? What will I do now? How will I face the church?” And guess what– my thoughts and questions were accurate. Even though I was remorseful and realized the terrible mistake I made, “church folks” started to treat me like I had the plague. People were whispering and all my duties at church were stripped from me. I was terrified and petrified because I thought the way I was being treated was my punishment from God. But I was so wrong! Thoughts went through my head of getting an abortion or simply leaving the church! Genesis 50: 20 says what you meant for evil, God meant it for good. (ASV) See what the devil and people thought would destroy me, helped transform me into the woman I am today.  God led me to John 8 where the teachers of law and the Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus that committed adultery and they said she should be stoned because that was the law. Jesus responded by stooping down and writing on the ground.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8: 7-10 NIV)

I went to the Lord and He reminded me that everyone sins and falls short. God revealed to me that He forgave me and I needed to forgive myself. He also revealed to me that it’s easier for people to throw stones at you and judge your situation than to deal with their own mess. Everyone has some mess, but they will throw stones at you in order to not deal with the stones that are in their houses and lives. The very situation that I thought ruined me made my relationship stronger with God because I had to lean and depend on Him. Psalm 121:1 says, ”I lift up my eyes until the hills for whence cometh my help. All of my help come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (KJV) I learned man will fail you but God will be with you until the end. I kept trusting God and that very thing people threw stones at is “now my wonderful husband and my daughter. My ministry and my worship are for real. Those very people that counted me out and threw stones at my situation have come back to me for an encouraging word or a prayer because God showed them that nothing could separate me from His love . If you live in a glass house, please don’t throw stones.

Dear Daddy,
Thank You for being a forgiving God! I thank You for never giving up on me or counting me out. I pray for those that throw stones, that You reveal their mess to them and help them clean it up. I thank You for teaching me that if You are for me, no one can be against me. I thank You for the courage to stand when people said that I shouldn’t. Thank You for being a God of second chances! In Jesus’ name, Amen!

I EMPOWER you to not give up on God because He will never give up on you. God will forgive whatever sin you have committed and give you another chance. Do not let people determine your destiny; God already has a plan for your life!

What is your first reaction when you find out that your Christian brother or sister has made a mistake? Have you been on the receiving end of those stones?

Read A Related EmpowerMoment: Don’t Let It Get To You!

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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.”

Contentment, Gentleness, God's Protection, Kindness

Content in Uncomfortable Places

“Excuse me? I have to meet you where?” That was my initial reaction when I was asked to meet my client at a relative’s home in a trailer park.  The client was currently displaced and I had to meet her where she was temporarily staying.  How many times has God had to meet us somewhere we had no place being.  I must admit I was a bit unnerved.   This was a “sketchy” part of town.  I have traveled to many homes, projects, public housing and even hotels.  However this trailer park made me feel quite uncomfortable. It was someplace I had never been.

As my client poured out her heart about really needing to see me, and this being the only place she could meet me I thought of God again.  Sometimes we are in desperate need of God seeking Him, needing Him, but not able to get to Him.  Thank God He comes to us.

 “Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:5-8 NKJV)

How many times have we been in a situation that we were unsure how we got there in the first place?  For example, we were involved with an individual we were not supposed to be with or stuck at a job that we were too good to be working? This does not have to be a physical place because it can be mental as well.  Have your thoughts and your mind ever been someplace they had no business being? God comes and meets us and delivers us from all these places.

As I arrived at the place, it was just as I expected.  I was uncomfortable.  There was a smell that greeted me at the same time my client did.  The only place to sit was a soiled mattress so I decided to stand.  As I looked around at the various species of crawling critters that covered the wall and ceiling I began to think, “Just make it through this visit and it will be over.”  This is a temporary situation.

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Philippians 4:10-11 NKJV)

I realized that if I could make it through this uncomfortable place I was in temporarily that I would be able to move from there and go on with my life.  That is what I have decided to apply to other areas of my life.  Uncomfortable situations are temporary so be content!

Dear Daddy,

I want to come before You thanking You for coming to rescue me from some of the “sketchy” places I have allowed myself to frequent.  I come before You asking that You will continue to put me in uncomfortable situations so that I can recognize and appreciate when I am in my place of comfort. Continue to bless me even in the messes that I continue to get in! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to be content in what seems like a “stuck” situation knowing that God will remove you from it. Also, learn to meet people where they are just as God has done for you.  People do not always need you in the midst of a clean place in their life. Sometimes you have to be able to walk into the dirt in order to clean them up.  Encourage yourself and others to be content even when it is uncomfortable because it is always temporary.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Making The Best Out of A Bad Situation

Has God placed you in a temporary situation but you are struggling with contentment? Share your story with us in the comment section.

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Ms. Sherita Shelton currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Professional Counseling and is currently pursuing her counseling license.  Sherita works as a therapist and case manager for children as well as adults.  She facilitates groups for single women and offers mentoring and individual counseling for her clients.  Sherita’s favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lot not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Attitude, Co-Workers, Gentleness, Growth/Maturity, Kindness, Love

Be a Change Agent

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 NIV

I wrote some time ago about the weird practices that take place at my job because of budgetary constraints.  One of the bizarre things is the trash collection procedure. At my past jobs, thorough office cleaning took place outside of normal business hours. However, here the daily cleaning consists only of emptying the trash in each cubicle and the trash man comes around while everyone is busy working at their desks. This would not irk me so much if he didn’t roll his huge industrial sized trash can INSIDE my cube to collect the trash. This has to be the most disgusting thing ever! I would get so irritated and angry whenever I heard the wheels rolling toward my workspace. You may be thinking that I am overreacting but imagine this germ-ridden trash receptacle brushing up against your coat that is hanging on the wall of your cubicle as the garbage man tries to squeeze it into your tiny space. I had gotten so annoyed that I was beginning to resent him for what he was doing everyday—his job.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

One day I finally figured out that my attitude and annoyance was not changing the situation; in actuality, it was only making it much worse. It was at that moment that I decided to do my part to change. I started setting my trash can outside of my cubicle each morning whenever I heard the wheels coming in my direction. I couldn’t change his habits so I changed mine! That scenario reminds me of the countless situations where we deal with difficult people or things. We become so frustrated by the way that someone is acting and the idiotic things that they are doing. If we are honest, we have even allowed ourselves to react to their senselessness in ways that are embarrassing and unacceptable. But there comes a time when we have to make a declaration to change: God, if You are not going to change this situation, change me! Change what, you ask? Change your thinking, your heart, your attitude and your reactions. Mary Engelbreit said it best: “If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

At first the garbage man was a little taken aback by my new approach. He seemed a bit surprised that I was “doing his job” for him. But as time passed, he began thanking me for helping him out. It has even gotten to the point where he gets a little testy if he “pulls up” and my trash can isn’t outside. This is the wonderful thing about changing the way that you act in a difficult and annoying situation; your actions may eventually change the way that the opposition views the situation as well. They may never tell you, but your behavior has the potential to drastically alter their thinking.

In the header scripture, Paul writes to the Romans advising them to live at peace with everyone as much as it depends on them. Can you honestly say that you are doing YOUR part to fulfill this nugget of scripture? We are called to a higher standard of living and we must uphold the integrity of the Gospel, even when we are dealing with difficult people and situations.

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for the times that I reacted to difficult situations and people in a way that was contrary to Your word. Going forward, please help me act in a way that is pleasing to You and glorying to Your kingdom. Lord, if You are not ready to change _________, please help me to change the way I think and act about them/it. I know that Your will is what’s best for me! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, you are “perfect”, now CHANGE! 🙂 Today, I EMPOWER you to change your thinking, change your attitude, change your heart and change the way that you respond. Those difficult situations and people will not have so much negative influence and power in your life if you allow the change agent to have His way in your life! When the situation doesn’t change, you must decide to change!

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 two lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.

Encouragement, Faith, Fruit of the Spirit, Gentleness, God's Love, Kindness, Love, Mental Illness, Mother/Daughter, Motivation, Spiritual Therapy, Strength, Trials, Trusting God, Worry

Hope in the Midst of Hopelessness

“Chancee` you have to accept the fact that your mother is going to be institutionalized until the day she dies.”  These words stung as a family member spoke them to me. I was feeling pretty hopeless and was pouring out how I felt about the mental health system’s revolving door that has held my mother captive. I don’t quite know the year it started but her illness preceded me.  Although throughout my lifetime she has had several years of independent living, for nearly the past seven years she has been in the state mental institution. She is absolutely one of the most brilliant people that I know but she has a neurobiological disorder and has been diagnosed as bipolar, paranoid schizophrenic. Her reality and true reality are often conflicting and unfortunately her belief in her delusions, in the absence of medication, can cause irritability and lead to unrest and violence. Because Mom doesn’t believe she has an illness, her cooperation is minimal outside the confines of the mental institution. That fact keeps her from living a “normal” life.

Over the years, I held resentment against my mother for not being there for me to call on her when I needed her. I have felt extreme sadness at the fact that our relationship in no way resembles that of my friends with their own mothers. Mother-daughter trips, spa days, shopping, and dinners have been non-existent since I was a little girl. I feel sorry for her because her own quality of life is severely diminished and as she gets older it continues to get worse. I have become her guardian and she has become the child. It’s a complex relationship and one that she constantly fights.

For years, I have prayed that God delivers my mom from her illness and I have held out hope that one day she will be delivered from this disease; however, it’s been very difficult. I have prayed that I can see her how God sees her and love her like He does. The hardest part about neurobiological disorders is that they are hard to deal with because you can’t “see” the disability and it’s not cancer; therefore, people are treated as if they are just “crazy.” You want them to accept that what they know as reality is false and to just move on but that isn’t realistic.

There is so much to this story that I can write a book, but as this cycle repeats itself it’s hard for me to have hope that one day she will be healed. It’s hard for me to believe that God may have a different will for her life. It’s hard for me to believe that she will cooperate with treatment when she is not under the supervision of the mental institution. I am trying to maintain hope in what appears to be a hopeless situation.

Your situation may not be like mine but if some of us are honest with ourselves there is something that we have or have had hope for but our present circumstances make us feel absolutely hopeless. Our faith is shattered because we can’t see “how” it will happen, “when” it will happen or “what” will happen. As I battle with these feelings of hopelessness concerning my mother, I am reminded of WHO God is in what appear to be hopeless situations:

  • In Exodus 1  The Children of Israel were in captivity for hundreds of years in Egypt. There were Israelites who were born in and died in captivity and never saw God’s promise of freedom come to fruition. Though it came through much trial and tribulation Pharaoh finally let God’s people go. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. (Exodus 12:30-31 NIV)  In Exodus 14 the Israelites’ situation once again appears hopeless as Pharaoh follows them and they are trapped by the Red Sea but God parted the waters so that they could cross. He made a way out of no way!
  • Remember Sarah – There is no doubt in my mind that Sarah wanted a child her whole life but she was barren. When she received word that she would have a son her situation looked so hopeless that she laughed at the mere thought. Later she bore a son and called him Isaac.  Read Genesis 18:10-14, Genesis 21:1-2
  • Lastly there is the woman with the issue of blood. She had a disease and had been to many doctors over the course of her twelve years of bleeding but no one could help her. There was no pill that she could take to stop it. There was no cure.  Mark 5:25-29

Although our situations may appear to be hopeless, I want us to restore our hope knowing that what God has done for others He will do for us too. Here are my five tips for restoring hope when you feel hopeless:

  1.  Encourage Yourself –I Samuel 30: 4-6
  2. Trust Him –Proverbs 3:5-6
  3. Know that He is not like you! –Isaiah 55:8-9
  4. Have a Flashback – Remember a time when God granted you the desires of your heart even when the situation looked hopeless. Psalms 31:19
  5. Know that He sees the completed puzzle while we can only see the puzzle pieces – Jeremiah 29:11

Dear Daddy,

Continue to help mine unbelief as You restore my faith in You. Help me to continue to believe that You are a healer and just like You have done for others You can do for me too. For every reader out there that is in the midst of what appears to be a hopeless situation, remind them of who You are. Remind them that there is nothing too hard for You! Remind them that You healed the sick, You raised the dead, You walked on water, You restored sight to the blind, You opened wombs that were barren, and You made the ultimate sacrifice! Thank You for being who You are! In Jesus’ Name Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to declare victory today over your “hopeless” situation. I EMPOWER you to have peace with God’s will for your life and that you remain faithful in your pursuits. I EMPOWER you to rebuke the spirit of hopelessness as you remember the God that you serve can do ANYthing.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: The Face of Faith

Ms. Chancee` Lundy currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is a small business co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend, community servant, and child of God. She is passionate about causes that truly uplift the community. One of her favorite scriptures 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.”

Attitude, Co-Workers, Gentleness, Growth/Maturity, Kindness, Love, Relationships, Self-Control, Speech

Lord, Help Me Watch My Mouth!

Lately, I have been in rare form!  I used to be very concerned about what I would say and how I would say it because I didn’t want to offend or hurt peoples’ feelings, but over the last couple of months all of that care and concern has gone out of the window!  It came to a head this week at work.  Monday, I told one of the engineers, “I don’t care if you’re not cold, the kids are; turn the heat on!”  Tuesday, I told the programmer, “I am not going to go back and change my attendance. You detained these students; YOU go to the office and have their attendance fixed!”  Then Wednesday, I said in a meeting, “The reading workshop should not be run by our English department given that the data shows that whatever you all are doing is not helping our students read better!”  Of course one of the English teachers was extremely offended which changed the whole tone of the meeting.  After the meeting, another teacher and my principal both had conversations with me about my tactless comment.  My defense was, “Well it’s true!”  I immediately felt convicted!  My mother’s words instantly came back to me saying, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!”

My behavior over the last couple of months has been unacceptable!  The more I have thought and prayed over it this week, God has revealed to me JUST HOW destructive my behavior has been.  He reminded me of why He had placed me in this building– to be a light in darkness. “Ye are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:14a KJV) My school is plagued by so many negative things: teen pregnancy, drug use, dysfunctional families, and not to mention our students’ academic struggles.   My assignment is not only to teach but also to show God’s love and power to save, heal, and deliver.  I had truly lost sight of that.  My tactless comments and interactions with my colleagues were doing three things in particular:

1) Causing Hostility – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger…” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV)

I was creating a hostile environment to the point that every time I got up to present, make an announcement or anything else, eyes rolled, lips smacked and what I was saying was tuned out because of the hostility and resentment I had caused.

2) Stunting improvement – “A brother offended is harder to be won over than a strong city…” (Proverbs 18:19 AMP)

Because I have offended some of my colleagues in the past, they fight against anything that they know has come from me.  For example, last year my students got very high scores on the ACT writing test.  Many of the kids attributed their success to how I taught them to write essays in history.  Our principal implemented that strategy school-wide at the beginning of the year and it has been a non-stop fight.  No one has said it is a bad strategy; the only reason has been, “We don’t want to do it like that!”  I have inadvertently hurt the students’ by offending some of their other teachers. 

3) Hurting my witness – “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35 NIV)

How can I profess to be a Christian and be so tactless and non-compassionate to other peoples’ feelings? God is never like that with me. Even when He is checking me, I know that it comes from a place of love and desire for me to be better.  I’m sure the recipients of my comments do not feel the same way, and that I could not go to them and talk about Christ afterwards. 

Paul explains how we are to interact with people in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.  I have become all things to all men to that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.” (NIV)  I must humble myself and watch how I say things in order to complete the assignment that God has for me.

Everyone always quotes Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (KJV); however, v.20 really impacted me when I sought the Lord about this issue. “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.” NIV   What kind of fruit is my mouth producing?  How does it taste?  Is it bitter?  Is it sour or just plain rotten?  What kind of harvest am I expecting in my life and what harvest am I going to get if I continue on the way I have been.   In the future, I am definitely going to strive to keep these questions in mind and CHECK MY MOUTH!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for conviction!  I also thank You for allowing me to see who I really am and take steps to change for the better.  I pray that You continue to help me to talk to people as You would and temper my words with compassion and love.  I ask that You move upon the hearts of those I have offended with my words so that they can forgive me and those relationships can be restored. Lord, please help me to watch my mouth! In Jesus Name’, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to show the love of Christ in everything, especially in how you speak to and interact with others.  One way to do this is to EVALUATE, EVALUATE, EVALUATE!

  1. Evaluate the urgency of the comment! Does what you want to say really need to be said?  If the answer is no, don’t say it!
  2. If the answer is yes, evaluate how it can be said in a Godly, tactful way that will actually facilitate a positive response.
  3. Once you have thought about how you’re going to say it, then evaluate what is the best timing.  Pray and ask God to give you wisdom to know when to say it.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the global leader of the breast cancer movement, having invested more than $1.9 billion since inception in 1982. Because of generous donations from supporters like us, Susan G. Komen for the Cure  has become the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world. Please consider making a donation to continue the fight:  http://ww5.komen.org/donate/donate.html

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.”

Attitude, Fruit of the Spirit, Gentleness, Growth/Maturity, Honesty/Truth, Kindness, Motivation, Procrastination, Self-Control, Spirit of Anger

Rebuke The 7 Dwarfs

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” Ephesians 5:1 NLT

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11 NIV

Have you ever woke up with a “stank” attitude for no apparent reason? A few days ago I experienced this for no reason at all. Everyone that called seemed to irritate me. In conversation with the Holy Spirit, and as conviction set in, I remembered that at all times I have to be an imitator of Christ. For some apparent reason I started thinking of the Seven Dwarfs. Mainly because of the one I was currently resisting, Grumpy, but also, just as in the movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, these little “attitudes” can creep up at any time and alter your entire day.

Let’s look at these attitudes that like to creep in and steal our joy:

“Doc” was the leader. His character was that of someone very pompous or self-important. The Bible tells us, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14: 11 ESV Sometimes we have to check our humility gage!

“Grumpy”.  Being grumpy is like being a complainer. You’re tired of your job, but you can pay your bills! You can’t find a man, and yet every gentleman that approaches you, you act “stank”.  My husband gets on my nerves, Suzy will be glad to have him!  “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 NIV. Speak power and life. Speaking death is being a mouthpiece for the devil!

“Bashful”. This attitude can creep in and get the best of us. How many times have you been silent instead of standing up for God? How many times have you found yourself unequally yoked with your friends and refuse, out of shyness, to stand boldly for the Lord? Jesus warns us, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” Matthew 10:33 AKJV.

“Sleepy”. How many times have you let the enemy of procrastination into your camp? You walk around sleepily dragging your feet. Some of you have dreams to embark upon, yet you allow a “sleepy” like attitude to interfere. “How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.” Proverbs 6:9-11 ESV. Get up, you have work to do!

“Happy”. A Happy attitude is pleasant. Kirk Franklin says it best, to be happy, something has to happening! I encourage you to learn to replace your happiness with joy. Joy is a confidence birthed through faith in Christ. Joy is a feeling of assurance you can feel even when you are down and out. Happy is great, but Joy is everlasting. David prays, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalms 16:11 KJV. God can grant you unshakable joy!

“Sneezy”. Sneezing is a way for your body to rid itself of harmful things. With all seriousness, we may need to “Sneeze” through our group of buddies or our Facebook friends list. If you find yourself sneezing all of the time, then you are probably allergic to your surroundings!! “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.” Romans 12:2 NIV

“Dopey”. Dopey was the youngest dwarf. Socially he was immature and seemed to be a “dud.” It is so easy to fall into the “Dopey” category of putting back on our childlike attitudes and behaviors. Paul tells us in the Bible, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” I Corinthians 13:11 NIV. Don’t let your childish ways of bickering, anger, and pettiness creep in. You are a woman now, put away child-like things.

I know this was a far-fetched, yet creative, attempt to say one thing: watch for those insecurities and bad attitudes that can creep in on you. Put on the full armor of God so that you can withstand the enemy.

Dear Daddy,

I plead guilty for having a bad attitude when I know I shouldn’t. The fact that You took a perfect soul to stand in the gap for my sins, should remove any stench of a bad attitude. Please forgive me if I seem ungrateful. Please help me along this Christian journey as I learn to be an imitator of You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to rebuke those dwarfs! Put on the full armor of God every morning before your feet hit the floor to guide your attitude throughout the day. Secure it again at night to ensure your mind is fixed on God as you go to bed. God has been too good for us to have a bad attitude!

As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is 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 teaches Young Adult Bible Study and Sunday School and 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 three-year old daughter. They attend St. Luke Christian ChurchCheck out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.