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

Stay In Your Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Daddy,

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

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

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Seasons Change

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

Attitude, Family, Forgiveness, Friendships, Gentleness, Growth/Maturity, Patience, Relationships, Self-Control

Don’t Let It Get To You!

This week I had a different EmpowerMoment to send but my spirit was so vexed by a current disagreement that I honestly could not complete it. I woke up at 5:00am with a vexed spirit and even tried to participate in a prayer call at that hour but couldn’t mumble a word. My mind has been consumed with this disagreement and it’s consequences.  Have you ever been in a situation where as much as you tried to take the high road, be the bigger person, and have patience with a person none of it worked?  After all of your bending over backwards and being accommodating, you were still mistreated and your kindness was mistaken for weakness. This is where I find myself on today. It isn’t the first time that I have been on the receiving end of someone’s dishonesty. Today I am doing my best to not let it get to me. That doesn’t mean that I am being a door mat. It means that I will be honest and won’t change who I am based on who they are. Throughout life, we will bear the unfortunate brunt of false accusations, mistreatment and abuse from so called friends, family and co-workers. As I sit back and reflect, I know that this is an attempt to throw me off my ‘A’ game. This is an attempt for the devil to get to me. The fact that I was so mad that I couldn’t pray and my spirit so vexed that I couldn’t finish my EmpowerMoment signifies that the devil has already started making headway; however, I serve notice right now that no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. Isaiah 54:17 KJV

When people mistreat you, talk about you, or scandalize your name, it’s okay to defend yourself but don’t let it get to you! To paraphrase Luke 17:3, when people trespass against us we are to let them know their actions and IF they repent, forgive them. Forgiveness is a choice so you can choose to do so with or without their repentance; however, you are responsible for holding people accountable for their actions against you.

I know who I am. I am bossy and at many times stubborn but what I am not is dishonest. There are certain traits that each of us have that are a part of our character. We cannot move from that foundation. We have to stand in truth despite attacks on our character. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32 KJV The truth is liberating. Being authentically who you are is a freeing experience. You cannot control other people actions but you can control your reaction. I used to be this “go-off”, “cuss you slap out” person but I know I’ve been changed. Every now and then I can get caught up, but I try to handle situations as diplomatically as possible even when the flesh urges me otherwise.  I encourage you to do the same. Pray for those who despitefully use you, but don’t let it get to you! I am reminding myself of that today.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for reminding me that I will face adversity even from those closest to me but those things should never change who I am or react in a way that is not pleasing to You. Help me to stand in truth even when it is difficult. I ask that You repair rifts caused by discord and heal those who are still scarred emotionally from people who have mistreated them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to get over it. Remain firm in who you are and committed to the truth. Don’t Let It Get To You! The longer that you hold on to what people do to you, the more you will hurt yourself. You are better than that!

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.”

Blessings, Contentment, God's Promises, Gratefulness, Jealously, Patience, Trust, Trusting God

Dear God, What Are You Up To?

Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong. Psalm 37:1 NIV

Let’s have a real conversation; have you ever witnessed people who you knew were not living right being blessed? I am not talking about in the judgmental you are living like I think you should way, but people who confess out of their mouths that they either don’t believe in God or feel that they can live their life anyway they deem fit. They literally tell you, “I do whatever I want” and their lifestyle reflects that.

Now how do you feel when you hear all the absolutely wonderful things that are going on in their lives? Are you just a tad bit envious? Do you want to just have a private sit down with God and go over your resume`? “God remember back three months ago, when I didn’t have a lot of money and I still tithed? Remember when that woman at work talked bad about me and stole a promotion from me, how I prayed that she would be prosperous? Remember that?”

I am currently in a very envious state. I don’t want to admit it but I am. I have been purposely seeking God more, reading the Bible more, attending church, praying…all the things that people say should equal the magical formula of a blessing. You know the Christian math:

Prayer+ Faith =Blessing

Instead my math is looking a bit more like this:

Prayer+ Faith =…wait for it…wait for it…?????

I am still waiting on God for several things in my life. I pray for a good man. I pray for a better car. I pray for healing for a good friend.  Yet, I am still single. My car (although I am grateful for having transportation) is getting costly to repair when it breaks down because they are having trouble finding parts for an older model car. My friend is still dealing with several health challenges.

Truthfully, if I wanted to I could recount every single thing that is going wrong, or things that I am (not) so patiently waiting for God to change, but why would I? When we get into moments where we start to compare our blessings to other people’s blessings we are walking on very treacherous ground.

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.

 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?  Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?” Job 38:1-5

Ladies, we may never know why God chooses to heal or not heal, to give financial windfalls or withhold, to give you a season or lifetime of singleness. As a woman of God, your task is not to try and figure out why or what God is doing in your life. Your task is to remain faithful, to be steadfast in His Word and cling to Your Father’s Hand. We have a testimony to the unbelievers when we continue to walk in righteous even when it seems like there is no earthly “benefit”. This world is not your home and your wisdom can never compete with your Father’s. When this life ends, who knows what God will reveal to you about your valley times. Maybe someone is watching you in your valley. That person might be hoping to see you succeed so they can believe that God will do the same for them. You rob that person of being encouraged by your efforts when you doubt, complain or even worse when you take certain earthly shortcuts to get what you think you need. The most important thing to remember is that God does everything for our good.

Dear Daddy,

Please keep me from comparing my life with those around me. Keep my hand in Your hands as I continue on this journey.  When I am confused, scared or upset guide me to Your Word that will help strengthen me. Thank You for never leaving me especially at my most vulnerable moments. In Jesus’ Name, Amen! 

Lovely Ladies of God, I EMPOWER you to remain faithful. You did not marry Christ for benefits, you married Him for love and just like in any marriage, there will be hardships. Remember, unlike an earthly marriage, your Husband is perfect; He has perfect wisdom and even more comforting, a perfect Love. 

EmpowerMoments is currently recruiting for new writers. If you are interested, please click here to find out more.

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.”

God's Protection, Obedience, Patience, Self-Control

The Hustler Gets Hustled!

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

I had just enough time to get from the nail shop in Walmart to my new job at the church.  Pleased with my hot orange polish, I left out smiling only to be approached by a guy as soon as I crossed the threshold.  “I got a laptop for sale Ms. Lady.”  I proceeded to my car and yelled, “I’m good!”  He pulled his car directly behind mine so that I had no choice but to hear him out.  He went on to say that the computers were going for the low rate of $250.00 but since he liked me I could make him an offer that he couldn’t refuse. “You tell me how much you want to pay!!”  Those words were music to my ears and I decided to take a closer look.

The computer was nicely packaged in plastic and bubble wrap with a sales information sheet on top listing all the great features of this SONY computer.  I was sold! “I only have $100.00, take it or leave it!” My hard core “hustling” skills were coming to surface and he took the bait.  Next thing I knew I was praising God in my head because only He could have made that happen, right?!  God knew I needed a laptop for school and the prices in the store were outrageous, so to find one this cheap had to be a blessing.

“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:9 NIV

As I placed my money in his car, I decided to ignore the “voice” telling me to take my money back.  Instead I decided to take down his number just in case my computer didn’t work.   After completing the transaction I got in my car and headed to work with only 8 minutes to spare.  As I drove God starting screaming at me, demanding that I immediately pull my car over and check my merchandise.  Lo and behold, after making my way through the endless layers of packaging, I finally cracked the box open only to find 4 packs of notebook paper!!! I used to be the #1 hustler and I had just been HUSTLED!!!

I instantly went into panic mode asking God why this happened to me.  I called my sister and she told me to calm down and ask God what was my lesson in the situation.  I took her advice and at that very moment God dealt with me stating, “I give you FAVOR everywhere you go so what makes you think that I would have you buy a laptop out of someone’s car?  You were supposed to wait for Me to make provisions for you when the time was right!”  Just when I felt convicted enough to leave well enough alone, He went on to say, “I tried to stop the deal by telling you to take your money back but you chose to ignore Me!” At that point I was left to figure out how to maintain on my upcoming weekend trip minus that $100.

“… after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10 NIV

Ladies, that weekend God took care of everything for me while I was out of town.  However, if I had not allowed my old “hustling” mentality to surface days prior, I would have returned from Atlanta with more than I lost! This one encounter with the enemy cost me $100 but the lessons learned were priceless:  #1-The enemy comes in ALL forms!  #2-The devil will tempt you with things that you want and need.  BEWARE!  #3- Listen for GOD to give you the okay before moving too suddenly! He speaks to us all the time but are we really listening? #4- Thank God for the test no matter how big or small, even if you fail the first time!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for the tests! I understand that they are opportunities for You to teach me to rely on You more.  The world we live in encourages me to figure things out on my own but I must understand it is not about me.  Help me to hear Your voice louder than the enemy’s that I might make the right decision even in the most uncertain conditions.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Sistahs, I EMPOWER you to LISTEN and LISTEN good to what God has to say!! Believe me, it will save you time, energy, and MONEY! Put your old ways behind you and adopt God’s way of doing things! Be Blessed!! 🙂

Read more about heeding God’s warnings in The Night We Almost Died

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

Are you interested in joining the EmpowerMoments team? Click here to find out more about us!

Attitude, Encouragement, Growth/Maturity, Pain, Patience, Stress, Trusting God

The Butterfly’s Pupa

“You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 Amplified Version

Life Cycle of the Butterfly

When a caterpillar’s life cycle approaches its end a pupa (pew-pa) is formed from the belly of the caterpillar. Starting at the belly, a silk anchor is attached to a leaf or tree to affix the next structure, a pupa. In a butterfly, the pupa is called a chrysalis.  The purpose of this stage of life is to transition the caterpillar (the child like phase) to the adult phase. The chrysalis appears to be lifeless and dormant from the outside but on the inside there is a transformation taking place. The old organism is dying while new features of a more mature organism are developing. This pupae stage may last for weeks up to years, before the butterfly emerges. There is only one way the pupa can be opened and that’s by the fore limbs of a mature butterfly. Once the pupa is slit, the butterfly must squeeze out. This is a very tough process for the butterfly because the pupa is very tight; it was formed to the shape of the caterpillar. This is a very important stage; squeezing out of the pupa allows the butterfly’s blood, called haemolymph, to flow through its wings in order for it to fly. It can’t fly without being pressed.

Have you ever wondered why your life seems to be dormant, lifeless, or at a standstill? Ever wondered why it seems as though your friends are progressing and you are remaining stagnant?  You, my friend, may be in a metamorphosis. Do you feel as though God has planted something in your “belly” but yet you are not moving forward with it? Feeling stuck at the belly like a caterpillar in its pupa? I want to encourage you to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12 NIV) It is very important in this stage to wait and be patient. Emerging too early will cause the butterfly to get stuck in the silk wrapping causing it to die.

The caterpillar stage is the immature phase of the butterfly’s life cycle, but in order to become as regal as the butterfly, the caterpillar must go through the dormant phase of the pupa. On the outside, the pupa seems as though it is encasing “nothing;” however, what’s going on in the inside is growth and maturation. God is developing your character and cleaning your heart. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, (Romans 5:3-4 ESV)

Or maybe you are in the process of your breakthrough. God has been working behind the scenes and now the press is really beginning to hurt, it’s squeezing you, just like the emergence out of the pupa. This stage is necessary because without the “squeezing action” your wings will not be equipped to fly. 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)

At the end of this complicated life cycle, a beautiful butterfly emerges. The butterfly is an organism made by God that many of us marvel over its beauty and grace but we often forget about the stages that occurred prior to the display of this beautiful creature. Blessed is the man (woman) who remains steadfast under trial, for when he (she) has stood the test he (she) will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 ESV)

Dear Daddy,

I come to You sincerely and humbly praying to You during my “pupa” phase. Only You know which stage I am in, but God help me to delight in it. Help me to wait cheerfully. As I continue through this phase help me to remember that this dormant phase is not dormant at all, but You are developing me. At the edge of my breakthrough, help me to remember that although it may hurt, the “squeeze” is necessary. Above all things, help me to remember that You will never leave me, nor forsake me. In Jesus’  Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to rest in the power and assurance that God is developing you. Be confident in knowing that the trials you face are necessary for your butterfly period. My prayer is just as the butterfly shows no sign of struggle or pain that you emerge in the same way.

Another note: By nature, butterflies typically emerge in the morning, just after the night.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Pain Before Pleasure

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.

Addictions, Encouragement, Faith, Fasting, Inspirational, Mother/Daughter, Patience, Prayer, Trusting God

There’s A Monster In My House!

The following are excerpts from my memory journal. Although they weren’t actually written in a cute floral notebook, they are indeed truthful. Each one of these memories is an indelible mark on the walls of my mind…

July 2, 1988

For as long as I can remember, there has been a monster in my house. I am not really sure what type of monster it is, but I know when it shows up. Sometimes I can even see the monster on my Mommy and Daddy’s face. Something about them just doesn’t look the same. Then they start acting differently and I wonder if the monster is making them act that way. I didn’t think I was afraid of monsters until this one started showing up. I really hate it too so I hide in my room because I don’t want to see it. But when the monster leaves, they are back to normal and once again we are a loving family.

July 2, 1995

I’m too old to believe in monsters but now my little sister can see it. I try to reassure her that monsters aren’t real but she is still scared. It’s so evident that something evil is still showing up around here every day. My Mommy still acts strange when it shows up. I’m not sure if this evil thing is affecting my dad because he isn’t here anymore. Through my intellect and nosiness, I am going to get to the bottom of this. After all, I really need to know so that I can promise my baby sister that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

July 2, 2002

Over the past several years, I finally got it. Yes, it is a monster. Yes, it is evil. It’s a demon from the pit of hell. I am still a bit confused though because it doesn’t act like the monsters that I see on TV that are like it. I have since moved to another state so that I won’t have to deal with it. Now I feel kind of guilty because I left my baby sister to fight the demon alone. I pray that she’s ok. I wonder if she even understands what she is up against. God, please protect my sister and please kill the demon that resides in the house with her. Amen.

July 2, 2009

My sister is now older and she too understands what we are up against. It’s gotten really rough these last few years, but today God answered our prayers! I haven’t been this excited in a long time! I have been consciously, and subconsciously, battling this thing—this monster, this evil thing, this demon—for nearly all of my life. As an adult, I have been worn out on the battlefield and needing backup many days. But today, the one person that needed to jump in the battle stepped up to the frontline. My Mommy said, “I’m tired of being on these drugs.” It was at that moment that the monster started searching for a new place to stay…

October 24, 2011

That life-changing moment was nearly three and a half years ago and when I talk about it, my emotional response is still the same. That day, I immediately got on the phone and sought help. When I found The Women’s Treatment Center, they wanted to do a phone screening with her. She picked up the phone in the kitchen as I listened attentively in the bedroom. The exchange went something like this:

Q: “How long have you been using?”

A: “About 25 years.”

*The monster was pissed off as he grabbed his suitcase.*

Q: “What do you use?”

A: “Crack- Cocaine.”

*The monster shoved his chains of bondage in the suitcase.*

Q: “How often do you use?”

A: “Everyday.”

*The monster packed up his anger and depression.*

Q: “How much money do you spend to get high?”

A: “Whatever I have.”

*The monster grabbed all the rest of his junk (selfishness, pride, bitterness, greed, stubbornness, etc.) and stuffed it in his luggage.*

Q: “Are you ready to stop using?”

A: “Yes.”

*The monster slammed his suitcase shut and stomped out of the house…NEVER to move in again!*

Today I write in my virtual journal not to alienate my mother or air all of her dirty laundry. Rather, I write that you too may overcome. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” (Revelation 12:11 NIV) If you’re the daughter or sister or mother of the one who’s living with the monster, I say to you, STAND! “…And when you have done everything you could, you will be able to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13 ISV) I prayed for my mother for over 15 years without seeing ANY progress. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Be relentless in your pursuit! I am reminded of Jacob who wrestled with God throughout the night. I imagine from God’s response that He was tired of Jacob the next morning: “Let me go; its daybreak.” (Genesis 32:26a MSG)  Jacob’s response: “I’m not letting you go ‘til you bless me.” (v. 26b) Seconds after that exchange, God blessed Jacob “right then and there” as it reads in the Message translation. And just like Jacob, I clung to God and got on His last nerves until He blessed that situation!

In addition to standing and praying, I FASTED. In Matthew, the disciples were trying to cast demons out a little boy when Jesus reminded them that some only go by praying AND fasting. (Matthew 17:14-21) The spirit of bondage has a strong hold and depending on how long it’s had a grip on your loved one’s life, you may need to do more than just pray. I denied myself so many things that I loved (food, music, TV, people, outings, etc.) because I loved my mother MORE. What are you willing to sacrifice for the one that you love?

Lastly, I ask that you love them right where they are. As a teenager, one of the best pieces of advice that I received was to ask God to show me how to love my mother the way that He loved her. With that, my daily prayer became, “I love my mother where she is, but I praise You, oh God, for where she is going!”  Remember, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NLT)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for my ______. God, I ask that You keep them safe during this period of their life. Lord, please give me the words to say that would aid in their recovery. Teach me how to war in the Spirit on their behalf. Please help me not to give up on them because I know that You won’t give up on them either.  God, I will not let You go until fix this! I know that You are able! I thank You right now for my _______ but I praise You for where they are going! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I am sure that you know someone who is residing with the “monster.” Today I EMPOWER you to STAND up for and with them! I EMPOWER you to PRAY for them without ceasing! I EMPOWER you to go on a sacrificial FAST for them! And finally, I EMPOWER you to LOVE the hell out of them!

Today’s EmpowerMoment is dedicated to my lovely mother! You are a champion and hero in my eyes! Congratulations on 844 days of being free and clean! I love you!

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.

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.”

Attitude, Blessings, Contentment, Goals & Dreams, Growth/Maturity, Patience

Confessions From an Impatient Christian

I have a confession!  It’s not a confession of hope in Christ or the kind that Christians get excited and teary eyed about.  In fact, it involves a characteristic that is often overlooked, swept under the rug, or dismissed as being human or natural.  My confession is…I LACK PATIENCE!!!

Lacking patience can appear to be no big deal but what I have discovered (and accepted not very easily) is that God desires for His daughters to exercise patience.  Ugh!  Yes, it’s sad but true.  God wants us to be patient.  Throughout scripture, we are consistently charged to “Be patient” (James 5:7-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:14) and to “Wait on the Lord” (Psalm 37; Psalm 27:14; Proverbs 20:22).  Now, while waiting on God sounds pious and ideal, the reality is that waiting sometimes makes you want to scream.  It’s like waiting in traffic or standing in line behind the person that’s moving like a snail.  Everything in you wants to yell out MOVE NOW!

I admit that there have been times where I waited upon God with ease.  However, there are many more times where I felt like God just wasn’t moving fast enough.  I recall how impatient I was after graduating and passing the bar.  Here I was this bright, accomplished, 25 year old lawyer with much ambition but no job.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  I had made it through law school, passed the bar, but still was not employed.  To top things off, this was not a temporary matter.  It lasted 1 ½ years!  I remember feeling like I was at my breaking point—very frustrated with God because in my mind I had done all of those “Christian” things which entitled me to His blessings—when the Holy Spirit led me to Galatians 6:9: “And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (KJV)

Confession #2:  Although it came from God, I was not happy!  “What do you mean due season?  When is due?”  I can laugh at myself looking back, but at the time I was serious.  I was in no mood to wait.  When I realized that God would have it no other way, I began to study a devotional entitled “Waiting on God.”  The more that I studied, the more clearly I could see that not only was patience what God desired of me but it was also a privilege to wait upon the King of Kings.  After all, He was consistently waiting upon me.

Fast-forwarding– while waiting for a job, I landed an unpaid internship with an agency that I desperately wanted to work for.  I thought it was the perfect job.  I prayed about it, but as you probably guessed, it didn’t work out.  God moved me from the internship into private practice where he soon blessed me with my own firm.  It was such a great experience and after 2 years I thought the story had ended until a few days ago.  I was sitting in my office when I received a random call.  It was the supervisor from my internship (I had forgotten all about him and assumed he had forgotten about me).  He was calling to encourage me to apply for a job opening at the agency.  He stated that he had never forgotten about me and he went out of his way to make sure that I was notified. Wow!  I was speechless.

The following morning as I prepared for work, the Holy Spirit spoke again: “Things in life do come full circle if you are patient.”  Speechless again!  In that moment, God revealed to me just how faithful He is.  In spite of my lack of patience God demonstrated that He indeed works everything out in conformity with the purpose of His will. (Ephesians 1:11 KJV)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for allowing me to confess my shortcomings.  Your word tells us that “If we confess our sins, [You are] faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 KJV).  Thank You for Your cleansing.  I admit that I lack patience, but I am grateful that in my lacking Your continual strength has allowed me to endure.  Father, help me daily to exercise patience.  Help me to remember that You desire me to have patience and that waiting upon You is not a burden but a privilege. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to walk with patience.   “Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4 KJV).  Continue to wait upon God and know that His will for your life is perfect.

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)

Contentment, Encouragement, Growth/Maturity, Obedience, Patience, Stress, Trials

Throw Me In!

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty,  that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel  3: 16-18 NIV

We as Christians often think that God is a superhero and will come and rescue us right on time. While it is true He is an on time God; He doesn’t always “rescue” us like we imagine or hope. So you were praying that God would save your marriage, but you went home last night to find that all his bags are packed and he has changed his phone number. You were praying for God to heal that loved one and although they seemed to be recovering you just got the phone call that they passed while you were asleep. You have been unemployed for months; you finally get an interview only to find out they hire someone who is the boss’s cousin.

What do you do when you prayed and it did not seem to work out how you thought it would? God is the God of abundance, right? Where is your abundance? Where is your breakthrough?

Many of us know the story of Daniel and the lion’s den and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace, but what we sometimes forget is that Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. The Hebrew boys had to be thrown into the furnace. God did not deliver them from the trial, but God brought them through it. We want God to save us from trials and tribulations, but honestly that’s not Biblical. He never said that we would not have the trials; He just promised to be there with us.

The devil wants us to fear the trial, to think we cannot possibly make it through this situation. Truth of the matter is in our own strength we can’t. We must answer like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego:        “ the God we serve is able to deliver us from it”.

As I write this EmpowerMoment I am going through it. Things in my personal and professional life have just completely unraveled. A few weeks ago my best friends and I decided we wanted to purposely seek God’s will for our lives. We decided to look at seven areas of our lives we wanted Him to radically change and decided to purposely step out of our comfort zones. The first week was great! Then suddenly things in my life started breaking down. I never get sick, but I ended up with a sickness that had me in bed for two days. People in my life that I had purposely stopped communicating with started contacting me out of the blue. My son turned 15 months and hit an “I’m going to scream to the top of my lungs” crying stage, testing my patience. Money that I was expecting to receive with no issue is now tied up and I cannot get to it. What is going on? I am being thrown into the furnace.

All this happened after I challenged God that I wanted a more personal relationship with Him. It happened after I said that I was going to submit myself unto Him completely. It’s like the minute those words were spoken every area of my life that could be touched was being completely turned upside down.  I just decided this morning that I am ready to tell God, “Throw me in. I am ready to be sacrificed so You get the glory from my story.”

“Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see life with a clearer view again.”  Alex Tan

Dear Daddy,

Thank You so much for using every situation to bring YOU glory. Help me to remember that You can use anything for my good.  Remind me that victory has already been won by You. Trials come to remind me that earth is not my home and that You are the source of my strength. Help me to press into You when the devil tries to pull me away. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Lovely Ladies, I EMPOWER you to not be discouraged by the trials you are facing, but be encouraged by WHO is with you on this journey.  Hopefully in the end, like Job, you will be able to say: Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” (Job 13:15 KJV). Keep your eyes on the final prize. Keep pushing.

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.”

Forgiveness, Kindness, Love, Patience, Speech

Coming Home…Again!

Clifford Harris Jr. first came into my life in 2003. One of my friends talked about him constantly, so when we heard he would be performing in Tallahassee we made our way to see him. This was my introduction to T.I.P. better known as T.I. and I have been a fan every since. In him I have always seen a person who is good at heart but who often falters in his decision-making. He is no angel nor would he be considered a saint but neither am I.

T.I.’s troubles with the law and multiple incarcerations have become fodder for the media. Recently I have heard several discussions regarding his release from prison and it seems as though his fate has been pre-determined –“He’s just going right back to jail;” “I hope he doesn’t make a song about forgiveness AGAIN.” At first I shrugged it off but then I became appalled at the number of people who chose to publicly and privately speak “death” upon him instead of life. It was as if people forgot about their own transgressions just long enough to cast stones at him.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3:9-10 NIV)

I am not a T.I. fanatic but I found myself defending him as if he were my own brother. Wait! He is my brother! No matter how many times my biological brother found himself behind those iron clad bars he was always welcomed home. We didn’t place bets on how long he would stay out or stress his spirit with our disbelief in him. We prayed that God would deliver him and that he would “straighten up.” We saw the good in him along with those areas he really needed to change. We didn’t condemn him because we knew that if we looked hard enough each one of us had something that we repeatedly had done; yet we asked and expected our Father to welcome us back to Him every time.

Often we find ourselves discussing the business of family, friends and co-workers and readily speak “death” upon them with our doubts and nay sayings. Instead of welcoming them home, we anxiously await their next mess up. With so many doubters, detractors and fake supporters, I understand why it’s so easy to fall prey to bad vices.

This Empowermoment isn’t about T.I. as much as it is about allowing people to redeem themselves and embracing them when they seek to do the right thing, even if it’s their seventh time. This doesn’t mean that we should purposely sin; but we all do things some times that aren’t pleasing to God. No matter how many times we fall, the important thing is that we can get back up and come home to Jesus…Again.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for embracing me with open arms EVERY time I fall. Thank You for encouraging and not discouraging when I fall prey to temptation. Help me to be the same way with my fellow brethren. Bridle my tongue when I have it in my mind to speak “death” upon someone’s life. Help me to forgive and move forward just as You do time and time again with me. In Jesus Name, Amen! 

Today I EMPOWER you to speak Life. Speak LIFE into your family, your friends, your finances, your marriage, your household, your job and your spirit. If in some way you fail, repent and know that you can always Come Home, Again!

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.