Love

Looking For Love

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

10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1. Ready or not, here I come! hide

I am certain that you remember that chant from your childhood as you jetted off to search for your cousins and friends in a friendly game of Hide & Seek. But what happened when you looked high and low to no avail? After several minutes of peeping behind trees, under staircases, and in neighbors’ backyards you still didn’t find who you were looking for. Sometimes to assist your efforts, those you were searching for would speak up so that you could follow their voice, but even that didn’t work sometimes. Finally you give up and are left feeling defeated because the very people that you are searching for can’t be located. However, they aren’t lost; you weren’t looking in the right places…

I’ve been looking for love
In all the wrong places
And now I finally found
Someone who cares for me

No matter the storm
It was you who helped me face it
And now it’s safe to say
That you really care for me

At the clubs and bars. In the refrigerator. In a liquor bottle. In a dime bag of weed. In the validation of others. In other women’s men.

Those are all places that I have once searched for love. None produced exactly what I was looking for. As a matter of fact, the food, alcohol, and drugs were crazy options anyway since they were not even able to open up and love me back. Even in places like the club and the bar where there are people to interact with, I was still left with a gaping hole in my heart. A void existed that I longed to have filled.  It seemed that I was looking for love in all the wrong places. Just like the innocent child who conceded in Hide & Seek and left feeling discouraged, I too gave up on finding a genuine sense of love. I only had my faith in love restored when I began searching for the right One in the right place.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

In those simple 15 words, God promised that us that if we truly look for Him with the very essence of our being, we WILL find Him. I was traveling places searching when all I had to do was look deep into my heart because that’s where God was. And guess what? When you find Him, you’ve found love! 1 John 4:8 explicitly tells us that, “God is love.”  

I can remember several times playing Hide & Seek when I was “It” and once I found one of my friends they would help me find the others. She knew exactly where they were because she had watched everyone go their respective hiding spots. In the same way, when I truly found God, He pointed me in the direction of those other things and people that were not in plain sight. He revealed my purpose. I discovered divine connections. He pushed me in the direction of my husband. I didn’t have to waste time looking in the wrong places because He made everything crystal clear.

This man had nowhere to go
Then you gave me direction
And now the rest of my days
I can’t help but give you the praise

Dear Daddy,

I realized that I have been searching for love in all the wrong places. Help me, O God, to search for You deep in my heart. When I find You, I know that I have found love in its purest form. I trust that no matter what I have done, You still love me unconditionally and are willing to embrace me with open arms. Thank You for loving and caring for me! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to search for true, unconditional love in the RIGHT place! Have an intense love affair with Jesus and watch how He unveils other hidden parts of your life that you didn’t even know existed. Don’t give up on love; just give up on looking in the wrong places!

As you listen to R. Kelly’s “Looking for Love”, make a commitment to yourself to stop searching for love in the all the wrong places.

If video fails to load, please click here.

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

 

Love, Miscellaneous

Flashback Friday: Love Is…

Ladies, enjoy this flash from the past which was originally posted on February 11, 2012.

If I could search every part of my being in an attempt to draw from my own experiences or if I could look up the word in every dictionary or Google it from here to yonder, I would never find a more meaningful definition for ‘love’ than that which is found in the Holy Bible.  As EmpowerMoments kicks off its series in celebration of love, I thought it best that we start with a definition that encompasses the wonder and beauty of love.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.

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. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 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. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NIV)

Dear Daddy,

I come to You today thanking You for giving us the definition of love. Lord, from Your Word I know that Your son Jesus exemplified love in its purest form and thus, I pray Lord, that You guide me that I may be more like Jesus.  Guide my actions and guide my words, guide my feelings toward myself and guide my feelings towards others. Father, I submit to Your love and ask that You create a beauty within me that will radiate outwardly for the whole world to see.  I love You Father, and most of all, I thank You for loving me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to strive to love more and to love harder.  Love like you have never loved before and be beautiful while you are doing it.  When you love, it is easier to forgive and easier to give.  I EMPOWER you to show an act of love to someone today and EMPOWER that person to pass it forward.

To read the entire Love Series from February 2012, click here.

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Beverly Gordon is a graduate of Gonzaga School of Law (Spokane, WA) and currently works as an Executive Assistant and Director of Compliance.  She is a devoted mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend who believes in the importance of teaching children the power of prayer.  In her journey of loving and leaning on the Lord she meditates on Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” She resides in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with her beautiful daughter and is an active member of the Springfield United Methodist Church.

Enemies, Gentleness, Love, Prayer, Self-Control, Testimony Series

My Testimony: A Testy Testimony

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

Have you ever wished you weren’t a Christian just so you could claim ignorance when you intentionally did something wrong? Or have you ever wished you weren’t a Christian so you would not feel convicted to be an example of Christ for someone who is unsaved or for someone who you really don’t like. Until the latter part of last year, I had not had that experience. I was in a position where I had to “deal” with this person who I thought was rather unpleasant and had a habit of rubbing people the wrong way. The situation was very challenging. I was often in positions where I had to spend unwanted time with her. I would think to myself, “Lord, please help me to remain gracious and suppress my flesh.” I mean I just really didn’t like her, so much so I dreaded the thought of her. Moreover, I felt like my feelings were warranted because of her ugly ways and actions.  I really just wanted to “go off” on her one good time. But I was convicted by the fact that I am a Christian who is supposed to help bring others to Christ. What kind of witness would I be if I acted irrationally and out of character just to satisfy my fleshly desires? So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17 ESV)

I greatly battled with this. I even wished that she was a Christian so that at least it would be less pressure to “do the right thing” because Christians understand that Christians don’t always act “Christian” right? (How ridiculous is that thought? Guess I was really desperate.) But noooo, it would be too easy for her to be Christian and that would diminish the lesson God was teaching me. She is a deist of sorts. Deism, according to the freedictionary.com, is the belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation. My experience with her was so challenging that I would think, “really, God, I ask You to increase my walk with You and this is what You do?”

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. (Luke 6: 27-31 ESV)

I was soooo frustrated. I don’t recall there ever being a time in my life where I felt so ill toward someone. I realized it was negatively impacting my life!  If I were to ever conquer this situation, God was going to have to help me! And help me He did…

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. (Romans 12:14 NLT) This was so much harder than I thought and I thought I had been doing this my whole life. Certain situations really put certain scripture in perspective for you.

I started to PRAY more, not just for me, but FOR HER. I prayed on how to deal with her. I prayed on how to deal with myself regarding my feelings and thoughts toward her. I prayed to have her removed from my immediate surroundings. Then, believe it or not, over time I found myself praying for her “for real”, her heart, her salvation, her life and her situations. Over time, I didn’t dread the thought or sight of her as much. I wanted my life and light to reflect Christ toward her. I intentionally tried to set a good example even when she tested my resolve. It has now become easier to have a conversation with her and I could care less if she’s in “my space” or not. I guess the saying is true: “Prayer may not change the person, but it’ll change you.” Later, as God would have it, she was relocated to another area and we didn’t have to share the same space anymore. Funny how God works huh?

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for teaching lessons we unknowingly need to learn. Thanks for seeing past our emotions and for forgiving us when we don’t act like You would have us too. Thanks for strengthening our relationship with You through new experiences. Help us to pray for those who do us wrong and trust that You will handle it all in Your time. You said You would make our enemies our footstool, and we know that all things work together for our good. Thank You for the revelation and the unlikely testimony. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Tired, tried and tested sisters, I EMPOWER you to push past your feelings and give the situation to Jesus. I EMPOWER you to know that the test comes before the testimony! I EMPOWER you to hold on to the Word and abide by it no matter how trying or tempting the situation is. I EMPOWER you to pray for your enemies genuinely and sincerely! I EMPOWER you to go from test to testimony!

Ladies, who is God laying on your heart to pray for during your tests?

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Mrs. Coretta Collins is a wife and mother who enjoys reading, writing, movies and spending time with family and friends. She is avid about health, healing and helping which serves her well as a registered nurse and recent Family Nurse Practitioner graduate. Striving to be led by the Lord throughout life and having overcome significant challenges, her favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Coretta is a member of St. John A.M.E. Church in Birmingham, Alabama. She resides in Calera, Alabama with her awesome husband and two wonderful sons.

Father/Daughter, Forgiveness, Growth/Maturity, Love

Our Journey Symbolized Through Shoes

This past Christmas, my daddy sent me a pair of new boots. It wasn’t the shoes as much as it was the symbolism in his gift. They told the story of how far we had come.

And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us. (1 John 5:14 KJV)

As a little girl, I use to imagine what it would be like to have a father in my life. I used to pray and ask God to send him to me. In my mind, he would take me shopping and I would eat ice cream walking hand in hand with him. He would meet my boyfriend and admonish him before we went out on a date. I could talk to him about the unsettling confusing way of men and he would school me. All of these things were a part of the imagination of a little girl who wanted a “complete” family.  I would be “daddy’s girl.” Unfortunately, that is not the father that was in my life. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know him. At 17, I set out on a journey to find him and as God would have it, I met him for a brief moment when I was 18. To me it was awkward. We exchanged numbers but it would be years before I heard from him again.

Fast forward from 1998 to 2010, I decided that I would look for my dad one last time. I prayed about it and I told God that if I didn’t find him this time or he was unresponsive I would let it go. Besides, why did I have to do all of the work? I was his child so I griped, “He should be looking for me!” Through Facebook I found a cousin who got the ball rolling, although she gave me a word of caution about this journey…that maybe I should let it go. It sounded much like a letter I read in high school about my father where someone said that maybe I should “let sleeping dogs lie.” Was this person so bad that everyone felt the need to ring the alarm? It really didn’t matter what they said because I was prepared to give him a verbal lashing. Where have you been all of my life? Why this? Why that?

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24 KJV)

One call changed it all. I was sitting at work and my phone rang. My dad was on the other end. I was so caught off guard that I didn’t know what to say. The verbal lashing that I prepared went right out of the window and I chose to embrace him with a loving attitude and kind words. He apologized and didn’t make excuses. He went on to tell me of his drug addiction that spanned nearly thirty years. I instantly realized that God knew best. With the multitude of family challenges I had growing up, this was one that I didn’t need to endure. He told me that he was now clean and getting his life on the right track. A few months later I went to visit him and realized that I looked just like him. Since that time, we talk every week. I had to realize that our relationship is just that…ours. It’s not based on some romanticized view of a father but on what we have created. He can’t make up for the past thirty years, but we could start today and move forward. I enjoy our weekly conversations and I thank God for answered prayers.  I forgave him. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32 KJV) 

When I received the package from him in the mail this Christmas, I was especially excited. In my thirty-one years of living, it was the FIRST thing that my dad ever bought me. I was excited and so was he. He bragged on his selection of shoes and talked on end about how he thought I would like them. Everyone knows that shoes are the way to a woman’s heart. These boots fit perfectly and they were that perfect shade of brown. My calf muscles are huge so I can’t wear knee boots; he picked ones that came just above the ankle. His thoughtfulness came through.

Our relationship is anything but ordinary; however, I am thankful that God answered the prayer of a little girl and worked in His perfect timing to bring this relationship to fruition.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for making my concerns Your own. Continue to guide my heart and my mouth and let my words be pleasant even when my mind wants to spew venom. Give me wisdom so that I know which relationships are worthy of building and those that I need to let go. In all things, let Your perfect will be done in my life in Your perfect timing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to have a heart of forgiveness and remain stedfast in praying for a relationship that you want God to heal. Remove the preconceived notions from your mind and allow God to design something that is unique to your situation. He is a God that answers prayers.  

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.”

Love, Love, Love Series, Self Love, Self-Esteem

Learning to Love Me

This is hard to admit…I struggle to love myself.  As far back as I can remember, this has been an ongoing struggle.  As a child, I struggled to accept myself physically.  I thought that I wasn’t as pretty as the other girls, my nose was too big, I was too skinny etc.  As I grew up I began to believe myself to be physically beautiful, however, this was only because other people (namely members of the opposite sex) started to notice me.

Boys and men noticing me opened a whole new level of struggle.  My love for myself was dependent on what they said, did, and felt about me.  As my teenage and college years rolled on, I ALWAYS had a man.  It was as if my sanity depended on it.  When one didn’t work out, it wasn’t long before I had another one.  I’ve settled for Quasi-relationships where I was never given a commitment but behaved as if I was married.  I’ve been physically, emotionally, and sexually abused.  When abuse wasn’t on the menu, I got periodic calls filled with empty expressions of “care” when they wanted money, sex, or whatever else.  I went running every time, even to the point of leaving my bed and home in the middle of the night to go attend to them.

Sadly, I have never received what I’ve chased after so desperately.  I don’t know what it feels like to be loved by a man in that special romantic way.  In my adult life, I am FINALLY learning to really love ME, by seeing myself the way God sees me:

1)       There is nothing wrong with how God created me.  “…He has made everything beautiful in its time…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)

2)      “… I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful…” (Psalms 139:14 NIV)

3)      I am special to God.  “…before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.  Before you were born, I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV)

4)      I am a princess, and deserve to be treated as such! “…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)

Not until we begin to see ourselves the way God sees us will we ever really love ourselves.  We must love who God created us to be in order to achieve the destiny He has called us to.  For me, relationships with men were my indicator that I did not love myself, but maybe that’s not you.  You might overeat, or not eat enough.  You may be engaged in dangerous behavior or be sinking in depression.  You may be just floating through life not taking authority and letting the devil do whatever he wants.  All of these are indicators of not loving who God created you to be.  It’s time to see you the way that God sees you.  “…For God so loved [insert your name here] that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life…” (John 3:16 NIV)  How could you not love yourself when you understand just how valuable you are! 🙂

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for loving me!  Teach me how to love myself that way that You love me. Forgive me for searching for love everywhere but in You.  Forgive me for the times that I have made You feel as if Your love wasn’t good enough.  I love You and I am so grateful that You love me in spite of my imperfections, faults, and issues.  I am also grateful that not only do You love me just the way I am, but You love me enough to continue to push me toward where You have destined me to be.  Give me wisdom and strength to keep moving in that direction.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to love yourself the way God loves you.  You are a princess and you deserve royal treatment.  Carry yourself like royalty.  Do not expect others to treat you a certain way when you have not set the standard.

1)      Take Care of Yourself Physically

Even Esther went through a year of beauty treatments before going in to see the king.  Strive to be physically fit, eat well, exercise, take care of your skin, etc. (See Esther 2: 12-13a)

2)       Enjoy your own company

–          Aside from your devotional time with God, learn to enjoy hanging out by yourself. (i.e. go to a movie, out to eat or on a solo vacation) Learn about yourself, what you enjoy, your interests etc.

3)      Don’t settle for FAKE love

–          End the quasi-relationships, friends with benefits, no strings attached arrangements.  God has so much more for you!  The true definition of love is given to us in 1Corinthians 13: 4-8, we are not to settle for less than that!

4)      Don’t Struggle Alone

–          For those times when you struggle to love yourself or when loneliness is pressuring you to seek FAKE love, pray and ask God to connect you with another WOMAN that will esteem you, pray for you and hold you accountable to the call God has on your life!

  ‘Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.’ – Whitney Houston

 

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.”

Love, Love, Love Series, Marriage, Relationships, Sex

The Reality of Relationships

“Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.” Mark 10:9 MSG

Relationships bring out the root of our character. Whether it’s spiritual, marital, familial, or friendship, our character is often what determines the depth to these relationships. This past weekend my husband and I went to a marriage conference entitled, “Weekend to Remember.” We witnessed so many couples, even ourselves, having breakthroughs and becoming free because they understood what a true relationship with their spouse or future spouse should entail. Unfortunately, society, secular culture, media, and our imaginations have tainted the true meaning of the love shared between a husband and wife. When I was dating, I had so many misconceptions and unrealistic expectations about marriage. It caused a lot of frustration during my dating years and rifts when I married. Today I want to EMPOWER you to step outside of what you “think” is healthy for the marriage you have or the one you are preparing for, and look to God as the source of abundance and joy in your relationship.

Common Myths that Skew Singles and Murder Marriages:

  1. Difficulties mean we have a bad marriage: It’s not the difficulty that rates your marriage, but the way you respond to difficulties. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.” (1 Corinthians 7:28 NIV) Work as a team to face ALL troubles.
  2. I have to make my point: When you respond to your mate, do you use honey or vinegar? The Bible tells us to speak in a way that encourages: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV) I’ve learned over the years that my husband does not respond to nagging (the equivalent of being nibbled to death by a duck). But he responds to TIMELY conversations that encourage him.
  3. Children first, then our marriage: God designed the marriage relationship as the priority relationship of the family. Our marriages should mirror God’s image of love. The speaker at our conference gave some astounding advice. He said children don’t necessarily “need” quality or quantity time the most. They need mom and dad to have it together! This is so true because it breeds security in the home. Children are sensitive and can pick up on tension in the home.
  4. Love has to be earned: The anchor to your love for your spouse or future spouse should not be based on how well he cooks, acts, works, dresses, or interacts with other people. That’s what makes you “like” him. Love is based on the principle of agape love. It’s patience (not forcing him to change or slapping resume` builders in his face), kindness (saying “good morning” or sending a text message that says “I love you”), void of envy (you are not his competitor), non-boasting (refrain from “I cook, clean, AND work! What do you do?”), honor (opposed to punking him in public or acting like his mom), selflessness (opposed to manipulating the finances in secret), self-control (opposed to being quick to get angry), and it’s based on forgiveness (instead of keeping a record, tally, score sheet, note-book, or spreadsheet of his wrongdoings in your brain and heart or reminding him of them.)
  5. Marriage should be blissful: Did you know that some things are not solvable? You cannot change your spouse and he cannot change you. Some disagreements have to end in compromise.
  6. I can fix him: Your husband is not your project! Pick another hobby! Your man has attributes that are indicative of him. God can make the situation work, but when you make it your business to “fix it” on your own, that becomes day one of destruction. Trying to change him means that I do not accept the masterpiece God designed for me.
  7. Sex is not necessary: Did you know that both of you should be “satisfied” during sex in your marriage? I just learned of a story of a woman of 12 children that never experienced an orgasm. She began to pray over her marriage bed and soon, her husband prayed with her. He took on the responsibility of trying to make sex enjoyable for her as well. God filled them with ways of intimacy to encourage oneness in their marriage. Healthy sex encourages oneness.
  8. I don’t need a man to complete me: You should definitely be complete in your decision for Christ before you marry. However, a marriage is a companionship. When there is not a “need” for a companion, your husband cannot see where he fits in. Men have a “need” to complete and fix. If he can’t complete your desire for companionship, he doesn’t see where he’s needed.
  9. Conferences, counseling, and marriage books are only for broken marriages: My husband said something astounding the other day. He said we study for our degrees so we can “know” our fields, but we don’t “study” our marriage. I was blown away because he was right. I know his personality, but I don’t know what it means to be “married” unless I look at two other people that are NOT he and I. Whether it’s your Bible, talks with your mate about your marriage, retreats, books, etc, your marriage needs to be an “intended” focus, not just another feather in your hat.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for bringing some things to the fore front. Father, please help us not to taint our minds and imaginations with selfish ideas and worldly expectations of marriage. Lord, I pray that every wife reading this message is able to demonstrate oneness. Lord, I pray that she sees to it that she prays for her husband on a consistent basis, whether he is a believer or not. Lord, I ask that the Holy Spirit guide our prayers so that they are not selfish. Lord, I pray for every Lady in Waiting and every Wife, that You encourage her to realize that the focus before and during marriage should be You because You give her provisions, joy, happiness, and fulfillment, regardless of circumstance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to love your man with Godly love. Relationships are wonderful, but we can’t encourage worldly expectations if we want a Godly relationship. I listed the myths above to help free you to lavish in the abundance of love. Your husband is neither your enemy nor your competitor. There is nothing worse for a man to fail outside the home and then come home to someone that reaffirms it. God designed us as helpers. The term helper means to assist someone that is not adequate to handle it by themselves; it does not mean slave! Love on him in God’s way and He will move like never before.

Comment on our Facebook Wall or Tweet us and tell us ways you encourage your healthy relationship.

  We continue our celebration of Whitney with her hit, “All The Man That I Need”:

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 Vaughn Forest Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Check out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here

Friendships, Jealously, Love, Love Series

Am I My Sister’s Keeper?

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3 NIV)

Women can birth a child, successfully run a home and a business, and so much more. But can women have healthy and happy friendships with other women? Many have answered “no” to this question. I can’t tell you how many times I hear another woman say, “I don’t have many female friends because (insert negative stereotype here)”. I have uttered these words myself.

One only needs to flip through the television channels to see women portrayed as manipulative, money-hungry, scandalous beings. There are groups of women who live and die by shows such as Bad Girls Club and the Real Housewives series, but why? Each one of these shows, I believe, tap into the source of where the actions of gossiping, backstabbing and manipulation is birthed.  The source is insecurity and jealousy. You might disagree, but please keep reading. In the opening verse we read that people are really battling with their desires and will go as far as to kill to get what they want. The real source of your discontentment comes from your desire to have more than what you currently have. There’s a difference between having a dream for your life and being envious of someone who has what you think you want.

As women of God we should not envy someone else because she is married and we are single or because she has a nice house and we are in an apartment or because she has a well paying job and we are unemployed. Our God is not limited by our circumstances; He is limited by your faith and your motives. If you continue to envy your sister you are blocking your own blessings. Instead of comparing your life to hers, begin to pray for her (because you don’ t know the cost of her blessing) and that God will remove that spirit of envy from you.

If you do not have positive women in your life you might need to be creative in your pursuit of Godly friendships. My sophomore year of college I felt God leading me to really seek Him, but I didn’t want to do this journey by myself so I started a women’s Bible study called Heavenly Inspired Sisters (HIS). HIS has now grown into a lifelong friendship between eight wonderful women of God who have shown me there is nothing like having a sister in the faith.  Had I not stepped out on faith and started my own ministry I would not reap the benefits of having these wonderful women in my life. I would like to challenge you to get outside of your comfort zone and let go of any excuses of why you cannot be friends with a woman. If you are reading EmpowerMoments, I encourage you to link up with this ministry. We have a Facebook page, a Twitter account and you can send prayers to us right here on the site. You have an avenue to reach out to your fellow sisters in Christ, if you so choose.

Some of My Sisters in Christ

In this season of ‘love’ let us not forget to love our sisters  for we are our sisters’ keeper and it is up to each one of us to make an effort. Remember even Mary, the mother of Jesus, was able to have a confidant in her cousin Elizabeth, Naomi had Ruth, Mary had Martha and so on. The Bible is filled with powerful women of God who had a sister in Christ to support them. 

 

Dear Daddy,                                             

Thank You so much for giving us love in a variety of forms from family relationships to friendships. We pray right now that our hearts will be open to Your Will for our lives. We ask that those who are seeking Godly friendships will learn how to cultivate those relationships so You will be glorified. We ask that You give each woman a spirit of discernment so we know when the enemy tries to play on our emotions and insecurities. We pray for wholeness and completeness in You, for in that we have no need to compare. We thank You in advance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to love your sister as yourself. It is time to let go of the negative stereotypes we hold of other women and begin to love as Christ would have us to love one another.

Ladies, how has having a sister in Christ shaped your walk? Tell us on FB or Twitter

Celebrate sisterhood with our sister Whitney Houston’s “Count on Me”

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 Love, Love, Spiritual Warfare

Got Haters?

“For we wrestle NOT against flesh and blood…” Ephesians 6:12 KJV

For the past few months I’ve seen a lot of tweets and statuses about haters. They’ve been about ridding facebook pages of haters, crediting haters to mental stress and emotional turmoil, and giving haters the position of blocking blessings. Most times when I would see these statuses and updates my first reply to the status would be, “haters are irrelevant” or I would end up texting them encouragement that “people” do not hold the key to our happiness. The urban dictionary defines the word hater as someone that cannot be happy for someone else’s success. Okay, I get that. But what I want to share today is the power in thinking beyond perceived limitations.

As a Christian God tells us in 1 John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (NIV) This Word is an ego booster. It doesn’t matter what people say or try to develop to hinder your progress, greater is He that is in you. Furthermore, Romans 8: 37-39 reminds us, “…we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV) So guess what? Haters cannot determine how far you go, what you accomplish, or smash your success. People can say things, but giving them credit for failure, when you are really the one that failed to realize that God is greater, is not the case.

It is so easy to push the blame for us holding baggage, insecurities, and the likewise on to other people, instead of focusing our minds on more mature things. I remember at one point I called myself deleting people because they were not “pro-Me”. After growth and maturity I realized, I can delete my facebook list all day long and I still will not remove “haters” or those that don’t truly love me. If this is your goal, you will spend most of your time trying to seek out the bad in people opposed to thinking higher thoughts about things that matter.

As believers of Christ, we are charged “not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:12 NIV) If your mind isn’t focused on moving past petty issues, gossiping, lying, backbiting, and heart breaking, giving a shout out to your haters is not going to help. Due to the nature of humans, I am almost certain that I have what’s been defined here as “haters.” But guess what, Jesus had Judas. Pray for your enemies and pray that you are able to discern what to disclose and what not to disclose. Also, take a look at who’s in your inner circle. You don’t have to make an announcement, because believe it or not, those that you deem as haters are the main people you are probably ministering to and don’t know it. But seek Godly counsel. Proverbs 13:20 states, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (NIV) Walk with those that love you and be an example to those that don’t know you (or what we term ‘haters’). No one said you all have to be best friends.

My title asked the question, “got haters?” Well I have an answer for you. No, you do not have haters, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV) The devil has deceived us into classifying people as haters opposed to calling him out for being the core. Rebuke the devil and the “hater” influence. It’s not her or him, but the spiritual war that is at stake and as a Christian learning to mature, we have to look past the flesh and understand that God will fight the battle of demonic forces of hatership if we acknowledge and give it to Him.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for showing me when my focus is all wrong or when I am sacrificing love for hate or badgering a friend when I should be badgering the devil. I give You honor for fighting ALL of my battles, guiding me into healthy counsel of friends, and strengthening my faith when I’m faced with those that do not have my best interest at heart. God, may all things that I encounter be to Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to look beyond the ‘hater’ and love them as Christ loves you. Recognize that maybe you are what’s holding up the process of spiritual growth, not the one tagged as your opponent. This is NOT an easy task, especially if a person is blatant about it, but realize this, If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:38 NIV)

Read a related EmpowerMoment: No Love in the City

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 Vaughn Forest Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Check out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

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.”

God's Love, Love, Mentor/Mentee, Mentoring, Miscellaneous

How to Love

The title,  How to Love,  has become a popular song bythe  artist Lil’ Wayne.  However it holds various meanings to me.  I am a counselor and social worker and in my field I see a plethora of things that my clients struggle with.  I was recently meeting with one of my teenage clients and she slid a piece of paper across the table.  She told me she wrote a poem entitled “How to Love” and wanted me to read it. 

I was immediately excited and intrigued because I love poetry and this is a client of few words.  This was a major breakthrough for her.  The poem discussed her insecurities and uneasiness in the area of love.  You may be thinking, “Who really knew how to love as a teenager anyway?”  However, it was more than that.  She went into detail about the pain and anguish that she felt by not having a mother, father, sibling or grandparent.  She felt she had no one to love her.  She went on to discuss how her mother left her at two days old and how she had only saw her once since then. 

I immediately attempted to point out the people that she did have in her life.  She went on to tell me she had none of those people.  Not a teacher, church member, counselor, or  family friend.  I was appalled! How she could know how to love if no one ever taught her?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither the present nor things the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of  God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Romans 8:37-39 NIV)

It came to me that the best way to teach her how to love was through God.  I could not teach her how to love her like a mother should.  I could not make her family apart of her life. Instead I challenged her to look at the love that God had shown her.  We went on to discuss how she had all her needs met and when she thought she had no one God was always there. “Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b NIV)

In the midst of encouraging and uplifting her about God’s love I had to check myself.  How many times have I claimed that I do not have anyone to love me because I am not in a relationship or marriage? How often do I complain that I have no one to help me carry the burden? Do I entertain the thought that I have no loved one to wrap their arms around me?  The answer is I am often guilty of that as well.  God taught us how to love long before we were even born because He first loved us.

Dear Daddy,

Please remind me that I am always loved by You. When I feel as though I have no one, remind me that You have always been there.  Please allow me to love my neighbors and uplift those that feel that they have no one.  Thank You, Lord, for blessing me with family that have always loved me.   I thank You for affording me the opportunity to love others as you have loved us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I encourage you to EMPOWER someone’s life by giving them the gift of love.  Look at our children and how many of them are looking for love in all the wrong places.  I EMPOWER you to guide them on the right path and show them what it means to have someone who cares about them.  Whether it’s your own children or children you mentor through a church or community organization, remember their future is in OUR hands.

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 as well as 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.”