Back To School Series, Conviction, Forgiveness, Patience, Teacher/Student

Back To School: The Wildcat Ways

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.   Read each day as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

I started working at my new school in early August and I absolutely love my job.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I love this school so much and it hit me—“The Wildcat Ways”.  Our mascot is the wildcat and we operate under four principles: respect, responsibility, readiness, and safety.  These four principles are called “The Wildcat Ways”.  During the first few weeks of school, I spent an extensive amount of time modeling and practicing these principles with my students.

I love the principles because they invite structure and they hold students accountable for their actions.  I thought students had mastered “The Wildcat Ways” until they had a bad day.  I found myself reprimanding them and helping them realize the wrong they had done.  I was so hard on them for not following the “Ways”.  I screamed, yelled and fussed for about 30 minutes until I had an ‘Aha moment‘.  I thought about how many times I had strayed away from the principles that God had instilled in me.  I thought about the many times I have to be reminded of scriptures and the Word of God.

How could I be so hard on them for being kids and messing up when God has not been hard on me for messing up over and over?  God has let His expectations be known and sometimes I still don’t do what’s right.  You know what God does?  He puts me back on the right path.

When I am not respectful to His will…God reminds me that, “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13 NLT)

When I am not being responsible and accountable for knowing the Word and how I am supposed to live…I am reminded that I am to study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2: 15 KJV)

When I am not ready for my assignment or for the next season in my life…God reminds me, “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.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

When I am out of the Will of God, not practicing safety, or not guarding my heart…He reminds me that He is my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence. “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. (2 Samuel 22: 3-4 NASB)

The next time I am ready to throw a tantrum because my students are not actively engaging in “The Wildcat Ways,” I am going to remember that I don’t always do everything I am supposed to do and my Daddy always forgives me and lets me start anew.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for being an understanding God. Thank You for protecting me when I wasn’t being respectful, responsible, ready or safe in Your will for my life.  Continue to mold me into the woman of God that You will have me to be.  Daddy, I need You to continue to guide my thoughts, words and actions when other people don’t do Your will.  Teach me to love with an agape love, the same as You love me!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to remember to be respectful to God in everything that you do.  I EMPOWER you to be responsible and accountable for living in the Will of God.  Always be ready for what God has for you and be ready for attacks from the enemy. Learn to be patient when people are not operating in excellence and remember that God forgives you, so you need to forgive them.

What are four principles you are maintaining today? When was the last time God had to remind you about being patient when people are not operating in excellence?

Read A Related EmpowerMoment: You Know Better!

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

Direction/Guidance, Evangelism, Leadership, Mentor/Mentee, Mentoring, Teacher/Student

Remember Where You Came From…

…And the One Who Brought You Out!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

Recently I started working with a group of girls at an elementary school in a poverty stricken neighborhood. The group that I work with is in sixth through eighth grade. Twice a week for an hour, we get together for empowering sessions. The sessions are on a wide range of topics from financial empowerment to self-esteem empowerment. Upon first meeting the girls, I was a bit taken aback. For such a young group of girls, they seemed to be very forward and extremely boy crazy. Everything that came out of their mouth was something perverse or vulgar. I couldn’t believe how comfortable they were tossing subliminal sexual messages around in my presence. It was almost as if all they wanted to discuss were things that were associated with the opposite sex. Again, I was nearly appalled at some of the things the girls were asking and telling me.  When leaving that session, I got in my car and had a quick pow wow with the man upstairs. Knowing that He sent me on this assignment, I reminded Him that I was going to need His assistance to be effective as the task at hand. Many questions started swimming around in my mind. A few of them went like this: How did they get like this? What type of parents do they have? At this rate, will they be successful in high school? Why are they so into boys at such a young age?

With absolutely no answers and still a boat load of questions, I solicited my weekly prayer partner for assistance. As she prayed for my strength, wisdom and courage to deal with the girls, I nodded my head in agreement. However, as she continued on asking God to remind me of how far I’d come and to remove any judgment on my part, I had to open one eye. Surely, she wasn’t talking about me! Oh, but surely she was! I was instantly convicted; for a moment in time, I was looking down on those young girls. There I was casting judgment on girls who reflected pieces of me. At some point in my life, I was exactly who they are now…it’s just no one knew about it. At some low era of my existence, I did the very things that they were discussing so freely…I was just never caught! I shared with you just last week a laundry list of things that I was guilty of. (See She is Me: Lydia) With a rap sheet like that, how dare I look down on those girls!

Besides the fact that God truly loves us, do you know why He even bothered saving us? It was so that we could be useful to the building of His Kingdom.  “For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time–to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:9 NLT)  Every single thing that we have experienced in life was not just for our own development; it was to benefit God’s people as well. There is someone, somewhere that needs to hear YOUR testimony. In my case, those girls need to know that I have walked in their shoes before and I know what dark places those paths lead to. With the right balance of love, honesty and firmness, I can help deter them from walking the path of death. But, if we get too arrogant or puffed up with pride, we miss the opportunity to minister and deliver those who are in captivity.

Many Bible readers are familiar with the header scripture. We love to proclaim that we are ‘a chosen nation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation’. But the part that seems to get tossed to wayside is the latter part of that verse.  You are His possession and were chosen that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Yes, He called me from that dark, grungy place of promiscuity, lust, fornication, drugs, alcoholism, etc. into the brighter place of salvation, forgiveness, love, redemption and restoration. However, it’s more important WHY He called me from that hopeless place—to help others who are in currently in that dark space and cannot see the way out for themselves.

I am determined now more than ever to make an indelible impact on those young ladies. I understand more fully just how important my story is to the next person. So, the next time God sends a lowly soul to you, please don’t rest in the seat of judgment.  Remember where you came from and the One who brought you from that place. Extend the same love that He extended to you. You may be the only person standing between them and salvation and/or deliverance.

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for the times that I placed judgment or looked down on one of Your children. When there is someone struggling with an issue, help me to embrace them the same way that You embraced me when I dealt with my issues. Teach me unconditional love that covers a multitude of sins. Lord, I ask that You send people to me who I can minister to based on the things that I have experienced in my life. Give me the courage to share my testimony so that others may come to know Your healing power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you remember where you came from! Recall that you used to be in that dark place and recall how God transitioned you into His marvelous light. With that on your brain, I EMPOWER you to minister to those who are still in that place. Who better to help them than one has walked a few miles in their shoes? Remember, they shall overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimonies! (Revelation 12:11)

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Dont Leave Them, Lead Them!

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.

Children, Gifts/Talents, Mentoring, Mother/Daughter, Motivation, Teacher/Student

A King Josiah Anointing for Our Kids

“…But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” 1 Corinthians 7:7b ESV

My 6-year old daughter is the epitome of over exaggeration and dramatized behavior. She can produce a tear at the drop of a dime, she has a facial expression and body gesture to appeal to any situation and she has the power to convince you that something is much more serious than it really is entirely through actions. It is so evident that our family has coined her ‘Drama Mama’. I must admit her behavior is sometimes extremely annoying because I don’t know what to take seriously and what to just brush off. I often remind her of the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” But recently I have come to the realization that God has given her the gift of drama for a purpose and it is up to her father and me to channel that energy into positive experiences. Only God knows how this gift applies to her purpose and destiny in Him but the last thing that we as her parents should do is extinguish the fire. Yes, she is only six years old but God is already starting to reveal who she will be in the Kingdom. He has a mission for even the youngest of them…

In the first book of Kings we are introduced to a baby named Josiah, “…This is what the LORD says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David.” (1 Kings 13:2 NIV) Just a few short years later in the second book of Kings, Josiah’s father, King Amon, was murdered and Josiah became king in his place. Guess how old Josiah was when he began his reign? “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.” (2 Kings 22:1 NIV) Imagine that! At only the tender age of eight, Josiah was already ruling a nation. What great things God must’ve placed in that young lad to equip him for such a position! I imagine that as a young boy he possessed superior leadership skills (that some mistook for bossiness). He was probably an excellent decision maker (which was probably confused with being opinionated). I am sure he had the ability to persuade the people (and most may have viewed that as manipulative.) You get the point? God has given our children what they need for where He is taking them. It is our responsibility to ensure that we are encouraging and cultivating those gifts.

Outlined below is a simple three-step plan to help us help our children become everything God intended for them to be:

(1)    Ask God to reveal your children’s gifts and talents to you. Before my daughters were even born, I would pray for their futures and ask the Lord to show me a glimpse of what He had planned for them. Part of that was to know what special things they would possess so that I could help to protect and nurture their gifts. It is not too late for you to seek God about your children’s hidden treasures.

(2)    Once you know what is on the inside of your children, you MUST assist in the cultivation of those gifts. After I realized that all of my daughter’s drama was not just to get under my skin, I made a choice to help her develop her craft. I have been searching for the perfect drama and acting school to enroll her in. It is imperative that we encourage our children to be who God has created them to be!

(3)    Speak into your child’s future. “You are going to be an awesome actress one day!” That is an affirmation that I speak over my daughter because I understand that it somehow aligns with her destiny. I don’t have to know when, where or how that statement will affirm itself, I just have to believe. So it is with your children. Speak over them daily. If your daughter loves to talk (aka talks too much), tell her what a great news reporter she would make. If your son insists on bringing every stray animal in the neighborhood home, affirm his future as a veterinarian.

It is never too early to begin helping your children reach their God-given destinies. Remember Josiah was only eight years old! Your children’s hidden gifts and talents may not look like everyone else’s. They may not be straight ‘A’ students or musically talented, but God has given them SOMETHING to work with. It is your responsibility to identify it and help them utilize it!

Dear Daddy,

I thank You for blessing me with my wonderful child(ren). I ask that You would begin to reveal to me the special gifts that You have placed inside of them. Please give me the wisdom to recognize who You created them to be, the ability to affirm what You said and the resources to aid in their development. I ask that You give my child a King Josiah anointing that they may make huge impacts, even in their younger years. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to EMPOWER your children! Find their gifts and maximize their potential for the kingdom by helping them grow those gifts in the Spirit. I EMPOWER your children to walk in a King Josiah anointing!

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.

Evangelism, Mentor/Mentee, Salvation, Teacher/Student

My Divine Opportunity

I recently started a unit on power with my freshmen World Studies class.  In order to introduce the concept and help them to define it, I used the following short poem:

I took my power in my hand

And went AGAINST the world

‘Twas not so much as David had

But I was twice as bold

I aimed my pebble, but myself

Was ALL the one that fell

Was it Goliath was too large

Or was myself too small?

–Emily Dickinson

As soon as the student finished reading the poem, I heard, “Who is David? Who is Goliath?”  I was actually surprised!  I knew that many of my students were “un-churched,” but I thought the story of David and Goliath was just known by everyone whether they went to church or not.

DIVINE OPPORTUNITY!!  I took it and ran with it.  I told the students the story of David and Goliath and then had them tell me why the author alluded to that particular story in the poem.  Not only did they completely understand the poem after my explanation of the story but they were also able to come up with a working definition of individual power.

The icing on the cake was how the students applied the lesson to their lives that DAY! The poem compares Goliath to the world.  I asked the students, “Who or what is your Goliath?”  Their answers ran the gamut from Math Class to marijuana to anger.  After class throughout the next couple of days, students would see me in the hallway and say, “Ms. Richard, I’m going to fight my Goliath; I’m ‘bout to pass this Math test!” or “Ms. Richard, I fought my Goliath today, I was about to cuss somebody out but I walked away!”

I am so excited about the new directions my students are taking and pray that God continues to draw them toward Him.  I had prepared an entirely different lesson that day but God took what I prepared in a different direction.  “…To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue…” (Proverbs 16:1 NIV)

Above everything else, God has mandated us to, “…Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation…” (Mark 15:16 NIV)  Many times we take this as we must become a missionary and go to Africa or stand on the street corner and pass out tracts. While that is the ministry of some it is NOT mine!  We must seek out and be open to the opportunities that God gives us to minister wherever we find ourselves.  Whether that is school, work, or even in the grocery store.  “…The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise…” (Proverbs 11:30 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for the opportunity You have given us to share Your love with others.  Guide us daily as we go about our lives.  Give us opportunities to minister in our everyday lives.  We ask that You also give us the strength, the willingness, and the wisdom to minister when the opportunity is presented.  Help us to not only be a good witness to You in what we say, but if we never say a word let our lifestyle draw others to You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to pray and ask God to give you divine opportunities to minister in your everyday life.  I EMPOWER you to ACT when those opportunities present themselves.  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Preaching to the Choir

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.”