FOCUS!

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!

Used to want a lotta things

All the stuff that’s on TV

Education, cars, and clothes

Fashion lights and jewelry

(Focused on the wrong stuff)

Now I got my eyes on you

And now I know that

— Lecrae – God Is Enough

In the movie, Focus (2015), we learn about a seasoned con artist named Nicky (Will Smith) who takes a woman under his wing and teaches her the trade of pulling off the perfect cons. As I watched the beginning of the movie unfold with a ring of Nicky and his team of con artists master goods right from under the noses of unsuspecting people in the midst of a popular, busy tour attraction, I was taken aback.  “Oh Lord, don’t let no people get any bright ideas from this movie,” I thought.  I wasn’t naïve to the fact scams and thefts are committed everywhere in our society; however, it is always sad to know that people violate others and rob not only their possessions, but their sense of security too.  I began to shun the movie; however, one particular scene where Nicky loses all of the team’s money to another man, presumably a businessman/thrill seeker got me intrigued. God used this particular scene to turn the light bulb on.

Nicky had one more chance remaining to win the monies back and his protégé could not understand how he could gamble and lose all of their monies like he did so she began begging him to quit. Nicky then told the businessman to pick a player on the game floor and tell it to his protégé. Nicky was to guess who the businessman chose and his protégé was not to inform Nicky, so Nicky had no clue. Did Nicky guess right? Yes, he did. Lol! Watch the movie to see; it’s intriguing, especially when Nicky reveals to his protégé the answer to her question of how he guessed the right player. His reply was basically his team had been sending subliminal messages to the businessman from the entire time he stepped foot into his vehicle to his hotel and from the hotel to the game—basically the whole day—regarding the number five, and he picked player number  5. Boom! That’s when it hit me, the devil and the world sends us subliminal messages, and sometimes loud messages too, every day. The devil is on his job convincing, suggesting, persuading. How are we safeguarding ourselves against these messages? And as the body of Christ, are we sending out our very own messages the Lord has downloaded into us?

We live in a world that is consumed with hurry, multi-tasking, full schedules, and accumulating more accolades and more stuff. There are countless advertisements that speak to us daily whether on television, on billboards, or on passing buses. There are junk mail filling our emails and mailboxes, and countless headlines and ads readied to catch our attention on the internet.  Lots of songs with catchy repetitive hooks and enticing beats framed to etch their sounds and messages upon our children’s minds. There are countless programs and tasks to spend our time on. We are bombarded daily whether we realize it or not. There are a lot of things and people vying for our attention, and many of us are often overwhelmed or battling distractions, suggestions, and persuasions. It seems that we can’t slow down even if we wanted to and we can’t maintain focus even if we tried. Many of us have lost our focus naturally and spiritually.

I am praying but last night’s worries or tomorrow’s tasks keep popping up in my head.

I just bought a new dress but her dress looks better on her, so now I want that one.

Insomnia is my new friend, and daydreaming is my associate.

I hear them speaking but I have not heard anything they said.

Which voice is God’s; I don’t know what to do.

I just can’t say no to that extra project on my job; scared to say no out of fear of losing my job.

I signed up for one more ministry and program at church, although I am burned out.

I keep getting sick, but no time to rest, there are bills to be paid and work to be done.

My mind is just as cluttered as my room.

I just can’t get enough of that gossip.

I can watch television for hours upon hours but can’t seem to stay awake in church.

My problems just seem to grow bigger and more every day.

After I accomplish this, now what?  When will I feel satisfied?

I wish I could just freeze my life; I feel so overwhelmed.

Are you being bombarded with worries, fear, diversionary battles, distractions, suggestions, and timewasters? Hard to distinguish whose advice is right, which voice is God’s, which one more thing to add to your schedule? Are you focusing more on your problems instead of focusing on God? Are you constantly running the race of life in comparison to someone else; are you constantly trying to please others out of fear of man? Are you spending more time adorning your life with good and worldly stuff and less time adorning yourself with the right stuff, prayer, God’s word and the whole armor of God? Are you overwhelmed? Do you know your purpose and plan your life around that? Are you a procrastinator and are you constantly allowing things and others to distract you from staying focused. It is interesting that the synonyms for focus are center, heart, core, and nucleus.

What is your heart? What/who is the center or at the core of your heart?

Focus is the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition (Dictionary.com). Are you looking ahead, no matter what goes on around you, no matter what the devil sends your way to try to distract you? Even though your mind may say it is difficult to see, does your faith say I have a clear visual definition of what God’s word says, what He promised, and what He placed in your heart.

Well, God knew we would get off track at times, so He gave us instructions on what to focus on and how to do it.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

Our focus should be on God. Our spiritual eyes should be set on Him. Now more than ever, our spiritual antennas should be tuned into God’s voice. We should be at the point of surrendering our very lives to God, seeking Him with all we are and all we got. His Word should be before us and we should be connected to His heart in prayer daily.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your Son Jesus who showed us how to stay connected with You and how to stay focused on You. Thank You that You give us the grace to fix our eyes on You and thank You for the discipline to resist the enemy and combat the distractions. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who is our Helper and our coach in keeping us on track to finish the race! In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Sisters, today, I EMPOWER you to stay focused. Distractions will come, but just keep seeking God, pursuing God, talking with God, putting Him first, making Him the center of your heart, and reading and obeying His Word. Just like Nicky was committed to honing his craft, let us be committed to pursuing God and staying focused. Our eyes should be on the spiritual prize awaiting us in heaven and not on these temporary things that will pass away. Let us also send to others God’s messages of His eternal kingdom, unfailing love, and holiness that will endure forever.

God Is Enough Song by Lecrae:

___________________________________________________________________

Ms. Tannika Moore loves the Lord and loves to write! Besides writing or editing, she currently works for a Trio program helping high school students prepare for college. She loves to build people up through God’s Word, encouragement, mentoring, and her writing. In 2014, Tannika published her first book, a book of her poetry, titled Setting The Captive Free. She  also launched her Christian clothing and apparel brand called Fruitful & Fabulous, inspired by John 15:8. Her favorite scripture comes from Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

“We Lift Our Gaze”

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

We lift our gaze

We lift our gaze

You are higher

You are higher

–Davy Flowers, “Wounded One”

Confession time! I used to be SO bad about allowing myself to feel so overwhelmed and consumed by my circumstances that I would almost invite Satan in to give him free reign over my thoughts and emotions. See, I used to have a problem with worrying so badly that it would actually draw a wedge between me and God. I know it sounds crazy! I just had a tendency of being anxious in the in between stages of knowing God would fix the situation and the execution of His work. However, there was a shift one day. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him,” (ESV, Hebrews 11: 6).

I started to realize the importance of that scripture. It’s impossible to truly draw near to someone and after a while not see their true colors. Fortunately, God only kept revealing His faithfulness. Time in and out of my secret place started revealing one of two things to me about myself: Either the God I was drawing near to, who was revealing more of Himself to me was real, and I would make up my mind to believe that, or my surrounding circumstances and what I saw with my natural eyes were real, and that’s what I would allow to control me. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (ESV, Romans 8: 38-39).

We have to get to the place where God can trust that we won’t bail when things don’t go our way. His desire is constant communion with us, that we may build trust and faith in Him. Imagine the amount of stress lifted from you, when you KNOW, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Creator has His hand on your life, and not because of any notion you have, but because He has revealed it to you in His Word, or whispered it to you personally during your prayer time.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You that You are not man that You should lie, or disappoint us, or give us any reason to not put our full faith in You. Thank You that because we are Your daughters that You delight in seeing us prosper in our lives. Thank You that You are patient with us, waiting on our revelation of just how big and faithful You are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ladies,

I EMPOWER you to lift your gaze. Take the focus off of your circumstances, and onto the Father’s loving face. When you feel worried, go to His Word. Ask Him to reveal His will about situations that have made you anxious, listen, and be led by the Holy Spirit. I EMPOWER you to make the choice to have faith and STICK WITH IT!

 Watch Davy Flowers’, “Wounded One”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HKfN4_Oe94

__________________________________________________________________

Alexis Perry lives in Hamilton, Alabama where she is a full-time student at The Ramp School of Ministry. She has a passion for seeing women find their true identity in Christ. She aspires to have a women’s ministry centered around true identity, adoption into God, and intimacy with the Father. One of her favorite passages is Psalm 139: 1-3 (ESV), “O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.”

 

 

Inside Monstro

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

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” (2 Corinthians 1:8 NIV)

When the depths of your soul are crying, but your face is dry.

When your heart is under attack, but you aren’t dying.

When you are young, but your tears are old.

When you’ve never had asthma, but you can’t catch your breath.

When you’ve never been in the military, yet you’re constantly on the battlefield.

When you’ve been sweet to so many people that it’s given you a disease.

When words become daggers so the only place you feel safe is in silence.

When the pressure is raising in your blood, but you are 120/80.

When your best friend is your pillow because it’s the only one to catch your tears.

When you have stage four pain, and stage three hurt but the doctor says she can’t find a tumor.

When you go to the altar Sunday after Sunday after Sunday only to still feel…

When you’ve never been blind, but you can’t see hope.

When you are unable to explain to people what you are going through because words haven’t been invented to express this pain.

When you’ve been pregnant and carrying a load way past your delivery date and it’s unbearably uncomfortable.

When you can’t fake the funk.

When the beat is up-tempo, but your lyrics are dark.

When writing isn’t your escape.

When no amount of food can make you full.

When you told God you had enough five years ago.

When you are just living to die.

When you are just living to cry.

When you want to give up.

When you want to cave in.

When you’ve given it all you got.

When you consider the end.

That’s when darkness comes in

“Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9 NIV)

 

Lite

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:15-21 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

Sometimes life takes us places we had no intention of going and we wonder how to get out of the whale’s belly. Sometime we wonder if we will even survive or if this will be our final resting place. But we thank You for allowing our mustard seed of faith to be enough for your grace, mercy and love. Father, with You and your everlasting, never-fading love, we can find peace in this uncomfortable position. We channel Your strength to carry us through. There is nothing You can’t overcome! We submit to Your will and get out of Your way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to always remember how the story starts isn’t how it will end. We have to remember that light comes in different forms and how we are looking for it may not be how it will present itself. We must always remember to be thankful and count the smallest of blessings even when it feels like nothing is going right. Lastly, remember “For you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10 NIV)

 __________________________________________________________________

Ms. Dené B. is a student of life who enjoys human studies and social media. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago where the motto is “Preparing People to Lead Extraordinary Lives,” She took her education and school spirit to heart and now is a young adult striving to live an extraordinary life while helping others achieve the same. With a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations and minors in Sociology and Visual Communication, Dené’s worked at a top PR firm but her greatest accomplishments resides in volunteer work with Autism Speaks and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Currently, she finds herself pursuing a vision God placed in her of starting her own business. One of her go to scriptures is, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV).

 

Flashback Friday: Bag Lady…Let It Flow

Please enjoy this flashback EmpowerMoment which was originally posted June 22, 2011.

I must confess I am a certified pack rat but I get it honestly from my grandmother. I am not yet a hoarder but I do have a problem letting things go. It’s difficult for me to get rid of things because everything has some perceived sentimental value. Yes, even the stuff I forgot I owned until it was time to move again.

Unfortunately, this habit of holding on extends beyond physical objects. Every now and then, I realize that I am holding on to emotional baggage too. As a matter of fact, if you could see the baggage, I am sure it’s enough to fill its own storage unit. Just like the physical objects that I own, I often don’t realize the emotional bags that I am carrying until something triggers a memory. Recently I found myself extremely emotional over things in my past that I thought were no longer an issue. Apparently these feelings were buried alive and had never died. When these feelings erupt, I have a meltdown or become seriously angry.

How many of you, like me, are riding on an emotional rollercoaster? Your back is hurting from all of the bags you are carrying and your mental space is crowded.  We can’t reach higher ground in Christ, meet our full potential or have a great relationship with the person God called us to be with until we release the baggage of our past. In the words of Erykah Badu “You can’t hurry up, cause you got too much stuff.” We need to LET IT GO!  Cast ALL your anxiety on Him because he cares for you. (I Peter 5:7 NIV)

Are you carrying bags of anger, shame, fear, guilt, distrust, malice or rejection?

I can’t believe that he or she did me like that!Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21 KJV)

But Lord I am scared! What will happen if I…?-  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7 KJV)

Lord, I am so ashamed how will I ever get over the mistake I made? – he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19 KJV) Decide to forgive yourself; God has already forgiven you!

I am reminded of Toni Braxton who tells us to “Just let go, let it flow, everything’s gonna work out right ya know…” Toni is right; holding on to excess stuff gets us nowhere. Make a decision to rid yourself of baggage because “aint no feeling like being FREE”.

Dear Daddy,

I trust that You hold my future in Your hands. Help me to get rid of the pain of my past so that I am free to walk into my future. Help me to forgive myself because You have already forgiven me. When negative emotional currents try to overtake my spirit help me to rebuke them and release them never to return. When others do things that would add baggage to my life, Lord, let it roll off like water off a duck’s back. Lord, help me to get my mind under subjection so that I can truly be free. In Jesus name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to LET GO! Make a decision to cry your last cry over whatever it is and move on. Leave the baggage behind and stop picking up new bags along the way. From now on deal with the situation in the moment but don’t take it with you. I EMPOWER you to know the things that you can change and the things that you cannot. Seek God’s wisdom and let Him order your steps. This is your last day as a Bag Lady!

Celebrate Black Music Month with the wisdom of  Erykah Badu in “Bag Lady”

and Toni Braxton as she tells us to “Let It Flow.”

__________________________________________________________________

Ms. Chancee` Lundy lives in Washington, DC and is a small business owner as she is the co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC, an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend and community servant. She has used her gift of public speaking to lead workshops across the globe speaking to crowds as large as 10,000 people. Her guiding scriptures  are Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

 

God’s Perfect Will For My Life

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

Let it go

Let it be

‘Cause I found out, Oh Lord

Your will is what’s best for me.

Your Will Is What’s Best For Me

This year has been very interesting, and it is not even half way done yet. I have done many things that I thought I would never do. At the beginning of the year, I resigned as co-pastor of my church. I did not resign as a member, but God spoke to me and told me I was released. If you know me, you know I do not quit at anything, but I also know that obedience is better than sacrifice.

Then Samuel said, Do you think all God wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production. Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult. Getting self-important around God is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors. Because you said No to God’s command, he says No to your kingship. (1 Samuel 15: 22-23, MGS)

After I resigned, I began to pray because I knew God was the only one that would tell me to step down and give me the courage to do so. My concern was “what was my next steps for my ministry?”  A few weeks later, my pastor told me that God told him “in all things praise and worship, that I had the authority to shift the atmosphere, and that I would be called Ambassador Keviyona Ray.” Now I am not hooked up on titles at all but all things praise and worship was a great task and I was up for the challenge. My friend told me, “It’s not your will, not even God’s permissible will but His perfect will for your life.”

The next thing was my house. Now I was blessed with my house and I love it. I knew that I would need to invest in a roof eventually because the roof was old and no insurance company would cover it. I made it home from work one day and a major part of the roof was laying in my yard. I instantly called my husband and told him we would need to find a new place to call home because we couldn’t afford to invest in a roof right now; however, I did not make any initial movement. My friend reminded me, “It’s not your will, not even God’s permissible will but His perfect will for your life.” Someone came and looked at the roof and I now have a brand new roof on my house. I didn’t have to come out of pocket with anything. Imagine if I would have decided to proceed with moving my family somewhere else. I would have missed what God had for me. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV)

Now my employment is always a topic of discussion this time of year because I am always usually tired and need a break. This year was different. I decided that I was actually leaving and there was nothing anyone one could do about it. I decided to seek my own employment and God stepped in. I am changing jobs but God has taken total control of the situation. God has begun opening doors that I have more options than I can figure out on my own. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV) Again my friend told me, “It’s not your will, not even God’s permissible will but His perfect will for your life.”

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for always knowing what is best for my life. God, thank You for ordering my steps even when I think I am making the right decisions. God, I am praying for the women that are reading this EmpowerMoment and are looking to their own understanding. I pray that they have faith that You will work on their behalf. God teach them to let Your perfect will be done in their lives. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Dear Women of God,

I EMPOWER you to stop looking to your own understanding and instead look to God. I EMPOWER you to trust God to help you make life-altering decisions. When you pray, ask God in whatever decision is made that His perfect will be done in your life. I EMPOWER you to have faith and believe that God knows what is best for you!!!

Please take a moment this morning and enjoy this song by Darius Brooks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZvYIL2m9AU

__________________________________________________________________

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.

Faith Fortification

I recently went to a church program and the theme was about fortifying your faith. I had not really thought about faith fortification much before but that theme resonated with me.

James chapter 1 verses 2-4 says Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Here are a few definitions listed for faith according to Merriam Webster. a (1) :  belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) :  belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) :  firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) :  complete trust.

Here’s what Merriam-Webster had to say about fortify.

Fortify- to strengthen (a place) by building military defenses (such as walls, trenches, etc.)

: To make (someone or something) stronger

: To make (yourself) feel stronger or less fearful

I was saved at an early age. If memory serves me correctly, I was about 8. I was then baptized with my grandmother. Learning about faith, hearing about faith, singing about faith, reading about faith, being a person of faith has been just about a part of my entire life. Growing up in a faith-filled home with faithful family, I was faith full. So I knew all about faith, how to have it, what it meant and what to do, or so I thought. I had lived most of my life with a “less than fortified” faith. I had faith but I also never had any major challenges to my faith.

That all changed in 2006. The year that my life changed forever. What happened next started the faith fortification process. Faith is good but faith tested and tried is the way to fortified faith.

We went into the year with excitement; we had purchased our first home! I was carrying our first child who was due to be born in March of that year. However, mid-January things started to go downhill. After months of trying to find the cause of her symptoms, my mother was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. I was her biggest cheerleader and did my best to make sure she had what she needed to conquer cancer. February rolled around and my friends and family gave me a baby shower one Saturday.  By Monday evening, I noticed that the baby wasn’t moving as much as he usually did. After arriving at the hospital, we learned our baby had no heartbeat. He had died inside me. The doctor told me I would have to deliver the baby, and a day and half later I did, after almost 36 weeks of pregnancy. It was a truly complicated, complex and emotionally wrenching experience to say the least. I along with much of my family prayed and believed and had faith that our baby, little Walter Eron Collins, would be resurrected. Surely, if Jesus could do it for Lazarus, He could do it for us.

I began to heal physically before I did emotionally and my mother and I were trying to take care of each other with the help of family and friends. She was well into chemo now and the symptoms of her cancer along with the side effects of the chemotherapy were really weighing her down. Nevertheless, she continued to persevere and keep the faith. Spring turned to summer and summer to fall. We were making trips to the cancer center almost every day. Late October, mom was admitted to the hospital. She had started to decline and was very weak. Once again we claimed healing. We had been claiming it all along. We prayed without ceasing and had faith that God would heal her. She didn’t make it back home. That November she passed away at only 48 years old. We were devastated. I didn’t know if we’d make it through it all.

After all this my “less than fortified” faith was in the toilet. It was shattered. I felt like God had failed me again. I was so sad, angry, and hurt. I thought “God, you’ve already taken my baby, now you take my mom too.”    I started to question everything I believed. I was so broken. I couldn’t believe the God I’d known and been exposed too would allow all this to happen. I’d seen miracles happen! I’d witnessed healing! But it didn’t happen where my mom and son were concerned. What was happening? I didn’t know then, what I realized later, that my faith was being fortified.  My very foundation was shaken. I was angry with God but through it all I never left Him, though I felt like He’d left me.

This journey has been one of ups and downs and has been a significant challenge. I’ve had to daily defeat the attacks of the enemy as I continue to repair my faith walk while trying to be an example to others as well. God has been gracious to me on this journey and step by step my faith is being recovered, my faith is being fortified. I’m experiencing less and less doubt. I’m once again becoming more confident in the promises of God. I truly know what it means when people say “if He doesn’t do it, it wasn’t because He couldn’t…” I had to gird myself in the word. When the enemy would allow a negative thought to come in my mind, I had to counter it with a positive one, usually a scripture.

So now I’ve come to a point where I really know what faith is. I know what it means to have a faith walk. What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) The devil tried to take my confidence! The devil tried to encase me in doubt! The devil tried to counter all the teachings, hopes and word that had been given to me through the years! But God! God wouldn’t let it be!

This is the way you fortify your faith. Use your storm; don’t let the storm use you! Turn the test into a testimony! Stand on the promises of God no matter how dark the night. Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. I know that pleasing God is the only way to get to heaven so I have to have faith. Faith must be nurtured. Faith must be fortified.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for faith and thank You for faith fortifying experiences that draw us closer to You and help us to know You more intimately. Thank You for doing what is best for me even when I don’t realize it or understand it. Help us to remain faithful to You no matter the circumstance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Faith-filled ladies, I EMPOWER you to see challenges and obstacles for what they are…opportunities to fortify or strengthen your faith. I EMPOWER you to keep your faith no matter how difficult the test or trial. I EMPOWER you to count it all joy! You will be victorious in the end! To God be the glory!

________________________________________________________

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

 

Flashback Friday: My Scene in the Quicksand

Please enjoy this flashback Empowermoment which was originally posted August 13, 2012. 

For so long, I’ve felt like the women I see in movies that get stuck in quicksand running from someone or something.  They are treading, splashing, and trying to keep their heads above the sand so they don’t sink; inevitably, one of two things happens: they get rescued or they sink.

My scene in the quicksand lasted much longer than it should have.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been jumping into situations that look good from a distance and after getting caught up, I would try to run but quickly start to sink.  I would find myself over and over again wearily treading the ‘quicksand’ and barely able to keep from sinking.  I have always felt His favor was upon me and in hindsight I recognize that for a long time I took for granted that He would rescue me from the quicksand that I kept finding myself in.

I prayed and prayed for God to change the man I was in love with or give me the strength to leave him, but at night I’d cling to him with all my strength as if to prevent God from removing him.

I prayed for better jobs and for more money to do what ‘made me happy’ and then I would swipe my credit card until it could be swiped no more.  I would get upset, run, and sink again.

Time and time again, I’d pray for God to help me control my impulsive emotional eating, for me to just be content with Him, and not look for satisfaction through food.  Then the moment I finished my prayer, I would go eat my ‘last’ bowl of ice cream or two, wake up too big for all of my clothes, and run yet again.  And yes, I sank again.

My desires and actions did not align with my prayers or what I claimed were my values.  I was holding onto everything that I was praying so hard to be able to let go of!

But God!

One day he dropped a scripture that I knew backwards and forward into my spirit and it took on a new meaning: “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)

And just like that I felt like I could stop running.

I recognized that while I thought I was running to God, crying, praying, and begging for His help, I was running from Him!  I realized that I needed to run to Him with my burdens, issues, concerns, and prayers and give them to Him.  I realized I had to give myself to Him, if I wanted to stop running and sinking.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

I had to let go of everything.  I had to surrender.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for always being willing to carry burdens that You know I cannot bear on my own.  Thank You for Your constant reminder that You will never leave me or forsake me and that I can always bring everything to You.  I pray that I will continue to surrender more and more of myself to You each day.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to refuse to sink!  When you feel that you are drowning, allow God to be your life jacket and put all your weight on Him.  He will pull you through! 

What are you holding on to that is weighing you down, causing you to sink lower, and pushing you farther away from God?

___________________________________________________________________

Ms. Tiffany Huff is the devoted mother of two boys, a blogger, lover of food and travel, and aspiring entrepreneur with a passion for helping others live out their purposes. She is looking forward to growing in her walk and honoring God through sharing her EmpowerMoments. One of her meditation scriptures is Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”