Children, Faith, Health/Sickness, Miracles, Testimony Series, Trials, Trusting God

My Testimony: Life in Seemingly Dead Situations

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!

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.  I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. (Ezekiel 37:1-10 NIV)

February 7, 2013 is a date that will forever be sketched on the canvas of my mind. The events that took place about 6:00 p.m. that evening left such an indelible mark on my memory board that I couldn’t forget them even if I tried.

I was home alone with my three daughters, who were ages 7, 5 and 6 months at the time. If you have followed EmpowerMoments in the past, then you may be familiar with my youngest daughter’s story. (See Not By My Own Might & The Definition of Miracle) After her heart surgery, she was released from the hospital with a feeding tube to aid in her eating while she recovered and gained enough strength to do so on her own. Before she was discharged from the hospital, my husband and I had to learn how to insert the tube via her nose. Once home, we found ourselves constantly having to re-insert the tube because she would quickly snatch it out. That evening I was dropping the tube as I had done at least 2 dozen times before.  However, that day something went terribly awry.

Per the usual, she was screaming and throwing a fit as she tried to resist the tube insertion. I restrained her and continued with the insertion and she immediately stopped crying. Shocked that she was no longer screaming, I paused to check her out. That’s when I saw that her face was blue and she was no longer breathing. I am sure my heart stopped for at least 3 seconds as I held my lifeless baby in my arms. After I recovered from my initial shock, I sprung into action. I remember praying two short prayers: “God, don’t let this baby die on me” and “Please bring to my remembrance how to do CPR.”  As my older daughters frantically searched for the phone to dial for help, I laid my sweet baby on the floor and attempted to breathe life back into her body. After what seemed like a million years, she finally let out a feeble cry. She was breathing, but her skin was still purple so I knew she was not completely fine. Moments later the paramedics arrived and whisked us away to the local hospital.

Upon arrival every resource in the emergency room was at my daughter’s bedside trying to save her life. I sat outside the room alone crying and attempting to pray, as no one had time to explain to me what was happening. If I tell you that I was scared at that moment, I would be lying. Scared can’t even begin to capture what I was feeling. That was the most terrifying experience of my entire life.

Today, I am beyond blessed to report that my little sunshine is still here and is the busiest toddler in history! The doctors could not pinpoint exactly what caused her breathing to stop and each time they made rounds to her room, it was expressed how great she looked to have been through such an ordeal. She was discharged from the hospital 2 days later and she has been moving and shaking ever since!

This little ball of LIFE was once a SEEMINGLY dead situation!
This little ball of LIFE was once a SEEMINGLY dead situation!

There are so many other facets to this story that I would have to spend more than a mere moment to empower you. But there are some lessons that I learned from that situation that I want you to remember on your journey this year.

  1. The most important thing that I want you to understand is that seemingly deadly situations are nothing for God because He can breathe life back into anything that He so desires. My daughter appeared lifeless, but He breathed life back into her nostrils. So as you deal with circumstances that will come your way this year, remember that nothing is too hard for God. Your health, your marriage, your children, your finances, your brokenness, your depression, whatever your dead situation – nothing is too hard for Him to revive.
  2. Even if you see just a glimpse of hope, hold on to that! When I heard her faint cry, I knew we were not out of the woods just yet, but it was enough to let me know God was listening and answering! This year rejoice in the small battle victories while you wait to win the war!
  3. As I sat outside that hospital room alone, I had no other choice but to wait for the outcome. Sister, you are going to face some trials this year and some you may have to face alone. Things will be beyond the scope of your power and you are just going to have to sit back and wait while God does His work. Pray if you can; cry if you must. But whatever you face, be still and let Him do what He does best!
  4. Never succumb to the notion that you have to look beat up, even when you’ve been in a fight! My sweet baby was up bouncing around, laughing and speaking her baby gibberish the very next day. If you weren’t privy to her story, then you had no idea what she had just gone through. This year, I want you to not allow your circumstances to steal your joy, your smile or your swag! Even when the walls are closing in all around you, look your best so that you can feel your best!

Dear Daddy,

As I stand at the beginning of this new year not knowing the things that I will face, I ask that You help me prepare to fearlessly face anything that will come my way.  I know that You are the same God that brought life to my seemingly dead situations in 2013. Help me to hold on to those thoughts when my faith needs rejuvenation for challenges that I will endure in 2014. I know that You have the final say so! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to remember that your valley of dry bones may seem like a cemetery to you, but it’s the newborn nursery to God—it’s full of life! I EMPOWER you to remain encouraged this year as you go through trials and tribulations, wait on God to move on your behalf, and choose to never look like what you’ve been through!

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Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant-leader. 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 three lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.

Faith, Praise/Worship, Prayer, Word of God

Just Do It!

 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 NIV

But how…

The above scripture used to seem so complex to me. Sure, I knew that I was sinning, wrong, wayward, and lost. But “HOW” was I supposed to get back on track. I would see all of these charismatic people, on fire for the Word, rarely doubting God and I would wonder “HOW” did they do it. People would tell me,  “pray about it,” “it will get better” or, “be patient.” I would often wonder, but “HOW?” How am I supposed to be close to God? How do I start a relationship with Him? How do I pray without sounding weird? How do I begin to remove the sin (that I relished in) out of my life? How?

Many years later, being on the other side of this question, I’ve learned that Nike actually declares one of the most profound statements of my time; JUST DO IT! I remember speaking to one of my mentees and she said, “How do I begin to read my Bible?” Now, depending on who you talk to, some will say start at Genesis, start at Psalms, start at Proverbs, start at Matthew, and so on. But what I have come to learn is to “Just do it.”  There is no perfect way to read God’s Word. Sure, there are ways to scholarly advance throughout the Bible, or ways to dissect it better, but in layman’s terms, JUST DO IT.  Pray before you open it, ask God to enter your heart and mind, and trust that what you read will become embedded in your heart.

How do we pray? In Bible School we are taught to pray as Jesus did, but for me, at one time I couldn’t even understand that. I knew the Lord’s Prayer but I didn’t feel like I was being sincere. One day I literally lay on the floor, face down, and sat quiet. I began to think about all the great things that have happened in my life, the awesome “coincidences” that I knew only God could do, and I just started reciting them in thanks. I had to Just Do It!

In addition to becoming connected to a supportive body of believers, here are some tips that gave me a boost along my walk with God:

  1. How do I study God’s Word? Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV) I wanted to correctly handle God’s Word, but how? I found a Sunday School book and started following its lessons and it grew from there. It may seem weird, but it helped me to focus on “learning” God’s Word. Stop by a church and ask them for one, I’m sure they’ll give you one.
  2. How do I pray in power? I wanted to be able to pray boldly not wavering in doubt. Opening your mouth to God in prayer is power in itself. But what I wanted was to feel connected, comfortable (not complacent) enough to focus on God, and strong enough to pray for others. But how? I kept doing it, over and over and over.  I started by making a prayer list. I would write down the things I wanted to say including who and what I wanted to pray for. Next, I would read my “list” to God. This was how I started learning how to converse with Him. The more I prayed, the more in tune I became. Praying without ceasing and believing that God heard me revealed His power.
  3. How do I exhibit faith? Having faith is understanding its definition. Faith is to have complete trust or belief in something. I was very skeptical of having faith that God actually cared about every little thing in my life. But I had to JUST DO IT. I had to talk daily to Him, and make a decision that I was NOT going to try and solve all of life’s problems. I had to literally shove worry out of my mind and trust that God was going to work it out. I actually believed that God would not let me down and that His Word was true. I have professional training in the science field, so naturally I like to solve things. There is always a cause and effect, whether immediate or delayed. But I can’t take that approach with faith. I have to leave it there, believing that God will lead me to the solution or He will just fix it!

Dear Daddy,

I want to really be able to say that I can call You Daddy. I want to know that when I pray You hear me. I want to be able to read Your Word and actually understand what it means. I want to grow in faith and believe that You really do care about something as small as me being upset about my appearance to something as grand as the health of my children. Lord, please send tangible examples and wise people my way so that I can continue to cultivate my relationship with You. Starting today, I am going to JUST DO IT! I am going to “try it out” and pray that I grow and feel Your Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, many of us are learning how to grow in Christ. Today I EMPOWER you to JUST DO IT! It may be reading more, praying more, worshipping deeper or praising louder, but JUST DO IT! Do it in faith, believing that God knows your heart and will receive your truth with open arms.

What are some tips you have for those of us “starting out” in Christ? Share with us some ways that you strengthen your walk with God.

Read A Related EmpowerMoment: Two Way Street

Please vote for EmpowerMoments in the finals for the Black Weblog Awards: Best Series: Single in the City; Best Writing in A Blog; and Best Faith Based Blog. Click here to vote.

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As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is a 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 and her husband serve as Co-Service leaders and Co-Group leaders of SustainedLove, which supports marriage get-a-ways from Family Life. Khalilah 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 two daughters. They attend Vaughn Forest Church. Check out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

Submission/Surrendering, Trusting God

Holding On Too Tight!

A while back, I was thinking about the lessons and messages that I have been receiving about surrendering. At that very moment a movie scene popped up in my mind.  It was a scene from a comedy/drama/romance movie called Ghost (1990).  In this particular scene, con-artist Oda Mae (played by Whoopi Goldberg) is instructed by Sam (Patrick Swayze) to give a FOUR MILLION DOLLAR check to nuns because Sam wants to make sure the money is used for good and out of the hands of his friend/colleague Carl.

With clinched teeth, a forced smile, and a tight grip, Oda Mae has a hard time giving up that check.  I like to give, but I probably would have a hard time releasing that check too.  Four million dollars!  Watching this scene is hilarious, but the Holy Spirit helped me to realize that Oda Mae responds like many of us, and particularly me, with our lives.

If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.  (Luke 17:33 NLT) Maybe we grip our lives because we want to continue holding onto the control of our lives and do things our way.  Maybe it is because we want to obey and surrender only when it is convenient. Perhaps we think that if we surrender, we are going to lose our lives physically.  It is possible that we believe that God doesn’t want us to have joy and fulfillment or just maybe we think life is satisfactory the way it is.  Even more, we are probably focused on pursuing worldly things or we lack patience and trust in God to do what He says and has proven He can do.  In any event, we are afraid to let go and give control to God.

I must remember that when God created me, He didn’t intend for me to live independent of Him. Therefore, in order to move forward in my Christian walk, I must fully SURRENDER!

I have been gripping my life like Oda Mae gripped that check.  I have been gripping everything that God wanted control over or wanted me to release.  I have been gripping my many plans, my fears, my money, my concerns of what others think about me, my dating/love life (or lack thereof) and my need to do everything and be everything for everyone.  I have even given Him areas of my life and subsequently I have taken them back.  I’d say I believe and then the next minute I don’t believe.  Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him.  But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”   Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:21-24 NIV)

Since I have been alerted to my lack of surrender to God, the Holy Spirit has helped me loosen my grip on my life and those areas that I gave God little to no access.  I have also surrendered plans that were of good intentions because it wasn’t what God wanted me to do at the time.  I have finally severed the last means of communication between me and my ex-boyfriend/first love; I am going to trust in God to bring a God-fearing, handsome man along just right for me.  I have learned that I have to seek God’s counsel in everything I do.  I have also learned that I can’t be everything for everyone.  It is okay to take the ‘S’ (Superwoman) off my chest unless that ‘S’ stands for SURRENDER (everything to God).

Through the testimonies of Hannah and Ruth, I am reminded that when you trust God and let go, you gain so much more!  Hannah, who yearned and prayed fervently for a child, gave her son back to the Lord. She promised God that if He gave her a son she would do this so she took him to the priest and allowed the priest to raise and ready him for his destiny. (1 Samuel 1:1 – 2:10)  She made him a coat and visited him every year but she had to let go.  Ruth left her family to go with Naomi, her deceased husband’s mother.  She surrendered to God and a new course for her life.  Consequently, she married again, gave birth to her first child, and was able to also bless Naomi—her mother-in-law.

Surrendering my life doesn’t necessarily mean I lose it physically.  Instead I will gain my life, the life God designed for me all along with peace, fulfillment, and deeper intimacy with God.  Surrendering my life doesn’t just benefit me, it benefits others too.  Oda Mae didn’t get that money but she was able to help bless the nuns and their charity as well as help Sam unite with the love of his life, Molly, and save her from danger.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for pruning me, defining my character, and setting me apart.  It is not easy to go through this process, nor is it easy to render control of my life to You.  But please help me let go!  Help me to trust You and remember that my life is no longer my own.  I am here to glorify You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to trust the Lord with your lives.  After all, He knew you before you were in your mothers’ wombs.  He created you and knows your purposes.  He has your best interest at heart and will never fail you.  So, don’t worry about your children.  Put them in God’s hands.  Release that person with forgiveness and God’s Love.  Let go of that relationship He doesn’t approve of.  Seek Him before you make plans.  Let go of always needing control.  God is qualified to manage your life more than you.  When you let go, you’ll experience God’s liberty and peace!

Ladies, what areas of your life do you need to surrender to God? Share your story with us.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Surrender It

Please watch the $4 Million scene from Ghost!

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Ms. Tannika Moore loves the Lord and loves to write!  Besides writing poetry or editing written work for family and friends, she currently works for NEIU Educational Talent Search program.  She help assists Chicago public high school students with their reading, writing, etc. as well as helps them consider and prepare for college.  She, like many of her students, is the first of her family to graduate from college.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in English-Professional & Technical Writing.  God, the Creator and Great Father has also created her to be a Compassion Person and Encourager and so she loves to encourage people according to God’s Word and help them to see, think and become better thru her support, actions and writing.  Her favorite scripture comes from Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Faith, Faithfulness, Favor, Freedom, God's Mercy, God's Protection, Restoration, Throwback Thursdays, Trusting God

Throwback Thursday: The Face of Faith

It’s Throwback Thursday! This EmpowerMoment was originally published on April 29, 2011. Enjoy this blast from the past!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take my students on a field trip. We were given a guided tour of one of the most meaningful museums I have ever been to, The National Holocaust Remembrance Museum. If you’re familiar with the story then you know how the Jews suffered a horrible tragedy at the hands of a mad-man. More than six million people were slaughtered in some manner in what was known as the “Final Solution”. As we walked through the museum I couldn’t help but to feel the pain and suffering of their people. Many of my students were overcome with emotion because of the pictures and stories told by our tour guide. To conclude, we were given the honor of meeting an actual survivor named Regina. Before me stood this small, frail, 84 year-old woman who saw things one could only imagine. Overcome with emotion one of my students began to cry saying “I touched her.” I wanted to ask her a million questions as she was on her way out the door. The only question I could muster up to the strength to ask was, “How did you do it?” She replied in a very quiet, yet firm tone, “I had faith.”

When the other disciples told him [Thomas] that they had seen the Lord, he declared, “… I will not believe it.” A week later… Jesus… said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:25-28 NIV)

Have you ever gotten to the point where you doubted God and started wondering whether or not He would bring you out of your situation? We all get caught in these type situations, whether they are self-inflicted or brought on by something or someone else. We find ourselves in a personal “Death Camp” in which we feel all is hope is lost. The light at the end of the tunnel gets dimmer and dimmer and we question, “Why me Lord?” We only see darkness and never take into account that the daylight will come soon. As Regina held up her arm to show me the number that the Nazis branded her with, I realized that even though she had been marked for death she refused to die. Her faith allowed her to survive what the enemy had on her life.

Dear Daddy,

I ask that You continue to increase my faith. Allow me to see that after every night is a morning. Allow me to trust in You no matter what. In my times of weakness allow me to continue to trust and believe that You will bring me out of my situation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today EMPOWER your FAITH. Never forget Regina and how her FAITH sustained her even when it looked like death was knocking at her door. KNOW that no matter what you’re going through GOD will bring you out.

Shawna Dix is a mother, educator, and all around child of God. She is passionate about God, her son Jalen, family, friends, and her students. She loves teaching because it allows her to shower our youth with love and guidance. She resides in Pentagon City, Virginia and works hard educating inner city youth in Washington DC. She prides herself in being a realist. She exclaims that she is in no way, shape, form, or fashion perfect but she has accepted that she serves a perfect God who is able to do ALL things!

Conviction, Decision Making, Direction/Guidance, Stress, Trusting God

My Scene In The Quicksand

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?

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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.”

Faithfulness, Submission/Surrendering

Lose Control!

My post for this week was a bit of a struggle. I have been wrestling through a lot of things and had ideas for a few different things I wanted to share, but every time I started to type, I would be compelled to stop and start again. I even considered recycling a post I wrote for another blog and just as I put the finishing touches on it, I realized it wasn’t what God wanted me to share either. So I sat still and had a little conversation with God.

Then the post began to flow without issue.

The experience that I had with writing this post is one that has been recurring in my life. You see for me, the first half of 2012 had been going well. I set some goals for weight loss and my finances and I was on point to reach them much sooner than I expected. I had been praying for a new opportunity and recently got a new job with a nice pay increase and shorter commute. While all this was going on, I was diligently and consciously working on building my relationship with God and putting Him first in all things, allowing Him to have TOTAL control. I had peace and I was happy, but in the back of my mind, I felt like I was missing something.

Then I decided to take some of the control back and things took a turn for the worst.

My diet and exercise regimen began to suffer and I could not make sense of my finances. I got weak when tragedy hit my family and started drinking when I should have been praying. My boys were away so my house was peaceful—but I had no peace of mind. And I was starting to run. I was starting to feel like I had gotten so far away from God in such a short period of time that I might as well continue to run from Him to save myself the embarrassment of walking back to Him with my head hung low. I had let the enemy creep back into my thoughts.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. 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 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 Godthat is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39 NIV)

In a little over a month, I almost allowed myself to forfeit all of the work that I have done and progress that I have made in every area of my life–physical, mental, financial, spiritual–simply because I thought I needed to be in control. I thought, “I’m doing all of this ‘work,’ and not really getting to ‘play’ because God is in control.” No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11 NIV)

I am reminded that allowing God to have control over my life is the only way that I will be at my best.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for reminding that Your way is best no matter what. Please continue to conform me and my need to constantly be in control. Help me lose control to You a little more each and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to LOSE CONTROL to God! Embrace 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” and take your hands off the steering wheel.

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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.”

Attitude, Complaining, Goals & Dreams, God's Promises, God's Provisons, Growth/Maturity, Marriage, Obedience, Patience, Purpose, Restoration, Singleness, Stress, Trusting God

Living in the Microwave Age

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6 NLT)

I heard an author last week speak about how this is the ‘Microwave Age’ because everybody wants everything to happen quickly. I thought about life and how God has worked on my anxiety. I was a right now person; if I saw something I wanted in a store, I bought it; if I wanted to say something, I said it; if I was feeling a certain way, I reacted; if I wanted to lose weight, I took plenty of weight loss medicine. I know that was a reckless way to live life. Even my prayer life had turned microwavable. Every time I would really need God to do something I would pray, get up and wonder why He didn’t answer my prayer.

I started to question when was I going to get my blessing? When was I going to get a promotion? When was my marriage going to be the marriage I pray for? When was I going to lose weight and have the physique that I want? When? When? When? When?

How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight.The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted. (Habakkuk 1:1-4 NLT)

The prophet Habakkuk sounds just like me! I found myself saying, “Why is God not answering me? Is He not listening to me? Why don’t I have the promotion? Why am I still overweight? Why is my marriage still not thriving? Talk to me God!”

The Lord replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands.” (Habakkuk 1:5-6 NLT)

The Lord spoke to me and told me He is working my situation out for my good. He is building up relationships and even things I thought were not repairable, He is repairing them. He has placed me in a new job that requires that I step up and become a leader very quickly- promotion. He is teaching me discipline when it comes to food and that in order to live a healthy life in Him and on earth I need to exercise. As of today I have lost 30 pounds with many more to go. As for my marriage that God joined together, we are under construction and He is molding us into the people of God that He wants us to be. God told Keviyona I am about to blow your mind!

I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the Lord answered me, and said, write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. (Habakkuk 2:1-3 KJV)

I decided that the microwave way of doing things wasn’t what God wanted for my life. I decided to wait and even though it seems like an eternity to me, it is not a long time in God’s eyes. I did not give up waiting for the Lord. And He turned to me and heard my cry.  (Psalms 40:1 NLV)

Dear Daddy,

I want to thank You for teaching me that fast and quick is not always what is best for my life. Thank You for teaching meBut 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) God I am being patient and waiting on You to lead and direct my path because I am nothing without You. God I want You to continue to teach me that patience is a virtue. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to pray and ask God for the desires of your heart and wait. If you wait and lean not to your own understanding, God will show up and show out. I dare you to be patient on your job, in your home, with your marriage, with your family and friends, with your prayer request and watch God do the work. I EMPOWER you to unplug the microwave in your mind, relax and let God work it out. I know we live in a fast paced society but God works in His time and His time is always the best!

Take a moment to share how waiting on God has blessed you.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Confessions From An Impatient Christian

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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.”

Blessings, Career, Contentment, Employment, Encouragement, Faith, Faithfulness, Goals & Dreams, God's Grace, Miscellaneous, Patience, Patience, Persistance, Preparation, Restoration, Spiritual Therapy, Strength, Transitions Series, Trials, Trusting God

Transitions: Trampled on the Floor

The past few years of my life have been ones of transition, endless waiting and sometimes disappointment. I’ve alluded to and written about it many times. Long story short, I left my job in Texas to start my own business and moved to Atlanta for a three-month transition. In my mind that is all it would take before the business was up and running and I could move to my real destination, Washington, DC (because this is where the business was based). That three months has turned into over two years and I reached a point where I was tired of telling people that I was moving anywhere because I just didn’t know when/if it would happen. As a matter of fact, I actually told people I was moving to Washington, DC nearly two years before I left Texas so in total this has now been a four year wait. If you have had any experience with God you know that many times your best made plans aren’t a part of His plan.

But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor. Micah 4:12 KJV From my brief study, I found that sheaves are stalks of grain and they were gathered on the threshing floor during harvest time for a two-step process. First the actual grain was separated from the chaff. To do this, oxen would pull a metal spiked sledge that would break the heads of the grain from the stalk or they would just trample them. Next the broken stalks were tossed into the air and the wind would blow the lighter chaff away while the heavier grain would fall back on the floor where it could then be gathered for use.

My time of transition has been like the sheaves on the threshing floor. I went from making a very lucrative salary to making zero, zilch, nada. Months would go by and I had nothing but what I could borrow or get from someone else. My mini-vacations that I would frequently take turned into staycations in my room. I found myself in an “asking” position when I was usually the giver. Shopping excursions were non-existent as my belly became wider, clothes became tattered and shoes wobbled to the side. When I could no longer afford my health insurance, the aches and pains started. I went from being a mover and shaker, featured in Ebony Magazine to feeling insignificant. Finally my car called it quits. Although I grew up poor, THIS was a very unfamiliar position. Throughout this process I have felt a gamut of emotions: happiness, depression, bitterness, envy, contentment and disappointment. I had good days and many bad ones. During the process, I felt beat down and trampled but it was only to extract the good grain. Without the threshing floor, the harvest would be incomplete.

I had to learn more about myself and have many things extracted and tossed so that in the finishing process only the good grain was left in me. Sometimes God humbles you by removing the frills and unnecessary things to get you to the place He has ordained for you. A place where you are truly dependent on Him and can recognize that it is His goodness, and not your own doing, that gets you your blessings.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:13 NIV Admittedly during this process, my faith wavered; yet, God remained faithful. Did I get everything that I wanted when I wanted? No! However, He absolutely never failed to supply my needs. This month (July) represents a turning point in my life. After a little over two years in business, I received my first paycheck from my business one that will come consistently versus “some” money at any random month. From my time in the threshing process, I know how to use my money wiser so that when God grants me the increase that I need and desire, I will make sound investments versus temporary gratification. My “giving” strategy will be a lot different because when I couldn’t give I realized that people would always find a way without me. It made me realize that I was a resource and not their “source.” I learned that lesson for myself as well. As I sit in a hotel room now after a second trip of apartment hunting in Washington, DC, I have ultimately learned that if we can only learn to trust God and His timing He will prepare us for our harvest.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for my time in the threshing process as You prepared me for the harvest. I ask that You continue to let those traits, people and other characteristics that are not useful blow off of me into the wind. Help me to be anxious for nothing because You have told me that in due season I will reap a harvest. You have been faithful to Your Word even in the midst of my doubt. God, I ask that You continue to build my faith as I move into the next phase that You have prepared for me. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to trust Him in the process. Although it’s hard because what you see what’s happening in other people’s lives (marriages, babies, career advancements, notoriety, goal accomplishments, financial prosperity) may seem foreign for your own. Know that He is preparing you for your harvest by extracting those things that aren’t useful for that next phase in your life. Trust that He is faithful to you because it is who He is and who He has always been.

Are you waiting on God and feel as if it is not going to happen? If you examine yourself, is it that God has you on the threshing floor? Share your story with us in the comment section.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Seasons Change

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

Encouragement, Freedom, God's Protection, Inspirational, Trials, Trusting God

I Am Released!

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36 NIV)

 Exactly a month ago my life changed drastically. I had been stressed and praying for God to let His will be done in my life. I had been reading and talking to people that could give me a word of encouragement but nothing was helping. I started praying and blessing my house, I put oil on the doors, clothes, shoes, everything that I could reach. I was getting the devil out of my house. I called all of my prayer warriors and God moved. God released me from my situation so that He could bless me with what He has for me. What happened was I was too busy praying for what I wanted and not for what God wanted for my life. In 2012 my home life has changed, my employment has changed, my weight has changed, my motivation has changed, my prayer life has changed and most important, my worship has changed.

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT)

There was a woman present, so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn’t even look up. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he called her over. “Woman, you’re free!” He laid hands on her and suddenly she was standing straight and tall, giving glory to God. (Luke 13:11-13 MSG) God released this woman from her sickness. The same way she had been bent over for eighteen years and was released in an instant, is the same way God can release you from something that you have been in your entire life.

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment (Matthew 9:20-22 NIV)  God released this lady because she had faith and believed if she could just touch the hem of His garment she could be made whole. You have to have faith that even though your situation is bad, God can release you from it.

When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him.  With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.” Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place. There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby. “Send us into those pigs,” the spirits begged. “Let us enter them.” So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water (Mark 5:6-13 NLT) You need to look those demons and evil spirits in the eye and release them. Don’t be afraid to talk and tell them they can’t live within you, your house or your life any longer.

 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the Iron Gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. (Acts 12:6-10 NIV) Now you may have never been in jail literally but symbolically God can send an angel to break the chains off of you and release you from things that have you in bondage.

It is not a coincidence that you are reading this EmpowerMoment today. God is speaking to you to tell you that it is not your battle anymore. God is saying you are released from whatever has you in bondage. God wants you to be okay with releasing things that are not helping you go to the next level in Him. I learned that if you let God determine your path and you follow it, stress, hurt and pain will release themselves from your life.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for releasing me from situations that were not Your will for my life. Thank You for protecting my mind and releasing me from the enemy. God, continue to mold me into the woman that You want me to be. Continue to give me the spirit of discernment to recognize when I am moving out of Your will and back into situations that I have been released from.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Women of God, I EMPOWER you to speak to your situation and tell it that God has released you from it. Remember that you are special regardless of what you have been through or how people have made you feel. You are released from lying, drugs, alcohol, disease, sickness, lying, fornication, adultery, gambling or whatever has you in bondage. God is releasing you now!

Check out “Released” by Donald Lawrence:

Take a moment and share with us what God has released you from.

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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.”

Anxiety, Black Music Month Series, Contentment, Focus, God's Protection, God's Provisons, Trusting God

Lovely Day!

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!

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

I recently watched the movie I Don’t Know How She Does It because my sister implied that I had a lot in common with the main character Kate Reddy. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the movie, she was a married, career woman with two young children trying to figure how out to balance work, family and love. (Yep, I could definitely see the resemblance!) Each night after her husband was sound asleep, Kate would lie in bed and make her mental to-do list for the next day. It was as if she had to get a jump start on her day or at least that’s what she thought. However, she was really over exerting her brain and mentally stressing herself out. That’s where Kate and I were just alike. I realized that I was doing that exact thing. My mind was overworked and exhausted because when I should’ve been resting for the next day, I was thinking about what needed to be accomplished. Then when I’d wake up in the morning I wasn’t rested at all. Instead, I woke up with too much on my mind. All the cares of the world would be dancing in my brain as I sought to check everything off my never-ending to-do list. I was focused on the ‘what’ around me, rather than the Who inside of me. However, after watching that movie I decided that something had to change.

I am excited to report that I woke up this morning and regardless of everything that was going on, I knew it was going to be a lovely day. Yes, I still had my laundry list of things to do and everything in my world was not perfect, but one key thing has changed…

Then I look at You and the world’s alright with me.

Just one look at You and I know it’s gonna be a lovely day!

It’s time to calm your mind. When you awake in the morning, choose to look at God instead of everything that is going on around you. Focusing on Him may not change your circumstances, but it truly changes you. Its easy to allow your busy schedules, lack of finances, family drama, work issues, car troubles, health ailments, and so on to consume your every waking (and sleeping) thought, but it’s more beneficial to allow the One who can actually rectify all of those situations to occupy your mental space.

In the header scripture, Paul writes to the church at Philippi and encourages them in their daily thoughts. He advises to fix thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Concentrate on that which is excellent and worthy of praise – that sounds like the Father to me! It seems that even Paul recognized the recipe for a lovely day!

Today’s empowering moment is quite simple — change your perspective and your day will change. A year full of changed days will eventually equal a lifetime of lovely days!

Dear Daddy,

Anytime I look at You, my day is destined to be lovely! Help me to remember that fact when I am faced with much turmoil in my life. Remind me to shift my focus to You when it seems that my days are not so lovely. I thank You in advance for restoring the loveliness in my life! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to have not just one, but many LOVELY days! Look at Him and watch Him make your days lovelier than you could have ever imagined! Remember if your day isn’t looking good, you probably need to change your focus!

Be inspired by Bill Wither’s “Lovely Day”:

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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.