Who’s Praying For You?

Medical exams. Annual or those that occur less frequently. They’re not like birthdays or Christmas. I’ve never seen anyone show excitement because one is approaching. We definitely don’t advertise it on social media. Well, recently, I accompanied my mom to a medical exam that only takes place every five years. No big deal, right? Actually it’s not. This is one of those visits that reminds us just how good God is.

You see, when I was in college my mom was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease (information about the disease is included below). I remember sitting in the consultation room with the doctor as he circled areas on her x-ray that revealed evidence of something abnormal within her digestive tract. I don’t remember a lot about that day, but here’s what I do recall him saying….my mom had a disease for which there was no cure.

There is (not was) no known cure for Crohn’s disease.

I felt sick and tears began to swell in my eyes. What did this mean? Could this disease end her life? Was I about to lose my mother? The doctor assured me that medicine would help but my mind continued to replay…There is no cure.

I remember my mom and I talking about it. I was in college and was expected to drive back to Atlanta on Sunday as usual, but everything within me wanted to stay home. I just wanted to be with my mommy. But staying home was not an option. Sunday came. We went to church. Then ate dinner. I knew the next words that would come out of my mom’s mouth, “I need you to go ahead and get on the road. I want you back in Atlanta before it gets dark.” With tears in my eyes, I packed the car and got on the road.

The doctor prescribed a medication just as he promised. We had no idea my mom would have to take sixteen pills a day for an indefinite amount of time. And these were no ordinary size pills. We called them “horse pills.” Not exactly sure why we gave them that name. I guess our thought was only something as big as a horse could take sixteen mega-sized pills every day.

I also remember something else very vividly. My mom told less than a handful of people about her condition. She met with our pastor and she shared the diagnosis with one, maybe two friends. That was it. I can recall one of her friends confessing scripture over my mom and praying for her constantly. I remember her giving my mom specific Bible verses to read and commit to memory. Every time we were in this friend’s presence, I can only remember her speaking words of life, faith-filled words, and making my mom laugh. Even as it became more and more difficult for my mother to take all sixteen pills, I remember her friend encouraging her and asking, “Now Betty, do you believe God will heal you?” She had a smart alec way of saying it that still makes me smile today. Then she would say, “Come on Betty. This is God we are talking about!”

Now back to the present.

As I previously stated, recently, we went to the doctor for my mom’s 5-year follow up exam. The doctor who diagnosed my mom with Crohn’s disease has since retired and she was seeing a new doctor for the very first time. They called her to the back to prep her for the medical test and within less than an hour, my name was being called to meet the new doctor in the consultation room.

The new doctor walked in. He was very cordial and immediately shared her results. “Your mother’s test came back normal.” As we looked at the x-ray together, there were no signs of anything peculiar. The doctor asked, “I see in her chart she was once diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Is she taking any meds? It must be in remission.” “No, she’s healed.” My eyes again swelled with tears, but this time for a much different reason. He stared.

You see, continuous medication or surgery are the medical options that can place Crohn’s disease in remission. My mother took the medication as long as her doctor suggested but one year later, when she returned for her annual exam, there was no sign of the disease. The doctor suggested a maintenance drug because they too used the term “remission” but my mom declined the offer. We knew God had healed her!

I share this story not because I think anyone should stop taking their prescribed medication. And we definitely have faith in a doctor’s ability to help. I’m sharing my heart for a completely different reason. My mom was very specific in who she shared her situation with. Like I said before, less than a handful of people knew. But so often, we are either so private that we tell no one at all or so public that we post it on all platforms of social media. My question to you today is, “Who’s praying for you?” Yes, God healed my mother! For more than 20 years now, she has been free from the disease with no surgery or maintenance meds. She believed God would heal her, but each day her faith had to come face-to-face with sixteen pills. During those times, I believe the prayers of those she loved and trusted, along with her own undying faith, led to the manifestation of her healing.

We all have a situation, a condition, or something that we are dealing with. It may not be medical. It could be a delayed dream, an unfulfilled promise, or a far-reaching goal. I know I told you last week to F.T.D.I. but this week, think about who you are sharing your “situation” with. Who’s praying for you? I am definitely not one who believes everyone is a dream killer or everyone is preying on you instead of praying for you. But let’s make sure we are sharing our hearts with those who, in my grandmother’s words, can get a prayer through!

Until next time….

Information about Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people. The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Crohn’s disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications. While there’s no known cure for Crohn’s disease, therapies can greatly reduce its signs and symptoms and even bring about long-term remission.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/crohns-disease/basics/definition/con-20032061

Where’s My Opportunity?

“If I just had the right opportunity…” How many of us have uttered these words? We see doors opening for others and we are genuinely happy for them, but as we look into the mirror of our own lives, the reflection often seems to reveal no door at all.

From time to time, I have questioned God about this very thing. In all honesty, I recently found myself asking again. And here’s what He said…..

My child, you are very familiar with the story of Joseph, yet there is so much you fail to see. You see Joseph as the “chosen” son. You even take notice when the favor shown to him by his father causes distance between him and his brothers. You see his gift as he interprets dreams. But you also observe that as he shares those dreams, doubt, criticism, and jealousy rear their ugly head. You see him thrown into a pit and left to die. But for the love of money, he is rescued only to be sold into slavery. You see him as a man of integrity as he rejects the advances of Potiphar’s wife; yet, his story also reveals that bad things can happen to good people.

God knows (no really…He knows this about me) I am not one who enjoys all the little details. So I respectfully told the rest of the story (don’t act like you’ve never done it ūüôā ).

From there, Joseph met a baker and a butler who had dreams that Joseph willingly interpreted. But when released from prison, they forgot about Joseph until one day, Pharaoh had a dream that none could explain. Then all of a sudden, the butler remembered Joseph. Joseph’s ability to correctly interpret Pharaoh’s dreams opened the door for him to be appointed chief over all of Egypt. His position was not only a blessing to him but also to the very ones who attempted to negatively impact his entire life.

I get it, God. I know the story. But where’s the opportunity?

But God said…No, you missed it.

The opportunities I present will initially be unrecognizable to the human eye. Although Joseph was in a prison cell, I presented him with an opportunity. Joseph had to decide, “Will I use my gift to help someone who may never do anything for me in return or will I ‘be still’ and wait for God to rescue me?”. Because of what I revealed to Joseph as a child, he knew he would not remain imprisoned forever. Joseph believed the dreams long before he was thrown in the pit, encountered Potiphar and his wife, or met the butler and the baker. Joseph used his gift because he knew it would bring Me glory. And in return, his gift made room for him and placed him before a king. Joseph was willing to serve when, from a human perspective, serving should have been the last thing on his mind. But he did not allow his physical position to affect his mental condition. In his heart and head, he knew I was with him and he believed that no matter what, My Word would trump any circumstance he could ever face.

Then God continued…So you asked where’s your opportunity? My child, it’s in every moment of every day.

Our opportunity may be in a pulpit or a prison, in Corporate America or a shelter, in a butcher shop or a bathroom, to one or to many. No matter where or when, choose to use what God has given you in a way that will bring Him glory. If the angels rejoice when one is saved, then why do we allow larger platforms to determine our level of impact or significance? If each one of us would share His heart with one who does not know Him, millions could be reached in minutes. Just as God was with Joseph in the pit, Potiphar’s house, and the prison, He is also with you and me. But how we handle each opportunity, simply lets Him know if we have palace potential.

 

 

No Physical Evidence

Leprosy. An infectious disease which effects the skin producing lesions and skin discoloration, and causes nerve damage resulting in muscle weakness, numbness in the hands and feet, and sometimes severe pain.

Imagine having this condition. Imagine having people consider you an outcast because of something beyond your control. Imagine a constant numbness in your legs and arms. Imagine your brain sending signals to the body to move; all the while, the muscle’s response is indifferent. Some things we don’t even want to imagine.

But imagine catching a glimpse of a man who could help. A man who had healed others. A crippled woman walked after being touched by this man. This man rebuked a fever and a woman was made well. A demon was cast out after this very man sternly uttered, “Come out of him.” And now ten lepers had their chance. They saw this man from a distance and cried out, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

How would Jesus respond? Would He touch them like the crippled woman? Would He speak to their disease? Would He rebuke the pain, the numbness, and the lesions? Jesus’ reply was simple. “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”

The lepers had to wonder, at least for a minute, about the directive being given to them by Jesus. Priest could not heal. Priest could only announce that a leper had been cleansed. Why would they go to the priest in their current state? There was no physical evidence of healing and no words of promise from the Healer. Simply a message to “go.”

What would you have done?

The ten lepers chose to follow Jesus’ instructions. And their obedience yielded a return far greater than their carnal minds could have ever anticipated. For the passage says, “And as they went, they were cleansed.”

We do not know how far they had to go. We do not know if they noticed a change in their condition with the first step or the 100th. We do not know how much pain they had to endure. But we do know all signs of leprosy disappeared as they obeyed Jesus’ command.

Today, don’t measure your condition or position by the standard of what has happened to or for others. Believe God. His instructions to you are what will get you through your current situation. Obey. Though there may be no physical evidence of change, move forward. “Go” without all the details. “Go” because the One who has “plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you a hope and a future” said “go.”

 

 

 

Expect the Unexpected

I believe following God’s instructions is the wisest yet hardest thing we could ever do. His way of doing things is never ordinary but always yields amazing results. Like building a massive structure in preparation for a storm, all while the term “rain” was foreign¬†to man. Holding a stick over a raging sea to create a way of escape from the enemy. Marching around the walls of a secured city seven times, then playing instruments in order for the walls to collapse. I know I am not the only one who thinks God’s directions are a little…unusual.

I became all too familiar with His unusual instructions as I was planning VISION NOW. From inviting a speaker whom I knew very little about to allowing a young lady to do my hair whom I had never been to before (ladies, we all know this is a no no!), He kept telling me to do things that, to me, were crazy. Even down to the date. When I accepted that He wanted me to have this event, I just knew it would be in January to help women kick off the new year, but He kept saying NOW. So on the first day of the last quarter of the year, I hosted a vision party. I literally asked Him, “Who in the world is going to come to a vision party in October? It’s not close enough to the end of year nor is it at the beginning of a new year.” God told me there is nothing magical about January 1st. It’s just another day on the calendar. VISION NOW!

So I did. I did everything He said. No matter how uncomfortable I was. And no matter how much the enemy confirmed that God’s instructions were a little off-kilter. I did it and I did it just the way He told me to.

And guess what??? The event was amazing!

 

Andrea Snyder, co-founder of the Urban Cookhouse, whom I briefly crossed paths with in Corporate America, shared her story of giving up her $40,000 salary plus benefits, bonuses, and promotions for a job that paid $13 but allowed her to pursue her vision. That transition paid off! In 2010, Andrea and her husband opened their first limited-service restaurant. Today, Urban Cookhouse has seven locations with 2 additional locations opening later this year. Andrea spoke from Matthew 25 and challenged the ladies not to bury their “talents” due to fear, but instead to use what God had given them in a manner that would please the¬†Father and bring them joy.

Andrea’s inspiring message was followed by my dear friend, Pamela Phipps, Executive Director of Grace House Ministries. Pam told us how she sought God to determine His plan for her life. And although she did not understand what He was telling her, in time, she realized that everything in her past was preparation for her present. Pam concluded by¬†challenging the ladies to: 1) write down their vision from God, 2) speak it out of their mouths, 3) surround themselves with like-minded people who would¬†be honest with them and supportive, and 4) look forward to fulfilling the vision.

After the ladies laughed, talked, and work together to find specific items for their boards, they flipped the boards over and to their surprise was a roadmap. I explained that in order for their vision to become reality, intentionality was the key. The roadmap was comprised of 10 blank billboards. Before the evening ended, each lady was to write on the billboards which steps they would take before the end of October. Some wrote they would create a business plan. Others noted spending more time with God was their first priority. A few admitted they need to let go of people in their lives who were headed in a different direction.

But the gentle voice of Karmen Ali brought the evening to a close in a way that only God Himself could have ordained. See…Karmen is the young lady who did my hair for the very first time and yes, she did an amazing job! Friday morning as I sat in Karmen’s salon, I inquired about her availability on Saturday to do my makeup for VISION NOW. She wasn’t sure if she could accommodate me but asked me to tell her more about the event. I told her all about it, even invited her to come. She said yes but I could tell there was bit of hesitation. She then told me she believed God had sent me to her. Karmen shared that a few years ago, she created a vision board. She had many things on her board but specifically remembered adding three letters, G O D. Her vision began to unfold. She did not understand it, but the pictures and words she glued to the poster board were actually happening. As time went on, Karmen drifted away from God and almost instantly, her life became a downward spiral. Everything she had placed on her board was slowly stripped away.

I asked Karmen to share her story because more than anything, I wanted every women to know…The vision is unachievable without the Visionary. Apart for Him we can do nothing. It is only WITH HIM that all things are possible.

I told the women to get ready! Expect the unexpected. God’s instructions would¬†not be ordinary. They most likely would not make sense. I was their example. I invited someone to speak at VISION NOW¬†whom I had never heard speak before and I went to a salon for the first time, one day before the¬†event. Who does that??? Me, when I follow His instructions.

This is what I want you to remember whether you were able to attend VISION NOW or not….Regardless of your¬†ability to comprehend the true purpose behind God’s¬†prompting, it is¬†most important that you¬†trust and obey Him…no matter what!

To see pictures from VISION NOW, click www.facebook.com/tijuana.johnsonwilliams.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

I recently participated in a twenty-one day fast with my church family (I guess it’s ok to talk about it now that it’s over). We did not have to give up food, but were instructed to sacrifice something that consumed our time. The Sunday the fast began, I listened to a powerful story of how fasting and prayer had impacted a family’s life (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzQJhdQDxuE) and I knew this was for me. The timing was perfect. I wasn’t looking for any “thing” from God. Just greater clarity in the things He was guiding me toward.

So I thought…what would it be? Coffee? Beef? Maybe Facebook? But this time, I heard God whisper, “Sleep.” I literally turned to my husband during worship service and said, “You will never believe what He just told me to give up…SLEEP!” My husband shook his head because He knew if I were ever to appear in a¬†MasterCard commercial, it would always end by saying, “Sleep for TJ….priceless!”

You see, I love a good cup of joe. And hamburgers…one of my closest girlfriends and I have the best conversations when we have hamburgers! Both are important in my life. But sleep. Sleep is in a category all its own. Nothing compares to a good nights sleep. There’s nothing like a good ole nap. I reminded God that I wasn’t fasting in expectation of getting some “thing” from Him. I just wanted to hear Him clearer and gain more understanding in the things He was calling me to do. Sleep for me was like…The Ultimate Sacrifice. As His still, small voice became silent, I knew all too well what it meant. I had heard Him clearly. Getting up earlier and going to bed later so I could spend more time working to fulfill the dreams He had placed in my heart. I¬† knew this would be a sacrifice like none other.

Monday morning, 4:30am! The alarm buzzed but the only thing that moved was my finger to turn it off. I knew it would be hard but had no idea it would be this hard. The second morning, after snoozing and snoozing and snoozing, I rolled out of bed and went downstairs to work out. When the kids went to bed at 7:30 each night, instead of me answering the call of our 1000 thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, I turned the computer on and began to write.

I soon realized what God was doing.

He was not trying to get me to sleep less, but instead was helping me understand that if I was really going to commit to fulfilling His plan for my life, there were sacrifices I must be willing to make. I began to understand there would be times when I would have to do things I would not ordinarily do (like give up sleep). Times when my comfort zone would be a mere memory. Times when I would have to make hard choices that may not be popular. Times when I would be uncomfortable but still have to push my way through. Times when others would make plans that I could not be a part of because my priorities had shifted.

God told me I was walking into a place where I would have to say, “Not my will but Yours be done” and mean it.

Over those twenty-one days, I gained more knowledge than I ever expected. Knowledge to prepare me for what’s ahead. And now, before I go to bed at night and when the clock goes off early in the morning, I think twice. There is a quote that says, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”

How important is your comfort? Are you willing to sacrifice it in order to grow? In order to attain the vision He has given us, we must willingly make The Ultimate Sacrifice.

comfortzone

 

SHARING MY HEART EVENT INFORMATION

LADIES….It’s time for VISION NOW! Register for this amazing Sharing My Heart event where you will have an opportunity to write the vision, make it plain, and develop a plan so that you can run with it! Make the sacrifice and join me on Saturday, October 1st and begin to grow and go in the direction of your vision.

Click visionnow.eventbrite.com for more information and register today!

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VISION NOW!

Attention All Ladies!

I’m not going to ask if you are busy. We are all¬†busy, but I will ask…How busy are you? Are you too busy to effectively do the things you love or the things God has placed in your heart?

Well, one thing I have learned is this…

Busyness is one of the enemy’s greatest distractions. As long as he can keep us busy, we will continue to crawl around like caterpillars never becoming the beautiful butterflies God created us to be.

We all know God has called us to do something greater, but if we don’t make those things a priority in our lives, they will not happen. I believe those things we want and are believing God for, if kept in front of our eyes, will help us to focus or re-focus on what’s really important.

That’s why Sharing My Heart presents…VISION ¬†NOW!

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And I would love for you to join me! Simply click visionnow.eventbrite.com to register now!

This will not be your ordinary vision party. Get ready to hear stories from ladies who are living what was once only a dream, create your own personal, customized vision board (all materials provided), and work with me and others to build a road map to move you in the direction of attaining the vision.

Last thing…we all know other ladies who need to slow down, write the vision, and make it plain, so that they can run with it too. Forward this email to them or send them the link (visionnow.eventbrite.com) so we can all achieve “greater” together!

Limited space is available and registration will end mid September, so don’t wait! Register now! I can’t wait to see you Saturday, October 1st at VISION NOW!

This event is going to be amazing! I promise.

From the bottom of my heart,

Tijuana (TJ) Williams

Special thanks to those who have already registered!!!!

“E” is for Expect

Ok…now that I have stopped running and shouting about the vowel “A”, I am ready to dive into the vowel “E” (refer to last week’s post if you missed “A”). So I asked God, “Ok, You have me excited about the vowel “A”, what should I expect for “E”? Then God asked me, “What do you expect?” ¬†I was puzzled for a moment, but then it was almost as if I heard Him chuckle as He revealed, “My child, ‘E’ is for expect.”

I was ready! I knew what I expected from God. I’ve mentioned previously that at the beginning of each year, my husband and I create a “By Faith” List. It lists all the things we are believing God for. We list things like salvation for family and friends who don’t know Christ. We list healing for those who are sick. We even list personal expectations that we know are impossible without God’s direction, help, and intervention. So like I said, I was ready. But before I could begin to utter #1 on the list, God told me, “No, my child. The vowel ‘E’ will teach you what to expect when you go across and what I expect of you.” Although this was contrary to my thoughts, I was ready to hear what He had to say. Going across is the only option for me this year. I’m moving forward and knowing what to do or look for once I’m across is like icing on the cake.

So I went back to the book of Joshua and here’s what I noticed:

Greater Faith was Expected
At the Red Sea, Moses held out his staff and parted the sea for the people to go across on dry ground. At the Jordan River, the priest, carrying the Ark of the Covenant, were required to get their feet wet. But once in, the waters were pushed back and again dry ground created the perfect path. Once inside the promised land, the wall of Jericho was a little different. No outstretched staff. No physical evidence for the people before this miracle took place. Greater faith was expected. Each day that they walked around the wall, there was no indication that their efforts would work, but they remained consistent. Even when they could not see the hand of God changing things on their behalf, they trusted the heart of God.

Expect The Enemy To Be Waiting 
Finally, after 40 long years, the Israelites entered the land flowing with milk and honey only to find battles waiting on the other side. And although the enemy had already heard about them and their victory was guaranteed as long as they followed the Lord’s commands, they still had to fight.

Expect the Lord to be with You  
Joshua was committed to God and God was committed to him. Multiple times throughout the book of Joshua you read, “And the Lord said to Joshua” or “So the Lord was with Joshua”. What you constantly find is Joshua receiving instructions from God, then communicating them to the people, the people obeying, victory attained, followed by God’s approval of their actions. Although there was a time when all the people did not obey (we’ll talk about that next week!) and once when Joshua failed to ask the Lord for direction, God’s expectation of Joshua remained intact and so did Joshua’s.

I absolutely love this preparation period! Now let me ask, which one of the 3 points really spoke to your heart? #1 is still tugging at my me simply because I am still learning not to be so dependent on sight. I invite you to join me as I continue reading the book of Joshua. I promise you’ll love it too!

Next week, more insight from the vowel “I”. And no, that’s not what “I” stands for…lol!