Impossible!

How many times have you been asked to make something out of nothing? To take a half and somehow magically make it a whole. I’m sure I am not the only one, but this recently happened to me while working on a project with friends.

I was helping friends develop new strategies for their business: refining their messaging, more effective utilization of their budget dollars, analyzing their competition, among other things. We talked about creative ways to reach a broader audience. I even presented a marketing budget to help them understand what it would take to accomplish their goals by year end. They smiled emphatically which made me smile in return. Being able to help friends who were finally doing what they were created to do was like…well, let’s just say I felt like a proud big sister. Not because of what I presented, but because of their ambition and they seemed fearless.

A couple of weeks went by and I received a call. They finally had the funds to move forward on some of the marketing initiatives I had suggested. I was pumped! I headed to their office, took a seat, and said, “Show me what we’re working with!” (I told you they are friends). As they eagerly shared what they were ready to implement and how much they had allotted to spend, my excitement began to fizzle. What in the world? How could anyone think they could get so much for so little? I love them dearly so I asked, “In case this is not enough, what are you willing to take off the table?” They replied, “Nothing. We believe we can do all these things.” My mouth said, “Let’s do it,” but my mind said, “Impossible!”

I got in my car. As I drove away, I sensed an overwhelming feeling of disappointment building on my insides because as much as I wanted to help, I honestly felt it was impossible. But at that very moment, I heard the still, small voice of my Father say, “Give it to Me.” This time, I did without any hesitation because I knew there was very little I could do with it. I told Jesus I felt as if I had been given two fish and five loaves of bread but was expected to feed the multitudes.

Just then, it was as if a light bulb in my head went off.

I googled “two fish and five loaves.” Scriptures from Matthew, Mark, and John populated but what I found most intriguing was that when the disciples realized they did not have enough to feed all those people, the first thing they did was give it to Jesus. “Hmmmm…. I’ve done that. So what’s next?” I kept reading. Jesus gave thanks, broke it, and had the disciples disperse it among the people.

At that point, my outlook changed. I knew that what my friends were trying to accomplish would bring Him glory. I believed they were just following the divine plan He had set for their lives. And I knew they were counting on me. So you know what I did? I looked toward heaven and just as Jesus did, I thanked God for what was in my hand. In that moment, I understood that it was not what was in my hand that was important but instead my faith was on the line.

I called other business owners I knew to find out how they handled such situations. I started bidding wars between companies. I would not accept “no” for an answer. And you know what? I broke every dollar they gave me into so many pieces I surprised myself. Not only was I able to accomplish more than I imagined, but when they saw how tenacious I was with their resources, they gave me a couple of dollars extra to complete the only thing remaining on their list.

Is your faith being tested? Mine was. What I saw as impossible, God saw as an opportunity to stretch and strengthen my faith. Could this be why you are in the situation you are facing today? Before you dismiss it as impossible, give it to the Father. Remember, nothing is impossible to those who believe.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT VISION  NOW!

Ladies,

Tony Gaskins once said, “If you don’t build your dreams, someone will hire you to help build theirs.” VISION NOW is an event created to help women move from dreaming to doing. Click visionnow.eventbrite.com now more information and get your tickets. Online registration is required for this event and will end Friday, September 23.

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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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“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!

 

Don’t Give Up On “The Process”

Over the last couple of weeks, I have found myself reflecting on this year’s successes, failures, seized opportunities and those I missed in an effort to ensure I make the most of the new year. I’ve thought about moments when I embraced where God had me. Good moments like starting the blog, helping women find their purpose, a couple of speaking engagements, even having one of my writings published. Things I never saw coming! But I have also mulled over how I handled those times when life did not line up with my expectation. There were times when I allowed frustration to overwhelm me. Times when I frowned because it did not look or feel like God was working all things together for my good. Even times, after hearing God’s promises for my life, I wanted to give up on “the process.”

You see, everyone is talking about this thing called “the process” but few are equipping us with the tools necessary to stand with unwavering faith as we go through it. One thing I’ve learned this year is when you pursue God’s purpose for your life, “the process” is quite unpredictable. Pastor Sheryl Brady confirmed this as I read a transparent account of “the process” in her life in Dr. Samuel Chand’s book, Leadership Pain. She tells of her and her husband starting a ministry in Nashville. Over time, the ministry did not flourish the way they expected and led to depression, feelings of defeat, even financial hardship. They prayed that “the process’ ” expiration date would come sooner than later and at times wanted to quit. After much prayer, time, and sacrifice, the Brady’s realized God’s purpose was not for them to plant a successful church; instead, “the process” was intended to make them better leaders. God’s greatest lesson in that season of their lives was to teach them how to and how not to lead in ministry. Brady says, “I thought my painful position would destroy me, but it was really just a place for my personal preparation.” Today, Pastor Brady serves as the pastor of The Potter’s House of North Dallas.

Oftentimes, the path to our destiny is contrary to everything we think it should be. Just when we think we are going to ease on down the road, potholes, barricades, and detours we never saw coming begin to appear. Let me warn you to not make the mistake I have made. There were times when I allowed Satan to use “the process” against me. With every pothole, Satan told me God was not for me. With each barricade, Satan tried to convince me to give up. With every detour, Satan tried to comfort me by telling me a glass half full was better than no glass at all. But I’ve learned half full versus half empty is irrelevant when you know God has promised you overflow!

In the days, months, and years to come, don’t give up on “the process.” This year may have presented a number of challenges and I will be honest with you, other challenges will come, but each experience we go through is called a life lesson because the knowledge you gain is not only for today but for life! Know that God is simply preparing you for greater!

Remember, the new year will only unveil a new you if you allow the lessons learned during “the process” to make you better not bitter.

Today, I ask you to share this message with everyone you know. Don’t allow those you know and love to give up. A simple share, forward, or repost could enable them to carry on through “the process” and ultimately, reach their promised land!

The Deceitfulness of Sight

Have you ever played Dirty Santa? Let me rephrase the question. Have you ever played the original Dirty Santa? That is one game that proves that sight can be deceptive. The gift wrapped in toilet paper could be the very thing you’ve been hoping for while the large box beautifully adorned with Christmas wrappings and a perfectly tied bow could turn out to be an  8-pack of Irish Spring or even worse, a Chia Pet. When playing Dirty Santa, we laugh hysterically but in life, no one wants to be left holding the pretty package with no purpose.

As I read the story of the birth of Jesus, I immediately recognized that both Mary and Joseph were in a situation where many of us have been or currently find ourselves. Do we make our decisions based on what we see or do we trust the voice of God?

When the angel appeared to Mary and told her she had been chosen/favored by God to give birth to the Son of the Most High God, her response was, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34-35)

In that very moment, Mary had to make a decision. Would her next response follow her initial one which was based on sight or would she choose to accept what the angel had spoken for her life?

Mary replied, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever he wants.” (Luke 1:38)

Where Mary saw limitation, God saw opportunity. In that moment, Mary made a decision to trust the word of the Lord even if it did not make sense.

Joseph, when he found out his fiancé was pregnant, was ready to end the engagement but after hearing from an angel of the Lord, “he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.” (Matthew 1:24)

His initial response was much like Mary’s (and ours), based on sight.

God’s plan rarely, if ever, plays out the way we envision. Our path is pre-determined because He knows the process needed to prepare us for the promised place. Yes, the crooks and turns, the detours and delays, are all a part of His perfect plan.

I hope you will take time and reflect on the birth of Jesus. He is the greatest gift ever given to man and although His primary packaging was not pleasant, God’s perfect plan came to pass through a baby who was born in the poorest of conditions, yet saved a dying world.

This Christmas and in the days ahead, I beg you to chose Him over that which you can see. His plan for you is much greater than sight can ever reveal.

Merry CHRISTmas to you!

INTENTIONALLY UNINTENTIONAL

Intentional is the buzzword right now and I love it! Travis Greene has started a revolution with just one word and the world is taking hold of it. People are talking about being intentional about family time, productivity, personal development, work life balance, their purpose, being significant, and creating strategies to positively impacting the lives of others.

And I jumped right on the bandwagon!

I asked God, “How can I be intentional about my personal growth, living life on purpose, and achieving my goals in 2016?” I know it’s the holiday season, but I am ready for a new year. Ready to start anew. Ready to right the wrongs of 2015. Ready for a turn around. Ready to embark on new adventures and new opportunities. Ready to walk through open doors and ready to close those that need to be closed. You see, I’m ready! I’m ready to be more intentional!

When I spoke the words out of my mouth, I immediately felt an awkward stillness. You know when you think you’ve asked the right question or are on the right track, but God is simply sitting there, shaking His head. It took a moment, but then I heard Him say, “But what will you do with the days that remain in 2015? Will you intentionally be unintentional until the new year begins?”

I paused. I knew I had to do something and being intentionally unintentional was not an option.

So I hosted an “Intentional” Christmas party! Probably not what others would have done, but as God takes me through the “process”, I have chosen not to go alone. I am taking my family, friends, associates, and you along with me.

You see, my small group and I just finished reading Draw the Circle, a 40-day devotional written by Mark Batterson. It is an amazing read that motivates you to “work like ‘it’ depends on you and pray like ‘it’ depends on God.” During the Christmas party, I gave each lady a gift bag which held a math compass and a scroll. The compass was to challenge them to do just what the book taught us…draw the circle. As God speaks through His word, dreams, or other men and women of God, I gave them the tool to draw a circle around His promise. Batterson shared that there is nothing magical about a circle. It simply makes the promise more prominent and should remind us each day that we are to circle it (pray and believe) until it happens. The scroll I gave them listed eight things we can do during the last weeks of 2015 to lay the foundation for our 2016. I attached the document just for you!

I encourage you today not to overlook the days remaining in 2015. If you want 2016 to be your best year yet, you must have a plan. Proverbs 16:3 AMP tells us, “Commit your works to the Lord [submit and trust them to Him], and your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance].

Don’t spend another day being intentionally unintentional. And please share. Don’t allow those you care for to waste another moment.

HOW DO I LIVE INTENTIONALLY IN 2016

ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH…

For years, I was told to “name it and claim it” or “believe and receive” and for years, I did those very things. The result…absolutely nothing. I didn’t get anything and I didn’t understand it. I went through the Bible, found a scripture, and I BELIEVED! I would see other people with new cars and I would CLAIM IT. I mean why not. God’s not a respecter of persons…right? After coming up empty handed time and time again, I began to question the validity of the common church jargon or at least I accepted it didn’t work for me.  Maybe that “respecter of persons” thing was simply church lingo too.

Recently my pastor said something very interesting. “You get to choose how much God will bless you.” Without any effort, my mind immediately went back in time. “Over twenty years ago, someone told me something very similar but it didn’t work,” is what my flesh was saying. But before another thought emerged, Pastor Van backed it up with scripture.

According to your faith….

Four words that pack a power punch!

We hear faith and talk faith but do we really understand faith? Do we understand that our faith is the mode that moves the hand of God? Do we understand that faith is the vehicle that can change the trajectory of our lives? Can our minds even conceive what happens when our faith connects with His will?

But faith requires action!

Operating by faith requires us to do the very thing “man” tells us can’t be done. Operating by faith causes us to take steps that don’t make sense to “man.” Operating by faith allows us to be at peace in the face of what would drive others crazy.

I love Hebrews 11! It charts the faith of several men and women of God. It also gives us a glimpse of what their faith led them to do. I’m sure their naysayers thought they were foolish but faith got the last laugh.

By faith, Noah built an ark before rain came into existence.

By faith, Abraham left a place of comfort with no idea of where he was going.

By faith, the prostitute Rahab hid the spies knowing that she was risking her very own life.

I believe in my heart that even today someone is being called to be the next Noah, Abraham, or Rahab. Someone is being called to do something that is only possible with God. If that’s you remember this…the God we serve is not a respecter of person (Romans 2:11), but He is a respecter of faith. I challenge you to acknowledge Him in all your ways and allow Him to direct your path. And when He speaks, act. Matthew 9:29 concludes by saying, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” That promise should be reassuring to us all.