Did You Ask God?

A little over a month ago, I had an opportunity to be a vendor at a local women’s conference. This was definitely new for me, but I remembered God’s words about being “fearless” in 2017 (in case you missed it, read last week’s post). I knew the year was going to present new opportunities that would be outside my comfort zone, but I was ready! 

The conference, Beauty For Ashes, was amazing! The women seemed to love my new tshirts. I sold almost every tshirt I had! But as a believing, budding entrepreneur, something even greater happened…

I got a word from God!

Her name was Wendi. That’s all I remember and I don’t know what her entire message was about but her energy energized me! Her spirit connected with mine. And when she said these words, I knew she was talking to me. “You don’t have to ask God to bless what He has told you to do.”

That was my word! That was my message! If I had only sold one tshirt, I would have still left the venue on an indescribable high! I knew those words were for me. 

In the days following, I received additional opportunities to sell my Sharing My Heart tees at other events. Some I accepted, some I couldn’t. But there was one event, in particular, that I accepted without hesitation. The shear number of women in attendance peaked my interest more than anything. So I began to prepare. Ordered shirts. Ordered bags. Inventoried everything. Business cards…check. Prayer cards…check. Hubby, mom, and dad available for set up, selling, and break down…check! And we were ready! 

But this time, things didn’t happen like before. 

No sales, no word, no nothing! I wondered what I missed. What did I do last time that I did not do this time? Well, I couldn’t put my finger on it so we simply packed up and went home (well, my mom went to Old Time Pottery 🙂). I wasn’t bothered, but in all honesty, I did wonder. 

I had not given the event much thought since that day, until my mom and I were talking a week or so later. Before we hung up, she asked me, “The event we went to last week…Did you ask God?” I hesitated. “What do you mean?” “Of all the opportunities you’ve been given this year, the recurring theme in our conversations has been ‘God said’ or ‘I knew it was Him when…’ or ‘I had just prayed about it, then…'”

And she was right.

When I received the information about the event, the minimal vendor fee and the ability to reach hundreds of women sparked my interest more than gaining His insight. My mom reminded me of Wendi’s words. “You don’t have to ask God to bless what He has told you to do.”

Today, I’m sharing my heart because so often we make decisions based on what we see, what has worked for others, what fits into our budget, or what makes sense to our finite minds. I would never say don’t study and learn from others but it is most important that we follow “the plan” (Jeremiah 29:11) that He has for us. We must allow the Spirit of truth to lead us into all truth (John 16:13).

Before You Go….

Don’t forget to check out my new Sharing My Heart tees at iamsharingmyheart.com or click SHOP at the top of the site!

Until Next Time….❤️

F.T.D.I. (Follow The D*** Instructions)

I definitely don’t mean to come across as being abrasive, but I’ve been away for more than a month. Had to get your attention! Well, I’m back and yes, the title is correct!

So Here We Go….

My husband recently enrolled in a fitness program, because this year, we have committed to treating our bodies like the temples they were designed to be. I’m ashamed to say it, but in years past, we ate what we wanted, exercised when we wanted, and never gave much thought to either…until a recent health scare. My husband would kill me if I gave the details of our health scare. So to maintain peace in our home, I’ll move on.

Let’s just say we immediately began to make changes.

When my husband attended orientation at a new fitness center, he was provided with a lot of information: do’s and don’ts, a grocery list, examples of how to pair the right foods, and so much more. At the end of orientation, the trainers emphasized one key point which they instructed each participant to live by if success was their goal, “F.T.D.I…Follow The D*** Instructions!” They basically said, “Don’t ask if you can make substitutions. Don’t tell us what WebMD, Atkins, P90X, Whole30, or anything else recommends. Just Follow The D*** Instructions!”

I laughed when I heard it and initially thought, “Well, I guess they made themselves clear.” But you know me, I internalized the phrase. Then God reminded me of a recent speaking engagement where I shared some biblical nuggets about Joshua and the walls of Jericho. The more I thought about the Bible story, the more I had a strange suspicion that this phrase was about to take on a whole new meaning.

“‘Your entire army is to walk around the city once a day for six days, followed by seven priests walking ahead of the Ark, each carrying a trumpet made from a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to walk around the city seven times, with the priests blowing their trumpets. Then, when they give one long, loud blast, all the people are to give a mighty shout, and the walls of the city will fall down; then move in upon the city from every direction.’ So Joshua summoned the priests and gave them their instructions….” (Joshua 6:3-6 TLB)

The instructions were not difficult, right? March around the city for a couple of days (Side Note: Just so you know…the distance around the city of Jericho was less than half a mile). Blow the trumpet on the last day, then shout. That about sums it up! Most importantly, the victory had already been promised. In verse 2, the Lord assured Joshua, “Jericho and its king and all its mighty warriors are already defeated, for I have given them to you!” The fight was fixed! We may not like it on TV, but in our own lives, we call it “favor” and we love it! So as the story goes, Joshua and the Israelites followed the instructions which yielded the victory they had been promised.

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But what about your situation? Many of you may be facing a “massive wall.” It is the only thing separating you from the promise God has revealed. He has already shown you the business, the marriage, the baby, the new opportunity, the book deal, the new house, the multiple streams of income, the larger facility, the weight loss, the additional locations, the acceptance letter, the overflow of clients, the better paying job, your gift making room for you and the enlargement of your territory. However, it’s all contingent on your obedience. But remember this…If God said it, that settles it! The fight is fixed!

I’m sure there were days the Israelites thought, “Man, why do we keep walking around this wall? Not one pebble has fallen.” But what would have happened if they had made a fleshly decision to walk around the city for five days instead of seven? How would the outcome have been different if they had treated day seven like all the other days? What if they had questioned the necessity of marching and shouting and blowing the trumpet on the seventh day? I’m sure this is why Joshua implemented the no talking rule (see verse 10)!

Come on everyone! Yes, it’s a new year, but if you continue to do things your way, the results will never yield a new you or a new opportunity. Although Jesus would never say to us “F.T.D.I.,” I know He desires for each of us to be obedient and walk by faith. In the Williams’ household, we are striving to be “Obedient Without Hesitation”! Won’t you join us???

Now Take A Moment to Share Your Heart With God
When have you chosen not to F.T.D.I.? When we say we trust God, obedience is the corresponding action that validates our confession. Take a moment and ask for forgiveness. Then, simply do what He asked you to do.

Until next time……

 

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 🙂 ).

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.”

 

 

 

Every Good Idea Is Not A God Idea

Distractions can come in a myriad of ways. Some are blatant and easy to avoid, while others can be very inconspicuous. The day before VISION NOW, I warned the ladies about distractions. “Things will begin to happen in your life that will try to distract you from making it to VISION NOW (if they haven’t started happening already). People will call, situations will occur, anxiety will tell you it’s not worth it. Recognize these things as distractions from the enemy.” I went on to share a number of things that happened to me while planning the event. Event registration was extremely slow until the week of the event. Over 20 pair of scissors were delivered to the wrong address. One week, the eventbrite page (only my page) malfunctioned preventing people from registering. Even the Sharing My Heart folder that has been on my computer since I started the blog which holds everything I have ever written, disappeared.

But you know what? I was not moved. I recognized all these things as distractions. I knew I was following God’s instructions, but I also knew the enemy was going to do anything possible to throw me off course.

This is often what happens when people offer us their suggestions. They tell us what they think our next step should be, how we should address our current situation, even how we can bypass a couple of rungs while climbing the corporate ladder. I’m sure you’ve heard the infamous, “Well, if I were you…” or “Let me suggest…” Many of their ideas are harmless and I honestly believe people are just trying to be helpful, but I’ve learned to ask myself, “Is their suggestion part of God’s plan for my life or is it a subtle distraction?”

So many people have asked me to have another vision party because they were unable to attend. Some have even suggested that I have a vision party for kids or youth. And I don’t think any of these are bad ideas. I enjoyed every moment of VISION NOW, from planning to cleaning up afterwards. But everything that happened during VISION NOW only materialized because it was a God idea. VISION NOW was more than a vision party. One person, who helped me with the magazine covers, had their passion renewed. Another person reestablished their relationship with God. Someone’s eyes were opened to a career path they never before considered. The stories I continue to hear have much more to do with God’s infinite wisdom and timing than anything I could ever pull off on my own. But if I were to follow man’s suggestions right now, it would leave limited time for me to do what God has instructed me to do.

This message (like most) is simple. Follow God’s instructions and stay focused. When people begin to tell you what they think you should do or share their ideas of what they believe will make you successful, remember to ask God before you proceed. He will provide the clarity you need. It may sound like a good idea, but learn to only involve yourself in God ideas. After all Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you….” People don’t know. They’re just sharing their good ideas.

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.

“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!