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.

instaquote-15-01-2017-18-10-32

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……

 

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.

“I” is for Instructions

We want more! More money, more recognition, more opportunities, more open doors, more chances, more favor. We simply want more! I’m not saying that more is always a bad thing, but how far will you go to get more? Where do you prioritize integrity when it comes to attaining more? Would you go after more if it meant less time with your spouse and children? Is gaining more worth your life or is your life worth more?

Achan sacrificed all he had for more.

I know, I know. By now you are probably wondering how the vowel “I” relates to all this talk about more. But Achan’s greed for more caused him to negate God’s instructions. His thirst for more took a turn that no one, but God, saw coming.

Joshua 6 wastes no time in telling “whodunit’! It was Achan.

When the wall of Jericho was destroyed and Joshua and the Israelites entered the city of Jericho, they knew exacted what they were to do. God had already given very specific instructions. Rahab and the members of her family who were in her home were the only ones to be spared along with items made with silver, gold, bronze, or iron. These were to be brought to the treasury of the Lord’s house. God was also very intentional by telling them what would happen if His instructions were not adhered to. Complete destruction and trouble for the entire camp was His promise.

Even though, God was providing everything the Israelites needed, Achan still wanted more. His greed trumped the instructions of the One who kept him while in the wilderness, safely led him across the Jordan River, and provided nourishment beyond the manna to which Achan had become accustomed. Achan’s desire for more led him to steal and bury many of the devoted items God explicitly told them not to keep for themselves.

And what happened?

Just what God promised. During the next battle, which should have been a simple victory, the Israelites were defeated and no one understood why. But God knew. Achan’s failure to follow instructions brought a victorious nation to a stumbling halt. His noncompliance not only affected him, but led to the death of more than 36 of his fellow soldiers, placed fear in the hearts of men who were walking by faith and obeying God without hesitation, caused his leader to question God’s faithfulness, and ultimately brought death to his children, his livestock, and himself. Achan allowed his desire for material things to overshadow the instructions of the One who had always been faithful.

So often we too ignore the instructions of God. Our reason may have nothing to do with greed; nevertheless, it is still disobedience. But we must always remember, God knows best. For if Achan had just been patient and followed God’s instructions, he would have been privy to an even greater plunder that was given to them in the very next city they conquered.

Today, if you know someone who is tired of waiting, about to give up on God, or feel His instructions are just not working for them, please share this post. We can save lives or deter people from making bad decisions with a couple of taps on a smart device or the click of a mouse. Don’t allow someone to give up or settle for good, when God wants to give them His best. More, so much more, is available to us when we follow God’s instructions.

Next week, “O” is the vowel of choice. Follow my blog so that you’ll never miss a word that will surely empower or uplift!