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….❤️

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.

 

 

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.

Blatantly Obvious

She gave Him the facts. Who? The Samaritan woman. I’m sure you’ve heard the story. You see the Samaritan woman had come to the well to draw water. Jesus was there and asked her for a drink. The problem was it was uncustomary for Jews to talk to Samaritans and the woman made it known. But Jesus continued to talk. He told her, “If you only knew what a wonderful gift God has for you, and who I am, you would ask me for some living water!” But instead of her asking for the living water or even inquiring about it more, she focused on what was “blatantly obvious.”

“But you don’t have a rope or a bucket and this is a very deep well! Where would you get this living water? And besides, are you greater than our ancestor Jacob? How can you offer better water than this which he and his sons and cattle enjoyed?”

How often do we do this? We find ourselves in a situation but instead of asking God, we evaluate it based on what we see. Our thoughts become fixated on past attempts, current conditions, and future fears. But what is “blatantly obvious” to us is minute in the eyes of our God. Notice that Jesus was unmoved. He did not care that she was a Samaritan. He lovingly dismissed her surface-level words. And He did not allow her past or her present mischief to disqualify her. He knew He had something she needed. Something that would change her life forever. Her only responsibility was the same as ours today…Believe and Obey.

I recently came across this quote that says, “The Truth is more important than the facts.” Not sure if Frank Lloyd Wright was referring to Jesus, but it reminded me of John 14:6 when Jesus told us, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

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Jesus did not need a rope or a bucket. The living water He spoke of was Himself. He was the answer for the Samaritan woman and He is the answer for you and me today. Just as He explained to the Samaritan woman, temporary fulfillment was not His goal. His unconditional love compelled Him to guide her toward the thing that would have long-term effects in her life.

Is this you? Are you the Samaritan woman? Is the “blatantly obvious” more real to you than the words of your Father? What will you do when the facts and the Truth just don’t add up? Stop focusing on temporary things. Align your life with the only One who gave their life for you.

Now that should be “blatantly obvious”!

Sidenote: Did you notice in John 4 the Samaritan woman knew about Jesus? Maybe if she had focused less on religion and more on developing an intimate relationship with Him, she may have better understood who He was when they stood face to face. It’s “blatantly obvious” that without knowing Jesus, the answer could be right in front of you, but you not even know it.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FROM SHARING MY HEART
Not only do I pray this message encouraged you, but I also believe you should be a part of VISION NOW. Hear the stories of two successful women who are now living that which was once only a dream, connect with other women who love God, and create a vision board and road map that will keep you focused and moving in the right direction. It’s time for VISION NOW.

Get your tickets now at visionnow.eventbrite.com….while they last!

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