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.

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.

Don’t wait. Seats are limited.

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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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.

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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!!!!