We’ve Come this Far by Faith – First of the Last

secondhalfoftheyearday

It is the first day of the second half of the year. That’s right ladies, today we are entering into the last 6 months of 2015 – we’ve come this far by faith!

How many of you have allowed your New Year’s Resolution(s) to fade in the wash of daily living? Don’t feel bad because you are NOT alone.

Statistics show that a whopping 92% of New Year’s Resolution(s) fail within about 30 days of making them. Why? After doing a little research I discovered a few reasons. 1. Unrealistic goals (including too vague or too many) 2. Unprepared (ill equipped, lack of faith, little/no support 3. Unmotivated (wrong/negative intentions, resolving to stop bad habit(s), actions, gestures, etc.)

Now that we know the why, let’s follow up with a why not – why not, rekindle those New Year’s Resolutions? The year 2015 is only half over which gives you 6 months to beat the odds. Let’s resolve to be counted among the 8% that don’t fail because our determination stems from the One who has never failed – God!

 

Caitlin’s Story

babyJanuary 31, 2014 didn’t fit the norm. I had switched my day off with a co-worker and dragged my feet toward the doctor’s office to figure out why hadn’t felt up to par as of late. As I pulled into the parking lot, I tried my hardest to prepare for what lay ahead. Though I only waited in the lobby a few minutes, they seemed like an eternity. When my turn arrived to head toward the examination room, I fought to maintain my composure even as it quickly dwindled away. I felt like a lifeless shell going through the motions.

After completing the test, the young lady looked confused and said we needed to wait another minute, as something didn’t seem right. I suspected the outcome, but wasn’t fully prepared to hear it.

“Congratulations, Miss Hood, you are pregnant.”

Anyone who knows me can attest that I want nothing more in this world than to be a wife and mother. Every emotion imaginable whirled inside me at once. I was a happy, emotional, nervous wreck.

As I attempted to pull myself together to safely make it home, the reality started to sink in. I was going to have a baby. Like any newly expecting mother, I started looking up everything I could related to babies, and my excitement grew with time. I also began to accept the fact that it didn’t go as planned or the way I had been raised. But I would take the bull by the horns and forge a future for myself — for us.

During this time, I craved chips all the time and couldn’t go a day without Raising Cane chicken (yes, I know what you are probably thinking), but I couldn’t rid myself of those cravings. I felt fat and gross every day but was okay with it because I knew that soon I would hold my new baby, or so I thought.

Not knowing what to expect while expecting, I Googled everything and asked my sister and best friend if things progressed normally. But nothing prepared me for what would come. I remember Wednesday, February 19, 2014 as if it happened yesterday. A few hours remained in my work shift, but something didn’t feel right, so I called the nurse and she told me to go to the hospital immediately. I was a wreck. I hadn’t planned for my parents to find out this way. I hadn’t even gone for my first ultrasound. As we drove to the hospital, I tried to convince myself that it couldn’t possibly be happening to me. That day proved to be the longest, most emotionally and physically draining day I’ve ever experienced.

The nurses ran tests and did ultrasounds but couldn’t tell me anything. Was I not as far along as I initially thought? Or had I just lost my baby girl? (Though still too early to know the gender, my gut told me I carried a girl.) But how could they not know for sure what was wrong with my baby?

I went to a specialist they recommended for blood work, and yet again, no one could give me answers. The days that followed seemed like an eternity as they passed with no word from the doctors. Then, while on my way to dinner with my boyfriend, I received the dreaded call.

“Miss Hood, I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Someone might as well have sucked the life right out of me. The effect proved no different. Why was this happening to me?

At times, I still fight anger and sadness, but I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that my day will come. Someday I will become a wife and mother, and experience that unconditional love. I never had the chance to feel her kick, but one day I will hold her in my arms and count her fingers and toes. I long for that moment, but for now God isn’t done with me here. I will always carry that pain, but I also hold the hope of a future. So until then, Baby Girl, Mommy loves you much and yearns to wrap you in her arms.

Guest post by Caitlin Hood.

Finish the Race, Complete the Task

run the race          Scripture Reference: Acts 20: 13-36
Paul, also known as Saul, lived a colorful life up until his conversion. Many remember him as the man who persecuted Christians before devoting himself to serving the Messiah wholeheartedly. In spite of all, Paul had a destiny to fulfill.

During his third missionary trip, he stayed a few days in Miletus. While there, he sent for the elders of the church in Ephesus. Paul had closely labored with these men, and anticipating that he would not see them again, he wanted to speak to them one last time. He had to make his farewell speech as he prepared to go to the next stage in his life.
In Acts 20: 22-24, Paul says:

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, … the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Consider Paul’s words about finishing the race and your own destiny.

  • How would you know you were any closer to your destiny?
  • Like Paul, have you finished the race and completed the task?

First, let’s define a race.

  • A race is a contest of speed; any contest or competition; urgent need, responsibility, effort, etc., as when time is short or a solution is imperative. Onward movement.

Therefore, when it comes to your future, you’re not just talking about pursuing something in order to obtain it; you’re talking about going after it — and quickly. When a deadline, goal, or event approaches, it takes on a different feel and look. You see it through different eyes. So, let’s consider the situations below and see if you find yourself in any or all of them.

7 CHARACTERISTICS OF A TRANSITION INTO DESTINY

  1. The Longer it Takes to Transition, the More Impossible it Seems. Remember Hannah? She wanted a baby desperately. I wonder if she ever had a moment of wanting to lose hope or give up. What about you? This is the stage of “Why is it taking so long?”
  2. While Waiting on the Next Assignment, You Serve with Great Humility and Tears. You believe something new heads your way and you anticipate the new start with eager excitement. However, you have yet to be released from your current position. You feel caught between rebellion and obedience, and this emotional struggle can lead to a sense of going through the motions. You keep serving through the tears, knowing the next assignment lies around the corner. Despite knowing the purpose of being where you are, you also can’t wait for that purpose to end so you can move on.
  3. Transitions for the Future Require “Now Actions” and Faith for the Unknown. Things can reach a place where even though you are still in a “now” situation, you have to start preparing for the “later.” That may involve setting time and money aside, having new experiences, taking risks, taking new assignments, developing new relationships, etc.
  4. Transitions Require that You be Weaned. (Emotionally, Spiritually, etc.) Here, you may start to sense withdrawal from a situation. YOU ARE NO LONGER THE SAME PERSON. When the time to move on arrives, changes within begin to happen. You must be prepared to let it go. We may need someone else to fill our shoes in a position or take over a responsibility so we can focus on other things, but we won’t let them because we are afraid of what we might lose.
  5.  Your Desires Will Have to be Laid Down for a Greater Purpose. Reminder. It’s not all about you — it’s about God. Whether in a now or later situation, your destiny will supply your needs and those of others. Sometimes we can’t move on when we want to because we have to complete the task at hand. It can be frustrating, but know that you serve a greater purpose. Remember, YOUR LIFE SHOULD TESTIFY OF THE GOSPEL OF GOD’S GRACE.
  6. Transitions Require that You Finish the Task at Hand Before Moving On. Are things in place for me to leave? Is the house in order? How is my attitude regarding this task? Am I complaining? Have you finished those projects? Have you trained people to fill the position you vacate?
  7.  Transitions Require a “Farewell” to Your Old Assignment and a “Hello” to Your New One. A farewell implies a goodbye and maybe a ceremony to show the transition of one phase to another. You will know when the time to say “goodbye” to your now and “hello” to your later arrives.

Paul says in 2 Timothy, that he indeed finished the race.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 New International Version (NIV)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing

Paul finished — but he is not alone in attaining the reward, so will others.

He completed the task — finished the race.

There was much in store for him as a result of it.

What lies in store for you once you finish your race and complete the task?

 

The Reason in Any Season

the reasonKatrina Hunter Set Free (Hannah’s Corner)

Psalm 138:8 ESV – The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Several years ago if someone had told me that I would dedicate my life to Christ, have a blog site of my own, and serve in various ministries in different capacities, I would not have believed them.  Why? Because several years ago, I was a different person.  I was not into God or what He desired for my life, and definitely was not using my gifts and talents for His glory. Honestly, my focus at the time was simply going to work and enjoying relationships that would prove to be more destructive than words could ever describe.

Countless times I found myself seeking the attention of any man who gave it, thrusting myself into a “relationship” built on lust and low-self esteem, while compromising myself and whatever beliefs/values I was still clinging to. During those times, I was searching for love and acceptance…and purpose. I thought if I gave more of myself, my time, my money, and any other resource I had available, I would be deemed valuable to the men in my life.

If they liked it, I loved it. If they thought it was good, I thought it was great! Wherever they wanted to go, I was ready. Whatever they wanted to do, I did it. However, I very slowly realized that the more I gave, the more they took and didn’t offer much in return. In fact, the more they saw that I would give anything and do anything to please them, the more I saw myself slipping away.

Who was Katrina and why does something seem wrong with this picture?

After I rededicated my life to Christ, I realized some things about my “former” self and why I was so lost.

First, I had no purpose in Christ. By definition, purpose is the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. When you have purpose in Christ, you understand why you were created and know that you exist to leave some mark on this earth for His glory. The only mark I was leaving behind in my former life was confusion. Once I discovered my purpose in Christ, I knew that my mark on this earth was being left by my writing and creativity. I get to use them both in a variety of ways and I am so thankful to God for entrusting me with them.

Secondly, I had no idea what to do with what God gave me.  I’ve always been a creative person (arts, crafts, graphics, etc.) and one who loves to write, but had no idea that I needed to put those things to use or how to. I limited myself to the men I was interested in.  I spent a lot of my time chasing behind men (even after college) and was determined to make up for what I considered lost time (where I wasn’t being chased by men). I used my spare time to be “fast”, as some would say, and forced myself into ungodly situations. From time to time, I would entertain creative projects, but I couldn’t stay focused on them long enough to complete the tasks. I would always end up wanting to put projects down to be with the next man I was “hunting.”

Thirdly, I didn’t believe I could leave a lasting impression upon anyone. I truly believed I wasn’t special. If I couldn’t make the men I wanted love me, why would I want to try anything else? Who would think I was good enough? Who would want to stay with me or pick me? I had a lot of rejection issues to sort through? Also, I felt I was only as good as the relationship I was in at the time (which wasn’t a good relationship). Yep…issues!

Lastly, I was deeply insecure. I wanted to be with whoever I was with at the time so bad, that I gave up everything or stopped everything when they called and/or wanted to hang out. I wasn’t secure in the fact that if I said “no” that they would still be interested. I thought, “I must always be available.” It took me a while that to learn that you need security and confidence in yourself (and in Christ) to be in a relationship. You also need them to not be in one. It takes security and confidence to not be tempted to sacrifice yourself in order to get into a relationship.

So my beloved, my encouragement to you as I close this blog to is to remember that your purpose is not limited to a person or to a time frame.

In every season – you have a purpose. You have a reason for any season of your life and it’s meant to impact lives for the glory of God. Your value isn’t determined by where you are right now. There is so much more to your life than your  right now… As the psalmist said, HE WILL FULFILL HIS PURPOSE FOR YOU.

My prayer is that long after I depart this world, someone may remember something I wrote or something I created that brought a smile to their face or the peace of God to their heart. I pray that something I said or wrote would remind them of the precious love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Beloved – what’s your reason in your season?

Attention: I Need MySpace… PART 2

my space 2    Katrina Hunter Set Free (Hannah’s Corner)

Picking up with where I left off last week…

The only thing my boyfriend had to say about the whole matter was that it was stupid and that he  would talk to his ex every now and then since he and I had been together, but he did not let her know he had a girlfriend. Surprise, surprise on that one!

This would be a great time to mention that this boyfriend of mine at this time was the same boyfriend I wrote about in a previous blog in which I shared how I went through his phone? Beloved, enough said.

The girl I met on MySpace eventually emails me a really nasty email saying I knew who she was the whole time and I did that on purpose because I didn’t trust my boyfriend, and it was my fault I couldn’t trust my man.  She was right about the trust thing, but I definitely did not seek her out intentionally. The whole thing was a disaster! I knew enough at that time to know that this didn’t JUST happen. This happened for a MAJOR reason. I sent her back an email saying I really didn’t know, but she was not buying it. At that point, Trina needed her Space from MySpace – permanently.

The MySpace incident happened well before I went through his phone, along with other numerous things, which leads me to this point: The place where the relationship was at that time should have been enough to get my attention to step away completely – but I didn’t. I shouldn’t have made it further into a relationship where I didn’t trust the guy, giving myself the opportunity to snoop – but I did.

Whether it’s time for something to end or begin, we don’t often have to look far for answers. Typically, it gets harder when we are trying to force something to work a certain way (our way) and it won’t. Wisdom was calling me and I wasn’t answering. Wisdom had been calling for a long time in this relationship and I knew deep down she was, yet I ignored her. In my insecurity, I stayed in relationship (no matter how bad it was) to feel secure. That’s never a good reason to stay anywhere!

Beloved, here are the points I desperately need you to take from this.

  • Know your value with Christ. He determines your worth.
  • If you know who Christ is and know His love first, you won’t have to settle for what comes your way. When you don’t know what true love really is, you won’t have a way to recognize the counterfeit; because all of it will look good.
  • Pay attention to warning signs (in any situation) and seek Godly counsel if needed.
  • Remember Proverbs 4:7 and seek it no matter the cost – Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
  • Give yourself space to seek God and listen to Him.

May you be blessed and secure in Christ!

Attention: I Need MySpace… PART 1

 Katrina Hunter Set Free (Hannah’s Corner)my space

Proverbs 1:20-33

20 Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; …. 24 But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, 25 since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke,29 Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, 30 since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes…  33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

The psalmist must have known that one day I would read this scripture and become utterly speechless when I did. It describes so many situations in my life where I needed to have used the wisdom that God gave me (even when I didn’t want to acknowledge that it was God) and yet failed to see Him attempting to gain access into my life. I chose to purposely ignore Him and reject whatever He had to offer to me. There were times where I believe God wanted my attention so badly that He allowed any and everything to bring me to my knees in tears. However, I ignored what He was showing me in order to satisfy my flesh and/or feed my chronic insecurity.  I constantly submitted to the affliction and not to Him. One situation in particular comes to mind.

At one point in my life, I lived in another city (Birmingham) and I didn’t know many people.  I was getting pretty bored and was pretty lonely. I was never a regular Facebook or MySpace user at the time (yep, telling my age!), however I did have accounts with them.  To my own surprise, I decided to “activate” my MYSPACE account. I thought, “Well, I should try to meet people in Birmingham and see if I can make some new friends.” I finally set up my account with a photo and contacted/messaged a few people who were in the “Birmingham network”.  Honestly, I was very uncomfortable with the whole idea of “talking to people on MySpace,” but I went through  with it because I thought I needed to get out of my shell. Big mistake!

One of the people that I befriended on MySpace was a young lady. She was married, knew some people from my hometown, and genuinely seemed nice. I had never met her before nor had I seen her picture anywhere before. Why would I have when we had never met, right? Well, we emailed and messaged back and forth. Eventually, I ended up sharing with her that I had a boyfriend and disclosed some other pertinent facts about him. She later sends me a message back saying that she thought she knew him. At that point, when I read her message, I remember getting this sick feeling. My first thought was “I’m not sure if I want to respond to this message or even fool with MySpace anymore.” I never responded to that particular message she sent, but I did tell my boyfriend about her. In that conversation, he never said anything about knowing the girl. At that point, I begin to notice that since I had put completed my profile up, my profile had been viewed numerous times. I remember thinking, “Boy, I’m popular.”

That same day I got that weird, sick feeling. My boyfriend calls to tell me that the girl I had been chatting with was the friend of his ex-girlfriend. To make matters even worse, it was the ex-girlfriend he had dated right before me. Yes, the girl I had made “MySpace friends” with was the friend of his ex-girlfriend. That explained the number of hits my profile got in such a short period of time.

Out of all the people on MySpace, in the world, in Alabama, in Birmingham, this is who I “meet?” Lord-is this really happening?

Yep. It was happening. The Lord was trying to get my attention and He had it!

Come back next week to find out how the rest of the story ends….

 

I Wanna SNOOP!

Katrina Hunter Set Free (Hannah’s Corner) I wanna snoop

Psalm 118:8-(NIV) It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.

Right now, I am mad but extremely grateful.

I caught a vision of my former self as I was reading a book on insecurity. I was mad because at various points of my life, I had been immensely insecure, which led to destructive behavior. I was thankful to God because not only had He delivered me from a toxic relationship,but he delivered me from myself.

I was reading So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore and in one chapter, she began to talk about how insecurities can make us cross lines. She addressed the fact that there is a difference in knowing information and knowing too much information. Sometimes, in our insecurities, we can get into a trap of thinking we need to know everything because we think that somehow, if we knew all the details of a situation, it would make us more secure…right? Wrong!

The situation Beth described was of a young woman who had experienced a broken engagement. She confessed to Beth that when her and her fiance were dating, she had become convinced that something about him was not quite right. As nice as he was, something was off. She would constantly catch him eyeballing other women. She thought she was imagining it, but of course when confronted – he denied it. Though she never caught him doing anything else, the suspicion went overboard, eventually destroying the relationship. The young lady believed, even in her pain and brokenness of heart, that the right decision to not marry him had been made and that this was God’s will.

But somehow, trusting God and trusting her own relationship with God wasn’t enough.

She became obsessed with “knowing” the entire situation and eventually was able to hack into his email account. Though she didn’t discover pornography, she did uncover emails where he crossed the line with numerous girls.

She realized that he wasn’t the type of man she would want to marry but God had already told her that – yet she wasn’t satisfied enough with that revelation. Beth then goes on to tell how the girl, once she had access to the emails, would go into his account constantly, reading and rehearsing the messages she saw. Although she now had proof of his “wrongs”, oddly enough – the young lady didn’t feel any better. If anything, she felt worse.

Not only did she know – she knew way too much.

And now, she wasn’t capable of handling the information. It was consuming her.

I remember this girl. I was this girl.

A few years ago, I was dating a young man and I too, already knew something wasn’t right. I had received countless signs from God (though I wasn’t  living for God at the time, I do believe he was trying desperately to get my attention). I knew this young man wasn’t the one or anything close to it, I just kept thinking and hoping it change, or that what I was seeing and feeling was all my imagination.

I’ll never forget the day I tried to be a detective. I never thought that I would be one of those girls who would go through a guy’s phone, or anyone’s phone for that matter, but that day, I turned into THAT girl. I remember having these overwhelming feelings of deep distrust. The Holy Spirit didn’t tell me to snoop through his phone—that was all me; I was just being warned in my spirit that besides all the other drama, something was not right.

One night, when I was at his house, while he was sleep, I got up and made my way into the den where he had left his cell phone. I went through it, saw some text messages that disturbed me, hurt me, and confirmed what I thought all at the same time.

From what I could make out of the text, there was some girl who was going to come see him or had already come to see him. I think he was at his mother’s house at the time. She apparently had texted him about meeting her to get the key to his house. I put the phone back and tried to go back to bed, but I had a hard time sleeping. The next morning, I woke up with that on my brain. I was hurt and confused. He was making coffee for us and I remember the feeling of literally wanting to throw something at him. I wanted to wipe that smug, lying, look of innocence off of his face and yell, “Gotcha!”

At some point that morning, my then boyfriend got into the shower. It gave me the opportunity to look at his phone again, only to find out not only was there a chance that someone had been to his house, but he was also having an inappropriate, out of bounds, overly flirtatious and tacky conversation with another female via text message. I thought I had turned the phone back off, but I didn’t. When he got out of the shower, we were talking and to my surprise and his, the phone rang!

Beloved, what’s to be learned from both of these stories?

  • SECURE PEOPLE DON’T SNOOP. Enough said.
  • SECURE PEOPLE DON’T LIVE IN DENIAL, but THEY DEFINITELY don’t go looking for more trouble when they already know something isn’t right. Beloved, what more proof do you need and is it going to help the situation at all if you did learn more? Had I believed, like the Psalmist said and made the Lord my refuge, then I would have known the person I was with couldn’t be trusted. God had shown me that prior to my detective work. All humans are/were not be distrusted, just this one in this case 🙂
  • SECURE PEOPLE HEED THE WARNINGS and there is grace that assists with what has been revealed to us, but it can also be spiritually and mentally draining when we purposely insist upon seeking after that which is “too hot to handle.” Often, when we do – we get burned.

So, beloved, let this be a reminder about snooping and trust. If there is no trust – there is no relationship.

‘Cause when you snoop, you lose.

Your Season Premiere

Katrina Hunter

Set Free (Hannah’s Corner)

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

Psalm 1:3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither– whatever they do prospers.

I have several television shows that I thoroughly enjoy, but unfortunately most of these shows no longer air on regular television anymore. I have to rely my DVD collection or Netflix in order to enjoy a good laugh. A couple of my shows were cancelled for various reasons, but on the other hand, some of these I shows that I love went off the air due to a mutual creative decision by its producers and cast. Therefore, it wasn’t cancelled – it was just simply time for the show to go.

In both cases, depending on how long the show aired, I began to notice a couple of things.

1- The difference in the pilot episode of the show compared to the other episodes that followed it.

The way the characters looked, spoke, and behaved changed throughout the show’s life. Let’s not even go there with the hair and clothes! Sometimes cast members even changed. People who were there in Season 1 are gone by Season 3. You can see over the years how the show developed from a cinematic point of view in the way footage was shot. Sometimes more background music was incorporated into episodes. There were times when I actually preferred some of the new episodes of shows verses the old ones because they looked and sounded so much better. Why? Over time (seasons) – improvements were implemented to make the show fantastic and look refreshed.

Then I also noticed this.

2- Each season of a show, there was always a building up to a climax.

The start of a new season and the ending of an old one.  A season finale may contain a cliffhanger ending to be resolved in the next season or it could bring open-ended storylines to a close, “going out on a high.”  Season premieres are the beginning of one season with several episodes in between that tells you a story that leads to a season finale…and has you on the edge of your seat until the new one begins.

I wonder, Beloved – which one of these places do you find yourself in now?

Is it the person who is looking back over their life and seeing how far you have come yet see so much more of how far you can go? Are you finding yourself in a new place (new season) where you need to do some growing? Are you just starting school? A new business endeavor?

Or beloved – are you finding yourself in a season finale of a situation? You are ending one season in your life and now you are on the edge of your seat as to what is about to happen next? Perhaps your season started 5 years ago. Your season started with a diagnosis from a doctor and now you are on your way to restoration and healing.

Or… Are you in both situations?
Reflecting on old seasons and growth – but holding on for your SEASON PREMIERE?other image - season premiere

Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

I must confess that I can remember a time when reflecting on how far I had come in God and with God just wasn’t good enough for me. I didn’t care much about growth and being thankful for it. I just wanted the future – NOW! I got tired of meditating on how far God had brought me (though I was thankful) – I just wanted him to take me past where I was at the present. I needed more of Him but I also wanted more FROM Him.

Almost gave up on myself. Lord help me – almost gave up on Him.

When things are not happening when we think they should, as we think they should – we can quickly say “God is not at work in my life.” We will focus on all of the things that ARE NOT and completely overlook the things THAT ARE.

Beloved, what has been your focus lately? Seasons past or seasons yet to come?

In seasons of our lives, we can get easily distracted and forget that He is at work around us and in us – we just need to pay more attention. I believe that once we can appreciate what God has done for us in previous seasons and open our eyes to see how he is currently moving NOW in where we are, he will draw “this season” to a close.

Then my dear – you and I can really begin holding on to the edge of our seats! We will be telling ourselves and others that our Season Premiere will be

#EXPLOSIVE!  

The season coming up will be the most viewed in our history.

Get your popcorn & soda and #tunein!

It’s gonna be a great one!

I Do Not Say No Because I Like Saying Yes

Katrina Hunter Set Free (say-no-to-say-yesHannah’s Corner)

 Romans 7: 15, 18, 19  New International Version (NIV)

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

You know what it is and so does God.

It gives you that climax. It’s the thing that gets you excited.

God knows that He used to be that high. He used to be that thing for you that got you through. He used to be what helped you cope. But not anymore. You have other things and someone else to do that for you now.

It may not be the “typical sin” – but you know you have “this thing.”

“The thing”, as Paul the Apostle said – you do but don’t want to do. It’s the thing you would love saying no to – but don’t. Deep down, you like it and the feeling you get when you do it. Whether or not you should be doing it and whether or not you know it’s wrong isn’t the issue because you know you shouldn’t and you know it’s wrong.

Is it that friendship or some type of relationship that you know you should cut ties with, but yet you really don’t want to? You get something from that relationship you believe you need, yet it isn’t bearing the Godly fruit that it should. Or is it some other type of addiction that feeds your spirit and physical needs and you like the high it gives you, but now you really don’t want to do it anymore. You and God both know it’s doing more harm than good.
Could you be so bold and brave to admit to God and honestly say –

“I don’t say no to _______ because I like saying yes.”

But after admitting that you do it, what do you do?

Well, you can start by honestly admitting to God what you get from it. Therefore, you are likely to uncover the reason you still do it or entertain it. I’ve learned from dealing with addictions of all kinds that I focused so much on the problem that I didn’t deal with the root. I didn’t understand it at times, and then other times I tried too hard to understand it.

I did know this much – this door didn’t open by itself.
It was either opened by me or opened for me– and I walked through it.

I also tried to ignore the fact that my enjoying whatever I was doing was the reason I kept on doing it and always gave in. I felt trapped by my flesh or what I felt my flesh needed. I never stopped and attempted to close the doors.

I didn’t want to admit that I liked the attention, avoiding things, or getting my identity from something or someone. I didn’t want to admit that somewhere, my “it’ had become my high – my drug of choice. It became my craving when I used to crave God. My thing became what helped me make it through the days or weeks…and Lord – even years. When I dropped one, I picked up another. I didn’t say no because I liked what I got from my thing when I said yes…when I gave into it.

Here’s something else you can do. You can take a long look in the mirror and let reality hit you. Let it sink in. What do you see?  Do you see an addict or do you see a conqueror?  How long can you keep going like this? How long can you keep doing what you do?

Do you want to see someone different and wake up someone different or be the same person you were yesterday?

Ask God for the grace to carry out the good, as Paul says. Pray that God will give you a new heart that desires that He be your high and what gets you excited. Everything that those things gave you – ask God that He give them to you.

Then next time you are faced with your thing, I pray you will be able to say:
“I said no to ______________ because I don’t like saying yes.”

Accountability/Life Coach

Starlet Ware

Encouragement and Prayer

 

Helping Hands

These last few years, I’ve thought: “If only I had an accountability partner, I would be so much further along in my business journey.”  I’ll talk about two such opportunities when I had that person in place.  As soon as they were there, I would talk myself out of committing to the work it takes to better my circumstances.

Last year, after I left my job, God allowed a man who is a Life Coach, to come into my life.  He helped me set up an action plan.  He and I talked about my dreams, goals and desires and what I needed to do to get to my goals.  He’d call and check in with me and he told me I could call him whenever I needed to.  I’d report how I was doing and how good it felt to have a schedule/plan.  A month or so after our appointments ended, I got off my set schedule.  No accountability, no work put in.  Soon, I didn’t even pull out my book to remind myself of all the good information I had written.  ‘D’ was an asset to me.  He was very encouraging because he would tell me: “Starlet, you are a joy to work with and you get it!”

This year, again I was saying to God “I need help.”  Ask and you shall receive.  Yes, God had a lady from church call me because she ‘needed’ to do 20 Life Coaching sessions to get her Life Coaching certificate.  She asked if I was willing to participate in a free session?  I just about screamed ‘YES!’  We Iaughed and set the appointment.  We had our free session and during the conversation, she informed me, she had chosen me to coach for 30 days free if I would accept?  I hesitated in answering because I remembered my last failed accountability a year ago.  Was I ready to commit?  Yes, I accepted.  ‘C’ told me how ‘awesome’ I am and that I am a joy to work with.  Thank you, God!

As I write this, I am aware that I believed him then and her now.  I get that I am accountable to my commitment so accountability, although WORK, it is worth it even when I fail to do my assignments or don’t do them well.  Don’t walk (or lay) around sulking about all the failures.  I did for a little while.  Instead, I decided to remember all the things I have learned from my failures and celebrate the things I have accomplished.

Life Coaches Rock

Starlet

Your Gift: Stir It Up and Fan It into Flame – PART 2

Katrina Hunter Set Free (Hannah’s Corner)Stir-up-Sunday

 

Last week in this blog, I began discussing Paul’s words to Timothy, encouraging him to stir up his gifts.

I left off with this question: What happens when you see the fire dying down and you don’t know if it’s because you’ve lost your ability or if it’s because you aren’t using it? It could be both.

I will say that for me – it was both. I wasn’t using all of my gifts, which made me feel like I lost my ability and therefore, was useless.

I went through a phase that was nearly depressing because there were some projects I wanted to work on, but doubted that what I had to bring to the table would be enough to accomplish them. I knew what I had done (with recent tangible proof) but I also knew what I had not done in a long time, or at all. I knew what I was capable of doing and just wanted the opportunity to use the greatness that was on the inside of me; to use those gifts that had been dormant for so many years. Would what I had done be good enough to override what I lacked? Fear definitely held a tight grip on my thoughts.

“Was I not as great as I thought I was, according to God? I had believed I was smart, talented, and able and now I just don’t know.”

Then I realized too that I was frustrated for feeling as though I was in a box.

“Always a _______ but never a ____________.”

Sometimes, a fire can die out when you feel labeled and only considered for certain things, then you just eventually give up on stirring up that gift. For example, you may be a singer/dancer who is a really great administrative worker, but people don’t ordinarily see your ability to operate in any other capacity. Therefore, you are always a singer/dancer, but never part of the team that organizes and plans.

Perhaps this is you:

Maybe you are a really good event planner, but also a really good speaker to the few you have been entrusted to speak to. Now, you want to do more, but no speaking opportunities have come.

Always the event planner and never the speaker.

Or perhaps for you, it’s just the opposite. Maybe you are an event planner and you don’t know you can speak until you are asked to do so.  Then once you do it, you find out how much you love it!

Beloved, how do you know when God is stirring up a gift on the inside of you?

ANSWER: When you are able to do something you didn’t know you could…until you had to!

I can’t count the number of times I have had to learn new skills and it was mainly due to the lack of people around to get a certain task accomplished. Something had to be done and since I like learning new stuff, I was able to pick up a new skill to keep my flame burning.

Like Timothy, we don’t need to let our fires go out. We must continually keep our gifts stirred up and fan them into flame. By doing so, we impact others for the Glory of God.  Beloved, it’s also important that we have people in our lives that shake us up and stir us up when we need a reminder of what’s on the inside of us.

Little did my friend know, she was serving as my Paul (I would need that message with the picture of the shower invitation a couple of weeks later). Her text message would serve as a reminder to me from God about all of the gifts that he has placed on the inside of all of us that we either take for granted, don’t think are important, or don’t think we are good enough at to do on a regular basis. It was God’s way of reminding me that He was indeed stirring up the gift(s) within many of us and we need to be ready for the next level of responsibility he is going to entrust us with.

Let this blog serve as some encouragement to you in this season, as we head into a new year. I believe we all could use some encouragement out of our discouragement.

I believe it’s a time where we will be freed from fear and doubt.

The areas where you and I have been gifted in,  that have been asleep, it’s now time for them to awake and get to work. In Jesus’ Name.

In 2015, prepare to be surprised.

Your gifting is gonna look good on you!

Justified=Just As If I Never Sinned

Starletjustified Ware Encouragement and Prayer

 At church a few Sundays ago, a man was ready to pray and he asked the question “do you know you are justified?”  He went on to define it: ‘just as if you never sinned?  He kept repeating the question and definition.  I was able to hear it over and over and ask myself: do you know this?

I have heard it before.  I accept it as truth (head) but do I believe it in my heart?  I am mulling it over and pondering.  While I was sitting at church, I prayed: “Father, I know it is true, help my unbelief.”

My transparent moment is I am working on living as if I believe completely that I am justified.  I thank God for his word especially in Romans because these verses made sense as to why I can believe.

Romans 3:24

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Romans 3:28

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Romans 4:2

If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to brag about—but not before God.

Romans 5:1

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

Romans 8:30

And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

I pray you are encouraged like I am and use the verses to remind you of God’s marvelous love and grace.

Your Gift: Stir It Up and Fan It Into Flame – PART 1

stir up 1 GIRLFRIEND SHOWER PICKatrina Hunter Set Free (Hannah’s Corner)

 2 Timothy 1: I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

A few weeks ago, one of my besties texted me a photo of an invitation she received several years ago. My friend still had somewhere in all of her possessions, an invitation that had come from me that was sent via mail to several of our girlfriends at the time. Apparently, I created and mailed out an invitation to a “Girlfriend’s Shower.”

I created this concept of a shower (much like a bridal or baby shower) where we, as the girlfriends, would shower one another with gifts, celebrating our friendship. Nope, I am not kidding. I even had a cake made.

I present to you Exhibit A as proof (the invitation).

Not only did the invitation and its wording make me laugh, it took me down memory lane to that night at Carrabba’s Restaurant. I won’t share all of what I put in the invite, but let’s just say I made it clear that:

  • Their attendance made them game and their non attendance made them lame (yep, that’s on the cover).
  • The ladies needed to bring their own money to pay for their meal because, and I quote myself, “This is not sponsored!”
  • The color scheme was black/red and jeans were not allowed to be worn. If anyone asked “Do we have to wear red/black? And what happens when we don’t?”- I had a reply ready!! I informed them (and I quote myself again)
  • “For those who will ask and I know who you are, YES, YOU DO. And if you don’t – you will look like a reject! Thanks Hun! J

Looking back, I can actually say that I am trying to figure out why anyone showed up.  I was completely brutal in my instructions towards the attendees and demanded that they attend/obey. (Obviously they liked me, because they did.)

Although the outcome was nice, I can also say that this was the first and the last “Girlfriends Shower.”

Besides my laughing and wondering “What in the world?!,  I was also wondering “When did I have the time to plan this, let alone make an invitation? How in the world would I have come up with that idea? My words were a little cross, but the idea…great!”

Might I too mention that my friend on this very same day, also texted me a photo of the business card of the event planning business we and another friend almost started together (ok, started, but didn’t finish … LOL). Again, I kept thinking: “I did that? When did I have the time? How in the world would I have come up with that idea and/or agreed to it?” Furthermore,

Where did this person go? Where is she?

Somewhere, over the years, that person (me) who did these creative things and planned these meetings/outings began to take a back seat to a lot of stuff. Some things flourished while others didn’t. “She” would resurface here and there when needed for special causes, but not routinely.  What happened?

This “she” I refer to myself as, should have been like Timothy in the scriptures  – keeping my gift stirred up.  When you use your gifts, you stir them up, and when you stir them up, you also increase them. But unfortunately and for various reasons, I stopped using many of my gifts, therefore letting the fire die out. Many of those gifts that I used consistently eventually got pushed aside and pushed down. Many of those gifts have yet to be used to their fullest potential.

Paul, in 2 Timothy, when referring to a gift, uses the words “fan into flame”, but in other translations, it says to “stir up” or even “rekindle.”  The gifts that I had been given (and you also) are like fires – burning and should not be put out.  Paul wanted to remind Timothy to develop his gift and not let it go to waste. In order for Timothy to be a teacher of others, he himself had to be on fire.

But what happens when you see the fire dying down and you don’t know if it’s because you’ve lost your ability or if it’s because you aren’t using it? It could be both.

Hmmmmm. Worth meditating on.

Questions:

  • If there’s an area of your life where you want to operate in a specific gifting that you have (more often), that you know you are suited for, why are you not doing it?
  • Have there been things you have been interested in and thoroughly enjoyed, but over a period of time, you have stopped doing them? If so, why?
  • Based on your responses to the above, how have your skills been affected? Anything you need to brush up on? Is there a fire you need to rekindle?

Meditate on those questions and check back next week to see how you can tell when God is stirring up a gift on the inside of you!

There Is Something Valuable In The Dirt

Starlet Ware Encouragement and Prayerdirt dont hurt

In Genesis 2:7, it is written: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”  Everything else in creation was spoken into existence.  We were formed, touched by God’s own hands and brought into existence and he ‘breathed’ life into us.

From the beginning of time, God had a plan for dirt.  How amazing.  He saw the value in the dirt for me and you.  Isn’t that an ego boost?  It is for me.  Wow!  Never take that lightly.  You are worthy, special, somebody!  You were thought of, brought about, valued and wanted.  Hallelujah and thank you God!

The situation that brought the value in dirt to mind went this way: A friend was looking for a deep freezer. I had one in my basement. I offered it to him. His dad, a friend and he came to pick it up. Once it was removed, I was sweeping the area and my eye caught a wonderful sight, my long ago lost earring my husband had given me one year for my birthday. I picked up the earring. It was broken. I kept sweeping as I looked for the other piece. It was there shining up at me. I picked it up and placed it in my pocket. I was so excited. I put the two pieces back together and will drop it at the jewelers to look them over as my husband purchased insurance on them. The lesson that came to mind was: “there is something valuable in the dirt.”

“Just because we were formed from dirt, doesn’t mean we were created to be walked on. ‘Shine’ on loved one so your value is seen and felt.”

 

The Beauty Of Being Pursued…By Him

Katrina Hunter Set Free (Hannah’s Corner)undeserving

 When it comes to being pursued…what does that mean?

By definition, pursue means to:

  • overtake, capture, defeat, obtain or accomplish, or chase.
  • It can also mean to continue to afflict.

When I saw that it could also mean to continue to afflict, I immediately had this vision of someone showing interest in another person.  I saw the other person on the receiving end not sharing that same interest of the person dishing out the romantic interest. To the person showing affection this might mean the chase is on, but to the other person, it could be downright annoying….quite afflicting!

When God pursues, it can sometimes be afflicting to us if we don’t think we deserve his attention and affections. His love for us in our issues make no sense to us. We think the dirtier we are, the less we are loved. But he says just the opposite. He died while you were messed up – not after you got cleaned up.
ROMANS 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

When we are pursued – the aim is always the heart. If I capture your heart – I gotcha! Why? The heart is what makes us feel, it beats, it pumps.  It’s with your heart you believe…

ROMANS 10

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
The heart hurts and can be sorrowful, but yet it can be healed and opened.

Have you ever noticed though – that even if you have a healed heart, it can still be closed? When you have been hurt bad enough, it’s not opened to being pursued by the right thing! It can be very vulnerable. We can be chased by the wrong thing or we can actually be the chaser ourselves.

Why? Because we like attention. We like to know we are thought of, invited somewhere, and included in on something.

Why? Because it says “I’m interested in you!”

Reader, God wants to know you when others don’t – when they don’t put in the effort to try – He does! When God gets to know you, he takes his time by uncovering each layer. This is seen in the assignments he gives you in life. He enjoys watching how you respond and listening to you when you talk to him; enjoys how you grow in situations and learn things about yourself you never knew.

HE UNCOVERS US – LAYER BY LAYER –

  1. Intimacy is not rushed. Intimacy is a process.
  2. TRUE INTIMACY IS DONE FACE TO FACE. (Not email, not text, not even phone, though the phone helps). BUT TRUE INTIMACY IS DONE EYE TO EYE SO YOU CAN SEE… REALLY SEE THE OTHER PERSON.When was the last time you had an intimate encounter with God? When was the last time you got face to face?

Our deepest desire is that we be searched for and found. When we are, we like to hold the attention of whoever is gazing upon us and know that they think we are so very special.
How wonderful is to know that we serve a God who finds us most interesting, most spectacular, and wants to engage in life with us.

Read the story of Esther. There you will see someone who, like us, was not only loved and highly favored, but was pursued by her king.