#Stepsforward, #Transformingloveministries, Blessings, encouragement, Grace, Hope, Inspiration, Journey, Joy, Life, TLM Conference, TLM Events, Transforming Love Ministries

Invest In The Hearts of Others

Are you shopping today?

Do you have ladies on your list and you have no idea what buy them?

Consider giving them a gift that keeps on giving.

Head over to transformingloveministries.org and order your tickets for “She Steps Forward with Grace Women’s Conference, March 26-28, 2020.”

Bulk ticket discounts are also available so you can purchase all the women in your family tickets for an amazing and recharging fun weekend together in March.

Early Bird Tickets expire soon, Dec 15, 2019.

#Transformingloveministries, encouragement, Friendship, Inspiration, Keeping It Real, Life, Re-Post, TLM Blog Posts, Transforming Love Ministries

Finding Peace in the Storms of Sisterhood

Credit: Transformingloveministries.org

I am re-posting a wonderful blog post written by my friend, Stacha Ashburn from @transformingloveministries.org

This is such a powerful and encouraging post about maintaining our peace within the relationships we have with others (not just our sisters, but it can even be powerful with any relationship we have with others.)

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For a long time now, I have been a huge advocate for sisterhood. However, I am still very much learning just what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like and how to navigate through them. We all know within any real relationship women have with one another there is going to be emotional highs and lows that will trigger drama. Let’s call them peace robbers!

I believe within the body of Christ it gets a little bit more complicated because we are not to conform to the world’s way. I am going to unveil and share some scenarios I have walked through within my sista girl circle –what I did right, what I did wrong, and what I learned overall.

Something I want to share upfront, though you are a believer that doesn’t mean you’re anybody’s doormat!

Holy Spirit will lead and guide you in Peaceful Relationships 101 when you respond verses react. When we react, we give away our power. When we respond appropriately, we stay in control of ourselves and secure our inner peace. Keep your overall peace by choosing to not allow another party to provoke you into losing your Jesus!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have mastered this choice at times, and other times I have failed epically! But God ain’t done with me yet!

I recently found myself in a situation with one girlfriend in which we simply could not agree to see eye to eye. So, what do you do in these scenarios?

By the grace of God, I was at work and had to keep all the fruits of HIS Spirit during this encounter. I finally got to the place where I called it out for what it was. I told the other party that “This isn’t me against you or you against me, it is the enemy we are warring with.”

Ephesians 6:12 says:

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” NLT

With that, we were able to agree to see it differently. We were hip to Satan’s tricks. We hugged it out and moved on.

Then there was another situation where my sista wouldn’t respond via call or text, which only added fuel to the enemy’s fire in my mind. Ephesians 4:26 says:

And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry. NLT

I totally see why now, because in the silence, your mind tries to make sense of it and creates its own conclusions, which essentially robs you of your peace. When we finally did speak, we discovered lies -all lies! I learned I am a “let’s handle this right now” type of person; whereas, she is a “I need to be still and pray for a few days” type of chick. After discovering this, we agreed to use a code word that my husband and I often use – processing. Now when we have a disagreement, she just texts the word “processing” to let me know she needs her space. With that, I know she just needs a moment and then we are going to come back to the dispute at hand.

Then there’s this example that recently presented itself. It is another great example of how I need to seek to understand my sista better before responding to her.

I was on the phone with a friend when chaos broke out in my home. I had to get off the phone abruptly and handle the immediate situation. This friend knew what was going down, but she hadn’t reached back out at any point in the day to make sure I was well. So, I reached out to her the next day and let her know it hurt my feelings because she knew I was in crisis and didn’t follow up. She immediately apologized and shared that in her family when there is chaos, you don’t bring it up. She assumed based on her experience that if I wanted to talk about it, I would have reached out to her. Huge epiphany! If it wasn’t called out in open communication, we couldn’t have come to that understanding.

Communication is so key in any relationship but is essential within the relationships of believers. The enemy currently has domain over this world, and he wants to rob us of our peace by keeping us entangled in relationship issues. It’s evident that’s one of Satan’s best tricks. This keeps us distracted from living life fully alive.

Matthew 18:20 says:

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them. KJV

We are better together than we are apart, and we already know the power in that!

At the same time, we must learn discernment and balance as we walk this walk. There will be times when we will need to let go of those God hasn’t called us to keep. It took me way too long to realize we don’t have to remain friends with the toxic people in our circles. We are free to walk away from people who hurt us. We don’t owe anyone an explanation for taking care of ourselves.

There will be times that we need to erase messages, delete numbers, and move on for the sake of our well-being. It doesn’t mean we will forget who that person was to us, but we come to accept that they aren’t that person anymore and must simply set ourselves free. If someone hurts you once, they most likely will do it again. Don’t let toxic people make you feel like you are holding a grudge when you are establishing well-placed boundaries.

Whew ladies! When it comes to finding peace in the storms of sisterhood, I have shared just a few moments from my personal collection of experiences. Maintaining healthy relationships in our community of sisters is important because God says love HIM and love each other!

Besides being members of a local community, we have wide relationships with family, including extended families, co-workers, sisters, and friends. We have friends across spiritual communities and generations alike. This creates courage for women to face the future in faith and in hope. Courage comes from the power of our sisterhood, the energy that women have together. And there are so many spheres in which the courage of women has shifted the arc of history toward justice. Our sisterhood is powerful. Protect it!

Written by Stacha Ashburn

#Findingyourcourage, #Keepingitreal, #Transformingloveministries, Blessings, Comfort, Courage, encouragement, Guest Post, Inspiration, Journey, Life, Peace, Strength, TLM Blog Posts, Transforming Love Ministries

Finding Peace in Being Single

Credit: transformingloveministries.org

I am sharing a guest post written by Katrina Hodges from Transforming Love Ministries . It is an encouraging and inspirational blog post regarding being single and finding a Godly peace within, when being alone is not socially acceptable.

If you find yourself in a similar situation and you are looking for a peace to get through the difficult emotions that are associated with being alone, then this a post for you.

Read it today and be blessed by the heart and sweet words Katrina shared with us. God is waiting for you so He can bless you with the same peace He has blessed her with.

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Leave a Comment / 12 Months of Emotions / By Elaine A. Lankford

I’m 34. Most of the time I try to block out my actual age because I know I’m over 30, have never been married, and do not have any children. I realize in the eyes of society, my female stock just keeps going down. So, when someone asks me my age, I literally have to take a step back, not because I’m trying to lie, but because it’s one of those things that I don’t like to be constantly reminded of.

There are awkward introductions when meeting new women whereby age 34, if you don’t have a spouse or children, you are the odd man out. In those situations, since I don’t meet societal expectations, I have to find inner validation.

Most women in this stage of life define their identities by being a wife and having children. The next time you meet a woman I bet within 2 minutes you will know if she is married and if she has given birth to a child. Our society is so conditioned to make that the apex of our worth here on earth that it’s hard not to get caught up in it. 

Growing up I knew I would have a family by the age of 27 and be this amazing wife and mother, nurturing a growing family. I had a calculated timeline that could not be interrupted. I was going to have every box checked off of my list to happiness. So, as time began to tick, at 25 I was looking around for my husband. It’s time to get engaged! At 27, I was saying to myself: “Did he get lost?” At 28, I questioned: “Did he fall into a well?” By 30, I had tears running down my face thinking about how I was going to be a crazy cat lady who doesn’t even like cats enough to be a cat lady. I began to ask God what He was doing to me. Why was I being cursed? At this point, if I was a character in the Bible, I would have been Job with the enemy picking on me.  

Then I got this great idea that I’ve got to go on a rescue mission to find my husband because he is apparently lost. I had to form a game plan – I’ll search all the typical places they could be. Listening to others, I took inventory on where they met their spouse. Still no luck, so I turned to the last place I could think to look – church. Ironically, hitting multiple rock bottoms will lead people to Christ. 

I began the journey of walking with Christ but continued a low-key walk to finding a man. Sisters let me say, this is a really bad idea! I cannot begin to describe how problematic this is. A large majority of men in church are already taken or married. Apparently, going to church is an activity that couples tend to do together. So, where does that leave me?   

So just like any good adversary, the enemy started saying some pretty messed up things to me. The words, which played on a continuous loop in my mind, started out as him talking to me and then, somewhere along the way, I started saying those things to myself.

You are never going to get married.  

You are never going to have children. 

You are going to die alone, and no one will be there to mourn you. 

Nobody wants you.  

You are ugly, who would want to marry someone as ugly as you? 

The list could go on. He wanted to hit me with every lie he could think of to discredit and discourage my belief in God’s word and my value to the Kingdom. These became my dark daily affirmations. Because I didn’t know any better or understand the tactics of the enemy well enough, I believed and internalized these thoughts.   

Amazingly, at my lowest point and during my dating churches phase, I visited a church that I would later call home. My intention was to see if there was some eye candy in the congregation. But God walked up to me, tapped me on my shoulder, and introduced Himself.

The message that Sunday was about the Jewish temple and how it was set up. The temple had an outer court, then there was an inner court which was considered a holy place, and then there was a special place further in that only the high priest could enter – The Holy of Holies. The pastor went on to explain the procedure for how the high priest must enter the Holy of Holies. In those days, a rope was tied around the priest in case he displeased God and was struck dead, he could be pulled out without anyone else having to enter this sacred place.

It ministered to me. It made me realize that God is the one who will ordain my high priest and that if someone is not qualified to be in my Holy of Holies, it will cause them to be dead in my life. That message helped me to start healing from my failed relationships. It spoke to me that as a daughter of God, I was too powerful for what those old relationships had to offer. God asked me: “What is being married and having your own family going to provide you with?” “What are you going to gain from these things?” I thought someone to talk to, someone to live life with, someone to love, which is everything I thought I needed to be happy. It was then that God introduced Himself as Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is Peace.

Now when the enemy tries to lie to me, I can reply with God’s truths. I am not alone because my Father is with me. The Holy Spirit tells me: “I made you past a man’s idea of beauty into my idea of what beauty is.” He says: “I’ve always wanted you.” He lets me know that He has enough children in the world that need a mother like me. He enthusiastically wants to do life with me. He’ll even wake me up at three in the morning just to be in my presence and have my undivided attention. When it comes to love, who better to give and receive love than Love itself? He’s wanted to give me these things all of my life. He put a hunger for love in my heart. I was looking for a man to give me identity, purpose, validation, and wholeness but something greater found me and let me know He’s been there all along waiting on me. What I’ve been able to discover is that only God can truly make us whole and anything else is counterfeit.  

During this season of being single, He has told me: “Daughter, I’m taking my time because I love you so much. I want to give you something special. I’m sorry if it seems that when you talk to me about being single that I’m not listening. That is not the case. What I’m doing is talking to the man I’ve called to be your spouse. I do not want to entrust my beautiful creation to just anyone. You, my dear, are not overlooked. Handcrafted things just take longer to make. I’ve intentionally given you this season because you have a lot of sisters out there that you need to set free. They need to know, if they will let me, I can fill the emptiness and they can live in peace during this season of preparation.”

There is freedom in having peace while being single. You have the opportunity to have unadulterated, extremely deep intimacy with Christ like no other time in your life. In you, He has the space and room to do incredible things in you, for you and through you. During your single season, you have the Lord, who will rule justly, fairly, and with reason. He is not a man and not victim to the imperfections of mankind. You have a Savior who has been your champion since the beginning of time. He has been waiting for the opportunity to know you completely. Every attribute of Himself, He is able to unselfishly share with you without you having to split your focus. He enjoys your company so much sisters that He wants your undivided attention a little bit longer. Every creation is special, but some provide Him with a different level of joy.     

I’m 34. I’ll be 35 in March. I haven’t been on a date in at least 4 years. The world tells me I have a biological clock that is ticking. My flesh shows me that the effects of gravity across my body are real. I find gray hairs everywhere. But God, my Jehovah Shalom, reminds me that He made time and if it’s His design for me to have a child, I will have one. If not, He has so many children He needs someone to help love on. God, My Peace, reminds me that the gravity pulling at me really means He needs my heart on this earth a little longer so I can be His hands and feet. God, my comedian, told me the gray hairs are genetic and I got that from my mom’s side of the family.

All jokes aside. The freedom He gives us allows us to choose how we see this season. I have chosen to trust God and believe in His plan for my life. I have peace because I have the ability to show the Father my cheerful obedience and demonstrate my trust. How about you?

Written by Katrina Hodges

#Transformingloveministries, Bible, Comfort, encouragement, Faith, Hope, Inspiration, Life, Peace, TLM Blog Posts, Transforming Love Ministries

Peace Beyond Understanding

Credit: @transformingloveministries,org

Reposted / Written By Elaine A. Lankford @transformingloveministries.org

So there I was, lying on a hospital stretcher in the emergency room, just a few weeks out from the first ever women’s conference my team and I were hosting. The team and I had been planning this event for 11 months, people had paid for tickets, speakers and bands were lined up, and here I was in pain and unable to comprehend what the next 24 hours would hold.

For almost 3 years I had been battling with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease similar to Crohn’s but with better outcomes. Every medication the physician treating me tried begin failing after a while. And then toward the end of February and the beginning of March, it became obvious that my body was crashing under the weight of this disease.

But that night in the emergency room, with all the chaos surrounding me, I was at peace. I was incredibly uncomfortable, but peace filled me. From the moment I stepped through the emergency doors, through the admission to one hospital and then a transfer to a second hospital, right before surgery and immediately after, His presence was so evident that I was at peace with what was happening.

Oh, in my younger years, I would have been freaking out!!! But now, having walked with God through several ups and downs, I am have learned – when the situation spins out of control, let go and let God!

Paul, who knew a thing or two about wrestling with difficulties, tells us in Philippians 4:7:

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. NLT

But wait, what is Paul’s instruction before the “Then” in this verse? I am glad you ask! Paul states:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 NLT

Ah, there it is. I wonder how many times we wrestle to find peace, but forget to ask God to come into the process. Letting go and letting God is not an easy mindset to obtain. It takes practice, it takes commitment, and it is something we must choose to do. But don’t miss the second part of it. We need to thank Him for all He has already done. If God has ever carried you through a storm, that memory is what will help you through the next one. Oh, but how easily we forget what our great and powerful God has done for us. It is so imperative that we remind ourselves over and over again what He has already accomplished. It builds our faith and when our faith is built upon a thankful heart, God will always be there standing in the gap for us!

This past week I have been reading the book of Daniel. Daniel’s faith in God was so evident that those in the kingdom of Babylon, where Daniel was exiled, attempted to use it against him and have him killed. See, Daniel had the gift of revealing dreams and this gained him great favor with the king. He was promoted to a high ranking position within the kingdom. But the Babylonian officials of the king could not bare the thought of a Jewish young man outranking them. Since they could find no wrong in Daniel, these pagan worshipers crafted a plan to use Daniel’s faith in God against him.

These unhappy souls convinced the reigning king, King Darius, to sign into law that for 30 days everyone in the kingdom must worship the king himself. Anyone caught breaking this law would be killed.

And Daniel’s response? Daniel 6 tells us this:

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10 NLT

Daniel’s faith was indeed built on a grateful heart.

When the Babylonian officials found him praying, certain that their plan had worked, they immediately took Daniel to the king and demanded that he be punished as the law decreed. Reluctantly, the king agreed and Daniel was thrown into a den of loins. But when the king went back the next morning, this fierce den of lions was filled with peace. And there Daniel sat among these majestic creatures unharmed! Daniel had carried the peace that passes all understanding into that den of lions and the Lord protected him.

In awe of the great and mighty God of Daniel, the king releases Daniel and restores him to his position. The king then takes the Babylonians officials who plotted against Daniel and threw not only them, but their entire families, into the lions’ den. When that happened, no peace remained in the den and the lions consumed those who had been thrown in with them (Daniel 6).

When hard times come, which part of the story reflects your life more? Are you walking peacefully with God, thanking Him for what He has done? Or are you feeling trapped with your anxiety in a den of lions who are ready to pounce?

From the moment I opened my eyes after surgery, I knew God had delivered me from a disease that was holding me back. And I was grateful! The relief that I felt after surgery, minus some incisional pain, was all I needed to know that things were going to work out. A little less than 3 weeks later, we pulled that conference off. But I knew, standing on that stage, who had allowed me to recover in such a beautiful fashion so that I could indeed participate as planned and that peace has carried me the rest of the year.

I pray that in whatever you may be going through that God’s peace with fill you today.

Father God, teach us to lean into the process of learning how to receive Your peace. Tug at our hearts Lord when we forget to be grateful for all that You have already done. And help us to remember that the One who created the lion is also the One that can shut the lion’s mouth when he tries to consume us. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.

Founder, Transforming Love Ministries

Creator, She Steps Forward Women’s Conference

For more of Elaine’s story, you can find Love Echoed Back: I Cried Out; He Answered on amazon.com.

#Transformingloveministries, TLM Blog Posts, TLM Encouragement, Transforming Love Ministries

PAIN: WHERE DO I BEGIN?

Reposted from Transforming Love Ministries / By Elaine A. Lankford / Article Written by Stacha Ashburn @transformingloveministries.org

Do I take it from a physical perspective? I have had pins in my right hip since I was thirteen years old. After the pin placement, I shattered my hip. The healing process caused my right leg to be shorter than my left leg. This in turn has caused back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, and knee pain that I still manage through today.

Do I take it from a mental perspective? I have been verbally assaulted all my life.

Do I take it from an emotional perspective? Thirty years I was hiding behind a mask, presenting what I assumed everyone wanted to receive. I was too broken to reveal the real me, so I created fantasies to keep from killing myself.

Do I take it from a social perspective? For so long, I couldn’t root myself into any community because I didn’t know how to push through the pain that comes with any authentic relationship, so I ran.

Do I take it from a financial perspective? My entire life I have never wanted for anything. I wore my heart on my sleeve and gave to folks until I couldn’t give no more. I have always had A-1 credit until one day I went to swipe, and I couldn’t swipe no more. The realization of being in over $100,000 of credit card debt alone grieved me!

Do I take it from a sexual perspective? I have had the unimaginable happen to me. I have stepped outside the covenant of my marriage in my space of dysfunction.

Or do I take it from a spiritual perspective? I assumed coming to Christ was going to be rainbows and kittens! That in my spiritual journey, I wouldn’t be caught up in conflict. I wouldn’t be hurt. That I would present myself to Christ and to HIS church and all the pain and negativity I had ever went through, I would never go through again. Now don’t get me wrong, Jesus Christ is a healer and every one of us needs to be connected to a local body of the Church. With that said, connection itself is not enough. It’s a process! Father God restores us all through different processes.

What I see now, on the other side of all the pain I have been through and still function through, is He will use it all for His good.

God isn’t in the business of wasting one single tear. His Word promises us in Psalm 56:8 that He has kept track of all our wandering and weeping. That He has stored up all our many tears in His bottle. Not one will be lost. For every tear is recorded in God’s book of remembrance.

We so often avoid working through the pain instead of growing through it. We want to be like Job’s wife. We simply want the pain to be over. What if, instead, we would PUSH (Pray Until Something Happens) through the pain to meet its purpose on the other side.

I wonder at what point Job realized that his tragedy wasn’t going to be over very quickly. That he was going to have to settle in for a long period of suffering. Yet his faith did not waver.

I believe that there’s a way to find joy in the suffering. It’s all in how we respond. We don’t control the cards life deals us, but we do control how we choose to play them. Attitude is everything in the pain management world. It can have a profound effect on how quickly we recover.

In Matthew 26:33-35, Peter is confident that he won’t be offended by Jesus even when Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him. In the King James Version, it reads, “though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” Pain often causes us to feel offended by God. That’s why we all need an “eternal perspective” adjustment at times, so we can see the good in discomfort. In every circumstance, the disciples would return to Christ, leaving any offense behind. Yet, sometimes as Christians, we don’t realize this is part of the spiritual battle we face, and we can be angry at God for years.

Questioning God is not the problem, but stumbling, falling away, and staying away are. God calls us to get in the ring and wrestle with Him. When we are going through pain at any level, He wants us to present our real selves to Him. We are not “always” blessed and highly favored. There are times we are ticked off and tired of feeling like everyone and everything is messing with us. If that is where you are, then meet God there.

During these times, not only is it important to come to God in authentic posture, but it’s important that you realize who you are doing life with, your inner circle is so vital. Having people around you that will pray with you, stay with you, and lock arms with you through the storms of life matters. The enemy wants to silo us or keep us in a circle of toxic people that birth death. Everything touches everything!

If you are someone who finds yourself isolated: Heavenly Father, I pray that You will lead my sister to someone, or lead someone to her, that is led by Your light, Your way, and Your truth, to do life in community with.

If you are in a toxic circle right now: Jesus Christ, we come to You and ask You to wash this circle in Your blood. Clean and purify them. If those in the circle won’t adhere to the mandate of true repentance and turn from their broken ways, reveal them to our sister and help her to release them. Help my sister to find restoration regarding whatever hurt she has in her life that is causing her to stew in such a dangerous space.

If you are thriving in a healthy circle of life-giving friends: Lord, we say thank you! Keep us thriving, not just surviving, and help us to remain in a space of wellness despite our circumstances. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen!

Written by Stacha Ashburn

#Transformingloveministries, Journey, TLM Blog Posts, TLM Conference, TLM Encouragement, TLM Events, TLM Graphic Images, Transforming Love Ministries

Transforming Lives Through Love

Announcement…

I will be sharing more and more inspiring and motivational blog posts, encouraging graphic images, and exciting events as they become available from my favorite women’s ministry, Transforming Love Ministries.

Transforming Love Ministries is a sisterhood of women whose mission is to inspire, motivate, and coach other women while encouraging them across Hampton Roads, Virginia, the Nation, and the World.

Here are a couple events that are already scheduled:

They have a scheduled missions trip to Africa in February of 2020, and mark your calendars for their 2nd Annual “She Steps Forward with Grace” Women’s Conference scheduled for March 26-28, 2020 (tickets go on sale Oct 1, 2019).

You can directly follow them on their website at: Transformingloveministries.org #transformingloveministries