Encouraging and empowering people to live victorious lives in Christ

Have you ever found yourself facing several life changes and issues all at the same time?  They are not necessarily bad things, but the number of them and how quickly they seem to happen can be a bit overwhelming.  They can even be related to something we’ve been waiting for and even prayed for!  You may have known the change was coming, or it may have taken you by surprise.  Either way, dealing with change can be stressful. 

This is where I am in my life as I write this post.  Right now, I’m dealing with changes in my family/living situation, planning upcoming events for family members, helping a family member deal with a legal issue, and changes in ministry; they are all hitting at the same time!  One night, I couldn’t sleep thinking about a particular issue, trying to figure out the next steps to resolve it.  I was eventually able to go back to sleep and when I woke up a bit later, the song “My Help (Cometh From The Lord)” by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir was in my spirit (anybody besides me wake up sometimes with a song on your mind?) 

I believe that was God reminding me that He is my source to help me with all things and to address the issues I face.  He told me that I can be at rest as I work through everything that is going on right now.  And, He specifically told me exactly what I need to do about the one issue that had me awake that night; I receive the clarity I needed to move forward. 

The song by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is based on Psalm 121 (one of my favorites).  The lyrics say that we should lift up our eyes to the hills, because this is where our help comes from.  The hills represent God, who is our Source (Psalm 121:1-2).  The psalm also tells us that God will keep us and that He does not sleep (He’s always watching out for us). God is always awake, so we don’t have to be!  The passage also says that God is our shade.  Think about a time when you were out in the hot sun (we do that a lot here in Florida!). The moment you find a shady spot, there’s a sigh of relief; the shade is a respite from harsh conditions and it’s protection so we don’t get sunburned.  God provides the same for us: relief, respite, and protection. Lastly, the psalm promises that God will ALWAYS protect us!  What a comforting scripture! 

Are you facing things today that are causing you to be stressed and overwhelmed?  I encourage you to read and meditate on all eight verses of Psalm 121.  I hope it blesses you as you face your challenges, changes, and issues (whether they be good or bad).  We can trust God to be with in the shifts, and we can trust Him to give us the help we need to face them all. 

I would love to hear from you!  Share your thoughts in the comments! 

Thanks for reading! 

Seasons

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

I recently returned from a trip out of town, and once we landed, I realized that a couple I knew was on the same flight.  As we made our way to baggage claim, we had an opportunity to catch up on things (I hadn’t seen them in several months).  They shared with me that they were preparing to leave our city and were departing in two days!  As we continue to talk, the wife noted that although they were excited about a new chapter in their lives, the move was bittersweet.  Leaving a place, people and relationships that have been in your life for over 20 years is not easy.  They were venturing out of their comfort zone and although that was a bit difficult, they were looking forward to the future.

As we all gathered our bags and said goodbye, I began to think about seasons.  The scripture from Ecclesiastes tells us that there a season for everything…to be born and to die, to remain and to leave, to plant and to reap. And just like the seasons of the year, these times come in and they leave.  What can we learn from each of our seasons?

As we are in a particular season, we should embrace it.  That may be a bit difficult to do when we are in a challenging season (2020 pandemic, losing a loved one, etc.).  Each season, no matter how difficult, has something to offer.  Be on the lookout for what that may be.   

As we embrace each season, what is the lesson that should be received from it?  One of the lessons I learned in my challenging season is not to ignore the still, small voice inside me. When I was in a season where finances were tight, I learned how to bargain shop.  We may learn how to persevere or to be more patient.  Whatever the lesson is, receive it and apply it to your life!

Seasons don’t last forever.  As we move from season to season, we can take the lessons with us into the next phase of life.  This is growth!  We are different than we were before…and hopefully we are better!  Using the lessons in the next season can also mean not repeating some of the behaviors of the last chapter.  If it no longer serves us, it should be left behind!

And as we transition to a new phase, we can look forward with anticipation to what God is going to do! Just like the couple I saw in the airport, they are looking forward to a new chapter, new experiences and new opportunities.  I, too, am in the middle of a season of transition.  I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, stepping out in faith, and venturing into something new and exciting.  And I can’t wait for how God is going to show up in the new season!

Don’t dread when seasons come and go…look forward to them with hope and anticipate the good that’s to come!

Stay Ready!

The title of this post is based on an expression that has become popular over the last few years: “stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.” My interpretation of it is that one must be ready and prepared for opportunities she has been waiting on at all times. Out of curiosity, I Google’d the phrase, and a multitude of blog posts and videos came up! I certainly am not going to regurgitate what these bloggers and vloggers shared, but I do want to share an experience I had recently that confirms this statement.

A few weeks ago, I ran across an opportunity to write an article for a magazine. On a whim, I decided to submit a piece and just see what would happen. I wrote the article, sent it in, and moved on to something else (I almost forgot I’d written it). On Monday of this week, I received an email from the publisher asking if I were available to appear on a live broadcast that day to preview my article, in anticipation of the magazine’s edition coming out in a few weeks. I had to re-read the email to make sure that she wanted me to be on the broadcast that same day. She indicated that she understood if I couldn’t appear on such short notice, but something said…”don’t let this opportunity pass you by!” 😊 I immediately said yes and began to get excited (and a bit nervous) about the event that was coming up really soon!

I’ve been on a few live events and podcasts promoting my book since it was released in November, but I’ve always had a few days’ or weeks’ notice to prepare. Not so on yesterday! Instead of weeks or even days, I only had a few hours to get it together! Other than a quick glance at the article (and a quick wardrobe change from my work-from-home attire), I was already ready!

What’s the lesson? We never know when an opportunity that we’ve been waiting for will suddenly appear! For me, this was a chance to appear live before an international audience (the publisher is based in the UK, and there were several listeners from around the world on the broadcast). And while this event was not about my book, I also had the chance to mention it, and the link for ordering was shared with the audience! We should be ready to pivot at all times to be able to take advantage these open doors!

What does “staying ready so you don’t have to get ready” look like? For me, it’s always having a few talking points in my head. Maybe it looks like anticipating what questions may be asked so you can answer them well. Maybe it means keeping a few copies of your book in your car in case you get an unanticipated sale. As a minister, it can mean always having a sermon ready in case a last-minute call comes to fill in for someone. What does this mean for you and what you do?

In a nutshell, this expression means, “preparation” and “flexibility.” Do the work needed to be ready, so that you can effortlessly speak, sing, dance, and do whatever it is you are passionate about. Then, be flexible enough so that you can move and respond quickly. If you’re already ready, you can step into those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities effortlessly!

Feel free to share this post!

by Brenna J. Fields

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”

John 4:39 (NIV)

There was a period in my life where I experienced death, divorce and their aftermath.  I was experiencing the loss of one loved one right after another, all while navigating a traumatic divorce.  Initially, I chose to be very private about what I was going through, but after starting to feel God’s power healing me from these challenges, I was moved to begin sharing my testimony.

The Samaritan Woman had a chance encounter with Jesus where He revealed that He was the Messiah on whom she has been waiting.  This interaction with Jesus has opened her eyes to Jesus and has given her a testimony.  What can we learn from this woman about our testimony?

There is power in our testimony because it provides proof of the realness of our God.  After her conversation with Jesus Christ, the Samaritan Woman rushed back to town to share her experience! She said, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” As a result of her testimony, many other Samaritans would come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and would believe, not just based on what she said, but came to know for themselves.

As a result of my testimony of how real God was in my life during tragedy, others have been encouraged to believe the same, and have been able to see God’s realness through their own challenging times.  A friend said that my testimony has allowed other to taste and see that God is good (Psalms 34:8) through it all!

I encourage you to, as you are led by God, to share your testimony.  It has the power to transform, empower and bless someone. Your testimony has the power to show them the Messiah.

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I received my second dose of the vaccine about 4 days ago, and today is the first day I have felt almost 100% normal.  The experts say it affects every person differently, and I know that to be true!  My almost 80-year-old father had very little side effects, while I seem to have had every last one of them!

Being down for the last few days has given me some time to think (between chills and body aches 😊) This is what I’ve learned:

Never take your health for granted

Good health is a blessing!  I assumed that my second dose wouldn’t affect me, so I had a whole agenda for the weekend planned.  I had no choice but to set most of it aside.  If you are relatively healthy, do your best to maintain it (eating healthy, exercise, self-care, etc.), and be intentional about taking care of yourself.

Pray for others

While I could do nothing, I was led to use that time to pray for others. After all, we really should be interceding on behalf of others anyway!  God kept reminding me of people who were experiencing difficulties, and I would stop and pray for them right then, or even send them a text message to let them know I was praying.  As you are going through, don’t forget there are others also experiencing challenges.

Allow people who care about you to help you

I was raised to be independent, but sometimes, we need the help and support of others.  When I really started to feel the effects of the second dose, I thought I would be able to go to the store myself to get Tylenol and other things, but my body would not let me.  I’m grateful for friends who checked on me and went to the store for me.  We are not super men and women; set pride aside and allow others to be a blessing to you.

Listen to your body

If your body says rest, then rest!  If your body craves water, then drink it!  Your body will tell you exactly what you need; all we have to do is pay attention to it.

Count your blessings

While most of my Easter Weekend (including my vacation day on Good Friday) was spent at home, I am grateful.  Now that I’ve been fully vaccinated, I can plan a trip home and visit family members I haven’t seen in over a year.  My challenging few days are worth it.

What lessons can you learn from your challenging times?

Slow Down

by Brenna J. Fields

I am currently in a season of life that is extremely busy.  Since January, I have been “head down” in working on my businesses, promoting my book, working in the community, serving in church, and oh yeah, showing up for work every day!  And at the same time, I’m trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle (some weeks I do well, and some week – like this week — I miss it).  But yesterday, something happened that reminded me to slow down.

I was going to the grocery store to get what I needed for the upcoming week (for those of us from New Orleans, we call that “making groceries”).  I parked my car and was walking toward the entrance of the store I noticed there were several people just standing around the parking lot, not doing anything (or so it seemed).  I was almost at the entrance and something said, “stop and turn around.”  I did and discovered why people were standing in the parking lot.  There was a group of about 5 ducklings trying to jump up on a curb so they could catch up with their mother. They were tiny little things, much shorter than the curb, and they were struggling to step up.  They jumped and missed, they tried again and again, and one by one, each of them made it!  The shoppers observing this all said “aww” in unison as the ducklings waddled away to be with their mother.  It was the most precious sight, and I almost missed it because I was in a hurry to make my groceries so I could move on to the next thing on my list.

I almost missed God’s creation at work.  I almost missed the kindness of strangers as they watched out for the ducklings in this busy parking lot.  I almost missed that moment in time that can never been recaptured.

Yes, life can be very busy.  But even in our busy seasons (and yes, they are just seasons), it’s important to slow down.  Life is going on around us, and if we are not careful, we may miss something that can be a blessing to us.  Take a moment to enjoy nature, say a kind word to someone, or enjoy a good meal (and actually taste your food!).  These are small things that can change the course of our day and can remind us of the fact that there are kind people in the world (some days it’s hard to tell) and that God is good.

Take a moment today and slow down.  You’ll be glad you did.

The Importance of Silence

by Brenna J. Fields

Have you ever been so busy with various things in life until you feel like you can’t think straight?  You’re moving from task to task, assignment to assignment, doing them on autopilot (or so it seems).  Then, when you finally come out of that busy season, you can take a moment to exhale.  You breathe a sigh of relief, thankful that you have been able to successfully navigate a crazy time in your life, and you take a moment (hopefully) to just pause.

This is exactly where I am as I write this.  From January until this past weekend, I have been moving non-stop! The month of February was particularly crazy for me, having coordinated 3 events, facilitated my weekly group coaching program, led my bi-monthly online book study, taught my weekly Sunday School class, and worked my day job.  I prayed that I would get through all of that with some level of success, and God definitely answered my prayer.

As I am now able to exhale a bit, one of the things I’m learning is the importance of silence.  This past Sunday, I spent some time at the beach, which is one of the things I enjoy doing to relax.  While sitting in the sun and enjoying the breeze, ideas began to come to mind about the next things I can do in ministry as well as my businesses.  Where did these ideas come from?  Why weren’t they coming before now?

I believe my ideas stopped flowing because my mind was too cluttered; there were no room for me to receive them!  If those ideas had come while I was in the middle of finalizing plans for 3 events, when would I have acted on them?  They probably would have been lost in the shuffle of everything else. 

I understood the importance of silence prior to now, but this season has reinforced this lesson in me.  Two things are standing out:

First, while we will have seasons of busyness in life, we should not want to exist in a perpetually busy state.  One effect of overwork in my life is that I don’t sleep well.  My sleep is interrupted by my mind trying to remember all the details of what I’m working on, especially if I’ve got multiple things going on at the same time.  It’s not good for our physical and mental health to live like this all the time.

Second, we must schedule and plan downtime.  As I was in the middle of everything in January and February, I kept looking at the calendar to see when I would get a break.  Then I made up in my mind that I would take that break (even if I didn’t exactly know at the time what I would do with it).  Not only do we have to schedule and plan our downtime, we must also protect it.  Invariably, something will come along that can potentially rob us of it, so we must be intentional about safeguarding it.  Learning how to say “no” is an important part of this.

I encourage you (as I remind myself) to remember that silence is important.  Silence is not a waste of time!  It enables us to recharge, refocus and to be inspired to take the next steps to achieving our goals.  Be sure to take time (and make time) for silence, if not today, then one day very soon!

Holidays Reimagined

by Brenna Fields

2020 has been a as been a year of change and adjustment. The Coronavirus pandemic has caused life as we know it to be drastically different.  While we hope that things can eventually get back to ‘normal,’ as I write this blog, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in most states across America.  Because of this, the holiday season is probably unlike anything we’ve experienced before.

Thanksgiving week 2017 with my parents and grandmother (RIP Mama and Maw Maw)

For me, the holidays (especially Thanksgiving and Christmas) are about family.  The last several years have found me either hosting family members or traveling to Louisiana to spend the holidays with them.  Particularly since my mother’s passing in 2018, I have been intentional about going to Louisiana for Thanksgiving and Christmas so my grandmother (my mother’s mother) could have a memorable holiday.  2020 now finds me not only facing the fact that this is my first holiday season without any grandparents (my grandmother passed away in March of this year), but also deciding not to travel for Thanksgiving and possibly not for Christmas because of the pandemic (plans are still up in the air).  So, what do I do?  This is how I’ve decided to spend Thanksgiving; if your plans for the holidays are different than normal, I hope these suggestions help you.

Cook!

If you really know me, you know I love to cook!  While my spread will not be as elaborate as it might generally be, I am going to prepare a special dinner.  There won’t be any turkey (because I’ve never made one lol), but I will make a few special dishes.  And, in honor of my great-grandmother, who loved to serve elaborate meals and to host people,  I will use some of her china to serve myself with (no everyday dishes for me!)

Serve Others

You may ask, “what are you going to do with all of that food?”  There are a few people I know who are in need.  They don’t know it yet, but I plan to drop off a few plates to them.  There are a couple of other people who I know are spending Thanksgiving alone, so I will invite them to drive by and get a plate.  There is joy in serving and giving of oneself; I look forward to the opportunity to share.  Is there someone you can serve and be a blessing to this holiday season?

Reflect

The last 3 years or so of my life have been quite challenging.  Since I am now on the other side of a lot of them (thank you God!), I want to use this time to reflect.  God has been so good to me…I truly cannot tell it all!  During this Thanksgiving season, I want to take some time to count my blessings.  I also want to take some time for me! I may take my folding chair to the beach one day and just sit and enjoy God’s creation, or I may go to the park and take a walk.  Although there are a couple of things I want to get done Thanksgiving week (one of them is putting up my Christmas tree), I’m not going to have much of an agenda or a schedule; I am just going to flow.  I am very intentional about how I spend and schedule my time, but over the next several days, I am going with the flow.  When was the last time you did that?

This year, I’m going to embrace what is, count my blessings and just be.  No complaining here!

What ideas do you have for someone who is spending the holidays without family and away from friends?  I would love to hear them; please share them in the comments.

Hello everyone!

Exciting things are happening in the next few days. Please listen in this video for a preview!

#bigannouncement #Godisgood #staytuned

Tune in on Monday November 9 for a special announcement!