Every Season Changes You

By Helen Gill-Smith

Three songs come to mind: “Getting to know you” by Julie Andrews from the movie “The King and I” one of my favorites, and “Turn Turn Turn” by The Byrds, who sing quotes from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. When it came out, I had no idea it was scriptural. Then, of course, the old classic “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cook serenades my mind as I begin to share my story.

My grandfather was a Pastor, and my mother attended his church, so I was born and raised in the church. My mother stopped attending while my sister and I were pre-teens for unknown reasons, but she allowed us to make our own decision to continue or discontinue. We chose to proceed with our grandparents.

Soon after I turned 13, we moved to the other side of the City and could not get to the church on our own; and only attended if we could get a ride from our grandparents. Soon those rides faded, and not knowing if the area had churches, we stayed at home with our mom until an aunt who lived close asked our mom if we could attend church with her and her family, and she agreed.

A few years later, my family left that church for reasons unknown and attended a different church, as I stayed. Soon I would hear negative talk about my family and realized why they left, and then I became the target. I remained at the church for a short while before following my family but never joined that church as I did not feel I belonged. However, I was actively involved in ministry because my aunt was in leadership.

In High School, I met a girl who introduced me to others who made me feel like I belonged (even though I was involved in extracurricular activities because of my aunt); I transferred from another school due to an error. My mom and I chose a school with a trade, but it was also a “Special Ed” school unbeknownst to us. While waiting for the transfer, I was alone in the cafeteria with assigned work. However, the new school didn’t get the correct memo and placed me in Special Ed classes. While I waited for another correction, I was placed in the library alone with assigned work until courses opened with vacancies.

While growing up, my father was not around. Shortly after we moved and my mom went to court for child support, she informed us of a few details mentioning that he stated that we were not his children. Soon after I struggled with academics, it took me longer to get it, whatever IT was. Later teachers realized, I just learned differently. My mother had a hard time believing I could not get it and hired a tutor. Praise God that she took the time to understand my mind worked differently, and I needed things to be explained in full detail. I just required some things to be worded differently and understood my way; I’d often have to do the work over because it was not the teacher’s way, even if my method was correct.

It took me a while to get involved in academics; many of the students would bully me, talk about me, or not allow me to participate. To avoid the wrong kind of confrontation, I would ignore it or find another, just as I did at church. One day a friend invited me to her church two blocks from the church I was visiting. On my first visit, I fell in love with the sound of music coming from the choir stand. It was amazing and moved me in a way I’ve never felt; it filled me with much joy. Much later, I would discover an anointing on that choir and everyone upfront, no matter what their lifestyle was outside the four walls.

As I scanned the singers, I noticed I knew almost everyone. We all attended the same High School! A few Sundays later, I joined and jumped right into the choir because I was a singer. The pastor spoke about change, and I was looking and hungry for one. At this time in my life, I noticed the changes with every season of my life.

Along with noticing the changes, I also saw the toxicity of REJECTION and ABANDONMENT, a pattern and stronghold that traveled with me starting in my pre-teens to adulthood seasons. Still, I did not have the language for it at the time.

As I reviewed my life I noted as a pre-teen, a family member whom I loved as a brother molested me, family members talked about my weight fluctuating & not having a boyfriend, I was groped and grabbed by boys, locked in a pastor’s office who wanted sex, and approached for sex, held hostage by a bus driver in Jr. High which resulted in me walking home from school over 2 miles through what I called the woods because I wanted to hide. Never was I afraid; I felt safe and secure alone in the woods, not knowing my Heavenly Father covered me, not only in the woods but through every season. Once the news hit that women were getting raped and murdered in such woods, my walking stopped. Yet, years later, in those same woods, a trusted friend I loved as a brother forced me to perform a sexual act.

During my last year of High School, I started dating a guy reluctantly because I was not interested in dating. My goals were getting out of school {graduating} because I was not too fond of school due to what I went through. I would double up on classes, such as taking History 1 and 2 during the same semester when I could. It worked, and I completed high school and enrolled in college by February of my graduating year. My college allowed me to return to high school for graduation day and walk off stage with my class.

Dating became intense, and we planned to be together forever, unsure when we would marry until I became pregnant. We agreed that we were a great pair/couple and knew it would last and decided to get married after the child was born. Although my dream did not come in the order I wanted, it was still happening, and I was happy until it too would change.

After our child was born, I found out he was cheating, and eventually, he admitted it. I did not know how to handle such heartache at this age, and I snapped. For over a year, I would yell and attack every conversation with my words. After my mom took me aside, I took myself aside and assessed the situation for a change. I decided to be cordial so we could raise our child together. But there was significant damage inside me, and I had no idea. Promiscuity and the life of a mistress (known or unknown) took form, and for the most part, hidden. There was a profound disconnect not just from family and friends but from myself, and sex became my drug.

While pregnant, some members wanted me out of the choir, there were times they did not acknowledge me as a first-time mother, and some friends started to fade, all because I was not married. Little by little, I began to step away from church life. The pastor’s wife called me and encouraged me by saying I had no reason to be ashamed because I was not and will not be the only one pregnant and not married. Even though I returned to service with a baby and my head held high with her backing me up, it was not enough, and eventually, I left, but mainly because of my awareness of my drug.

The men were from all walks of my life. Even in this state of mind, I was picky and mindful of care for my child, finding a full-time job with benefits, and being where I needed on time, faithful, and dependable. It was as if I was on autopilot as two different women, which worsened. I knew who to call for whatever I wanted and primarily for conversation, not intercourse; and for some men, there was never sex. I was blind by the need to please and be loved by men, unaware it was a need for my father, a male leader, a big brother, or a spiritual father.

When I left the church, I condemned myself, questioning, “What kind of a leader was I? If I can’t get control of myself, how can I teach others to do so?” They don’t need me, so I’ll stay at home with my destructive self. Even though I wasn’t the only one, I could only focus on myself and change. Some men knew exactly what to say to sway and manipulate to get what they wanted, and I would get caught up in sexual sin. They drew me in with talk and the attention I desired and possibly noticed the naive little girl looking for her father. And in my twisted mind and broken, REJECTED, and ABANDONED heart, I felt I owed them sex.

One night as I slept, I encountered Father God Himself. It felt like an earthquake, but it was a personal one that woke me out of my sleep. The voice was sweet and quiet but stern. He said, “child, get up, and not just from the bed.” He showed me my life, and I cried and cried with conviction and no more condemnation, got on my knees, and asked for forgiveness and a way out of the mess I was in and how to get on a journey for a clean heart and a renewed mind. His love and compassion filled the room; I felt warmth around me and on the inside of me. He assured me that I would be accepted into the church and become more than I ever thought I would be; my life is not over, and he and others loved me. 

It was a Saturday evening, and on Sunday morning, I returned to open arms just as He said. However, some of the people I no longer remembered. I did not realize that I had blockages of my memories regarding trauma. It would be discovered after my second divorce, almost identical to the break up of my first love and seeing a spiritual and anointed counselor.

Here is where the prompting of the Holy Spirit and many prayers revealed the beginning of blockages over my life span that started with my father leaving. Revealing a conversation with my sister about our father taking us places and buying us things, and I remember nothing of him. There was also memory loss in relationships that ended in trauma, and not remembering sex with men in my brokenness, only knowing it happened. Even forms of trauma in both marriages of abuse and REJECTION came to memory. Also, while attending one of the Signature Coaching Programs of Character 4 Life Global, Inc., in RECOVER IT ALL, I discovered more about why I gravitated to men, it was a desire to connect and build a relationship with my father and Father God.

As I Spiritually grew, my heart began to mend and understand the anointing on my life. Father God’s unconditional love for me and accepting He was my forever love, has always been, and will always be, and I was looking for love and acceptance in the wrong places. As I grew my relationship with Father God, I understood why I chose the roads along my journey.

Through every season, I was not just growing up; I was changing and noticing the changes; mind, heart, and spirit. Assessing the changes according to the Word of God, whether I realized it or not, the Word has been in me since childhood. It was how I could function in my dysfunction, not knowing I was being led in and out of some situations by the Holy Spirit.

The most remarkable season of change has been getting to know Father God and growing our relationship. Taking time out to build and cultivate that relationship has saved my life. Being brought up in the church was a blessing; it fed my spirit, and I didn’t even know it. It gave me a foundation before I ever knew there was one. My mother also raised us, to be honest with ourselves and others; she taught us how to think for ourselves and be independent, ask questions to get a better understanding; but to ask the right questions, you had to pay attention and assess the situation.

As you cultivate honesty with yourself, the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and others, it will bless your life! Learn what makes you tick, know your weaknesses and strengths, and assess yourself through your seasons of change. Spend time with yourself to assess and evaluate yourself during and after every season, ask the hard questions, and answer them. If you do not have the answer spend time with the Holy Spirit seeking insight to know and understand yourself will help you in your next season of change.

Recognize the growth and changes, celebrate every victory, know yourself better than the enemy so you can fight his lies, partner with the Holy Spirit, and get control over things that are out of control. If you don’t know yourself, you are open to being destroyed, manipulated, and controlled by the enemy who will toy with you until he has all of you, and then he will drop you like a hot potato stranded somewhere. Surrendered to The Father and build the relationship, let Him be your strength where you are weak. Understanding and knowing who you are helps you get control of your life, thoughts, and actions. It helps you live righteous and holy, and you can take constructive criticism, not be ashamed by your past where it cannot hold you hostage or in bondage.

Every season will change you, accept it, and do the right thing with it; grow.

Helen is a Daughter of the King. She is a retired City worker, a mother of grown men, a grandmother, the firstborn of two women. Helen has worked in ministry for almost her entire life, starting as a child singing in the choir and acting. She currently ministers as a singer and actor for CJ Productions, an intercessor and encourager writer of the Daughters of Zion, a leader of the Freedom Community, a Healing Coach for her coaching ministry Dare To Heal Experience, a recording artist singing background, including lead, and an entrepreneur.

Contact Helen: dthexperience@gmail.com

Freedom to Live Purposefully

Debbie Renee Howard

I pondered the questions: When will I know? Where will I be? What will it take? In response, I heard these words; You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart Jeremiah 29:13. Immediately, I felt my soul breathe a deep sigh of cleansing relief, and my spirit leaped for joy!

I reflected: Why was I waiting? What was I waiting to occur? Who was I waiting to validate me and what I already knew to do? Where was I ready to go? What relationships was I willing to release? Who are the people I am to connect with moving forward? These were the questions that served as a launching pad to my relentless journey in pursuing the Freedom to Live Purposefully.

Life is unsatisfactory if you can barely drag yourself out of bed to drive to a job you do not enjoy. Life is exhausting if individuals who surround you drain the life out of you. Life is unfulfilling if the busyness of daily tasks that do not align with your purpose or the things you desire to achieve is consuming your time. Unfortunately, it is easy and logical to take a well-paying job that does not seem so bad at first.

However, years pass, and you receive a promotion or two. You purchase a house, have children, and it appears that you will be stuck in that job forever. The financial comfort and routine ease have you settled in just right! Well, that was not my story exactly.

I had a career that I enjoy and is part of my purpose, yet I knew there was still more my heart was yearning for, there were even greater levels of service than what I was experiencing, and that Father God wanted me to release my gifts to impact the world.

Can you not discern this new day of destiny breaking forth around you? The early signs of my purposes and plans are bursting forth. The budding vines of new life are now blooming everywhere. The fragrance of their flowers whispers, “There is a change in the air.” Arise, my love, my beautiful companion, and run with me to the higher place. For now, is the time to arise and come away with me.” Song of Solomon 2:13 TPT

Our lives are full of knocks and scrapes, shocks, and collisions that Father God uses to develop us for the divine destiny He has purposed us to live and carry out. How well we respond to those shocks and collisions, also known as traumas, may impact how swiftly we reach our purposed destiny.

I know it’s easy to give up, throw in the towel, throw your hands up, tap out when life’s challenges seem pointless or too painful to bear. I encourage you to focus on the prophetic purpose, not the undeniable pain. Father God will use it for your good and His glory. Trust and believe, beloved, that He works all things together for good when you love Him and live according to your calling and purpose for being.

There is no such thing as wasted pain or experiences when you are a child of the King. Eliminate anything standing in the way of you pursuing your passion, purpose, and God-given abilities with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, even if the blockage is some residue within you. Embrace and engage the freedom to be who you are while becoming who you must be according to Father God’s divine purpose for you from the foundation of the world!

Deny not the barriers, hurdles, mindsets, or hindrances in your pathway to fulfillment of purpose; instead, acknowledge them, deal with them, and conquer them. Ask the Father God to work in you to make the changes you need to make. Although you are aware of some things, you may be oblivious to others, so ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your errors. You know what they are, and so does He. Father God is waiting for you to surrender your will. Believe that God’s best lies ahead, then get ready to receive all in store for you!

“You have the power to transform, emerge, and fulfill your highest vision for your life. To capture this power, you must develop a solid personal relationship with yourself and through partnering with Holy Spirit. You’ll tap into a wealth of inner strength that will allow you to take the necessary actions that build confidence and self-esteem. When you learn to stop hiding your power and use fear to your advantage, you’ll become less attached to what others want for you and more attached to what Abba wants for you and what you want for yourself. As this shift occurs, you’ll naturally begin to lead a more authentic and purpose-filled life.”  ~Cheryl Richardson, Stand Up for Your Life

You must ask the LORD, “When will I find my destiny and true purpose for my life?”

Once you uncover what talents naturally reside within you, you can then understand what you’re supposed to be doing with those gifts; this is your purpose in life.

I hear Father God saying, “I tell you, now is the time for you to chase after Me with your whole heart. For out of intimacy with Me, your destiny is released. When you join your heart to Mine, you will realize, actualize, maximize your purpose for being. As you abide in My love, you align your will with Mine, and my glory becomes evident, even in seasons of waiting.

Trust in Me and lay aside every anxiety and weight of impatience. Do not strive in your flesh or look to others to do what only I can do for you. Your help comes from Me, and I will send whom I select to assist you in your purpose. Expect my miracles to transpire in your life, for I am the Father of Love. Remember how I brought Abraham through the mysteries of my will, so now I will manifest the prophetic destiny of your life. What you see today will be changed in a moment. I will bring dramatic and rapid changes to your life because you have sought Me first and foremost.”

A Prayer for You:

Abba Father, remind your people in those moments, hours, days, weeks, months, or even years of preparation that You have a good plan and purpose for their life. Give them the grace to trust You in everything so that they do not waste time learning and re-learning the same lessons they need to know to fully carry out their destiny in the way you designed for them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Debbie Renee Howard is a woman of faith, an Executive Pastor, Speaker, Consultant, and Clarity & Transformation Coach. She has an innate ability to empower, inspire, develop and equip men and women to identify areas in their lives that lack purpose, and need healing. She achieves this through God’s Wisdom and her unique gift of insightful communication which provokes clarity and introspection.

Contact Debbie: dezigned4greatness@gmail.com

Repentance is Key

By Nataushia Miller

Repentance is key for the continual increase in every area of our lives. To understand the value of repentance, we must know the word’s definition.

Repent is an action word. It is a verb to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better; to feel sorry for, regret, and remember or regard with self-reproach or contrition. As believers, we must repent daily to cultivate a lifestyle of repentance.

Repentance is a noun. It is a state of being, mindset, and philosophical idea that is deep sorrow or remorse for a past sin, wrongdoing, or the like, regret any recent action. Repentance is a state of being for the believer. It is ongoing; repentance is a lifestyle. It is not only sorrow and remorse for our past but also our present by inquiring Father God about what He is calling us to turn from now to transform for the sake of our prophetic purposes and future.

When we embrace repentance as a state of being and a lifestyle, it keeps the gates of heaven open over our lives! Repentance is key for the following:

Intimacy with God. Everything in our lives begins and ends with our relationship with Father God or the lack thereof. Father God will not despise us when we’re remorseful. He has given us the Holy Spirit as a helper who will help us follow through with our repentance when we partner with Him. Repentance results from humility and is the antidote to pride, a trauma response. Humility occurs when we realize that we need a relationship with Father God just because of who He is far more than what He has, can, or will do.

Repentance is key to developing an intimate relationship with God based upon who God is rather than what He can do for you.

Biblical References. Ps. 51:17 & 139:23-24 | 2 Chron. 7:14 | Heb. 11:6

Soul Prosperity. Although the heart is deceitfully wicked when we come to the knowledge of our error due to suppressed pain and unhealed trauma and respond with repentance, it accelerates the inner healing and deliverance process that prospers our soul. The realms of our souls consist of our emotions, mind, and will (habits/behavior patterns), and a healthy soul is in alignment with the character of Father God, the mindset of Christ Jesus, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Repentance positions you to decrease self for the Holy Spirit to increase residency within you.

Repentance is key to both the prosperity of your soul and the works of your hands because it exemplifies your humility and willingness to learn, transform, and mature.

Biblical References. John 1:19-28; 3:30; 10:10 & 14:26 | 2 John 1:2

The Excellence of Character. Our personality traits come without repentance; however, our reputable character is a byproduct of our growth development and transformation process. In 1 Corinthians 13, a famous description of love illustrates outstanding character. And if God is love and those that abide in love abide in God means that our excellence of character begins and ends with our oneness relationship with Father God. Repentance is a form of humility that transforms you into the likeness and godliness of Christ Jesus and the excellency of Father God. Daniel lived a lifestyle of humility before God.

Repentance is key to embodying the excellence of character that causes you to always shine in your authenticity unapologetically.

Biblical References. Daniel 2:20-23 & 6:3 | Philippians 4:4-8 | 1 John 4:7-21

Healthy Relationships (iron-sharpen-iron). As human beings, love and connection coupled with acceptance and belonging is our primary need. First, we must allow our oneness relationship with Father God, and then we can establish transformative oneness relationships with one another as the Body of Christ. As members of the same Body sharing attributes of the same Holy Spirit, we complement and complete one another with our authenticity, talents, gifts, and strengths. Repentance develops accountability and expands our capacity to exercise our spiritual gifts for the advancement of the kingdom and the betterment of one another.

Repentance is key to developing, cultivating, and maintaining healthy transformative relationships in every area of our lives.

Biblical References. James 5:15-16 | Prov. 27:17 | 1 Cor. 14:12

Purpose Success. It doesn’t matter if any of us entered the earth realm; the truth is that we all have a prophetic purpose for being here. Father God knew you before the foundations of the world before He placed you in your mother’s womb. You are a prophetic word that shall not return unto Father God void but will complete every assignment He has for your life in Jesus’ name! For these reasons, your prophetic purpose, position, and posture as an influencer must be anchored in and in alignment with our Father’s business to win souls and make disciples according to the Kingdom. Ongoing repentance sets the stage for God to enlarge your territory as an influencer for the advancement of God’s kingdom. The Book of Nehemiah illustrates how we must first repent before pursuing success and how repentance maintains success.

Repentance is key to guiding others to repentance only if you live a lifestyle of repentance yourself; it’s okay to repent daily.

Biblical References. Nehemiah 1 & 4:6 | Jer. 17:9 | Prov. 11:30 | Matt. 28:18:20 | Rom. 12:1 | 2 Peter 3:9

Ultimately, we must remember that repentance is the heart of God (2 Pet. 3:9), it is how we position ourselves to do “greater works” as Jesus commissioned (John 14:12), and it empowers us to walk in our God-given authority (Matt. 10:1). Ongoing repentance is key for us to press into higher dimensions in God (2 Cor. 3:17-18) –that Glory-to-Glory Kingdom Living Lifestyle!!!

Repentance is key to living free from trauma! Are you ready to utilize this key in your life today?

Nataushia Miller is an Author, Educator, Freedom Coach, and Expert Curriculum Developer of a trauma-informed approach that intersects sociocultural perspective. She has extensive experience facilitating, teaching, coaching, and training adults in trauma as a human condition specializing in soul trauma recovery that increases emotional intelligence and mental serenity. She established structured curriculum-based programs to support adult learners in Healing from Trauma God’s Way.

Contact Nataushia: http://youcanfollow.me/freedomcoachnmiller

Profoundness of Procrastination

By Shavia Johnson

What is Procrastination?

Have you ever really taken the time to investigate procrastination? Where does it come from? Perhaps, you never thought about the why and just accepted procrastination as the way you are or have always been. Maybe, you thought about the why and cannot seem to comprehend it beyond what you see and know on the surface of your behavior with a desire to stop procrastinating. I can tell you for sure that you must get to the root of your procrastination to change its fruit.

Procrastination can be more than just lazy; it is a noun; it is a state of being, defined as “the act or habit of procrastinating or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention.” According to this definition, there is hope for all who procrastinate. Procrastination is a state of being, meaning you can change it if you dig deeper internally to transform your knowledge and perception of it.

Did you know that procrastination is a form of fear? The manifestation of such fear can look different from person to person. For example, one person may fear failure, while another may fear success, which causes procrastinating behavior.

Furthermore, procrastination can manifest through childhood trauma or complex traumas throughout one’s life. When we experience trauma at an early age, we are not mentally, emotionally, or spiritually equipped to address or process it, birthing fear that manifests in many ways, including procrastination.

Procrastination can be a coping mechanism. Sometimes we procrastinate with addressing the issue or completing a task because it produces discomfort, so instead, we engage something else that feels good at the time and only for a little while.

Triumphant over Procrastination!

When addressing procrastination, you will need to identify, acknowledge, and destroy your why for procrastinating. Then begin to combat procrastination with preparation. One of the most significant benefits of preparation is intimacy with God. As you seek His will and strategy for inner healing and deliverance from the stronghold of procrastination.

Father God is a God of order, and He has never just done something without first thoroughness of thought and preparation. Your life is a perfect example of that. He thought about you, seen you, knew you and your whole life before you ever physically entered the earth.

God is so strategic that even when we are in sin, hurting, or going through a challenging time, He built us to be resilient with our lives until we can come to knowledge or revelation of Him through salvation, His Holy Spirit, intimacy with Him, and studying His word.

Any time we are disconnected from Father God, we find ways to cope. We rely on ourselves instead of casting our cares upon Him and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us according to God’s standards and prophetic purposes for our lives. Father God did not create or purpose us to remain coping with life, depending on ourselves, but to live a lifestyle that stems from our identity, mindset, and behaviors rooted in faith and obedience to God. Therefore, by trusting and believing in Father God for our complete healing, we can move forward because we know that His way of healing yields lasting results.

Spiritual Personal Protective Equipment

There are 3 Spiritual PPE’s (Personal Protective Equipment) to get you started with eradicating procrastination:

  • Prayer – In prayer, you will find the root of your procrastination and the remedy to transform your mindset. Once you discover the core, you acknowledge, renounce, and replace it with God’s Truth (cure). Prayer is also where you obtain instruction for addressing procrastination in every area of your life.
  • Plan – After receiving instructions for moving forward, you begin to prepare for execution. This stage also includes removing the things that bring you comfort when confronting an issue or completing a task.
  • Execute – Freedom from procrastination is a continual process of intentional effort and consistent execution that include spending intimate time with God, replacing lies with God’s Truth, and making a conscious decision to honor God with your decisions concerning the things He has placed inside of you and the purpose you are to fulfill.

Stay Encouraged!

Once you begin to understand why you procrastinate, how procrastination shows up with you, and how you deal with it, it is easier to shed the unhealthy habits you have been practicing. The process also equips you to recognize your triggers. For example, I was able to identify that when I take on too many tasks at once or future commitments without consulting God, I would get overwhelmed and shut down. I would not touch anything regarding the event or course of action until the last possible moment. Such behavior can cause you to take on tasks that were never meant for you and miss opportunities that God may have been trying to heal, develop, or show you. When you prepare and are intentional about your relationship with God, your time, your purpose, you flow freely in the spirit of the Lord, thus overcoming procrastination.

Shavia Johnson is a woman of God, Author, Speaker, Youth Advocate, Restoration Empowerment Coach, and Founder of More than Enough Ministries. She is driven by the desire to see our youth healed and delivered from the effects of pain suppression caused by unresolved childhood trauma. She helps adolescents navigate the healing process, helping them identify and break down barriers that hold them captive to toxic cycles of bondage.

Contact Shavia: johnsonshavia@yahoo.com

I Was Not Ready!

By Helen Gill-Smith

Someone needs to hear my story to heal, experience freedom from trauma, and rewrite their internal narrative! My testimony of survival and triumph is worth sharing, even if it only reaches one!

While revisiting my adolescent traumas in the RECOVER IT ALL Program, I realized that I am not the only one who has gone through or will encounter the traumatic experiences. Most of my teenage traumas centered around my body image, changes, growth, and development. The natural formation of my curvy hips, full breasts, and drum thumping behind led to sexual abuse from others that eventually became self-inflicted in my adult years.  

Although I was deemed a tomboy as a child, I also knew how to be a little girl and a young lady.  My grandfather was a pastor, and I stayed with them during the summer months, along with my sister.  One of my older aunts and my mom taught us how to be and dress like young women.

My sister was more of a tomboy than I, but she was also ready to be a young woman, unlike myself.  No way!  Not me!  As far as I was concerned, the girly stuff was for the birds.  Pink is not my color, but I love blue.  There was only one girly doll that I liked, but not nearly as much as I enjoyed going outside playing in the dirt, jumping off the play structure, climbing trees, wrestling with the boys, drag racing with my skates down steep hills, picking up bugs, and making mud pies.  Yep, Helen, the adventurer risk-taker explorer was me!

Wearing stockings was unnatural.  Staying cute was so uncomfortable.  Then my body had the nerve to transition into womanhood with the monthly bill before I became a teen. And the shape of my entire body followed suit immediately. “What the heck is this?!!!  No, No, No, I want to stay a little tomboy/girl,” were the thoughts of my mind. I wanted so desperately for the transitions of my body to STOP! “Ough, I was so not ready!” 

All I could see was life as I knew dissolving, my outdoor fun ending, wrestling with the boys disappearing, and none of it was ever coming back! What was I going to do? My mom could not help me understand and could not help me stop it. As if that were possible. And she also did not prepare me for what could potentially come. However, later in life, I realized that she could not inform me of what she did not know. All I can remember is when she gave me a book about the changes in my body and how hurtful it was because she neglected to have a conversation with me.  It took me some years to understand why she could not have a conversation with me about the adolescent traumas of my life until I was an adult with two children.

During my adolescent years, I felt unworthy because of the lack of communication from my mother, treatment from boys and men, my father’s absence, and not having a relationship with God, the Father.  It did not help that the men in my life did not step up to be the missing link either.  The closest one to being a father to me was my grandfather, but since he was not my father, I would not let him in too closely, and we became even further apart once the abuse started.  It wasn’t that I felt he would harm me; I believed he would perceive me differently, too.

In this season, the devil did all he could to get me to pay more attention to him, to steal all the joy I had, kill my dreams and potentials, and destroy my self-worth. The attack door opened with my mother, continued with my younger sister, and exploded with the boys.

It all started in Jr. High with the looks, the whispering, and audible words about my overnight forming hips, butt, and breasts.  Then the peeping under the open stairs under my dress, the so-called accidental touching in inappropriate places. Next was the soliciting and bold requests for sex that brought me to a place of total disgust.  Such unwanted attention came from almost all the boys in school. Then it came from men I knew and men who were strangers also.

One day, while at one of my aunt’s, my older cousin molested me, and I was utterly oblivious to what was happening.  There was no warning, no requesting, and no words exchanged; he just grabbed me, and the next thing I knew, his hands and tongue were all over me.  At first, I was so frozen in my mind trying to understand what was happening that there was no way of escape, or at least I was too shocked to try. Somehow, I got away, but immediately I was embarrassed, so I said nothing.

As I recalculated this traumatic event while in the RECOVER IT ALL Program, I realized that a part of me enjoyed it. I remembered my body naturally gaining pleasure from the fondling as I could not control its physiological responses.  And it wasn’t necessarily the act that I enjoyed; it was the closeness thereof. There was a want for me to evolve the transitions of puberty body and mind. But how could this be?  It didn’t seem right at all.  But what do I do?  How do I explain these mixtures of conflicting thoughts and emotions and the reality of what initiated them?  No one is going to believe me is the lie I embraced.  I’ll keep it to myself and stay far away from him, too, is the coping mechanism I adopted.  I will hide my body the best I can is the mechanism of defense I wore as armor.

The following incident was a man masturbating in front of me at the bus stop while he was in his car.  Then, a bus driver tried to kidnap me by turning on a different street while I read a book in the back of the bus, me being the last child on the after-school bus.  Later a man tried to rape me on a crowded bus.

Then there were deacons, preachers, including the pastor at my church, trying to solicit me for sex. And even while married, the attacks continued, from my husband with sexual acts that made me uncomfortable and forced upon me. It was as if I was a walking target for sex and abuse.  Why though?  Why?  Aren’t’ I the same little girl?  My body has changed, not the rest of me.  Why?  Why would you want to do these things to me?  What did I do or not do to deserve this?  On and on with the questions thinking the whole time it was me.  Not realizing it was them.

Hiding was the thing for me to do, so I thought.  Not only did I hide my body, but I hid my thoughts, voice, spirit, gifts, and talents.  Not all the time, only when I thought that a boy or man would discover me.  But I was always found out and brought to the front, where I did not want to be.  Yet, no one could see me, see me, and the evil I seemed to bring out of the opposite sex.

As a result of such traumas, I did not want to become a centerstage success. I was more than happy to reside in the background, but Father God never intended this for me.  The gifts and talents always bring me to the front, and most of it is from my voice: singing, speaking, teaching, and acting.  The enemy tried to stop my voice and failed. So much so that I would not talk for one season, and another I could not speak even after singing.  When I realized an Anointing over my vocal cords, I made an irrevocable decision to exercise my mouthpiece no matter what, even while pushing past the muck of my healing from trauma pains.

RECOVER IT ALL helped me see the traumas of my adolescence from the other side, a healed place.  It wasn’t me after all.  And in retrospect, it wasn’t the opposite sex either.  The enemy entered an open door somewhere down the line, and a perverted mind developed.  And by no way am I the only one, though it felt like it at the time.

The deceptions of the enemy and the depth of my soul wounds tried to shut me up and keep me hidden from the world and the Kingdom, but Father God said NO!  He continuously pursued and wooed me into His loving arms while forgiving, healing, delivering, and transforming me!

God’s plan was for my voice to release the sound of heaven, for me to be in front, to be noticed, to be a leader, teacher, etc.  The little girl who tried to hide, unbeknownst to her, was built and designed to be noticed.  Not in a perverted way, but in a way where others can see the Love of the Father. 

Therefore, I no longer hide not my body or my voice. I now stand firm in Father God’s position for me and no longer hidden.  I am no longer silent, nor am I afraid of centerstage success.  It is where I am supposed to be. My name, Helen, means light, so this light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, everywhere I go, every day and in every way.

I am not the first, the last, nor am I the only one with a sexual abuse trauma story, yet my testimony still has the resurrecting power to shed light in dark places and spaces to heal and deliver someone else.

Indeed, I was not ready, but now I AM; perhaps, I’ve always been!

Helen Gill-Smith is a woman of faith, a retired City Worker, Singer, Son Arranger, Music Director, and Founder of Dare to Heal Ministries. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Management and has helped countless ministries and businesses expand with her organizational and creative skills.

Contact Helen: dthexperience@gmail.com

Former Attention Seeker

By Johnria Deberry

You ever met someone that craved attention and was always seeking approval? For 15 years of my adult life, that person was me.

I longed for attention, and I did not care if it was harmful or unhealthy as long as I was getting it. I loved the pity I received when I was down in the dumps. In my mind having people feel sorry for me made me feel loved and consoled. I felt like the only time people cared for me was going through my mess. If someone was around to give me empathy, I was there to receive it.

Not properly dealing with past issues from childhood caused me to become an attention-seeking adult. My deep-rooted insecurity and lack of self-esteem consumed my emotions, causing me to believe that I did not deserve happiness.

While growing up, I was the “good child.” My grades were excellent, and for the most part, I followed the rules and did everything right. Yet, I always felt from deep within overlooked. Although I was far from perfect, occasionally getting into typical childhood mischief, but nothing major, it still was not enough.

It was my brother who was the “free-spirited” one. From my perspective, he received a lot of my parents’ attention, if not all. I wanted to be a shining light in their eyes, too, so I began to get into trouble upon entering my adolescent years. I didn’t care that I received negative attention from my parents; I was happy they noticed me. I felt that I had to be disruptive with minor delinquent behavior to obtain the heartfelt recognition I longed to experience.

Depression and sickness were the manifestations of my issues. At the age of 10, I developed chronic migraines that continued into adulthood, and by the age of 12, I became immune to Ibuprophen because I took them regularly, with the hopes of ending my life.

As I got older, I sought attention by pursuing relationships with men I knew were toxic. My self-esteem was nonexistent, and I just wanted to feel loved. In these relationships, I endured every form of abuse except physical. I stayed in relationships and caught whatever toxicity came my way because of the ounces of attention.

Although I desired more than anything to fill the void in my heart that had been present since childhood, I continued entertaining toxic relationships from 19 to 34. I stayed in relationships for years with the wrong men and had the nerve to marry one.   

In 2016, I met Freedom Coach Nataushia Miller. That year she launched her Fear to Freedom Boot Camp (now called Freedom from Trauma Boot Camp), and I enrolled. During the Boot Camp, I realized that God could only fill the void I was trying to satisfy. I was able to unpack all my mess and start my healing process.

The first thing I had to do was repent. I realized that I kept God on the back shelf and only took Him down when I felt I needed Him. During the Boot Camp, I came to see, know, and understand my worth, and God loved me even in all my brokenness. I begin to spend time with God daily. With the Boot Camp and my new prayer life, I uncovered my fears and triggers. I learned how to combat the spirit of fear successfully.

For anyone going through something similar where you see yourself using your soul wounds to gain attention, remember that God loves you, and He is the only one you must please. He is the only one that can fill any void you have in your heart.  You have a purpose in life, and God is here to help you fulfill it.

Johnria Deberry is a woman of faith, Author, Speaker, Non-Profit Consultant, and Grant Writer. She is the Founder of Younigue Diamonds in the Rough, a mentorship program for teenage girls. She is also the Founder of Deberry’s Non-Profit Consulting Group, LLC, where she guides you through the phases of establishing your non-profit organization: From Start-Up to Legacy Ready.

Contact Johnria: info@deberrysnonprofitconsultinggroup.com

THE SLIP: An Awareness Journey

By Jeffery Hill

My Idolatry Experience:

I can remember the conversations like it was yesterday. “Boy, you ain’t got you none yet…?” These were the questions asked to me by my older cousins. I was roughly 11ish at the time.

I grew up in rural Arkansas, very much the country. While growing up with majority male cousins, I had an introduction to porn at an early age. Typically, when the adults were at the next house or sometimes even in a different room, the older guys would go to the porn stash and pop in a video.

Initially, I wasn’t allowed in the rooms, but I guess that thought, “what could it hurt? He has to learn at some point,” was my entrance ticket. It wasn’t long before I knew way too much for my age. See, the questions they asked me came long after my introduction to pornography. It was something we just did as kids when the adults were away.

Some kids turn to alcohol, others turn to drugs (prescription or non), but my vice was lustful early in life.

As I age, “getting some” never really left my mind. I thought that is what you were supposed to do. We didn’t have any conversations regarding sex and its dangers outside of marriage. Despite growing up attending church, I knew sex was supposed to be for marriage only.

I remember how many students were getting promise rings and claiming celibacy or purity only to “slip” at prom night if they even waited that long. Sex, lust, fornication—it was everywhere you turned. People talked about it in locker rooms, classrooms, church, on the bus, etc.

Throughout my early years, I never turned away from the idea. I wasn’t highly sexually active in high school, but college was different.

My Bleeding Wounds:

Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself.

1 Corinthians 6:18 NRSV

College brought on an entirely new journey in life. I attended church semi-regularly, but I hadn’t wholly conquered that near becoming sex addiction. I say, nearly a growing obsession because there were spouts of time when I was not active. Sex was a part of my life I was putting before God.

I didn’t realize how I was creating soul ties, which would leave me feeling empty at times. I am not sure what I was searching for or just caught up in the act. How could something terrible for you internally feel so good externally?

I didn’t realize how I was creating soul ties, which would leave me feeling empty at times. I am not sure what I was searching for or just caught up in the act. How could something terrible for you internally feel so good externally?

There’s more to sex than skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical act. As written in Scripture, the two become one. Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever–the kind of sex that can never become one. There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God modeled love, for becoming one with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

1 Corinthians 6:16-20 MSG

As I struggled over the years, I knew I had to get a handle on these urges. “Your body is a temple, keep it holy” was a scripture that would replay here and there, but I was ignoring it.

My Worship Encounters

In 2009 I was making big and scary moves in life. I knew I needed God to make it, though. I remember my “come to Jesus” talk during that year. I had been praying for a career change but didn’t quite know what God would present me with; I just knew I needed Him in this stage of life. By this time, I started to attend church regularly. I mean front row, note-taking, tithing, and all.

I still hadn’t quite kicked the habit at this point, but it was better than other times in my life. I was praying to God about my decision to leave my job, a four-day workweek, paid weekly, and no nights and no weekends type of gig. I vividly remember going over the line items of expenses, asking the Lord if He was sure I was supposed to be working total commissions.

“But God, I have a car note, rent by myself, and all these other bills…. are you sure?”

God: “Jeff, do you trust Me?”

“Of course, I trust you!”

God: “Then why are we having these conversations about doubts!?!”

According to Meyers and Briggs (this is the perfect time to let you know my personality style), I am an ENTP-A (Debater). I love a good debate. I often switch sides on topics to enjoy the mental sparring of the opposing views.

I found myself trying to use my wit against The Almighty. I remember thinking, ok, just hit Him with this comment. No wait, says this…that’ll work. Back and forth, I went until it hit me.

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV

It wasn’t so much the verse but the understanding of who I was battling. I knew I had to submit to my covering. In this season, I learned the difference between obedience and sacrifice. Sacrifice gives up something of a lower nature to achieve a high character. I have since learned that obedience is better than sacrifice.

During this conversation, God said, “If you are anxious about the money, what are you willing to sacrifice for your success?”

My immediate answer was: SEX.

God said: “Ok, if you give that up, you have nothing to worry about; I’ll care for you.”

I have never struggled with drugs or alcohol, but sex was hard to pass, especially in relationships. I thought that’s how you were supposed to date.

After this declaration, I learned about the Sexual Transmutation of Energy from the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Sex, when confined in a loving container (marriage), is promoted while sins against the flesh outside of marriage have very negative consequences to success and productivity.

The Law of Obedience became more evident as I learned more. God was about to move in, and I hadn’t yet experienced through me in ways.

I was doing great on my newfound journey of celibacy. I discovered a new power, the power to say no to sex. It was interesting going on dates and having the celibate until marriage conversation. I also learned how unusual that was coming out of a man’s mouth.

I was roughly three years into this journey when I slipped. I backslid into sex as an outlet. Pride quickly came in. I remember thinking, “It’s ok to add it back into my life. I have a handle on this business stuff. I know how to get back on track if my production fails.”

The problem was ignoring the Source of my strength and blessings. I let pride creep into my life, assuming I was working hard, so I deserved to enjoy my hard work and indulge a little. After bumping my head for years, along with a few bad relationships, I found myself needing help.

My last relationship brought me close to God than ever before. I was broken and exhausted. I had been emotionally, verbally, spiritually, and even physically abused in previous relationships, so I knew I had to change my habits.

God told me I needed Him more than I did my ex. But why was I so loyal to someone so bad for me. He said, “If you focused on loving me as much as trying to love her, you wouldn’t have these issues right now!”

Easy right?…there’s only one problem. No one ever told me what it meant to date God. I never had a blueprint on how that looked. I knew it was time to retake my celibacy walk; my purpose was different this time.

In 2018 I joined three life groups at my church and even led a few lessons. I discovered a newfound love and passion for learning and growing in Christ. The devil tried to temp me early on, but I won that battle with the Strength of the LORD. I felt so accomplished activating the strength of God and being able to recognize the slips (triggers that make you go against what you know you should be doing).

I started to heal from those past wounds of sexual trauma. I was introduced to sex entirely too early and carried that with me for many years. Through Christ, I was able to fight that stronghold and learn to date God. 

My Words of Wisdom

When I speak on the “The Slip” journey, I remind people to give themselves a bit of grace while creating new habits and breaking strongholds. You don’t have to step out on this journey alone. Getting involved in good quality life groups can save you in many ways.

Proverbs 27:17 speaks about “iron sharpening iron…” which are relationships you find in a life group. I found so much healing in talking to other men about their journey, struggles, and healing. It gave me life and purpose to share, allowing others to intercede and pray for my strength.

No matter what your past circumstances are, they in no way define who you are, moving forward. There’s so much healing in sharing your story. They say the mess you went through was only to create the message God wanted you to share. Give Him the glory, honor, and praise for your healing.

God has blessed my life many times over. Being healed has allowed me to grow my business to heights I had once only imagined. I am now married to a beautiful soul, and when the LORD took us on such a journey, I only thought I had seen him work! The visions He showed to us were full of clarity and precision. You can fight as much as you want to, but when He has a calling, I found it best to STOP, SUBMIT and EXPECT Him to show you things about yourself you’ve never seen before.

By no means am I perfect, nor are any of us, but I know God has a plan for my life—not to harm me but to give me hope and an abundant future! “We’ve all fallen short of the glory,” but we don’t have to let that be what keeps us from receiving His promises and blessings.

JEFFERY HILL is a man of God, husband, speaker, author, entrepreneur, and CEO of Hill Financial Group, Inc. (a wealth accumulation firm). He has helped countless individuals and business owners create tax-free generational wealth with a Retirement 2.0 Model for saving and investing.

Contact Jeffery: jeff@thehillfinancialgroup.com

Dismantling the Idol of Grief

By Tamara Brooks-Barnes

As a teenager and an emerging young woman, I experienced several traumas back-to-back. Some were sexual violations by grown men, my parents divorcing, one was an abortion, another homelessness, yet another was poverty. For three years, I felt like I was living hell on earth.

During those days, it seemed as if the moment I would take a deep breath, another traumatic event would consume my exhale. Over time I began to dwell in the place of being a victim. After all, I regularly received victimization, so why not just live there? It never made me feel better, but at least I would be ready for when it happened repeatedly.

Many years passed before I realized that I had succumbed to a victim mentality. Who does that? I did, without even realizing such problematic truth. Playing the victim became my forte, and I was oblivious.

According to Robert Leahy, Ph.D., there are six characteristics of victim-oriented thinking:

You feel powerless

You tend to see problems as catastrophic

You tend to think others purposefully hurt you

You believe others target you for mistreatment

You hold tightly to thoughts and feelings related to that of a victim

You feel compelled to keep painful memories alive, not forgive, and take revenge.


https://blogs.webmd.com/relationships/20160518/6-signs-of-victim-mentality

I was not living in each trauma continuously. Still, the consecutive traumatic experiences had conditioned me to live in a space where I often felt that any form of an adverse occurrence was assigned to attack me or break me down even further. Yet, many of the traumatic affairs were probably just happenstance. However, anger and rage became my ride-or-die companions no matter the case. We became bosom buddies, and I felt empowered whenever I became angry or outraged. That false sense of power eventually became my armor. I protected my partners in crime at all costs, and it did not matter who got in the way of our fire—myself, anger, and rage would burn them all.

The turning point occurred when my husband and I were having a minor spat. I was enraged! I was plotting ways I could harm my beloved. I remember sitting on the stoop of our apartment when he asked me, “What is wrong with you?” I replied, “I don’t know. All I know is that I AM FURIOUS.” That very night I prayed, “God, I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I know I am not okay, and I need help.”

The next day I went to campus; I was a college student at the time, there were flyers everywhere. EFlyerswere plastered on walls, offering help for women of color. Around I turned, I could not remember the exact words, but the bulletins were a sign to me from God. I contacted the number to sign up for the seminar. Something about the flyer penetrated my soul, and I could not get it out of my mind. I looked forward to finding out more.

The seminar was on a Sunday afternoon. When I arrived, the room was full of women of all cultures and ethnicities. The facilitator was a black woman, Barbara Jackson. She guided us through a series of exercises. Towards the end, she asked who wanted to meet with her privately. I signed up immediately. Little did I know, I was about to face all those traumas I thought were so far behind me.

I remember my first meeting with Ms. Jackson. I wanted to talk about my husband and all the things he could do to be a better husband. I wanted to talk about my first boyfriend and how he played me for a fool. However, Ms. Jackson had other ideas. She stated firmly and lovingly, “Let’s talk about you.” I remember I paused, and I said, “If my husband would just do what I said, and my boyfriend would have just been faithful, we wouldn’t be here!” Ms. Jackson said, “Your boyfriend did no more than what you allowed, and your husband is not your slave.” Wow! Those words shook me at my core, and they set me on a path to healing.

I had to confront my traumas, and therapy was the safe space in which I could do just that. I was yet to heal from being molested, my parent’s divorce, or from a forced abortion. Not only had I not gained healing, but I was also bleeding all over my husband, my children, and anyone who stood still long enough to try and get to know me.

I had survived it all for purpose, but i was blind to seeing such a reality. In my condition, I was in a critical spiritual condition, and my soul was crying out for deep inner healing. I knew it was crucial when I was in therapy with Ms. Jackson twice a week, group therapy once a week, and marriage counseling with our pastor. I was a wreck. However, I started dreaming again.

I was so emotionally dead; I did not even realize I had stopped dreaming. I had always been a dreamer but lost touch with who God had called me to be. By becoming detached from me because of chronic trauma, looking back, I was a zombie–rotting and decaying spiritually and emotionally yet walking around like I was alive.

I remember during this season, I cried and cried and cried some more. I began to share my traumas with my pastor, and he prayed and prayed and prayed some more. I still remember my first authentic worship experience. It came in the living room of my house. There was a man on television, Bishop TD Jakes, and was ministering on “Woman Thou Art Loosed.” It was the Lord’s doing, and it was marvelous in my eyes.

I was not a religious television watcher, but t had the television on TBN. this day; I was not a shouting kind of woman either. Something changed in me the day I watched this program. Although I would praise the LORD, it was this day that I had my first unadulterated worship encounter. I raised my hands. I cried out to God, and I felt the presence of God like I had never experienced before.

That encounter with God made me hunger and thirst for His presence all the time. I would seek out times to worship the LORD. I kept sitting at His feet during this time, and I felt like I was coming out of a deep slumber. I felt the fog lifting; I felt lighter. I started singing in my home again. I read my bible with an intensity I had not had since I was a child. I started communing with the Holy Spirit. I was being refreshed, renewed, and healed.

During this season, my pastor began to talk to me about the prophetic anointing that he could see in my life. He encouraged me in my gift and nurtured my call. I did a lot of personal healing, but I also received healing in some very public spaces. Our ministry functioned heavily in healing and deliverance, and our pastor had a heavy anointing for forgiveness. He ministered on forgiveness many times of the twenty-five years I was a part of the ministry. Every time he ministered, I would always rush to the altar. I did not want to take for granted that I was in a posture of forgiveness.

Forgiveness caused me to shed the weight of the grief I carried for so long. I realized living with grief and nurturing the spirit of despair is a dysfunction that became a normalized lifestyle. It was the root of my trauma. Instead of confronting my traumas immediately, I learned how to give grief the honor it does not deserve. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had erected an idol in my life.

In the years since I began my therapy in earnest while seeking the face of God, I have come to realize that the enemy uses our traumas against us. If we suppress our trauma and neglect to deal with it God’s way, the enemy will use us as pawns. Then we, in turn, idolize aspects of our trauma to guard and protect ourselves, and mine was grief. 

I do not know what your story is beloved, but you happened upon my words. I encourage you to seek God, seek therapy, and seek healing because your life depends on it. As a woman of Faith, I believe in prayer and therapy. Dig deep into God’s word and memorize healing scriptures because the weapons of your warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). There are many books to supplement God’s word, too, and many have kept me on my path to healing. Do not get discouraged if you face setbacks along the way.

Remember, the enemy is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Be like David, face your giants head-on, and be healed in Christ Jesus, May you go with God into a land of healing. Be blessed, Prophetess Tamara Brooks-Barnes.

TAMARA BROOKS-BARNES is a Prophetess of God, an author, wife, a mother of three, and grandmother of one grandson. She operates in the prophetic as a Seer. She has an anointing to heal the brokenhearted in the areas of post-abortion trauma, rape, and family & marriage restoration.

Contact Tamara: girlubetterpray@gmail.com

For the Love of Loyalty

By Johna Renee Hill

Idolatry Experience 

As nervous as I was, I always looked forward to my annual performance reviews. I wanted to hear how well I consummated my job description over the past year and areas where I can improve and get better for the following year. During my annual reviews, I would always receive feedback, such as, “You possess a strong work ethic. Your work ethic exemplifies commitment to giving your best always, whether it be a project, task, or team. You are someone we can rely on to get the job done with excellence!”

Having maintained some form of employment since the age of 11, work became all I knew. It was what I subconsciously used to define me. I knew that there was more depth to who I am as a daughter of God the Father and who I am to my family, friends, and community, and I would even use this to describe myself, but the truth is my work had forged a purpose in my life that put my authentic calling on the back burner.

Now, after working 25 years nonstop (without breaks), I found myself at a crossroads of being overworked, grieved, and depressed because my forged purpose had taken over my entire life! My career became not only a distraction but an idol that kept me from obeying God wholeheartedly.  

Bleeding Wounds 

Early 2020, before the COVID pandemic breakout, I was working 18-20-hour days six days a week, neglecting my family, friends, and health because I was loyal to a fault. I was more faithful to the company I worked for the past 12 years than I was to God and myself, which caused me to become internally grieved in my spirit. But why? Why had I allowed myself to get so engraved in my work that I began to neglect “life” itself?

When I began to ask myself these tough questions, I realized that my work had become an idol; it also became a daunting distraction to prevent me from dealing with myself and my problems. It prevented me from addressing JOHNA and allowing God to bring me to the next level in Him and operating my gifts.

Work had become the toxic cycle I used to maneuver in the Rat-Race. I had succumbed to it immensely, and I gladly used it as an excuse to keep me from growing in the LORD. I had become a busy body like Martha (see Luke 10:38-42). But once again, why?

I had become so addicted to work or anything else that I kept my goals on the shelf.  I always seemed to find a way to put everything and everyone before my own personal development goals and God-given visions for my life. I had gotten used to it. Work was just the new scapegoat I subconsciously used to deter me from allowing God to work in me, perfecting the gifts He gave me. It was time for an out! 

Worship Encounters

In the fall of 2019, I knew that a shift had to and was about to occur. God had been speaking to me in a still, small voice, preparing me for the unavoidable change He was orchestrating. Not only was my spirit grieved, but my physical body was also exhausted from working like a machine for the past 2 1/2 years.

After Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast in 2017, I took on a significant project. As a result, it was nonstop work for 2 1/2 years to help the community recover and restore a new sense of normalcy. As rewarding as helping the community was, it was also taxing on myself, my team, and colleagues. Simultaneously, my baby sister finished most of her senior year in high school and extracurricular events without me. I was missing practically everything, and this is when the shift began, and it became apparent that I was overworking and suffering from burnout.

During this time, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me regarding loyalty. There is nothing wrong with being loyal and committed to a task, but it is entirely wrong when that “task” comes before your commitment to God and yourself. Ouch, ouch, ouch, is how I felt from this conviction!

During this time of revelation, I began to prepare for the inevitable shift I knew was coming. God’s still small voice was getting louder and louder, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I had to MAKE A DECISION.

Words of Wisdom

 In February 2020, I made one of the most complex decisions: walk away from that which was consuming my commitment and time away from my service to God. Yep, I decided to take a leap of faith and walk away from my “forged purpose” in work to fulfill my spiritual calling and seek my divine purpose in God.

Often, we get so caught up in our talents that we neglect our spiritual gift. Selah! There are things that we are naturally good at, some things that come easy, that we find pleasure in doing. We often went to school and obtained degrees and certificates to help fine-tune these talents. However, we cannot allow our natural talents to supersede the GIFTS that God Himself has placed in each one of us. Our natural abilities are to make way for our gifting. Romans 12:3-8 speaks of these gifts and how God has distributed to each of us different gifts to fulfill His purpose.

Walking away from a generous salary, benefits, excellent work culture, great team, and work that forged purpose in my life was difficult and took a new level of faith. It took a new level of trust. Although I had taken many major faith leaps in the past, those leaps were before I had a family depending on me financially and had countless responsibilities to heed.  But if I can trust my natural self to take care of my needs, why couldn’t I trust God as my Provider to take care of ALL my needs?

It was a distorted reality I had accepted. When the truth is “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men” Proverbs 18:16 (KJV). Furthermore, “Every good gift and perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, nor shadow of turning” James 1:17 (KJV).

God was faithful in my season of idolatry to see that my family lacked for nothing. How much more faithful will He supersede my expectations when I submit my loyalty to Him by allowing His fullness to be made whole through me while operating in my gifting? He is faithful to do just that!

Since shifting my loyalty and stepping out on faith with leaving my work, I have lacked for nothing and watched God perform miracles for myself and my family! If this is you, and you are finding yourself faced with the decision to fulfill your calling, I leave you to ponder on the following:

1. Are you currently grieved with where you are in life?  If so, why? It is a tale-tale sign of needing a spiritual realignment.

2. Inventory your life. Are you operating out of your natural talents or your spiritual gifting?

3. Are you trusting God to guide you?

4. If God was entirely using you, how would it feel and look? 

Once you have asked yourself these tough questions and answered them truthfully, I believe God will lead you to your next step of trusting Him! The shift from The Love of Loyalty for people, places, and things as forged purpose, to be faithful to God.

JOHNA RENEE HILL is a daughter of the King, wife, Author, Speaker, Community Leader, and Business Strategist. She is a strong advocate for individuals from underserved communities with over 15 years of experience in Social Services and Project Management. Johna enjoys traveling the world while helping her clients expand their businesses.

Contact Johna: jhillspeaks@gmail.com

Once a Slave to Money

By Nataushia Miller

I was once a slave to money. The lack of it, the need for it, the ever-fluctuating amount of it dominated my thoughts, emotions, actions, and in many ways, my life. The concept of money kept me up at night; its reality kept me anxious throughout the day. After experiencing ten months of homelessness in 2012, as an educated woman (with a master’s degree), wife, mother of one child while pregnant with number two, could you blame me?

We didn’t become homeless overnight. It was a slow occurrence after an unexpected job loss two days before baby number one was born in July 2011. Such a traumatic experience opened my eyes to the lies I’ve been told for years: “Go to college and get a degree so you can get a good-paying job. Then start a family, buy a car, buy a home, etc.” Those lies that were probably once the truth back-in-the-day hoodwinked me into believing that life would unfold smoothly in chronological order because no one told me the real deal:

“Inflation never ends! The job market is flaky! Unions no longer exist! The old retirement plan is extinct! Economy recessions occur in cycles! Unemployment is a reality! More importantly, homelessness does not discriminate!”

After landing a one-bedroom apartment in November of 2012, after ten months of homelessness, one month before baby number two was born, I decided that such a devastating blow will never happen again—not on my watch! So, what did I do, you may ask?

I jumped from one network marketing company to the next. First, there was 5Linx, then Melaleuca, and finally, It Works before I realized that network marketing isn’t my jam. The recruiting component was nerve-racking, the marketing of the products was too routine-ish, and no matter the company’s momentum, I would lose excitement and find myself cruising down the boredom lane. Then eventually, I wrote a book.

Although I’ve always wanted to become an author, starting many books, never finishing any, I did not intend to write this book. One night while reflecting upon my healing journey from experiencing homelessness, I cried out to God, desiring to know why I still felt so far from His presence internally. The Holy Spirit revealed to me that it was because I never dealt with my physiological responses to Hurricane Katrina (yes, I am a Hurricane Katrina survivor).

Immediately, I began to journal daily as a means for inner healing. By day five, while reviewing my journal entries, I thought to myself, “this looks like a book,” and the Holy Spirit replied with two words, “It is!” I completed the manuscript for my first book, Is Freedom Your Reflection in the Mirror? Eight Steps to Overcoming Trauma, in six weeks fall of 2014 and released in August of 2015 (the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina).

Although my book is valuable and life-changing for readers, wherein I inspire them with my personal story, educate them about trauma, and guide them through the healing process, I was still on the prowl to conjure up ways in creating streams of income. In the back of my mind, I was like, “Show me the money,” totally oblivious that I AM THE MONEY!

We were still living in a one-bedroom apartment with our third baby as of July 2015. Don’t get me wrong; there was nothing exploitative in what I was doing. I found legitimate legal ways to incur extra income to support my family. However, as a child of God, I was committing an idolatrous crime by not keeping God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the forefront of my pursuit.

I was in self-preservation mode; I was not purpose-driven. I was all about making sales; I was not aspiring to make or be a difference. I was looking for ways to create multiple sources of income; I was not casting a valuable vision that would attract the monetary provision. Until one day, when the Holy Spirit knocked on the door of my heart, asserting, “We will not move you and your family from this place (our one-bedroom apartment) until you get your mind right about money.”

At that moment, it became clear to me that I had become a slave to money. Yeah, I appeared to include the LORD on my income-building excursions with my religious talk, but from the depths of my heart, the LORD was not in the equation at all whatsoever. For the Word of God says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have; for He said, I will never leave you or forsake you. So, we can say with confidence; the Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6 NRSV). I had to shift; I had to repent. I needed to return to my first Love in my life regarding money.

How did I follow through with my repentance? Since the Bible tells us that it is God who gives us the ability to create wealth (Deuteronomy 8:17-20), I conducted an in-depth word study on the word wealth in October 2015. As I allowed the Holy Spirit to renew my mind about wealth as a noun is a state of being, I came to know and believe with conviction in my heart that I AM THE MONEY!

No longer was I obsessed with building streams of income. My focus was on pursuing the Source of wealth who resides within (the Holy Spirit) for clarity on how to unlock my genius creative ability to build wealth from a posture and position of my divine purpose for being. Shortly after that, in January of 2016, my family and I moved into a two-bedroom apartment! Then the Spirit of the LORD gave me my first money-making Signature Coaching Program, the Freedom from Trauma Boot Camp (formerly known as Fear to Freedom Boot Camp), that I launched in March of 2016. Won’t He do it!

YOU ARE THE MONEY! Practical Application

The following are a few practical applications from my word study that I pray will help you come to know that you are the money:

  1. Wealth is a mindset. The dictionary defines wealth as “an abundance or profusion of anything; plentiful amount.” Jesus, while in His humanity, stated, “I came that they might have life more abundantly” (John 10:10). The word might, implies that there is a prerequisite to tapping into the possibility of the abundant life that Jesus came to give because it is not a guarantee. Therefore, you must commit to cultivating a mindset of wealth.
  2. Wealth is a vision. Without vision, people cast off restraint (Proverbs 29:18). In other words, wealth requires discipline, and to maintain diligence, you must have a solid concept, and to develop a secured vision, you must have the ability to see with your mind (imagination) and not your sight—physical eyes (Hebrews 11:1). When you are wealthy with divine insight, you think creatively, consciously, and critically to receive strategic clarity and act courageously.
  3. Wealth is the Word. The company you keep determines your worth, value, and wealth. Are the thoughts, behavior, people, places, and activities of your life liabilities or assets? Are they subtracting or adding value to you? Who is your most considerable investment?  Conduct a wealth inventory assessment to align every thought, behavior, person, place, thing, or action in your life with the delight of the law of the LORD—the Word of Life that will bring you great success even as your soul prospers (Psalm 1:1-2 & 3 John 1:2).
  4. Wealth is Ever Increasing. Wealth will continue to increase as you do. When you remain committed to your growth, development, and transformation process as a carrier and creator of wealth, you will live in the realm of more than enough lacking no good thing. You will witness excess productivity and results in your life; your leaves of prosperity will not whither, as who you are, and all that you do, and touch consistently grows (Psalm 1:3).
  5. Wealth Reflection. Journal your responses and thoughts to the following: What is wealth? How do you obtain the ability to create it? Read, review, and reflect upon 2 Kings 4:1-7.

Wealth is who you are and can create!

~Freedom Coach Nataushia Miller

NATAUSHIA MILLER is a daughter of the King, Author, Freedom Coach, Global Speaker, and the Founder of Character for Life Global, Inc. She has helped countless people break through internal barriers such as fear and shame due to unhealed trauma. Her life-coaching style offers a unique approach with Biblical Principles and sociological concepts for leaders who desire Healing from Trauma God’s Way.

Contact Nataushia: www.c4lglobal.com