Breakthrough Women

Part III of a three-part series

This is the third part of the Breakthrough Women series. These are lessons I have learned over the years as a wife and mother. The final section describes the type of women who breakthrough. They are Designer women.

There are many designers but only one Master Designer. A designer creates from a vision. In attempt to copy the vision, a knock-off is created to imitate the real. Instead of being designer women, many of us in the house of faith are knock-offs. A knock-off is a copy or imitation of something or someone popular that sells for less than the original.

We have knock off women – rude, lazy, not-healthy, out of shape spiritually and naturally, self-centered and not God centered, ignorant (not well read), busy with things that don’t make a difference to the kingdom of God, caught up with some vice/issue, they are fakers. 

God is looking for some designer women – women who are full of the spirit, Godly, keepers of their homes, lovers of one husband, if single – living with integrity in their sexual lives, raising children (theirs and others) in the fear of God, teaching other women how to act by example and not just word only.

Designer WomenKnock-Off Women
Emotionally stable because they are accountable to other womenEmotionally unstable and suffering because they won’t let others in
Are knowledgeable and not afraid to keep on learningRefuse to learn new things – claim the old is better – unfinished projects
Physically fit – healthy – this is not just about sizeUnhealthy and not doing anything about it
Spiritually mature and able to handle the meat of the wordStill drinking milk – inconsistent in prayer, Bible study and basic spiritual disciplines
Relationships are strong and vibrantFalls out with people over little things and blames others for their issues
Spiritual values are paramount – her values are in line with the Kingdom of GodMaterialistic – tends to consider material possessions and physical comfort

Fashion designers create with a target audience in mind. God, the master designer creates with us in mind. We were designed to be full of vision, peaceful, joyful and wise. The Master Designer has as specific outfit for a Godly woman that includes a gentle spirit, not loud and void of bad attitudes. Knock-off women choose nasty and bad attitudes.

God, the Master Designer is putting together an outfit for you that is a tailor-made garment. Have you ever had a tailor-made suit? I’m not talking about a suit you bought that didn’t fit so you had it altered. I’m talking about you had vision for an outfit so you spoke to a designer who took your ideas and created something from a thought. A pattern may or may not have been used, fabric was selected and all the necessary zippers, buttons, lining, interfacing and thread – every resource needed to make this outfit was gathered.

When you receive a vision for something it’s because you have been speaking to the Master designer in prayer. He took your words and created things for you from stuff that doesn’t exist yet!  It is a vision that is yet to be manifested.  When we put an outfit together, we imagine what we will look like and begin to put the individual pieces together – the top, bottom, accessories, hair, shoes, nails, etc.  Each piece is selected and designed to compliment the entire outfit, the final look we are after. 

God designs and selects pieces of our life to create a divine design for us that is unique and reflective of who we were, who we are, and what we shall be. He is the builder that has taken everything into account because he alone sees the beginning and the end and everything in between as the Alpha and Omega!

People buy designer because they want the item to last versus buying a bunch of knock-offs that won’t last. A friend bought a designer bag from a beauty salon sales person. Shortly after she bought it the zipper broke so she took it to the designer store. This particular designer guarantees their bags and they will give you a new bag or your money back.  The sales person told her she couldn’t do anything because the bag “was not one of their products”.  She had purchased a knock-off and didn’t know it! That was the beginning and end of her knock-off days. She decided to save her money and buy from the original designer.

Why do people buy knock-offs? The number one answer from my personal survey is PRICE! Most people do not want to pay the price for the original. It costs too much! The value they have placed on it is not equal to something they want to pay for it. Often we apply the same principle in the spiritual and choose things a little bit less expensive and try to get the same designer spiritual look. For example the pastor calls for a fast so we modify it so the price isn’t so painful with out a legitimate reason (some may have medical reasons). The master designer asks the question, is this not the fast I have chosen? (Isaiah 58:6-7) Instead of paying the price so that the Lord can build our houses, cities and families we are building knock-offs and wondering why things are not lasting!

A knock-off designer needs a picture of the original item before they can create a copy of it. When we are tempted to cut corners and settle for less, we need to remember that we are called to be designer women. We must see God as the master designer and everything else is the knock-off. Breakthrough Women are willing to pay the price and invite others to do the same. Do you know any breakthrough women? If so reach out and thank them for setting the example, your words will bless them richly!

Breakthrough Women

Part II of a three-part series

Secondly, breakthrough women know how to fight.

At some point in time, every human being will have to fight for something: either to protecting what you have or getting what you want. I am not recommending that we fight one other. In fact we have too much infighting going on now! Breakthrough women understand that there are times when we need to fight for relationships, family, peace of mind, community, and for the purposes of God.

In 1 Timothy 6:12 the Apostle Paul encourages his spiritual son Timothy to fight the good fight of faith in order to lay hold on eternal life. Paul, the mentor, states that there is a struggle in the spirit realm for faith and encourages him in the struggle. He does not want Timothy to lose heart when things get difficult. 

To fight means:

  • To take part in a physical struggle or battle
  • To assemble for war
  • To agonize, contest publicly, strive, battle
  • Be consumed

When the Lord states that He is fighting for us, He completely overtakes and consumes our enemies. If God is for us, there is no one, or nothing that can stand against us. It doesn’t mean we will not have to fight. 

In my middle school days, the last day of school was known as “fight day.” People would come to school dressed in their old clothes ready to work it out. Sometimes you would get a warning that someone was after you. Other times you did not get a warning and you were caught by surprise. Either way a good portion of the school was present to witness the fight. The winner usually had a strategy to come out on top.

According to Robert Greene’s 33 Strategies for War, there are certain basic principles that a soldier must be aware of in order to fight. Here are some pointers that I believe are helpful for Breakthrough Women:

  • The mind is the starting point of all war and all strategy.
  • It is important to get your head in the game
  • Amidst the turmoil of events, do not lose your presence of mind

Source: Robert Greene’s The 33 Strategies of War.

When we approach a fight with a strategy and a clear mind we are able to apply the right technique for the situation. The Proverbs 31:10-31 woman could apply what was needed in her home, with the merchants, with the poor and needy, her children and husband. The strategy she used for the many areas of her life differed according to the task. It was not easy. I’m sure she had to struggle with the opposition of her hopes and dreams for her family, business and ministry. She was a true Breakthrough Woman armed with strategy.

Fighting for our families may look like spending extra time in prayer for each member, calling them by name and by nature. Fighting for our business may look like going back to school to increase our knowledge. Fighting for our ministry may look like connecting with another sister and committing to that relationship with all of its ups and downs, not giving up on your sister because of a disagreement. Fighting for your business may look like some late nights and early mornings for a season.

Breakthrough Women understand that things come to pass. They are willing to stand up and be counted while their hearts are bowed in prayer.

Breakthrough Women represent the Deborahs, Esthers and Marys of our church who will say “be it unto me, I am your servant”  and follow up with their actions day by day.

Breakthrough Women know how to fight!

Breakthrough Women

Part One of a Three-part series

We are living in curious times. A health crisis has invaded homes on a global scale bringing unexpected changes to the way we live, work and play. Uncertainty greets us every morning while fear and anxiety attempts to speak with us each night.

Breakthrough is needed for such a time as this!

Yet, where is the breakthrough prophetic voice of the church? And more specifically ladies, where is the breakthrough prophetic voice of the daughters, sisters and mothers of the land? Throughout scripture and in our global spaces God has used women to bring about change. Here are a few:

Deborah – a wife, prophetess and judge in Israel

Shirley Chisholm – first black woman elected to the United States Congress

Rahab – a harlot who saved her household by hiding the messengers sent from Joshua

Harriet Tubman – a former slave turned abolitionist leading many others to freedom

Abigail – the wife of Nabal who interceded on her husband’s behalf to King David

Susan B. Anthony – an activist for women’s suffrage and slavery

Esther – a queen who obtained favor for her people against an adversary

Anne Frank – young, Jewish girl whose diary became a trusted account of the Holocaust

Mary Magdalene – brought the message of a risen Savior to the disciples

A breakthrough is a sudden increase in knowledge and understanding.  It is an important discovery that happens after trying for a long time to understand or explain something (Webster). I believe breakthrough women embody three characteristics. This post focuses on the first characteristic.

Breakthrough women know how to apply new knowledge. Once you gain new knowledge a decision must be made. You are now halted, which means to stand in perplexity or doubt between alternate courses.

  1.  Will I stay the same with this new knowledge tucked away for safe keeping, ignoring the possibilities it brings, or
  2. Will I change my actions according to the new knowledge I have now received?

It is easier to stay in the comfort of what I do versus what I know to do. The work of change is difficult emotionally, intellectually and physically. You have to overcome

For example, I became a tither very early in my Christian walk. The problem was not with the 10%, it was how I handled my 90%. I asked my sister-in-law (www.money-classes.com) to do a training at our church entitled “Managing the 90”.  My heart’s desire is to be a philanthropist. I want to give to people and causes to further the kingdom of God.  I cannot give if I cannot manage my 90% in a godly manner.  I heard about a book from Michelle Singletary called the 21 Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom. It changed my financial life. I applied my new knowledge.

You have a decision to make with the new knowledge you receive. Now that you know, what will you do?

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”Maya Angelou

The bible puts it this way:

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. (James 4:17)

The decisions we make daily add up to to a lifetime of joys or regrets. Take the time to review each decision made regarding every area of your life. It may mean some delays and times of refinement however know that God is fully in control.

Breakthrough women are located all around the globe. Some of us may never make the news but the fruit of our hands will change lives.

Reward her for all she has done, let her deeds publicly declare her praise. (Proverbs 31:31)

Practicing Spiritual Self-Care

With so many pressing needs around us during this challenging season, we require nurturing and care for our spiritual life on a continual basis.  We often default to prayer and are unaware of other methods of spiritual self-care. Here are some additional methods for keeping our spiritual life alive and vibrant.

Jesus invites us to the ministry of self-care: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Here Jesus points out two things in us:

  1. We are laboring
  2. We are heavy laden

Spiritual self-care invites you to conduct a self-assessment by asking yourself some important questions:

  1. What’s holding your heart?
    • What cares/concerns have held your heart recently and why?
    • Write them down
  2. What are your pending thoughts?
    • Any unresolved issues?
    • Do you have hopes and plans not quite worked out?
    • What dreams of yours are deferred?
    • What plans do you have in motion?

We all have “things” that are hindering our spiritual self-care. Generally, they fall into one of these categories:

  1. Old habits
  2. Behaviors we won’t let go
  3. Excess baggage
  4. Too busy for our own good
  5. Lazy attitudes
  6. Not disciplined
  7. Sinful behavior
  8. Actions or thoughts God is not pleased with

Some methods of spiritual self-care include Sabbath principles from Marva Dawn’s book, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly.

“…nothing can capture the mystery of the Sabbath, the peace of God’s eternal presence in that day, except the intentional choice of welcoming it and honoring it.” Marva Dawn

I. Ceasing: coming to an end

“The spiritual rest which God especially intends in his commandment (to keep the Sabbath holy) is that we not only cease from our labor and trade but much more — that we let God alone work in us and that in all our powers we do nothing of our own.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ceasing involves freedom from:

  1. Worry and work
  2. Need to accomplish and be productive
  3. Our efforts to be in control of our lives as if we were God
  4. Life pursued without God’s purpose in the center

Ceasing occurs when we:

  1. Retreat
  2. Honor a regular Sabbath time
  3. Pray (including intercessory prayer)
  4. Daily devotional reading of the Bible

Ceasing deepens our repentance for the many ways we fail to trust God and try to create our own future.

II. Resting: to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. The renewing of our whole being requires us to:

  1. Cease spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual and social acts.
  2. Be intentional!
  3. Rest for one day. Resting provides us an added benefit of a day of complete physical rest that gives us extra strength and zeal for the tasks of the other six days.
  4. Strengthen our faith in the grace of God.
  5. Requires time away from our emotional and intellectual problems. This enables us to come back to them with fresh perspectives, creative insights and renewed spirits. This is where God can re-create some things in us as we rest in him.

We do this through:

  1. Sleep
  2. Play
  3. Hobbies
  4. Prayer – letting it go!
  5. Vacation

III. Embracing: include or contain (something) as a constituent part

“The important point in all our imitation (of God) is its deliberate intentionality. We don’t just think God’s values are good.  We embrace them wholly…To embrace is to accept with gusto, to live to the hilt, to choose with extra intentionality and tenacity.” Marva Dawn

Your spiritual self-care must be deliberate and intentional, or it will not last.  Know that it will be challenged, constantly.

Embracing invites us to take the truths of our faith and apply them practically in our values and lifestyles, and requires us to:

  1. Be consistent with spiritual growth and development
  2. Establish necessary disciplines to carry out the required tasks
  3. Practice devotional Bible study
  4. Fasting
  5. Pilgrimage

IV. Feasting: A celebration of true love initiated by God

Feasting includes:

  1. Partaking in a large meal, typically one in celebration of something
  2. Using music, beauty, food, and affection
  3. Allowing our bodies, minds, souls and spirits to celebrate together with others knowing that God is in our midst. We should be like children feasting with God often.

A spiritual discipline is, when practiced faithfully and regularly, a habit or regular pattern in your life that repeatedly brings you back to God and opens you up to what God is saying to you.

Spiritual self-care is a must!

Build Your House!

The request of the federal government and various state officials for individuals to stay in place has placed extra weight on families. This season of the home as the base of operations for work, school and play has revealed the strength and weaknesses of our families. A house is built on the shoulders of fathers and mothers. As a mother I am choosing to address the biblical responsibilities of women in building their house.

Proverbs 14:1 “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”

Proverbs 9:1 “Wisdom hath buildeth her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:”

Proverbs 24:3-4 “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: and by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

Psalms 127:1 Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it:  except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

What is a house? According to The American Heritage Dictionary, a house is a structure serving as a dwelling for one or more persons, especially for a family.You probably have a very specific mental image of the typical house. It is a structure on its own piece of land, generally with a lawn and plants outside. It has a pitched roof, walls covered in brick or siding, windows and doors. Inside there are rooms like the kitchen, the living room, bedrooms and bathrooms.

Building a house entails making something by joining parts to make a structure by putting the parts of it together. It also includes forming or developing something, or in this case, someone.

When you are trying to build a physical house, you should have a dream, hire an architect to design your dream and obtain financing. Once the outside components of your house are decided the next step is to determine the spiritual and natural parts of your house.

  • Foundation:  What are the non-negotiable rules in your house?  Is God the corner stone all the time or just on Sundays and when you pray over meals?  Can people come in any time they want to?  Do your children have responsibilities around the house?  Are there consequences to broken rules?
  • Systems:  What keeps your house going?  Some of the systems include people communicating to each other in healthy ways, mealtimes together, respect for all individuals in the family and clear understanding of the roles and duties of all family members.
  • Bearing walls:  These walls are essential to the maintenance of your family.  Bearing walls carry the weight of the house. Without healthy bearing walls, the house is not safe. The bearing walls include prayer, presence and patience. Our constant communication with God on behalf of our loved ones keeps our hearts focused on God’s plan. Being present physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally for the people in your house is important.  Please don’t discount your own needs as you are reaching out to others. You cannot give from a dry well. Patience with our families reminds us that our houses are constant building improvement projects. Let’s be in it for the long haul.

Your house did not get where it is overnight. It will take time to build the house of a wise woman.  The foolish woman’s house was destroyed quickly. This is not quick or easy work. Parenting is hard. Doing it God’s way is even harder.  Take your time and allow God to lead you. 

The question I want to leave with you is: what type of house do you want to build?

A Woman’s Plan B!

Women have a reputation for creating multiple plans, especially in relationships. When plan “A” fails, we are generally ready to move on to our plan “B” (disclaimer – this is not about the morning after pill). Often our plan “B” is already a part of God’s plan A. What is a plan? According to Webster’s Dictionary: a plan is a detailed method for the accomplishment of a purpose.

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (Jeremiah 29:11)

When God created Adam, He gave him a plan that included being fruitful, multiplying, and taking dominion (Genesis 1:26-28). After Adam sinned, the plan didn’t change for Adam or Eve, just how it was to be accomplished.

I polled a few women at my church and asked them how do they plan their lives. Here are a few of their responses:

“Set a goal and work backwards with the steps necessary to accomplish that goal”

“Look around to see who else is doing what I want to do and model things after them”

“Pray and fast”

“Think about my life and set goals with my family”

“Sometimes I am motivated by fear of certain consequences so I plan to avoid issues”

God has skillfully and inventively created a plan just for you. Don’t keep creating the plan B’s. Get back to God’s plan A. Sometimes that plan A includes some suffering. Some of us have adopted a mindset about God that only expects the “good”. We forget that that the gospel requires us to partake of Christ and his sufferings (Phil 3:10; I Peter 4:13). Trouble, sufferings, and pain are not indications that you have missed God.

God is the master planner and He knows what He is doing. Our job is to trust Him! The Greek word for enthusiasm means that God has placed something inside of us that he is chasing after. He is coming after the plans he has for us: our hope, expected end, and our future.

Reflective thoughts:

How did you plan for your life to go?

Did you even have a plan or are you just marking time?

Things may not be going the way you thought, but God’s plan is still in effect.

Your plan B is all a part of His plan A.

A Woman of Grace and Truth

The purpose of Women’s History Month is to recognize women who have been overlooked as well as remind society of the important role women play. Purple is the color that represents this month signifying the majesty and royalty women have been bestowed by God. Women’s History Month seems to have been shadowed by the global pandemic COVID-19 however, I must acknowledge the birthday of a special woman, Gwendolyn Ward. My mother-in-law was a blessed woman on many accounts. She was the wife of the late Rev. Aiden Ward and mother of three children, Jacqueline, Sharon, and my husband Lawrence.

My first impression of her was that she was a Lord & Taylor woman; very distinguished and a woman of high standards. Her words would comfort and correct with grace and truth (John 1:14). Prayer was a daily part of her lifestyle. Weekly she would pray with a group of mothers from the church. Women of all ages could be seen gathering around her before and after church, waiting for her loving touch.

Her house was called “Wards Inn” not just because of her hospitality but due to the fragrance of praise and worship she created in her home. Guests from out of town would often proclaim they found a home away from home at Wards Inn. Her Sunday evening standard meal consisting of chicken, peas and rice and sweet potatoes earned a seat at the table for many friends and family members alike. College students knew they could find a meal every Sunday and kept in touch years after graduating from local colleges and universities.

Friday nights were known as “burger nights.” Our church had a van ministry that picked up kids in Boston and brought them to youth ministry in Cambridge. Mom Ward wanted to make sure the youth were fed since many of them came home from school and the van was waiting for them outside. The van would stop at Wards Inn and the youth would run upstairs to get their burger to go. The burger night was a hit with the youth on the van and many memories were made across the city of Boston because of Mom Ward’s burgers!

One of the songs from the Abundant Life Church’s CD written by Chantel Hampton based on the notes from her muse file was dedicated in her honor. When the Morning Comes speaks about her battle with cancer. Mom Ward did not let cancer stop her from praying. I witnessed her attending her treatments one day, resting the next, and meeting the mothers of the church for prayer every Wednesday at noon. The lyrics from the second verse highlight her testimony:

I don’t want to live this way

And let my fear destroy the faith

That I’ve learned to have in you

After all you’ve brought me through

From the past to my present

You’ve never failed me yet

So tomorrow I’ll look for you

As the new day dawns

If after reading this post if you begin to think about the Proverbs 31 woman as outlined by King Lemuel, kudos. Prior to meeting Mom Ward I felt it was impossible to find someone who embodied the characteristics outlined in this passage. After learning from her life, I aspire to set an example for the generations to come. Lord, may my legacy include being known as a woman of grace and truth.