Hope

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Over the past three years, I have reflected on my decision to leave the classroom often and have no regrets. Honestly, I miss working with the students and my coworkers the most, not the actual job itself. I believe that the seventeen years I was blessed to do it were a fulfilled divine assignment. I also asked myself, “How was I able to do it for so many years?” Well, the reason why was hope. I could not have done it as long as I did and as successfully as I did if not for the hope I have in Christ. Such hope helped me believe that He would be faithful to meet me each day in that classroom, allow me to teach and meet every child where they were, and one that helped me to see the potential that He had placed inside of every single one of them. That same hope increased my faith in the fact that if He called me to teach, He would equip and empower me to do just that.

You see, hope is an anchor. Once we grab hold of hope and let it get a hold of us, there is nothing we can’t do. Hope gives us a glimpse of the same joy that set before Christ on the cross that allowed Him to endure death despite the shame (Hebrews 12:2). Hope tells us to keep going through the tunnel even when it’s too dark to see the next step in front of us. Hope tells us to love the unlovable because the God who changes us can do the same for them. Hope makes us look forward to all of the possibilities of the future. When we pair hope with love and faith, power shows up in our lives and touches everyone around us.

So, what is life without hope? Life without hope is existence. God desires more for us than that. He gave His life so we may have life more abundantly. On the day of His return, our hope will be complete (1 Peter 1:13).

Today, where is your hope? Have you lost it because of the cares of this life? Have you allowed grief, finances, a bad health report, a broken heart, or anything else to rob you of your hope? I challenge you to hope again because life is so much better when we have hope.

Ephesians 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,

Be blessed.

The Great Comforter

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 Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Grief can be a tricky thing. It’s unpredictable and comes in waves. One moment, you can be happy and unable to get out of bed, the next. I had never experienced the loss of a loved one until the death of my father in 2013. At the time, my life was so busy with our little ones and work that I never really took the time to address my feelings. It wasn’t until almost a year later that I woke up weeping and could not get out of bed.

For years after, I would get sad around Christmas time because that was the last time I saw my dad. It was strange. My mother had baked him a peach cobbler for me to take to him. I called all day and was not able to get him. So, we ended up spending the day with some friends. However, after we left their house, there was an urgency to call him. I called. He answered. We went over to visit with him and stayed for a few hours. At the time, I did not know that would be the last time I’d be with him. We received a call a few days later from my stepmom saying he was in the hospital. He died shortly after.

After that day, I felt guilty for not spending the day with him instead of my friends. I kept crying, “I didn’t know you’d be gone”. If only I had known, I would have stayed as long as I could and hugged him a little tighter. It took me some time to get over the guilt. Now, I find comfort in the memories we have of our time with him. My dad was a jokester. So, we have alot of fond memories of the jokes he would tell and the things he would say.

Years later, I would have my second closest loss. My grandmother went home to be with the Lord in 2017. However, it was much different because I was able to pull what I knew about the comforting nature of God from my experience with my dad’s death. I not only experienced the comfort of God’s spirit during loss, I experienced His peace. His presence filled the room. Although my heart was heavy, I couldn’t do anything but praise Him because I felt Him in the room in a very tangible way.

Psalms 147:3  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Over the past two weeks alone, four people I know have experienced the loss of loved ones. My heart goes out to them because I have walked in their shoes. This pandemic has brought about a season of great death, sickness, and unrest in many ways. It is easy to fall into depression if we aren’t intentional about focusing on the hope we have in Christ. Sometimes, that can be the only thing that keeps us going.

Are you experiencing grief or any loss today? If so, let me encourage you that God is near to the brokenhearted. His grace is sufficient for you and can give you whatever you need. Don’t hesitate to cry and release your emotions. He will catch every tear, take your brokenness, and make a testimony of it. His presence will not leave you empty. He will fill your broken places with His love, grace, peace, and mercy. Others may not know the pain you feel, but He can bear the heaviness you carry. Give it all to Him! He is the Great Comforter!

This song, “Comforter”, by Cece Winans has always encouraged my soul and reminds me of God, The Great Comforter. I pray it does the same for you.

Be blessed,

Nia

Believe For It

For the past 3 years, I’ve been in a time of waiting. At times, I’ve become anxious because of the uncertainty. However, God has constantly reminded me of His promises and plans for my life. He has done that through His word, people, and songs. One of those songs is “Believe For It” by Cece Winans. Lately, the song has come on in some of the most unusual places. Last week, I was sitting in the doctor’s office and it came on over the intercom. I don’t know about you but that’s a rarity these days especially in public places. Today, I was on my way to another appointment and it came on the radio as soon as I turned it on. Sounds like God is speaking. Wouldn’t you agree?

Therefore, I am not going to have a lengthy post. I just want to encourage you this fine morning. What are you standing in prayer for? What dreams and plans have been on your heart for years that you know with everything in your being that they came straight from Heaven? Have you been standing in the gap for the salvation of loved ones, healing for yourself or someone else, removal of an obstacle or situation that is beyond your control?

If so, I want you to declare as I did this morning, these words from the song, “You said it. I believe it. You said it. It is done.” Take a step further and add whatever your ” IT” is. Speak it out! Say it! Sometimes, we have to put those words out into the atmosphere. Sometimes, we have to say it over and over again until it becomes rooted in our spirits. Find you a text of scripture that will increase your faith. Read it. Declare it over and over until it becomes your daily affirmation.

Believe for it, my friends! We serve a God who does not fail, one who can do exceedingly and abundantly above all we can ask or think, according to the power that worketh in US.

I pray this song encourages you as much as it does me.

Be blessed, Nia.

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“Seeing Is Not Believing”

2 Corinthians 5:7 NLT – For we live by believing and not by seeing. 

2 Corinthians 5:7 is one of my favorite scriptures. I have had this frame (in the picture) with my daughter’s picture walking down the middle of a highway at night in our hometown in East Texas for years. If any of you are from the country, you know how dark it could be at night. You are unable to see anything without your high beams on. I took this picture when she was in middle school. 

Years later, she went off to college and ended up in an abusive relationship. I received a phone call from her boyfriend at 2 am stating he could not find her, and that she ran out of the apartment “for no reason”. I got dressed, grabbed my gun, and sped over. When I drove thru the gate, my headlights struck him a couple of feet ahead as he was coming from behind the dumpster.

Quickly, I drove down, hopped out of my car, and asked, “What are you doing? Why are you coming from the dumpster?”. He stated that he was checking to see if she had jumped the wall and walked to the freeway. It made no sense to me. I knew my daughter would never do anything like this, especially at 2 am. I checked the dumpster to see if he had dumped her body. She was not there. Then, I stopped cars as they drove by. Suddenly, he took off running towards the apartment. I hopped back in the car, backed up to the building, and got out.  

As I was walking to the apartment, I started praying. Let me be honest with you. My prayer was, “God, please let me find my daughter alive. Please help me, Lord. I don’t want to kill this boy.” As I walked, God said to me clear as day, “It’s not what you think it is. It’s not what you can see with your eyes. Don’t believe what you see. Have faith. Believe in me. Remember the promises I have spoken to you regarding her life”. 

Once I entered the apartment, I saw luggage on the couch, her purse, and her cellphone on the floor near the entryway. I checked everything as well as the outside storage to see if I saw blood. Thankfully, I didn’t see any. As I left the apartment, she appeared as I was walking back to my car. Immediately, I began to thank God for His love for us, for being my friend and keeping me from destruction; but most of all for increasing my faith. 

As parents, we all have worried about our children. It’s natural to experience this at some point in time. On that day, He removed that fear from me. Today, I no longer worry about her. I know God has her covered and nestled safely under His arm. Our story didn’t stop there, but our faith elevated that day. 

It may sound terrible to share this. However, it taught us both something. I learned not to take things into my own hands because God has her, and it wasn’t my place to be judge or jury. For her, it drew her closer because God spoke to her and told her to leave. He told her not to go back, and if she did, she might die. 

Sometimes, He allows things to happen for the sole purpose of building our faith; so, that we may be rooted in our faith and show our obedience to what He has instructed us to do. Such building of us is only possible through the Holy Spirit so that we may have faith and gratitude, praying to Him in the Spirit, and giving us wisdom that leads to salvation. This kind, we can get only through the Spirit. 2 Timothy 3:15

I don’t know why I chose to share this message today, but I’m obeying His institution yet again. Be blessed. I am praying for every one of you. 

With compassion,

Nicole Buford A.K.A. Flower      

Romans 4:2

Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,

Jude 1:20

Building us up on our holy faith, so that we pray in the Holy Spirit.

Colossians 2:6-7

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as a living stone

1 Peter 2:4-5

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Release It!

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My husband and I have always had the most interesting conversations. It is a mix of thought sharing, production, and revelation. It’s like what I am saying pulls things from him and him from me. Every time we end a conversation, I’m always left feeling empowered and challenged at the same time. I know that it is a divine thing; I am so grateful. The other day, we began a conversation about women having babies and how the body prepares for delivery. He started by saying that a woman produces milk when she is about to have her baby. I clarified that milk production doesn’t occur until after the baby is born. However, her body is preparing long before the process of labor and delivery begins. As the conversation progressed, we began to equate that process to our spiritual development.

Friends, God has assigned works to each of our hands. He has seeded His divine purpose within all of us. However, a great deal of spiritual development must occur to prepare us to fully accomplish all the things He has set for us to do. Just as in the natural, a seed’s germination is dependent upon the right conditions. In the same way, we must have experiences that help mold us and position us for the big picture God has for our lives. Every challenge and triumph we face is leading up to our destiny. Likewise, the changes that occur in a woman’s body during the gestational period serve one purpose. She has to have that baby. Guess what? We do too. We have to release that which God has birthed in us.

Another interesting thing we discussed regarding lactation is that once that milk comes into the breasts, the mother must release the milk to prevent discomfort due to engorgement. In my own life, I can relate to that both spiritually and naturally. Spiritually, when God has given me an idea or something to do, the longer I sit on it, the more uncomfortable I become; because whatever He has placed on the inside of us was not meant to be held on to. We are to use those gifts to build the kingdom and glorify God. When we do not, we fail to fulfill God’s plan. However, like a mother, that milk has to be released to feed her baby; the more she does, the more milk she produces. Likewise, when we commit to operating in our God-given gifts and talents, He develops, nurtures, and increases them. The more we allow His Spirit to lead and flow through our hands, our Father opens even greater doors for us to use them. Isn’t that what we all want? To be used to build the kingdom.

What has God asked you to do? What has He placed inside of you that will be a blessing to His kingdom? What visions and plans has He placed on your heart? What have you done with them? If nothing, why? What is stopping you from birthing and releasing it?

Honestly, I know that I have not done all that God has given me to do. I am sure I am not alone.

Let Us Pray:
Father, we thank you for creating us in your image. We ask that you forgive us for not always recognizing, valuing, and representing your image well. Please forgive us for not being obedient to what you have called us to and surrendering ourselves to your spirit. Lord, we ask that you help us shift our focus back to you and what you have assigned to our hands. Let us lay aside every weight that has hindered us and give us the wisdom to move forward in obedience. We ask that you give us another opportunity to accomplish the tasks and creative ways to get them done. Give us vision and provision to see them through to completion in a spirit of excellence. So, that others will see and glorify You. Show yourself so strong that there will be no doubt that it was you, Lord. We thank you in advance for all these things. In your son, Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Jireh: The Lord Who Provides

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26“If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28“But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! 29“And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30“For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek, but your Father knows that you need these things. 31“But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

In this time of self-empowerment, making things happen for ourselves, and “self-made” success stories, we can easily give in to worry when we begin to compare ourselves to others. However, that is not the way of the kingdom of God. We are to look to our Father for every need in our lives. Whether it be natural or spiritual, we can look to Him who has it all. We have all heard of the song “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands”. The song says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands.” Let us think about that for a minute. When I hear those words, I immediately get a picture in my head of a hand with the globe inside of it. The globe is the Earth, its contents, and every living creature that inhabits it. Who are we? His creation. So, that means if He truly has the entire world in His hands, we can be found in His hands too.

In Luke 12: 26-28, a question is asked, “If you cannot do even a little thing, why do you worry about other matters?” In addition, the scriptures begin to describe how God takes care of the lilies and the grass; they have not a care in the world. And if He can take care of the rest of His creation in such a manner, why would He not take care of us. I think we often forget the nature of our Father. When we do, we place an unintended burden and false expectation on ourselves. Luke also points out that when we worry about our needs, it reveals the source and strength of our faith. We would not worry if we wholeheartedly believed that our Father is and has all that we need. 

Are you worried about your needs not being met? Trust in Him. He is Jehovah Jireh, our provider. He shall supply ALL of our needs according to His riches in glory. Psalms 50:10 says He owns every beast in the forest and the cattle on a thousand hills. Do you not belong to Him too? Why would He not freely give to you what is His if you are an heir to His throne? Cast your care on Him because He cares for you. Let Him be the Good Father. The Good Father knows what His children need and provides those needs. 

Let Him be Jireh in your life.

Below I have shared a song called, “Jireh”, by Maverick City that always reminds me of who He is. Be blessed.

Don’t Let Your Hurt Speak for You

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“In the same way, the Holy Spirit helps us when we are weak. We don’t know what we should pray for. But the Spirit himself prays for us. He prays with groans too deep for words.” – Romans‬ 8:26‬ NIRV‬‬

“Your tongue has the power of life and death.” – Proverbs‬ 18:21‬ NIRV‬‬

“In the same way, the tongue is a small part of the body. But it brags a lot. Think about how a small spark can set a big forest on fire. The tongue also is a fire. The tongue is the evilest part of the body. It pollutes the whole person. It sets a person’s whole way of life on fire. And the tongue is set on fire by hell…With our tongues, we praise our Lord and Father. With our tongues, we call down curses on people. We do it even though they have been created to be like God.” – James‬ 3:5-6, 9‬ NIRV‬‬

“Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen.” – Ephesians‬ 4:29‬ NIRV‬‬

While watching TV with my cousin, I heard this guy tell a woman who was speaking negatively about men to “not let the hurt speak for you.” When I heard it, it struck a chord in my psyche and has resonated ever since. Because honestly, I have been guilty of similar in the past. Not the speaking negatively of men (I’ve never really done that as I know too many wonderful men), but allowing any hurt and disappointment to form the words that I speak to myself and others. However, not only has it shaped my words, hurt and disappointment have also influenced my prayers. Have they influenced your thoughts, speech, and prayers too? If so, just as the man said, “Don’t let the hurt speak for you!”

Instead, learn to speak to your hurt, disappointment, failures, and whatever emotions that set themselves in your mind as a stronghold. How can we do this? The Bible gives us numerous tools to do just that. 

  1. Recognize that in the moments of hurt, devastation, grief, or disappointment that it is ok to not be able to form words to pray. Instead, understand that the Holy Spirit is perfectly capable and willing to intercede and speak on your behalf (Romans 8:26). Sometimes, it IS HARD to talk to the Father because of life experiences. Anyone that tells you otherwise has not encountered life. Yet, despite that, God desires our presence even when we cannot formulate our words. Over time, you will find that as you seek His presence even as you are not able to pray for yourself, that healing will start to take place. The soothing balm of being in His presence is more powerful than we recognize. 
  2. Recognize the power in your words to shape your future. We are reminded throughout the Bible that our words, the tongue, have power. They have the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). They can shape/pollute our persona (James 3:5-6). Not only can words and our tongue speak life into a situation they can also bring about death. Our speech sets the stage for our hopes and dreams. By constantly speaking hurts and other negative emotions, we prophesy those things into our very lives. 
  3. Recognize how hurtful talk impacts not only you but others (Ephesians 4:29). When hurt speaks for us, it becomes a representative of us. Hurting people hurt people is a true statement. When we walk in hurt, anger, bitterness, or disappointment, it colors our interactions with others. No longer are you able to encourage or speak life into others either. 

First, we must realize how hurt can take root and manifest itself in our speech. In other words, do not give hurt a platform in your mind nor on your tongue. Instead, take the time to heal from whatever you may be feeling by acknowledging the feelings and then moving from them. 

Friends, may your words be full of hope, faith, and love – not only to others but to yourself as well. 

Walk with Him,

Shaniqua

A Prayer for Teachers

Dear Lord,

We thank you for those whom you have called to teach our children. We thank you for strategically placing them in the classroom to help shape and mold our children as they prepare to live out their divine purposes. Lord, we ask that you cover them with your precious blood. Keep them safe from all sickness and disease. Help them to be able to fulfill their assignments with a sense of peace and security. Keep them healthy and whole in mind, body, and spirit. Father, give them wisdom each day as they impart knowledge to their students and supply all of their needs personally as well as professionally according to your riches in glory.

We declare that inspite of Covid, this will be their best school year yet and you will show yourself in the profession of education like never before.

We ask these things in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Peace in the Noise

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Over the past few weeks, I have been enjoying vacationing with my family. I have taken in the beauty that unfolds with changing landscapes and temperatures. I have experienced everything from the bright sunshine of Florida to the mountains of AZ and Vegas. I have viewed them on land and from the air. Either way, I have been able to see many interesting sights. All of which has brought me a great sense of peace, amusement, and joy. Ironically, while I have been able to escape in travel, the world has been screaming chaos. Covid numbers are skyrocketing again, politics are changing, and there has been turmoil overseas. When will it ever end? 

Unfortunately, it won’t. We are living and witnessing the signs of time. It’s written in God’s word. Therefore, we have to choose to find our joy in the Lord. We have to be intentional about looking upward to where our help comes from and not in front or around us. Isaiah 41: 10 instructs us, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” We have to hold fast to God’s truths and His promises. We must understand that we are in this world, but we can CHOOSE to find peace in the noise. We can spiritually elevate our hearts and minds to think about the good things, the beauty of this life as Philippians 4:8 says we should. 

Don’t get me wrong. It is easier said than done. The struggle to stay positive and maintain our peace of mind is real, especially when all we see is negative. However, we must if we are to remain sober-minded and vigilant like in 1 Peter 5:8 because we have a real enemy whose goal is to take our focus so he can attack. Yet, I declare he is a liar and a defeated foe. We will not fall for his tactics; we will be victorious. We will remain steadfast and immovable. We will allow our God to keep us in His perfect peace because our minds will stay on Him. 

Dear friends, let us choose P-E-A-C-E today. Let us tune out the noise and lean into His peace that surpasses all understanding. 

Be blessed. 

After the Storm

Last week, I had the opportunity to hit the road with my husband and 2 youngest children to vacation in Florida.  We were met by several thunderstorms on the way there. At times, it rained so hard that we had to pull over to the side of the road because we could hardly see. We did this several times which prolonged our trip. However, we were so happy to check into our room and begin our vacation that the idea of the rain was minor.

During our time there, the weather was beautiful the majority of the time. It was sunny. The sky was clear for the most part with a few sprinkles here and there. At the end of each day, I saw some of the most beautiful night skies I’d ever seen. I was even able to capture a few photos of them. I’ve included them in this piece for you to enjoy.

Dear Hearts, I want to lift your spirits today. While traveling, God reminded me that storms will come. Sometimes, we may get a heads up but most of the time they catch us by surprise. I don’t know about you but I’ve been in storms that were so tumultuous that I could not see in front of me or any possibility of getting out of them. Friend, it’s okay to pull over to the side of the road or seek shelter until the storm passes. Just don’t stay there. Keep moving. Remember, you have a Father in Heaven whom raging storms obey and who is your refuse in the time of trouble. Run to Him! Abide in His shadow! There is beauty on the other side after the storm.

Psalm 91:1-2, NIV Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 

Psalm 63:7, BSB For You are my help; I will sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings.

Psalm 91:4, NLT He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 

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