Living from Faith to Faith

Written by: Anita Carman

When I look back over the years and think about how I ended up founding and leading Inspire Women, the answer I arrive at is: “From faith to faith” I served as a substitute teacher in a Sunday School class for seven years. The main teacher, Beth Moore, used to say to me, “Anita, if it’s not me it’s you.” I was determined to be the best substitute teacher Beth ever had. But one day Beth told me she felt God was calling me outside of her ministry. With her blessing and encouragement I followed where God led. I was scared to death to leave the comfort of my mentor’s wing but I trusted her and stepped out in faith by leaving her class. With the counsel of one of the pastors at my home church I followed God to seminary, my next step of faith.
Reflecting back, I see how God moved me along in his plans. I lived my life through the open doors he provided and tried to obey what he spoke to me as we moved together. By living this way God continued to confirm his direction and reinforce my belief in his masterfully crafted plans. When God makes plans for us he reveals them to us in stages. I am so glad that he did just that in my life, because seeing the whole picture might have scared me! Before you demand the blueprint for your life, ask God for the next open door and live his plans for you from faith to faith.

Transparency from the Heart of Anita Carman

I was thinking…each of us struggle with something we need. But God chooses the crosses we will carry. Why does He ask for the sacrifice in the area of our greatest need? Does He call us to walk where it’s hardest for us and requires a surrendering of what we think we need? And then to cope, we distract ourselves with external things in order to forget the pain for a little while. We use distraction to block out the sufferings from the cross we carry. But the pain is always there and it surfaces it’s ugly head. And life comes to a head once again. So we go through this pattern feeling like we have wasted one more day of our precious life without making any progress. Till one day we decide to stop repeating the pain. We decide we don’t need it anymore (whatever that need is, be it a relationship or a thing) and we let our feelings catch up with our decision. We make changes to act like we don’t need it anymore. And just when we truly don’t need it the very need we have wanted to meet will be given to us on a silver platter. And we find ourselves either accepting the gift or we say thank you gracefully but it’s too late.

What would Jesus do? He would get his heart filled with God. He would not be angry or resentful. He would keep an open heart to those who do not love him today but who could love him some day in the future. But he would not keep begging for a crumb. He would stop knocking on the door of a hardened heart but give it time to soften. These were my thoughts as I was pondering relationships and how so many suffer from wanting someone to love them in ways that person is either unwilling or incapable. There is a big world out there. We need to stop living in such a small world.

Praying for Assessment

Written by: Anita Carman

Usually when people start assessing each other it has a tendency to go one of two ways: the person was unfair in their assessment or they might have given too much credit. But when Jesus assess us, he is never wrong. He is a perfect discerner of who we are on the inside, no matter how we appear on the outside.
Now, imagine you are face to face with Jesus, what would his assessment be? For myself, I fear God would say, “Great heart, great commitment, but needs to rely on me more for her emotional support.” I know I need a lot of growth before my review can sound better, but I pray that one day I will be at that place where God can say, “Great heart. Great commitment. Great emotional fortitude.” What assessment do you need to start praying for today?

Question of the Month

What tools do you use to engage in deeper faith and identity in Christ?

Anita Carman: In addition to having a confidence in their genealogy, some people view themselves as “belonging to God” through their religious activities. But when God looks at our outward appearances or the activities of our lives, he is not impressed when our heart is disconnected from Him! I used to be in awe of those whose parents had religious credentials. I saw them as being spiritually superior to me. But godliness is not transferred by birth, it is an individual choice. I can’t borrow my parent’s spiritual life. Are you living off a pastor’s or a parent’s relationship with God? Are you going through a checklist of religious activities? When was the last time you and God shared a one on one heart to heart conversation?

Journey with God’s Word

Written by: Anita Carman

In my life as I encounter new opportunities I find there is never a shortage of people who want to weigh in on my decisions. As I ponder how to deal with certain opportunities I am forced to ask myself, “What voice should I follow?”
The Bible tells us Jesus is described as the “Word”. More than that, He was the “Word” who was with God at the beginning. The more I ponder Jesus being the “Word”, I am able to realize every word out of Jesus’s mouth is connected to God the Father. Therefore, I can trust it for direction as I make decisions. I can also trust that if Jesus’s voice was present at the beginning of time as we know it, I can ask him to be the voice at the beginning of all my journeys. When you make decisions, what voice do you follow? Are you choosing to take advice from people who are solely speaking out of their own wisdom? Perhaps there is a divine friendship in your midst or Scriptures God is impressing on your heart. Choose to use the sources God has given you to have his “Word” guide you as you journey forward!

Freedom in Obedience

Written by: Anita Carman

Someone asked me this question and I am still pondering it. What would you do if you were truly free? A question like this helps me to identify what I have allowed to become my limitations. Is it a resource? Is it staff? Is it needing someone to support what I am doing? But why would I allow my freedom to be controlled by someone or something else? Am I not truly free when I am doing what God asked me to do? No matter what might change around me my freedom is in my choice to obey God. And as long as I am living in obedience, I am pleasing to Him. In fact, obeying Him in the midst of changes or limited resources is my way to honor God. He is worthy of my obedience in both good times and bad times. What would you do if you were truly free?

Secured in Jesus

Written by: Anita Carman

When I was a child, I relied heavily on the promises of my mother. I believed her more than anyone else on earth. She represented God to me. She made promises to always be there for me and I took it as the truth. No matter how challenging life was, I held on to my mother’s promises as my security. One day when I woke up to find my mother had taken her own life, I was devastated and in shock. I felt betrayed and upset that she had lied to me. She had given me false security. As I continued to grow up I found that, like my mother, other people lied to me by breaking promises they made. The absence of true security in someone left deep scars in my spirit and a longing for something permanent.
I continued to search for something to fill the void. Until one day I realized the Bible tells us Jesus fills the voids of insecurity. Anytime I feel myself falling into the pits of insecurity, I remember that Jesus is true security I can cling to.

Align Your Heart with God’s to Bring Him Glory

Written by: Anita Carman

As we serve together, I always try to remind my staff that more than anything God wants our heart. As we produce events, especially the ones that target large audiences, we often feel the pressure to recruit attendees. After all the hours, time and effort we expend prepping the event, we long for an event full of people. However, event attendance is an aspect of our planning that can be influenced but not controlled. One year, a national tragedy had occurred just as invitations for a large conference went in the mail. It was no coincidence that the response to the mailing was poor. We recognized that people were in shock and needed reassurance. So we gave out guest passes to the women we serve and ultimately decided to waive the conference fee. We knew more than anything we needed to trust in God’s provision. God, in turn, packed the conference.

Today as you serve, how are you serving? Are you forcing results you cannot control? Instead of forcing a certain outcome, align your heart with God’s for results that will bring him the most glory!

God as Your Safety Net

Written by: Anita Carman

I once worked for a boss who didn’t care about me as a person. All he cared about was whether I made the goal. If I did, I had his approval. If I missed it, I felt his wrath. I felt I could never soar because I was too afraid to fail. I was on a performance treadmill that kept me nailed to the ground and unable to reach new heights. Then I served under a boss who encouraged me to excel while providing a safety net in case I fell short of the goal. I found freedom in trying new ideas and reaching new goals. As you function in the purpose God has given you, he is the kind of boss who provides a safety net of grace and truth allowing us to reach new heights! Have you taken advantage of working with God as your safety net? As a daughter of the King embrace the challenge to conquer the world with your Heavenly Father’s commitment to cover our imperfections with his grace!

Acceptance Speech for Daughters of the American Revolution Americanism Medal

By Anita Grace Lie Carman
 
I wish I could bring you back to where the story began. If you could see my humble beginnings, you would stand amazed at how great God is.  Thank you for honoring me this evening and for giving me this prestigious award from the Daughters of the American Revolution for leadership and community impact.  This medal belongs to the great God we serve and the great country of America which He breathed into existence!
From as early as I can remember, my family dreamed of coming to this free land.  We had to wait ten years before our first interview with U.S. Immigration.  At the age of 17, I finally came to this country on a student visa with all my worldly possessions jammed in two suitcases. I did not have the funds to call home or to fly home during holidays.
Sadly, my parent’s petition to come to this country had been denied. My mother became very depressed. Six months before I left my country, she had taken her own life.
What a contrast my leaving for college was in comparison to my two sons, ages 20 and 18 who are with me this evening. One is at Cornell  University and the other is at Texas A & M. When they left for college, I told them they were evidence of God’s goodness. They left with a car full of belongings, their computer games, their cell phone, their tuition paid for with the funds to return home during their school breaks.  One of my sons had a suitcase full of games and his father had to say, “Son, where are your clothes?” and he went to his room to throw in his clothes with the idea that if he forgets anything he can always return home.  I left knowing I could not return home if I forgot anything. What a contrast but also, what a testimony of the great country of America  and the opportunities it offers to change the future for the next generations.   Opportunity  is a gift and my prayer is that my children will celebrate it.
A few years after I arrived in this country on a student visa, I returned to my country for an interview with U.S.  immigration to hopefully have my student visa changed to that of US resident, which would lead to my becoming a US citizen.
I walked into the interview knowing that my relationship with my brother who had become a US citizen was my only grounds to have my status changed to that of US  permanent resident. The problem was, he was born in China during the war and my mother did not have a birth certificate for him. US immigration said they would settle for a blood test from my mother. The problem was, my mother had died. So here I was going into an interview where my grounds for immigration was my relationship with a brother who I could not prove was my brother. But GOD can work through any circumstance.  At the time of the interview I was in college in Mississippi  and I am the kind of person who absorbs her environment.  As I was speaking and explaining to the immigration officer why I wanted to be in this country, he began to laugh. He said, “I have not been in my country for years and I never imagined I would hear a Mississippi accent out of the mouth of a Chinese woman. You want to live in our country? Fine.” He stamped the papers “Approved”. When I left his office, the thought hit me, “God must want me in America . When God has a plan for your life, He will open the doors.”
… I grew up in a country where I was always saying goodbye to my friends…I don’t know if you have ever been in a place where you had to say goodbye to friends, to family, to the structure that has been so much a part of your life.  Fortunately, I came out of a mission school in my city where I learned about the God who created humankind by breathing His very breath of life into us.  I became aware that God’s eternal breath is connected with God’s eternal purpose. Over time, I learned that unless my life is about using God’s breath in me to express His purpose, no matter how successful I am, I will feel displaced, disconnected and restless wherever I am in my life.
I clung to God’s promises in the Bible. He told me in the Bible that when human kind fell into sin, our sin nature separated us from Him. He told me a loving God sent His son to earth to offer me the way back to the Father and to be a forever friend who would walk with me into the rest of my life.
Because my whole life consisted of saying goodbye to family and friends, I was grateful to receive a forever friend who would guide me in my life.
Eighteen months after my mother’s death, my father re-petitioned and was granted papers to this country. He is a US citizen and lives with my stepmother in Houston , Texas .
Today I am able to give my mother all that she ever dreamed of having but she is not here to receive the blessing.  God had such wonderful dreams for her but she lost hope too soon.  God transformed my personal loss into a passion to help thousands of women to guard God’s dream for their lives.  Inspire Women produces citywide events to inspire women to connect their lives with God’s purpose, we discover and mentor women with leadership potential and we fund scholarships to train women in the best programs in town that will prepare them for their calling.
The heart of America is all about freedom to develop one’s potential. Many immigrants’ first glimpse of America after the Revolution was the Statue of Liberty in New York  harbor.  When I came to America , I was touched by the poem written by Emma Lazarus for dedicating the Statue of Liberty, which she calls the “Mother of Exiles”.  The ending words to her poem were these:
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The very heart of America  was meant to express God’s purpose of love and mercy and God’s belief in the potential of all people to represent Him.
President Ronald Reagan said, “If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
President John F. Kennedy said, “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”
As a citizen of this great country which God breathed into existence to represent His heart to the oppressed, as one with God as my forever friend to walk with me into His purpose, I am grateful to God for entrusting me to express His life on this earth.
I thank God for using my insignificant life to establish Inspire Women which God birthed in Houston Texas but which He will carry to inspire leaders in major cities across the country to empower thousands of women to serve others.
As Founder and President of Inspire Women, my prayer is that every woman in our city, and every man married to a great woman, and everyone who ever had a great mother, grandmother or female teacher in their lives will one day say, “I am proud to know of the Inspire Women organization. Who would not want to be part of a work that releases the potential of women of all ethnic backgrounds to fulfill their God appointed assignments to bless the world?”
But more than that, I pray that every American citizen will be proud of the awesome privilege to be citizen of a country that so many in the world look to as a beacon of hope.
I was that tired, poor 17 year old yearning to breathe free, tempest-tossed through the loss of my mother and best friend and today I am privileged to lift my lamp (my witness of GOD’s blessing) beside a golden door of grace and freedom in America .  God remembered my mother’s prayers to protect her children in America .  America is the land of promise, and it represents for me a God who keeps His promises.  Thank you for this award and may God bless America !