The sister of Bishop T.D. Jakes inspires women to see their trials as the furnace that molds them into living examples of God's handiwork.
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God's Trophy WomenYou Are Blessed and Highly Favored
By Jacqueline Jakes
WARNER FAITHCopyright © 2006 Jacqueline Yvonne Jakes
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJust for the Trophy
Give her the reward she has earned, And let her works bring her praise. PROVERBS 31:31
In my den sit numerous awards my daughter, Kelly, won throughout her school years. Some of her trophies are for college math and science competitions; others are for literary accomplishments, Bible fact contests, even beauty pageants. She received her first and smallest trophy for selling the most boxes of oranges to raise money for her Christian school. At six years of age, she understood the significance and special treatment she could get by competing, winning, and having something tangible to show for her efforts.
Isn't it ironic how we can remember the trophies we've won, yet we can't recall last year's Christmas presents? There is remarkable distinction between receiving a gift and winning a prize. The addictive and delicious scent of fought-for victory is intoxicating; it brings us pleasure and motivation for years to come. The prize won is more treasured and valued than any handout could ever be.
The prize won is more treasured and valued than any handout could ever be.
Why? Because everyone loves a winner. And because we value what we have to work for. As ayoung girl growing up during the fifties in the hills of West Virginia, I said to my mother that I'd love to play an instrument in the local junior high band. After all, I had been playing classical piano for a few years, and musical accomplishments seemed to come naturally to me. But in a state that was less than 4 percent African American, I knew my chances of competing and entering the band were slim-and I said so.
My mother would have none of it. She was a forward thinking woman who didn't let opposition prevent her from accomplishing whatever goals she set. After all, she was one of fifteen children and a graduate of Tuskegee University! So off I went to tryouts. I entered and integrated the school band that year and later, in high school, integrated that band as well. When our bands won competitions and we received letters to affix to our school sweaters, I wore my gold and blue, and later orange and black, raised letters on my clothes with pride. I had won a symbol of excellence and had done it against the odds. What seemed an ordinary accomplishment to many other students was a special achievement for me. I had my trophy.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
For years I've kept ribbons, trophies, school band awards, and other indicators of accomplishment from my school years. I treasure my tributes from competing and winning. You are probably like me and have an old dresser drawer or a special box in the attic that contains tokens of your successes.
Or maybe you feel you've never accomplished anything noteworthy, or that you haven't become adept at any skill. You'd be amazed at how many things you are capable of but don't take seriously. So many women say to me that they can't write books, but these same women can whip up a dinner that would be applauded at the White House. They may not know how to edit a manuscript, but they can design a hairstyle fashionable and fine enough to wear to the Emmy Awards. I've seen women who could sing until you wanted to dance around the church. So many women don't have confidence in the wonderful things they can do because their gifts don't match those that another sister has.
God has given everyone something. Not all of us have medals and trophies to show for our talents, but nevertheless, each of us has excelled in some area. Whether we have received recognition or not, God knows where our strengths lie. What is important is that we use the talents God has given us and perfect those abilities He has gifted us to possess.
What is important is that we use the talents God has given us and perfect those abilities He has gifted us to possess.
MASTERING YOUR SKILL FOR A PRIZE
Over the years, I have watched my baby brother, T. D. Jakes, amass innumerable trophies, awards, and tributes for his speaking, writing, and service to people. None were handed to him; he worked hard for and earned every reward he has. You've watched the Olympics, haven't you? The hours and hours of nonstop competition for the gold are mesmerizing. We hold our breath as we watch each amazing competitor strive to be recognized as the best in the world. We love to see someone win. It gives us hope and makes us proud. It encourages us to go on ourselves and achieve greater things.
The Olympic athletes practiced and competed in smaller contests in hopes of being selected to compete in the Olympic Games. The long, arduous hours of exercising, the consistent drilling and disciplined rehearsals, the strict adherence to special diets conducive to building strong, healthy bodies: all are for just one moment in time, and just for the trophy. Like my brother, these athletes earn each of their prizes through plain hard work. And this is certain: the recipient of the gold, the silver, or the bronze medal finds all of the pain and suffering worthwhile. Those early years of life spent in training, the time devoted to master their skills, prove extremely meritorious to the winners.
I've mentioned that as a young girl, I took classical piano lessons. At eight years old, after I came home from school and completed my homework, I had to practice piano for one hour. While other children ran out to play ball, jump rope, skip, and make up games, I was practicing scales on an old upright piano. I had to memorize sometimes eight- and nine-page piano scores.
You see, I was preparing for recital-the presentation to our parents, teachers, other students, and adults that displayed our progress in the world of music. You'd be shocked at how proficient you can become at a talent if you work at it for one hour each day. Oh my, I'd love to have the time to practice and perform like that today!
The apostle Paul understood races, prizes, and mastery: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1 Cor. 9:24-25). And again: "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).
Get a crown that will last forever.
The apostle Paul wanted to win. He understood his mission, and it was for the prize that he ran, strained, and was persecuted. Later he tells us: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day" (2 Tim. 4:7-8 KJV).
Trophy Women struggle to win as well. We too desire to receive an award of merit. As Christian women, we know that for our faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for our belief in His work of redemption, and for our good works and character, we expect to be rewarded now and in the world to come. Even in this present world, both believers and nonbelievers have confidence in a system of reward. Look at the Grammys.
The Grammy is the music recording industry's most prestigious award. Annually, this ceremony gathers thousands of creative and technical professionals from around the world to witness who will be named Entertainer of the Year. This momentous event is telecast to millions. The awards symbolize contributions, skills, and activities of significance.
Our church group, The Potter's House Choir, has been twice nominated for a Grammy. It is an honor to be nominated and an even greater honor to become a recipient. We were elated when the choir did indeed win the award for its music project, A Wing and a Prayer.
My first book, Sister Wit, was eventually made into an audiobook. The audio was nominated for an Audie, an award of excellence. I would love to say I took home the trophy, but I didn't. Still, it felt so good to have been so close to receiving it. Again, it is partly my brush with winning that spurs me on to accomplish other feats.
Not long ago, I sat in the audience with family members, friends, and thousands of other people waiting to see my brother, T. D., receive the President's Award at the NAACP Image Awards Ceremony. Gathered in Hollywood, all of us were dressed in the finest of clothes and jewelry. Excitement filled the air as the name of each nominee was called. Finally, we heard the name of the honoree for the President's Award. We rose to applaud my brother for winning this honor. Needless to say, our row was clapping hands, stomping feet, and shouting words of celebration to show our support. He and his wife, Serita, walked the red carpet, and history recorded a tremendous event.
It is no small thing to win a trophy. It is a symbol of achievement. It is a tangible recognition of success. It is a sign that reveals the difference between victim and victor, losing and winning. It is an outstanding indicator of significance and mastery.
THE DEEP REWARDS OF WINNING
Just imagine it: You are the winner of the highest award an organization gives. You receive a trophy to symbolize and celebrate that you have competed and won. Your satisfaction is great, because you alone know how hard you strove to obtain the prize. You endured brutal training and fierce preparation to win. Winning the award denotes greatness and victory.
Winning the award denotes greatness and victory.
This is why, year after year, football players work to build more muscle mass, endure countless practice sessions, continue a restricted diet, and maintain a positive attitude. Imagine the hard work of those competing for the Heisman Trophy. The Heisman is awarded to this nation's outstanding college football player. The work involved is unimaginable. The commitment to stay in the game in spite of sore muscles and aching bodies is tremendous and impressive. Winning takes hard work.
In the movie industry, millions of dollars are spent to produce a first-class work of art and to bring home a trophy: the Oscar. That small golden statue is the final word on who is the best that year. Each nominee hopes to walk away with a visible declaration, a sign, an announcement to the world of his or her talent. To be the recipient of an Oscar is to be marked with the industry's seal of approval.
Whoever receives the small golden statue would never sell it. He wouldn't throw it in the laundry room. He wouldn't set it on the balcony or lay it on the porch. It won't be splashed with gravy in the kitchen window or gather dust in the attic. The person who receives this trophy displays it in a prominent and a safe place for all to see. The trophy has value. The trophy is a message to others proclaiming triumph.
As I write this, I have just hung up from a conversation with a young woman, now graduated from a prestigious university, married, a mother, and gainfully employed. When I told her about the first chapter of my book, she reminded me of her own childhood. She was a second-grader in a single parent home, living in a substandard house and watching her mother recuperate from a life-changing illness. She began to describe how she felt as a little girl making fires in the fireplace to keep the house warm: her little hands hurling the big logs and huge chunks of coal into the woodburning stove-a task for someone many years older. But for her, it was an opportunity to help her ailing mother.
The days were dark with sorrow in her tiny home, so she used every opportunity to be cheery and to make her mother laugh. Laughter was priceless to them. Both she and her mother continued their journey through the foreign season, praying, praising, and believing the Word of God.
No one had prepared my friend to live with an ill mother. From day to day, she did not know if ultimately her mother would live or die, but she watched her mother grow closer to God and she grew closer to Him too. Out of the ashes and decay, many, many long years later, she now realizes her salvation, personality, character, and perception had come into existence, had been, in fact, shaped by her experience as a child dealing with adult issues. Today, as a strong Christian woman, she says it was trusting God to keep her mother alive and to make her little life better that prepared her to successfully embrace her own journey through life. She endured the adversity God called her to face, and she became a Trophy Woman.
So many of us do not regard God's individual pathways for His women. If we are believers in Jesus Christ, all things work together for our good. We have to know that if God allows some struggle, some tragedy, or some imposition in our lives, He must have a greater purpose. Pay attention to what God allows to happen to His children. He is a Master Planner. Nothing escapes His review, His architectural rendering, and His ultimate plan. Ladies, if we are blessed and highly favored, we trust He is in charge at all times and over all things. He really does have the whole world in His hands, and that includes you and me.
MEET A TROPHY WOMAN: JONI EARECKSON TADA
This is really a wonderful place for me to introduce to some and to reacquaint others with a remarkable lady who knows firsthand trouble and testing, yet she continues to overcome every obstacle. I first heard of Joni Eareckson Tada some years ago. I remember seeing some pictures of a young lady in a wheelchair with a brush in her mouth, who created exquisite paintings and pictures. I was amazed. I am still amazed that she was able to do that. You see, Joni is a paraplegic. She is a Trophy Woman in a wheelchair.
Joni broke her neck and suffered the resulting disability in a diving accident at the tender age of seventeen. For over thirty-five years, she has not walked. But Joni's mind-oh my, what a mind!-has always been powerful. She is an extremely strong believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and has learned to utterly depend on Him.
Joni requires total care for all of her physical needs. Still, I don't know if I would describe Joni as disabled. She bears so many roles and responsibilities. She is an activist for the disabled worldwide. She was instrumental in birthing the Americans with Disabilities Act through her three-and-a-half-year presidential appointment to the National Council on Disability. She is also an author of over thirty books, is a much-sought-after conference speaker, has her own daily radio show, and has created her own organization years ago. She is a woman with a fierce determination to live her life to the fullest.
When I say to the fullest, I don't exaggerate. Are you aware that after Joni became a paraplegic, she married? She has been the wife of Ken Tada since 1982.You could write volumes about this mighty woman, but I wanted to briefly showcase a little of her inspiring life as one of God's Trophy Women.
When I asked Joni about her life, here is what she wrote me:
If living as a quadriplegic for 31/2 decades has done anything, it has bankrupted me, leaving me emotionally and physically decimated. But that's not a bad thing. For suffering has served as a sheepdog, forcing me down the road to Calvary where I might not naturally be inclined to go. Suffering has pushed me into a spiritual corner, causing me to seriously consider the lordship of Christ. Radical dependence on God is a great way to live. It's the 2 Corinthians 1:9 way to live, for "... this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God." I am not ashamed to say that when I wake up in the morning, I often think, Lord Jesus, I have no strength for the day, no smile. May I please borrow your smile? Before I get out of bed, God infuses grace into my heart and implants a bright perspective on the day. Perhaps the really "handicapped" people are those who go at life under their own steam, for "God resists the proud." Oh, the wisdom and grace of God! "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Only a Trophy Woman of God could say that being "emotionally and physically decimated" is "not a bad thing." Trophy Women see the beauty behind the tragedy, the gain behind the loss. Their belief provides the power they need to keep going-and shining!
WORDS FOR THE WEARY
Doubtless some of you are so weary of walking in the midst of a struggle that you cannot begin to think of winning a prize. More than likely, your life doesn't look like a success and you don't feel like trophy material. You are just trying to survive.
Excerpted from God's Trophy Women by Jacqueline Jakes Copyright © 2006 by Jacqueline Yvonne Jakes. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Bishop T. D. Jakes is one of the world's most widely recognized pastors and a New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books. Named byTime magazine as "America's Best Preacher," his message of healing and restoration is unparalleled, transcending cultural and denominational barriers. Jakes is the founder and senior pastor of The Potter's House, which has a congregation of more than 30,000. His weekly television outreach, The Potter's House, and his daily television program, The Potter's Touch, have become favorites throughout America, Africa, Australia, Europe, and the Caribbean. Jakes lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Serita. Learn more about Bishop Jakes at www.tdjakes.org and www.thepottershouse.org.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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We know that without a test there is no testimony! If you have every gone through anything and still were able to trust God, this book is for you! Our book club is in the middle of this book and we are truly being blessed as we learn to value who we are in God and to God and each other. God bless you Sister Jakes.
In order to successfully get to your chosen path, you must know where you're coming from. Jacqueline Jakes takes from her own life troubles and courageously encourages other women to use their inflictions in order to press forth and become TROPHIES.
GOD'S TROPHY WOMEN: YOU ARE BLESSED AND HIGHLY FAVORED is exceptional! Every chapter is packaged perfectly with a poem, prayer and questions. Jacqueline takes it a step further as she shows you through the lives of others how despite their tragedies they continued to be strong and relied on their faith in God and not dwell on what previously happened to them.
Every aspect from pampering yourself to self esteem is covered. Amazingly, a lot of us may not even recognize we have been through so much and became victorious in the end. After reading GOD'S TROPHY WOMEN: YOU ARE BLESSED AND HIGHLY FAVORED we now realize that WE ARE ALL KEPT WOMEN ... GOD'S KEPT WOMEN.
Not only inspirational, but a delight. It shows us (women) how our FAITH can bring us through anything.
Reviewed by: Carmen
In order to successfully get to your chosen path, you must know where you're coming from. Jacqueline Jakes takes from her own life troubles and courageously encourages other women to use their inflictions in order to press forth and become TROPHIES. GOD'S TROPHY WOMEN: YOU ARE BLESSED AND HIGHLY FAVORED is exceptional! Every chapter is packaged perfectly with a poem, prayer and questions. Jacqueline takes it a step further as she shows you through the lives of others how despite their tragedies they continued to be strong and relied on their faith in God and not dwell on what previously happened to them. Every aspect from pampering yourself to self esteem is covered. Amazingly, a lot of us may not even recognize we have been through so much and became victorious in the end. After reading GOD'S TROPHY WOMEN: YOU ARE BLESSED AND HIGHLY FAVORED we now realize that WE ARE ALL KEPT WOMEN ... GOD'S KEPT WOMEN. Not only inspirational, but a delight. It shows us (women) how our FAITH can bring us through anything.
A great read and very uplifting