Tuesday, November 10

Social Promiscuity by Sherryle Kiser Jackson

Social Promiscuity 
by Sherryle Kiser Jackson

Whose business is it anyway?
“There are certain things you don’t say or do in mixed company.”  When I said that to a group of middle schoolers, they laughed.  Some out of ignorance to what the phrase means.  Still others laughed because surely, I was the uneducated one and hadn’t been schooled in the rule of the day that everything goes.  I got that apparently dated adage from my mother.  Albeit, she was from a different generation, but she knew there was a distinct difference between what is public and what should be kept private.

We’re a socially promiscuous society.  We’re voyeurs of the highest order.
We demand other people’s embarrassing, lewd and unfortunate circumstances served up with our morning corn flakes then think we’re entitled to expound upon it.  Let’s take social media for instance.  We are like the kid in the public domain sandbox baring his/her private parts and daring someone to show theirs in return.  Think about it.  How many times have you seen a picture or post on Facebook or Twitter that made you blush?  Who here is willing to admit you speak too candidly about the details of your life or that of a celebrity.  And isn’t it the most inappropriate, shocking or vulgar reality-based snippet that you feel compelled to share or have seen reposted multiple times.

I was even baited into clicking on a video that would prove the rumors about the sexual orientation of a specific celebrity true once and for all.  Although I had on many different occasions exclaimed, “That was their business.”  I watched it because it was shared on the FB wall. I was horrified to see it branded on my page as videos I’ve recently watched.  Hold up now, that’s my business.

Facebook seems to be sprouting feeds.  Feeds on the side of the wall, tracking your every move and that of your friends on the matrix officially makes Mark Zuckleberg the biggest brother of them all.  Instead of a covert operation to watch you through bugs and phone taps we’ve given him and potential employers a panoramic view.  I knew it was a new day when at the Back to School welcome address for teachers, we were urged to clean up our online presence because students and their parents alike would surely Google us before they buy the last item on their school supply list.

“Don’t ever put anything down in print that you don’t want to come back and haunt you.” Yet another pearl of wisdom from a nearly eighty year old mom that couldn’t possibly conceive the speed at which messages are carried.  Thank God for the “Delete post” option.  I have said some stupid stuff that was grammatically incoherent in an attempt to post-the-most.  It’s none of your business that I am a blabbermouth presently on hold with Mark Zuckleberg to add an automatic spell-check feature to each of my post.  Thank goodness it was added!

Social Media is not solely to blame for our loose ways.  Trust me, I am a consumer as well and not some radical living in a bunker.  I was amazed at how old acquaintances from the old neighborhood, my graduating class and a couple of cousins twice-removed were drawn to me like gnats on fly paper just days after joining the FB revolution.  I know the benefits and savings of updating my loved ones online as opposed to updates by mail or the occasional face to face visit.

Who can forget the golden-rule, Thou shall not air dirty laundry, particularly thine own. Clearly this was in effect circa BRW (before The Real World).  Reality TV is about as unscripted as Mitt Romney’s running mate introduction.  Are we to believe they call a take and yell cut 30 minutes later.  I mean who thinks and then eventually says, “ Tee Tee and Trina haven’t been getting along since their big fight at the club, so I invited them to lunch to talk it out. Can you say cue WWF Smackdown music?

Tabloid-TV like TMZ fill our TMI* meter to the brim if not overflowing.  Whose business is it anyway?  Why do I need to know that the one of the two ghostly Twilight movie stars stepped out on the other?  And why have some waited with baited breath until Jennifer Anniston got engaged as if she was the only pretty girl dumped by an equally pretty boy.  Lastly, it was oh-so or shall I say,  Ocho-wrong of me to watch the HBO release of the Miami Dolphins coach canning Chad Ocho-Cinco after head bumping his wife.  Wait, did I say, me?

“You are what you say you are.”  Modern day translation, you are what you say, share and admit to watching.  I wish I had all the boy band charm and talent to sing like Justin Timberlake, but instead of bringing “Sexy Back.”  I want to bring conservative back.  Discretion back, not as-sexy as the original, I know, but needed.  Leave something to the imagination.  As I suggest in my latest novel, Land of Promiscuity, there is a price to pay for being indiscriminate. You’re squandering something of your own when you’re preoccupied too long with someone else’s matters. Mind yours. Mine or tap into yours. What is the something that I am referring to – well that’s your business!

Sherryle Kiser Jackson is a wife, mother and author of four books: Soon and Very Soon, Soon After, The Manual and Taylor-Made. Her newest novel, Land of Promiscuity will be released in the fall of 2012. She calls her brand of fiction, Christian chronicles sprinkled with embedded truths from a timeless Word. She has also edited her first anthology, Weary and Will and will host her first retreat called Write Away Weekend by year’s end. Get to know Sherryle’s Lit World at www.sherrylejackson.com

*Too Much Information

The Spiritual Responsibility of Fatherhood by Dwight Turner

The Spiritual Responsibility of Fatherhood  by Dwight Turner

My wife is currently in China on business, as is the case quite often these days, and my four-year-old daughter Salina is home alone with Daddy. Lately, she has reminded me on several occasions what a awesome blessing being a father is, but also what an incredible responsibility a parent faces from the time a child enters the family until the time said child goes out on his or her own. I suspect the responsibility doesn't end there, either.

Although Salina is only four, she is already participating in the soccer program at a local church. It is a great program for children and is entitled, "King's Kids." The program emphasizes not only soccer, but the spiritual life as well. Salina enjoys playing and her mom and I enjoy going and watching the kids go at on the soccer pitch.

After about the fourth game of the season, I noticed that my daughter had the habit of giving the ball to the opposing team whenever they approached her. If she was running down the field "dribbling" the ball with her foot other kids, as they should, would try to intercept her and steal the ball. What I noticed was that with Salina, stealing the ball was unnecessary. If an opposing player headed toward her, she merely passed the ball to her. This, of course, drove her coach a bit crazy but, to the coach's credit, she well understood that these were four-year-olds here, not miniature, female versions of Pele.

Eventually, I made the decision to get to the bottom of this tendency my daughter had of turning the ball over so often. "Salina," I asked her. "I have noticed that you often pass the ball to players on the other team when they try to take the ball away from you. What's that all about?"

"Well, Daddy," she said with eyes filled with innocence. "You told me I should always share. I just wanted to share my ball with them."  There you have it. From her perspective, she was doing the right thing, the noble thing. And why was sharing the right thing to do? Because Daddy told her so.

That seemingly insignificant event was a bit of an epiphany for me. Things that we adults often say with out much thought have an impact that runs much deeper than we realize. For Salina, Daddy's lesson that she should always share evidently took hold. I am glad that this particular lesson did sink in, but it also brought to my awareness the importance of paying attention to what we teach our children, with directly or indirectly. This is especially significant when it comes to spiritual matters.

By the term "spiritual matters" I don't just men things about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, etc. I am also referring to issues related to spiritual values like sharing, honesty, integrity, kindness, etc. What we teach our children about these things will have an impact as they grow and develop. And please understand you fathers who may read this (and mothers) no one else is going to teach them. It is not the school's job to teach these values, it is not the church's job to do it, and it sure isn't the peer group's job. It is your responsibility to impart a solid, biblical code of ethics to your children. You cannot and should not ever abdicate this task. And, when you really think about it, you really don't want the school and the peer group teaching your child right from wrong. Hopefully, the church does this but please remember that what the church does along these lines should only help support what you began at home, not replace it.

Being a father is not so much a task, however, as it is an honor, a blessing, and a privilege.

Another incident that brought this message of parental blessing and responsibility occurred a few nights ago. Since she was old enough to walk, part of our nightly ritual has included me giving Salina her bath, drying her and putting her to bed. This is usually followed by a bed time prayer and reading a story to her (or, telling her one that I made up.) Until a few months ago, I did the praying because Salina didn't want to say prayers out loud. Around the beginning of the summer, she began to pray as well. She would recite the famous "Now I lay me down to sleep." or one of the meal time prayers she had learned at her Day School. I was totally unprepared, however, for what happened a few nights later.

After we got into bed, Salina asked if she could say the prayer. I told her I would like that very much, wondering which prayer she would recite. Instead, she began to pray her own prayer, asking God to bless Mommy and Daddy and a host of others. More amazing, she began to use many of the words and phrases she has heard me use in our prayers. She used the exact words and even with the same cadence to her prayers. This just floored me.

"And Dear God, bless my Mommy and fill her heart with your light. Let the light of your blessed Spirit shine through us and touch each person we meet tomorrow."  It is such a strange feeling when you hear your own words of prayer come back at you, especially from the lips and the heart of your child.

I was not only moved by the way she prayed, but also felt again the overwhelming impact our words can have on our children, for good or bad. All these months as I prayed with her, I felt that she was a passive participant, perhaps sitting there half asleep.

I was so mistaken!  Instead of being a drowsy participant in our prayer time, she was like a little spiritual sponge, soaking up every word, phrase, and even the rhythm of my prayers. It is difficult to put into words all the things I felt that night as I listened to Salina's first personal prayers. Certainly joy and wonder were a part of it, but there was again, just as when I questioned her about her soccer play, the almost overwhelming sense of personal responsibility.

Think of it this way my friend. When God chooses you to be a parent; when he places a new life in the womb of your wife, he is also placing something in your heart as well. God is blessing you, a father, with the joy and the responsibility of caring for not only your child, but His child. God is entrusting to you the care, nurturance, and spiritual upbringing of one of his very own. Think about this act. I mean, really think about it. Take some time out and prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to impart to you the deep understanding of what it means to be the father of one of God's very own children. Yes, this child is also your child, but he or she is God's child first. And God thinks highly enough of you to raise that child.

What an honor! What a blessing! And man, what a responsibility!

Friends, this parenting role that we have is a distinctively holy business. I think I was aware of this truth before last week, but somehow not in the deep sense I am aware of it now. Speaking as a father, I can say that I have come to the realization that in many ways, the first, and all too often, the lasting image a child has of God is somehow mysteriously formed in his or her interactions with we fathers. Again, the responsibility is incredible. When I really think about it, I also understand that as fathers and mothers, too, we parents are in the memory making business. We give our children many things, including mental images that remain in the mind for life. This, too, is a huge responsibility.

As I prayed about these new insights and revelations, I asked God to guide me and support me in my role as a father. In doing so, I also realized that God wanted me to be a father, but more than that, he wanted me to be a "Daddy" just as he is. I am to strive to be consistent in my ministry as an "Abba."

Words like awe, wonder, and the like are woefully insufficient in describing the response you will have when you take this reality deep into your soul. A term I first heard used by the Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel comes to mind:

Radical amazement! I realized in that prayer time two other important truths that are fundamental to success as an Abba. These truths are simple but foundational:  There is no way I can do this alone. I don't have to.

L.D. Turner 2014/All Rights Reserved

Dwight Turner
is founder of LifeBrook Communications, a ministry which produces and publishes web content on a variety of faith-based themes. LifeBrook may be viewed at: http://lifebrook.wordpress.com.  All material: (c) L.D. Turner/All Rights Reserved.   >> Original Article Reprint Source 

Christian Books Do Not Fly Off the Shelves By Donald L. Hughes

Christian Books Do Not Fly Off the Shelves
Someone Has to Push Them

By Donald L. Hughes 

I once spoke with a woman who had written a Christian book and I asked her what plans she had to promote it. She said, "I don't intend to promote it, that's the publisher's responsibility."

Wrong answer.

There used to be a time when publishers promoted books, now about all they do is issue catalogs and put them in the hands of overworked traveling bookstore reps. Once upon a time publishers had big publicity departments which set up author tours, book signings and radio and television interviews. That day is largely gone. Sure, the big name authors can get the celebrity treatment from publishers, but that's only after they have sold a million books and there is some evidence that they're going to sell a few million more.

Some authors who are new to the publishing business are under the impression that bookstores are in the business of promoting their inventory. That's not true either. You seldom see Christian bookstores placing print ads in local newspapers or having TV spots highlighting the availability of particular books. The Christian bookstore business is rather archaic because they sell on consignment, and they are able to return unsold books to the publisher. They have little motivation to advertise your book.

So who has the responsibility for promoting the Christian book you have written? You!
Before you sign a contract with a publishing company, they're going to want to know if you have a platform. What is the platform? It is a base of followers who are likely to buy your book. Church pastors have the people who attend their church as a platform, speakers have their audiences, and bloggers have their readers. Each follower constitutes a plank in your platform and they are the core buyers of your book. If you have no platform it is much harder to get public visibility and get book sales rolling.

Everyone hopes this core platform group will spread news of your book by word-of-mouth and that it becomes a bestseller through that means. Word-of-mouth is the cheapest and most effective book promotion method available. Authors and publishers love it when a book catches fire by that method, and when it does publishers become willing to spend money to fan the flames.

If you're thinking about writing a book, you need to think about building your platform now. When you present your book to a publisher, you need to tell them how many people attend your church or your seminars, or who read your blog. Information like that helps them make the financial decision to publish your book. A sizable platform means there is a ready-made market for your book.

In addition to having an initial platform, you need to think about the other ways that you can promote your book. The most common ways are by holding book signings, seminars, news articles, and doing radio and television interviews.

You may get some book promotion support from your publisher. However, in most cases it's going to be your responsibility to promote your book yourself. You will have to pay for it out of your own pocket, but it is an investment which could reap huge rewards.

About the Author

Donald L. Hughes is the editor of ChristianWritingToday.com (http://www.ChristianWritingToday.com). He has over 30 years experience as a Christian writer, editor and publisher. ChristianWrtitingToday.com provides information and inspiration for Christian writers and those who want to become one.  Article Source 

Pursuing Your Dream: Finding Your Passion by Trice Hickman

Pursuing Your Dream: Finding Your Passion 
by Trice Hickman

I'm blessed. Really and truly blessed! After many years of searching, I've finally found my passion, which is writing! And it's funny because books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I can recall childhood memories of being excited when my parents took my brother, sister, and me to the Half-Price Bookstore in my small hometown. That was a real treat for me, better than a toy or even candy! Books were treasured gems and I loved them. My thirst for the written word grew as I matured.

But for years and years, when I’d try to write I'd come down with the dreaded “writer's block.” It was terrible, and I couldn't move beyond a few pages. I began a frustrating cycle...I'd try to write, nothing would happen, so I'd pick up a book and start reading. After several months would pass I'd try to write again, but the writer's block would return, so I'd pick up another book and continue my reading. That process went on for years. Then, one day it all changed. I’d been laid off from my job and was feeling low. As I started my search for new employment, I decided that I needed to look for something that would give me real enjoyment. My mind instantly took me to my love of books and my desire to one day write a novel. With a new found sense of purpose and direction, I sat down in front of my computer and started writing. I wrote all day and all night. By the next morning I'd written 30 pages, and the first chapter of my first novel, Unexpected Interruptions, was born.

The next step—I had to figure out how to get my book published. I began submitting my manuscript to literary agents and publishers, but they all turned me down. ALL of them!  Still, I was determined to make my dream come true. I did my research (which was painstaking, but necessary), formed my own publishing company, Platinum Books, and published Unexpected Interruptions, myself. The book went on to garner praise from literary reviewers and readers across the country, win several literary awards, and make several bestsellers lists. I self-published two additional novels, Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies, and Playing the Hand You’re Dealt, which were both received with equal praise in the literary marketplace. After achieving these milestones, a major publisher offered me a book contract and the rest is history. I’m currently working on my next book and I’m enjoying every minute of it! Oh, and did I mention that upon its re-release, Unexpected Interruptions, the same book that everyone initially rejected, received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly!

When I think back over all those years of wondering when or if I'd ever find my passion, I have to smile because what I’ve come to realize is that my passion was right in front of me…I just couldn't see it. I had allowed fear to intercept my passion. I’d always loved reading and writing, but because I had trouble completing more than a few pages, I became discouraged. But despite my frustration, I never gave up, and I always came back to books and my love for the written word. And when the time was right, I was able to realize my dream and find my passion.

If there is something that you keep coming back to, even in the face of frustration and seeming failure, take a closer look. It just might be your passion...looking for you, waiting for you to claim it!

About the Author
Trice Hickman
is an award winning, bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her love of reading and words led her to become a writer. Determined to have her voice heard, Trice self-published three novels before signing a book deal with Kensington (Dafina Books), who will re-release her original works. Trice is currently writing her next novel, and in her spare time she enjoys cooking, reading, home improvement projects, and traveling. Visit her website for more details on her books and upcoming tour schedule at: www.tricehickman.com

Body Image, Health, and Fitness What’s It Really All About? by Trice Hickman

Body Image, Health, and Fitness What’s It Really All About?
by Trice Hickman

Body image. It’s an issue that most women struggle with at some point in our lives—I know I certainly have, and still do. During my 20’s everything was perky and tight. I ate whatever I wanted and I still looked pretty good. When I entered my 30’s I began to notice subtle changes. Things weren’t as they had been a decade before, but, it was still all good! When I slid into my 40’s reality started kicking in, my metabolism slowed down, and I found myself wondering what had happened to my body. Even shopping, one of my favorite pastimes, became challenging.

*Cautionary Note*:   There is nothing more sobering than taking your clothes off in a department store dressing room and looking at your half-naked self under the glare of those ultra bright lights. As we age, we gain things we didn’t have before, and lose things we wish we could hold on to.

I don’t know a woman alive who thinks, “My body is great just the way it is!”
I’m sure such women exist, and that they are actually inhabiting this planet (well-adjusted aliens living among us, disguised as humans)…just kidding…a little! If I conducted a poll and asked the average woman to name one thing she’d like to change about her body, I guarantee she could come up with at least three different things off the top of her head. Some want thinner thighs, smaller waistlines, slimmer hips, and firmer everything! And on the flip side, some long for larger thighs, rounder behinds…and yes, firmer everything! Whether we’re big or small we fantasize about having the perfect bikini body. But let’s face it, even the svelte swim suit models gracing the fashion magazines are airbrushed to death, so what’s it really all about?...I believe it all starts with good self-esteem combined with good health and fitness habits.

Our society has become obsessed with beauty over substance. We live in an age of mid-drift bearing, booty-shakin’, breast implant having, show-what-you-got, in-your-face boldness. The unrealistic standards of beauty and body size thrust in front of us by way of magazines and music videos can make the average woman feel inadequate…and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of succumbing to the hype.

I’ve often bemoaned and criticized my wide hips, thick thighs, and big legs. But slowly, and I mean very slowly, I’m learning to appreciate my curvy, grown woman shape. The other day I stood in front of the mirror, naked as the day I came into this world, and studied my body closely. Every inch of it. I closed my eyes, then opened them again. I spoke affirming words to the woman staring back at me. I embraced my taunt, smooth, skin that protects my body, and I thanked my big legs for allowing me to walk everywhere I need to go. I’m truly thankful for both. And even though I didn’t get around to praising my wide hips or thick thighs, I know I’ll get there soon, and when I do I will appreciate them, regardless of their size. This whole thing is a process—and it’s called acceptance. Loving who you are is a necessary exercise. Both the mind and body must be treated with reverence and care.

It’s important to be healthy, no matter your body size. There are thin women who are grossly out of shape and haven’t an ounce of cardio endurance, while there are overweight women who are fit and can run circles around their thinner counterparts. As I’ve gotten older, I realize how much more important it is to feel good than to look good (but for the record, I do like to look good, too!). I’ve also learned that educating yourself about proper diet and exercise, and incorporating both into your daily lifestyle is essential at any age. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and moving your body in some sort of aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes a day can make all the difference in the world. When we do good things for our bodies we get great result. And when we love what’s on the inside, that’s an unbeatable feeling!

So tell me, how do you feel about your body and what issues are you struggling with, if any?  What are some of the things you’re doing to stay fit and healthy? Let me know and share some of the health and nutrition tips that have worked for you?  Email me your thoughts, suggestions or comments, here.  I truly want to hear from you!

About Author Trice Hickman
Trice Hickman
, is the author of Unexpected Interruptions, which won the Southeastern Virginia Arts Association's 2008 Afr' Am Literary Award for Best New African American Voice, and the Best Romance Novel Award at the 2008 African American Literary Awards Show. Her much anticipated follow-up, Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies, was released June 23, 2009, and received praise from readers and reviewers alike. Her third novel, Playing the Hand You're Dealt, was released August 24, 2010. Unexpected Interruptions, went on to garner rave reviews, win literary awards, and top several bestseller lists! Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies, and Playing the Hand You’re Dealt, were both received with equal praise and recognition by the media, bookclubs and literary leaders. 

After accomplishing these literary achievements, a major publisher offered Trice a book deal to purchase all three of the originally self-published novels. Kensingston Publishing Corp. (Dafina Books) is going to re-release all of the Trice Hickman titles for world-wide distribution.  Prior to becoming a published author, Ms. Hickman worked in both corporate and non-profit organizations. She earned a BA degree from Winston-Salem State University, and an MA degree from Wake Forest University. To learn more about Trice Hickman, her new releases and book events, visit her web site at www.tricehickman.com

Connect with Trice at:     http://www.tricehickman.com 
Friend Trice Hickman at: http://www.facebook.com/tricehickman  

Purchase the Love with No Limits Trilogy Today =>

Angela's Awakening by Ariel Driskell

Angela's Awakening 
by Ariel Driskell
Angela's Awakening is a story of a woman who gives up a high powered career to become a wife and stay at home mother. And after the birth of her second daughter she begins to struggle with postpartum depression. And one day, she decides to leave her family, thinking they'd be better off without her. But before she can leave them, she has a near death experience, causing her reevaluate her decision to leave behind the only people she's ever really loved.

This is a story about the importance of finding oneself when all seems lost. And I also believe that a lot of women will be able to relate to this story because postpartum depression is something that people struggle with everyday.  Here we go...

Angela was not sure what made it more difficult for her to see, the warm tears flowing down her cheeks, or the rain dancing across her windshield. As she sat at the stop sign thinking that her two girls and loving husband would be better off without her, there was the sound of a horn blaring that interrupted her thoughts. She quickly wiped her face and made a left turn onto the street that would take her to the highway. Angela felt like she was driving on auto pilot. She did not have to think about where she was going. She had driven to the airport many times before to pick up Phillip from his many business trips.

As her thoughts turned to her husband of ten years, she began to replay in her mind the first time that they met. He was tall, dark, handsome, and walked with a self confidence that you couldn’t help but notice. Every woman in the room wanted him, but Angela was the one he’d chosen. She remembered inhaling the scent of his cologne as he introduced himself to her, and in that moment she knew she would belong to him, and all he had to do was ask.

They’d met at a mixer for singles and six months into the relationship, Phillip proposed. Angela knew she had a good black man, and without hesitation she said yes. She was thirty at the time and up for junior partner at her mid size law firm and Phillip, who was thirty two, was a rising star at his architectural firm. The two became the perfect power couple.

After being married for three glorious years, Angela decided that it was time to give her husband what he’d been waiting so patiently for, a family. She’d never really seen herself as the mothering type; probably because her mother had told her she wasn’t and she’d bought into it after hearing it her whole life. Or maybe it was because Angela’s mother hadn’t been much of a mother herself. Angela’s conception had been an accident, and her mother constantly reminded her of the fact that she had never really been wanted.
None of that seemed to matter anymore because she had Phillip now. His love for her made all things seem possible. It had even been her idea to put her career on hold and stay at home for a few years with the baby. She’d longed to see herself the way he did. The tears seemed to be coming harder and faster now as she thought about the first time she’d told him that she was pregnant.

“Baby, are you sure?” Phillip asked for the hundredth time as he swept Angela up into his arms once again.
“Yes, sweetie,” she replied laughing harder now. “I had my doctor’s appointment today and she confirmed it.”

Phillip lowered her to the ground and began to shower her face with kisses. “I’m taking you off for a very special weekend to celebrate.”

Despite the fact she had a major case coming up in court next month and had planned on working on it all weekend, she could not refuse the man she loved with all her heart. They spent the whole weekend cuddled up in front of the fireplace in their room, only leaving the warmth of their new found haven to eat. She’d never imagined that she could have ever been as happy as she was at that moment.

When Anne Marie was born, she became the second greatest love of Angela’s life. She had no idea how the human heart was capable of holding so much love and joy for more than one person. Having his child made her fall deeper in love with Phillip, strengthening their marriage even more. He cherished their daughter, and spent as much time at home with her and Angela as possible. Raising a child was a full time job, so Phillip tried to be as supportive and helpful as his schedule allowed him too. He didn’t want Angela to feel overwhelmed while staying at home with the baby. He’d even began encouraging her to think about returning to work when Anne Marie turned three, but Angela had decided they should have another child. She knew how hard it was for her growing up without any siblings to share things with, and didn’t want her daughter to experience that as well.

It wasn’t until they had Samantha that things changed for them. Once they returned home from the hospital, Angela’s overwhelming joy had been suddenly replaced with what felt like an endless pit of despair. She felt anxious about everything, and although Phillip had taken time off from work, his being there didn’t bring her any comfort.
Concerned and not knowing what else to do, Phillip suggested that Angela see someone about her mental state, and so she did. The doctor diagnosed her as having postpartum depression, and told her that many new mothers experienced it, and that it was nothing to be concerned about because there were drugs that could help her feel like her old safe self again. But because Angela wanted to breast feed Samantha, she turned down the option of taking medication. Samantha was now two years old, and the depression had only seemed to have worsened over the years.

The bad days outweighed the good days, and sometimes the days ran together and it was hard to discern which was which. No matter how much Phillip tried to help, it was never enough, and it was slowly killing their marriage. The strong vivacious woman he’d fallen in love with was disappearing more and more each day, and he felt helpless. Angela knew it was breaking his heart, which is why she felt all the more reason to leave him, t o leave them. It had taken them almost ten years to build the wonderful life they had together and she was going to destroy it in just one day. She knew it was selfish, but she didn’t know what else to do. She’d lost herself so long ago, and she didn’t know how to get back to the woman she used to be.

All of a sudden there was a beeping noise inside of the car, alerting her that her fuel was low, and that brought her out of the daze she’d been in. Angela was only a few miles away from the airport, but she figured that the least she could do was put gas in the tank so Phillip wouldn’t have too when he came to pick up the car. She exited the highway, and pulled into the first gas station she saw.

Angela slowly flipped down the visor and looked herself over in the mirror, hoping her eyes weren’t too puffy from all the crying she’d been doing. She wiped her face, and ran her fingers through her short hair, trying to gather her composure before exiting the car. When she opened her wallet to retrieve her debit card, her eyes fell upon the picture they’d taken last year during Christmas time. She smiled as she thought the things that had taken place that day.

Phillip had given her the Tiffany necklace she was wearing in the picture as an early Christmas present. She awoke that morning and to her surprise, there on his pillow was a box containing the necklace she’d admired almost three months ago. She slipped into her robe and went downstairs to find the kitchen a mess. Her first instinct was to be upset, but then she saw Anne Marie standing on a stool and leaning over the pancake griddle, and Samantha, covered in pancake flour and her husband trying frantically to clean her up, she couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“Mommy, we are making pancakes, your favorite,” Samantha exclaimed once she saw Angela standing at the bottom of the stairs. Samantha wiggled from her father’s grasp and ran to her mother, wrapping her tiny arms around her legs. Angela laughed, and picked up her daughter, and kissed her nose.

“Good morning my beautiful girls,” Angela said, as she walked over to Anne Marie, who was grinning from ear to ear. Angela kissed her on the top of her head as Anne Marie carefully flipped a pancake, making sure it was perfect. She took a seat beside Phillip and kissed him softly on the lips, thanking him for her necklace. The girls giggled and yelled for them to stop. “Okay, okay,” Angela said tickling Samantha. That had definitely been one of the good days.

She ran her fingers across the plastic cover that protected the picture, and wiped away the tears as they began to fall again. She felt a slight twinge of pain and remorse as she looked at the two girls in the picture and realized that she wouldn’t be there to help them get ready to go out on their first dates. She and Phillip had joked often about how he would attempt to scare off any suitors the two would inevitably have when they became young women. There would be no more dance recitals, choir practices, or school plays. She was leaving everything behind in hopes of finding a new life, a more fulfilling life, or so she hoped.

Phillip was her best friend, and she prayed that one day he would be able to forgive her for leaving him without saying goodbye. She tried to explain as much as possible in the letter she’d left him but a letter was not a proper way to end things. She knew she should have never taken on the role of motherhood, but she wanted more than anything to give him what he wanted. She did love him and the girls, as much as she could, and in her own way. She hoped that once she got settled, wherever that might be, that he would allow them to come visit her. They were after all a part of her just as much as they were a part of him.

She closed her wallet and placed it back into her purse and exited the car. As Angela stood and pumped her gas, she’d become so distracted by her own circumstances that when she saw the young man walk into the gas station, she didn’t even wonder why he was wearing a jacket with a hood on in 90 degree weather. Besides, it had been raining and she was wearing a jacket herself, so she thought nothing of it. Shortly after he entered the store, shots rang out, and the hooded figure came running out at full speed with the owner of the gas station chasing behind him and shooting. It had all happened so fast, and Angela hadn’t had time to react. It didn’t seem real until she felt the pain, and her hand automatically clutched her side. It was a throbbing sensation she’d never felt before, and then she saw blood and realized she had been shot.

In shock she fell to the ground. The young man jumped into the car that had been waiting for him, and they sped away leaving tire marks, broken glass, and bullets in their wake. Angela began to call out to the owner who hadn’t seen her. It started as a whisper then got louder. When he saw her he ran to her side.

“My wife is calling the police ma’am, just hold on.” He placed his hand over her wound and applied pressure trying to stop the bleeding.

“My husband,” Angela began to say, salty tears running into her mouth. She tried to reach for her purse. “I need to call my husband.”

“What’s his name?” asked the man. But it was too late, Angela passed out before she was able to answer.
When she awoke, she thought she had been dreaming, until she saw and felt the tubes coming out of her nose and arms. Her throat was parched, but she managed to make a moaning noise, and then mumbles, which turned into words, and then names. “Phillip, Samantha, Anne Marie.”

“She’s awake,” Phillip called out to the nurses. He’d entered the room just in time to hear her call their names. He’d been down the hall in the chapel praying for her recovery. He rushed to his wife’s side and took her hand into his. He knelt down beside her bed and began kissing her hand. His tears felt warm and welcoming to her.

“Don’t talk, sweetie,” he said once he saw her struggling to speak. “I thought I’d lost you forever. The letter, then the call about you being in some kind of accident, I didn’t know what to think or do.”

“I’m so sorry,” Angela responded, clearing her throat.

“I don’t know what I would have done without you.” He stood and kissed her on her forehead.

“I am so sorry for putting you through all of this,” she said tears free flowing once again.

“And I am sorry for allowing you to give up so much for me and the girls.”

“No, don’t be, that was my decision. You know, it’s true what they say about your life flashing before your eyes.” She paused before speaking again. “All I saw were you and the girls. Anne Marie’s first slumber party, and when you took her training wheels off her bike. Samantha playing dress up in my shoes and makeup all over her face, and the time they made a get well card for you when you had the flu. And most importantly, the day we got married.” She paused again, taking a sip of water. “But what I didn’t see,” she said as he wiped the tears from her face, “were my coworkers, or the clients I won cases for, or any of the partners of the firm. “Just you and this wonderful life you’ve given me. You three are my life, my heart, and my soul,” she managed to say in between sniffles. “God really did make you just for me, didn’t he?”

“And you for me.” The thought of losing her had been unbearable for Phillip.

“I am just sorry I was too blind to see that. I want to go home, Phillip,” Angela said, wiping his tears away.

“And you will as soon as they say you’re well enough. We will work this out, together.” He bent down and kissed her softly on the lips.

Angela felt as though she had been sleepwalking the past three years of her life, but her near death experience awakened a passion in her she’d never felt before. Her eyes had been opened to all of the wonderful things she and Phillip shared together, and she vowed from that day forward to never take another moment with her loving husband, and two beautiful daughters, for granted, ever again.

About the Author
Ariel Driskell
holds a bachelor’s of science degree in Psychology from Florida A & M University. Her first romance novel, A Life Less Interrupted, is scheduled to be released in mid to late 2011. You can reach her at aedriskell@hotmail.com  or check out her blog  www.frommyheart2urs.wordpress.com

© 2010 All rights reserved. Story reprinted by permission of the author. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

The Reality Check A Short Story by Marian L. Thomas

The Reality Check
A Short Story by Marian L. Thomas

Jenna walked into the room with a frown on her face. Her countenance was full of worry and her eyes began to push forward the tears that had been building up within her for the past few days. She sat down on the worn-out brown sofa and let out a sigh that the whole house (if the walls were listening) could hear.

Chris didn’t look up from his morning paper. He kept his eyes focused on the words of a reporter’s column although he honestly knew he cared less about the actual content. He needed something other than the obvious gloom in the air to keep his attention.

Jenna looked across the room at her husband; she noticed his obvious attempt to ignore the situation and that fueled the anger that was just at the stage of boiling over. He kept nodding his head slowly, pretending as if he were really engaged in the story. She wanted to scream at him but she sat there in silence. Silence had become part of the family it seemed for the past month. She remembered when she opened the door and found it on her door-step with packed bags, ready to move in for what appeared to be longer than she cared for. She hated silence. It was like a bug that no matter how many times one hit at it, it always managed to get away and annoy the mess out of you. She sighed again. Louder.

Chris turned to the next page and immersed himself into another story.

Jenna stood up and walked over to the window and pulled back the curtain to allow the sun to ease the anger inside of her. It was raining outside. The corners of her eyes began to shake uncontrollably and tiny tear drops began to slide down the center of her cheeks. She turned and looked at him, wanting him to see the pain he was trying so hard to ignore.

Chris raised the paper slightly higher than before. He knew this might be taking the moment to another level, pushing the envelope too far. He could feel her stare and knew that at this moment the tears were streaming down her face. What could he say to her to ease the pain? There was nothing.

They both had known this moment would be upon them. They had fought hard to avoid it, even tried to avoid each other.   He heard her footsteps getting closer to him. His body began to tense. She reached out, hands shaking. Emotions uncontrolled and grabbed the paper. The ripping sound was astonishing. The effects lay upon the floor, pieces here and there. She walked out of their living room and headed up the stairs. He knew what was coming next. The slamming sound the door made caused him to shift his position in his chair.

He put down the paper and leaned back. He found himself staring at the ceiling fighting off his own tears. Men don’t cry, he told himself.  He knew it was time to break the cords of silence that had been choking their relationship for the past month. If she only knew how her pain cut to the core of his heart, she would understand why he just couldn’t look at her.

He eased himself out of the chair and as he stood up he looked at the stairs that led to the upper level of their home. He knew she would be a mess. He knew she had every right to be. The situation was neither of their faults. He wiped the tears away making sure there were no traces and began what would be even a more painful moment for them. He had to tell her that it was time to face reality, together.   As he reached the top of the stairs he stopped and stood there for a moment, listening for any sounds that she might have calmed down. Nothing.

Placing his hand upon the knob of their bedroom door, he turned it ever slowly until he knew that in a moment he would be standing in their room and she would be waiting for him to do what he should have done a month ago. Be a man.   He saw her lying across the bed with her face buried in a pillow. He didn’t hear the slight hint of tears still flowing so he went over and slipped into the bed next to her. He reached out and slowly placed his arm around her waist and pulled himself close. His voice a whisper but he knew she was listening.

“We might lose the house, but we still have each other. We will get through this together. I know it hurts, I understand it’s painful but the reality of the situation calls for us to look at other options. Know that I love you and that I will always be here, house, furniture or not.”

Jenna took a deep breath, finally she felt like the sun was shining.

About the Author
Award-winning novelist, Marian L. Thomas is a dynamic story-teller with five engaging and dramatic novels to her credit. Her books have been seen on national television stations such as, the Oprah Winfrey Network, Ovation and the A&E Network. She has been featured in print magazines, newspapers and a guest on many broadcast and online radio stations. Her titles, “My Father’s Colors” and “Strings of Color”, both received the USA Best Book Finalist Award. Each of her books have reached a bestseller position on Amazon.com for their respective categories and have placed on the bestseller’s list for Barnes & Noble.com, as well.

Mrs. Thomas’ books, are rich with ever-intriguing themes of race, family strife, love, courage, friendship and forgiveness. She writes contemporary fiction for women, but has recently released her  first children’s book: Things Sasha Learned From Her Dog Winston. (http://www.sashaandwinstonbooks.com)

“My children’s book comes from my heart. My life. My husband and I lost our dog, Winston in 2013 after 14.5 years. Writing this book continues to help with the healing process,” stated Mrs.  Thomas.

Website:  http://www.marianlthomas.com/about/



First Things First: Learning to Love God & Self 

I have seen far too many African American women emotionally wrecked because the love relationship they've invested so much of themselves into—ended. The reason being, it started out on all the wrong reasons. The contemporary single woman of today is armed with the wrong thoughts, actions and second-hand information on how to have and keep a love relationship that will hopefully blossom into a marriage. (Sadly, too many single black women are given baby showers and not enough bridal showers).

Taking a brief look at history, we learn that women have suffered from the atrocities of a dominant male society from practically every culture in the world including the U.S. These atrocities gave birth to misogyny which without a doubt planted seeds of low self-esteem, insecurity and self-exploitation in young and mature women alike.

Again, with just that brief examination, it is imperative that women are nurtured to love themselves and to TRULY love themselves, they must accept God into their souls. When we enter into a relationship—a love affair—with Spirit (God), we embrace ourselves thereby embracing the Divine Feminine. (Anyone, men and women alike, seeking a spiritual path to God must embrace the Divine Feminine). But for now the focus is on emotionally and psychologically wounded women who need to understand the wisdom and beauty of the Divine Feminine within them-- these are the daughters of the living God.

One of the many attributes obtained through prayer, meditation and growth on the spiritual path to God is knowing how to discern the difference between a healthy, exhilarating and humble love of self versus a vain, conceited self-indulgent love which is not really love but an insatiable lust to fill a void. We must do some serious soul searching, introspection and reflection...and that may require opening up some old wounds and letting them bleed for a moment. This symbolic “bloodletting” is forgiveness.
Some of us feel that if we refuse to forgive certain individuals, they will reap their karma much sooner. We could never be further from the truth. The spiritual law of Karma will prevail—you need not worry yourself about that. When we engage in healthy introspection and reflection, we seek to learn from our past mistakes and experiences, our souls are cleansed and with that cleansing comes a peacefulness—the peacefulness Jesus Christ spoke of that 'transcends all understanding.' But until we honestly forgive ourselves and the pain inflicted on us by others, we will NEVER be able to give or receive wholesome love.

Meet Magdalena Allen
is a spiritual/motivational coach and writer.   She is a TV/print commercial model. She lives with her husband and two children in Maryland. She can be contacted via email at:   magdalena9196@gmail.com


Three Tips for Artistic Life Design By Delaina Miller

Three Tips for Artistic Life Design
By Delaina Miller

We all have the potential to dream and create our realities!

When picking out the marble that he used to create David, Michelangelo said he could see/envision David in the stone. As a result he was able to create his vision of David using his imagination. Artists use their imaginations so that they can play with their creations. Their abilities to imagine and then project become a vital part of their artful designs. But artists do not just create sculptures, paintings, photos, etc of random images. Artists depict life and life's potentials. They use a hybrid of reality and imagination to create these works of art.  We can do the same when designing our lives. We all have the potential to dream and create our realities. We just need to look at our lives through our artist's eye, and get to work.

Finished Product and the End Result
The first step is to follow Michelangelo's example and look at our lives from a perspective as if our accomplishments had been achieved. Think about what do want your creation to be? Imagine that someone is introducing you: how do you want to be introduced, who do you what to be introduces as, what are the accomplishments you want to be known for, what is the legacy you want to leave behind? Look at the ideal finished masterpiece of you, what do you see? Use the answers to these questions as your guide to see your "David" in the marble.

Imagine Your Medium
Now that you have a clear vision of what your life looks like, imagine all of the ways that you can sculpt yourself. You are already a work of art, the point of developing yourself as a masterpiece is to become your best "you" by your standards. Remember you become the best you by not chiseling or molding yourself into someone else. But rather you sculpt your interests, abilities, and passions into the perfect you; while bearing in mind we are not striving for a flawless you. Your "flaws" are attributes to the perfect you. I am sure the Michelangelo saw flaws in David but he also realized that those flaws are what made David, David.

What are your interests, what are your abilities, and what are your passions? These are the main questions to help you find your medium, the materials, the masterpiece "You" will be created from. Use your own visions of how you would design your life and you as your masterpiece. This will allow you to really let yourself feel the emotions of fulfillment, happiness, and craft your true character.

Create Your Vision
Create and recreate your vision of you. If your medium is writing, then find ways to write as often as possible and find support groups. Whatever your medium is, visualize yourself doing activities in your medium that further shape, mold, and polish "You."

In order to make your visions realities, you may need to develop your skills. Visualize the tools you will need to create "You."   Do you need to go back to school, maybe community college, to build your skills?  For example, if your medium is writing find a local writer's guild you can join so that you get constructive feedback.

While you are creating the vision of your masterpiece, there are other artistic elements to remember. You are designing your life and the masterpiece "You,"  you need to let the art evolve and grow. Just as artists listen to their art for guidance, listen to yourself so that you are sculpting the true you. When you feel like your original vision is no longer satisfying, change your direction. Also when you run into complications see these as learning opportunities not as reasons to give up on your masterpiece.
Other vision elements are to change your perspective and to have fun. It is important stand back and look at your masterpiece from all angles. By so doing, you will be able to see yourself in 3D, lifelike, and from someone else's perception. Also, and perhaps most important, have fun. You are designing your life you want your life to be fun, so that you can enjoy it. So don't allow the functions of design to weigh you down.
When designing your life imagine and think like an artist. See the finished product in your artistic mind's eye and chisel away the extra weight (emotional baggage) that does not belong in the ideal sculpture of you. Take into account that you are already a work of art you are just polishing your attributes to shape yourself and life into a masterpiece. Allow yourself to use your artistic abilities to imagine and envision your full potential.
Tuning into your real desires and dreams can be hard with all of the noise we hear every day. We all need a place that allows us to meditate on our individual dreams.

At Tune In 2 Life we are passionate about helping you stay focused on your goals and ambitions. Discover more ways to tune in to your life at:  http://tunein2life.com  where we offer advice and pull from the collective wisdom of others

About Delaina Miller
Delaina Miller
is an Independent Information Professional that takes great pleasure in helping others through her writing and research.  She is the author and coauthor of many blogs.  Her interests include: empowering others, writing, marketing in Social Media mediums, art history, home improvement, traveling, wine, poetry, and photography.  Article Source 

Being Fabulously Fit in God's Kingdom A 40-Day Journey to Wellness by Renee Wiggins

Being Fabulously Fit in God's Kingdom
 A 40-Day Journey to Wellness
by Renee Wiggins

Did you know that 2/3 American people are overweight? Being overweight can lead to obesity and increase the risk of the chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers. 

Do you know that your body is the temple for the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price, Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 (TNIV)

You will learn how to: 
•Ask for help
•Stay motivated
•Set spiritual and smart goals
•Become fit physically and spiritually.
And improve your mental-well being.

Being Fabulously Fit in God's Kingdom: A 40-day Journey to Wellness provides a road map to staying healthy, fit spiritually and physically. 

Being Fabulously Fit in God's Kingdom: A 40-Day Journey to Wellnesss

Purchase today: http://amzn.com/0982561334

Meet the Author
Armed with over 20 years of experience in the health and wellness industry, Renee Wiggins writes out of her desire to encourage and empower readers to live life in a manner that is physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy.

Renee is the author of two award-winning self help books, "Can I Exercise Sitting Down" and "Stress Down and Lift Up."  Her most recent book, Transformations: Give Up The Struggle", is a collection of affirmations written to help readers to release the pain of their past and move forward. "Just as a caterpillar senses when it is time to evolve into something new," says Renee, "so must we be willing to let go of the past to embrace our new beginnings." The affirmations in this collection help the readers to do just that.   Renee has been featured in numerous print publications, including USA Today, Essence Magazine, Allure Magazine, Heart & Soul, and The Washington Post. She's also appeared on television and radio.

Kinky Coily: A Resource Guide for Going Natural by Pamela Samuels Young

Kinky Coily: A Resource Guide for Going Natural
by Pamela Samuels Young

Have you been thinking about transitioning to natural hair, but don't know where to start? Then Kinky Coily: A Resource Guide for Going Natural  is for You! This book is a collection of the best resources to help you begin your natural hair journey. You'll find the books, the bloggers, tools, product and more. You'll learn how to develop a hair care regime, how to determine the tools and products you'll need and how to track your progress. Whether you have a relaxer, press 'n curl or you're already natural, Kinky Coily has something for you. So get ready to experience the true beauty and versatility of your natural hair.

Kinky Coily Excerpt

Transitioning to natural hair will require you to think differently about your hair. You’ll need to believe in the beauty and versatility of your natural hair. While the process will be frustrating at times, it will also be rewarding and fulfilling. If you make the commitment, I guarantee that you’ll end up with an appreciation of your kinky coils as well as greater confidence in yourself and your hair. Before we begin, here are four tips that are crucial to a successful transition.

A Positive Mindset
You’ll need to embrace a whole new mindset about the beauty of your natural hair to have a successful transition. Many of us with kinky hair have been raised to believe that we cannot take care of our own hair because it’s too unruly, difficult and just plain “bad.” That’s bull.

Start your natural hair journey with an open mind. Allow your hair to be all it can be and love it for its beauty and flexibility. How many straight-haired women can sport kinky curls, twists, locs, Bantu knots, micro-braids and cornrows? None I know.  My point is you’re going to have to erase all those negative notions you have about your hair. You have the most fabulous hair in the world. Embrace it!

I’ve heard many women say that going natural takes too much work. Really? I can remember spending three-to-four hours in the beauty shop, and that doesn’t include my two-hour round-trip commute. If I was getting a weave, the entire day and night might be lost.

If rocking your natural hair is important to you, you’ll have to make the decision to investment in yourself. Yes, deep conditioning once or twice a week, moisturizing and sealing your hair on a daily basis and styling your natural hair will take time. But so does anything worth having.

In addition to time, you’re going to need to be committed to the process. There will be times when you are disappointed because your hair isn’t growing fast enough. Transitioning to natural hair is not going to happen overnight. Hair growth takes time. Particularly if you hair is damaged.

You’ll need time to learn your hair and what products respond best to it. You will probably get frustrated and overwhelmed and feel like giving up. Don’t.

Think about the last diet or exercise program you started, but didn’t finish. Somewhere along the line, you just got tired of the bland food and gave up. Now think about the last diet or exercise program you did finish. How proud did you feel after reaching your goal? Transitioning to natural hair is something you’re doing for yourself. You deserve it. So make a commitment to yourself to stick with it no matter what.

This is the most important tool of all! The beautiful natural hair you want isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a lot of work and patience on your part. Along the way, there will be successes and failures. Products you love. Products you purchase after watching a tutorial on YouTube that end up being a complete waste of your money. It’s all part of the process.

Somewhere along your journey, you’ll find out what works for you and the results will follow. So practice patience! You won’t regret it!


* Be patient. Transitioning takes time and effort.
* Develop a weekly hair care regimen and stick to it.
* Educate yourself about the care of your natural hair.
* Join a natural hair MeetUp group to share resources.
* Keep a hair journal to track your progress.

( Continued... )

© 2013 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Pamela Samuels Young. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the publisher's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this promotional excerpt.



'. . . Paul and Silas were praying and singing . . . and the other prisoners were listening to them.' Acts 16:25

Being locked up in a Roman prison was no cakewalk. Offenders were stripped, flogged and placed in leg irons. Their blood-soaked clothing wasn't even changed in the dead of winter! And the 'inner cells' (v.24) where Paul and Silas were imprisoned were the worst (lack of water, cramped conditions, and the stench of toilets [if that's what you could call them], made sleep impossible and waking miserable. Prisoners there routinely begged for death, while some even committed suicide.

But after Paul and Silas were '. . . beaten [and] . . . thrown into prison . . . [they] were praying and singing . . . and the other prisoners were listening . . .'   The Message says, 'The other prisoners couldn't believe their ears.' Talk about impact!  Paul's attitude impressed them before his religious beliefs did. Anybody can sing in church, including hypocrites.

But praise in prison - now that's something else!  How did they do it?  Perspective!  It's not what you've lost but what you've left that counts! Paul didn't just sing in prison, he wrote some of his best stuff. Listen: '. . . everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn't shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I'm Christ's messenger; dead, I'm His bounty. Life versus even more life!  I can't lose' (Philippians 1:20-21 TM).

Wow! What are you going to do with a man like this?  He's beyond your threats!  His strength comes from within and is not diminished by things without. Overcoming faith - it'll impact them every time!

Do you have overcoming faith?  Does it regularly affect your surroundings and the people within your realm of influence? How has your perspective changed in internal and external negative or derogatory situations?

Alternatively, does your faith flee when obstacles occur? Is your faith based on what God does versus who God is? Have you recently thrown in the towel on a prolonged situation that has not changed quick enough?

Saints, let's employ overcoming faith no matter the circumstances. From time to time, we may face diverse and uncharted situations in our lives that requires faith the size of a mustard seed. We may be asked to trust God, His provision, and His plan in matters that make us uncomfortable and challenge our perspective. During those times, choose to see it from an eternal perspective and positive viewpoint.

No matter what happens, you are victorious and an overcomer! God will be right there with you and will change your mindset to align with His (if you allow). Lastly, overcoming faith positively affects your environment, attitude, and all people within your realm of influence. Employ that type of faith today!

Your Sister in Christ,

Morning Teas were written by Diann Thomas and distributed by Linda Cunningham-Hames. My role in them is to (1) read as a personal devotional and (2) write a mini intro posing questions and a message of encouragement.

During 2011, Diann Thomas passed away unexpectedly and sadly, Linda Cunningham-Hames passed away on July 24, 2012. I've never met either in person, corresponded with Linda via email, and never corresponded with Diann. We were connected via technology and hearts for God.

Going forward, I intend to continue to share Morning Teas in their honor (as well as add my Mother, Evelyn Carter-Pete, since she prayed and inspired me (and others) to live faithfully and abundantly prior to her passing in 2007).  Black Pearls Magazine Publishes The Morning Teas.

Taking an Inventory of Your Marital Health by author Jewell Powell

Taking an Inventory of Your Marital Health
by authors Jewell Powell & Lewis Powell

"No one can go back and change how it started but a new future for any marriage can begin the moment one person begins to invest in it."  - Fawn Weaver

No matter where you and your spouse have been on this marriage journey, today is a new day and you can take steps today to create a better future for your relationship. A great place to give your marriage a kick-start or to redirect it on the right path is to pause to take inventory of your marital health. Think of it like your yearly doctor's exam. It may not be your favorite appointment of the year, but it is essential to your health and future.

Let's start with a simple question: Is your marriage healthy?
People often aren't sure how to answer this question. The key is to avoid comparisons to other marriages, because everyone else seems to have it together on the outside, but you really have no idea what is happening behind closed doors. Instead, as you consider this question, compare your marriage to God's plan, guidelines and expectation for it. Go to the Bible. There are numerous scriptures describing God's plan for marriage, but here are a few powerful ones:

Colossians 3:18-19:  Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Hebrews 13:4-7:  Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

Mark 10:6-9:  "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

With each of these scriptures, as yourself if you are fulfilling the calling God has placed on your life as it pertains to your marriage. If you are striving to meet these objectives, then it is safe to say you are on the road to good marital health. If you are far from these objectives, then your relationship may need some redirection and spiritual healing to get back on the track to good marital health.

Keep in mind, not one of us is perfect, so even if your marital relationship seems to be in a healthy state, it is important to continue doing the hard work to ensure it remains healthy and pure. Stay focused on the word God has given us in His Holy Bible about how to walk out a Godly marriage. Pray together. Love your spouse as God has loved you-unconditionally and unselfishly  (John 15:12).

Want to stay in touch?  Learn more tips for improving communication, strengthening your relationship and achieving a Godly marriage at:  www.marriage101.us 

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E. N. Joy Admits to Having a Ghost Writer

E. N. Joy Admits to Having a Ghost Writer

There are Christian fiction writers and then there are Christians who write fiction. There is Christian fiction, then there is what some consider to be church fiction or church drama. You have some authors who didn’t necessarily set out to write Christian fiction, but they were placed in that category by either their publisher or the book stores simply shelve them that way. And of course you have the writers whose work is categorized as Christian fiction but they do not write for a Christian fiction imprint, which means they are not necessarily writing with any type of guidelines.
I can’t speak for any other Christian fiction author or author who either chose or by default was placed in the Christian fiction category, but I am a Christian fiction writer who writes for a Christian fiction imprint. That is my choice on purpose.

I’ll be the first to admit that yes, I have a ghost writer; the Holy Ghost!  I take dictation from the Holy Spirit when I write my stories. My Holy Spirit does not curse nor does He describe explicit sex scenes for me to deliver to God’s people. I write Christian fiction, not inspirational fiction, not faith based fiction or anything else. Christ is in what I do “CHRISTian” fiction. I’m not worrying about “keepin’” it real.
The Bible is as real as it gets and if the Holy Spirit didn’t instruct the authors of the Bible to curse people out and describe explicit sex scenes, then why on earth should He start using me to do it now? So my concern is not about “keepin’ it real” for the world as much as it is keepin’ it holy for the Kingdom. My ultimate goal is, yes, to please the readers, but I must first please God.

P.S. Maybe Peter did curse. But even the author of the Bible didn’t feel the need to write the actual curse words.

About the Author
BLESSED-selling author E. N. Joy is the writer behind the five book series, “New Day Divas,” the “Still Divas” three book series and the “Always Divas” three book series, which have been coined the “Soap Opera In Print.”

“The New Day Divas” series includes the titles She Who Finds A Husband, Been There Prayed That, Love Honor or Stray, Trying to Stay Saved and I Can Do Better All By Myself. The “Still Divas” series includes the titles And You Call Yourself a Christian, The Perfect Christian and The Sunday Only Christian.

The “Always Divas” series includes the titles I Ain’t Me No More, More Than I Can Bear and You Get What You Pray For. Formerly writing secular works under the names Joylynn M. Jossel and JOY, this award winning author has been sharing her literary expertise on conference panels in her home town of Columbus, Ohio and cities across the country as well as instructing literary workshops.

Joy writes children’s and young adult titles under the name N. Joy. Her children’s story, The Secret Olivia Told Me, received the American Library Association Coretta Scott King Honor. Book club rights were acquired by Scholastic Books and the book has sold almost 100,000 copies. Elementary and middle school children have fallen in love with reading and creative writing as a result of the readings and workshops Joy performs in schools nationwide.

Currently, Joy is the executive editor for Urban Christian, an imprint of Urban Books in which the titles are distributed by Kensington Publishing Corporation. In addition, Joy is the artistic developer for a young girl group named DJHK Gurls. Joy pens original songs for the group that deal with messages that affect today’s youth, such as bullying. Visit the author at www.enjoywrites.com