Wednesday, December 30

The Danger Of Little Things by Sister Rugina

The Danger Of Little Things by Sister Rugina 

"Catch . . . the little foxes that ruin the vineyards."  Son of Solomon 2:15 NIV 

Be careful, it's the little foxes that ruin the vineyard.  
Little attitudes; if you practice them often enough, becomes fixed attitudes.  
Little indulgences; if you give place to them long enough, they desensitize you to sin.  
Remember when certain things bothered you?  Now you don't give them a second thought.  You're being desensitized! Every addict started by telling himself, "I can handle it."  

Is there danger in little things?  Are you nursing minor grudges or unresolved issues?  Are you allowing small temptations to overtake your life?  Alternatively, are you quickly addressing small matters before they grow exponentially?  Have you consulted God regarding sinful habits that threaten to overtake your life?  Do you surround yourself with accountability partners and spirit-filled mentors?

Saints, the danger of little things can ruin a strong spiritual life.  Minor things left unchecked can unexpectedly roar out of control.  We may start off believing that ingenuity and charm will exempt us from inevitable consequences.  The reality is that tampering with sin will derail our personal relationship with God and others.  Unaddressed little things can be a destructive force in important relationships.  Small bouts of disagreements and lingering woundedness will torpedo long-term friendships and marriages.  It is best to consult God and follow His precepts.  

A genuine apology and humble spirit can turn away wrath and anger in others.  Finally, we must flee from temptation.  Managing sin is not a successful pathway to mature living. God will show us the way to freedom if we are in danger of small things running rampant in our lives.

Your Sister in Christ,

Sunday, December 6

Annual Resolutions for African American Women by author Hazel Mills

Unlock a New Year and a New You!
Annual Resolutions for African American Women
by author Hazel Mills

Release those Painful and Negative Bags!  “Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering. When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go, then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was for you to drag those burdens around with you. You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible. The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival.” — so says Osho

  When people talk about making resolutions for the new year, it usually involves quitting or losing something or someone. For example, millions of people will resolve to quit smoking and twice as many more will promise to lose weight. Beginning the new year, we will be saturated with television and print ad campaigns for gym memberships, weight loss program and equipment deals as well as products to help with nicotine addiction. Although these changes in lifestyle are great and for some, can mean the difference between life or death, there are so many other things that we, as African American women, can do to make our lives more healthy, positive and meaningful throughout the new year.

What baggage are you leaving behind in last year? I'm leaving behind all doubts, fears, guilt and any unsaid thoughts!  I'm starting ideas, new friends, new projects, new goals, new is what's hot! Here are a few tips to launch a New You:

1. Resolve to spend more time with God. This should be non-negotiable and always first on everyone's to-do list for the new year. He has created so many beautiful and magnificent things, including you. Resolve to attend church or bible study more often than you do now. Make time in your busy day just to say a quiet "thank you".

2. Resolve to ditch the drama. I can't say enough about this one. The stress of living a drama-filled life can affect your mental and physical health. Find ways to get rid of your own and to avoid getting pulled into the madness of others around you. This is much more challenging to accomplish around the holidays.

3. Resolve to take control of your health. On the morning of January 1 and the rest of the year, ask yourself the following vital questions: What is my HIV status? What are my cholesterol numbers? When was my last pap smear and/or mammogram? When did I last see a dentist? If you can't answer these questions definitively, call your doctor(s) and make an appointment.

4. Resolve not to starve your savings account. Last year was a year of economic hell and we have all cut back on rewarding ourselves with luxuries like new cars and vacations. Some may have dipped into the piggy bank just to make ends meet. In the new year, try to make a point to put a little something away from each paycheck. It doesn't have to be much. Pennies add up to dollars.

5. Resolve to be more generous. I am not talking about money here. Your time is more valuable than your dollars. Volunteer to read to hospitalized children, to serve food at a local women's shelter or build a home with Habitat For Humanity. The warm fuzzy feeling you'll get from knowing you helped someone else will be worth more than rubies.

6. Resolve to learn something new. The new year is a great time to create new adventures by learning to do something new. Check out your local community college for course selections. Many classes are available in the evening. You can learn all sorts of interesting things like how to play golf, speak a new language, play a mean game of chess, tune-up your car's engine or countless other hobbies. When we stop learning, we stop growing.

7. Resolve to re-unite with an old friend or relative this year.  Invite your room-mate from your college days out for dinner and some catching up or call and chat with a cousin whom you haven't seen since the last family reunion years ago. Sharing a laugh always lifts the spirits. But when planning a reunion, remember to heed number 2 on this list.

8. Resolve to be more informed about social and political issues. We all could use a nudge in this department. Celebrity gossip rules the talk show circuit and magazines covers but how well do you know the political climate of your own city? Let's resolve to spend time expanding our minds this year about what is going on in our world and with those we have elected to represent our interests in government.

9.Resolve to take yourself on vacation. Getting away on a shopping excursion with the girls is therapeutic and relaxing on a tropical beach with your significant other is wonderful. But why not take the concept of "me time" to a whole new level by treating yourself to a weekend at the spa? Treat yourself to a one night stay at a beautiful hotel across town. No phones, no text messages, no emails. You can't take care of others if you don't first take care of yourself.

10. Resolve to speak the truth in love. Hard but necessary. People don't always want to hear or accept the truth. Lies make life so much harder than it has to be. If you tell the truth with sugar rather than with salt, it is usually a littler easier for the other person to swallow. They may not agree with you but you don't need a fan club. Respect, from others and for yourself is the goal.

This list is a great place to begin to think about your life and the direction in which you want to go in the New Year. Empower yourself to be a better person than you were in years past. There is always room for improvement and you don't have to wait until the new year to make a change. Today is a good day!

Copyright 2014. Article written by author Hazel Mills. 

Your Breakthrough Is In Your Press by Chantea M. Williams

Your Breakthrough Is In Your Press
by Chantea M. Williams

Focus - Mark 5:25-29 (KJV)

25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, 26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. 28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

So many times we go to people we trust to help us and when the outcome is not what we expected it can make us bitter instead of better. There will be times when people we know won’t help us or are unable to help us. Regardless of the reason, we cannot stay stuck on it. God has a way of blocking people from rescuing us so that it will draw us to Him. I’m going to say that one more time. God has a way of blocking people from rescuing us to that it will draw us to Him.

If this woman had been healed through the doctors, then she would have never had an encounter with Jesus to know that He is a healer. Had she been healed by the doctors she would have never had a PRESS in her to release. Think about when God prevented certain people in your life from being what you needed them to be at that particular moment and how that drew you closer to Him.

Had you not keep pressing where would you be? Had you stop believing where would you be? Had you not stepped out on faith where would you be? Had you not had an encounter with the Lord where would you be? Instead of us having hard hearts towards them we should just begin to thank God and position ourselves for God to release more of Him into our lives. Sometimes we just need to get out of our feelings and get in His presence. We don’t know what God may be trying to do in us and through us.

I knew immediately when the Lord dropped this passage in my spirit after prayer this morning that He wanted me to encourage you not to give up. I know you have been waiting for your breakthrough that seems like forever and it still has not come to pass but keep pressing in.   If you only focus on the length of time it is taking before the promise is manifested then you will miss it. It doesn’t matter how many times it has prophesied to you keep pressing in. God had to keep reminding you in order for you to keep believing. He does not lie! If He said it, then you can bet your life on it.

If this woman had given up after she had spent everything she had on trying to get healed from the doctors, then she would have missed the presence Jesus. Be like this woman and encourage yourself. She said within herself if I can only touch his clothes, I shall be made whole. You have to know that when you come into the presence of God that you will never be the same.

This woman did not worry about the crowd. She was no longer concerned about their opinion of her condition. She did not let the majority over rule her desire to touch His clothes. So many times we hinder our own breakthrough because we are too concerned with insignificant people. Don’t miss that statement. So many times we hinder our own breakthrough because we are too concerned with insignificant people. In spite of what it looks like and how it may make us feel, we got to press our way in the natural and the spirit. We have to endure in order to win! You may have a down moment but you better get back up stronger than ever declaring I’M GOING TO PRESS MY WAY TO MY BREAKTHROUGH!

Prayer for this Week: 
Father, help me to press into Your presence today! I bind every distraction and hindrance that will try to keep me away from the presence of God today and cast it back to the pits of hell. I decree that that the Holy Spirit is loosed to move in my life and lead me into the presence of the Lord today despite my environment. Father, I thank You for the power behind my press! I thank You for the opened doors behind my press! I thank You for my restoration behind my press! I thank You for the transformation behind my press! I thank You for the newness of life behind my press! I thank You for the victory in my press! I shall not get weary but I shall remain steadfast in my press! I declare that my breakthrough is my press! I declare that my healing is in my press! I declare that my restoration is in my press! You will get the glory out of my press! In the name of Jesus, Amen!

Meet the Author

Chantea M. Williams is a Christian writer, Bible teacher and speaker who loves encouraging women to become greater through the word of God. Through her gifts, God created the Greater Working Women Ministries. They strive to encourage, empower and equip women from all walks of life to live out their God-given purpose with holy boldness. She has also launched her teen mom mentoring program, I Am Still Somebody™. One of her many passions is baking, especially during the holidays.

Check out her newly released book The Greater Working Woman Prayer Book, Volume 1 and The Greater Working Woman Prayer Devotional, Volume 1. Don’t miss her upcoming book series for teen mothers to be released in early 2016.

Chantea M. Williams, Ministry Leader Greater Working Women Ministries


MOVE by Colette R. Harrell

MOVE by Colette R. Harrell

This is an exciting time in my life. An opportunity to be astounded at where God has brought me. An opportunity to reach out to those who are waiting for their “shift.” And, yes, I am still on the journey, but thank God I have moved. My pastor, once taught on how the properties of the Dead Sea incorporated the action of taking and not giving; therefore, it was stagnant. Stagnation aborts growth and fosters inertia. What a life lesson! We should move, but in the direction of giving more than receiving. Can I get an Amen? What does your journey look like? Stagnation? Or movement?

On a shopping spree with friends one day, some wanted to split up and look for things on sale to meet their own specific needs. Having divalicious taste in shoes that day, my feet hurt. Those cute ten-minute shoes—so fashionable—so wrong—so I decided to sit down and wait. After sitting for a few minutes, the Holy Spirit nudged me to “move.” So, even though my feet still hurt, I was obedient. I stood and walked, but in a different direction than my friends. It was an unbeaten path.

Later, I returned to my friends, arms loaded with all types of goodies. I was joyful because I had found favor with several salesmen and for very little cost, I had items that would bless my home and others.

When they saw me, one of my friends exclaimed, “You weren’t where we left you!”

I smiled, and replied, “No, I moved.”

I realized then and there that it was in the movement (you see, it is a hearing and doing “thang”) that I received my blessing. And I’m doing a new thang as an author: publishing a book and giving my inner thoughts to others. There is some fear in the unknown, but I want to be a prisoner of hope. If anything should chain me, let hope have its way!

I pray that we are NOT where we were the last time mama, daddy, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, friend or foe saw us last. If you ever put out a spiritual APB (missing person report) on me, tell them not to look where I was last seen, because, honey, I will have moved. I will have made some progress, even if I only moved a short distance forward. I would have . . . moved.

I ain’t bragging ’cause He’s no respecter of persons. I’m just saying through my obedience (even when I’m tired) and through my tribulations (even when I want to give up), I am Moved! Lord, help me, somebody!

Don’t let anybody (even yourself) put you in a place where you don’t move (that’s right, DON’T, not CAN’T—it is a CHOICE). Let your spirit stand in agreement with the One who brought you. To stand still and know He is God is a forward move, not a stalemate. Every day they passed by the man that lay by the pool of Bethesda, and he was always there . . . lying and waiting. He had to come into agreement BEFORE he could move.

Don’t be afraid if your forward move takes you along an unbeaten path. Get your life. He is faithful, and He will plant you where you will grow and flourish. And while you are planted in rich soil, you will move—first in the hidden places, then upward! Yes, my beloved, grow into maturity, dependence on God, and the ability to carry the seed to its birthing season.

I am praying with you today that you will pick up your bed of fear, debt, pain, sorrow, rejection, abandonment, and loneliness—and MOVE. He promises that the trip will be worth it.

About the Author

Colette Harrell, wants you to know that she’s like you, God’s chosen vessel. She has come to be a gift, to be an encourager and a light that reflects God’s goodness.

She’s a wife, mother, author and playwright. A Detroit native, she currently calls Ohio home. She holds a master’s and is a Director of Social Services. Writing with humor and compassion to engage and minister to the human heart. Her motto is: whatever you do, do it “for love alone.”

Her latest novel, Tell The Truth; The Devil Won’t will thrill readers as much as The Devil Made Me Do It, her debut novel. It is filled with wisdom and humor. This adventurous love story goes where Ms. Harrell loves to tread, down an unbeaten path. No millionaires rescuing damsels in distress—although she enjoys these reads herself—but every day people, falling and getting back up.

The Devil Made Me Do It, her debut novel, was nominated for The 2015 Phillis Wheatley Book Awards in First Fiction. It has been held as one of Black Pearl Magazine’s, top ten Christian fiction books for 2014. In addition, Read Between The Lines radio show, named it as one of its overall top ten books for 2014.

Make no mistake, her sophomore novel, Tell The Truth, The Devil Won’t will cement her as an author to watch.

Twitter: @ColetteRHarrell  or 
Colette R. Harrell Pinterest: 
Amazon Books: 

Tell the Truth The Devil Won't (Book 2)


The Devil Made Me Do It (Book 1)


Matters of the Heart by Chantea M. Williams

Matters of the Heart by Chantea M. Williams

Focus:   Joel 2:12-13 (NLT)
12 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

Have you checked your heart lately? Do you ever wonder why it seems like you do so much but still don’t get anywhere? Have we truly given our hearts to God or are we just doing what needs to be done so that it looks like we love God?

It’s sad to say but we have gotten so caught up in church work that we are far from doing ministry. There is a difference. Church work can become busy work while ministry is solely focused on honoring God. Church work can become self-centered while ministry is serving God by serving others. Ministry can go unseen but still reach the heart of God while church work must be acknowledged and seen at all times. It’s a matter of the heart!

The children of Israel had the same problem. They did their own thing (church work) but God wanted their hearts (ministry). He’s asking us the same thing today. What has your heart been saying lately?

He doesn’t want us to look churchy but He wants our hearts. Our hearts are the core of our being. Our hearts determine our actions. Out of the heart flow the issues of life. (Prov 4:23) If you really want to know about a person, examine their actions because it is a reflection of what is already in their heart.

As we are in the Holy Week, let us rend our hearts to the Lord. Let us not get so familiar with the Easter celebration that we lose sight of the real meaning. The power of the cross is still evident in our lives today. If you don’t still get excited about the cross, then check the matters of your heart.

Father, search the matters of my heart. Heal me of my issues. Let my heart be a true reflection of who You are. I want my heart to be your dwelling place. Help me to release everything that does not honor You. Help me to hide Your word in my heart so that when things arise that should not be, I can speak Your word and overcome it. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

About the Author

Chantea M. Williams
is a Christian writer, Bible teacher and speaker who loves encouraging women to become greater through the word of God. Through her gifts, God created the Greater Working Women Ministries. They strive to encourage, empower and equip women from all walks of life to live out their God-given purpose with holy boldness.

She has also launched her teen mom mentoring program, I Am Still Somebody™. One of her many passions is baking, especially during the holidays. Check out her newly released book The Greater Working Woman Prayer Book, Volume 1 and The Greater Working Woman Prayer Devotional, Volume 1. Don't miss her upcoming book series for teen mothers to be released in early 2016.

Chantea M. Williams, Ministry Leader Greater Working Women Ministries

Are You Dealing With the Consequences of a Messed Up Mind? by Danyelle Scroggins

Are You Dealing With the Consequences of a Messed Up Mind?
by Danyelle Scroggins

WOW!  What a question! The questions of all questions; but basically, the question that makes me really take a look at my life and discern am I the reason for my unfortunate circumstances. For years I considered myself a hustler. Always trying to figure out how to get a dollar, make a dollar, keep a dollar, etcetera. The world could be crumbling around me but as long as I had some money, I was okay. For a long time, I made money that made others happy but I still had no real peace and all my life entailed was work. I realized that my money gave me leverage and those whom benefited from my money never told me anything other than the things they thought I wanted to hear. Come on, I know you know where I’m coming from. People are afraid of offending the people who give them money for fear that they will be cut off.

This is exactly why people with money live life as they please and the only people who criticize them are those who don’t benefit from their funding. This is why it’s so easy for gossip magazines to sale stories and social media lights up when news worthy gossip about stars or celebrities appear. Those who don’t benefit are have no connections find it easy to judge and criticize people’s actions. So in the course of my life, I realized I’d become a flesh pacifier. I could shut people up and live my life (no matter how horrible) the way I wanted to; because people who walk by the flesh considers no one’s laws~ no even God’s. 
My money plugged the mouth of those who might criticize me into correction and everything was done my way or no way. My flesh was the driver of my life and so faith would not even get in my vehicle. Then it happened. God allowed every source of income to dry up and then lead me to Romans 8.As I took careful consideration of Romans 8:5-8, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit, the things of the spirit. For to be carnally minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God nor indeed can be. So those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

I realized a couple of things that I desire to share with you. I started first with the end of these passages because the flesh cannot please God caused me to go directly in my mind to Hebrews 11:6 which says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” I saw clearly there are two people who cannot please God: those who are in flesh and those who have no faith. In fact I realized as long as you live according to your flesh, you will never walk in faith. Why? Normally flesh looks at the circumstances surrounding the situation and can see no farther than the result presented, but faith looks beyond the circumstances surrounding any situation and sees the promises of God as the basis for any ending result based upon this… “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

People who walk in their flesh put their flesh in operation and anywhere flesh is operating, the mind is carnal. Carnal mindedness is and exclusive trait of a flesh operator. Not only does your mind block the very voices of others; when you are carnal minded, it also blocks the very voice of God. A carnal mind finds:

1) Every excuse to erase what God says.

2) Shuts out any information except that which is already stored in fabrication.

3) Builds walls of restraint that impede and block growth. And

4) Refuses to embrace truth.

Maybe the things you’ve been going through are a direct result of you having a messed up mind. If you’ve been experiencing the same thing year after year, and will not respond to the wisdom of someone who is trying to get you to see beyond yourself, you may have a messed up mind. Carnal mindedness is death; not just to your soul but to your life’s circumstances and situations. It also causes death to your goals and your dreams. Do you know someone who always gives up or quits? Do you know someone who always displays stinking thinking? They are the products of carnal mindedness and could be flesh operators. A carnal mind is like having a body full of bad gas. It comes out whether you want it to or not, and others smell it even when you don’t.

Now here’s the good part. Just like there’s a remedy to flush out of your body whatever is causing the bad gas, you can flush your mind. You have the opportunity right now to change your mind and the minds of others around you. How? You pray that God will give you and them transformation by the renewing of your mind. When we experience mind transformation, we no longer look at our way as the only way, or our truths as the only truths. As a matter of fact, we no longer matter because all things become about what God says.

When God transformed my mind, I could see clearer and hear His voice so clear. I began to live according to His spirit which simply means, I no longer feared obeying what I heard and I no longer felt like it was my way or no way. I no longer used money to control people and when you change your mind, you will no longer use people to get their money. I need you to evaluate what is going on in your atmosphere. Know that money is not the answer to all of your problems and that if you simply set your mind on things above, money will find you. When you live according to the spirit, you know that God will supply all of your needs and you believe whatever God says. Your life will change drastically and all the flesh fantasies will subside. You will be able to hear from God, obey God, and receive from God. Be Blessed!

About the Author

Danyelle Scroggins
is a Christian Author who writes Inspirational Fiction and Non-Fiction. Danyelle is a Psychology/Biblical Studies Major from Liberty University and she is the Pastor of New Vessels Ministries North in Shreveport, Louisiana. Danyelle lives in Louisiana with her family. You may contact Danyelle at

Danyelle Scroggins on Social Media: 

Your Deliverance is Closer than You Think by Stacy-Ann Facey

Your Deliverance is Closer than You Think
by Stacy-Ann Facey

Your deliverance is closer than you think. However, if you look at situations with your natural eyes, you will never understand that truth.

Listen, in the Book of Mark 5:21, Jesus was by the lake and a synagogue leader, Jairus, came to Him. This man fell to his feet and told Jesus that his little daughter was dying. “Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live” (verse 24), so Jesus went with him.

However, on His was to heal Jairus's daughter, the faith of sick woman captured Jesus's attention. We have all heard about the woman with the issue of blood, right? Well, this desperate woman who had been sick for 12 years activated her faith, touched Jesus, and was healed immediately.

Then Jesus asked, “Who touched my clothes?” The lady acknowledged what she had done and He blessed her by saying, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (verse 29).

Now, remember, Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus's sick child, right? Well, in stopping to communicate with the woman who had an issue with blood, Jesus learned that the little girl died.

“Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Jesus heard their conversation and replied, “Don't be afraid; just believed.”

Jesus then traveled to Jairus's house and told the mourners that the child was only asleep; however, they laughed at Him. So, what did Jesus do? He put out all the doubters and wailers.

“After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was” (verse 40). Jesus then took her by the hand and said, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). The girl immediately stood up and began walking around.

You see, the little girl's healing was coming, even though there was a delay. All the blessings that have been delayed are being delivered to us, and all the wailers who think God cannot restore us will live to eat their own mockery.

Get rid of all the people who are around you speaking death into your situation. Put them out and shut the door. There is healing, deliverance, and restoration in Jesus, but these promises will be continuously delayed if you keep hanging around doubters.

Arise and live in the name of Jesus. Believe and get up from among the tombs. God has called us to live abundant lives through Yeshua. AMEN!

About the Author

Stacy-Ann Facey is a college graduate who is passionate about teaching. She is a graduate from UMASS Boston with a BA in English and holds a master's degree in Education. She is the founder of Prophecies, Inc. and is a self-published author of several books.  Follow the Speak Truth Blog:


POEM: Forward by Felicia Scott

POEM: Forward by Felicia Scott

Transitions man
Plans and steps and maps to take
I thank God for the time I've wasted sort of speak
It makes me fear being lazy so I work
And pain and hate it but
Gain enough to keep going
I plan I pray I prepare
For a future I've hardly worked for
Too busy tryna make it day by day
I'll work twice as hard for my child's tomorrow
What's the point of having a helping heart when I'm
Too broke to adopt the children I want
That kills me man
Not allot of time to talk no more
Its a distraction anyway
Those people
Who listen and attack are all here and I'm not sure how I feel about that
Too many to drop
To heavy to carry at a time
I know what happens once I speak.
Grabbing a controller to a game that's off limits to me, no thank you
You can play against a more worthy opponent man
Just you and the computer bump a past
Bump a secret man
Bump a loved one that stopped
And bump the rumors from the clique
That I no longer run with
Its Never personal until I respond to something
You initiated, I know...
I get it...
I still love you though

About the Poet

Born in Marietta, Georgia, Felicia Scott only hopes to inspire as many people as she can with her writings.  Email:


Did I Choose or Was I Chosen? By E. N. Joy

Did I Choose or Was I Chosen?
By E. N. Joy

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 shelved 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 genre, 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 ghostwriter; the Holy Ghost! I take dictation from the Holy Spirit when I write my stories. My Holy Spirit does not cuss 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 solely concerned with keepin’ it real as much as I am keepin’ it holy. The Bible is as real as it gets and if the Holy Spirit didn’t instruct the authors of the Bible to cuss people out and describe explicit sex scenes, then I’m okay with Him not choosing me to do it either. I believe that in my writing I have managed to both “keep it real” (as the world would say) while keepin’ it holy (for the kingdom). My ultimate goal is, yes, to please the readers, but I must first please God. I believe with everything in my heart that God will get my book into the hands of those He intended to receive it…with my hard work and obedience of course. I urge every author to be obedient to what their own assignment is and the instructions as to how they are to complete it.

Do books with cussing, sex or even things that some Christians might find offensive to the Word of God minister to people’s heart, spirit and soul? Absolutely. To this day the book I get the most feedback on from readers as to how it changed and/or saved their lives is from my secular book titled If I Ruled the World. So with that being said, who am I to say who and what God will and won’t use to deliver His children a message? Sometimes other authors get offensive when I say I don’t use cussing and sex in my books. They begin justifying why they do. It shouldn’t provoke a person to go into defense mode just because I’m following specific instructions. Some even get mad at me. All I do is shake my head and say to myself, “Don’t get mad at me, get mad at the Holy Spirit, because it sure ain’t me who is making you feel convicted or some sort of way. I don’t have that kind of power.” Real writers, on the other hand, are totally unaffected. Real writers write what they want no matter what anyone says or what other writers are writing.

My writing style and who I am as an author is personal for me. Never do I try to push my style of writing on anyone else. I ultimately turned my pen away from writing street lit, erotica and women's lit filled with sexual tension and expletives in order to serve God with my talent. God has always been there keeping, watching over and protecting me, but it wasn’t until I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior did I acknowledge just how much God loves me. Now I live to glorify Him in everything I do, including my writing. So I’m now not only proud to be a Christian, but proud to be a Christian who writes Christian fiction. In writing in the Christian fiction genre, I try very hard to keep my mind clear; to make sure I’m in tune with the Holy Spirit when I’m writing. But I’m going to tell the truth and shame the devil; I’m human, so just like in everyday life, when it comes to my writing, I do sometimes allow my flesh to rise up and do its own thing.

I have written things that I thought the reader might want to read without consulting the true author. Do I get convicted for it? Yes, via readers’ emails and reviews…and some of them, unlike God, have no mercy. So I try my best to stick to ghostwriting…Holy Ghost writing that is.

When I dedicated my life to Christ, a great deal of things changed for me and in me. I couldn’t do some of the things I used to do. I couldn’t say some of the things I used to say and I couldn’t go some of the places I used to go. Well, I soon found that I couldn’t write some of the things I used to write. That’s what prompted the change in the genres I chose to write in. Joylynn M. Jossel and JOY the authors are retired for good. Are the Joylynn M. Jossel and JOY books still available? Yes, they are. They can still be found and ordered in bookstores and are in pretty much every online book store. My die-hard fans can even still find Joylynn at That's part of my testimony, my history and foundation as an author. But for readers who want to know what flows through my spirit today can find me at

Let me close by saying, though, that once upon a time my goal was to write what readers wanted to read and become a famous author. But now I know that my purpose is to make God famous through my writing, not myself.

Meet the Author

BLESSEDselling Author E. N. Joy is the writer behind the five book series, “New Day Divas,” the three book series, “Still Divas,” the three book series, “Always Divas,” and the forthcoming three book series, “Forever Divas,” which have been coined “Soap Operas In Print.” She is an Essence Magazine Bestselling Author who wrote secular books under the names Joylynn M. Jossel and JOY.

After thirteen years of being a paralegal in the insurance industry, E. N. Joy divorced her career and married her mistress and her passion; writing. In 2000, she formed her own publishing company where she published her books until landing a book deal with a major publisher. This award winning author has been sharing her literary expertise on conference panels in her home town of Columbus, Ohio as well as cities across the country.

Her children’s book titled The Secret Olivia Told Me, written under the name N. Joy, received a Coretta Scott King Honor from the American Library Association. The book was also acquired by Scholastic Books and 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 E. N. Joy instructs in schools nationwide.

In addition, she is the artistic developer for a young girl group named DJHK Gurls. She pens original songs, drama skits and monologues for the group that deal with messages that affect today’s youth, such as bullying.

You can visit BLESSEDselling Author E. N. Joy at or email her at

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The Math of Health & Wellness: Nutrition + Exercise + Peace by Brittani D. Williams

The Math of Health & Wellness: Nutrition + Exercise + Peace
by Brittani D. Williams
Everybody wants to live a healthier lifestyle but not everybody knows exactly what to do, they want a quick fix, or they lack the discipline it takes to apply the equation to their lives. So I want to share some tips to help in your quest for a healthier lifestyle the right way; Nutrition + Exercise + Peace = Total Health and Wellness.

Starting with some nutritional things to consider, there are so many things that can hinder progress of a healthier lifestyle. For example:  (1) Please do not assume eating less is always better; your body needs nutrients to maintain an optimal metabolic rate. Depriving yourself of nutrients harms your body way more than it helps. 
(2) Calorie counting is not the ONLY thing to consider when trying to improve health/weight management. The process of calorie burning is different depending on the person, your metabolic rate, daily activity, etc. The listed amount of calories on a product is derived from perfect conditions during lab test and all calories burn at the same rate in in a lab, but our bodies don’t mirror “perfect conditions”. 
(3) You cannot eat whatever you want, exercise, and still be “healthy”. Health is defined by Webster in one definition as; flourishing condition: well-being. How can one truly flourish when he/she puts junk into his/her body? Skinny doesn’t automatically equal. Good nutrition is about eating clean, and healthy bodies are made 70% in the kitchen.

But it is quite simple to achieve a healthy nutritional lifestyle. Be mindful of the ingredients that you are consuming, remain diligent, and portion control.

When it comes it exercise, a lot of us “can’t find the time to work out”, at least that was my biggest excuse (+) 99 pounds ago. I personally hate working out. But, in order to obtain my body goals I must make time to be active. Daily exercise is essential to health. I wake up an hour before I have to get the kids up, pop in a workout DVD, open up an app, or even, just to start my day with some type of activity. Anything stopping you from being active is an excuse, just 7 minutes a day of movement and determination can begin changes.

Finally, the very most important piece of the equation is peace. Negative emotions yields emotional eating which equals weight gain. It is so very important to a weight loss journey that your mindset is a positive one. You can never have too much happy and it shows in your health. The happier you are; the more positive neurotransmitters are flowing, the better you feel, and the easier it is to make healthier choices (i.e eating cleaner and exercising). Find ways everyday to de-stress yourself.

I hope that you understood the math of health as I presented it to you. As you can see each component of the equation [ Nutrition + Exercise + Peace] is vitally important to total mind and body health and wellness. Allow me to leave you with a few daily practices to incorporate into your daily routine:   (1) Find a healthier swap for one meal a day. (ex; homemade turkey wrap vs fast food, salad vs corn as a side, WATER vs soda) 
(2) MAKE TIME to exercise 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week (I prefer morning workouts, let me know what works best for you) 
(3) Write it down. Studies show that people who journal their feelings can aid in reduced stress and aid in weight loss.

About the Speaker

Brittani D. Williams, wife, and mother of two, is the owner of “It’s Not a Piece of Cake” Nutritional Coaching and Education, where her programs empower people to achieve weight goals by living a healthier lifestyle.

Her passion began after she got tired of being overweight and unhappy with her appearance. She has been on her healthier lifestyle journey for over two years now and has lost a total of 100 pounds with healthier eating and exercise. She began making small dietary changes and incorporating her favorite exercise, walking, into her daily routine. As, time progressed her passion became stronger and she began researching, obtained a certification as a nutrition coach, and then sharing her passion.  For more about Brittani or her services email:


Is Sending a Thank You Note Becoming Obsolete? By Vivienne Diane Neal

Is Sending a Thank You Note Becoming Obsolete? 
By Vivienne Diane Neal

It is a nice gesture to say thank you when a person gives you a gift. Furthermore, it is a sign of your appreciation and respect if you take the time out of your demanding and fast pace schedule to write a personal note or send a card of gratitude. Writing a thank you note does not have to be the great American novel. A simple Thank You for the Gift will suffice. Of course, to acknowledge the receipt of any gift is a point that should be made early in life. If a child never learned to say thank you for what is given to him or her, then chances are when that child becomes an adult, he or she will never give thanks for anything.

I do not know if this is a growing trend, but for the last forty years, I have attended many weddings and have always presented the bride and groom with a gift, either in person or by mail. However, I can count on one hand or better yet on half a hand, the number of notes of appreciations, which I have received.

In many cases, weddings can be a big production. Couples are under a lot of stress during this period. A great deal of time, energy and money go into planning that perfect and unforgettable event. Nowadays, the average wedding can cost up to $50,000.00. A bride would never forget to purchase her wedding gown, nor would the groom neglect to buy or rent his tuxedo. A couple will plop down a certain amount of money for their rings, food, drinks, flowers, music, video and photography and on many other products and services. Yet, many couples, for one reason or another, never remember to take time out to send a simple thank you message. After all, the giver has taken the time out of his or her hectic timetable to purchase a present for the bride and groom.

You may ask who is responsible for sending out the thank you notes. In my book, it is both the husband’s and wife’s responsibility. A person can never be too engaged to be grateful. One of the couple’s main priorities should be to acknowledge the giver of a gift. It is imperative to be courteous and appreciative.

So the next time someone gives you a gift, whether it is for a wedding, birthday or any occasion, have the decorum to send a thank you communiqué, because it lets the person know that you have placed great importance on the giver and the gift.

About the Author

Born in 1946, Vivienne Diane Neal is a writer, blogger, and an author. She is a storyteller with a wicked sense of humor, has been writing articles for over thirty years and started penning fictional short stories in 2007. Vivienne gets her story ideas from observing people, places and things and watching true TV court cases and talk shows. Her most recent novel is “Deception in Plain Sight,” a fictional crime story with a Hitchcock vibe.

Now, semi-retired, she continues to write short stores and articles on love, romance, relationships, and other topics of interest on her blog at:  and manages her dating site at



Victory Belongs to You by Natasha Frazier

Victory Belongs to You by Natasha Frazier

His companion answered, “Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!” (Judges 7:14 NLT)

Fact: God has a plan for you.

Fact: God will give you guidance regarding this plan.

Fact: You have been given the victory and the enemy knows that you have been given the victory!

When I studied this passage, I did a little dance afterwards. Why? I think there is something very important about this story. You see, even though God had already told Gideon that He would give him victory, He also allowed Gideon to receive confirmation. The awesome part is that the confirmation came from the enemy’s camp. Wow! Life lesson: The enemy will fight you even though he knows that he will lose the battle. Therefore, you cannot become discouraged.

Although the voice of the enemy that you hear may not be as positive as Gideon’s confirmation, it is confirmation nonetheless. The voices of negativity, discouragement and defeat are not from God and are simply designed to get you off track. Don’t fall for it! Don’t lose focus!

All you have to do is be obedient to what you have been called to do. Fight! You already have the victory and the enemy knows it. It’s about time that you know it (and act like it) as well.

Prayer for Today: Lord, Thank You for the victory that You have given me. Thank You for giving me confirmation to keep me on track. Help me to always discern Your voice and follow it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Additional Scripture reading: Judges 7 and Romans 8.

Meet the Author

Natasha Frazier has penned a Readers' Choice award-winning devotional, The Life Your Spirit Craves. The Life Your Spirit Craves is a 30-Day devotional and journal that encourages readers to seek, accept and pursue their God-given assignment.. Her second book, Not Without You: 365 Days in the Lord’s Presence encourages readers to make devotion a part of their everyday life by seeking God every day. Not Without You has been nominated for the Henri Award. The Henri Award recognizes excellence in Christian literature. Her debut fiction novel, Love, Lies & Consequences has also been nominated for the Henri Award.

Pursue Purpose; It is never too late to do what you have been predestined to do!

Twitter and Instagram: @cpAKAuthor

Just Traveling Through by Kesha Redmon

Just Traveling Through by Kesha Redmon

Life can be very daunting at times; with its up and downs, twists and turns, and endless barrage of sad and depressing news. We should wonder how we dare to face the outside world on a daily basis. To think about it- some do not have the strength to carry on because life has beaten them down to where there will to survive is nonexistent.

How do we handle life’s disappointments? How do we garner the strength to face the challenges that seem to appear at every idle and waking moment? How do we find the courage to help others in their time of need, when we ourselves are standing in the same spot?

As puzzling as these questions are, there is an answer. Actually, it’s a learned behavior. We get through all these things with the grace and mercy of a higher power. Two magnificent acts working together in our favor. We learn over time that nothing lasts forever. With bad times, there are good times. With sad times, there are happy times. This life is a journey. Each day we continue on our own separate roads. Sometimes our roads crosses path with others and sometimes our paths end.

Through every difficult circumstance, every brow beating trial, every breath taking moment; life is just a journey and we’re just traveling through. The marvelous thing about this journey and the road we use to navigate it is the fact that if we don’t like the road we’re traveling on; we are free to get off at the next intersection, or turn down a different street. So although in the grand scheme of life, we have a limited control of the bumps and bruises that come our way; we can however change our paths. We can decide if we want to make a change. We don’t have to stay in abusive relationships, unhappy jobs, or depressing moments. This life is full of possibilities and potential. Let’s choose to make the best of it. We only get one life and one journey. Let’s travel through it well.

Let Me Wipe Your Tears by Natasha Frazier

Let Me Wipe Your Tears by Natasha Frazier

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. (1 John 4:11 NLT)

Lately, my mornings have not been going as planned. The general plan is to dress myself and then wake my children to get them ready. Since we’re totally off track, my children get out of bed before I’m ready, thus slowing us down and usually adding chaos to our morning routine.

My toddler is on a path to get into everything that he shouldn’t. This particular morning, he was going through my bathroom cabinet space pulling out my feather comb. Problem with this is that the handle is long with a pointy end. Of course I took it away several times but the final time, he couldn’t take it anymore. He had a fit! A stream of tears and an extremely pouty face followed.

In the midst of that, my daughter did something that both surprised and encouraged me. She sat down on the bathroom floor next to him and said, “Let me wipe your tears,” and proceeded to do just that. To my amazement, he stopped crying. I couldn’t believe it. In that moment, the Holy Spirit nudged me. We should show that kind of love to the people in our lives. Loving them through their pain instead of judging them. Sometimes all it takes is a listening ear and someone to wipe away the tears. Whose tears can you wipe today?

Heavenly Father, give me a heart that is loving and pure. Help me not to be judgmental but to show the kind of love that pleases You and encourages those You place in my path.

Additional scripture reading 1 John 4:7-21

Meet the Author
Natasha Frazier
has penned a Readers' Choice award-winning devotional, The Life Your Spirit Craves. The Life Your Spirit Craves is a 30-Day devotional and journal that encourages readers to seek, accept and pursue their God-given assignment.. Her second book, Not Without You: 365 Days in the Lord’s Presence encourages readers to make devotion a part of their everyday life by seeking God every day. Not Without You has been nominated for the Henri Award. The Henri Award recognizes excellence in Christian literature. Her debut fiction novel, Love, Lies & Consequences has also been nominated for the Henri Award.

Pursue Purpose; It is never too late to do what you have been predestined to do!

Twitter and Instagram: @cpAKAuthor

We’re All Wearing the Racial Lens by Lydia E. Brew

We’re All Wearing the Racial Lens
by Lydia E. Brew

It is hard for African Americans to be totally objective when it comes to race United States. It is equally hard for White America huh? We all are wearing the racial lens on our eyes and we can’t see straight.

When thinking of how the United States was founded it was based on freedom, especially freedom of religion. The United States was to be the picture of a beautiful “world” where everybody would free. All men would be equal. However, here we are at the end of 2014 and we’re still not there yet.

I believe some of the Founding Fathers did want everyone to be free, but the slave owners needed their slaves. Believe it or not slavery was about money NOT one’s skin color or the intelligence of the Negro. The Founding Fathers needed the Southern colonies to ratify (approve) the Constitution that would abolish slavery, so the Negro became three-fifths of a person. Perhaps the Founding Fathers thought that eventually all citizens of the United States would be free.

Instead many were told that the Negro was from Africa and that they ware inferior to the White man. Africa is the cradle of humanity.  Native Americans who were here first, and later forced on reservations, when they rebelled, the United States went to war. People were told that Native Americans were not civilized, so they were treated badly.

The list of what people are told about other races goes on and on.  Even after the Civil War, the Emancipation of the slaves, the Civil Rights movement, and even now with an African American president, there is still something we can’t quite get together.

Many White Americans and African Americans can’t seem to understand that there is just one race. We are confusing race with culture. We need to remember the past by trying to let each and every person, black, white, homosexuals, whoever live the American Dream. The racial lens needs to be removed from our eyes. Somehow we have to stop letting the history of racism control our future existence together.

Shortly after President Obama was sworn in, a college professor lost his keys and broke into his own house. The man was an African American professor and the officer who showed up on the scene was White. The professor was under stress and had his racial lens on. The officer was trying to get the facts. He was doing his job – he did not know that the man lived there. The professor did not see that the officer was investigating a crime. All he saw was the racial turmoil history that the United States can’t seem to find a solution for continuous racial problems.

The racial problem is a human condition and it affects everybody in a different way. We need to take off our racial lens and see the problems in society. Ferguson and the “I Can’t Breath” cases are not just about racism, but point to a United States that can’t seems to be the nation that the Founding Fathers envisioned.

About the Author
Lydia E. Brew
was born with cerebral palsy but has not allowed her physical limitations to stand in her way. Her writing provides insights into the world of the physically challenged. She graduated from Texas Southern University where she received The Society of Professional Journalist Sigma Chi Citation for Achievement. She was a member of the drama club and pledged Alpha0 Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Under the leadership of one of her journalism professors, Miss Brew penned her first book Edith, The Story of Edith Irby Jones, M.D. about the first African-American to graduate from The Arkansas School of Medicine. Upon finishing college, Miss Brew worked with the Houston Association of Black Journalists. She is a Christian and attends St. Stevens United Methodist Church.

Miss Brew founded Lydia’s Educational and Charitable Organization (LECO) when she decided to encourage young people to write. LECO did this by sponsoring a yearly contest in which the contestant had to write about positive role models who were alive and from the Houston area. Each student who wrote an eligible essay was given a certificate of participation. Winning writers received cash prizes.

Her second book titled Our Learn Together Book is a book for young readers based on the biography of Dr. Jones. It tells her story in a simplified format on one page and allows the reader to write their own biography on the other. There are activities in the back where younger children can learn developmental skills and older children can learn to do research.

Purchase Ungolden Silence by Lydia E. Brew


Kiera Finds Peace and Her Family by Kiera J. Northington

Kiera Finds Peace and Her Family
by Kiera J. Northington

~ Don't GO through life, GROW through life! ~
As an adoptee, I’m often asked questions like: “Why are you searching for your birth family? At your age, why even bother? How do your adopted parents feel about that? Why did your mother give you away?” My response is always, “Everyone has a right to know who they are, and where they come from. It doesn’t matter how they feel; it’s my choice. Mommy didn’t give me away, she died.” My circumstances are different from lots of other adoptees in the fact that I knew my birth mother and maternal grandparents; my life was perfect, I had all the love a child could possibly want and need. I never knew my birth father, not even his name. But, I never thought much about it; I had so many people loving me, that I really didn’t notice the gap.

I will never forget the day the phone call came, to let us know that my mother had a massive heart attack, and was admitted to the hospital. Back then, children weren’t allowed to visit the ICU under any circumstances; the last memory I had of Mommy was her brushing my hair that morning before school, and she didn’t come home. Two weeks later, my mother’s best friend sat me down, to tell me that Mommy had gone to heaven. At the age of eight years old, I was suddenly motherless. The world as I knew it had suddenly changed, and it wasn’t about to get any better. Children’s Services said that my grandparents were too old to take care of me, and since my mother’s best friend, whom I’d called “Auntie” ever since I’d learned how to talk, wasn’t a blood relative, she couldn’t keep me either.

I was placed into foster care, and later adopted by my foster family. At the age of 10, I went to family court with my soon to be adoptive family; the judge read over the paperwork, and then he asked me if I wanted to be adopted and why. I told him, “Yes, I want to be adopted, because I want to be part of a family.” Then he asked me if I wanted my name changed; I replied, “No, because then when I look for my real family, they won’t know who I am. The judge smiled at me, and signed the paperwork. He also ordered that my given name, middle name, and surname remain the same; my adopted last name would be hyphenated with my birth surname.

The day I was adopted, the court clerk slipped me my original birth certificate, and told me to hide it for future reference; in NY, once a child is adopted, their ORIGINAL birth certificate is permanently destroyed, and a new one issued with the new parents' names on it. It's like they erase your roots, permanently. Your adoption record is PERMANENTLY sealed, never to be accessed by you, the birth parents, ever again!

For 9 years, after I was adopted, I was physically abused by my adopted dad. It started when I was 9, while I was still their foster child, and finally ended the night I graduated high school. I've had a fractured skull, broken ribs, broken wrist, dislocated and broken fingers, dislocated shoulders, twisted ankles, and black eyes. The doctors now believe that all of these old injuries are what caused me to develop fibromyalgia, and also to suffer from PTSD.

Once I graduated high school, I moved to Georgia, put myself through college, got married, and had kids; finally, I had what I thought was a normal life. I was now a wife, and mother, determined not to treat my children the way that I’d been treated. On the outside, everything looked fine; I was able to function normally. But, inside, I was a hot mess; I had flashbacks, and horrible nightmares. I constantly looked over my shoulder, and would jump out of my skin at the slightest noise. Eventually, my marriage ended badly, and I was left to raise my son alone.

My youngest son had been murdered, and things had deteriorated for me health wise to the point where I couldn't work any longer. I was depressed; tired of the physical / emotional / mental suffering and in 2009, tried to commit suicide. I had to hit rock bottom in order to pull myself back up. With counseling, and support from my son, I was able to get myself back together, slowly. The therapist told me that I couldn't move on, because I kept rooting myself in the past. He said that I had to forgive in order to be free of the things holding me down!

I had not contacted my adoptive parents since 1980 (the year I graduated); so I made the decision to call him; I gave my adopted dad the option to admit what he'd done, and to apologize, so that we could move forward, and be a family in the true meaning of the word. He refused, so I told him I forgave him, and I wouldn't contact them again. Talk about freedom! I felt like I'd finally shed the shackles that bound me! I pulled out my old birth certificate, and started reading all kinds of books about making a family tree; I opened an account on, after seeing one of those commercials. A close friend had encouraged me to give it a shot; what could I lose?

It was a few weeks after that, I found my father's side of the family on;  it was as if in order to make room for them, I had to let go of the hatred and hostility in my heart to make room for the love that was out there waiting on me! I first made contact with 2 of my brothers; my oldest brother told me that my father looked for me until the day he died, and that if I found him, to tell me he loved me! Do you know what a feeling that gave me? And come to find out, when I was contacted by my baby brother, he lived 30 minutes away from me!!!

This gave me the energy to track down my birth mother's family, and I managed to find her first cousin, aged 87, who'd done a family tree for me! He said, "I did a family tree for you just in case you ever came back home." Now on both sides, I know names, and how they're related to me. Sadly, on Mommy's side, her cousin is the eldest member of the family, and at 51, I'm next in line.

That was one of the reasons that I've been so diligent about finding my birth family; since finding them, and getting to know them, for the first time in a long time, I've felt loved, wanted, needed, and most of all, I've got a sense of belonging. To know who I am and where I came from, that is truly the biggest blessing of them all!

Follow Kiera on Facebook:  

Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom

Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom 
by Alysia Burton Steele

GLORIA STEINEM - This window into the Mississippi Delta is a labor of love by Alysia Steele -- to bring us the lives of the warrior queens and rescuers known as grandmothers. To meet them is to be rescued and inspired. If they did so much, who are we not to do whatever we can? Buy the book!

Feeling the emotional pull to reconnect to her grandmother’s wisdom and her African-American heritage, award winning photojournalist, Alysia Burton Steele, embarked on a personal mission to interview, photograph, and document Mississippi Delta women of her grandmother’s generation. Their stories and portraits are beautifully captured in Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom.

Mrs. Tennie S. Self shares her experience of buying a new Cadillac and her right to have “Mrs.” by her name in the telephone book: “I just speak and if I have to die for what I believe in, then so be it.”

Mrs. Lillie B. Jackson, whose husband prepared Emmett Till’s body for his funeral, shares family stories and how she does the best that she can as a mother.

Mrs. Myrlie Evers, widow of Civil Rights leader, Medgar Evers discusses her grandmother and the power of prayer.

Mrs. Lillis M. Roberts expresses pride in her activity in the NAACP, as the first Black citizen in Coffeeville, MS to register to vote.

Each experience is as different as the woman who lived it, yet all of their experiences have a common landscape, the Mississippi Delta. Alysia Burton Steele complements the rich narrative with her poignant photographs illuminating her appreciation of each of the precious Jewels, who have endured inequality, injustice and heart-wrenching tragedy.

These inspiring portraits reflect the faces of love and triumph that will inspire readers to hold on to their faith and exhibit courage in the most challenging or ordinary circumstances.


LEONARD PITTS, JR. - Delta is a place in memory–a repository of the cotton we picked, the "Whites Only" signs we obeyed, the strange fruit found hanging in the trees and bobbing in the rivers during the long, strange night of Jim Crow's America. Veteran photojournalist Alysia Burton Steele plumbs that place in memory through the words and images of over 50 ordinary mothers who made it through and emerged with tales to tell. 
—Leonard Pitts, Jr., nationally syndicated columnist and author of Freeman

RACHEL ELIZA GRIFFITHS - Alysia Burton Steele’s Delta Jewels presents to us a visual landscape of immeasurable wealth, wisdom, and dignity. We witness truth, history, memory, and the unforgettable legacy of fifty extraordinary women who share their stories and lives with us. Steele’s photographs are hymns, diamonds, work songs, and enduring fields of the South’s strongest flowers. Their faces and voices speak clearly in the bright gospel of Steele’s intimate and spiritual testimony. Here, you will find in the honor of Steele’s portraits, again and again, the triumph of joy and survival in the church of elder women's eyes that shine back at you.
—Rachel Eliza Griffiths, photographer, author of Mule & Pear, and recipient of the 2012 Inaugural Poetry Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association

SUSAN GLISSON - “It has been said that when an old person dies, a library burns to the ground. Alysia Steele's Delta Jewels prevents the tragedy of such a monumental loss by lovingly documenting and curating the powerful stories of these amazing Mississippi women. They are the stories that our culture most often overlooks, underestimates, or denies, but exactly the ones we most need to hear in our troubled times, if we are to learn of grace and dignity and resilience and liberation.”
—Susan M. Glisson, Executive Director, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

Excerpt - Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom

My paternal grandmother, Mrs. Althenia Aiken Burton, died in 1994. Although I’ve taken photos since I was 15 years old, I never thought about taking Gram’s photograph or recording her voice when she was alive. When we’re young, we think we’re going to live forever and just assume our family will, too.

I missed her increasingly over the years. Time didn’t stop my brain from trying to remember, having regrets, wondering what I could have done to preserve every single thing about her, before her ways, her tone, the color of her nail polish, her mannerisms, her looks at me became a shadow of a memory.

Gram was originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina, not too far from Aiken. My great grandma Marie Aiken never talked about her upbringing, but their name, “ Aiken,” and roots made me think they were enslaved. As a Northerner, when I ventured to Mississippi to accept a teaching position in 2012, I saw cotton for the first time and began to wonder about my black family. Gram Larson, my white grandmother, is amazing at family history. That side of my family knows our history from County Meath, Ireland. This photographic journey began because I wanted to connect with my black side, the black women of my grandmother’s generation. How many picked cotton, were treated poorly, and took beatings?

That’s what I wondered when I saw the rows of cotton growing in the Mississippi Delta and took my first photo of it in 2013. I have severe asthma and allergies, which worsened in Mississippi because all this greenery doesn’t agree with me, but even with allergies, it’s beautiful. It feels just like the cotton balls that I buy in a plastic bag at a drugstore. When I drove past the cotton fields, darn it if I didn’t start thinking about my grandmother and how much I missed her. I wondered what she would think if she saw the cotton.

I had a successful career as a newspaper photojournalist and picture editor for 12 years. I was on the Dallas Morning News photo staff that won a Pulitzer Prize for its Hurricane Katrina photographic coverage. I was a picture editor on staff and called my supervisor before the storm touched down.

“The storm sounds worse than expected,” I told him.

“I think we should send more staff.”

“You make a decision,” he told me, and so I started calling the staff to see who would start the trek to New Orleans.

As I photographed vast fields of snowy flowers, I wondered if Gram would be proud of my accomplishments, what she’d think of me living in the South, if Gram would be proud of me teaching at a university. She never wanted me to be a photographer. She worried I would not find employment and make a decent living.

“How many black girls from Harrisburg made a living in photography?” she’d ask me.

I would do anything to hear her voice one more time. How I wish I’d captured her image and voice.

“I could honor her memory by recording stories from other grandmothers of her generation,” I said to myself.

I began to interview and photograph grandmothers in Mississippi, my new home state. These Delta grandmothers are matriarchs to their families, like my grandmother. They are ordinary women, like Gram, who have lived extraordinary lives under the harshest conditions of the Jim Crow era and were on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement. They are church women. I needed help finding the women who would help me find memories of my grandmother and honor her.

“Would you help me find black pastors who might introduce me to their ‘mothers of the church’?”

I asked Clarksdale mayor Bill Luckett, a white man. Bill e-mailed me five names and churches and told me that Rev. Juan Self pastors the first church where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke outside Atlanta. Going to the church where King spoke gave me chills. Rev. Self is also the architect who renovated the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. (The museum celebrated its reopening in April 2014.)

Rev. Self sounded young when we talked on the phone, and he asked, “What is this project you are doing? How can I help you?” His youthful voice surprised me and I asked myself if he might be too young to help me find elder women.

“I’m doing a book to honor my grandmother, the woman who raised me. She passed away 20 years ago, but I want to honor her by interviewing other people’s grandmothers.”

( Continued... )

© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Alysia Burton Steele. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

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About the Author

Alysia Burton Steele
is a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi and author of Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom. In 2006, she was a picture editor for The Dallas Morning News photo team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for their Hurricane Katrina coverage. She designed the National Urban League’s 100th commemorative poem booklet written by Maya Angelou. Prior to teaching, Steele was a photojournalist, who later became a photo editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Articles about her book have appeared in The New York Times,, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times and Southern Living.


Thursday, December 3

WHO AM I by Alicia M. Singleton

by Alicia M. Singleton

Who am I?
I’m the dejected mother trudging the unemployment line
I’m the old vagabond clutching the Wild Iris Rose Wine
I’m the runaway teen with no place to go
I’m the visage of desperation of sorrow and of woe

Who am I?
I’m the prosperous young lawyer
Who comes home to hellish abuse everyday
I’m the professor whose crack-addict child has surely lost his way
I’m the seasoned physician on the verge of mental breakdown
Yet you still ask me,
Who am I?

I’m the face of despondency
That you look through, as if I’m not there
I’m not a ghost
I’m not a specter
But do you even care?

I’m the brother or sister to your left or to your right
Who’s drowning in hopelessness and might not make it through the night
Will you miss your opportunity to share your love and your care?
That might pull that brother or sister through their gloom and despair

For you see, if my sister is crying, then my tears should be flowing through
And if my brother is in pain, then I should be hurting, too
But if my sister is rejoicing, then I’m shouting as well,
I’m not envious, I’m not jealous and I’m not raising hell
And you question, who am I?

Well, your man in the mirror is just one disaster away
From the man in the mirror that I see everyday
Yet in my torment I turn to you but you hastily look away
But your spirit whispers, who am I?

Oh I know, you have life to attend and goals you must pursue
But be careful beloved, God might up and flip that script
So that one day I will become you
And you become me
Then you’ll be the man your eyes never see

Who am I?
Who am I?
I am your keeper
My brother, I am you
My sister, I am you

Copyright 2005 by Alicia M. Singleton