VBD Magazine - October 2022

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DESIGN

Victorious By Design (VBD) Magazine is a quarterly literary and empowerment haven for personal, professional, and organizational transformation. We feature inspirational authors, business leaders, industry experts, and other phenomenal individuals who are simply brimming with delight to pour into you.

We created VBD Magazine just for you. Our lifestyle magazine delivers actionable advice, strategies, teachable moments, and tools to light the path to your next level of unprecedented success. We do all this to inspire you to reach beyond your fears and walk in your God-given purpose so that you can live victoriously. We are your go-to literary and empowerment oasis and we are excited to be a part of your growth and success.

VBD Magazine is a publication of Victorious By Design (VBD), LLC. The content is published in good faith. The views expressed in the articles, editorials, and all other content, reflect the author’s opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or publisher. VBD does not endorse any organizations, programs, websites listed, advertisers, or the accuracy of claims made by the advertisers in this magazine.

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VICTORIOUS BY
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4 VBD Magazine CONTENTS 3 VBD MAGAZINE About Us 6 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Ann Marie Bryan 7 MEET OUR CONTRIBUTING WRITERS VBD PIONEERS’ PARADISE 10 THE PICKETT FAMILY Creating A Lasting Legacy 14 TINA MCCALL-WATERS Pushing Limits and Changing Lives Through Tennis 17 VBD Magazine's 1st Anniversary 42 JENNIFER SIENES Writing Books Where Crisis and Christ Collide VBD BEYOND THE PAGES 44 APOSTLE DR. VERYL HOWARD Moving You Beyond Your Talent and Into Your Creative Destiny VBD LITERARY DEN 20 ESTHER SINCLAIR Walk in the Power of Your Purpose 23 BEST NEW FICTION RELEASES Revell & Bethany House Publishers 36 PROPHETESS ETTA RAHMING When God Speaks: Sound the Alarm 38 NAOMI CRAIG Stories of Belonging 39 IN OUR FATHER’S IMAGE 40 PAMELA NANCE JOHNSON Finding Freedom Through Writing 48 WINNIFRED TATAW A Mystical and Magical Journey

DESIGN

5 VBD Magazine VBD COVER STORY 50 STACY-LEE ABRAHAMS Serving Humanity with Passion and Purpose 55 YCATS - SOUL OF DANCE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Ann Marie Bryan MANAGING EDITOR Icylin Morgan FEATURES EDITOR Dr. Henritta Stewart CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Beverlyn Johnson Wilks HR ADMINISTRATOR Paula Hamilton CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Dr. Velma Bagby W. Mason Dunn Ramona Powell Dennis Pastor Danyelle Scroggins
VICTORIOUS BY magazine VBD STAR POWER LIST 68 TITUS SHOWERS Standing In Purpose & Staying Inspired 71 JOKIA WILLIAMS Delivering Soul-Stirring Gospel Music 74 THE HAWKINS BOYS Spreading the Gospel Through Music VBD FASHION & BEAUTY 78 XBRYANPHOTO Behind the Lens 83 BEAUTY SECRETS NO ONE TOLD YOU ABOUT VBD INSPIRATION OASIS 86 KIMBERLY ALLEN The Rise of Digital Health Technology 89 THE PERFORMANCE VBD LOVE ZONE 92 DR. VELMA BAGBY When Love Finds You 94 CHANGE READY

It’s Our Anniversary!

Welcome to our October 2022 issue! This month, we celebrate VBD Magazine’s 1st anniversary. It has been an honor to serve you amazing readers. We remain passionate about our mission—to deliver actionable advice, strategies, teachable moments, and tools, to help you succeed. We will continue our legacy of excellence, producing unparalleled success stories from individuals and businesses to help you move forward. We are excited to be a part of your growth and success.

I can’t wait for you to turn the pages. You’ll be glad to read our cover story highlighting Stacy-Lee Abrahams, HR Consultant, Artistic Director, and Philanthropist, who has combined her multiple passions into one vision and is enjoying the full spectrum of this experience. Revell and Bethany House Publishers are back with their amazing fiction releases. Get ready to know Apostle Dr. Veryl Howard, CEO and Founder of Faith Management & Talent Casting. Our Star Power List turns the spotlight on Billboard Chart Topping Recording Artist and Songwriter Titus Showers, Billboard Gospel Chart Topping Artist Jokia Williams, and The Hawkins Boys, a soul-stirring Contemporary Gospel group.

VBD Magazine is always on the lookout for individuals and organizations that want to present their achievements and advice in our publications. It’s our pleasure to showcase the visually engaging and stunning fashion pho tography of XBryanPhoto. You’ll be captivated by these incredible images.

Thank you for reading this issue. Stay safe, stay connected, and as always, stay victorious.

EDITOR'S LETTER VBD Magazine
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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Meet Our

DR. VELMA BAGBY

Award-Winning Author & Minister

Dr. Velma Bagby is the CEO of Adoni Publishing LLC, an award-winning Author of Christian fiction/creative nonfiction, and co-author with her granddaughter on her children’s books. She is also a Christian datingrelationship coach, ordained minister (Th.D.), and speaker. God is at the forefront of everything she does in ministry, writing, and serving others.

Author & Writing Consultant

Waletta Mason Dunn is an author, publisher, and writing consultant. She is the author of five Christian fiction novels and several journals. The breadth of her personal and professional experiences has contributed enormously to her fascinatingly inspirational writings. Waletta uses wisdom gained in the trenches as the foundation for her writing and consulting ministry.

RAMONA POWELL

Author, Teacher & Inspirational Speaker

Ramona Powell is an author, teacher, and inspirational speaker. She has used her upbringing in a Christian home to help channel her love for Christ and her desire to be an inspiration to all. "Sometimes we go through things to strengthen our faith and to be a testament to others." She loves sharing her life experiences to show that no matter what life throws at you, you can overcome and prevail.

DANYELLE SCROGGINS

Author & Senior Pastor of New Vessels Ministries

Danyelle Scroggins is the senior pastor of New Vessels Ministries North in Shreveport, Louisiana, and chaplain at Ochsner LSU Health Center, Louisiana’s trauma one health center. She owns Divinely Sown Publishing LLC, a company that specializes in the publication of books divinely sown into the hearts of writers. Danyelle is the author of both Christian fiction and non-fiction books.

Bestselling
Click/tap on the card to visit the writer's respective website or social media page. ISSUE 5/2022 VBD Magazine CONTRIBUTING WRITERSVBD Magazine 7
Click To Get Featured GET FEATURED IN VBD MAGAZINE Join the trailblazers! We are excited and honored to feature you! Ready to crush it?

DESIGN VICTORIOUS BY PARADISE Pioneers'

PICKETT FAMILY

Creating A Lasting Legacy

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THE
PIONEERS’ PARADISE

In every community, there are fami lies who have knowledge and skills that have been preserved and passed down through generations. These bearers of traditions, culture, and community life are links to our history and guides to our way forward.

Families who have a legacy network, collaborate and support each other to impact lives. They lead with yesterday, today, and tomorrow in mind so that they cultivate what matters. They find the will to overcome the negative chatter holding them back from their purpose and pave the way to become the first in their fields. These families deserve to be celebrated year-round for breaking barriers, standing against injustices, and leading from the frontlines.

VBD Magazine is honored to shine the spotlight on one such family, the Picketts – Edgar T. Pickett, Jr., Edgar T. Pickett III, Deloris Pickett Patterson, and the late Lena Smith Pickett – whose accomplishments and impact will inspire generations to come. Their legacy is a powerful expres sion of advocacy, community life, and family values.

GOING THE DISTANCE

This year, 2022, Edgar T. Pickett, Jr. and the late Lena Pickett of Lakeland, Florida would have celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary. The couple tied the knot on January 25, 1950, in a ceremony officiated by the late Rev. Peter Chappelle at the parsonage of Bethel A.M.E. Church. Their union produced two children, Deloris Pickett Patterson and Edgar T. Pickett III. The Picketts have been blessed with 7 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren, and 5 great-great grandchildren.

Edgar Pickett, Jr. had a long and distin guished career in law enforcement. He was sworn in among the first four Black police officers working for the police department in the City of Lakeland, Florida. “In 1954, after leaving work at Montgomery Ward & Company, I was going home when I saw a policeman who was overseeing an area and mistreating our people. From watching this incident, it inspired me to become a police officer. My mom did not

EDGAR PICKETT, JR. HAS A LONG AND DISTINGUISHED CAREER IN LAW ENFORCEMENT. HE WAS SWORN IN AMONG THE FIRST FOUR BLACK POLICE OFFICERS WORKING FOR THE POLICE DEPARTMENT IN THE CITY OF LAKELAND, FLORIDA.

“Thankfully, my mother worked for the Mayor and told him of my interest. After that, my father went to the City Com missioner’s meeting to lobby for Black policemen. It was only after the commis sioner fired the then police chief that I was hired as a police officer.”

want me to become a police officer, but I wanted her to know that I could make a difference, because I wanted to show that you can be in authority and still not mistreat people.”

Still, Pickett, Jr. had to overcome many struggles during segregation to achieve his dream.

In 1964, Pickett, Jr. was promoted to head of crime scene investigations, where he soon implemented the department’s first fingerprint filing system in Polk County and worked for all police departments in Polk County in their fingerprinting depart ment. The Henry system which was devel oped in Great Britain allowed for greater cross-referencing. The Pickett-Moulden Crime Laboratory in Lakeland was named after Edgar Pickett, Jr. and his long-time partner and friend, Herman Moulden. In 1983, after 29 ½ years of work, Pickett, Jr. retired from his position of Sergeant with the Lakeland Police Department. However, he continued to volunteer as a consultant for different law enforcement agencies in the State of Florida.

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PIONEERS’ PARADISE

The late Lena Pickett retired May 28, 2004, as a preschool teacher after nearly 46 years. She was the owner and director of Pickett’s Child Development Center Inc., a childcare facility in Lakeland. Mother Pickett was also the historian of the Washington Park/Rochelle Alumni Association.

In 2020, Mother Pickett was awarded the key to the city of Lakeland by Mayor Bill Mutz for her many years of community service. While she was not able to attend the ceremony, her daughter, Deloris Pickett Patterson attended and delivered the key to her mother.

THE PICKETT-MOULDEN CRIME LABORATORY IN LAKELAND WAS NAMED AFTER EDGAR PICKETT, JR. AND HIS LONG-TIME PARTNER AND FRIEND, HERMAN MOULDEN.

For 31 years, Deloris Patterson worked for the Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida. She worked one year at Memorial Middle School and 30 years at Dr. Phillips High School. Deloris was in the first group to work at Dr. Phillips High School while it was still under con struction. Dr. Phillips opened officially in August 1987. She was hired to work in the copy room and worked herself up to Administrative Secretary to the Principal. In 2017, a grand ceremony was held in her honor when she retired. “Unfortunately, my mom’s health would not permit her to attend the ceremony.” Deloris was thankful that her father, brother, and sons could share in this special occasion given by the administration, faculty, and staff of Dr. Phillips High School.

Deloris was named Orange County Public Schools 2014 Support Person of the Year at a ceremony held at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando. During her employment at Dr. Phillips High School, Patterson had been named DPHS Support Person of the Year at least eight times. She was an OCPS finalist three times and a State of Florida finalist in 2014.

Pastor E. Telefair Pickett III is the founder of Word Alive Ministries, Inc., in Lake land, “A place where Jesus is Lord, the Holy Ghost moves, and the Word is alive!”

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PIONEERS’ PARADISE

Pastor Pickett’s ministry gift has afforded him the opportunity to speak in many countries, including South Korea, Nigeria, Ghana, and Ukraine. He has done mission and ministry work in Jamaica and The Virgin Islands.

Pastor Pickett was called into the ministry while he was operating as a supervisor at a branch of Publix Super Market. He started with three members and now Word Alive Ministries, a nondenominational church, has over 300 members. With a mission to help the Lakeland community, Word Alive Ministries has implemented many programs, including a men’s ministry, women’s ministry, outreach to Virgin Islands ministry, ministry in Jamaica, and a livestream on Facebook to reach many across the world.

GROWING IN GRACE

For many, leaving a legacy is associated with the end rather than the beginning of their lives. The Pickett Family learned this life lesson early and, with each step, they identified ways to master the funda mentals and create opportunities.

“Mom and dad were dedicated to their work in the church and community. My sister and I are proud of our parents’ achieve ments,” Pastor Pickett states. “Our parents have always been caring. I never had to worry about needing anything as a kid.”

“Growing up with one sibling and both parents was a blessing,” says Deloris. “I could not have asked for anything more. My parents were great providers and they nurtured us to be loving and giving. They taught us to love the Lord with all our hearts, to respect our elders, and love our family and friends.

THERE IS SO MUCH WE COULD SAY ABOUT GROWING UP IN THE PICKETT HOME AND HOW WE SURVIVED BEING “PKs” (POLICE KIDS).

“When we were growing up, we very seldom had to call a handyman. My dad did it all. He was the overseer and builder of our home. I thought we were wealthy until I grew up and found out that we were not. Our parents made us feel that way.

“There is so much we could say about growing up in the Pickett household and how we survived being PKs (Police Kids).”

BEING UNSHAKEABLE

It was not easy for the Pickett family to talk about the late Lena Pickett. As they reflected on her life and legacy, the past

came to life with people, places, customs, and celebrations.

“No words can adequately describe that season in my life when my mother passed,” Pastor Pickett states. “I held on to my faith and I’m glad that I have family members, my church family, and friends to carry me when I couldn’t carry myself. Mom has been a blessing to many and even now, she continues to influence the lives of those of us who survived her.

“When mom’s health failed, it broke my heart,” Deloris discloses. “My mom was active and helped many people. She was active in church all her life—church secretary, youth director, and trustee, to name some of the positions she held.

“When mom passed, it was like losing my best friend. She was my confidant, mentor, sister, and someone I could look up to. Her love was unconditional. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about mom. I know she made her appointment with the Lord, but the hurt is still here.

“We continue to have a strong family bond and we keep in touch with each other as much as possible.”

MANAGING GRIEF

“Going on the journey with mom during the last stages of her life changed my life and outlook on life,” says Deloris. “It helped me to know how important it is to love on my loved ones. I thank God for the years He gave us with our mom.”

The death of a loved one can be a stressful experience that affects your emotional and physical well-being. Nevertheless, the grieving process is unique to each person. Here are suggestions from the Picketts’ for managing grief:

• Breathe, keep your faith, and allow God to direct your path.

• Pray together as a family.

• Pace yourself and express your grief.

• Seek wise counsel. For example, talk with a therapist or grief counselor.

• Keep structure in your day.

• Plan for grief triggers, such as anniver saries, birthdays, and holidays.

• Learn about grief.

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PIONEERS’ PARADISE

A LEADER IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Tina McCall-Waters

PUSHING LIMITS AND CHANGING LIVES THROUGH TENNIS

Tina McCall-Waters wanted to give back and she took action. McCall-Waters is the founder of the Denton Johnson Tennis Corporation (DJTC) that serves at-risk and minority youths in her community, Eatonville, Florida. “I envisioned a youth tennis and education complex that will create a safe haven where kids can go after school and have access to computers, mentors, nutrition, and learn the game of tennis in a collaborative setting,” McCall-Waters states.

An accomplished tennis player, Mc Call-Waters has broken many barriers both personally and historically. Over twenty years later, the change-maker is still on a mission to give back to the ten nis world that taught her many valuable life lessons while opening doors for her.

“Tennis is good for your health, and as one

of my dear friends

loves to say, ‘Health is wealth,’” says McCall-Waters. “I live by the phrase, to whom much is given, much is required.”

I ENVISIONED A YOUTH TENNIS AND EDUCATION COMPLEX THAT WILL CREATE A SAFE HAVEN WHERE KIDS CAN GO AFTER SCHOOL AND HAVE ACCESS TO COMPUTERS, MENTORS, NUTRITION, AND LEARN THE GAME OF TENNIS IN A COLLABORATIVE SETTING.

Recently, VBD Magazine had the distinct pleasure of interviewing McCall-Waters.

She discusses the establishment of DJTC, the services offered, and the relentless journey that sky-rocketed her to tennis stardom. Read on and get a timely moment of encouragement as you learn more about this trailblazer.

GETTING STARTED

“No one in life really makes it on their own. One day, back in 1968, Mr. Denton “Pop” Johnson came into my life with a “vision” that I did not understand at that time. As a young Black girl growing up in Eatonville, Florida, I was simply enjoying life, one day at a time. Mr. Johnson initiated Eatonville’s first tennis program and it was my good fortune to be his first student, at the age of 8. Mr. Johnson explained to my family and me how this game of tennis could change my life, how this game would open doors for me, and take me off the dirt roads in Eatonville and give me a “free” education.

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PIONEERS’ PARADISE

The open doors that Mr. Johnson spoke of allowed me to play competitive tennis in tournaments across the United States, resulting in state and national rankings. I achieved a level of play where I was selected to represent the State of Florida in team competition, a level of play to receive a full tennis scholarship to Indiana University, and a level of play to compete professionally in the Women’s tennis tour for two years.”

WIRED FOR SUCCESS

In 1978, Indiana Coach Lin Loring re cruited McCall-Waters and she became the first African American female to receive a tennis scholarship to Indiana University. That opportunity would set McCall-Waters on a trajectory to career success and personal fulfillment.

Her accomplishments are impressive:

• Awarded “All-American” status in junior and senior years

• First African American from central Florida to earn recognition at state and national levels.

• First African American to receive a 4-year tennis scholarship at Indi ana University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Ad ministration and Marketing

• Earned Big 10 Championship titles 4 years at Indiana University, while play ing singles and doubles at the #1 and #2 positions, respectively.

• Played singles and doubles while maintaining a Top 8 United States Tennis Association (USTA) ranking in the State of Florida for ages 14-18

• Ranked in USTA Top 20 in the State of Florida for ages 10-13.

PASSION TO PLAY TENNIS

Playing tennis became McCall-Waters favorite sport, although she played every sport there was with her siblings. “Playing competitive tennis took me away from my family so each time I traveled to play in a tournament, I dedicated it to a family member, and I did my best to bring home the trophy. When I received a full scholarship to Indiana University, I wanted to make Mr. Johnson and my family proud.

NO ONE IN LIFE REALLY MAKES IT ON THEIR OWN.

It seems as if I have done okay; in 2018 I was inducted into Edgewater’s Hall of Fame, in 2020, Indiana University identified me as the winner of the Leanne Grotke Award, and I was inducted into the American Tennis Association’s Black Tennis Hall of Fame. I have tried to live my life as a role model for youths in the Central Florida communities. I have learned to give from my heart, to believe in myself and what I have to offer, and to never give up.”

THE DYNAMIC ENTREPRENEUR

DJTC, a 501c (3) not-for-profit organiza tion, was established by McCall-Waters in 2001. The mission of DJTC is to bring tennis into the lives of at-risk and minority

youths in a way that has lasting effects on their academic future and overall success.

“I named the company as a tribute to the life and legacy of Mr. Denton “Pop” John son. After being on tour for 2 1/2 years, I decided to return home and start a tennis program in his honor to give back to my community, the same opportunities I had received—to play a sport, to see the world and travel, and to get a “free” education.

“My philosophy evolved out of what I learned from Mr. Denton “Pop” Johnson, namely that I should always be willing and working to help someone else. He constantly reminded me to give back, telling me that I would be blessed because of my giving spirit. He taught me that one person can and should have influence. As a mentor, Mr. Johnson asked that each of his protégés give back to the community in any way possible. I have tried to do that through DJTC.”

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PIONEERS’ PARADISE

DJTC continues to mentor and make a difference in the lives of participants. Noteworthy accomplishments include:

• 2003: 9 youth were failing at Hunger ford Elementary, and because of UCF volunteers, all students were promoted to the next grade level.

• 2002-2003: 48 youth participants in Red Rally USTA competition in Florida.

• 2002-2003: Recognized as NJTL “Chap ter of the Year” by USA Tennis – Florida.

• 2003-2004: 24 youth participated in Team Tennis USTA in Florida

• 2004-2005: 18 youth play competitively ranked 3.5 or higher in sanctioned and non-sanctioned competition.

• 2004-2005: 1 player from program played on Edgewater High School Varsity Tennis team #3 singles & 2 doubles (Ebony Johnson)

• 2004-2006: 2 players from the program played on Edgewater High School Varsity tennis team #2 doubles (Tara Beacham and Vanessa McCall)

• 2006-2008: Tara Beacham played #1 single & #1 doubles for Edgewater High School Varsity Tennis team (Ju nior & Senior years)

I HAVE LEARNED TO GIVE FROM MY HEART, TO BELIEVE IN MYSELF AND WHAT I HAVE TO OFFER, AND TO NEVER GIVE UP.

• 2006-2008: Vanessa McCall played #5 singles & #3 doubles for Edgewater High School Varsity

• 2008: 2 players received tennis schol arships to colleges in Florida (Tara Beacham & Vanessa McCall)

• 2009-2013: 2 players from the program played on Edgewater High School Varsity Tennis Team (Jesenia Bruno & Destinee Wheeler)

• 2013-2019: 2 players received tennis scholarships to colleges in Florida (Jesenia Bruno & Destinee Wheeler)

TENNIS PROGRAMS

DJTC participates in the following pro grams:

• District and State Tournaments

• National Junior Tennis League (NJTL)

• Non-Sanctioned Play (Monthly)

• Sanctioned Play (Twice Monthly)

• USA Florida Team Tennis

• USTA Red Rally (Annually)

PARTNERSHIPS

Over the past 20 years, the DJTC has worked in partnership with multiple organizations to serve minority youth. Among some of the most notable ones are the following:

• Boys & Girls Club of Eatonville

• Governor’s Mentoring Initiative

• Hungerford Elementary School

• Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church

• Mayor’s Youth Initiative

• National Junior Tennis League (NJTL)

• Orange County Parks & Recreation

• Orange County Public Schools

• Rollins College Women’s Tennis League

• Town of Eatonville

• United States Tennis Association (USTA)

• University of Central Florida Intra mural Tennis Program

• USA Tennis – Florida

• Volunteer Florida Foundation

WHAT’S NEXT

“In 2011, I received the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Award from Kappa Alpha Psi. What I do is not really about awards; however, I do know that when you are doing something right, people tend to notice and acknowledge it. The awards that I have received let me know I should keep on keeping on as I try to positively influence the lives of youth.

“I envision Eatonville’s first dedicated Youth Tennis and Education Complex. This new facility will allow DJTC to increase the number of youths we serve by providing dedicated facilities for ad ministration, classrooms, tennis courts, and the ability to invite competitive play to the Town of Eatonville. My view for the Youth Tennis and Education Complex is grand, and the advantages this facility can create for our community are boundless.”

Click & Visit

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PIONEERS’ PARADISE

VBD Magazine

HAPPY 1ST ANNIVERSARY
17

It’s A Celebration! VBD MAGAZINE

Over twenty years ago, in a conversation between two friends about their dreams and aspirations, the desire to create a lifestyle magazine was mentioned. On Tuesday, October 12, 2021, the dream became a reality and Victorious By Design (VBD) Magazine made its mark in the industry.

VBD Magazine turns the spotlight on individuals who are courageously walking in purpose and dominating in their respective fields. We bring you the stories behind the story and practical advice to help you unleash your vision. We do all this to inspire you to reach beyond your fears and walk in your God-given purpose so that you can live victoriously.

Extra special thanks to those featured in our four cover stories: Business Mogul Dr. Pasha Carter, Leadership Coach and Serial Entrepreneur Bindu A. Chowritmootoo, Consultant Neurosurgeon Dr. Dwaine Cooke, and Relationship Experts Eric and Dr. Sakeisha Hylick. Our heartfelt appreciation to our featured guests. Thank you to our remarkable contributing writers—Dr. Velma Bagby, Waletta Mason Dunn, Stacy-Lee Abrahams, RoseAnn Durant, Damaris Nightingale, Ramona Powell, and Pastor Danyelle Scroggins. You have enriched VBD Magazine through your insightful articles.

Still, we could not have done it without our phenomenal magazine team: Dr. Henrietta Stewart, Dr. Dacia Mor gan, Dr. Ruby Evans, Icylin Morgan, Kerry-Ann McPherson, Paula Hamilton, Shanity Rowsey, Shauna-Kay Harrison, Aleksandar Stankovic, Scott Merriman, Millicent Battick, Beverlyn Johnson Wilks, Shaun Battick, and Brittany Rockwell. We look forward to the continued harmony, synergy, and alliance that is helping VBD Magazine fulfill its mission.

Thank you all for making VBD Magazine the #1 literary and empowerment haven for personal, professional, and organizational transformation in the faith-based community.

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CHEERS TO AN AMAZING FIRST YEAR www.victoriousbydesign.com Click & Visit

LITERARYDen

Esther Sinclair

You are a Big Deal! Walk in the Power of Your Purpose

Inspired by the Lord to be intentional about her purpose, Esther Sinclair took major steps to boldly embrace this new season in her life so that she would evolve into the best version of herself. Esther, who wears many hats— author, life coach, empowerment speaker, accountant, teacher, mentor, pastor’s wife, and mother of 4—is guided by the core principle: Purpose is not an option, it’s an obligation. The visionary is passionate about cultivating every seed that God has deposited in her to be a blessing to others. Today, Esther is pursuing the path of purpose and her mission is to inspire others to do the same.

“My first book Cultivating Purpose was released in January 2020 in the onset of

the pandemic. I used the pandemic as a purpose platform to teach others how to break out of their comfort zone and pursue their purpose.”

I USED THE PANDEMIC AS A PURPOSE PLATFORM TO TEACH OTHERS HOW TO BREAK OUT OF THEIR COMFORT ZONE AND PURSUE THEIR PURPOSE.

Following the release of her book, Esther established a purpose community dubbed ‘Destiny Cultivators’, which connected ap

proximately 100 like-minded individuals who daily encourage and motivate each other to keep going forward. The faceto-face masterclasses on the Principles of Purpose transitioned online during the pandemic and became available to audiences in Jamaica and other countries. But Esther did not stop there, as during the COVID-19 lockdown, she introduced her Motivational Monday Power Thought newsletter series to her mentees and col leagues which she consistently penned for one year.

“I encourage participants in my growth groups and coaching sessions to become 21st-century lifelong learners. Teamwork is also encouraged, and partnerships formed with other stakeholders to empower

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“It takes courage to cultivate purpose, it’s not for cowards. Until you tap into your full potential you will always feel powerless.”—Esther Sinclair

I HAVE A PASSION FOR GOD’S TRUTH AND THERE WAS ALSO A GREAT DESIRE TO PUSH PEOPLE INTO PURPOSE.

members to walk boldly in their purpose. The possibilities are still being explored as to God’s vision for the group.”

There is no greater time than now for individuals to jump into purpose-driven action. VBD Magazine is excited to share our interview with the difference maker who gives from a cup that overflows as she empowers others to walk in purpose and live victoriously.

PUSHED INTO PURPOSE

“My father was an avid reader and, I be lieve, a gifted author who never realized his dream. He was always writing on bits of paper. I saw those same qualities in myself—love for reading, researching, and writing on every paper I could get my hands on. When my father died without realizing that dream, I was determined to be intentional and not allow the seed of greatness to die in me. I realized now was the time to start making time for purpose instead of making excuses.

“I have a passion for God’s truth and there was also a great desire to push people into purpose. I was nicknamed the Purpose Pusher as I am always empowering the young adults around me that I see wan dering from the path of truth due to their ignorance.

“Also, I participated in numerous national church competitions where I entered my poems and won. After engaging in deep research and not using half of the material, the Lord inspired me to create a word document to collate all the topics I had researched. I remember preaching on a topic about the seed which opened my eyes to the many truths hidden deep within it. The seed concept answered the many puzzling questions that I had, and others were asking about purpose. The most intriguing being that everything begins with a seed, and everything great begins with something small. A small seed,

CULTIVATING PURPOSE IS BASED ON THE UNDERSTANDING THAT EVERYONE IS PACKED WITH POTENTIAL AND THERE IS A SEED OF GREATNESS IN ALL OF US.

small idea, or a small step in the right direction. So it’s not about the destination, just focus on starting the journey.”

CULTIVATING PURPOSE

“Cultivating purpose is based on the un derstanding that everyone is packed with potential and there is a seed of greatness in all of us. We need to acknowledge that seed and make every effort to bring it to its full potential. Purpose is not something that you bump into or search for like a hidden treasure, it’s a seed that unlocks

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and that journey unfolds step by step, stage by stage like the seed cycle. We have a responsibility to take the necessary actions to expose our seed to the right elements for it to mature. We must also understand what is required of us at each stage of the journey so that our impatience with the waiting time does not sabotage our potential.”

FINDING PURPOSE

Walking in purpose brings significance, value, and stability. Here are Esther’s suggestions regarding ways to find your purpose:

• Start the journey based on the revelation that there is a seed planted within you that someone is waiting on. We are sent here as a solution to a problem.

• Don’t see your purpose as a destination, see it as a journey and as you embark daily on that journey, you will see the unfolding of your purpose.

• There are 7 stages of purpose that are explored in Cultivating Purpose potential, process, price, patience, pressure, passion, and perspective. Understanding these stages will provide a guide to finding your purpose.

TRUTH 101: LET THE ANIMALS TEACH YOU TO SURVIVE

Esther’s latest book, Truth 101: Let the Animals Teach You, the first of a trilogy, discusses 101 principles from 10 animals. The books focus on three 21st Century Topics—Survive, Soar and Succeed, where the focus is to equip individuals with the right principles to protect their purpose.

“I have always been inspired by nature and I believe mother nature is the greatest teacher of truth. Having found so much truth about purpose in the seed, my next mission was to explore the power of the mind, and the many battles people face daily because of not understanding how their brain works. However, I did not have the confidence to launch out in that topic seeing that I did not study neuroscience. The Lord led me into the study of the animals, like the ant, the lion, and the eagle who represented the focus and discipline required to navigate the various challenges of life.

“When the Lord led me to read Job 12:7, where it admonished us to ask the animals and they will teach us, that was an ‘Aha’ moment for me where I realized all the principles of life, including how the brain functions were clearly demonstrated by the animals I was studying. The Lord instructed me to study ten animals that the Bible uses as a reference point and to find ten key principles that those animals clearly epitomize.”

THE TAKEAWAY

After reading Truth 101: Let the Animals Teach You, “I hope readers will understand the 21st century skills they need to survive, soar, and succeed in this time of change and uncertainties. The book is positioned as a coaching tool to equip and empower church groups and corporate teams with the solution to the challenges they will face in this era such as prioritization, adaptability, connectivity, co-creation and so many others.”

LESSONS ABOUT WRITING

“I have learned the importance of being committed and consistent in my writing. Without commitment, you won’t start and without consistency you will not finish. Also, I know that you must love what you do to have the stamina to push through times of fatigue and discourage ment. Don’t camp in complacency, don’t shortchange the process or your brand will not be well represented in terms of the quality work you produce.”

ON THE HORIZON

“My mission is to empower people with God’s, truth bringing back a biblical world-view to the challenges of this century. God’s word is still the solution to the myriads of problems that we face. My vision is to engage in a continual growth process, which I believe will lead to more truth, more revelation, more books, and more teachings. I intend to establish an academy where my books would be used as a coaching tool to change mindsets and inspire purpose. Therefore, I will continue to depend on the Holy Spirit to guide me in God’s truth and the wisdom and understanding to present this truth through practical and applicable ways.”

22 LITERARY DEN VBD Magazine
WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO TAKE THE NECESSARY ACTIONS TO EXPOSE OUR SEED TO THE RIGHT ELEMENTS FOR IT TO MATURE.
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REVELL & BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS

Divisions of Baker Publishing Group FICTION RELEASES LITERARY DENVBD Magazine 23

Hallee Bridgeman

Brings A Unique Perspective to Thrilling New Love and Honor Series

With hallmark prowess, USA Today bestselling author Hallee Bridgeman combines her experience of military life with detailed research to craft her new Love and Honor series. Each book in the action-packed romantic suspense series revolves around one member of a Special Forces A-Team.

“My husband served with the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) for several years and deployed with them to Afghanistan. In our military community, we have several friends who are still in Special Forces units. I was able to ask questions, glean knowledge, and confirm facts with several sources who actually served or are serving in the Special Forces.”

LOVE AND HONOR SERIES

HONOR BOUND (BOOK #1)

As a medical missionary in war-torn Africa, Cynthia Myers is trained to save lives. Captain Rick Norton, Special Forces A-Team captain, is ordered to take them if necessary. When Cynthia is forced to face her past, they have to put aside their differences in order to make it out of the jungle alive.

WORD OF HONOR (BOOK #2)

Pretending to be husband and wife would be difficult enough, even if FBI Special Agent Lynda Culter and US Army weap ons specialist Bill Sanders didn’t have history between them. The former college sweethearts have to put aside their past and work together to stop an ecoterrorist organization in Istanbul in order to protect their nation.

HONOR’S REFUGE (BOOK #3)

Phil Osbourne of the Special Forces A-Team returned home from the mili tary missing a leg and feeling like half a man, but Melissa Braxton has loved him almost since they met. When things take a dangerous turn at the women’s shelter where Melissa works, Phil must overcome wounds both seen and unseen to find a strength long buried—and save the woman he loves.

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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT LITERARY DEN VBD Magazine 24

AN INTERVIEW WITH HALLEE

What draws you to writing military fiction?

I am an Army brat (my father was Special Forces) married to an Army brat (his father was a paratrooper). After the Gulf War, my husband got out of the military but reenlisted on September 12, 2001. He deployed to his second war within a few months of our marriage and has served in the military for almost twenty-five years. In the media, it’s hard to find where the military is portrayed correctly. I wanted to write a series of books that didn’t cater to stereotypes or tropes but gave us a realistic view of the men and women who serve in the armed forces and their culture.

What was the inspiration behind the Love and Honor series?

I love military life and the people in it. I

love strong heroes and heroines who are truly self-sacrificing, whose love for their country and families leads them to lay down their lives to protect them.

Is there a character in this series who you particularly relate to?

I think out of all the characters, Bill Sand ers is my favorite. I’ve always loved the tortured hero with a past that comes with baggage. It was fun to weave a sense of humor and Southern colloquialisms into his speech. My husband is very Southern and clever with his words. I think a lot of him leaked into Bill.

The theme of honor is present in each book in this series. Why did you choose to focus on this particular quality?

One of the definitions of honor is “ad herence to what is right.” Throughout my life, I’ve been surrounded by soldiers who have served in the US Army Special Forces. In my experience, they exude honor and respect. It was a natural trait to give focus to when I was plotting and planning this series.

Are there any lessons that you hope readers can learn from the Love and Honor series?

God is love, but this is a fallen world and there are some pretty scary things going on. God has gifted some people with warrior qualities and special skills, and they’re out there every day praying for the same peace that Jesus promises us in John 16:33: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (ESV).

What are you working on next?

My husband is no longer in a Special Forces unit; he is now in a cybersecurity/ cyber warfare unit. I’m plotting out a series of books that combines cyber and Special Forces and a global hunt to stop some very dangerous hackers perpetrating a devastating attack. We’re crossing paths with Israel’s Mossad, arms dealers, and deep cover agents. I’m very excited for these books

Hallee Bridgeman is the USA Today bestselling author of several action-packed romantic suspense books and series. An Army brat turned Floridian, Hallee and her husband finally settled in central Kentucky, where they raised their three children. When she’s not writing, Hallee pursues her passion for cooking, coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Hallee is an accomplished speaker and active member of several writing organizations.

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LITERARY DENVBD Magazine 25 halleebridgeman.com

The

orn in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch country, Beverly Lewis learned to love the Amish way of life from an early age. As an author, she has brought her admiration and knowledge of the Amish people to the forefront of her writing. With over 17 million copies sold worldwide, Beverly Lewis has become Amish fiction’s top selling author. Now, Lewis returns fans to Lancaster County in The Orchard—a captivating story about faith, love, loyalty, and family bonds during difficult and uncertain times.

LITERARY DEN VBD Magazine 26 B
“Beverly
Lewis is the biggest name in Amish fiction.”—Newsweek
by
Beverly Lewis
Orchard AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

For generations, Ellie Hostetler’s family has tended their Lancaster County orchard, a tradition her twin brother, Evan, will someday continue. Yet when Evan’s draft number is called in the lottery for the Vietnam War, the family is shocked to learn he has not sought conscientious objector status, despite their Old Order Amish belief in nonresistance. The faraway war that has caused so much turmoil and grief among their Englisher neighbors now threatens their own community.

As Evan departs for boot camp, Ellie finds herself confiding her disappointment in Sol Bontrager, the brother of her best friend and cousin to her new beau, Menno. In contrast to Evan, Sol is a conscientious objector, and despite Ellie's attraction to Menno, she finds herself drawn to Sol’s steady presence as they work together in the orchard. Suddenly, it feels as if everything in Ellie’s world is shifting, and the plans she has held so dear seem increasingly uncertain. Can she and her family find the courage to face a future unlike any they could have imagined?

Beverly Lewis’ The Orchard will captivate readers as they grapple with questions of duty to community and family and the realization that sometimes unpopular choices have to be made regardless of the consequences.

AN INTERVIEW

WITH BEVERLY

The Orchard is set during the Vietnam War. What type of research was required to portray this time period and the impact that the Vietnam War had on the Amish community?

I am privileged to have a number of Amish friends who willingly shared with me regarding their own sons’ concerns during this challenging era. Also, my brother-inlaw, an Air Force veteran, assisted with research on the non-Amish side of this war and its effects on our soldiers overseas.

What were the Amish beliefs pertaining to war?

The Amish embrace nonresistance in all aspects of life, which includes any involvement in military service.

Can you please explain what it means to be a conscientious ob jector?

A conscientious objector claims the right to reject or perform military service— including the bearing of arms—on the grounds of freedom of religion, morality, or a belief in pacifism.

How did Englishers perceive and react to the Amish claiming conscientious objector status?

During the Vietnam War, many non-Amish (Englishers) despised COs and targeted them in violent ways, as well as made them feel guilty for not serving their country in a military capacity.

Your female protagonist, Ellie Hostetler, and her family are fac ing the effects of the Vietnam War. What can readers learn from the way the Amish handled both the war and their ever-changing world?

Readers will experience what Ellie and her neighbor-friend Sol must endure when the “outside world” clashes with the peaceful world of the orchard. Despite the Hostetlers’ embrace of pacifism, their customer base is at risk due to Evan’s radical decision to fight in the war.

What lessons can be found throughout the pages of The Orchard?

Themes of mercy and forgiveness, love for God and family, and divine providence are evident in the pages of The Orchard.

After reading the manuscript, one of my research consultants commented, “What a great book to express the peaceful stance of the Amish people . . . and the devastation of war.”

Can you please explain how your background influences your writing?

My mother’s mother was Old Order Mennonite, so the Anabaptist heritage is embedded in my DNA. Also, having grown up around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I am familiar with the Plain culture and traditions and have a great affinity for the Amish and Mennonite people, many of whom are close friends, or even relatives.

What do you love most about writing Amish fiction?

It’s difficult to narrow down, but the closeknit family life; delicious, homemade foods (which I enjoy describing in my novels); and the Amish’s exemplary traits of kindness, forgiveness, and generosity.

BEVERLY LEWIS is a bestselling and award-winning novelist whose stories have been published in 12 languages and have regularly appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today. Beverly and her husband, David, live in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, making music, and spending time with their family

LITERARY DENVBD Magazine 27
THE BLURB Click & Visit beverlylewis.com Click & Get Online

Page-Turning

INSPIRATIONAL FICTION Purchase your copy today at bakerbookhouse.com.

SECRETS OF EMBERWILD

by Stephenia H. McGee

One Woman’s Fight for Her Rightful Place

n The Secrets of Emberwild, a young woman struggles against the con fines of her time and is determined to train and race her prized colt. In so doing, she believes she can save her beloved family farm. When a new trainer arrives and starts asking questions, Nora Fenton realizes that the secrets hold ing her world together are starting to fray.

“I have always loved horses and actually hold a degree in equine science. I always

wanted to write a character that uses the natural horsemanship training methods I learned in college. Nora is a feisty enough heroine to handle a wild colt, so the two fit perfectly together.

“I hope readers will be inspired by Nora’s determination, strength, and faith. Many times life doesn’t work out the way we expect, but with prayer and fortitude we can keep reaching past the obstacles to achieve our dreams.”

PRAISE FOR THE SECRETS OF EMBERWILD

“A spirited woman ahead of her time makes this well-paced novel in an extraordinary setting shine. Rife with suspense and romance, The Secrets of Emberwild is as much history as mystery—and a horse lover’s dream!”

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“Stephenia H. McGee is a master at writing Southern charm and historic detail, and she’s outdone herself with The Secrets of Emberwild. This fascinating story draws you in with characters who come alive from their first step onto the page. Mc Gee’s clear knowledge of horsemanship shines throughout. This is one for the keeper shelf!”

—Misty M. Beller, USA Today bestselling author of the Brides of Laurent series

STEPHENIA H. MCGEE is the award-win ning author of many stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. When she’s not reading or sipping sweet tea on the front porch, she’s a writer, dreamer, husband spoiler, and busy mom of two rambunctious boys.

www.stepheniamcgee.com

I
THE
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by Joanna Davidson Politano THE LOST MELODY

The Author Weaves a Spellbinding Tale of Music and Mystery

The Lost Melody tells the story of concert pianist Vivienne Mourdant, who upon the death of her father was tasked with taking care of an adult ward she knew nothing about. When Vivienne enters the Hurstwell Asylum as an aide to find the mysterious ward, the asylum claims she was never a patient there. Because her father has paid for this woman’s keep for many years, and

because Vivienne herself recognizes the woman’s portrait, she cannot keep from searching out the truth. She’s seen this woman and heard the haunting lost melody she plays on the piano, yet no one seems to know her or what became of her. At what soon becomes the price of her freedom, Vivienne discovers more than she ever imagined she would, pairing her skill in music with a place deeply in need of healing.

“I hope readers get a sense of freedom within the constraints of circumstances. At some point we all find ourselves mired in a place we don’t want to be, trapped by someone else’s choices or by unforeseen events. We fight it, complain about it, then something happens, and we settle into the season and maybe even realize this interruption was the point all along. That our purpose and mission are found right in the midst of the place we never wanted to be. Or at the very least, that we can have a great deal of freedom within that difficulty. What freedom is available to God’s people, especially within their heart, no matter what’s going on around them.”

JOANNA DAVIDSON POLITANO is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears, A Rumored Fortune, Finding Lady Enderly, The Love Note, and A Mid night Dance. She loves tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone’s story. She lives with her husband and their children in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan.

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THE PREMONITION AT WITHERS FARM

by Jaime Jo Wright

Acclaimed Author Releases Latest Dual-Time Suspense Read

“P

erliett lowered her cup a tad. She tempered her expression so as not to reveal the hor ror that raced through her, stilling her morbid sense of humor. To this point, George had not indicated murder. He had—well, he had simply said the woman was deceased. A murder? Here? In this quiet farming community? The impact of such a thing was monumental.”—The Premonition at Withers Farm

Give us a summary of your new novel The Premonition at Withers Farm.

Two women must wade through family trauma and a rural-farmland serial killer’s motivations to find safety for their loved ones and the truth behind the murders.

What was the inspiration behind this book?

I have always been fascinated with the surge of spiritualism in history and the fascination with the spirit world. With literary masters like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle making it a distinguished part of their lives, I wanted to understand the history behind it—both the solved trickery and the unsolved mystery. I was able to consult with a magician, who helped open the doors to the secrets behind much of the “trade,” the illusion and the dangers of being led into a world we know little about.

The Premonition at Withers Farm alternates between a setting in Michigan in the early 1900s and present day. What about this concept first captured your imagination?

The first thing that captured my imagi nation was when my friend and I were reading old letters that were found in an actual chicken coop on a farm. I started envisioning how the letters may hold something much darker—like a killer’s record of their victims—and from there, the story was born.

What do you hope readers gain from reading The Premonition at Withers Farm?

The search for truth is a delicate thing, especially today when so much truth is considered relative and preferential. I hope readers can discover that truth—solid and foundational truth— does exist, is never-changing, and can be a beacon of hope in a world filled with darkness.

JAIME JO WRIGHT is the author of seven novels, including Christy Award winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She’s also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo; her husband, Cap’n Hook; and their two mini-adults, Peter Pan and CoCo.

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by Toni Shiloh TO WIN A PRINCE

A Breathtaking Royal Romance from a Fresh Voice

“I

love a romance populated with characters you can truly root for. And this one has that and more. Coupled with Toni Shiloh’s winning voice, it’s a story not to be missed.”—Bestselling author Mimi Matthews for Oprah Daily, on In Search of a Prince

To Win a Prince is all about Iris Blakely and Ekon Diallo’s journeys to each other through the ups and downs life throws at them. The story explores what happens to Ekon after the royal council delivers their judgment on his actions. Thus, part of the story is told from his point of view. The story also takes us through the ins and outs of Iris’s new business and her

life as she settles into a new country and, hopefully, a new love.

“I actually wrote this story during a really difficult time. My husband had been laid off and our lease was up, and we needed somewhere else to live. It was completely overwhelming, and even though I was able to get an extension on my deadline, I didn’t give myself a lot of wiggle room to complete the manuscript. But God is truly faithful, pouring the words out in six weeks’ time. Enough time to give it another read through before turning it in. I’ll never forget the journey God brought me through while writing Iris’s tale and learning what patience in the Lord means.

“I hope readers understand that God’s ways always bring about the best fruit for our lives. That nobility can be learned, and that patience really can have its perfect work.”

TONI SHILOH is a wife, mom, and multi-published Christian contemporary romance author. Her novel Grace Restored was a 2019 HOLT Medallion finalist, and Risking Love was a 2020 Selah Award finalist. As a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Toni loves connecting with readers and authors.

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TARGETED

Three Romantic Suspense Novellas

by Lynette Eason, Lynn H. Blackburn & Natalie Walters

Three women. Three men. Three unsuspecting targets.

Get ready for triple the thrills with three heart-stopping stories from your favorite romantic suspense authors!

In On the Run, IT Specialist Daria Nevsky is a highly skilled FBI agent with the ability to hack any computer. She must go on the run to find out who wants her dead—and Dr. Ryker Donahue refuses to let her do it alone.

In Deadly Objective, physical therapist Emily Dixon and Secret Service Agent Liam Harper are committed to keeping their relationship professional. But when the vice president's son enters the cross hairs of a killer, some lines will have to be crossed in order to keep him safe.

In Caught in the Crosshairs, there is no love lost between former Army PSYOPS officer Ari Blackman and CIA officer Clau dia Gallegos after Claudia is implicated in the murder of a Saudi prince. But to prevent a coup that would put America at risk, they'll have to learn to trust each other--before it's too late.

LYNETTE EASON

the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master's degree in education from Converse College. Eason lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children.

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LYNN H. BLACKBURN

NATALIE WALTERS

is the USA Today bestselling author of Life Flight and Crossfire, as well as the Danger Never Sleeps, Blue Justice, Wom en of Justice, Deadly Reunions, Hidden Identity, and Elite Guardians series. She is

is the award-winning author of Unknown Threat and Malicious Intent, as well as the Dive Team Investigations series. She believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. Blackburn is passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don't make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her true love, Brian, and their three children.

Click & Visit lynnhblackburn.com

is the author of Lights Out and Fatal Code, as well as the Harbored Secrets series. A military wife, she currently resides in Texas with her soldier husband and is the proud mom of three. She loves traveling, spending time with her family, and connecting with readers on Instagram and Facebook.

Click & Visit nataliewalterswriter.com

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REVELL

Fiction Releases

DANGEROUS BEAUTY

Genre: Christian Mystery & Suspense

Wealthy businessman Meric Toledan holds others at a dis tance, keeping his dark past and his secrets to himself. But when he meets Liliana Vela, a victim of human trafficking in need of asylum, he finds himself ready to protect her at all costs—including asking for her hand in marriage.

BENEATH THE BENDING SKIES

Genre: Historical Fiction

A young woman torn between duty and her own happiness defies her father to become the wife of a man with few prospects but a firm calling as a federal agent on the Flathead Reservation in 1800s Mon tana. In the years that follow she will discover that even the command to” honor thy father” has its limits. Based on a true story.

A QUILT FOR CHRISTMAS

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Recently widowed Vera Swan son is having a hard time get ting in the Christmas spirit in her new town. When asked to make a quilt for an ailing neighbor, she pulls together a diverse circle of quilters, including free-spirited Tasha Ellison. The group becomes stitched together through shared stories, trust, and a little romantic weaving.

ANYTHING BUT PLAIN

Genre: Amish Romance

Impulsive and unreserved, Lydie Stoltzfus has always felt like a disappointment-a square peg in a round hole in her quiet Amish community. Leaving Stoney Ridge seems like her best move-even though it would mean leaving Nathan Yoder behind.

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BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS Fiction Releases

A GEM OF TRUTH

Genre: Historical Romance

Longing for a fresh start, Julia Schultz takes a job as a Har vey Girl at the El Tovar Hotel, where she’s challenged to be her true self. United by the discovery of a legendary trea sure, Julia and master jeweler Christopher Miller find hope in each other. But when Julia’s past catches up with her, will she lose everyone’s trust?

THE SISTERS OF SEA VIEW

Genre: Historical Romance

When their father’s death leaves them impoverished, the Summers sisters open their home to guests to provide for their ailing mother. But instead of the elderly invalids they expect, they find themselves hosting eligible gentlemen. Sarah must confront her grow ing attraction to a mysterious widower, and Viola learns to heal her deep-hidden scars.

WORTHY OF LEGEND

Genre: Historical Romance

After uncovering a diary that leads to a secret artifact, Lady Emily Scofield and Bram Sinclair must piece together the mystifying legends while dodging a team of archeolo gists. In a race against time, they must decide what makes a hero. Is it fighting valiantly to claim the treasure or sacri ficing everything in the name of selfless love?

THE BLACKOUT BOOK CLUB

Genre: Historical Romance

In 1942, a promise to her brother before he goes off to war puts Avis Montgomery in the unlikely position of head librarian and book club orga nizer in small-town Maine. The women of her club band together as the war comes dangerously close, but their friendships are tested by se crets, and they must decide whether depending on each other is worth the cost.

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Speaks:

ALARM

Prophetess Etta Rahming

Prophetess Etta Rahming, Ed.S., received her master’s degree from Howard Univer sity, School of Social Work. She also holds an Education Specialist in School Psychology degree from the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas Campus. Having met the standards prescribed by the Ecclesiastical Board of Directors of The City of Res toration, Inc., Valrico, Florida, she was commissioned as an ordained minister in 2012.

In an exclusive conversation with VBD Magazine, the Woman of God discusses her writing process, the message she hopes readers will take away after reading her book, and the most important lesson she learned since becoming an author. You’ll love getting to know Prophetess Etta.

VBD: How long have you been writing?

ETTA: I’ve always written. In my youth, I wrote songs, poems, and short stories. I’ve formally written reports and as sessments as an investigative probation officer, clinical social worker, school psychologist, and instructor. My love for reading encouraged my writing outside of the workplace. In addition, I’ve written for newspapers and conferences on top ics such as slavery in the Caribbean and substance abuse among women. There was a season when I was also releasing prophetic writings for my church newspa per. I have numerous journals of writings on what God has given me throughout the last ten years. I know I will eventually publish some of these articles. In 2016, I published my book When God Speaks: Sound the Alarm.

Operating in my purpose and unique de sign have created opportunities for me to establish and serve in several ministries, including The Doorway to Life Skills Center, The Gatekeeper Intercessory Ministry, and Ms. Etta’s Academic Corner. Currently, I am developing a book on healing and deliverance as well as two children’s books. While my professional background is eclectic, I’ve always ended up working with “at-risk” populations in some capacity. As a five-fold minister,

36 LITERARY DEN VBD Magazine
When GOD
SOUND THE

my current writings are a combination of 40 plus years of training, experience, and knowledge in the natural and spir itual realms.

VBD: Tell us about your writing process.

ETTA: I pray a great deal and I have journals where I write my notes. Inspi ration comes at any time, and I want to be prepared, so I keep a journal on my nightstand. Whenever I awake, I write what I remember from my dreams or the first thoughts that come to my mind. My current process is to work with a writing group as a means of accountability. This also ensures that I write on a regular basis. Sometimes, I like a change of scenery, and I go to the beach. This helps me to focus, and I can write for hours.

VBD: What inspired your book When God Speaks: Sound the Alarm?

ETTA: I was led by the Holy Spirit to share with a wider audience what the Lord had been saying. The Holy Spirit wants to accelerate growth in many lives and the subject matter in my book is meant to help people reach a higher and deeper level of maturity.

VBD: What did you learn from writing When God Speaks: Sound the Alarm?

ETTA: I learned that people need to hear what God has given me and that God is still working on me. As I write, God continues to take me to deeper levels of deliverance and clarifies the purpose for some of the challenges I experienced during my childhood. Healing and deliverance is a process and is ongoing.

VBD: What message do you hope readers will take away after reading When God Speaks: Sound the Alarm?

ETTA: I am hoping that the readers re ceive healing and deliverance on a deeper level. In addition, they should remember processes take time and must be inten tional. I want my readers to understand that forgiveness is necessary for growth, and that forgiveness of self and others will set one free.

VBD: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned since be coming an author?

ETTA: I have learned that God has placed these words within me, and I must remem ber that this is not just about me; it’s about those that are waiting to receive this vital information. The written word is just as powerful as the spoken word.

VBD: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

ETTA: Writing is a process. Even when you are challenged, keep writing. Have a designated place to write when you are home. It also helps to have an ac countability partner where you can be

an encouragement to each other. As Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV) reminds us: “iron sharpens iron.” Most of all, I would encourage aspiring authors to pray, fast, stay in the presence of God, and follow His directions. Lastly, I would encourage that whatever you do, always remember to never compare your gifts to others.

VBD: What’s next for you?

ETTA: I am currently writing a book on healing and deliverance. Throughout my ministry, I noticed many people have the false belief that they cannot be free of some things because they’ve sinned so much or for so long. We always hear people say, “I don’t look like what I’ve been through.” I like to help them see a different way which allows them to fully accept that nothing is too hard for God.

In a couple of months, my writing group will be in full swing, and I will have some projected dates for my children’s books. These children’s books will correlate with my YouTube Channel, “Ms. Etta’s Academic Corner.”

I am also working on a unique social media platform which will release daily words of encouragement with reference to biblical texts.

37 LITERARY DENVBD Magazine
Etta Rahming Click & Visit
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Stories of BelongingNaomi Craig

“S

ome of my most defining moments have come from personal parallels in fiction.

Somehow when you are en grossed in someone else's journey, you lower your defenses and suddenly you are met with your own strengths and shortcomings. You see what works for the character and what doesn't.

“And then God can change you. Your 'mess' can turn into a message. You see

God has bigger plans for you than you could possibly imagine. This trial won't last forever. Good always wins.”

MAINTAINING TRUTH IN BIBLICAL FICTION

“I cannot emphasize enough how im portant it is to stick to the facts in the Bible. So many readers are not inclined to read historical fiction set in Biblical times because they’ve read some Biblical fiction that deviates from the scriptures,

or they have transposed what they have read as actual fact.

“If you are able to send readers back to the Word, this time with an appreciation of the events recorded in history, it can take the reader from skimming through the Bible as a linear timeline of events and deliver the rich and vibrant culture of the times. In this way, you can explore with the reader why the person may have made the decision they did.

“Always treat the Bible with utmost respect. The readers will know if you haven’t.”

ABOUT NAOMI

Naomi Craig is an author of Biblical fiction, avid reader, and pastor’s wife. She loves reading the Bible and imagining how things were at the time. When she’s not serving in various areas at church, trying to stay on top of mountains of dishes, or convincing her rescue dog, Freeway, to be cute on command for Instagram reels, you’ll most likely find her enjoying a good book and a cup of coffee. Naomi co-hosts Behind the Story , an author interview show on YouTube and your podcast platform of choice.

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IN OUR FATHER’S IMAGE

Have you ever wondered why several members of a family have the same gift? For instance, the Winans. How about Michael Jackson and his brothers and sisters? How many members of that family have made at least one album?

It is no different for the body of Christ. Our heavenly Father is the Creator. We all have some level of creativity since we are made in His image. He has given us the ability to use our imagination. We did nothing to earn it and it is not for us to boast.

So how do we incorporate creativity in our writing process?

We recognize, nurture, and support it. Being able to recognize creativity is the key to fulfilling our life’s purpose. Have you ever observed a child using their imagination? They take on a multitude of perspectives and manipulate emotions and ideas. As writers, we can cultivate a childlike sense of play and revolutionize the way we write.

• Nurturing creativity. Expose yourself to the creative ideas of others by reading. Invest in and further develop your writing by taking classes. Bring those ideas into your consciousness where they grow alongside your own ideas to create something new.

• Be a blessing. Writing is not listed as a spiritual gift in the Bible (Romans 12:1-8, 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, Ephesians 4: 1-16, and 1 Peter 4: 10-11), but it can be used as a tool to exercise our spiritual gift. For example, I am a writer gifted to exhort and teach. I write positive, encouraging pieces that have a lesson to be a blessing to others.

Isn’t it wonderful to be a part of God’s family? And like our father, the Creator, we each have a level of creativity. It’s a gift we did nothing to earn. Let’s find ways to recognize, nurture, and then use our creativity for God’s glory.

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Finding Freedom Through Writing NancePamelaJohnson

Pamela Nance Johnson, born in Okinawa, Japan, now resides in Central Virginia. She spent most of her career in service to others. Pamela served as a parent volunteer and Policy Council Representative, Instructional Assistant and Family Services Coordinator at her local Head Start program. She also served at the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board as a Child & Adolescent Mental Health Case Manager. She was an AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) through the Corporation for National and Community Service at Bragg Hill Family Life Center, a faithbased non-profit. Pamela volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children. Since 2012, she has been a Legal Administrative Specialist for the federal government.

Today, Pamela continues to serve in ministry as a member of Kingdom Family Worship Center where she was ordained as a minister in 2015. She sings on the Praise Team/Choir, ushers, teaches Sunday school and is part of the church admin istration team. Pamela also sings with a community choir, Voices of the Gospel. Pamela’s debut literary effort was co-au thoring the Back in the Day Anthology (2019 Christian Book Lover’s Retreat). This was followed by The Day She Left, a Survivor’s Diary vol.2 in 2021. She has been a guest blogger for Hope-in-Christ Ministries. She won the Community Ser vice Award at the 2020 Christian Book Lover’s Retreat and was a host for CBLR Monday Motivational Moment. Pamela has also been published internationally in Ordained Magazine with a feature article on Self-Care in the summer of 2021. She seeks to use her testimony to encourage others in their faith journey.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

Pamela’s inspiration to write started in elementary school from her natural love for reading, which birthed her inclination to write. She developed a deep interest in creative writing in school. As a member of her high school’s newspaper staff, she explored journalism as a reporter and sports editor. She always wanted to see her name on a book cover and have millions reading what she had written.

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Journaling is what gave me my literary voice and it is the foundation for both my anthologies,” Pamela explains. “I have been keeping journals since my teens, recording every life event.” This gave her the space to find clarity, celebrate victories, and find peace while going through life’s storms.

Pamela always dreamed of becoming a published author. In 2017, on a search of the internet for Christian writing seminars, she discovered the Christian Book Lov er’s Retreat. With that, her professional writing journey began.

INSPIRATION TO WRITE

“My greatest desire is to share my testi mony so that others, especially women, will be encouraged and empowered to rise above their circumstances,” states Pamela, whose mother passed when she was sixteen. “I understand what turning trauma into triumph really means.”

Pamela writes for the young woman who doesn’t have her mother in her life, for the single mother, and for the divorcee. She believes that though life brings challenges, it is easier when done with God leading the way and that it is possible to not just survive but also to thrive.

WRITING ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Non-fiction is Pamela’s genre of choice, and her two anthologies were written in autobiographical format. “Better With God on My Side” is her title chapter in Back in the Day Anthology released at the 2019 Christian Book Lover’s Retreat.

“Free Indeed,” released in 2021, is the title chapter in The Day She Left, A Survivor’s Diary Volume 2 with Tamara C. Gooch as Visionary Author.

“Recently, I tagged myself as ‘Meet the Anthology Author’ and it was mostly due to a question received about my book. In a conversation, it was implied that I only have a chapter in a collection, so it’s not really my book and that perhaps I am not officially an author.” Rather than get into a debate, Pamela wisely decided to make it a teachable moment. She explained that her purpose for writing was to share her personal testimony to encourage and empower others. Pamela uses the Bible as the ultimate example of an anthology.

FAMILY CONNECTIONS IN WRITING

Pamela is not the first author in her family. Sonya Nance Herndon, one of her aunts, wrote children’s books—Uncle Deek's Garden, Uncle Deek's Boating Adventure, and Uncle Deek's Singing Dilemma which will be relaunched soon. A Heritage Preserved and A Heritage Preserved Too (Nance-Tatum family history) is a compilation of Pamela’s paternal family history from 1500 to 2022 was written by another aunt, Juanita Nance Gatewood.

LATEST RELEASE

Based on St. John 8:36, Free Indeed was written by Pamela from a place of forgiveness for herself and for others. “I thought I had worked through some of my life experiences, most significantly, a volatile situation after divorce,” Pamela reveals. “But there were some unresolved feelings and writing was my release. The hardest part of writing Free Indeed was coming to terms with old feelings I thought I had successfully suppressed. However, I feel that this was a necessary part of the process, and I made peace with it all.”

ADVICE FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS

• Trust the process and be patient.

• Take your time and be sure to invest in a good editor.

• Be open to the editing process.

• Make your characters relatable (fiction) and tell your truth (non-fiction).

ON THE HORIZON

“I am working on a devotional. I have written several devotionals as a guest blogger for Hope-in-Christ Ministries. I have also shared prayer, Scripture, and songs on my Facebook page during my commute to work via train and bus. I realize that people looked forward to my posts so that gave me the idea to put a selection together for a 30-day devotional which can be read while traveling. I feel I may reach those who are no longer able to visit a church, but still need to get an encouraging word.”

Pamela Nance Johnson

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Jennifer Sienes

Writing Books Where Crisis and Christ Collide

“W

hen I first dreamt of becoming a writer, I thought I’d write romance. Who doesn’t love romance? But by the time I was given the opportunity to put feet to my faith and follow that dream, I had gone through such a harrowing season of loss and grief, God made it clear that I was to use it to offer hope and glorify Him. For this reason, I’ve been writing women’s contemporary fiction.”

WRITING ADVICE

“Pursue excellence. As a writer, that means being a student of the craft. It doesn’t mat ter if you’re self-published, traditionally published, or have never been published, continually seek to improve in the art of writing. There are many ways to go about this. Attending conferences and workshops is helpful. If the expense is a deterrent, there are a multitude of books on writing that are excellent resources. Aside from these, a critique group is essential if it’s a good fit. This is an opportunity for you to learn from others while also contributing. It doesn’t matter your level of writing; you have something to offer. Find one that fits your criteria but be aware that it is one of reciprocity. We often learn best when teaching.”

ABOUT JENNIFER

Jennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance, and writing—and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her three novels. Although fiction writing is her real love, she’s had several non-fiction pieces published in anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul . She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. Born and raised in California, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.

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DESIGN Victorious By BeyondTHE PAGES

Apostle Dr. Veryl Howard, Founder of Faith Manage ment & Talent Casting, is recognized as one of the most successful managers and promoters in the world of Christian and Gospel music. Recently, she embarked on her modeling career as well, model ing in Paris, France, and Milan, Italy, in Fashion Week. Her motto is “God said be fruitful and multiply.”

Apostle Dr. Veryl Howard has been blessed to receive many awards for her philan thropy and entertainment work. She was recently awarded the “Spin Award”, and the prestigious President Joe Biden Award for her Humanitarian acts. Additionally, she received the “E One Record Man ager of the Year Award”, “Holla Back Excellence Award”, “Holy Hip Hop Award", “Gospel Image Award”, and “Glitz & Girl Power Award” along with actress Lisa Raye and other actors. She was also awarded the “Shout the Alarm Award” and “Ambassador Award” from Preach the Word Worldwide TV Network where she serves as a spokesperson. She attributes her accolades to being a servant of God and her recently deceased mother Dr. Virginia Howard as her once caregiver.

She also hosts a Radio/TV Show called “Global Warriors on the Frontline” on “Faith Star Radio.” Her show is to high light great prayer warriors who are doing awesome work for the Kingdom of God.

VBD Magazine caught up with the pow erhouse to discuss her passion for helping gospel artists take control of their careers and step into their creative destiny. You’ll be inspired by her faith, brilliance, and straightforward approach, as you learn about her journey.

CALLED TO SERVE

As a respected manager and promoter for almost three decades, Apostle Dr. Howard is sought after in the gospel music indus try and has worked with many of gospel music’s biggest stars. However, life did not start off in a grand way for her.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., she was born crippled in her feet and wore

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Dr.Veryl Howard Moving You Beyond Your Talent and Into Your Creative Destiny
Apostle POWERFUL. EXPRESSIVE. INSPIRATIONAL. BEYOND THE PAGES

glasses at an early age because of a “lazy eye” (amblyopia). Thanks to her parents, she was able to take corrective actions through surgery and therapy. “God has done a miracle in me, and I cannot stop thanking him. I have come a long way so that I can enjoy horseback riding, dance, karate, and ziplining.”

Apostle Howard studied Pre-Med. at Fisk University, and then went on to study Optics of the Eye at Pennsylvania College of Optometry. “I always felt that God wanted to use me as a vessel to heal people. I desire to see God’s people equipped and free.”

After completing her studies, the Lord shifted Apostle Howard into pastoral ministry, and she started a church in North Carolina. She was about to start another church in Orlando, when her mother, Dr. Virginia Howard, had a stroke. Dr. Howard had been a professor at the University of the District of Columbia for 52 years.

“As her only daughter, I felt compelled to return to Washington, D.C., to take care of my mother. My mother required 24-hour care, and I embraced it as my assignment from God. It was not always easy, but my medical training was of great value.” Her mom recently passed, and Apostle Howard is now an advocate for seniors and caregivers.

Apostle Howard is passionate about her family. At the time of our interview, she introduced us to one of her aunts and uncles, former Police Chief Alvin Hinton and his wife Audrey Hinton. It was sheer pleasure to meet the lively couple. We learned that after 60 years of government service, Chief Hinton had retired from the National Institutes of Health where he had worked for 22 years.

We took the opportunity to ask the Hintons to describe Apostle Howard.

“When I think of Veryl, words like integ rity, perseverance, intentional, and active, come to mind,” Chief Hinton discloses. “She wants to fulfill God’s purpose for her life, and she wants God to be glorified in all her assignments.”

Mrs. Hinton adds, “She is a hardworking, dedicated woman of God who is passion ate about her business. She puts God first. She’s particular about her health and is conscious about what she puts in her body.”

WORKING HER TALENTS

Apostle Howard gave her life to the Lord and that helped to pave the way for the amazing leader she is today. “The Lord called me into the healing ministry while I was operating as a caregiver for my parents. I didn’t grow up in church, so I didn’t understand ministry. The more I spent time with the Lord, the more I understood ministry.”

So how did Apostle Howard get her start in the gospel music industry?

“From the age of five, I played the clarinet and later the piano because my dad played the saxophone and several other instru

ments. As I got older, a shift happened that pulled me towards the entertainment industry. I had done a lot of pageants, videos, and modeling so I was around the entertainment industry all the time. Eventually, I started working in mar keting and promotion with playwrights like Tyler Perry and Bishop TD Jakes. During that season, an artist asked me to manage him, and I said, ‘I am not trying to manage anybody. That’s babysitting.’ However, he kept asking and I prayed about it and eventually said yes. And that's how I got started.”

Throughout her remarkable career, God has given Apostle Howard favor to work with clients such as film producers How ard and Christel Gibson of Dem Gibson Films, Joshua Coates, Tyler Perry, TV One Producer Phil Thornton, film producers Bree & Chuck West of Octet Productions, and film and TV producer aka artist

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Pastor Deitrick Haddon. Film Producer/ President of Tyscot Records Pastor Bryant Scott along with Sony Records gave her a break in the music industry.

Her clients over the years have included: Titus Showers, Jokia Williams, Hawkins Boys, Ke Ke Sheard, Kelonte Gavin, David and Tamela Mann of “The Browns, Todd Dulaney, Bryan Poppin, Tim Bow man, Pastor Wess Morgan, Shekinah Glory Choir, Rapper FLO RIDA, JJ Hairston, Marvin Winans Jr., Cee Cee Winans, Kirk Franklin, Brian Courtney Wilson, Vashawn Mitchell, Bishop TD Jakes, Sunday’s Best Winners” LeAn dria Johnson, Geoffrey Golden, Joshua Rogers, Latice Crawford, Stellar Winners JJ Hairston, Tiff Joy and Bri Babenaux. She has a heart for Caribbean artists and has worked with artist Sherwin Gardner, DJ Nicholas, Last Call who was Number 1 on Billboard for over 30 weeks, and Papa San.

Apostle Howard’s resume includes over 10 national plays including Madea’s Family. She also did publicity for Bishop TD Jakes’ plays and book Woman Thou Art Loose and Behind Closed Doors. She is responsible for organizing rapper Flo Rida’s "Prayer Vigil" in Miami where over 15,000 were in attendance.

As the casting director for Dem Gibson Films, she has done casting calls for the company’s hit TV series, “Double Cross,” which is aired on ALLBLK network and

We TV. Apostle Howard made her debut in the third season of “Double Cross,” adding actress to her long list of creden tials. “It was a blessing to be in the cast, alongside the incredible talents in the show,” says Apostle Howard.

Having dedicated her life to enriching the lives of others, Apostle Howard was one of the recipients of the 2021 Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award. She is also an inductee in the Women Song Writer Hall of Fame. Apostle Howard is managing a plethora of events. To learn more, join her on October 22nd and 23rd on CBN News at 4 PM EST with the host of “Turning Point'' Erica Linney.

WRITING ASSIGNMENTS

Writing is a part of her assignment, and she is the author of several books, name ly A General Becomes a Legend with Spencer Taylor Jr. which went to #1 on the Amazon Best Seller list, Girl Get Up & Win which was also a #1 Amazon Best Seller, and God Is My Ticket Out the Ghetto, to name some. In addition to writing books, Apostle Howard writes for several Christian magazines.

PHILANTHROPIC ENDEAVORS

Apostle Howard is the Founder of Hand to Hand Global Ministry which helps the less fortunate. Her heart is one of a server and missionary. She has been invited to do

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ministry in Guyana, Bermuda, Tortola BVI, Aruba, Trinidad, Israel, Benin Cotonu, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Nairobi Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, St. Kitts, Poland, Germany, Antigua, Holland, St. Vincent & Grenadines, St. Maarten, Costa Rica, St. Lucia, Dominica, Barbados, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Petite Martinique, Curacao, and Grenada.

body of Christ must link global ly,” Apostle Howard states. She was appointed by the government of Benin, Cotonou Africa as a liaison between the country and US national gospel singers, business owners, and preachers. Her work also included the Joseph Project in Ghana, Africa with the former ministry of tourism where she reconnected African Americans to their tribal roots with trips to Africa. She has been a speaker for the Kenya Christian Fellowship of America. She alongside Maxwell Edusai helped orchestrate "Africa Prays for America" at the capitol in Washington DC. Further, she was responsible for helping Lewis Gibbs who is now over Impact TV, lobby

get the Word Network established in

FOR HIS GLORY

Howard is what you would call a raw preacher. “My position in the en tertainment arena is to set and speak apostolic order and holiness. God has not called me to play church but to be open and loving, while leading his precious sheep to a victorious kingdom lifestyle.

want to be used by God to win souls for the kingdom of Christ.”

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“ The
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MYSTICAL AND MAGICAL JOURNEY Winnifred Tataw

Winnifred, aka Winnie, is an artist, entrepre neur, and critically acclaimed fantasy author of her debut series, The Gods’ Scion. Winnie has a lifelong love of literature and art and has been writing stories for over ten years, but she finally decided to publish her written work after starting college. She owns and operates two businesses, Win’s Books, LLC and Win’s Artistry, LLC. Win’s Books LLC is Winnifred Tataw’s hub for all things books and magical. It is where she blogs, promotes, and connects with authors all over the world.

For Win’s Artistry LLC, Winnie strives to create authentic and expressive artwork with her color choices and paint textures expressing fantasy images through emo tion and color symbolism. She depicts fluidity and ideation in her art on 2D planes. She received a B.A. in Studio Art with minors in Communication and Marketing in 2022. Winnie loves spreading positivity and joy to those around her and seeing the world through a glittery pink lens.

VBD: Tell us about your author life

WINNIE: I knew writing was my calling since I was very young. I was always a storyteller, and around 10-12 years old, I started putting them on paper. I kept getting better and better at it. I wanted to be a writer because I wanted to share my wild imagination and stories with the world.

I draw my inspiration from other writers, books, and the media I consume. Most of my villains are based on dictators and corrupt rulers of the world. I also pull inspiration from my daily life and the people around me. My writing reflects my world and I have the freedom to twist the characters as I want.

VBD: Tell us about Win’s Books, LLC and why you started it?

WINNIE: At first, Win’s Books was just the name of my book blog, where I talked about my books and writing with my audience. Then, over the years, it grew into something more. Win’s Books is a place for authors and writers to promote

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and grow together. We offer free and paid promotional materials, which authors can sign up for and share on our website. Our free services take the form of author and book spotlights. We conduct interviews with authors and writers where we talk about their writing journey and written works and we’re also a store that sells all literary products for my books and self-published work. We also strive to uplift and promote marginalized and minority groups.

VBD: How has your mission for Win’s Books, LLC evolved?

WINNIE: In some ways, it has evolved,

and in some ways, it has stayed the same. From the beginning, Win’s Books was based on the power of connection. The evolution of our mission is in making our internet corner an open and comfortable palace for authors and writers to share their stories and journeys with others, to ensure that those who’ve never had a voice finally have a place to showcase their work and processes.

VBD: What other services do you offer authors?

WINNIE: Earlier this year, we launched our first membership program called Mystic Writers. It’s for new and upcoming indie

authors who need guidance to navigate through the indie and traditional publishing journey. With this membership, we hope to help writers become published authors within a year of joining our programs.

VBD: What advice do you have for authors?

WINNIE: Take your time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. When I first started as an author, I thought being an indie author meant I had to do everything by myself, and that is far from the truth. You can ask for help. There is no such thing as a perfect author, so don’t strive to be one. One person’s writing journey will not look like yours and that is completely fine. Take your time and publish when you are truly ready. Your manuscript is your creative gift to the world.

VBD: What’s next for you?

WINNIE: More books. I am finishing my first fantasy series, The Gods’ Scion. Four of the six planned books have been published. My latest book, The Sisterhood of Secrets, is the most family-centered book I’ve written and published. After that, I have a long list of book ideas that I plan to see through to publishing. For Win’s Books, it’s to expand our services available for indie authors and marketing for membership growth.

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Stacy-Lee Abrahams Serving humanity with PASSION AND PURPOSE

HR CONSULTANT, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & PHILANTHROPIST

Imagine a day when you rise early, ready to start the day because you feel passionate about everything you’ll be doing throughout the course of the day. You’re elated and rightly so because your passion and purpose are in alignment.

For some people, identifying and living their passion seems to come naturally, but for others it is not so easy. Still, to have multiple passions in life isn’t unheard of and VBD Magazine is honored to feature leaders who embody the full spectrum of this experience. That’s why we are excited to highlight the incredible achievements of purpose-driven leader Stacy-Lee Abra hams, who is serving others through her many gifts and talents.

Stacy-Lee combined her multiple passions into one vision, and everything fell in place.

and lends time as an HR Consultant to start-ups and small businesses. This gifted leader is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the Ycats Dance Studio, and Founder of the From the Arts with Love Outreach project. Stacy-Lee is motivating and equipping others to rise above their fears to leave their marks on the world.

“Every individual has gifts and talents that can have a positive impact on humanity,” says Stacy-Lee.

Today, she serves as a Human Resource Management professional who works with multiple brands operating in Jamaica

Whatever stage you are on in your journey, our interview with the multi-talented leader will be beneficial to you. Stacy-Lee gets candid about aligning her personal values, purpose, and passion with her career, business, and relationships. Best of all, she demonstrates it pays to dream big.

“I am moving in alignment with my purpose. I’m making a positive impact on those whom I serve and I’m loving every minute of it.” - Stacy-Lee Abrahams
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I find that establishing your core values and doing the things that truly matter produce rewarding life experiences.
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THE BEGINNING

Stacy-Lee lives and works in Kingston, Jamaica but spent her early years with her grandparents in the countryside. Her childhood experiences played a significant role in shaping her path and influencing her passion for helping others.

“I have watched as my grandparents Robert and Mabelle Johnson graciously opened their home to others and showed kindness and compassion to everyone they met. They were a principled couple who never failed to underscore the importance of living life with purpose. As their first grandchild, I am one of the beneficiaries of their awesome legacy, and I chose service to humanity as my passion and purpose.

“I find that establishing your core values and doing the things that truly matter produce rewarding life experiences. A purpose-driven life embodies motivation, resilience, strength, enthusiasm, and pas sion. I deliberately combined my passion for people development and love for the performing arts so that I could serve others and live a fulfilling life.”

A CAREER IN HUMAN RESOURCES

“My childhood dream was to become a star – dancing and singing on television. I soon found out that I was denied the gift of vocals, but I had the capability to dance. However, life had other plans for me so pursuing my childhood dream took a back seat.

“After high school, I interviewed for a human resources summer internship position at the National Export-Import Bank of Jamaica (Ex-Im Bank) and was successful. The opportunity at the Ex-Im Bank sparked my desire to pursue a career in HR. After I completed the internship, I was offered a temporary position and subsequently a permanent position in the human resources department where I continued to gain more knowledge and experience in human resources.

“My first course of study at University of Technology, Jamaica, was in marketing management, which had a HR Manage ment module. It was through this module

that I came to appreciate the benefit of developing competence in others for them to realize their potential. After completing a second course in business management and HR, I was convinced that human capital is the most valuable resource in business, and that a solid HR foundation is key to harvesting the true potential of people.

“My career as a human resources profes sional is truly satisfying, and it’s aligned with my personal values to support and develop others, while giving me an op portunity to influence innumerable aspects of any organization for which I work.”

LEADING WITH HEART

Stacy-Lee is known to hold herself and others to the highest level of accountability and professionalism. While quick-witted

After completing a second course in business management and HR, I was convinced that human capital is the most valuable resource in business, and that a solid HR foundation is key to harvesting the true potential of people.
COVER STORY

and humorous, Stacy-Lee also has a fiery side, but is quick to apologize and take responsibility for her actions.

“In the early years of my HR career, I struggled with the dilemma of main taining a high-performance standard and being understanding where others fell short. I quickly learned that managing relationships is a key ingredient for my own success, and this meant taking into consideration challenges which individuals are facing. For me, it meant exercising patience and direction, and providing support to ensure the overall success of the team.

“One of the most effective personal devel opment courses that I have undertaken is a version of heart style leadership. This experience has set me on a journey to becoming the best version of myself, developing habits that are characterized by love and humility, while avoiding behaviors associated with pride and self-limiting fear.”

A PASSION FOR THE ARTS

Despite her busy schedule as a human re source practitioner, Stacy-Lee’s childhood dream to be a dancer started to emerge when she began attending Meadowbrook United Church in Kingston and became a part of their dance ministry. As a member of Meadowbrook United Church Dance Ministry, she got a chance to manifest her dream as the group travelled the island and overseas to minister at various events.

A natural dancer and choreographer, Sta cy-Lee enhanced her competence through training received from the Tony Wilson School of Modern Dance, Praise Academy of Dance, and the Edna Manley School of Dance. After honing her dance skills for over 20 years, Stacy-Lee co-founded BASIS Performing Arts Ensemble, and to build something that would last beyond her lifetime, she later founded Ycats Dance Studio which caters to children and young adults.

As the Artistic Director of Ycats, Sta cy-Lee specializes in teaching modern and contemporary techniques but also

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enjoys jazz, creative folk, and reggae choreography. Her accomplishments are numerous but some especially worthy of mention are:

• Over 20 years producing theatre productions and workshops including initiatives in the Bahamas, Maryland, USA, and Florida, USA

• Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Festival Competition –Awards in creative folk, modern, praise and jazz choreography

• World Championships of the Performing Arts (WCOPA), USA –2009 Gold and Silver medal awards for modern, creative folk, jazz, and pop choreography

• WCOPA – 2008 Opening Ceremony guest choreographer (reggae fusion), Universal Studios, Hollywood LA

• WCOPA – 2008 Junior Grand Champion of the World award for pop choreography; Gold medal awards for modern, jazz, and creative folk choreography

• WCOPA – 2007 Silver medal award for lyrical and open category choreography

Highly regarded in the performing arts landscape, Stacy-Lee's artistic creativity, skilful ingenuity, and choreographic originality have thrilled her appreciative audiences at home and abroad. She has distinguished herself as an exceptional choreographer in Jamaica. Stacy-Lee is deeply committed to unlocking dreams and empowering her aspiring and es tablished dancers. “As a teen and young adult, dancing was the channel through which I expressed my emotions and built confidence,” says Stacy-Lee. “Now as an adult, it is my ministry and the means by which I help others to grow.”

Stacy-Lee was quick to praise her team. “I have the most amazing team who work alongside me and share in this passion. They understand the purpose, mission, and the level of commitment necessary to achieve excellence.”

PHILANTHROPIC ENDEAVORS

Stacy-Lee’s service to humanity is not limited to her HR work or her dance stu dio, but reaches into the wider society to

I like to picture my obstacles as lemons and then work hard to create my best glass of lemonade.

provide support for children who are less fortunate. She embodies the true essence of a philanthropist, giving of her time, talent, and resources to those who are less fortunate. Through her outreach project From the Arts with Love, Stacy-Lee is committed to exposing children in homes and places of safety to the performing arts and engages friends locally and overseas to join her as she spearheads projects aimed at supporting the children through the donation of food, clothing, books, and toys.

COVID-19 CHALLENGES

The COVID-19 virus and all its variants present unprecedented challenges for businesses and individuals. “While lives and livelihoods across the globe have been severely impacted by this disease, the situation also presented an opportunity for reflection, flexibility, creativity, and sharing,” says Stacy-Lee. “The pandemic stretched my imagination, and through faith, I was able to identify creative ways to continue dance classes and the outreach projects.”

When speaking with Stacy-Lee about over coming obstacles, she likened challenges to making lemonade when served with lemons. “I like to picture my obstacles as lemons and then work hard to create my best glass of lemonade. It however takes the key ingredients of prayer, persever ance, self-will, and a deep commitment to achieving success.”

IDENTIFYING YOUR PURPOSE

Finding your purpose is the key to a happier and healthier life. Here are Sta cy-Lee’s tips that can help you identify your purpose:

1. Go to the source. You have a creator who knows your purpose.

2. Determine your personal value system.

3. Explore your passions and assess how they are aligned with your personal values.

4. Be authentic so that your purpose and passions are real.

5. Practice self-compassion so that you can give the best of yourself in every situation.

6. Find a way to transform challenges into purpose.

7. Simplify your life and focus on the things that really matter.

8. Spend time with people who are pos itive and purpose-driven.

9. Help someone, it will bring you im mense joy.

10.Ignore your critics, especially your inner critic.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

“I intend to take advantage of the oppor tunities of operating in the virtual space so that my work can be shared to a wider audience. I’m working to build a virtual dance program called YcatsLive!, as well as a platform where individuals and or ganizations can easily access the benefit of my extensive HR experience. I would also like to form stronger partnerships to improve the lives of children who are less fortunate.”

Visit

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Soul of Dance

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Photo Credit: ShaunBattickPhotograpgy

Ycats - Soul of Dance An Expression of Excellence

Y cats Dance Studio is an embodiment of hard work, commitment, creativity, and stewardship, where dancers are guided by the core values of respect, love, commitment, excellence, and community. A cozy and well-equipped home for dancers, Ycats Dance Studio currently has a membership of nearly 100 dancers, and offers an exceptional dance experience in modern contemporary, jazz, reggae, folkloric, and liturgical dance styles. With their distinctive repertoire, the Ycats Ensemble hosts annual theater productions, and is routinely invited to perform at various events locally and overseas.

THE SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE

The Ycats Ensemble is well known for stunning performances, creative costumes, inspiring music selections, and an overall excellence driven by their Artistic Di rector, Stacy-Lee Abrahams. Abrahams shared that her campaign for excellence in dance began in 2007 when she was first introduced to the World Championship of the Performing Arts, in California, USA. “I was amazed by the display of profes sionalism and passion at the competition; and became inspired to ignite that drive in my dancers back home.” The following year she prepared a team of relatively young and inexperienced dancers who

went on to win several gold medals and the 2008 Junior Dance Champion title at the competition.

DANCING WITH PURPOSE

Ycats’ mission is to inspire discipline, self-confidence, and a great love of dance, while furthering God’s work by caring for humanity. The members work to demonstrate Christ’s teaching of love and compassion through their outreach ministry. Each year, the ensemble sponsors more than 100 children from vulnerable communities, orphanages, and places of safety to attend an annual theater production. There, they are treated to refreshments, gifts, and a performance that inspires hope for a brighter future. Additionally, the Ycats dancers and their parents participate in yearlong charita ble initiatives for children who are less fortunate.

FUELED BY STEWARDSHIP

Ycats Dance Studio is well supported by its alumnae, the parents who selflessly give of their time to ensure the dancers’ success, and many expert well-wishers.

“It’s an absolute joy to work with past members in the Ycats instructor training programme, and to contribute to the dancers’ development,” says Racquel Robertson, an instructor who heads the alumnae.

Psychologist Kellie-Ann Brown Campbell, who leads the Parent Support Commit tee, said the parents are confident in the leadership and direction of the group and that they are always excited to work with the Artistic Director and instructors. Studio Administrator Charmaine Bimmer describes working at Ycats as “a pleasure” and group Secretary Kimari McCalla adds that coordinating the social media activities is an “absolute delight.”

Ycats is keen on fostering collaborations that enhance their mission. Dramatic Praise, a group of talented actors and ac tresses, partners with Ycats to ensure their message of hope, healing, and restoration is communicated. Expert choreographer and Production Director Tony Henry is committed to enhancing the group’s creative concepts from wherever he is in the world. Theatrical Director Berton Myrie readily volunteers his services to oversee the technical components of the usual exceptional productions.

A team of excellent designers have been outfitting the casts for many years, pro viding magical experiences for performers and audiences alike. Beats by Chic Makeup Artist Racine Hamilton makes it her duty to offer her help for major events. Graphics extraordinaire Randy Fagan of ER Designs has given over a decade of service to the initiatives undertaken by the Artistic Director and continues to ensure that the Ycats brand is well represented.

Philanthropist Natalie Campbell-Osbourne works behind the scenes to coordinate the outreach initiatives for the group, and Spiritual Advisors Tabatha Reece and Reverend Delroy Harris are always ready to offer guidance.

Working with Ycats provides the oppor tunity to engage a disciplined team of dancers who are motivated, passionate about their work, committed to excellence, dedicated to serving humanity, and not afraid to be great.

One faithful supporter of the group, Mrs. Carmen Myrie, said, “If music is the food of life, then for Stacy-Lee and her dancers, Ycats is the soul of dance.”

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The Plié Dancers

The Plie′ dancers are the most adorable and loving group of girls, who demonstrate the natural joy of dancing. Their training incorporates basic movement and rhythm skills, spatial awareness and coordination activities, and role play in a fun and inter active way. The set of girls ranging aged 4 to 5 work hard to develop their technical capability, as they learn the dance funda mentals. Their hearts are set on wearing beautiful costumes and they enjoy jazz and pop dance routines.

(L-R): 1st row -Kathryn Black, Abijah Wang, A′Myah Cruickshank 2nd row - Alyssa Boogle, Bea Ivey 3rd row- Anna-Kay Bigby, Amelia-Grace Douglas, Isabella Kelly 4th row- Azaira Green, Amira Gooden, Kiara Edwards

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Arabesque 1

The Arabesque 1 dancers are keen on deepening their appreciation for the beautiful art of dance as they explore their imagination and musicality. At this level, they focus on body alignment, dance vocabulary, and developing an apprecia tion for the different styles of dance. These girls, ages 6 to 7, are energetic, fun and full of life, and love to express their creative opinions. They are always excited about performance opportunities and thoroughly enjoy the fusion of modern and folkloric dance movement.

(L-R): Front Row-Arya Johnson, Jenae Scott, Tianna Stevens, Naomi Gooden. Center- Khaleysi Allen, Zuri Stewart, Zori-Milan Saunders Back Row –Abigail Sinclair, Taysia Jacas, Jeada Smith

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YCATS

Arabesque 2

Like their younger counterparts, the Arabesque 2 dancers are delightful, fun-loving, and dedicated to developing their dance skills. At this level, the group of girls ranging from 8 to 10-years-old are introduced to beginner’s technique in the various genres of dance, and the importance of posture and presentation. They are always eager to learn new techniques and enjoy the Caribbean dance forms and contemporary movements.

(L-R): 1st row- Keilani Edwards

2nd row - Mia Matthews, Zoe Stennett, Cayden Sherwood

3rd row – Kiara Rose, Shantol Mitchell, Brittany Benjamin

4th row- Ay-Zhah Wang, Zen Clarke, Kamoya Powell

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YCATS

Adagio 1

Too young to be jaded, this group of pre-teens exhibits the innocence and enthusiasm expected of junior dancers but dis plays a level of performance and professionalism parallel to their senior role models. They are an assertive, creative, and inspirational group of girls, with a critical eye for excellence. They represent the true essence of Ycats - Soul of Dance and can present any choreography that allows them to showcase their passion and zeal creatively.

(L-R): Front Row- JiAnna White-Moulton, Jalay Powell, Kris-Sarai Martin Center – Maria Brooks

Back Row- Natalie Bogle, Hannah Campbell, Sabrina Gayle

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YCATS

Adagio 2

The Adagio 2 group consists of early teens who are exposed to different dance forms and choreography designed to challenge emotional connections. Full of hope and optimism, this group of resilient dancers enjoys diversifying their dance education and expanding their understanding of the various dance styles. Their interest in the lyrical dance form is not surprising.

(L-R): 1st row – Towana Stewart, Kai Shaw, Kiana Taylor 2nd row – Shaniya Williams, Alexis Anglin, Jaimee Fenton 3rd row –Ruth-Ann Mullings, Mika Beckford 4th row – Giselle Jones, Kourtney McFarlane, Bonanj Rowe

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YCATS

Allegro 1

Responsible, committed, determined and self-motivated to achieving excellence, the fabulous Allegro 1 dancers look for ward to a challenge in every dance class. At this level the group of teenage girls is introduced to the Horton and Graham dance techniques, and contemporary movements to enhance their technical ability and creativity. They are encouraged to participate in leadership initiatives and building concepts and choreography. These ladies enjoy high energy and complex choreography.

(L-R):Front Row- Kyla Rose, Shanoya Hall, Saige Blake, Tateana Williams, Zabreana McGaw Center- Deanna Reid, Nina-Symone Robinson Back Row –Sarah Timbawala, Mia Brown

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Allegro 2

The Allegro 2 dancers are the most senior members of the Ycats Ensemble and have proven to be advanced in their under standing and appreciation for the art of dance. They are exposed to a more rigorous training program which allows them to develop their individual artistic voices and create signature movements through choreography. They are trained to work with independence, while building character and leadership capabilities. Graceful, focused, passionate and flexible, this group of young ladies can adjust to deliver any style of choreography, and is keen on being standard bearers for Ycats.

VBD Magazine
(L-R): Front Row- Lauren Thomson, Armani Levy, Jhayanne Lewis Center-Johanna Meeks, Jade Thomas, Kathryn Grant Back Row –Janielle Betton, Gabrille Clarke, Keshaya Salmon
YCATS

The Alumnae

The alumnae is a group of supportive ladies who could be best described as “timeless in their passion for dancing”. Though forced to attend to other pressing matters in life, these past members of Ycats remain committed to the develop ment of the dancers. They serve not only as instructors, mentors, and a general support team; but enjoy any opportunity to share stage with the younger dancers, and still participate in performances where possible.

(L-R):Front Row- De′Neille Grant, Tanya Stewart Center - Racquel Robertson, Terrian Fletcher Back Row- Zanique Henry, Maria Timbawala, Monique Bimmer

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YCATS

YcatsLive!

Palandria Minto Shaniel Parke

"I love to dance and love dancing with my friends at Ycats. When I was in Jamaica, I was the youngest and smallest dancer in the Arabesque 2 class, but people would not really notice because I worked hard to keep up with the older girls and give my best performance.

I now live in the United States and my mom arranged for me to take dance classes online. I still dance with some older dancers, and it is fun, but sometimes challenging."

- Palandria Minto – Florida, USA

“During the pandemic my mom and I started the search for a dance program, as dancing at school was not regular. We tried many options in Canada, but I became excited when I was introduced to this Jamaican dance studio. Ycats allowed me to take classes online in a very nice environment. Aunty Stacy and the other instructors are very spiritual and encouraging, and I am motivated by how driven and friendly the other students are. At Ycats you learn to be brave in reaching for the skies and in chasing your dreams. They inspire me to want to become a professional dancer and an instructor one day. This was one of the best choices I ever made.”

- Shaniel Parke – Toronto, Canada.

Jaiana Sharpe

“I previously danced with the Ycats Dance Studio in Jamaica and participated in all pre-pandemic productions before migrating to Canada in December 2020. I currently dance at my high school and the Cadance Academy in Canada, but still enjoy taking classes online with the Ycats family. Along with modern dance technique, Ycats brings the flavors of Reggae, Caribbean folk and African music and dance, which I thoroughly enjoy. My goal is to become a forensic scientist and a dance choreographer; and Ycats’ Artistic Director Aunty Stacy has been a source of inspiration.”

- Jaiana Sharpe- Nova Scotia, Canada

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Ycats aims to share the Jamaican dance experience across the globe via its online platform YcatsLive! 7-year-old Palandria Minto, 11-year-old Shaniel Parke, and 17-year-old Jaiana Sharpe and shared their experience dancing online with Ycats.
Website: https://www.ycatsja.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ycatsja Email: info@ycatsja.com YCATS
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Standing in PURPOSE & STAYING INSPIRED Titus Showers

CHART-TOPPING RECORDING ARTIST AND SONGWRITER

Multiple chart-topping independent recording artist and songwriter

Titus Showers is a per former to watch. Titus is emerging as one of gospel music’s biggest stars with two Stellar Award nominations, two #1 gospel albums, a #1 radio single, and five career top 30 songs. On YouTube, he has eclipsed 1 million views and has over 48k social media followers across all platforms. And he has rocked national TV perfor mances such as the 2021 Presidential Inauguration Gospel Celebration for the 46th President Joe Biden, BET’s 2020 Stellar Awards, CBN’s The 700 Club, BET’s Bobby Jones Gospel Show, and Stellar Tribute to the Holidays.

Titus is building momentum across the music industry with his uplifting, signature songs. VBD Magazine caught up with the celebrated singer to discuss his music career, the joys of operating in his purpose, advice for aspiring gospel singers, and the keys to building a suc cessful gospel music career. Titus was at ease with an ever-ready smile and words of encouragement as he spoke

candidly to us. It was easy to see how his infectious personality and amazing voice elevated him to a place of honor in the Gospel music industry.

HIS STORY

Titus grew up in Hammond, Louisiana, a Tangipahoa Parish town with a popu lation of approximately 21,000 residents. He is among the area’s most renowned. The fifth of ten children—Regina, Tim othy, Angela, Melody, Ciara, Tiffany, Tabitha, Bobby, and Thaddeus—Titus and his siblings have been singing since they were knee high. They sang at their home church and often traveled around their home state and the country per forming while their father, Dr. Bobby R. Showers Sr., who is a pastor, preached the gospel. “I admire my father,” says Titus. “He is a strong man of God who has imparted countless words of wis dom to me. This has helped me to stay grounded in my walk with the Lord.”

Titus first made his mark in the Gospel music industry as the lead singer of the family band, The Showers. The group emerged in 2009 with a sound

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that combined traditional gospel with a contemporary R&B feel, and a style that was more casual and streetwise than most of their contemporaries. The Showers released two albums both Stel lar Award-nominated: The Showers Family Group (2015), which charted two titles on Billboard Gospel Airplay: “Better” (No. 13, Aug. 2015) and “Imme diately” (No. 24, Apr. 2016), and their #1 Gospel album The Journey (2017).

Though Titus loved singing with his sib lings and enjoyed the family dynamics of working together, he made the decision to go solo in 2018. “At that time, my parents were not thrilled about my new direction, but they supported my decision. My siblings are with me, 100 percent. They are all proud of my accomplishments. I miss being with them though; we had a lot of fun on the road together.”

GOING SOLO

“I’m the first of my siblings to go solo. It’s my calling. I’m constantly striving to be a better person and I credit God and my parents for giving me the strength to fully walk in my purpose. Of course, having made the decision to go solo, I felt a lot of pressure. However, I had written two projects with my family, so I remembered that I have invaluable experience.”

In March 2019, Titus stepped out and released “In His Name” ahead of his debut solo EP Who? which was released May of that year. To his surprise, the EP debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums Consumption chart and # 1 on the Nielsen Top Gospel Album Sales chart. The title of the EP, “comes from Matthew 16:13-16, when Jesus asked the disciples who they thought he was. I want the world to know who Jesus is. During that process, people will also find out who I am.”

Returning from the success of his 2020 single “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” the Bill board award-winning artist released his new single to radio – “Name On It,” which soared on the Billboard's Gospel Most Added chart. “Name On It” is the first single on his newly released self-titled album Titus Showers. The beautifully

crafted and powerful song was produced by Lucius Hoskins and written by Lucius and Titus. They celebrate God’s blessings for his people through expressive and elevating lyrics – “I’m speaking life, I’m speaking to the mountain, claiming my promise, it’s got my name on it.”

I’M CONSTANTLY STRIVING TO BE A BETTER PERSON AND I CREDIT GOD AND MY PARENTS FOR GIVING ME THE STRENGTH TO FULLY WALK IN MY PURPOSE.

The album was released via A&P Records with Malaco Music Group as the distrib utor and is available on digital outlets. “Name On It” has the anointing and bril liance to add to Titus’ impressive career.

HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Titus is one of the most compelling voices ever, and he’s enjoying every minute of his music career. The songs he belts out are more than clever lyrics and hooky production, they’re declarations of faith, rooted in God’s amazing, undefeated

power. “I love the Lord and I love that He has given me a gift to be a blessing to people.”

While he continues to be a beacon of light and hope through his music, Titus’ achievements are many:

• Top 10 Billboard Album Release Debut (Titus Showers – self-titled album (2022)

• #1 Billboard Gospel Airplay chart (“It’s Gonna Be Alright” Remix feat. Jermaine Dolly)

• #1 Mediabase Gospel Radio chart (It’s Gonna Be Alright” Remix feat. Jermaine Dolly)

• #9 Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart (“It’s Gonna Be Alright” Remix feat. Jermaine Dolly)

• #21 Billboard 2020 Year-End Gospel Airplay chart (“It’s Gonna Be Alright” Remix feat. Jermaine Dolly)

• #33 Billboard 2020 Year-End Hot Gospel Songs chart (It’s Gonna Be Alright” Remix feat. Jermaine Dolly)

• 600K YouTube Views (“It’s Gonna Be Alright” Remix feat. Jermaine Dolly Music Video)

• 269K On-Demand Streams (It’s Gon na Be Alright” Remix feat. Jermaine Dolly)

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• BET’s Stellar Awards AT&T Dream In Black Emerging Artist State Per formance – “In His Name”

• Stellar Tribute to the Holidays TV Special – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “We Need You”

• CBN News Studio 5 w/Efrem Graham (Appearance)

• iTunes Top 200 Holiday Songs chart (“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christ mas”)

HIS INSPIRATION

“Singing is all about Jesus and the audi ence, so I make time to respond to my supporters. It can be overwhelming, but I want to give my fans a big ‘God Bless You’ because I’m humbled when someone is blessed by what God has given me. You can’t get too high-minded because we’re nothing without God and the people who we serve.”

For the inspiration to write beautiful lyrics, Titus credits God, life experiences, and his father’s messages. “I stay connected with what is happening in the world and I keep a notepad nearby so that when I’m inspired to write songs, I can record them immediately.

“I lean on my parents and siblings for prayer, guidance, and support. They understand what it is like to be on the road. Also, I have learned to surround myself with people who love me and care enough to help me.

“I have a great management team, a great record company, and a great radio promoter in Mr. Kendall Duffie. They put me in the right hands, so people know who I am and who I represent. My amazing talent manager, Dr. Apostle Veryl Howard, keeps me working and organized so I can minister effectively.

“Importantly, I stay connected to God. I try to live my message and I’m mindful of my walk and talk. I understand who I’m working for because I never want to operate in Titus. I always remember that it is the Lord that has brought me this far, and there is a Scripture for every situation.”

BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL MUSIC CAREER

We asked Titus what three keys are needed to build a successful music career. His response:

• You will need Jesus like never before.

• You will need someone who knows the business and who believes in you.

• You will need resources to make yourself marketable to get to the next level.

“Sometimes, early success can ruin a person if he/she is not mature enough to receive the blessing. It’s important to experience the hard work and the struggles as you press towards the mark of your high calling. If you do not get weary, you will reap your rewards.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

Titus will continue to “lift the name of Jesus” as he travels the country to promote his music and fulfill his engagements. Fur ther, he is planning to write new material for future projects.

Whenever he is back home, Titus serves as COO of one of the family’s enterprises: O&M Family Care, a community-based mental health care agency. He intends to continue giving back to his community through O&M Family Care services.

As for reaching the mountain top, Titus chuckled as he fondly recalled what his father had said, “‘We are always growing and when we have reached the mountain top, that is when we are gone.’”

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Click & Visit Titus Showers STAR POWER LIST FOR BOOKING: Faith Management, Apostle Dr. Veryl Howard 910-644-1824

Jokia Williams

BILLBOARD GOSPEL CHART-TOPPING ARTIST Delivering Soul-Stirring Gospel Music

“My mission is to capture the heart of God while simultaneously compelling others to an intimate relationship with Christ,” says Billboard Gospel Chart-Topping Artist Jokia Williams. A guitar playing singer and songwriter, Jokia aims to deliver music that moves every heart.

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Shiloh Worship Center in Belton, which led to her ministering with other gospel singers, including Tasha Cobbs Leonard and Vanessa Bell Armstrong. Jokia earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psy chology from Texas A&M University, and a Master’s in Counseling degree from Letourneau University. She also has music therapy training from GSUS Music Therapy Services and Center.

STANDING OUT

Jokia’s love for God inspired her to write and sing gospel music. “When I just got converted, I associated Gospel music with church choirs, so I really did not see any room for my sound or my style of singing and songwriting—gospel music with elements of Christian rock and an R&B-flavor. I want to write love songs and devotional songs for the Lord. There were times when I would ask people to create music for me but what I got was not the sound of worship.”

The

gifted singer capitalizes on every opportunity to spread the gospel by unapologetical ly delivering powerful music which inspires listeners. Prior to the digital release of her debut single “Yahweh,” Jokia offered a soul-stirring performance of the song at Marquis Boone’s 2015 Discovered conference which landed her a demo recording deal. Since then, and with much dedication to her craft and devotion to God, Jokia’s ministry continues to gain visibility, amazing opportunities, and platforms. Still, she says, “the greatest gift of all is that I’m a vessel through which lives are changed.”

VBD Magazine had an opportunity to speak with the phenomenal artist about the gospel music industry, her passion for singing, and work-life balance. During our interview, Jokia was enthusiastic, sincere, and refreshingly forthcoming.

MUSICAL JOURNEY

Born in Compton, California, Jokia started singing and fell in love with music at

the age of 12. Today, she is not only an accomplished singer, but she also has held many other positions—professional wellness coach, chaplain, mentor, worship team leader, and youth Sunday school teacher. Further, she is a former combat Army veteran who served in the U.S. Army for eight years.

“I went into the army after high school in San Diego, and I gave my life to Christ in the army. Prior to that, I didn't know about church life. It was an army personnel who was persistent about sharing the Word of God, that introduced me to the Lord. After that, everything in my life changed.”

Shortly after her conversion to Christi anity, Jokia was invited to sing as part of an Army Soldier Show to improve morale and entertain deployed troops before being deployed herself. “While I was stationed in Iraq in the late 2000s, I got an acoustic guitar and began singing and dedicating my music to the Lord.”

After leaving the Army, Jokia moved to Texas where she played guitar for

Her distinctive voice put her in a class of her own as Jokia brought a fresh sound to the genre. In May of 2016, Jokia released her first song, “Amen,” followed a year later by her first EP, “Not Forgotten.” The EP was produced by renowned producer extraordinaire Jeshua “TedyP” Williams, Jor'Dan Armstrong, and Micah Stampley.

Over three years ago, Jokia considered quitting her music career because she was discouraged. “It was a challenging time, but God met me in that season. I had to realize there was a difference between singing as a ministry and being in the music business. On top of that, God showed me myself. I needed to put God first. Eventually, I went back to the drawing board and made my focus and engagement more God-centered. As soon as I put God back in His rightful position, He began to open doors for me.”

Jokia leaned into her faith and found the inspiration for her single “Yahweh” which was distributed by Darkchild Gospel. She was thrilled when “Yahweh” hit the #1 spot on the Billboard National Airplay and Billboard Indicator charts. “Yahweh” marked her first #1 single as an indepen dent artist on her own label, Jokia Music.

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In 2021, Jokia made her debut as a reporter in the TV show “Double Cross” which is being aired on the ALLBLK network and We TV. She absolutely loved the experience.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Yahweh

• Billboard National Airplay #1

• Billboard Gospel Indicator #1

• Billboard Gospel Digital Song Sales #4

• Billboard Hot Gospel Songs #8

The Father

• Christian/Gospel Album Sales at #17

• Christian Album Sales #26

• Heatseekers South Central #7

• Nielsen Soundscan and GMA gospel sales #4

GET UP AND WIN

For aspiring gospel singers, Jokia encour ages, “Be authentic with your sound. Do not replicate someone’s sound because what happens if you replicate someone’s sound, and that person shows up? Who would you be?”

When it comes to tips for building a successful music career, Jokia believes every artist needs:

• Favor with God.

• Favor with man.

• A team that’s on one accord.

• Someone who understands the music business.

“I had to learn that everything is not going to sound like heaven. It's a ministry but it’s also a business so I don't complain when pharaoh behaves like pharaoh.”

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Jokia balances many responsibilities including being a wife and mother. She is the proud wife of Benjamin Williams and mother of 2 amazing daughters, Fe licia and Jasmine. Jokia and her husband are the founders of the God Sent BW clothing brand.

When it comes to work-life balance, Jokia tells us, “I don’t do events every single day. I have some down time. I invite my

family to be a part of all my events and activities. Sometimes, one of my daughters takes care of my hair, and the other helps with shooting my music videos. Work is like time for family fun.”

Jokia’s ministry continues to evolve, gaining the type of traction that is un common, yet impressive. “I see media and entertainment as a mission field. I want to inspire others to follow Christ.”

FOR BOOKING: Faith Management, Apostle Dr. Veryl Howard 910-644-1824

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Click & Visit iamjokia.com
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Spreading THE GOSPEL THROUGH MUSIC

MEET

The Hawkins BoysWITH THEIR NEW EP ‘VANQUISH’

The Hawkins Boys is a Con temporary Gospel Soul group that uniquely blends soul-stirring vocals of tradi tional gospel accompanied by smooth yet inspirational contemporary lyrics and melodies. The group members are Joe Hawkins, Rick Hawkins, Lemuel “Lamar” Hawkins, Aaron Gordon, and Rickey Griggs, Jr.

With the mission to release music with a purposeful message that is supported with content for multi-generational and cross-cultural audiences, the group is emerging as a standout force in the gospel music industry. In another step towards fulfilling their mission, The Hawkins Boys recently released their highly anticipated EP “Vanquish,” under the label Melvin Williams Entertainment, further blazing the trail in their music career and ministry.

Chatting exclusively with VBD Magazine, Lemuel Hawkins and Rick Hawkins from the group talk about their mission, the

inspiration behind their music, dealing with challenges, and using their platform to effect change.

GETTING STARTED

Natives of Dallas, Texas, The Hawkins Boys began attending church services while growing up and soon became ac tive in their church’s musical programs. Today, they masterfully demonstrate their musical ability to minister to the masses and touch souls around the world.

GOD SPOKE TO ME AND REMINDED ME THAT THERE IS MORE WORK TO BE DONE.

“We’re from a big family of singers—sis ters, brothers, cousins, sons, daughters, dads, and moms—each with a calling on their life,” says Lemuel. “For a sea son, Joe and I were more focused on our careers. God spoke to me and reminded me that there is more work to be done. It

was now or never, and after discussions with Joe and the others in the group, The Hawkins Boys was formed.

“It was challenging in the beginning be cause being on the road isn’t easy, but with lots of prayers, we kept pressing on. That’s why we named our recently released EP ‘Vanquish,’ because it de scribes our journey.”

INSPIRATION TO SING

Quickly gaining recognition, The Haw kins Boys have become known for their ministry and delivery of soulful songs. Their unwavering passion for God has been an inspiration to all who listen to their music.

“Our inspiration to sing comes from God so our music is inspired by our faith and environment,” says Lemuel. “We still balance our ministry with our day jobs. Thankfully, we work in the family busi ness, so we can take time off for ministry.”

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“We sing gospel because we love how gospel music affects people,” Rick reveals. “No matter how far they run, people al ways fall back on the Word of God. God is always on time.”

The group wants to bring a new flavor and sound to the gospel music industry as they minister God’s love, healing, and grace. “The love of God has an intensity that humans cannot fathom,” says Lemuel. “Though I have experienced Christ for 18 years, I’m humbled each time I remember how I wandered off from God. But I have a praying family, so when God called me to return, I obeyed the call.”

MINISTERING THROUGH MUSIC

The Hawkins Boys has filled an important niche in the gospel music industry and that has fueled their popularity. While music is important to them, Lemuel and Rick emphasized that music is primarily an outreach tool that they use to minister to people, especially young people.

“The younger generation needs to hear the Word of God,” states Lemuel. “They are crying out for help, so when we hit the stage we want to make a difference. We want to show people Jesus Christ

more and more. I would ride around in circles while praying and when God gave me the idea for the song, I took it to the group.”

“Great Change” was produced by the SE EMMYAward and Multi-Grammy Award nominee, with a host of Stellar Awards, Gospel Legend Melvin Williams of The Williams Brothers along with Multi-Gram my Award nominee, Multi-Stellar Award winner, Top 10 Gospel Producer Stan Jones, and mastered by Apple Certified Digital Mastering Engineer, Rodger Willis.

The song reflects the mission of The Hawkins Boys. Their desire to encourage and reassure people of God’s presence is evident in the lyrics of the song—“never lose hope, keep your head up high, wipe the tears from your eyes because just when you thought it was over, God said He ain’t through with your story, just fall down on your knees and pray because there’s a great change coming your way!”

THE LOVE OF GOD HAS AN INTENSITY THAT HUMANS CANNOT FATHOM.

through the words of our songs. We stay music-ready so when our manager calls, we are ready to move.”

“Music can touch people’s hearts and spirits in incredible ways,” Rick remarks. “We want to point people to God and God’s love for them.”

DEALING WITH CHALLENGES

“I make an effort not to react, but try to get an understanding of the situation,” Lemuel tells us. “When you react quickly, you can make the situation worse.”

“If we have a disagreement in the group, we pray about it, discuss it, and come to an agreement,” Rick shares. “Sometimes, we agree to disagree to make it work.”

ON THE ROAD

MUSIC CAN TOUCH

PEOPLE’S HEARTS AND SPIRITS IN INCREDIBLE WAYS.

Since the release of “Vanquish,” the tal ented group has been busy ministering and doing publicity tours. In addition, they of ten tour with other gospel artists. Recently, they toured with Fred Hammond, one of the most popular artists in contemporary gospel music. By ministering to audiences through songs, the group continues to fulfill God’s call on their lives. Earlier this year, the talented group re leased a single “Great Change” which was written by brothers Lemuel and Joe Hawkins.

FOR BOOKING: Faith Management, Apostle Dr. Veryl Howard

“I want to thank God for the title,” states Lemuel. “‘Great Change’ came about because the world was in such a dark place during the pandemic. When I felt the pain of the world, I started praying

& Visit

76 VBD Magazine
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thehawkinsboys.com
910-644-1824
STAR POWER LIST

DESIGN VICTORIOUS BY Fashion &Beauty

Photo Credit: XBryanPhoto

Behind theLens

XBryanPhoto

Fashion and Commercial Photography

For the last ten years, renowned, up-and-coming photographer

X. Bryan has steadily been on the rise in the world of fashion and commercial photography.

“Photography has many avenues to explore, but can be broadly classified as commer cial, fashion, or editorial,” says Bryan.

“Still, there is a fair amount of overlap between the different types. When I step behind the lens, I have a clear picture of the specific requirements of my clients and that keeps my creativity flowing.”

Based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Bryan’s photos have been featured on prominent modeling agency websites and he has worked with models from Dollhouse Management, Next Model Management, and Wilhelmina. Bryan also dabbles in event photography, cap turing special moments for weddings and graduations.

HIS INSPIRATION

“I got inspired to do photography because of my cousin Christopher Kennedy who was a photographer at the time. Seeing Christopher in action gave me the oppor tunity to learn more about the business

and to see if it was something I could possibly turn into a career. It was defi nitely the best decision I’ve ever made; I love every single thing about my job.”

HIS IMAGES

Bryan has certainly made a name for himself with his clean, bold, and graphic style. Whether shooting jewelry, hair cam paigns, fashion, commercial, or editorial photographs, Bryan has become known for his creativity and collaborations with makeup artists, designers, and stylists which achieve his iconic fresh looks.

“The end result is important but the pro cess to get to the final product is equally important.” As a creator, Bryan is pushing the boundaries of his craft. His images depart from that of the usual, concentrat ing more on capturing compelling and breathtaking shots of his clients while working within brand guidelines.

Bryan is of the mindset that there’s always more he can learn. He constantly strives to connect with like minds in the industry, not only to gain further knowledge, but also to share his passion and experience with others within his field.

HIS NEXT STEP

“My next step is to get into brand pho tography. I would like to shoot cars, real estate and more.”

Click & Visit: www.xbryanphoto.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/xbryanphoto Telephone: 954-543-0865
VBD MagazineFASHION & BEAUTY 78
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VBD MagazineFASHION & BEAUTY 82

Beauty

There are many things that can make us look and feel great. However, it is easy to become overly concerned about how we look, especial ly when there is an event or a gathering where we will meet people whom we have not seen in a long time.

Time does pass and we will age; the thing is we want the kindness of time to show, not the ravages.

Recently, there was a wedding in our family and there was a lot of stress about looking fabulous for this event. There was some conversation about what to wear, how to show off beautiful skin, and ways to hide dark circles around the eyes. We

talked about what clothes would be most flattering for each person.

These are some of the secrets I shared months in advance of the event:

DRINK ENOUGH WATER

It is recommended that you drink half your weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 180 lbs., you will need 90 ounces of water. Electrolytes help your body stay hydrated. It’s best to try drinking most of your water by 5 PM rather than later in the evening to prevent waking up constantly to go to the bathroom.

GET DEEP SLEEP

Getting into deep sleep is necessary for beautiful skin and to minimize puffy eyes and dark circles.

I do not recommend a particular number of hours of sleep because it’s more about falling into deep sleep. Deep sleep for some of us may require as little as 5 hours while others require 8 hours or more. Sleep regulates many metallic processes which include blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight loss.

HAVE A GOOD SKIN CARE ROUTINE

Your skin requires good nutrition so it’s important that you use products with the least amount of chemicals and the highest quality natural ingredients. Many products have good ingredients and yet produce very little results because of the fillers or “so-called” inactive ingredients. To your body everything you ingest or put on it is active. Your products should include collagen, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C, and retinoic acid.

SUPPLEMENT WITH HERBS

Use herbal products to clear the tissues, skin, colon, intestine, blood and liver of waste and residues from medications. Good choices are burdock, chickweed, marshmallow, milk thistle, and dandelion. It’s a good practice to have a little chlo rophyll in water once daily for 7 days to deodorize the body internally.

WEAR A FRAGRANCE THAT MAKES YOU PRETTY

A fragrance that is suited for you will make you feel amazing. When you put on “your pretty,” you will see yourself as “the only one.” You will not be comparing yourself to others. This will create an aura of beauty around you, instantly. Once you feel pretty, you will look pretty.

ABOUT DAMARIS NIGHTINGALE

Damaris Nightingale is the founder of Scented Potions and Di Nightingale Perfume Elixirs. She has a passion and unusual ability to discover helpful and preventive solutions and natural remedies to help people feel alive while they are living.

83 VBD Magazine
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Secrets
NO ONE TOLD YOU ABOUT FASHION & BEAUTY

DREAM

Love… is everything. Intensely emotional yet beautifully romantic. Dive in to witness the incredible transformative power of love.
AGAIN Book 1 - McIntosh Brothers Series
Writing with a sense of purpose to inspire and empower www.annmariebryan.com Available as eBook Get it on Amazon

VICTORIOUS

Inspiration

BY
OASIS

The Rise of Digital

TECHNOLOGY

Kimberly Allen

HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONAL

HEALTH
INSPIRATION OASIS VBD Magazine

We have seen the many ways that technolo gy has impacted the healthcare industry, serving healthcare professionals and patients alike. Tech nology in healthcare is changing the way that physicians treat and communicate with their patients. Today, healthcare technology allows for secure information sharing, reduction in paperwork, and better follow-up care for patients.

VBD Magazine is excited to turn the spotlight on health information technology professional Kimberly Allen. We had an opportunity to speak with Kimberly about her many interests, including health information technology.

THE BEGINNING

Kimberly Allen is a native of Pensacola, Florida, where she was raised in a mili tary, two-parent household with her mom, stepdad, and sister. “We were stationed on military bases in Hanau, Germany and Columbia, South Carolina,” Kimberly

reveals. “As a child, my family enjoyed vacationing and traveling to various places in Europe and the U.S.”

After graduating from high school, Kim berly moved to Tallahassee, Florida to attend college. While in college, she met and subsequently fell in love with Tommy Allen II, her husband. “We were inseparable,” a smiling Kimberly told us. “Shortly after graduating, Tommy and I started planning our wedding. Last March, we celebrated 18 years of marriage. We have two sons, Ryan and Ethan.”

WORKING IN THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY

“During and after graduating college, over the course of 7 years I worked as a front office assistant and then front desk supervisor at a Neurosurgical Clinic. With hard work and determination, I was promoted to medical billing specialist.

“Later, I accepted a job to manage the coding and billing department at an Oph thalmology Clinic. Three years later, I was

offered a Practice Administrator position at a Gastroenterology Clinic, where I managed the clinic and the Ambulatory Surgical Clinic.”

At that job, Kimberly was tasked with eliminating the paper charts and imple menting an electronic medical records software system.

“This experience made me want to learn more about the technological aspects of the healthcare industry. That job piqued my interest to work in health information technology. I saw how technology was improving the way patients and healthcare workers interact.

“I was blessed to take on a management role at a medical coding software devel opment company. While this position was incredibly challenging, I was excited to learn something new. Today, I have been working in the healthcare technology field for over 11 years and I enjoy watching it evolve.”

87 INSPIRATION OASISVBD Magazine

BENEFITS OF HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

The adoption of health information tech nology creates opportunities for improving and transforming the healthcare industry. Kimberly shares some of the benefits of using health information technology:

• Improving the communication between healthcare providers and patients.

• Enhancing storage and retrieval of data relating to a patient’s health.

• Facilitating the coordination of patient care.

• Perfecting tracking of patient data over time.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

“It is not easy remembering everything, so I am a true believer in documenting everything. I stay organized by utilizing digital calendars to keep track of ap pointments, meetings, tasks, and events. Currently, I use 2 digital calendars—one for professional tasks and the other for personal activities. The personal calendar is shared with my husband and kids.

“Working from home during the pandemic allowed me to take on a new perspective of having a good work-life balance. Self-dis cipline is an integral part of balancing being a mom and having a successful

career while working from home. It can be difficult at times but it’s also very rewarding.

“I had to learn to set boundaries while working from home. When I log off my laptop for the day and close the door to my home office, my time is solely dedicated to my family. The only exception is in case of an emergency.

“I think it’s important for my kids to see me grow professionally because it teaches them the value of working hard. I always tell them, ‘If you want to play hard, you will need to work even harder.’”

STRENGTHEN THE FAMILY BOND

“I believe that the way to strengthen the family bond is to put God first and keep the lines of communication open with my family. I routinely communicate with my kids and spend some one-onone time with them to see how they are feeling. Also, I support their interests. I am actively involved in their school and extracurricular activities, and I volunteer in their classrooms when needed, attending field trips, practices, and games.

“As a family we talk about real life issues and how they may or may not influence our lives. Most importantly we are straight forward and honest with each other. We enjoy family vacations such as Disney Cruises and amusement parks.”

CHALLENGING TIMES

“During tough times, I usually pray first. Also, I listen to music while deep cleaning my entire house. This tactic allows me to clear my mind and plan my next steps. When necessary, I lean on my great family and supportive friends.”

UP NEXT

“I’m planning to start my own medical consulting firm. I’ve independently per formed medical coding audits and accounts receivable recoveries for several dental and medical practices. I find it rewarding to apply my knowledge and expertise to assist thriving medical practices.”

Click & Visit facebook.com

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INSPIRATION OASIS

The Performance

Here I am, yes, it’s me I’m standing as tall as I can be I’m here to stay, I represent I’m not ashamed, I am confident

In what I am and what I do I trust All-Mighty to bring me through I wave my arms high into the air I twist and turn without a care

I twist and bend, bowing down low I rise and leap and away I go I twirl and spin, I leap and sail I can do this, I must prevail

Without a care I spin some more I flip and roll onto the floor I rise again with arms flung high I rise and rise to touch the sky

Tassels swaying, colors bright Fabrics flowing into the night I leap again and land akimbo I spin around and start to limbo

“She’s on fire!”, I hear them say I sway harder and harder to make them stay Up on their feet everyone claps Arms in the air instead of laps

I’m almost done one more turn to go I leap and I spin, I take the show

VBD Magazine INSPIRATION OASIS 89
Credit: Alexander Jawfox

CATCH

no one wants

Get your copy of Dr. Velma's new Christian Contemporary Fiction Book, The CATCH No One Wants. See the FIVE fish stories that show their similarities to men: Catfish who loves garbage, Salmon who hates getting caught, Sturgeon who likes to nibble, Pufferfish who is beautiful until agitated, and the Goldfish-the surprise catch.

DR. VELMA BAGBY is Award-Winning Author, Certified Dating-Relationship Coach, Minister, Speaker, and Founder, Adoni Publishing, LLC

Click & Learn More www.drvelma.com THE
Great Read Alert!

VICTORIOUS BY

DESIGN

Love ZONE

LOVE ZONE 92

When Love Finds You

My 70s Love Story (Kindle) reveals how my husband and I met in 10th grade English. This occurred after my Bible teacher inspired me to create a husband-to-be prayer list. I did not connect these two events until much later. In reading our story, you’ll discover the phrase when love finds you throughout because God created the connection. We find its truth in the scripture “… when a man finds a wife…” (Proverbs 18:22a TPT)

In high school, I saw my husband around campus but did not notice until my class mate mentioned him, because she was attracted to him. However, she later said he expressed an interest in me. He did not show this until one day during P.E. class, I spotted him sitting nearby on a bench, looking at our volleyball game. He used a hand gesture to ask me over. It was the first time we spoke face to face. After chatting for ten minutes, he ended the talk, adding he hoped to see me around campus. As I turned to walk back to the volleyball game, I wondered if he looked at me walking back. It reminded me of the movie Waiting to Exhale where Loretta Devine’s character flirted with her neighbor, played by Gregory Hines. In one scene, she headed back across the street to her house after they talked. She asked herself if he was watching and turned back to check. He was looking, and she giggled as she walked home. As I returned to the game, I felt like the actress in that scene but did not look back.

As time passed, he asked for my phone number, and I dodged sharing it because in the 70s we had one telephone per house. Having a short telephone cord meant the phone would not reach your room for privacy and everyone can hear your conversation. My hallelujah moment hap pened the day he called, and I discovered that the phone cord reached my room.

We were finally dating. I loved the 1964 Thunderbird he drove on our dates and how he acted like a perfect gentleman. My rating for 70s dating is PG compared to today—we focused on fun and being social. We dated for a brief time before my husband ended it after learning of his parents’ plan to move him back to Los Angeles. It left me heartbroken. Although his parents’ plans changed, he returned to the campus for 11th grade but said nothing.

Fast forward to the last day of school in 12th grade, when he asked me to sign my

yearbook. After he signed it, he returned it and walked off without a word. I opened the yearbook to read a poem he’d written and the words, “To the woman who will be my wife one day.” I reacted and said to myself, “Dude! What are you talking about? We aren’t dating!”

After graduation, I moved on with my focus on college and my career. A year later, I received a call from him. In shock that he still had my phone number, we talked as if we hadn’t stopped talking. Suddenly, I realized God healed my broken heart because He was up to something. My husband kept his yearbook promise and asked me to marry him later that year. I said yes and learned he met with my mother before asking me—it blessed me to know he did this. We were married the following year, on February 16, 1974, just before our 20th birthday. We are thankful God has given us 48 blessed years together.

Discover more by reading our story

• When love finds you, practice patience. There will be hiccups along the way— it’s part of your test.

• When love finds you, it’s your love that will help you rise above the challenges and weather the storms that will come against it.

• When love finds you, learn to cultivate and nourish your love.

• When God’s Love finds you, find safety in God’s arms and trust His plan. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11a ESV)

LOVE ZONEVBD Magazine 93

Change Ready

It always amazes me when I see people who have stayed together for what seems like an eternity. Then I look at my marriage, two decades in and we are still striving to stay together. Simply because we’ve made changes.

A lot of people claim before God to have God in their marriage, and they make vows to God as others witness, and then turn from those vows with some of the same people watching. See, that’s why weddings are just as important as they are incriminating. You have a room full of witnesses, who can stand in any court or before the judgment seat of God and say, “I saw them, Lord. They vowed to stay together until death did them apart, and they lied. And most of them just refused to change.”

It feels like judgment, but trust me when I say, “I’m not judging you.”

I’ve been there too. I’m just trying to get you to see that the institution of marriage is not for the wicked or the weak. It’s also not for those who want to put on this extravagant show but forget the One who created the institution.

I know you might say, “Well, if you feel this strong, why didn’t your first marriage work?”

To be honest, I didn’t always feel this strong. I got married because I wanted to have plenty of sex or sex whenever I wanted to, and not feel guilty about it. I got married because I needed to escape my surroundings and needed a man who would love my child wholeheartedly. Not

everyone is strong enough to admit their “why.” If God was to ever trust me to share anything about marriage twenty-five years later, He had to show me Danyelle, and I had to confess my faults to the One who is faithful enough to forgive me, and then cleanse me from all unrighteousness.

Maybe the only difference between me and the others who have married multi ple times and divorced is this… when I asked God to send me another husband, He responded, “Not until you’re ready.”

Wow! That response not only blew my mind, but it also baffled me to the point that I tried to find where I was unprepared. I’d been married before so what made God think I couldn’t do it again.

He knows us. We always say, “God knows my heart,” but somehow, I don’t think we really believe it. I think we in our unhuman-like manner feel just like Adam. We can hide from God, and then point the finger of blame towards everyone else for our failures. Will we ever learn that God really, truly does know our hearts?

I had to evaluate Danyelle. Was I still selfish enough to hide money? Could I still go two months without having sex with my spouse because I was mad? Was I still the girl who will one up you in the cheating game? Did I still have tendencies to lie, when I should always tell the truth?

When I answered, ‘Yes,’ to all of the above, I knew I was just like God said… not ready for marriage. This led me on a quest of self-discovery. I needed to understand the whys of my actions.

Why did I feel the need to hide money?

Why would I withhold sex from the one God told me not to unless we were fasting? Why did I feel like I could out-cheat a man or that I could hurt him just as bad as he had hurt me by cheating? Why didn’t I feel like my truth was more important than a lie?

When I realized in every question I was dishonest, denying, and sinning against myself, it caused me to ask God to change me.

Change was part of my preparation.

It’s the one thing that scares us the most but is the most necessary if we desire to share our lives with someone else. So, until you are change ready, you’ll never be able to write or be the story of being someone’s life partner.

Change will bring you to a place of self-discovery and you’ll see it’s more about a better you than it is for pleasing them. When we change to become the best for us and God, we are always good enough for others.

So, to all of you desiring to write a love story that will stand the tests of times, write a story and journal how God has changed you and cause a desire deep within to be better for him and the one He chooses for you.

I promise, when you are ready, God always has him or her waiting, willing, and ready to receive you.

VBD Magazine 94
Photo
Credit:Jakob
Owens
LOVE ZONE
VBD Magazine 95 LOVE ZONE
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