Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine - December

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December 2017



“In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4)

A Man of Character Jeff LeDuff

‘Light’ in a Dark World

A Modern Day Apostle

Christmas Around the World

Dealing with Grief During Christmas

THIS MONTH AT BREC JOIN US IN DECEMBER FOR... Rainbow Trout Fishing Rodeos Dates & Locations TBA City Christmas Events


City of Zachary Christmas in the Village [Zachary Historical District] Dec. 1 | 6-9 p.m. City of Baker Christmas [Baker Municipal Building] Dec. 2 | 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. City of Central Christmas in the Square [Central Square] Dec. 2 | 5-8 p.m. Jingle Mingle [Baker Municipal Building] Dec. 21 | 4-8 p.m.

Reindeer Ride Dec. 2 | 6-8 p.m.

Skip Bertman Drive Trailhead

Caroling in the Park Dec. 8 | 5:30-8:30 p.m.

City-Brooks Community Park

Woods Walk Hiking Series Dec. 9 | 9-11 a.m. Kendalwood Road Conservation Area

Toys for Tots Challenge Dec. 9 | noon-4 p.m.

Extreme Sports Park

Creole Christmas & Holiday Fair Dec. 10 | 1-6 p.m. Magnolia Mound

Sunshine Social: Ugly Sweater Christmas Soiree Dec. 15 | 6-9 p.m. Womack Park

Santa Road Show Dec. 16 | noon-2 p.m.

Gus Young Park

Movie in the Park Dec. 19 | 6:30-9:30 p.m. [Movie will be shown in Spanish] North Sherwood Forest Community Park

ZooLights Nov. 24-Dec. 30 | 5:30-8 p.m. BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo

To volunteer at these or other events, email


december 2017


Baton Rouge


Faith Life

6 Profile of a Modern Day Apostle by Sharon Holeman

8 Family Life Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

10 Geaux Life

Christmas Around the World

14 Creative Life Kim Larrison Bullen by Sharon Furrate Bailey

20-22 Feature story

18 Man Up for Life A Man’s Role in the Family and in the Church

A Man of Character

by Todd Shupe

by Lisa Tramontana

23 Pastor’s Perspective Light Dispels Dark by Kevin McKee

24 10


30 Learning for Life What is Your Goal?

by LaTangela Fay

31 Witness at Work

Nicholas Valluzzo: The Power of the Personal Touch by Susan Brown

34 Healthy Life Being Healthy Takes Practice

inside each issue

by Meredith Atterbery

5 Publisher’s letteR 16 review 24 a little lagniappe

36 WHAT DOES IT MEAN? 37 COOKING FOR LIFE 38 opportunities for life

Living Beneath the Surface

by Krista Bennett-Bruns The First Noel by Rachele Smith Hallowheel 2017


issue 9, volume 3 december 2017 PUBLISHER Beth Townsend Associate Editor/Publisher Susan Brown Director of Distribution Elmo Winters contributing writers Lisa Tramontana Susan Brown Sharon Furrate Bailey Sharon Holeman Kelli M. Knight, Todd Shupe Rachele Smith LaTangela Fay Kevin McKee Krista Bennett-Bruns Meredith Atterbery COVER “The Adoration of the Shepherds” by Guido Reni LAYOUT & DESIGN BY Illuminated Designs Studio printed by RR Donnelley / Memphis, TN BATON ROUGE CHRISTIAN LIFE MAGAZINE WEBSITE BY Therese Winters, Mine Your Business Virtual Solutions & Kadmos BATON ROUGE CHRISTIAN LIFE MAGAZINE 9655 Perkins Road, Suite C-133 Baton Rouge, LA 70810 225-910-7426 4



DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Publisher’s LETTER


Christmas is in the Air! The fireplace was blazing with a roaring fire, our family of seven huddled around. We were excited it was finally Christmas Eve! “We need to put the fire out,” I exclaimed loudly. Probably around 7 or 8 years old, I wondered why I was the only one worried. The smoke, the fire. It was almost bedtime and I needed to know Santa was safe to visit and would have no trouble coming down our chimney. That Christmas was the last time I recall our family being together. My memories of life in that house are foggy. Often even when I see pictures, the rooms don’t look familiar. It’s like when we moved away, I left the memories behind. Shortly after that time our parents divorced and things became confusing and chaotic. Suddenly we were a single mom with five young kids. Why this memory seems so vivid is telling. Regardless of everything else, we believed in Christmas. It was a magical time. Even the gifts under the tree multiplied each year. We didn’t have much money, but we knew Christmas always offered an opportunity to have unrealistic expectations for one amazing morning each and every year. There was truly something in the air that gave way to a bountiful hope and opportunity to dream big dreams. It was years later when I realized that kind of Hope has a name. When Jesus came into my life, I was able to look back and see His omnipotent presence over all those lost years. Wow! Now that we siblings are grown and can look back, we clearly see Jesus. God’s hand was upon us when we didn’t even know it. Thank you Lord. Christmas is in the air. It’s not the decorations. It’s not the music. It’s not Santa. While we can participate in the many sights and sounds of the season, it’s Jesus we feel. That hope. That joy. That undeniable wonder of the child within all of us. There’s an amazing song by Steven Curtis Chapman that sums up the depth of what Christmas really means. “Believe the unbelievable, receive the inconceivable. And see beyond my wildest imagination. Lord, I come with great expectations.” The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of Jesus. He is the savior of the world and enters as a baby in a manger. He longs to enter each and every heart that will invite him in. He loves like no other and receives us as we are and promises to make us who He created us to be. Jesus. He is the gift we give and the gift we receive. Receive Him fully, share Him boldly. Happy birthday Lord Jesus. Happy birthday.

Merry Christmas! Beth Townsend

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017



Faith LIFE

Profile of a Modern Day Apostle by Sharon Holeman photos by Sharon Holeman Photography/Praise First Media LLC


f f you were to meet Harry Mitchell Jr. on the street, you would never guess he had been in prison. Or that he had used drugs, or came from a broken home. His joy is too great, his smile too easy. Standing 6 feet 2 inches tall and entering every room with an unexplainable delight, this modern day apostle is truly an example of walking out our Christian call to be the light in a dark world.

Harry and his wife Nicole.


DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Born in New Orleans and raised in California, his parents divorced when he was 11. After the split, Harry and his siblings moved back to Louisiana with their mom. High school came and Harry began drinking, smoking marijuana, and eventually, using cocaine. Struggling with substance abuse, he was still able to function in the world. In 1981, four years after graduation, Harry got married. It was that same year that he gave his heart to the Lord at a local church, became a father … and went to jail. The salvation at the church had been real, but his willing heart wasn’t enough. Harry lost connection with the body of Christ, remaining entangled in worldly relationships. Ultimately, he landed in a Thibodaux prison cell. One day, from the corner of his cell, Harry heard a man preaching and knew he needed to go listen. That day a conversation started between the two, and soon Harry had re-dedicated his life to the Lord. Harry even started to lead the group studies on days when the prison minister couldn’t attend. Things were changing for Harry and the other prisoners. Murderers were getting saved. Harry’s life had new purpose.

Faith LIFE An early release from prison brought Harry, now divorced, an opportunity for change. He went to live with his sister in Baton Rouge and got a job. He was faithful and hard working. A friend introduced him to a sweet lady named Nicole. They fell in love and got married. A short time later, at the prompting of the Lord, Harry and Nicole stepped out in faith to turn a parttime weekend venture into a full-fledged business. They were learning to follow the lead of God’s voice, sometimes blessing others when they were in lack, and continually seeing the Lord’s abundant replenishment in return for their obedience. On a beach vacation in the fall of 2009, Harry got a word from the Lord. He was to do a major outreach to the homeless community. It was to be on a grand scale, larger than the ones he had already been doing. When he asked the Lord how he would fund such an extravagant venture, the answer was simple: “Use your money.” Again, Harry and Nicole stepped out in faith and found the provision of the Lord. As others heard about the outreach planned for a weekend in mid-December, help came in the form of volunteers and resources. The outreach offered a multitude of blessings, such as clothing, free haircuts, lunch, worship music and the Word. Tears of joy fell from those who were given bus tickets home for the holidays headed for places like Colorado and Florida. More than $3,000 worth of bus tickets were gifted. Most importantly, 75 souls were added to the Kingdom. Harry expanded his ministry to include speaking at drug rehab facilities and prisons. Using his tests as his testimony, he began reaching out to those in whose shoes he had once walked. Actively learning how to live out his faith, he was personally mentored by Pastor Larry Stockstill for years, and eventually ordained at Bethany Church by Pastor Jonathan Stockstill in the spring of 2015. Today Harry marches on as a faithful soldier for the Lord. He oversees a powerful men’s meeting each week where they worship, study Scripture and build accountability relationships. He continues to minister to the homeless and speaks to those fighting the demons of drugs. He leads a prison ministry inside the walls of the East Baton Rouge Parish facility twice a month, seeing as many as 20 to 30 salvations each visit. The world may look at someone like Harry and not understand how he can intentionally surround himself with atmospheres of darkness. They might wonder how he balances his time between these activities while running a successful business and maintaining a happy marriage and family life. The answer can be found in Harry’s life scripture: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 ESV) So the next time you decide to reach out to the poor and destitute, or those hurting in the world around you, don’t be surprised if while you’re on the street you run into Harry. He’ll be easy to pick out. He’s the one out there serving and sharing his testimony … that fellow with the joyful presence and the easy smile. U


Mitchell was ordained by Pastor Jonathon Stockstill in 2015.

Mitchell preaches at the December 2009 outreach to the homeless. Sharon Holeman is a writer and photographer living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was the project creator, coordinator and co-author of the book Backyard Miracles - 12 American Women, 12 True Stories, 1 Miraculous God. Previously published in Her Glory and Inspire Louisiana, she is now penning her first screenplay. Sharon is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and The Art Institute of Houston. She is currently attending Bethany College to further her pursuit of the Lord and His Word.

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017



Family LIFE

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow Sandra Russell’s legacy of compassion photos courtesy Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Suzanne Keller, her father Gerry Russell, and Rachael Lagarde


DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

As a child, Suzanne Keller’s Saturday mornings were often spent going to garage sales with her mother, Sandra, who loved nothing more than finding a good bargain. “It was her hobby,” Suzanne said, “but she took it seriously. She took us all over the place … yard sales, thrift stores, you name it. She drove us to New Orleans to check out places like the Salvation Army stores. She would pick up things from the side of the road if she thought they could be useful to someone.” So it didn’t surprise anyone in the family when Sandra announced that she felt called by God to open a thrift store – not as a way to earn income, but as a way to donate to worthy causes. Her business model was simple. The family would take in donations and keep half of the sale profits to cover their business costs. The other half would be donated to local charities. “In other words, we were never going to make money from it,” said Suzanne. “It was simply a way to contribute to those in the community who needed help.” That was in 1993. The Russell family worked hard at their new enterprise, Here Today, Gone Tomorrow. They bought a sprawling building on Burbank Avenue and spent months getting it in shape. The facility still had dirt floors in some areas. But eventually, the new owners hung their rainbow-themed sign in front of the store and opened for business. Sandra enjoyed her work – thanking donors, greeting customers and networking with local charities. Most of all, she loved knowing that her work was helping others. Her favorite philanthropies were the Battered Women’s Program and several local churches. “She loved her work,” said Suzanne. “Everything about it made her happy.” Sadly, Sandra died just five years after opening the store. It would have been easy to just close the doors at that point, but Sandra’s husband Gerry, who had just retired from his

On certain days of the week, Here Today, Gone Tomorrow offers 50% discounts to seniors, students and government employees. The store also participates in programs that provide prom dresses to young girls and business attire for women in need of low-cost professional clothing.

Gerry and Sandra Russell opened Here Today, Gone Tomorrow in 1993.

The store carries clothing, household goods, jewelry, books and many other items.

Family LIFE


job at Shell Chemical, felt obligated to keep his wife’s dream alive. So, he took her place and for the last (almost) 20 years, has worked hard to keep the business going. Suzanne worked as many hours as she could considering she already had a full-time career. Since her own retirement a few years ago, she has worked almost full-time at the store. Her brother Donald has been instrumental in designing a software program used to ring up sales and ensure clients receive proper credit. Two other siblings helped along the way, but are no longer involved. Inside Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, visitors can find just about anything – furniture, appliances, clothing, shoes, jewelry, LSU and Southern items, artwork, electronics, books, games and toys. There is even a section for vintage hats, clothing, and jewelry. Local residents and groups drop off donations, and volunteers spend hours sorting, organizing, tagging and displaying items for sale. Local jeweler Rachael Lagarde started as a volunteer in 2013 and now works at the store part-time as Director of Operations and Marketing. Because of her background, she specializes in the jewelry and collectibles section of the store. “I love my work because I have a chance to see the difference we’re making in people’s lives,” she said. “Whenever I’m having issues in my life, I’m reminded of the people we help – people starting over late in life, parents trying to make ends meet, women who have escaped abusive relationships – it humbles me and makes me realize my problems are small compared to theirs.” Lagarde says her faith in the business never wavers, and she often sees God’s hand at unlikely moments. She describes a humorous incident to make her point, one that some might see as coincidence, but Lagarde views as an answered prayer. “We were getting ready to ship some items through the mail and we had run out of bubble wrap,” she said. “We were also strapped for cash. I said a prayer for God to please help us and then I left the store to run errands. When I came back a few hours later, our cashier said there was a surprise in my office. I walked in and saw an enormous industrial-sized roll of bubble wrap. Apparently, it had fallen off the back of a truck going down the road in front of our store. There’s an incline from the road to our building, so when it fell off the truck, it literally rolled right down the hill and landed at our doorstep!” Over the years, there have been many times when the family’s prayers were answered just in time to avert some disaster or disappointment. But their success is also based on the family’s commitment to Sandra Russell’s memory. “My father is 76 now,” said Suzanne. “He retired 20 years ago, and has ended up working another 20 years because of his love for my mom. Since we started the business, we’ve donated about $1.5 million to local organizations. I think he’s done a great job and deserves to take a break now.” Suzanne says she is often asked about her goals. “Simple,” she says. “To keep going. To keep helping as long as people need us.” Here Today, Gone Tomorrow is always in need of volunteers. If you are interested, call (225) 769-2259. For more information, visit the HTGT page on Facebook. U Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017


X Geaux life

France is known for its beautiful Christmas Markets, where shoppers find gifts, religious items and holiday foods.

Christmas Around the World

Christmas is one of the most important celebrations among Christians throughout the world. It is both a religious and cultural celebration most often observed on December 25. Traditions range from gift exchanges and family meals to Christmas trees and Nativity displays. At its heart, however, Christmas is a time to recall the beautiful story of Christ’s birth, to draw near to family and friends and bask in the peace and serenity of the season. 10

DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Geaux life

Midnight Mass:


For many religions in the U.S. and abroad, Midnight Mass is a highlight of the year. Celebrated on Christmas Eve, it is a peaceful tradition filled with prayer, reflection and music to herald the arrival of the Christ Child.

Joyeux Noel:

In France, the families gather on Christmas Eve for Reveillon, the holiday meal that typically includes roast turkey with chestnuts, oysters and a variety of cheeses. Nearly every home is decorated with a Nativity crib filled with clay figures of the Holy Family, Wise Men and angels. A Yule log burns in the fireplace through the night.

Peace in China:

Only about one percent of China’s population is Christian, so holiday trees and decorations are rarely seen. However, those who are Christian attend special church services, and in a rapidly growing tradition, give decorated apples to friends and family. Symbols of peace, the apples are wrapped in colored paper and are exchanged on Christmas Eve (called Ping’an Ye), which means “peaceful evening.”

A popular tradition in China is to exchange decorated apples.

Midnight Mass at the Brompton Oratory in London.

Just about every Christian family in the U.S. displays a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and lights. Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017


Largest Flexsteel gallery in Baton Rouge

X Geaux life

German traditions:

In most German homes, families display Advent calendars as they prepare their hearts to receive Christ in the days leading up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve, the family reads the Bible and sings songs. In families with young children, mothers secretly decorate the Christmas tree while the children are asleep.

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An Ethiopian Christmas Card illustrates the birth of Jesus.

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Procession of candles:

In Ethiopia, the Christmas celebration is called Ganna, and since it is based on the Julian calendar, it is celebrated on January 7. Most people dress in white cotton garments called shammas and attend Ganna services at 4 a.m. Each churchgoer is given a candle, then takes part in a solemn procession, circling the church three times as they contemplate Christ’s birth.

When in Spain:

The streets come alive in Spain on Christmas Eve. People attend midnight services, then walk through the streets carrying torches, singing, and playing guitars and tambourines. On January 6, the Epiphany is celebrated with the Festival of the Three Kings. On Epiphany Eve, children leave their shoes on windowsills or balconies and find them filled with sweets, walnuts and small gifts the next morning. U

DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

BIC Media building partnerships, moving forward with projects W B

owner of Upliftv and Parables. Upliftv is a new and unique television network that features more Christian and inspirational films than any other channel. Upliftv’s programs are a balanced combination of sermons and stories that includes BIC Media Solutions is movies, documentaries, TV shows and continuing to network ministries. Parables was developed to provide families with an alternative to and partner with other traditional network television. Its proleaders in producing fam- grams are designed to be thought-proand uplifting and to inspire disily/faith-friendly content. voking cussion about topics important to your faith. Heard discussed how BIC Media and CEO Earl Heard recently traveled Solutions can partner with Upliftv and to West Palm Beach, Florida, to meet Parables, especially when it comes to its with executives of Olympusat Telecom, newest projects: “Urban Country” and “Rock Bottom and Back™.” He was also interviewed and featured on an Upliftv show. Two years ago, BIC Media Solutions funded and co-produced its first family/ faith-friendly film, “A Gift Horse,” which stars John Schneider. The finishing touches are being put on BIC Media Solutions’ next film, “Urban Country.” “Urban Country” is a coming-of-age From left, Earl Heard of BIC Alliance, Louisiana Lt. Gov. family/faith-friendly drama Billy Nungesser, and Jhon Cuthbertson and Mark Peters of BIC Alliance discuss how to promote Louisiana tourism and about Faith, an 18-year-old Louisiana-based media during the Oilfield Christian Fellowship girl from the city who moves Breakfast at the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition. to a horse ranch in the country IC Media Solutions is continuing to network and partner with other leaders in producing family/faith-friendly content. BIC Media Solutions Founder

Earl Heard, founder and CEO of BIC Media Solutions, third from left, recently met with executives of Olympusat Telecom, owner of Upliftv and Parables. Visiting with Heard are, from left, Bob Higley, CEO of Upliftv; Ray Allieri, COO of Olympusat; and Chuck Mohler, president of Olympusat.

BIC Media Solutions recently screened “Rock Bottom and Back™” at the Next International Film Festival (NIFF) in Houston. Actor Josh Rahman, left, and Monica Mansy of NIFF, right, welcome Courtney Evans of BIC Media Solutions to the film festival.

to help her dying mother. The trailer for “Urban Country” is out now, and BIC Media Solutions is hoping to release the film soon. To help promote the film, BIC Media will be attending film festivals in Texas and Louisiana and hosting advance private screenings. The dates and times of these screenings are coming soon. BIC Media’s “Rock Bottom and Back” docu-series is also making progress in finding a home with a cable network, but in the interim, the movie is being screened at film festivals throughout the U.S. It was recently screened at the Next International Film Festival (NIFF), presented by Next Actor Studio, in Houston. NIFF Houston included a great lineup of independent and foreign films and brought together actors, directors and producers from different parts of the world. In addition to “Rock Bottom and Back,” BIC Media Solutions has completed two videos so far about leadership and “how to become a better person” that are hosted by Heard. These videos can be viewed on the BIC Media Solutions website. BIC Media Solutions is also finalizing its latest book, a collaboration with TDS Inc. and LaunchPad Writing + Research. The book provides practical advice to equip new front-line

supervisors for their transition from operators to successful supervisors. The book is scheduled to be released in the near future. For more information about BIC Media Solutions’ partnerships, films, videos or books, visit, email earl or call (800) 460-4242. •

BIC Media Solutions is finalizing its latest book, a collaboration with TDS Inc. and LaunchPad Writing + Research.

Tony LeBron of Upliftv, right, interviews BIC Media Solutions Founder and CEO Earl Heard on BIC Media’s latest projects.

Earl Heard, founder and CEO of BIC Media Solutions, left, congratulates Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, on his “LAGCOE Looey” honor during the Oilfield Christian Fellowship Breakfast at the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition. BIC Media Solutions distributed complimentary copies of its “Rock Bottom and Back™” book at the breakfast.

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017


X Creative LIFE Q:

When did you begin painting and when did Josephine’s World of Paintings begin?

A: My journey with the paint brush began ten years ago when I was on a break with my children. During that weekend, I painted seven paintings with poetic writings attached. Josephine emerged at that point but was not refined. I realized that God was actually refining me. About two years ago, I picked up the paint brush again and 100 paintings were birthed, each with a message of hope. It was healing for me, genuine therapy. God reminded me that He is very near to the downtrodden and never far from our heart’s cry.


Kim Larrison Bullen

Freeze Frames of Hope: Look for the Silver Linings…

Poetic messages are tied to many of your paintings. Share more about Josephine - what she represents in your paintings.

A: Typically, the painting and message come through someone sharing their personal hardship and how they got to the other side. Sometimes, it’s a scripture that will inspire a painting and sometimes it’s the other way around. Many times, I have worship music playing while I paint and in that infused world of praise, messages emerge from the Holy Spirit. I feel that God told me to “write with paint and paint with words.” Josephine is a story teller. She is woven into the canvas just as we are woven in the womb (Psalm 139:13). Her color is black because that encompasses all colors and absorbs light best. Josephine was created to absorb the most that she can from her Creator. Her white dress reflects all the Lord’s blessings and mercy. The red stitching symbolizes the blood of the Lamb, a reminder that she is covered and protected. Her arms are always lifted up to show her surrender to God in all things. “The Green Grass and Silver Linings” painting is very special because it emerged during a very dark time when God gave me a vision. I saw a dark ominous sky and a bright green pasture with one big white cloud lined in silver. He encouraged me to look for the green grass and silver lining in each moment. I call these moments “grassitude” moments. Look for the green moments for they represent hope.

by Sharon Furrate Bailey

“Rising Above with Heart Filled Hands” 14

DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Creative LIFE


I love the phrase “freeze frame” of hope you mention in one of your blogs. Do all of your paintings represent hope?


A: Yes, each painting is a “freeze frame” of hope. This world is full of darkness and negativity. God will reveal a way out if we lean on him and listen in the silence. Proverbs 29:18 says it best: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he who keepeth the law, happy is he.” Our walk becomes lighter when we focus on the Great Physician (Psalm 55:22). I have to shed light on the heroine and opioid addiction attacking and stealing our children’s lives. The painting, “Rising Above with Heart-filled Hands” depicts a single mom who had a vision of climbing a mountain with two or three sons in tow, both addicted to heroin, and finally arising out of their private hell to the mountaintop. The mountain top is where they lay it all before God and where they surrender all.

Q: What is your favorite Scripture? A: Isaiah 61! It reminds us that there is hope for the brokenhearted and paints a picture of restoration despite all the devastation endured.

Q: Where can one find your work? A: The Foyer in Baton Rouge has many pieces as well as Studio Gallery 30A in Grayton Beach, Florida and the Dollface Salon in Grand Coteau. I am also feeling led to do trunk shows so that it becomes more of a ministry. In addition, I am in the process of setting up e-commerce on my website so cards and journals may be purchased.

Q: Share some personal things about your own life. A: I’m a physical therapist for special needs students in the school system. These kids minister to me every day. They remind me that blessings are found in the moment. I am married to a wonderful man who is very supportive of my journey as an artist. Thanks to his encouragement, my next goal is to create inspirational greeting cards. I am a mother to Josh and Hannah who are my two blessings. I pray that my story will help others discover who they were created to be. God did not put us in a box. He gave us wings to fly. Website:; email: U

Top: “Grassitude Angel” Middle: “Angels Among Us”

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

Right: “Josephine Close Up”

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017


X Review for LIFE




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Christmas as Large as Life


Review by Kelli Knight

Recorded narration and music will accompany each scene. There will be live music at the stable and viewers will be MODELS Owners TILE SHOWERS encouraged to participate in caroling by rs Danny & Brenda LeBlanc 12504 S when CHOCTAW DRfeel disconnected to the joy BATONmany ROUGE, LA 70815 enda LeBlanc BATON ROUGE, LA 70815 singing “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night” of the season. Hectic schedules and the to the baby Jesus. Without giving anything commercialization of the holiday can be the away, a unique and special ending is planned source. For those looking to feel closer to the which includes a song to the heartwarming birth of our Lord and Savior, the members of WERS VISIT OUR tones of the violin. Florida Boulevard Baptist Church (FBBC) The cast will be available after each SHOWROOM have created an event that could possibly WALK IN TUBS BATH REMODELS TILE SHOWERS performance in their Activity Center and 12504 S CHOCTAW DR bring one to tears. WERS the audience is encouraged to attend. Light $1000 BATON ROUGE, LA 70815 TheBATH church will become the setting WALK IN TUBS REMODELS TILE SHOWERS OFF 18 refreshments will be served and a Christmas TH REMODELS TILE SHOWERS MONTHS for an outdoor theater for the nativity. puppet show will be held for children. WERS VISIT OUR Viewers are asked to park, and upon SHOWROOM Performances will be held Friday, OFF 18 CALL entering, be counted in the census, just Owners 12504 S CHOCTAW DR OFF December 15 at 6:30, 7:00 & 7:30p.m. MONTHS Danny & Brenda LeBlanc TODAY BATON ROUGE, LA 70815 as Joseph and Mary would have been and Saturday, December 16 at 6:30, 7:00 VISIT OUR counted to enter Bethlehem. VISIT OUR (225) 400-5444 SHOWROOM& 7:30p.m. The actors are members of FBBC SHOWROOM Owners 12504 S CHOCTAW DR The Living Nativity is a gift from WERS including their “Special Friends” Class of LA 70815 12504 S CHOCTAWDanny DR & Brenda LeBlanc BATON ROUGE, Florida Boulevard Baptist Church to each of BATON ROUGE, LA 70815 the church and their Wednesday Bible study us, and there is no charge. group for their special needs friends, family It should be an event that brings and workers. Christmas to life. Take some time to FBBC believes this will be a touching WERS disconnect from your schedule and the event that will bring people together. commercial side of Christmas. Feel the The theme of the production is God’s rejuvenation of the season and your soul unconditional love and will be developed recharged when you visit the FBBC Living scene by scene to show Jesus is God’s gift to us because of His unconditional love for us. Nativity this December. U

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DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Kelli is the owner of Illuminated Designs Studio, specializing in graphic design services. She received her Liberal Arts degree from LSU. Over the course of her career she has written for several publications throughout Southeast Lousiana. Find her on facebook:




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Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017


X Man UP for life

A Man’s Role in the Family and in the Church


by Todd Shupe

man must model genuine godly masculine behavior to his children so that they will grow up as godly people and seek godly partners for marriage. That was part of the message from Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin at the September Man Up men’s ministry meeting at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church. More than 175 men attended. Interim Senior Pastor Tony Perkins says the men’s ministry program had become less active in recent years. His father, Richard Perkins, had to vacate his position as director of men’s ministries in 2015 due to health problems, and the 2016 flood affected 90% of the church’s members. Pastor Richard Perkins Pastor Tony Perkins Richard was sitting alone at the church last Easter and heard a voice from God asking, “Where are all the men?” He looked around and saw very few men present, and felt a desire to try to reactivate the men’s ministry. He asked Tony to arrange for Lt. Gen. Boykin to deliver the message. Lt. Gen. Boykin serves as the Family Research Council’s Executive Vice President. He was one of the original members of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, and was privileged to ultimately command these elite warriors in combat operations. He also commanded the Army’s Green Berets as well as the Special Warfare Center and School. In all, Lt. Gen. Boykin spent 36 years in the Army, serving his last four years as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. He is an ordained minister with a passion for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ and encouraging Christians to become warriors in God’s Kingdom.

The General’s message was to focus on what he calls the 4 P’s: A man is a provider, giving identity to his family. It is his responsibility to let children know that they belong. He gives direction and serves as the spiritual head of the family. A man should also be a protector. He physically protects the family from harm and also sets boundaries to safeguard the family from evil. The man is the professor of the family. He professes his faith and teaches life skills to children on how to endure hardship and build up confidence. A real man will teach his son how to respect and love women. Finally, a man is the priest of his house. He is called to be the spiritual leader in the family. The grandfather should always be the priest at a family fathering. This means leading the family in prayer and scripture, and blessing his children and grandchildren.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin

Richard is a strong proponent of men’s ministry and believes the pastor must be on board to have an effective program. Follow-up meetings in small groups allow men get to know each other and feel safe opening up. The older men can nurture the younger men and this will build the church and healthy families. Man Up events at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church are open to all men of the community. For more information, please call the church office at (225) 261-2246. U

Importance of Men’s Ministry

When a child is first to attend church, 3½% of the families follow. When a wife/mom is the first to attend church, 17% of the families follow. When a dad/husband is first to attend a church, 93% of the families follow.

Todd Shupe is a wood and building materials consultant and expert witness at, and a Source: The Promise Keeper at Work, 1996-1999, Promise Keepers Authors Dave Sunde, Ron Ralston, Bob Horner Christian blogger at 18

DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine



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7777 Airline @ Choctaw • 927-2311 12116 Airline @ Cloverland • 751-3656 Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017


X Feature Story

A Man of

Character by Lisa Tramontana


DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Jeff LeDuff is a strong believer in purpose. He was just 10 years old when he discovered his own.

Feature Story “Every Easter, my parents took me and my four sisters to downtown Baton Rouge to buy new clothes to wear to Easter Mass,” he said. “We were crossing the street and my eyes fell on this police officer on the corner. I was awestruck … I remember the sight of those long black boots, the badges and pins that shined like new money, and that big white motorcycle. He saw me as I walked by and didn’t say a word, but reached down and pinched my cheek. I’ll never forget it. I knew that day that I wanted to be a police officer.” He made good on that promise to himself, becoming not just a police officer, but chief of the Baton Rouge Police Department from 2005 to 2011. People all over the city already knew LeDuff from his 20 years as a motorcycle officer, his years as an instructor at the Police Academy, and his frequent speaking engagements throughout the community. As chief, he worked hard to combat crime in the capital city, and was known for his leadership, his character, and his ability to connect with people from all backgrounds and in all situations. Despite the crime and violence that surrounded him every day, LeDuff says his faith was never shaken. Why? Because he always saw the goodness in people. “I was Chief of Police during Katrina,” he said. “I saw people who had lost everything, but were willing to share with others what little they had left. I saw how strangers helped families get back on their feet. When five people were killed (four of them in a church) in 2006, I saw people comfort each other. In spite of all

the negative things that happen in the world, people will surprise you with how much hope and promise they have in their hearts.” LeDuff’s faith was truly tested in 2010 when his wife Sandy’s brother, Christopher, was murdered. “That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he said. “… to go and tell my motherin-law that her son had died. It would be easy to ask God why did this have to happen? But I’ve never done that. I’ve never been angry with God. I just ask him to please let this be the last time … and I ask him to change us, to change our hearts, to make us better people.”

“When it comes to the end, I want to look back and know that I was a good man with a good heart. I want people to know that I loved God and I loved people and believed that there’s goodness in everyone.” - Chief Jeff LeDuff

When LeDuff announced his retirement from the police force, many community leaders were sad to see him go. They used terms such as “gracious” and “positive” to describe his management style, and agreed that he would be tough to replace. For a few years, he worked as Chief of Security at Baton Rouge General Medical Center, and today, he owns the security firm Open Eyes with his son Kelly. His career has always focused on service to others and


the city is filled with people he has helped and encouraged over the years. For 20 years, he helped operate a Police Explorer camp in Mississippi for young boys, and to this day, he stays in touch with many of them. “They’re grown men now,” he said, “with families of their own. But I still have a relationship with many of them. They call me to get advice, to talk about a new job, or to just say hello. Father’s Day usually fell during that week of camp, so I couldn’t be with my own son. One of the campers once said to him, ‘I’m sorry we take your dad away from you on Father’s Day.’ Kelly was about 9 or 10 and he said, ‘That’s okay. You get him for a week, but I’m lucky ‘cause I have him just about every day of the year.’” LeDuff is also proud of his 39-year marriage. He met Sandy when they were just 15 years old. “I was an altar boy and one Sunday at Mass, I saw this girl for the first time,” he said. “She was in town visiting her relatives. Being that we were in church, I probably shouldn’t have been thinking this way, but oh, she was so pretty and I really wanted to meet her.” They did meet, and they’ve been together ever since. Life wasn’t always easy, LeDuff said, but the couple always had faith that God would see them through any trials or problems they might face. Sandy says she loves her husband because he is strong, dedicated, passionate and hardworking. “He believes in something bigger than himself,” she said. “It’s the way he was raised.” LeDuff has praise for his wife, too. “Sandy is an angel in our family,” he said

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017


X Feature Story

In the summer of 2016, a summer of tragedy and racial tension, LeDuff appeared on WAFB-TV with a call for prayers and unity.

as he describes how she cared for his sister who died of cancer. “My sister was given three months to live, and she was with us for 13 months. That’s because of Sandy taking care of her. Our family is so blessed to have her.” The key to their happiness is mutual respect and commitment to their marriage vows. “When you marry someone, the two become one,” said LeDuff. “It’s that simple. You’ve got to make sure the two of you don’t ever fall out of love at the same time. One of you has always got to be willing to fight for the relationship and the love you have for each other.” His determination to create good in the world comes from the feeling that he’s lucky to be alive. Literally. In 2006, as he rode his motorcycle down Florida Boulevard, a woman in a van hit him and he ended up pinned beneath the vehicle. He remembers the first responders cutting his clothes off of him as they attempted to pull him out. “It’s because I’ve been through those kind of things that I believe I’m blessed,” he said. “But I’m still here, so clearly, God has more for me to do.” Last summer when Baton Rouge was reeling from the flood devastation and the tragic shooting that killed three police officers, LeDuff was on hand to offer compassionate words to the community. In an appearance on WAFB-TV, his talk of hope, healing and unity reminded viewers why he is such a beloved fixture in the community. “Today … I want every person in Baton Rouge to find someone that looks different from you, extend your hand, and introduce yourself. When you get beyond the color, beyond the differences, you’ll find that we’re not that far apart. Love everybody.” These days, LeDuff focuses on his company and spends time with Sandy, Kelly, his daughter-in-law Shannon, his two grandchildren, and his extended family. “One day, I hope to be so old that I’m bent over, that I’m shaking. When it comes to the end, I want to look back and know that I was a good man with a good heart. I want people to know that I loved God and I loved people and believed that there’s goodness in everyone.” Which brings us back to the idea of purpose. “I think we all innately want to do the right thing. I believe that before we’re born, God holds us in his mighty hands and molds us … and it’s our job to figure out why he made us that way. That’s how we learn what our purpose is … we’ve got to use the gifts he gave us to do good in this life.” U

During his tenure as police chief, LeDuff worked closely with Baton Rouge MayorPresident Melvin “Kip” Holden.

LeDuff enjoys spending time with his two grandchildren.

LeDuff and his wife Sandy have been married for 39 years. 22

DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Pastor’s Perspective

Light Dispels Darkness


by Kevin McKee


few years ago my wife bought me a Christmas gift that I’ve really enjoyed. I like to think of it as my “spy watch.” Actually, it is a Swiss Army watch. It has a button on the side that when pushed, floods the dark watch face with a blue light. Cool, right? When pushed three times, there is a small red light embedded in the face of the dark watch that blinks. This is so that the watch can be found in the dark. But I have to remember to make it flash before I take it off in the dark! However, the light I use and enjoy more than all these is the one that illuminates when I press the button twice. When I do this, an exterior light - an LED light becomes a bright light that I can use as a small flashlight. This little LED light shines with unusual brightness. L - light, E emitting, D - diode. I use it daily when I’m walking outside or inside a dark room or hallway. Jesus said he was the light of the world (John 9:5). The Bible also says that he is the True Light coming into the world and giving light to all who believe in him (John 1:9). Jesus is the light that dispels darkness and overcomes spiritual darkness (John 1:5). The little LED light on my watch reminds me that just a little light dispels darkness. But Jesus isn’t the only light. So are his followers. Christians are designed to be bright LED lights, shining brightly! L-light, E - emitting, D - disciples, if you will. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” (Matt 5:14a, ESV). He was speaking to a crowd about life lived under the

righteous rule of God as they followed him. But Jesus, knowing the human condition, didn’t stop with a statement, but followed it with an observation I believe can also be cautionary. “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:14b-16) The Christians of Baton Rouge must find new ways to shine into our community. We face real challenges in our city. There are tensions in our city. Our murder rate is much too high. One way that I and others have found to be very helpful is for Christians to partner together from across the city, especially across racial lines. Such partnerships have allowed us to put our “LED” light on a stand, casting light more broadly. We at The Chapel have enjoyed a great praying partnership and serving together with Pastor Donald Hunter and New Beginning Baptist Church and Dr. Rene Brown and Mt. Zion First Baptist Church. If you have questions about how to start and maintain such a light-shining partnership, please email me at If more such partnerships and relationships existed within our community, we would shine more brightly and the citizens of Baton Rouge would see our good works and give glory to the Father in heaven. It will take all of us to come together in small and large ways to shine as brightly as we can – find a buddy, come together and be a community of L - light, E- emitting D - disciples. U

Kevin McKee holds a BS from LSU, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has worked in churches in Texas, Colorado, and Louisiana (mostly at The Chapel on the Campus) as a youth pastor, college pastor, singles pastor, and teaching pastor. He is now the senior pastor at The Chapel, mainly at the LSU campus Location. His ministry has taken him all over the world, including Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Romania, Brazil, China, Prague, and Africa. He and his wife Mary have four children. Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017



A Little lagniappe

Living Beneath the Surface by Krista Bennett-Bruns

Editor’s note: The Christmas season is a joy for us as Christians, but the holiday can also bring painful memories. We are grateful to the author for bringing a heart-felt look at the reality of experiencing loss and new purpose. Pictured are the Bruns children: Palmer, Sutton, Mason and Bennett Bruns.

S “

..o we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 AMP)

Shortly after having five miscarriages between my third and fourth child, I felt God leading me to write a book about the pain I felt in my heart and about the struggles I had to deal with trying to move forward. However, I ignored that gentle tug on my heart. I told God that I was a health care professional and not a writer. I kept thinking about all the mistakes I made in life and told God I was not “good enough” to write about my spiritual journey. I thought 24

about the times I told a lie, was rude to people, used a mean tone, yelled at my children or said a bad word, and I felt very inadequate to write about God. After all, the world acts as if Christians are supposed to be perfect, so I had no desire to be vulnerable. However, God quickly reminded me that we are all sinners, and there was only ONE perfect person in this world, and that person was Jesus. The tug on my heart to answer the calling God gave me never went away, so I started writing off and on but never thought I would finish a book. Then, on March 2, 2015, my world was shattered—a parent’s worst nightmare came true. My beautiful, sweet, innocent four-year old, Sutton, died tragically. It felt like someone ripped my heart from my body when I found out Sutton died, and I experienced the most unbearable pain deep down in my soul, a pain that no one should ever have to experience. I

DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

suddenly felt alone in a very large world even though there were so many people around me. My phenomenal inner circle of friends, amazing co-workers and my Bible study group from church were so supportive and were always there for me. But the only people I could truly relate to were other parents who lost children. Several moms who lost children took the time and reached out to me. These grieving moms always reminded me I was not alone, and they were always honest with me about their feelings. I appreciated their transparency. As I suffered through my heartache and pain, I had no choice but to focus on God. I had three other children who needed me and a business to run. I needed to find a way to make it through each day. I listened to positive, uplifting music, read devotionals, read tons of self-help books, listened to podcasts, went to church, cried, prayed, spent quality time with

A Little lagniappe

Sutton Bruns continues to be an inspiration to Krista and his family.

Krista Bennett-Bruns found beauty in the ashes and light in Christ through the darkness of grief.

my inner circle of friends and I sought the help of an amazing Christian grief counselor who also lost a child tragically. It took a lot of hard work, but the more I focused on God, the more I began to see the “big picture” format of life from my little perspective. I realized it was necessary to share my story, and I could no longer ignore the calling to complete the book. I felt God wanted to use me to let people to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE, just like the grieving moms reminded me! In Living Beneath the Surface: My Journey through Love, Loss and Forgiveness, I felt led to talk about the things very few people wanted to discuss - the ugly emotions of grief for the days, weeks, and years after Sutton’s death, as well as all the other struggles life brought me. It was so easy for me to put a smile on my face and hide behind my feelings and pretend everything was okay just like the rest of the world did. However,


Bruns wrote an account of her journey through pain to show how beautiful life can be even in tragedy and suffering.

God showed me it was imperative for me to stop wearing a “mask” and understand we are all human, we all make mistakes. He wanted me to grasp the concept that we are all ALIKE in so many ways. God was calling me to “be real.” Although my circumstances may be different from others, we all share the same human emotions. Throughout my journey, I realized how we are all interconnected and how beautiful life is/can be, even amidst our pain, tragedy, and suffering. I discovered that there is beauty in the ashes, and the darkness of the world cannot overcome the light of Christ. I saw how important and valuable each person’s life is and how we all can make a positive impact on this world. I wanted each person to truly understand that God has a purpose for each of our lives regardless of the trials we go through along the way. U

"Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God." - Leo Buscagua

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017



X A Little lagniappe


irst Noel

Nativity Collector Enjoys Connection to ‘First Christmas’ by Rachele Smith

Above: Mary Oubre shows some of the collectibles in her nativity ensemble. Left: Mary Oubre’s home is the stage for her passion. 26

DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

A Little lagniappe

‘Tis the season for collectors. From Santa ornaments and snowmen statues to nutcrackers and even Yuletide dinnerware, Christmas-themed collections seem to appear almost everywhere this time of year. But while some collectors enjoy the hunt for their next limited-edition or anticipate the moment their collection is complete, Gonzales resident Mary Oubre has a different mindset. For this active 82-yearold, her collection of nativities, displayed every holiday season, invokes memories of special loved ones and brings her closer to the true meaning of Christmas. “I really didn’t start out to collect nativities. It just happened,” she said, adding that she received her first nativity as a thank-you gift. “I would help my (husband’s) Aunt Gertrude. They owned a furniture and appliance store. But they also had a gift section, and I just admired this nativity set. Actually, I fell in love with it, and one day she asked if I wanted it,” said Oubre. That was in 1954, and Oubre and her husband, who were just newlyweds at that time, would later use this nativity set to celebrate their first Christmas together. Every year after, they would continue to display it, including when they started a family and welcomed their seven children. But through those years and as their children grew, so did Oubre’s nativity collection. Today she counts a total of 133 nativity scenes. “I just love them,” she said, explaining the connection between the nativities and her Christian faith, and how each scene is a gentle reminder of Jesus’ birth and the moment “the Word became flesh.”

For Oubre, the connection actually goes way back, as she recalled an outdoor nativity set she made as a 10-year-old child. Among other creative tasks, Oubre said she drew and painted cardboard portraits of the Holy Family, then decorated her homemade manger with lights. “Our parish priest saw it as he drove by and mentioned this at Mass saying that this was the true meaning of Christmas. I was a proud little girl,” she said. Today, Oubre’s collection includes nativity scenes of all shapes and sizes. Some feature the Holy Family only while others highlight Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus as well as the three wise men, shepherds and farm animals. In addition, some scenes have a manger while others are etched on various objects, such as ornaments, cookie jars, wreaths, a cross, and even music boxes (and yes, at least one plays “O Little Town of Bethlehem”). “They’re all different,” explained Oubre, pointing to nativity scenes made of pewter, resin, glass, porcelain, wood, chalk and even cornhusks. Several weeks ago, Oubre received the newest addition to her collection. The ornament, showcasing an image of the nativity, was a gift from her cousin. “I receive so many from family and friends,” she admitted, adding that she also found several nativity scenes on her own by going to thrift stores. Once Oubre acquires an addition to her collection, she tries to write information about how she obtained it on the bottom. She shared that she is


most fond of that first set given to her more than 60 years ago by her first husband’s aunt, but she also holds dear special gifts from her children, including a Snoopyinspired set purchased by her son, Keith, a larger and more traditional set from her daughter, Alexis, and a portrait of the Holy Family another daughter, Joan, presented to mark Oubre’s 100th addition to her collection. “That one I leave up all year,” she said. After Christmas this year, Oubre plans to keep other nativity scenes on display as well. Since her collection is getting larger, she is finding it more difficult to take out and put away. Normally, she said, it takes one full day to do both, but this year was different. Oubre’s seven children came together to celebrate her recent birthday - a time to count her blessings. U

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017


X A Little lagniappe

Good News Around Town

Hallowheel 2017

The Hallowheel 2017 charity tennis and pickleball tournaments raised a combined $15,169 to benefit the 2018 Cajun Classic Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, to be held March 19-25, in Baton Rouge. Pictured, from left, are Hallowheel 2017 Title Sponsors Cindy and Tex Morris, Abby Heath, Karen Serio, Marilu Major, Lynn Serio, Martha Turner, Douglas Burket, Hallowheel Co-Chair Emily Greene, Cajun Classic Wheelchair Tennis Tournament Director Jennifer Edmonson, Marsha Jabour, and Hallowheel Co-Chair Rusty Jabour.

The Baton Rouge Wheelchair Tennis Association (BRWTA) announced at its board dinner on Nov. 6 that it raised $15,169 to help support the 2018 Cajun Classic Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, to be held in Baton Rouge, March 19-25, at the Paula G. Manship YMCA.

The weekend also featured the Hallowheel Adaptive Tennis Clinic where 15 children and adults with disabilities took to the courts to be introduced to wheelchair tennis. They enjoyed a morning full of tennis instruction, games, and prizes.

The BRWTA raised the funds through its Edward Jones Investments / Tex Morris “Hallowheel” charity tennis and pickleball tournaments, held Oct. 27-29, at BREC’s Highland Road Park. The tournaments attracted more than 180 players from Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, and Florida. 28

DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Since 2015, the Hallowheel tournament has raised $45,000 for the Cajun Classic. Hallowheel is one of the most unique tournaments in the United States, as it features a main draw of traditional men’s and women’s tennis doubles, a pickleball tournament, and a separate “UpDown” draw where wheelchair tennis players are partnered with able-bodied players for doubles competition. More info at

We need you in 2018!


Join us in the “Good News’ Business + Since 2015 we have reached over 1 million people with the gospel + Print and web editions available each month, pick up rate near 100% + Distributing 10,000 copies monthly to 5 parishes in over 250 locations + Non denominational stories that include all, encouraging unity in the Body of Christ

Changing our city, one story at a time! Help us share the good things happening in our city. Contact Founder Beth Townsend for a meeting. Baton Rouge

Christian Magazine

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■ Come early and join us before the class for coffee & cookies ■ Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017



What Goal?

Learning for LIFE

is Your

by LaTangela Fay

Goal: The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.


etting a goal is placing a marker on your vision. Goals are best defined as “Going Over All Little Steps” that will lead you in the direction of where you want to be. Our path on this journey of life will have obstacles that may throw us for a loop from time to time. Without a goal, it is nearly impossible to pick up the pieces and move forward, for the final destination has not been made clear. Without a goal, we spend countless hours roaming in circles and occupying our time going with the motion. As children we are taught to work hard and accomplish the goals that

have been set in place for us. In order to fulfill small or large goals, a valiant effort must be made. It is never too late to start setting goals. Ask yourself, “Where would I like to see myself in the future?” Are your current actions leading you closer to that goal? What changes would you like to make to accommodate the efforts of reaching your goal? Are you willing to make the necessary changes and stick with the modifications? Challenge yourself to better yourself one day at a time and start by Going Over All Little Steps that will lead you closer to the finish line. U

Entertainment is the pulse of LaTangela Fay. Singing is her first passion. Among LaTangela’s accomplishments: she began her career as a radio personality at 15 for one of Louisiana’s leading Hip-Hop/R&B stations. She has been awarded Women in Media’s Female Personality of the Year and represents many charitable organizations, including The American Heart and Stroke Association where she was awarded the Ambassador of the Year.


DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

Valluzzo Companies Locally Owned and Operated with 50 Locations in Louisiana and Mississippi

Nicholas Valluzzo

Witness at work


The Power of the Personal Touch

by Susan Brown

When you think about leadership and Christian values, it starts with understanding your relationship with God and having faith in him to lead you in the right direction when you’re dealing with people.

” .

Valluzzo, with wife Rebecca, says family is his life and passion, and cites a strong family as key to his own success. Their son, Carson, is five years old and daughter, Jane, is age two.

Life is full of coachable moments, according to Nicholas Valluzzo, vice president of Valluzzo Companies, the family-run business that owns 50 McDonald’s restaurants in Louisiana and Mississippi. “I’m always on the lookout for how we can directly impact society,” he said. “Are you making that customer’s day

better, whether they recognize it or not? You’ve got that opportunity to change the trajectory of the day.” It’s a set of values he and his brother, Michael, and sister, Christina, learned from their father, John Valluzzo. He hopes to pass along those principles to his children, five-year-old Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017


X Witness at Work

Valluzzo emphasizes hospitality among employees and customers. “You’ve got an opportunity within ten seconds to make that customer really, really happy and make an impact on their life. That’s our goal.”

Carson and two-year-old Jane. “My dad always preached, ‘Speak your mind, don’t do things because I’m doing them, go where your heart’s going, do what God’s telling you,’” Nick Valluzzo said. That includes valuing people, investing in them and working wholeheartedly at everything they do. At age 14, Nick worked the counter at the McDonald’s on Jones Creek Road. “It was my dad’s first restaurant. That was my training ground,” Valluzzo said. It is one of five restaurants Nicholas now owns. After attending St. Thomas More, he graduated from Catholic High where he played baseball and football. He continued his baseball career at the University of Southern Mississippi. At Catholic High, the team wore Philippians 4:13 on players’ t-shirts, a verse that continues to guide Valluzzo: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” “There was not a better saying for me at that time, or any time,” Valluzzo said. “You shouldn’t have fear because you know God is walking right behind you. That should give you the next step forward.” 32

“I was raised in a strong Catholic family,” Valluzzo said. “I think a good, strong household was key. God was very present in our lives. Every single Sunday we were in church. Currently, I’m at First Presbyterian. We got married there in 2011, so we both joined that church and really enjoyed the whole aspect of what our pastor, Gerrit Dawson, gives us.” Valluzzo said he thrives on a men’s Bible study that meets at 7:00 every Thursday morning. “There was a period of time in my life from my senior year in high school into college where there were so many opportunities to be distracted. I really let that take over my youthfulness. I don’t want to say I left the church, because I never left God. Then one day, when I met my wife [Rebecca], she brought me back. She brought that holistic view of God as the center point of everything we do. I thank her every day for it – without her knowing – but I do,” he said. “Rebecca and the children are my life and passion.” He takes a life lesson from Jesus who connected personally and profoundly in order to coach the people around him. “I

DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

think not only as a business leader but as a Christian it’s your duty to pass that candle-torch to the next person,” Valluzzo said. Part of that commitment is meeting all of their employees. “Sometimes they need guidance. Sometimes they need not only God but a kind of adult in their life. They need someone who will tell them, ‘Shake my hand, tell me hello, look me in the eyes.’” he said. “I’m a millennial. It’s an interesting dynamic. I sit back reflecting on myself and I understand; I get it.” “My brother and I never want to be behind a curtain or behind a screen,” he said. “We’re not going to hide behind phones.” That includes a personal no-texting strategy. “We’re out there in our restaurants; we’re out there in the community. And if you live by the example God gives us, the Ten Commandments, you understand your God and His mission. We’re two brothers who are two years apart, so we have our good times and we have our challenging times, but it’s never not fixed. We believe you can’t go to sleep mad.

Witness at work


“I try to stay focused on, ‘What would Jesus do?’ How are we going to get from the opportunity to the positive side?” He uses the iconic burger as a model for building people up through positive coaching. The top layer of the “meat sandwich” represents the good you see in people. The “meat” is the opportunity to improve. “You end on a positive – how are we going to get from the opportunity to the positive side? We help create the plan.” “We try to take a deep dive into everything we do. Our philanthropy look is not related The Valluzzos’ community commitment includes to budget. If we’re passionate support for military veterans. about something - looking at it from a mission statement from God to how it directly affects people - we Valluzzo believes that lessons in sit down and have a good conversation hospitality - diminishing barriers - apply about it. There are some things that we to the community, as well. “I love Baton do for philanthropy personally and some Rouge. I wouldn’t change where I live for anything. At some point, we have things that we do through the business.” Their commitments include “Dreams to get past the hate. I pray for it every day,” he said. “We’ve got to get behind Come True,” an organization that meets the wishes of children who are terminally each other and stick our nose right in the middle of it and go talk it out. As long as ill. They also support veterans, the you’re shedding that light and have faith Tiger Athletic Foundation and Junior in what God’s doing, I think we’ll be in a Achievement, among others. far better place than we were yesterday. “What’s more important than I have faith that God is going to lead us investing time in the future?” Valluzzo down the right path.” U said. Their Vision 2020 will bring a new look and a new level of service to McDonald’s. “Everything’s going to be modernized by the end of 2019. You’ll see kiosks inside where you’ll be able to touch and make your own burger. It’s really neat.” “Within this experience we really take a hard look at hospitality. So, you’re no longer going to be greeted by somebody behind a counter. You’re Susan Brown began her career in radio going to be greeted by somebody in news. She was news director for WJBO/ WFMF radio and a journalism instructor the lobby. It’s a culture change for our at LSU. She holds Master’s Degrees from people and also a culture change for our LSU and New Orleans Baptist Theological customers. We’ve launched it in a couple Seminary, and served as a chaplain at of restaurants already, and it’s been a Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women. phenomenal success.”

God, Family, Business 225-335-5395 8686 Bluebonnet Blvd. BR, LA 70810 225-768-1800 Each office is independently owned and operated.

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Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017



Healthy life


Healthy takes Practice by Meredith Atterbery

Success comes to those who wait … I don’t buy it. Success comes to those who work every day to reach their goals and don’t let anything get in their way. If your goal is to be healthy, get ready for a long, beautiful, self-realizing, priceless journey. This daily adventure to learn more about yourself takes patience. “Being healthy” is not a destination, but rather a journey. As a personal trainer, I have worked with individuals ages 8 to 80, each one with specific goals, but all sharing one common goal – being healthy. What does that mean? It means to feel good, to feel confident, and to be physically able. This journey looks a little different for each of us.

Achieving good health requires a smart diet and regular exercise.

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite inspirations – Ms. Karen. When Ms. Karen retired, she wasn’t happy with the current state of her health. For years her career and family took all of her mental and physical energy, so her health was placed on the back burner. She wasn’t where she wanted to be physically. Does this sound familiar? With mobility comes opportunity. Ms. Karen started her journey by walking … it was that simple. She would lace up her dusty athletic shoes and go for a short walk around her neighborhood. At first she 34

DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

could only walk about five minutes before running out of breath. After about a week, she was almost doubling her time before running out of breath, and in just over 6 months, this short walk evolved into a 30-minute walk. Then she was ready for more, but didn’t know what to do next, so she came to the YMCA, and this is where we met. I could see the desire to be healthy in her eyes — she was ready. We started with learning how to move her body in a safe way. Every day we took small steps towards her goal, and celebrated each and every reached goal! The first goal was getting onto

Healthy life and off of the floor. I know this might seem like such an easy task, but if this ability is lost, it can be extremely limiting to our lives. It was a slow process due to her fear of not getting back up, and like all of us, she almost lost her momentum. But she never gave up, she kept going, and then, BOOM, she did it! Ms. Karen is now doing full-body push-ups (practically popping off of the floor), walking two miles (or more) twice a week, regularly participating in aqua fitness classes at the YMCA, and she has lost 55 pounds. She knows the effects of food on her body and knows how to make smart, healthy choices at the dinner table. She has been on hiking trips and has traveled all over the country living her life to the fullest. She is always saying, “Wow, I feel way better than I did when I retired” or “Meredith, you’ll never guess what I was able to do this weekend.” Guess how long this has taken? She has been on this journey for over five years, and she will tell you it has been worth every second. No more crash diets or “magic pills” and no more missing out on her life. She stayed focused on the longterm goal of being healthy, which kept her going when her progress didn’t feel fast enough or when she hit those small bumps along the road. Being healthy isn’t easy. It’s something we must practice with every step we take each day and with each bite of food we take. We must actively think, “Am I taking a step towards being healthy or away from it?” Always remember that “being healthy” is not a destination, but a journey. U


Meredith Atterbery received her bachelor's degree in Kinesiology from LSU. She is a certified personal trainer, a certified group exercise instructor, and certified kickboxing Instructor. Meredith brings her passion for fitness, her love for triathlons, and enthusiasm for all things athletic to her work – through indoor cycling and circuit classes, kickboxing, and one-on-one training. She is now the Wellness Coordinator at the Paula G. Manship YMCA.

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What Does It mean?

Trivia for fun

Who was the Emperor of Rome when Christ was born? A ) Tiberius

B ) Augustus

C ) Nero D ) Claudius

Answer: B ) Augustus Mary and Joseph were subjects of Rome and at the time of Jesus’ birth, were participating in the imperial census. Augustus Caesar was the ruler of the Roman Empire when Christ was born in Bethlehem. His inauguration as emperor marked the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the age of the Caesars. He died in 14 A.D. after 40 years on the throne.

Biblical Biography Joseph

What Does it Mean? Nativity

The process of being born Nativity is a word that only gets used at Christmas. We set up nativity scenes and sing songs like Away in a Manger and Silent Night. But the meaning behind what we celebrate is more powerful than we often realize. The process through which Christ was born, his nativity, is the cornerstone upon which our faith is based. In a single instant, his birth altered the course of human history.


An official crier or messenger Joseph was a carpenter from Nazareth, and despite being a descendant of King David, he was an ordinary man. One night, the angel of the Lord came to him and said that Mary, the woman he planned to marry, was pregnant with a child conceived through the Holy Spirit. Awestruck, Joseph listened to the angel’s message and followed the Lord’s instructions. He wed Mary, brought her with him to Bethlehem and raised her son, Jesus, as his own child. By doing so, Joseph unquestioningly obeyed the will of God. He could have easily disregarded the angel’s message and rejected Mary, but instead, he humbled himself and trusted in the Lord. Joseph played an important role in the foundation of Christianity. His faithfulness helped fulfill the prophecy of the Messiah, and his obedience helped lead to the redemption of mankind. Even though he didn’t know all that was at stake, Joseph chose to follow the Lord’s calling on his life. As a result, he served as Jesus Christ’s earthly father and played a part in the greatest story ever told. 36

DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine

“Hark, the herald angels sing!” The angels who announced Jesus’ birth were more than just heavenly hosts. They were divinely chosen messengers sent to broadcast the fulfillment of God’s long-awaited promise. The angels proclaimed the dawning of a new era and alerted mankind to the birth of the Messiah.

Immanuel God with us

In the first chapter of Matthew, the angel of the Lord comes to Joseph and says, “A virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.” Jesus’ birth signified a change in the relationship between God and man. After generations of animal sacrifices and spiritual isolation, the Lord sent His Son to establish a new bond with humanity. Jesus lived as God on Earth, and He remains with us through His sacrifice.

Cooking for life

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White Chicken Chili What You’ll Need:

2 onions 1 bell pepper 4-5 celery stalks 1 can cream of chicken soup 2 cans Great Northern beans (drained)

1 can chopped green chilis 2 cans Shoepeg corn (drained) 8 oz. sour cream 16 oz Velveeta (cut in chunks) 1 package McCormick White Chicken Chili seasoning packet

How to Make It:

Add everything into your broth in a chili pot or crock pot. Bring to a slow boil. Add Velveeta chunks. Last add sour cream. Let simmer a while. YUMMY STUFF! Serves 6

Do you have a favorite or “tried and true” recipe that you’d like to share? We would love to feature it right here! Send your recipe to Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine and it may be chosen for publication in an upcoming issue. Send it to Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017


Opportunities for LIFE


Calendar of Events

Do you have an event to share? To have your event included in our calendar, please email a brief summary of your ministry or service-related event to by the 10th of the previous month. Please include details (date/time/ location/information/etc.) so we can be sure it’s ready to print. Please send JANUARY submissions by DECEMBER 10. DECEMBER 1

CHRISTIAN YOUTH THEATER STUDENT AUDITIONS FOR “THE LITTLE MERMAID” Open to all enrolled CYT students ages 8-18. Times vary. Register for classes to be eligible and receive more information at


MEN’S UNITY BREAKFAST 8 a.m. Broadmoor United Methodist Church, 10230 Mollylea Drive. This Men’s Unity Breakfast will be a special recognition event honoring the ministries that have hosted the 2017 breakfasts. Men are asked to bring their wives or significant others. For more information or to RSVP, call (225) 305-3006. 11TH ANNUAL LOVE FEST 1:00 p.m., Ephesus Apostolic Church, 9531 Burbank Drive. Gift Donation Drive to benefit the children of the Gardere Initiative. Donate a gift for a child aged birth through high school. Gardere Initiative, 8435 Ned Avenue. For more information, call (225) 769-0305 or 4TH ANNUAL BROADMOOR CHRISTMAS PARADE 2 p.m., Spectators are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to a food pantry. DO NOT park on the parade route. For more information, email or call (225) 926-9829. Event is sponsored by Broadmoor Residents’ Association.

DECEMBER 2, 7, 11, 20

CASA INFORMATIONAL SESSIONS Find out how you can be a voice for an abused or neglected child while they await a safe and permanent home by attending an informational session at 848 Louisiana Ave. Please call CASA at 379-8598 or email to learn more. Upcoming December sessions include 12/2 at 10 a.m., 12/7 at 5 p.m., 12/11 at 3 p.m., 12/20 at 12 p.m.

DECEMBER 2, 9, 16

SATURDAY READING DISCUSSION GROUP 6:40-8:10 p.m., 1700 Lee Dr. Join us as we begin an exciting year of studying the Book of Romans. We are equally excited to announce our school program for our children and youth for grades 1 – 12.

DECEMBER 4, 11, 18

BIBLE STUDY FELLOWSHIP, BATON ROUGE EVENING WOMAN’S CLASS 6 a.m., Mission Cafe, 11795 Jefferson Hwy. For more information, call (225) 293-2820. PARKVIEW BAPTIST MEN’S STUDY: Book of Hebrews 6 a.m., Mission Cafe, 11795 Jefferson Hwy. For more information, call (225) 293-2820.

DECEMBER 6, 13, 20, 27

PARKVIEW BAPTIST MEN’S STUDY: Conquer Series 11 a.m., Student Center Café, 11795 Jefferson Hwy. Theme is “A Study on Purity.” For more information, call (225) 293-2820.

DECEMBER 7, 14, 21, 28

THURSDAY DISCIPLES’ TEACHING 7 p.m., Greater New Bethel Full Gospel Baptist Church, 110 S. 19th St. General Overseer Melvin L. Carter, Elder Patricia Carter and the Greater New Bethel Church family.


LUNCHTIME LECTURE SERIES Noon, West Baton Rouge Museum, 845 N. Jefferson Avenue, Port Allen. Join Gary Ethridge as he presents historical information on WWI in Air: America Joins the Fight! His presentation is being offered in conjunction with the commemoration of WWI and with the national traveling exhibits Over Here and Over There on loan from the National Archives. For information, call (225) 336-2422.


DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine


HEALING PLACE CHURCH SINGLES ALIVE CHRISTMAS PARTY 6-9 p.m., HPC Singles ALIVE, Healing Place Church, 19202 Highland Rd. 70810. For more information, see Facebook at “Healing Place Church - Singles ALIVE Singles Ministry” or email

DECEMBER 14, 15, 16

THE GIFT OF CHRISTMAS - CHRISTMAS PAGEANT 7 p.m., The Church International, 2037 Quail Dr. presents The Gift of Christmas. Come to experience an incredible production complete with multimedia, special effects, state-of-the-art, high-resolution video technology, LED lighting, cast and choir, a live nativity, and much more! FREE EVENT, for more information, email or call 225-769-6760.


CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD 2 p.m., Gardere Community Christian School, 8538 GSRI Avenue. Enjoy the music and talent of the GCCS students as they perform a Christmas miniproduction. For more information call (225) 387-5082 and check us out at


CHRISTMAS CAROLING IN GARDERE 6:00 p.m., Carolers meet at 5:30 to assemble and pray at the Gardere Initiative Office, 8435 Ned Avenue. For more information, contact Reginald Brown (225) 769-0305 or


OVER HERE & OVER THERE: AMERICANS AT HOME AND ABROAD IN WWI EXHIBIT West Baton Rouge Museum, 845 N. Jefferson Avenue, Port Allen. Exhibit captures the patriotic fervor of draft registration, the emotional goodbyes of men leaving for training camps, the “hoopla” of Liberty Loan drives, and the craze for volunteerism. For information, call (225) 336-2422.


THE PROMISE – HEBREWS 6:15 Sunday mornings, 8 a.m., Greater New Bethel Full Gospel Baptist Church, 110 S. 19th St. General Overseer Melvin L. Carter, Elder Patricia Carter and the Greater New Bethel church family. AS IT IS – LIVING IN THE VISION OF JESUS Sunday mornings, 10:30 a.m. River Community Church, 36367 Perkins Road. Fall series on the Lord’s Prayer presented by Rev. Nathan Edwards. For more information, visit


EARLY REGISTRATION for SPRING 2018 CLASS PERSPECTIVES ON THE WORLD CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT Classes on Sundays, 2-5 p.m., starting January 14 through April 22, 2018 at The Chapel on the Campus. Invest in your growth as a World Christian! Register now and save on tuition at For more information, contact Danny Kennison at (225) 287-1699.


SEEKING TUTORS FOR SPRING SEMESTER GARDERE INITIATIVE AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAM Community after-school tutoring program seeks willing participates to serve as reading skills tutors. Times are 3:30 to 6 p.m. for students K-Middle School. For more information or to sign up today, contact Reginald Brown (225) 769-0305 or




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Florida Boulevard Reiger Road (I-10 at Siegen Lane) Baton Rouge, LA

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine l DECEMBER 2017



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DECEMBER 2017 l Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine