Page 1

CHRIST IT UP Content July-September 2017

On The Cover 10| Make Summer Great Again A look back on how summers used to be and what we could do to get back there. 12| Nothing Happens Suddenly How things progress and you not even realize. 13| Summer Connections Are you letting exhaustion and laziness disrupt quality time with your children? 16| Cover Story Sonita Bell of Sonita’s Designs shares God, Business, & Relationships with CIU. 20| Summer in Nineveh Allowing yourself to be in a good place.

In Every Issue

*Vessel's Note *Prayer for Salvation *Couples In Christ *Coffee with Sister Doris *Bookworm *Words of the Lord

...The Rest 8| Sonita’s Top 5 Summer Picks Your must-haves for the summer. 13| Yet Alone, I Escaped to Tell It When dealing with adversity, deal with it head on. 21| A Family Fun Summer A list of amazing things to do as a family this summer. 24| God Is That You? Owner & Editor Darnica Gordon shares how going full-time with the magazine is the most terrifying thing she’s done.

2|CIU Summer 2017


Hello!! If you could see my face as I type this, you would know that I am truly excited about this issue (but don’t I say that about every issue?). I am excited for a number of reasons. 1. In just a few short weeks I will be officially doing Christ It Up full time!!!! (Woo Hoo!!!) Check out the article on page 24 that speaks about my transition. 2. I have a great writing team and I am grateful to have them. 3. SONITA BELL IS OUR COVER FEATURE FOR THIS ISSUE!!!! I love this woman, she is so awesome! Be sure to check out her amazing story on page 16.

Give your life to Christ


If you have read past issues of this magazine or if this is your first time, I am glad to introduce, The Sinner’s Prayer. Romans 10:9-11 (NIV) 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” To give your life to Christ, recite this aloud: Dear God, I come to you today as a sinner asking for forgivness. I believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that you are Lord. I believe that you died on the cross and rose on the third day with all power in your hand. And today I accept you as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus name, Amen!

To God be the Glory!


Mz. CIU @darnicagordon

3|CIU Summer 2017

OWNER & EDITOR Darnica Gordon PUBLISHER Christ It Up Publishing


• Kellie Hudson Staci Bose Lauren Webb Abriana Mitchell

Tiffiany Huff

Kimberly Fairley

CHRIST IT UP MAGAZINE 1323 Superior Ave Pittsburgh, Pa 15212|| 412-478-8892||||

4|CIU Summer 2017

5|CIU New Year Issue

OWNER & EDITOR Darnica Gordon PUBLISHER Christ It Up Publishing



Lisa Dorsett

Leria Felix

Lytia BrockSledge

James Anderson

CHRIST IT UP MAGAZINE 1323 Superior Ave Pittsburgh, Pa 15212|| 412-478-8892||||

6|CIU Summer 2017

7|CIU New Year Issue

Top 5 Summer Picks 1


1. Tan Arm Wrist Clutch 2. Chic Blush Jumpsuit 3. Wide Lens-Jackie O inspired Sunglasses 3

4. Swimsuit Body Chains

5. Topaz Strapless Ruffle Dress 5

8|CIU Summer 2017


9|CIU New Year Issue

Make Summer Great Again: Let’s Bring Back Our YOUTH By: Life Coach Lytia Congratulations! You endured the harsh winter, the unpredictable spring, and now it is time for my favorite season; SUMMER. What do you look forward to the most about Summer? My favorite thing about Summer are the memories you can create with the ones you love. This summer I will be encouraging my children to be just that, children. Make no mistake about it, some of the youth today have no idea what a good summer looks like. We can thank technology and our own reflections for that. I can remember running in the water from the fire hydrant, cooking out, playing jump rope or hop scotch in the streets. Childhood summer; when children truly knew to stay in a child’s place. I am not counting all children as disrespectful. I am merely stating observations. The youth are not the only ones at fault. They haven’t always had the greatest examples. If you do not like what you’re seeing in your children, go look in the mirror and see what is staring back at you. So many times, and again I am speaking for me personally, we focus on giving our children a better life than we had. We want to make sure they never want for anything, but just allowing them to enjoy simple living is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. I cannot tell you every toy or gift my parents gave me but I can tell you about the road trips. I can tell you about the family outings and trips to the drive-in. I can tell you about the memories in our station wagon or even meeting my dad on one of the buses he drove. How can we make summer GREAT again? I would say lead by example. If you do not have to be on your phone for an important phone call, don’t. Play before you post. Yes, by all means take picture to capture the memories, but post on social media later. These two steps alone will show your children or even loved ones that you are invested in the time that you are spending with them. Encourage outdoor play instead of leaving the children with the electric babysitter; the T.V. If you are not a parent you can still take time to enjoy the beautiful weather this summer has to offer by spending it with the ones you love . Here is a list of some summer fun activities: A trip to the water park. Go to a playground. Go swimming. Have a water Battle using water balloons. Host Backyard movie night. Plant a garden. Host or attend a barbecue. Take a trip to a local beach. Take a tour around the city. I started the summer list for you, can you think of a few things to add to the list? My Idea of Summer Fun _________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________

10|CIU Summer 2017

11|CIU New Year Issue

Nothing Happens Suddenly By: Tiffany T. Huff

Don't laugh. One day, not so long ago, I woke up to get dressed and suddenly I couldn't fit ANY of my pants. Seriously. I thought I was being pranked. I took the time to take every pair of pants out of the closet and try them on, again. Some wouldn't fasten and others, I suddenly couldn't even pull up past my thighs. I sat down, in a state of panic first, because I had some place to be later that morning, and second because I was shocked and devastated. I had suddenly woken up FAT! Then I laid down. Because, you know some news is easier to process when you are laying down on your bed, curled up under the blanket with your eyes closed. I laid there and thought about what I could have possibly eaten yesterday that has suddenly made me too big for my pants. I couldn't remember. What I did remember though is something my Pastor is infamous for saying: "Nothing happens all of a sudden”. Ugh. Have you been here before?

• Grab your journal and write down your thoughts and emotions • Get centered, forgive yourself, and let go of any negative energy This is also an opportunity to seek clarity and take intentional action to create a new normal for you. This is ultimately an opportunity for you to reconnect with your vision and purpose, with God’s vision and purpose for your life. You see, I had no desire to wallow in my pity panties (literally) about the truth that my lack of self care had caused a split (pun intended) between my favorite jeans and I. I did desire however to make selfcare a non-negotiable in my life, and I intended to create a new normal for myself by making my desire a priority IMMEDIATELY. This was my desire because I recognize that honoring myself, honoring my body, is an act of worship to God. Being intentional about worship was part of my desire to make aligning with my God’s vision for my life a priority. Ask yourself, what do you desire, what new normal do you need to create in your life TODAY to realign with God's vision for your life?

You know, in a situation where you find yourself wondering how something suddenly happened? You suddenly don't have enough money at the end of every month but your income Whether you split your pants, break up with a friend, or have hasn't decreased. Suddenly, you feel like you've outgrown a been overspending, be encouraged. Know that sometimes friendship, circle of friends, (or your pants). you will have to go through in order to grow forward to the next level of what God has in store for you. I hated to admit it that morning as I lay in my bed, but Pastor was right. Nothing happens all of a sudden. Don't allow this opportunity for growth to appear as an obstacle and distract you. Instead make declarations of truth, Sometimes growth, change, and weight gain happen right speak life and be accountable for what you know you are before your eyes. But because you are so consumed with what purposed to do. is going on around you, you're unaware until you suddenly need to make a change. I'll be honest, it has taken some humility and patience with myself to accept the challenge and consistently choose to In these moments when life catches up to us, and causes show up with my passion and purpose in tow. The truth is, us to refocus we are in fact presented with an awesome these experiences are all the stuff that lasting legacies are opportunity. This is the perfect opportunity to pause and built on. reflect: • Give yourself permission to feel how you feel in the Remember, your purpose and calling are bigger than you, even moment if you've gained some weight.

12|CIU Summer 2017


Summer CONNECTIONS By: Kimberly Fairley Summa, Summa, Summa time! Remember the old-school song by Will Smith? While the summer time can be full of fun activities, one thing I want to encourage parents in is the need to ensure that we don’t forget or slack on our children. Our children need us during the summer more than we realize. The summer time can be so hard on our kids and ourselves due to the structure we lose because of that gap in our schedules and then again, we can lose sight of a period of very important period of time due to the ease in our schedules, but even that ease can allows us to fall into a place of laziness for lack of better words. This past school year, my son has quite frankly displayed behaviors that have truly angered, frustrated, and embarrassed me. I spent much of his school year fighting behaviors and not getting to the root of his issues. My biggest issue, that I can whole heartedly admit to, was that as a single mother I did everything I could to survive. Everything that made me very tired and exhausted more than I needed to be. I can admit that I did not spend as much time with him as I needed to and when I did, there was very little compassion or patience involved. To say the least, the fourth grade has been a very hard and undesirable experience for all involved. So, the goal this summer is quality time. I know many, if not all, reading this will still have to work in order to maintain the bills and I truly get that. None of us have reached baller status just yet, but in the interest of ourselves, the lives we live before God, our children, and community, I encourage parents to go above and beyond this summer to ensure that we not only spend quality time with our kids, but to do all we can to help them stay sharp on skills they need to excel in school. Remember, as parents we are blessed with the gift of being able to shape the soul of a human being that will someday be on their own and go on to report to God Himself. Choose the steps you will take in this process wisely.

German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” This statement perfectly describes the life of a Christian. True, there is no better decision than accepting Jesus in your life, but with that decision will come adversity. The perception is that because we are Christians life should not and will not affect us. The White Elephant in the room is this; LIFE HAPPENS. We as believers are not immune to life's ups and downs. Adversity, as painful as it can be, builds character. The greatest witness of a believer is not when blessings and triumph come but our greatest witness is when adversity comes. When adversity arises, many times, we think that it is because we have done something wrong, but that is not the case. Bishop George Bloomer said this: "Accusations and criticisms are the final step before spiritual promotion. In other words, you can tell where you're going by what you're going through right now." One of my favorite Bible stories is the Story of Job. The message bible describes Job as, “honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion.” Job was minding his own business and the enemy decided to bring adversity his way. Job was a threat to the enemy. You will always be a threat to the enemy when you are walking in destiny and purpose. Why would God allow Job to suffer adversity? After all, he was an honest and upright man. The enemy affected everything that was significant to job which was his family and his fortune. In the midst of the adversity, a servant said these words to him: “I alone escaped to tell it.” In other words, he was really encouraging Job. In spite of the losses YOU ARE STILL HERE!!! Because you are serving God it makes you a candidate for adversity. Because you are sold out to God you are a target for adversity. In this Christian journey, we will always endure adversity. The true sign of your strength and character is how you handle it. In the midst of all of Job’s adversity he never turned his back on God. Instead the adversity he endured made him closer to God. Did you ever think that the adversity you are currently facing is simply a vehicle by which God wants to draw you closer to Him? Just think, there have been people that have endured the same adversity as you but they did have the strength to make it through. That same adversity God used to make you stronger is the same adversity that caused someone else to lose their mind. Next time adversity comes your way don't think of it as a curse, think of it as a badge of honor as a believer. Why? Because YOU ALONE ESCAPED TO TELL IT!

13|CIU Summer 2017

The One Year Anniversary Experience

Save the Date:Â 8.5.17 10 am For Sponsorship Information:

14|CIU New Year Issue

Couples in Christ As told by Darnica Gordon

8 Years and several storms Later From a wife’s perspective, I will invite you in to my life for just a second. I met my husband when I was 15 years old and very naïve. I couldn’t even begin to tell you all the things that we’ve been through (the majority my husband claims he doesn’t remember *insert eye roll*) since then. And I will let you in on a little secret, I am now 33 years old. I have been with this man for over half of my life. As I write this it sounds insane. This year we will celebrate 8 years married and 18 years together. In this time we’ve had children, fought (like legit fighting), argued, accused, and much more. If I could have told my younger self anything I would have told her to leave. The years of pain I endured cannot be erased only healed. The storms that we’ve been through has allowed me to draw closer to Christ and trust completely in Him. It was hard to endure at a time when I felt so alone. I constantly sot God. I was so desperate for an answer when all He wanted was for me to be still and wait. Oh, how hard it was. I was so determined to have an answer that I was missing out on what God was trying to show me. He was basically telling me that He had taught me everything I needed to know for this exact moment and I should be putting those skills into action. Skills shut as praying, encouraging, and holding fast to His Word. You can forget about these things when you are so hurt that you sink into depression and don’t even realize it. I am grateful that I continued to seek God during this time. It was one of the most difficult fights thus far. My husband and I are happy and excited to see where God will take us!

Would you like to share your “Couples in Christ” story? Send your submission to

15|CIU Summer 2017

Photographer Ahmad Sandidge


I first met Mrs. Bell at a conference that I was invited to speak at called the Go Big! Conference. I was incedibly excited (and nervous) to share my testimony. As I shared I noticed that Sonita (as well as other ladies) were able to relate to what I was speaking about. That allowed some of my nervousness to die down. Afterwards she gave a powerful testimony of her own. Once the conference had concluded she made it a point to come to me and share what she got from my portion of the conference and to encourage me and I admired that about her. Every since then we’ve become very supportive of eachothers’ ministies and she has been a great encourager along the way. I would have never thought that she would turn out to be an introvert or a control freak (which plays a part in why she is currently flying 16|CIU New Year Issue solo at Sonita’s Designs. Her words, not mine)! I am extremely excited to share her story with you!

The Path of A Fashion Queen Interviewed By: Darnica Gordon Christ It Up: How did your walk with Christ begin?

I felt, like did I really want to do this? I was going to school for Electrical Engineering and it literally bored me to death (laughs). I ended up switching to Business Management and still didn’t know what I wanted to do. So when I read that magazine article it was like, this is what I want to do.

Sonita Bell: Well, I was raised in church. I always believed in God, I just wasn’t serving him. My true transformation, and actual dedicating and surrendering my life to Christ was when I was 22. I was in college and in a horrible abusive relationship and I got out. From there the Lord just turned my entire life CIU: And how old were you at that time? around and I dedicated literally seven years of my life just in obedience, consecration, and that was it. After that seven SB: I had to have been 26 or 27. years, my husband came. My mind need to be renewed and I needed to be healed because if not I would have went around CIU: How easy or difficult was it for you to get started? hurting people because I was hurt. SB: It was rather easy, for me, because I went to school for CIU: When did you know fashion was something you wanted Business Management so I already knew the foundation of to do? how to start a business. I knew the steps to take to make sure I was okay legally. It wasn’t hard for me to start and I wasn’t SB: I knew when I was seven. I started sketching at seven. scared to start. When you don’t have fear, you just go. Once that happened I was picking out outfits for my sisters. My mom said when we would go to a store I would go off in a CIU: How do you balance your relationship with your husband different direction away from the norm, always to something and family with running your business? different. But I actually thought fashion was for people who weren’t smart. SB: My family and my husband comes first. Period. Before anything else. Because when everything goes away, I still CIU: Can you elaborate? want to have my foundation at home. My family is the most important thing in my life. My husband and I are sure to make SB: Because you have this vision in your head like yeah I’m time for each other. We compare our schedules to see when going to school for business and I’m going to do numbers one another is free and we say okay, what do you want to do. and I thought that people who did fashion were just slackers. And we do that once a month because he’s really busy with So I really didn’t want to go that route because I didn’t want work and I’m booked a lot of times every weekend so I have people to think or say well you’re not smart so you just ended to go to him and say, “Are we doing anything this weekend?” up in school for fashion instead of doing what God told me to And he may say that he has work as well. If there is anything do. taking away from my family or my health it has to stop; or slow down. CIU: In starting Sonita’s Designs what was the moment you knew you wanted to do it? CIU: How do you spend time with God? SB: One day, after one college night class, I was looking at an Essence magazine and came across an article about two African American young ladies who had started their own shoe boutique and I was like, “They started a shoe boutique? I’m going to start a boutique.” And from there I did my research on how to get my fictious name, how to get my business sales tax license, and from there I started. And I branded my name. CIU: What pushed you to take that first step? SB: Well, there were certain things going on in school that I didn’t like. There were a lot of politics. It’s like you’re going to college, receiving all of this education, and still not end up doing what you went to school for. And that’s kind of how

SB: Well, me and God have lots of conversations early morning, usually like 3 or 4 o’clock, and I write in my journal. So daily I write what I need to ask and I listen. I listen a lot to God. I know a lot of people like to give their requests to God and I’m not that person. I ask Him, “What do you want me to know today?” And once He tells me what I need to know I go out and do it and always ask for Him to go before me before I do whatever it is He’s calling me to do. I read my devotional, listen to God, and write in my journal. CIU: How has Christ shown Himself to you through the starting and running of your business? SB: He has showed me that He truly is Jehovah Jireh continue on pg. 31

17|CIU Summer 2017

18|CIU New Year Issue

Photographer - Ahmad Sandidge Model-Sharon McIntosh

Photographer - Ahmad Sandidge Model -Konica McIntosh

19|CIU New Year Issue

Summer in Nineveh I have always known--well maybe not always, but definitely

within the last few years--what God has called me to do. Yes, teaching definitely fits into my calling, and it’s something I do daily and have always done. Outside of that, I know I should be bringing the world praise & worship, leading praise & worship, and exhibiting a life that exists because of praise & worship; wherever He sends me, and whenever He calls me to do so. But I don’t. And for years, have adamantly refused to sing and worship in front of people (unless forced to or I’m singing behind someone else).

enough to be a great example.

But that’s not what any of this is about. Worship is a lifestyle, it’s healing and hope and joy. It revives people, heals people, and strengthens them. God is the perfect entity worship leads them back to--not me. You’re not there for me. I’m someone being used; and if I don’t get it together soon He will surely find someone else more willing and ready. He does not need me to sound amazing or perfect. Just be open, willing,and ready to be used. To seek Him always and try and be as pure as can be. And what’s more, He hasn’t left me to do it all by myself, or even sing on my own--He will do all that for and Singing is the first thing to go when I’m hip deep in raggedy, with me (and then some!). foolish consequences; which have naturally occurred after a foolish and raggedy decision made on my part. My heart and So this summer I am determined to head on out to Nineveh each time He calls me to. Not just because He has sent me desire for worship disappears and my mouth clamps shut. I render myself useless for God, simply due to my shame, anger, places and worship is needed there; but I too need this worship experience. If no one else is blessed or changed, I and fear while I go through something. seek to be! I have no idea what He’s placed inside, but I am going to find it and share it. I may not be fully confident in How can I get up in front of people and be real when I’m hiding mess up under this mask? How can I lead them, and be my abilities or my sound, but this I do know: “... that He who started a good work in you [ME]will carry it on to completion used by God when I feel so full from all of my mistakes? So, I run. I run away from what He has placed me here to do. I run, until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 HCSB, with added emphasis by me). If you’re looking for me this summer, I’ll be like He doesn’t go with me everywhere. I run, like I can truly vacationing, wrestling and, working in Nineveh--wherever that hide from the very call and gifts He’s equipped me with. And is! just like that, I’m right back in my own version of if I don’t know how this story goes… I found myself back in a place like this as January 1, 2017 came pouring in. I was lost, angry, scared of taking steps forward (just forward to nothing major), and aimlessly wandering around not being used at all. Refusing to be used, and way too afraid to be used. Then, I heard Him say: “What are my people missing out on, not being healed from, not being made aware of, not seeing the truth in simply because you don’t want to open up your mouth and sing? Who isn’t being saved, experiencing joy or peace because you won’t do as I’ve called you to do? (And not just do, but given me all I need to accomplish it as well.) I’m not running from Nineveh for the same reasons Jonah did. I don’t feel I’m good enough. I’ve been in church, heard enough worship music to know what people expect me to sound like; and I sound nothing like that. Most days it's a raspy mess. I don’t hoop and holler, or shout, or lead in a way that might remind you of Tasha Cobbs. It’s simple, clean, and often gets right to the point (a few of my favorite things…); not earth shattering, just worship. I wanted to get the perfect sound before I got in front of people. I don’t want to have to go out and lead all by myself without people with me. I couldn’t possibly be someone He wants to do this because I can’t seem to get myself perfect

20|CIU Summer 2017

A Family Fun Summer: Free and Low-Cost Activities to Enjoy With Your Kids This Summer In Kidsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA) By: Kellie Hudson Summer is almost here! Which also means school is almost over for the 2016-2017 school year, which also means our children will be home ALL DAY; EVERYDAY for the next 2 to 3 months. Me personally, I LOVE summer. In our home we probably get the best quality family time during the summer and I love it. Anyone that knows me knows that I love quality family fun in the sun. I love to get out with the kids and my husband or sister and over the years I have become great at finding free or low-cost things to do with them to keep them busy during their summer break (With a family of 7 free and low priced activities are definitely a blessing) and Pittsburgh is full of them! I'm going to share my findings so that you too can have a amazing summer full of fun and exploring: **PARK EXPLORING (free)** One of our favorite activities to do is visiting new parks. Pittsburgh has SO many amazingly fun parks with different themes and things to do. Some have hiking trails, duck pond, volley ball courts, basketball courts, baseball fields, river trails and more. Make some sandwiches and bring some drink and a bag of chips and Pack the kids in the car and go for a road trip around Pittsburgh then have a picnic in the park and let the kids explore the wonderful parks around Pittsburgh you won't regret it! Here's are some of our favorite parks to explore: The super park (highland park, Pa) Ross township community center park (Ross township, Pa) The blue slide park (Frick, Pa) Dusk park (Millvale, Pa) Squaw valley park (Fox chapel, Pa) Aspinwall river front park (Aspinwall, pa) You can also visit www.playpittsburgh. com For more info on park around Pittsburgh, Pa.

**The Water Steps** (free) The Water Steps are another one of our favorite activities in the summer time. It usually opens on or sometime after Memorial Day. You can also visit the pier overlooking the river and walk or ride your bike or skates on the river trail's while enjoying the beautiful view of downtown Pittsburgh. There are also lots of place to eat downtown which is just a short walk over the walking bridge or you can pack a lunch to enjoy on the grass area next to the steps. So, put on the kids bathing suits and cool off for this fun and FREE day of water fun! The water steps are located on the north shore just a short walk from PNC stadium. **The Point in Downtown Pittsburgh** (free) The point in downtown Pittsburgh is a big fountain that the kids will love! Located right in downtown Pittsburgh by the river. Across the street is a beautiful view of Heinz field home of the Pittsburgh Steeler. This is another great way to get the kids walking and riding their bikes on the riverfront walking trails. Also located in downtown Pittsburgh is plenty of restaurants and it also has great places to have picnics if you choose to bring your own food.

**Movies in the park** (free) Movie in the park is a free family event held at select parks throughout Pittsburgh. Starting at dusk around 8-9pm (it's usually best to get there early to get good seating on the grass areas). I also know that the borough that will live in (Etna, pa) does movie in the park too aside from the cities event and they also give out free popcorn and drink to the kids! Bring a few blankets and/or lawn chairs and enjoy a beautiful evening with the kids. For more information on movies in the park visit: citiparks/cinema-in-park Or your local borough or township park to see if they have any events in your area. **The Revoing Art Cart** (free) The Revoing Art Cart goes around to select parks on select dates and has a bunch of free fun art activities for your children to enjoy and create! For more information on the revoing art cart visit: roving-art-cart

**Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium family membership** ($115 for family membership 2 adults and all children under 18yrs) The Pittsburgh Zoo is a wonderful place **Spray parks** (free) to enjoy the summer and family time Spray parks are located all around the while checking out all the animals and city of Pittsburgh and outlining areas. getting exercise. My kids love the zoo They are pads with a bunch of different and for $115 you get a membership and fun sprinkler systems for the kids for the WHOLE year! Which give you to run and get wet while beating the discounts on the souvenir shop, the heat on the hot summer days. They also food courts and special events! Some have the free summer lunch programs at specials events are also included with the select locations during the week or bring membership for free such as member your own food as there is always tables night and Zooboo (not till fall time). This and grass areas at most. year they are also bring dinosaurs to the For more information on spray parks zoo as a new interactive exhibit that you around Pittsburgh visit: pittsburghpa. can add to your membership for $35 for gov/citiparks/spray-parks the whole family with unlimited visits! For more information on Pittsburgh Zoo

21|CIU Summer 2017

22|CIU Summer 2017

Words of the Lord

Obedience over Sacrifice By: Darnica Gordon

1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT) But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. A group of women and I were discussing the above scripture and it applied very heavily to my current situation. As you may read on page to come I have been called to do Christ It Up full-time. It has always been my plan but I allowed life to get in the way, but God has called for me to move now. When I read the above scripture I couldn’t help but think if I was putting mysefl in a prediciment where I would later have to offer apologies for not listening to God the first time. I don’t want that to be the case. I would rather do what He says, the way He said it. I have been letting fear get in the way, but I also believe that it isn’t quite time yet. No matter how scary, or crazy, or outrageous the assignment may seem, don’t let fear keep you from doing what God has called you to do. There may even be people who will speak negatively directly to the assignment God has set before you and you can’t let that sway you, no mater who it’s coming from. Rather it be your mother, brother, cousin, or even your spouse. Keep the faith and keep walking in Christ! Remember, it is better to be obedient than to sacrifice.

23|CIU Summer 2017

God is That You? By: Darnica Gordon At the start of this year I had intentions on making this my last year working for my Mother’s amazing company, Love Respect and Care. I originally started out as just helping her get her business off the ground but unforeseen circumstance forced me to take on the position of being the Executive Chief full-time. I knew I had over stayed my welcome. I gave myself until the last day of this year to push CIU as hard as I could to generate enough income to feed my family. I have, and would continue to do Christ It Up even if I weren’t receiving a penny. But I know that God called me to do this and to do it for a living.

time?” “What are you going to do if there’s no income?” “You are barely getting by now, how are going to survive on nothing?” I mean this is the most terrifying thing that I’ve experienced. More terrifying than Go Ape (great adventure, look it up), driving (I used to have really bad anxiety), even more terrifying than childbirth. I mean heart pounding terror! Please pray for me as I literally step out on faith.

As of the release of this issue I am still working at LRC but God is getting this in order at LRC and in my life for departure from At the beginning of each year my church, The Lighthouse, one business and to me stepping out on faith for another. I comes together a fast. During this time of fasting God began cannot express how extremely terrified I am of this mission to speak to me to let me know that we were switching from that God has set before me but I’m 100% it is His idea and in my plan to His. That I would only be at Love Respect and Care knowing that I am confident. Confident that as long as He is until between April and June. My heart began to pound in my leading the way I will be just fine. I have my days when it is as chest (as it is now as I’m typing this). I was so nervous about if nothing makes sense. Nonetheless, please keep me in prayer the date being pushed up. Was I ready? How would my family because this is an adventure that I want to partake in. And see me? The first thing I had to do was tell my husband. I hopefully by the next issue I will have some great news for was extremely nervous about this because I didn’t want to you! And as my husband church B. says, “With a lil bit of faith place the burden back on him of having to fend for the entire we gon make something shake!” household. I went through that in 2015 and 2016 and it was not pretty nor easy and I didn’t want to put him through that again. I let him know what God had shared with me and he basically was like cool. The next person I need to tell was my mom/boss. Now this weighed on me heavily. In the past, I would mention ever now and again that once CIU took off I would be leaving the company. And I guess since she seen that that wasn’t happening that I wasn’t going anywhere. Weeks had passed before I mustard up the courage to tell her. We were out at dinner and I told her I had to tell her something. It only took her two guesses (if you know my mom you know that once I said, “I have something to tell you”, she automatically began to attempt to figure out what is was) to figure out what I was going to say. She had very few questions and continued on with the evening as if I had sprung this huge transition on her. Well that was easy, I thought. But the real obstacle lie within myself. As I began to get excited about doing something that I loved full-time, the negative thoughts began to creep in. “Are you sure this is what God said?” “What if he only wants you to do CIU part-time and LRC part-

24|CIU Summer 2017

25|CIU New Year Issue

Coffee with Sister Doris

Dear Sister Doris, I live in Pittsburgh. I have 2 children. I am a divorced mom. I do not receive child support because he asked me not to file. But he doesn’t help me like he promised that he would. I work and have a little money saved, but I really don’t have a lot of extra money. I do not have a car because I can't afford one, but I have a license. I am also a Christian. I pay my tithes and live pretty much according to the Bible (no one's perfect, right). I am saying all of this because summer time is coming. I see people on social media posting pictures of them and their children having a great time going to amusement parks and on vacation, but me and my children never go anywhere. Summer always comes and my kids need new clothes and shoes and I cannot afford to buy matching outfits so they never look cute. I don’t know how to fix this issue. Can you help me? Signed, Poor, bored family Hello family, Let me get you a cup of coffee. We can sit on the back porch and enjoy the view while we chat.

a size bigger, store them in the bins, and put the bins in the closet. Ask friends and family for their clothes that are too small. Don't be too proud to ask. Proberbs 31:21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, Finances: for all her household are clothed in scarlet. I want to address your job before we get to anything else. I know that we are talking about summer and not winter, but What is going on with your employment situation? Are you when I was thinking about your question I thought of this earning enough to cover your basic bills and save at least 20% verse. You are a Christian woman. You don’t have to fear any of your income? If not, you may need to update your resume season. You just need to pray for wisdom. and look for new employment that can meet your family's James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, needs. Have you looked at your monthly budget and see who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be where you can cut things out that you don't need. Sometimes given to you our money is limited because we are not being good stewards. Also why doesn’t the father pay child support? There is no Things to do: shame in filing for child support. They are his children, not just has a list of free and almost free yours. You did not make them on your own and you should things to do in Pittsburgh. not bear the financial responsibility on your own. According to 1 Timothy 5:8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, FareInformation.aspx , if you know that you and your children and especially for their own household, has denied the faith will be out all day on Saturday, you can go to a Port Authority and is worse than an unbeliever. kiosk and get a day pass for 7.00 on Friday. Assuming you have a bus pass, you and your children can be out all day for only Clothing: $14.00. I understand wanting your children to look cute. Once Upon OR you can get your children the new Kids Reduced Fare a Child is located in Robinson, West Mifflin, and North Hills ConnectCard is for children ages 6-11 and enables them to and specializes in children's clothing. The bus stops at these ride the bus, T or Mon Incline for half fare ($1.25). The card shops. Sometimes they have 90% off days and you can get a may be loaded with: Stored cash value (up to $200), A 10-Trip lot of nice clothes and shoes. Ask friends where they shop. Pass ($12.50), A Weekly $12.50 or Monthly $48.75 Pass. You may get great ideas. If you want name brand tennis shoes, If you choose the stored cash option, kids will: Not pay the go to the mall and look at every clearance in each shoe store. additional cash surcharge and they CAN purchase a transfer I am sure that you will find bargains. Buy plastic bins with the for half price ($.50.). If you pay for the weekly or monthly bus lids. At the end of each season, buy the cheap clearance items pass, they do not need a transfer.

26|CIU Summer 2017

Applications will be accepted in person at Port Authority's Downtown Service Center located at 534 Smithfield Street or online. The application must be completed by the child's parent or guardian and must be accompanied by valid proof of age. Acceptable proof-of-age documents include: Birth Certificate or Baptismal Certificate. The card will expire on the child's 12th birthday. At that time, the expired Kid Card can be exchanged for a full fare ConnectCard with any remaining stored value transferred. For more information, call 412-442-2000. Psalms 121:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. God made Heaven and earth. He will make a way for you to afford transportation for you and your children during the summer months. Pray and ask God for direction. Future planning: You said that you work, so I am going to guess that you receive a tax return. When you receive your return, pay bills, save some money, and plan a trip for you and your children. You can plan a trip on Mega Bus starting at $10.00 one way. You can find flights online that are inexpensive (make sure you double check the cost of luggage). You may have to take 1 large suitcase for you, one large suitcase for your children, and you each carry a back pack or carryon bag. Don't forget to talk to a travel agent and see what they can put together for your budgeted amount. But remember to pray and ask God what to do. He will direct you. Proverbs 16:9 NLT We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Your question sounds like the question of a person who does not know the promises of God. I hope this verse brings joy to your spirit. Malachi 3:10-12 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty. If you need help with any part of this plan, I am always here for you. I hope that our talk helped. Remember that Sister Doris is always praying for you.

27|CIU New Year Issue

Book Worm By: Darnica Gordon Hello Readers! As I had mentioned in the New Year Issue, I was set out to read the books I listed in that issue. Sad to say my reading journey hasn’t been going as planned. I did get a chance to read an awesome book by Kim Cash Tate as well as Kimberly Fairley’s book that is due to be released August 18th of this year. Both books are amazing in there own right. Enjoy the summaries below. Both are great summer reads!

An Encounter with Grace By: Kimberly Fairley I had the honor of not only reading this book but also publishing it (book will be available 8/18/17). Kimberly takes us on a journey of how no one is exempt from temptation and no one is exempt from grace either. Be sure to get your copy when it becomes available.

Though I Stumble By: Kim Cash Tate If you’ve read this magazine ever, you know by now ( and are probably sick of me talking about it) that Kim Cash Tate is my favorite author and has done it again with this tale of 4 women all fighting their own battles. In the end God gets the glory. This is a great read! 29|CIU Summer 2017

memberships visit: www.pittsburghzoo. org/Membership/BuyMemberships **City/Borough/Township pool memberships** (price depends on your location) Pool membership are definitely worth your money! An usually are a small fee for the unlimited access you throughout the summer and if your kids are anything like mine they love swimming! Plus it's great exercise for moms, dads, and our little ones! This is one of our go to activities during the summer! For more information on city pool memberships and fees visit: Or visit your local borough or township for their membership information. **Free events downtown or at station square** (free) Downtown Pittsburgh and Station square are always having free event yearly for family fun such as the Children's Festival, Picklesburgh, the art festival, family fun fest and more! For more information on these event visit: events/?n=5&d=20&y=2017

Or StationSquare/ **Moraine State Park** (free) I love Moraine state park! Probably more than the kids and definitely more than my husband. I just love any type of a beach environment. Moraine state park is a manmade beach located on a lake about 45 minutes from Pittsburgh! Free parking plus free beach equal lots of free family fun! Make sure you pack food and snacks for the day because this is definitely an all-day quality family fun day! Plus, the added beautiful scenery is worth the drive. For more information on Moraine State park visit: ParkDetail?ICSORG=6210 **Erie Lake, Pa** (free) Erie is another beautiful man-made beach sitting on a beautiful lake with lots of beautiful scenery! We've only been here once and it was lots of fun! Definitely will be visiting again this year for the day! Erie's beach is probably the closest you will get to a real beach within a 2-hour drive of Pittsburgh. You'll love it and so will the kids. This is definitely

a full day trip so pack lots of goodies to enjoy while having a day of swimming! For more information on Erie lake visit: **Idlewild Park** car load days ($120 for a car load up to 8 people) Load up the family in the car and get to Idlewild for this great deal esp. if you have a big family! You get up to 8 people for only $120! This is a great price and Idlewild is a great family theme park! Great for kids of all ages! For more information on Idlewild Giant eagle car load days visit: I hope this article will increase the fun and quality time you have with your family this summer! Remember that family is the most precious gift that God has blessed you with in this life. Family time will help you grow as a family and memories and experiences are the best lesson we can give our children as they grow into adults and becomes parents their selves. Enjoy your summer and your family all!!

Continued from pg. 17

my provider. I thought that because of the skill set and organization that I had that I was running the business but He has let me know it is Him running the business. He also showed me that He’s a healer. Through me speaking to woman, I can literally transform a life. I can help women feel better about themselves. Women who have been abused come to my table [at events] and say they don’t feel good about themselves because their spouse beat them up or put them down and me just saying, “Oh you look pretty today”, makes their day. And then I can enhance their look with my product. Christ has shown me through this business I can at least help ease the pain for some people and I appreciate that. For me it’s not about having my name mentioned. I like to be in the background, but if I can affect someone’s life and make them feel beautiful-because I know how that feels to be in an abusive relationship and somebody putting you down and you thinking you can’t do anything, and God heals that.

for it would you still be dedicated, would you still say I’m putting out this product, would you still say I’m putting out my best product? And then you have to love your customers. If you don’t like or love your customers, that’s a problem. I love the people who come to my table when I vend, I love the people I talk to on the phone. In regard to a woman in an abusive relationship, I’ve read nowhere in my bible that I had to put up with people talking to me abusively, hitting me, abusing me emotionally, or even spiritually. Some men say that they are saved and use the Word to manipulate and hurt. Women, don’t second guess what God is telling you to do. If He’s telling you to leave, leave and find a strategic plan, find someone to help you if you can’t do it yourself. Call a shelter, call someone and say I need to leave. I remember talking to a woman who was hit one time and her spouse went to work and she moved all her things out that day and never went back. Don’t hesitate!

CIU: (In awe) Since you spoke about being in an abusive relationship, how did you get out?

CIU: Tell us how your new fragrance line came about?

CIU: What advice do you have for a young woman starting a business and one that may be being abused?

CIU: How can we find you on Social Media?

SB: I’m so excited about my fragrance line! I created every SB: I was in it for a short time, some people may think it was smell, I smelled everything. I did my research and found a long, but it was 2 years of my life and I was 19 and 20. One day small business that created their own fragrances and they I was at my mom’s house and I told her, I don’t want to live like were willing to work with me. I literally came up with this this. I don’t want to be in this type of relationship, and God fragrance. It is so fresh, it’s so clean, it is amazing! The base heard that. So, He literally allowed things to happen in the scent are lilies, but the overlay is honeydew and pear. I also relationship where it was destroyed; completely destroyed. have a men’s fragrance and it’s very soft. It doesn’t have that The person ended up saying that they had to leave and I was woodsy scent, and it also comes with lotion. like okay, this is my out. I didn’t have enough strength to leave but that gave me the gusto when the person said it was time CIU: What can we look forward to from Sonita’s Designs? to go. And I have no idea why the person said that because that wasn’t even his personality, but that was it. That was my SB: (laughs) I’m so engulfed in my fragrance line that I haven’t out. Ladies you can’t look back. You can’t go back! even thought about what’s next for me. Recently, although I’m an introvert, I’ve been asked to speak a lot. So I’m looking CIU: Whew! God is good. So, being a designer yourself, do you forward to speaking to other women, entrepreneurs, I travel have any favorites? a lot now due to the styling aspect of my business which I’m looking forward to doing more of. Long-term there will be SB: Yes (smiles really hard), I have several. Alexander more product coming out. McQueen is my favorite of all time! His vision of clothing is far beyond…. It was futuristic, it was couture. Then there’s Iris van CIU: What is a typical day like for you at Sonita’s Designs? Herpen. She uses varied materials in her designs and makes beautiful clothing. And actually, Alexander McQueen was her SB: I’m at up 4:00 am checking emails. People email me over mentor. She used to work for him and I didn’t even know that night, they purchase overnight, so I’m checking to see how when I came across her work. many orders I have. After answering all my emails, I head over to my office, that’s usually around 9:00 am. Once there CIU: When things get tough what is your go to method? I usually do my inventory because I have shipments coming in. I do the pricing, update the website, put out any discounts SB: I usually take to myself. Like take a step back to get a or sales for that day. I also meet with individuals who have breather, because I don’t want to damage someone else in my booked me to style them for events or a night out with situation. So, if I’m talking I don’t want to be abrasive because their husband. After that I’m at the Post Office sending out I have this on my mind. I call and ask for prayer because packages and that usually wraps up my day. Every day is a full sometimes you can’t pray or you don’t want to pray. day and no day is the same.

SB: @sonitasdesigns on Social Media and www. SB: For you women starting a business, this may sound cliché, but you must love what you do. If you weren’t getting a penny

31|CIU Summer 2017


Love Respect AND Care YOU DESERVE!

WHERE YOU’RE TREATED LIKE FAMILY Love Respect and Care provides home care

Call 412-362-0657

service 24 hours a day/7 days a week. We provide such services as: Meal Preperation Companionship Errands Lighthouse Keeping Bathing/Grooming

Seeking Employment? Visit to complete an application today!!

Profile for Christ It Up Magazine

Christ It Up Magazine Summer 2017 Issue  

We took with the Queen. Sonita is a steller stylist in the Pittsburgh, Pa area. We enjoyed a look into the life of Sonita Designs.

Christ It Up Magazine Summer 2017 Issue  

We took with the Queen. Sonita is a steller stylist in the Pittsburgh, Pa area. We enjoyed a look into the life of Sonita Designs.