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Christ It Up Darnica Gordon

Two of me. One lady’s amazing testimony

Not married? Then your single!

Spring 2013

Wife, Mother, Woman of God.

How she juggles all this and runs her own business.

Contents Two of me! A beautiful young lady’s testimony. Pg. 7

Styled and Photographed by: Herself Check out her daycare on Facebook @ Angel Academy

Not married? Then your single! Pg. 10

Meet a woman with many hats. Lateshya! Pg. 9

Meet a couple who are so awesome. Mike and Angel Pg. 6

Vessel’s Note Hey now!! Ahh, I just want to say how awesome God is, truly. When I started writing these last two issues my family was faced with a challenge. My husband’s health was at risk. He had to undergo a minor heart operation which caused him to be on a short leave from work. We were struggling terribly financially. But I say Glory to God. He truly showed Himself to us. I know that all things work out for the good of those who believe in Him. Trust in God today! To God be the Glory! ~Darnica Gordon

1126 Church Ave Mckees Rocks, Pa 15136 412~354~9423

His Banner Over Me Leria Felix

In his arms are grace and mercy In his bosom, I find peace In his heart, compassion He is holiness and righteousness His eyes hold wisdom and sees to my very end His arms are protection and at his throne are pleasures for ever more Even his back is full of glory His lips speaks words of life His mind, unsearchable His strength bears the weight of this world His ears hear my every prayer His breath is my spirit His faith is faithful His promises are yea and amen His words are a lamp to my feet and a light to my path His thoughts of me is of peace and an expected end His love is an everlasting love And his banner over me is love.

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Couples in Christ Mike and Angel Allen

Mike and Angel Allen are members at my church, Lighthouse Cathedral, and are an awesome couple, as well as man and woman of God. They are very active in the church and very fun to be around. I asked them if they would bless us with their testimony in this issue’s “Couples in Christ” section, they said yes! is definitely a gym rat!! I love that being healthy is his new hobby, but sometimes too many hours in the gym can take away from our quality time. So if he doesn’t put in any time, he gets no cake. Also if he ignores me, and has a wandering eye, that will tick me off. (Lol, just being real, but he has changed that a lot since we have been married.)

and I didn’t even know. I had been caught up in so much of the street life that I thought I was having the time of my life. I just knew being somewhat on a level of what they call hood rich was the good life. But I had no clue I was knocking on hell’s door. I had been to church sang along, clapped, took notes, fellowshipped, but the entire time the only thing I was thinking How long have you been together? about was how that blunt was going Michael and I met when I was in high What is something your spouse can to taste when I got up out of there. I school back in 1997, while I was on my do to make you smile no matter how thought church was a tradition where way home from school. He and a friend you feel? people got together every Sunday to were in a gasoline station. So we have When he smiles at me, cook for me, pray, scream, cry and act a fool. I never been off & on for about 14 years and sing for me, tickle me, work hard, or took it serious. I would roll a blunt in married for 1 year and 9 months. dance for me, there are so many the parking lot of my church or have things he can do to make me smile. I one waiting for me when I got home. How has it been? can’t leave out provide for his family My first encounter of being in GOD’S We have our ups and downs but it has that always makes me smile. presence was sometime after I got been a journey I wouldn’t change it shot. Someone began to pray for me for the world. I had to learn how to What was the worst part of your & release demons out of me that I had be a wife & he had to learn how to relationship? no clue were living inside of me. That be husband. Our hardest test were to Being in the streets was the worst part was the scariest, realist thing I have get pass the struggle, materialistic of our relationship. We didn’t show ever experienced. It was a feeling that life, partying, street life, and to stop each other any love or respect. He is really indescribable. It kind of felt pointing the finger. We are still a was a hustler, I was a hustler, and all like my breath was taken away, kind work in progress, but most of all we we cared about was money and things of like I was throwing up my past life love each other and communicate no that money could buy. We were great and breathing in new air. But when matter how we feel about each other providers, but horrible parents. Also He spoke to me through someone else, at that particular time. My goal is be a when he had to do jail time and leave and I begin to pray and talk to him for proverbs 31 woman… us for a long period of time. That’s myself it all begin to come together. when our life hit rock bottom, but now I begin to read more and ask more What do you love about your spouse? I know it was all part of God’s plan. I questions. I wanted to know more I love how he treats me like a queen, don’t think I would have ever sought of Him. Being in the world I don’t how he provides for his family. He is God’s face being in the world. There is think I would have ever experienced a wonderful father, how he serves the so much more, but I don’t know where Him the way I did, or if I would have Lord. He is my best friend again, and to begin. encountered Him I probably would was willing to take the steps to make have ignored it. He saved me and I am our love last forever. He makes me Could you elaborate? so thankful He did. This walk is rough laugh, even when I am in the worst When I was out in the world all that and challenging. I just have to take it mood. mattered to me was my son, money, one prayer at a time. You have to walk cars, clothes, smoking weed, clubbing. your walk whole heartedly or else it all What ticks you off? I had no care in the world for doing is for nothing. Mike makes me mad when he spends what was right. I was very disrespectful way too much time in the gym. He and my life was headed for destruction

Continue on pg. 15

Two of me!

My name is Ikeya and this is just a glimpse of my story…I was born of a young unmarried couple; 17 year old female and 23 year old male. Just a few years after my birth, my dad left town and I hadn’t seen him since. So I grew up thinking I just didn’t have a dad. As a child I was known to be “mean”, I often had the “mean-mug” look on my face and I never really had a reason, it was just in me. My nana would always tell me “your face is gonna get stuck like that, it takes more energy to look mean than it does to smile”. I grew up (was raised) in the “hood”, with a “tough” street mentality. As I got older things grew worst, especially when I started hanging around older people. I was exposed to so much around 10 through 12 years old. And by 12, I was smoking marijuana and sneaking out to go to clubs. When I got to high school I got in so much trouble for my disruptive and disrespectful behavior. Miraculously, I passed to the 10th grade but that’s when my life went downhill. During my 10th grade year I started dating this guy who was known to sleep around with everybody and their mom! (and that’s an understatement) But that’s what was popular and “cool” so it was cool with me. I started skipping school to go to his house or to “the block” with him, which was where he hustled (sold drugs)at. I was so in LUST (not love) with this boy I eventually lost my virginity to him. Afterwards I got into so much drama with other girls because our known relationship/relations. I got into fights, which resulted in suspensions, court, and community service. My school attendance was very poor because of those reasons. My mom was so fed up with my behavior that she had kicked me out of the house many times. Also, on many occasions we would argue and fist fight

A testimony by Ikeya Norris

like two enemies on the street. At one point I was sent to a placement to live and finish the school year. When I got to placement I felt like I had nobody, not even my parents and I started to feel like it was me against the world. When I came back home I was so angry with my mom, I felt like she didn’t protect me. And that’s when I lost all care for myself or anyone else. Things didn’t get any better at home and now it was summer. I had all the free time to do bad. I started staying with my aunt because my mom and I just couldn’t get along and were still fighting like cats and dogs. My cousin and I would leave out and be gone all day long. We would go to the “trap” and sit around smoking with all the local drug dealers and rappers. We’d go home at night but then leave out early in the morning, around 2:00 am. We were usually going back to the trap or with our boyfriends. To us that was fun, we got a thrill out of it. By the end of the summer, at the start of what should’ve been my 11th grade year I was pregnant. Yet, I was still doing the same things. Again my mom had put me out of the house but this time she was also moving to Penn Hills. At the time I was staying over my best friend’s grandma’s house, not going to school. This went on for about a week or two. Finally, I was afraid because I didn’t know what to do. I was 15, pregnant, and homeless. I returned home just before my mom was moving. I didn’t tell my mom that I was pregnant so she had no idea. When we moved, I had a negative attitude about being far away from my familiar surroundings. When I started Penn Hills high school I had to repeat the 10th grade because I had failed. Now I was the new, flunky,

pregnant girl with a huge attitude problem. I didn’t care about making friends because I was used to being the enemy. But distance or a new school wasn’t going to change me. I still found my way back to the gutter. I was back hanging in the projects, trap, and clubs just like before, only difference was now I was pregnant and showing. I kept on living that way up until I was about 8 months and couldn’t get around easily. After I gave birth to my son at 16, I felt differently about life. I knew that I had to change but I still wasn’t sure how to. I did start doing better in school but my night life and past lifestyle still remained. I even was taking my son into those places where I used to be. At age 17, I began to go to church with my mom, by choice. I can remember hearing the message, even reading scripture but not understanding it. I began to doubt if God was even real. It wasn’t until a series of events happened in my life that I began to realize I needed something more. It was the year of 2008, when I was 18, that I experienced a series of death in my family. I felt like the world was closing in and I had nowhere to turn. I even lost some friends to gun violence. My mind couldn’t understand how someone my age could die. But I finally realized that it could be me if I didn’t change for the better. Finally, in 2009 after the eulogy of my 19 year old cousin, I responded to an alter call. At that moment I knew God for myself. He became real to me. Soon after, I began to attend Mount Ararat Baptist Church faithfully.

Continue on pg. 15

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“ I love spending time with God before dawn, it is at this time when my spirit is most sensitive. I read, pray, sing, worship with Him most at this time.”

Lateshya Ellis

Even though Lateshya, Mickey as we call her, is apart of my family (her husband and my husband are cousins) I have always been intrigued by the fact that she was a mother, wife, woman of God, and ran her own business. I wanted her not to only share her story with me, but with all of us. Christ It Up: Being a business woman, how do you balance being a wife, mother, employer and woman of God? Lateshya Ellis: Balancing life actually comes easy for me, because my family is my first and most important ministry and obligation. They are my top priority. This doesn’t mean that we don’t make adjustments. I am not at every school function or hospital visit. I try to but this isn’t always the case. My family knows they come first but they also know that I have obligations outside of the home. CIU: What are some things you do for family time? LE: For family time it varies. There are times when we will do family night, which consists of no cell phones or electronic devices and we will watch movies. We also read together, study the word together. We also love to cook together. CIU: How old are your children? LE: I had two girls prior to getting married and they are now 10 and 18. My husband had 3 and they are now 24, 22 and 21. CIU: What are some things you do to keep married life exciting? LE: To keep married life exciting, I try new things, new meals, new lingerie, and new tricks. CIU: What are some ways you spend time with God? LE: I love spending time with God before dawn, it is at this time when my spirit is most sensitive. I read, pray, sing, worship with Him most at this time. Photographed by Kevin Deen

CIU: Did you always have a goal to own your own business or was it something that God handed you? LE: I always wanted to own my own business, my husband was my investor. God used my husband as a conduit to get me started. CIU: You own a daycare called “Angels Academy”. How long have you been in business? LE: I have been in business for 6 years. CIU: How did you get started? LE: I got started by taking care of business for my husband and one of his clients had a space for rent and we inquired about it and the rest is history... lol! CIU: Your husband also has a business “Auto’s Landscaping”, did he influence you or vice versa? Or was it something that you guys ventured into together? LE: My husband was and still is my greatest influence. CIU: What are some things people wouldn’t know about starting a business and how to keeping it going? LE: Starting a business takes sacrifice and discipline. If you aren’t strong in those areas then being in business may not be for you. CIU: You also ran “Friendly Grounds Cafe” do you mind be asking what happened to that? LE: Friendly Grounds closed its doors because we could not put the time into it that it demanded. CIU: Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us! By Darnica Gordon

If you’re not married , then you’re single . Akita Donald’s testimony

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:21-24 After four years in my relationship and two children later, I desire marriage. I have been fully committed, offering limitless love and support, all without the official title: WIFE. Like many, I once minimized marriage, and viewed it as a long term commitment that appeared to be so final (similar to death)! All honesty, there’s still a bit of apprehension when I envision myself married; however, obviously not enough to deter me from reciting and honoring vows. I’ve come to the realization that my once distorted perception of marriage was based off of the trials, tribulations and bitter ends of marriage, of those closest to me (parents, grandparents and friends). It was not until I began my journey with the Lord, familiarizing myself with His word, did I learn the sacredness of marriage. Well by that time, I had three children out of wedlock, by two men. My youngest children’s father is the man that I believe the Lord Himself handpicked for me. I love this man with all my being. But I love the Lord far greater. In one ram I’m this loving girlfriend, yet in the other, I’m guilty of sexual immortality. This is the spiritual warfare that I am battling at this very moment. Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30. On February 22, 2009, I was saved. I took that commitment seriously, but I was a backslider. Although

I faithfully attended intercessory prayer, dedicated to praying and empowering others through my testimonies, I remained “worldly.” I met a guy that displayed husband worthy characteristics. I prayed that anyone that was not in my life for the greater good would vanish. One by one, friends and family did just that. But not this man, he stayed. Amongst other things, his presence served as my confirmation that he was the individual God choose for me. No need to go into further specifics, because it’s the typical girl meet guy, girl and guy fall in love, girl and guy get married, have children and live happily everafter story, right? Ummm, no! It didn’t quite happen that way…girl, with a super amazing four year old son and guy met, girl and guy fell in love, girl, her four year old son and guy moved in together, and girl and guy procreated. Surely, we missed some steps. By the grace and mercy of God, I’ve rekindled my long lost love-Christ. I set aside my shame and guilt of falling short of His glory and having my precious babies conceived through sin. I’m diligently seeking Him…we know what happens when we diligently seek the Lord, right? We find Him! The more I learn who I am in Him and who He is in me, the more difficult “worldly” behaviors and characteristics become. At what part did I decide that “playing house” was unacceptable? Or how I concluded that fornicating was affecting my walk with God? So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not led by the law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debaucher: idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness,

orgies, and the like: I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom. Galatians 5:16-21 On April 6, 2012, I went to the chiropractor. I was completing paperwork when I came to four boxes, asking, “Are you single, married, widowed, or divorced?” As I put the pen to the paper to check married, I stopped abruptly. “Whoa, sister, what are you doing? You aren’t married.” So instead, I checked single. Not only was my back aching, my mind started racing. A few days later, I went to print out my 2010 tax return and in bold letters, the first thing I see is “Single.” Talk about the Lord’s doings! I instantly thought about my friend, months ago, trying to convince me to go to a single Christian women’s group. My response was, “Girl, I’m not single.” She said, “And you’re not married.” Swole face! So I went. (Ha-Ha) Okay, so I say to the Lord, “Chill out…I get the message.” But as you may know, God is adamant and consistent. I soon came across 1 Corinthians 6:12 (Sexual Immorality). God tell us to honor our bodies and flee from sexual immortality. For our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, meaning we have no right to demoralize ourselves. Since then, my spirit has been in an uproar. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re not married, then you’re single. Think about it…if a relationship is not recognized by

the Lord or law, then why honor the union with the same intensity, passion and devotion as a marriage? God forbid if anything happens to my boyfriend, I won’t even have the authorization to tell the doctors how to care for the man I joyfully wake up to and go to sleep to every night? Or have any sayings of his burial arrangements? Oh no! At what point do women wake up and say, “I’m tired of being your wifey, your boothang, your main chick, your girl….I desire to be your wife!”? My loyalty and obedience is to God before all. Now I won’t deny that this is hard. I told a man that I have had sex with for years, that I believed celibacy was the answer. Guess what he did? He laughed.  I meant it. There have been days that I questioned if I’m forcing him to marry me…but…I pray! I pray that through this journey God embodies me, keeping me strong in the midst of temptation. I pray that through me my boyfriend sees God’s wondrous doings and how only through God, we are new creatures. I pray that I do not have to end our relationship for him to see that I am seriously committed to the Lord. I pray that just as He did before, God confirms that this man is for me...that this man will be my husband. I look at my beautiful daughter, who is six months and I think to myself, “She shall be his wife!” To God be the glory! Akita, a sinner trying to become a saint.


Coffee with Sister Doris

Dear Sister Doris, How do you get loved ones more enthused about God? God has and continually bless my family abundantly. Although they believe in God, they don’t have a relationship with the Lord. My family just so happens to be my best friends. When I attempt to speak to them from a spiritual perspective, they just don’t understand. This leaves me feeling a little alienated amongst the people I love and adore most. Of course I’ll continue to pray for guidance but just wanted to know if you had any suggestions. From: Miss I want us all chilling in the presence of the Lord. :)

Miss I want us all chilling in the presence of the Lord, I am so glad that you stopped by to talk with Sister Doris. Hold on one second while I take the pot of tea off of the stove, then we can talk. So you are a Christian and you want your loved ones saved? Wonderful, but kindly take your feet off of my couch. Thanks sweetie. A lot of times people want to watch you. They want to see if you are really what you say you are. They also want to see how Christianity works. So here are some suggestions: 1. Always show them the love of Christ. Never ever act as if you are better than them 2. Learn scripture so well that you can speak in scripture without them knowing that you are giving them the word 3. Keep them on your prayer list and pray daily 4. No matter what don’t compromise. You won’t be able to go to the parties they have because of the alcohol and music, but invite them to parties at your house and show them how Christians party. 5. I don’t know if this person is a spouse but 1Peter 3:1 says, “Wives, in the same way be submissive to our husbands so that, if any of them (husbands) do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.” I hope that this helps and until next time remember Sister Doris is praying for you all.

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When I first started this book I was like, “what is this?!” But it turned out to be a very uplifting and encouraging book, on a real level. Unique was determined to be more than just a chick in the hood and she transformed herself into a business woman. Good read.

This book was absolutely awesome! I really enjoyed it. Kelly moves back to her hometown, back to bad memories where she runs into her exboyfriend who is now a very popular Christian rapper. Old feelings start to surface...Kelly rediscovers herself and find that she can have the things she always wanted.

Words of the Lord Colossins 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. (NLT) Basically everything you do, do it for God. It will make you feel so much better. You won’t have to worry about feeling bad about doing something for someone who may have hurt or upset you. God showed me this in September of 2011. And I grabbed on and held it for a while but slowly but surely it slipped away. I would question Him about why I was going through what I was going through and He kept showing me Christ. And I’m like okay Christ forgave, I’m trying to forgive. Then it happened again and He showed me Christ again but this time it was about sacrifice. So I’m like okay, I have been making sacrifices. I’ve sacrificed my happiness and freedom for years. But when He showed me this scripture it really hit home for me. It just made everything make sense. Christ sacrificed his life so that we could be forgiven: his LIFE. He didn’t get shot and die. He was tortured and mocked. But he knew he was called to do this. Here I am complaining, “why me, why me?” Why not me? Everything we go through is for someone else. For us to testify and show God’s Glory!! I love Him and He is awesome. So the next time you’re asking why me, think why not me. And know that everything you do, you do it to please God!!!

By Darnica Gordon

Continued from page 7

qq qq I also bought myself a cute, pink bible; which I qq began to read and understand the Word. Slowly, God qq began to transform me, starting with my thinking. qq By this time I graduated from high school and was qq beginning my first year of college. During that qq year I also started my first job and began to make major life qq changes. I gave up my habits and lifestyle for a new life! qq qq I look back at my past now and still think there had to qq be two Ikeyas! I went from complete darkness to the qq light. I went from a juvenile delinquent to a mature qq mother; a hopeless high school flunky to a soon-to-be qq college graduate. It’s amazing how God transformed qq me. I literally was BLIND, and couldn’t see my way. qq The devil had me trapped out, loving the streets, and qq thinking that the streets loved me. But GOD showed qq me His unfailing, everlasting, unconditional love qq and grace that opened my eyes to the truth. He gave qq me hope and a future!! I’ve been forgiven for all the qq horrible things I’ve done and also I’ve been able to qq forgive those who have done things to me. My mom qq and I are still working at our relationship but we are qq so much better than before. Also, my dad and I have qq a relationship and I occasionally go to visit him in qq Florida. It’s so crazy how everything bad that happened qq in the beginning of my life has been turned around for qq good. I can only say Wow!! God even turned my meanqq muggin’ frown to a smile. Now people say things like qq “you’re always smiling, you always look happy, or qq you’re always glowing”. Why? Because I’ve been qq made new, like a caterpillar to a butterfly!! “Therefore, qq if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old qq has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17. qq qq qq qq ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()() qq qq qq qq qq Continued from Pg. 6 qq qq How is God incorporated in your marriage? We always go to GOD in prayer, not just when we are qq in need, but to always give thanks. There is a unifying qq effect when we both join together in prayer. It is also very qq important that each of us have our private time with GOD qq and during that qq

time we pray for each other, family, our marriage,

our friends, our church. We make it very intimate and personal. It took a long time for me to get in the habit of praying. As for me I wasn’t raised in a non-denominational Christian church, my parents are catholic and growing up as a catholic deterred me from church. Michael on the other hand was raised in church, knew the bible stories, and knew some of the Word. But somehow we both chose dangerous paths in our lives that weren’t Christlike. I will elaborate more about that in just a bit. Other ways we incorporated GOD in our marriage was by studying the word of GOD together and with our kids. We aren’t very consistent with it due to our schedules but we always have to make time for GOD. We had to dedicate some time to read and gain knowledge, and even if you know the Word there is always more to learn. We have to know each other’s needs and wants, and I keep Mike lifted up in prayer and he does the same for me. We know each other better than our parents know us, and we had to learn the desires of each other’s heart, strengths, weaknesses, goals, dream and challenges. We didn’t know by getting married we were making a commitment to be together forever and that there don’t come easy. We have to commit to fight for our marriage daily. Through pain, disappointment, crisis, tragedies, or just when the enemy is busy. We don’t just throw in the towel anymore we work at it, talk about it, cry about it and learn from our mistakes. When we disagree with each other we become angry and it is imperative that we handle it correctly. From my personal experience I can tell you what does not work when there is disagreement. An angry response increases the problem rather than fixing it. Don’t let me fool you. I get angry at least as much as any other human does. A lot depends upon my mood!! I think we have to be extra cautious when we, as women, know that we are not in the best mood so that we can prevent arguments and not be too touchy about things. I had to be delivered from being a verbal abuser; my words would cut people so deep that it made them want to kill themselves. We need to know ourselves and our tendencies. Recognize your weakness and pray about God’s strength and grace during those times.

CIU 2013 Spring Issue  

Spreading the Gospel in a fresh way!

CIU 2013 Spring Issue  

Spreading the Gospel in a fresh way!