Page 1

a word

from the Editor One can never really understand the ups and downs of adulthood until they bring a child into the world and are blessed with the daunting responsibility of making sure they survive past the age of 5. Raising my baby Zoe, especially as a self-employed single mom, has by far been the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to figure out. Everyday my mini-human needs food (lots of it, might I add), a place to live, and a mommy with whom to snuggle. Snuggles are mandatory. Parenting is actually the most challenging and rewarding experience one could ever have. The responsibility of another person’s life is not one to be taken lightly. Scary. It is very, very scary. I am not the first woman to appreciate her parents more as an adult than I did as a child. It’s a recurring theme in the lives of many-a grown-up. Encountering the circumstance of parenthood, it is inevitable that any rational adult would learn to look at their parents as if they were superheroes. Mine certainly are. They raised four incredible daughters and endured hardships I have been fortunate enough not to experience. This year, the Lord graced me to see my thirty-first birthday, ironically enough in the same year we launched a magazine that champions

the redefining of the Proverbs 31 woman. To celebrate, I’m paying homage to my heroic parents, Felton & Brenda Benton, by sharing 31 things I learned from them about being a grown-up. This issue is also laden with stories of moms and dads who were the heroes in the lives of our writers as well. We hope our stories inspire you to take the time to remember and honor your parents. There is no such thing as the perfect parent. My parents weren’t, and neither am I. But God, did they try their hardest to raise me beyond better than what they knew. Our entrance into their lives of our parents made them different, and they made us who we are. So for the good and the bad, for preservation and survival, for the snuggles and the spankings, the ketchup and the steak sauce, for making our house – whatever the condition – a home ... for all of these things and more, they deserve our forever thanks. Mommy and Daddy, this is for you. Thank you.



i work for zoe.



Practical, creative business communications, from Z to A.| ELISIA
























What is Elisia?

Being a Christian woman doesn't have to be a cliche. It is quite possible that a woman doesn't have to wear ankle length skirts and black stockings to be devoted to a life that reects the cross. Today's modern Christian women are nothing less than the woman reected in the notorious Proverbs 31. We are mothers, business women, politicians and homemakers. We are artists, entrepreneurs, writers, inspirers. We love the Lord. We value life and relationships. We are women who are intentional about loving God, pursuing purpose, and ďŹ nding joy in the lives we've been gifted. Elisia Magazine is a modern bi-monthly digital lifestyle publication for the far from cliche Christian woman of today. From music to politics, fashion to social injustices, food to entrepreneurship, Elisia readers will experience life from the voice of women who love God, love people, and have devoted their lives to sharing their stories.| ELISIA


the BIG PICTURE on Health

things I wish

My Mama had Done || JAMIE SNOW



Last year my mother spent her first Mother’s Day in a lovely assisted living center in Dallas following a long and emotional battle. Riddled with osteoporosis and dementia, she really could no longer live alone in the beautiful home she and my dad built many years ago. My sister and I felt she needed to be close to family in a physically, spiritually, and intellectually stimulating environment. Why bring this up in a column devoted to health and fitness? Because I truly believe that both of her conditions are largely preventable by diet and exercise.

The Best Medicine ||While any

exercise we do is better than none, intense exercise two to three times per week accompanied by daily walking or yoga appears to be the best approach to staving off cognitive decline. What has the greatest effect on osteoporosis? Weight lifting! Osteoporosis can not only be prevented but REVERSED with lifting heavy weights! I know this not only from research but also from personal experience. Six years ago while still an avid runner, I was diagnosed with early onset osteoporosis. Following years of weight training, my bone density is now very good.

Getting Started || How do you begin? If you can

afford it, get a few weeks of personal training from a good trainer who has kept up with current studies. It is an investment in yourself. Training not in the budget? The internet is replete with free information on proper form.,

for example, is an excellent website with video clips of proper form. And don’t worry. You won’t get big and bulky. Women simply do not have the testosterone to build that much muscle without steroids. But you will get lean, sexy and strong!

Two, exhausting 30 minute full body workouts per week will increase your strength and bones. Lift your weights on a count of one, and lower them counting one, two, three, four, five. This slow release will maximize the muscle being worked, and will decrease likelihood of injury. Also, make sure to do some intense cardio one day a week. Work your way up from a fast walk to sprints, or bike as hard as you can. Two minutes on followed by a minute of rest, or twenty seconds on followed by ten seconds of rest. Keep it up for twenty minutes, and you are doing the best thing you can do for your heart, physique and bones.

Added Brain Benefits || Not only is intense exercise ben-

eficial for bones, but it also plays a role in the prevention of dementia. More and more studies indicate that the hormones released by intense exercise (HGH, DHEA, etc.) have a purifying effect on the body and brain due to increased oxygen in the bloodstream. But, and this is very important, MORE IS NOT BETTER! Too much intense exercise can inflame the body, and potentially the brain, causing acceleration of disease and aging. It is too late for my mom to protect her bones and mind, but it may not be too late for you and your mom. Give yourself, your children, and your mother the gift of smart and effective exercise.| ELISIA


It’s finally springtime and summer is fast approaching. I am so excited to see the sun and all it brings. As you get ready for family get-togethers and cookouts with neighbors and friends, I know you are thinking about simple and tasty dishes to carry along. This recipe combines two items you might not use every day: rice noodles and peanut butter. Now, I don’t want to take anything away from the always popular coleslaw or potato salad, but why not add a little taste of Asia to the lineup! Try taking this recipe to your next summer outing, and see if you will not be the talk of the party.



1/4 cup creamy peanut butter 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce 5 teaspoons Sriracha Asian hot chili sauce 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 12 ounces uncooked Rice Noodles 1 pound lean ground chicken 8


1-1/2 cups julienned carrots

1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped 1 garlic clove, minced 1/2 cup finely chopped unsalted peanuts 4 green onions, chopped

In a small bowl, whisk the first six ingredients until blended. Set the mixture aside. Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Drain the noodles and set them aside in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook chicken, carrots, pepper and garlic over medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, breaking up chicken into crumbles as you cook. Drain off the excess liquid.

Stir the peanut butter mixture into the chicken and vegetables. Bring this mix to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 3-5 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Pour the peanut

chicken sauce over the rice noodles and fold all the ingredients together. Top with peanuts and green onions and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer before serving.| ELISIA







... deciding not to decide is deciding....




ave you ever dreaded making a decision? talking


I’m not


what you will eat for dinner

or deciding if you want the blue sweater or the red one. I’m talking about heart-pound-

ing, sweaty palms, asthma-invoking dread that surfaces when you have to make a potentially life-altering choice. But it’s that

fear of decision-making that fosters our indecisiveness! We tell ourselves that if we just do nothing about it then we’re off the

hook. Perhaps everything will just work it-

The TROUBLE Test Will it harm other people? Will it cause trouble for others? One of the biggest mistakes we make in life is to forget how much our actions affect other people. Each day we are tempted to make decisions that are the best thing for us but may have a devastating effect on others. There is no such thing as “it will only affect me.” Everything you do has an effect on someone else, whether it be directly or indirectly.


Am I being tempted to do something that goes against my values?

It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, making smart choices is vital. Becoming successful in life starts with making good decisions. Someone should be able to look at your decisions and see where you are headed. Making decisions is a huge part of what I do each day. So I developed a set of questions that I call the “T Tests” to help guide me through periods of indecisiveness. If you find yourself on the fence often, try asking yourself the following questions to get off the fence and on with life.

Are you tempted to do something you told yourself you would never do? Do you feel rushed? Do you feel pressured to do something that you don’t have a peace about? If you answered yes then it could be that some external force is pushing you to do something that you shouldn’t do. Always remember: Make decisions based on PURPOSE, not pressure!

Would I want anyone to know about this choice I’m making? Would I tell anybody?

If you want to make an impact with your life - you’ve got to control your time! Time is the one thing in life we can’t get more of. Effective people figure out what is essential and what is trivial in life. They spend more of their time doing the essential things and less time doing the trivial things.

essentially deciding!

The TELL Test:

If you’re making a decision and you worry about what others will think, then it could be an indication that it’s not the right thing to do. If the choice you are making would have serious, negative implications if the word got out, then chances are the decision is unethical. Those types of choices can lead to secrets. And it’s those secrets that can ruin your reputation and character. Your public life and your private life should match. “The man of integrity walks securely but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9

The TIME Test


self out right? But deciding not to decide is

Am I investing my time wisely? Does this choice add value to my life? Am I investing in things that are going to matter in the future?

Periods of struggle arise when we find ourselves having to choose between what’s best for our life and what’s easiest for our life. This is a hard place to be in, especially if you have ever found yourself in a tired or depressed state. You want a quick fix. You want to do what’s easy. But next time you find yourself at this crossroad, try these questions to help you sort it out. Making good decisions the first time is the key to living a life with no regrets!

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Would I want anyone to know about this choice I’m making? Would I tell anybody? Will it harm other people? Will it cause trouble for others? Am I being tempted to do something that goes against my values? Am I investing my time wisely? Does this choice add value to my life? Am I investing in things that are going to matter in the future?| ELISIA


it's ok to take a


|| Dr. G Speaks

When I was younger I remember seeing my mother, who is absolutely phenomenal, always moving and

never slowing down. I’m so thankful that she has finally learned to take time for herself. But some of us, whether we’re parents or not, believe that we don’t have

the right to take a break. Well, say it with me, “It’s OK to take a break!” It’s summer. There should be some breaking somewhere!

I’m sure that you want to give your children, family and other loved ones 100% of you, right? But how can you



do this operating on fumes? You may feel guilty if you

take time for yourself, but you NEED it. More than you know. We tend to pay more attention to our physical

health than our emotional and mental health. But emotional exhaustion can be far more taxing than physical exhaustion. If you just keep moving without stopping, you know what might happen? You’ll CRASH!

When was the last time you took 10 minutes? Ten

minutes to be still. No music, TV, children, or sleeping. If you can’t remember your last break, I encourage you to

take 10 minutes for yourself this week. Just 10 minutes. After this break, you may discover that you need more than 10 minutes. When was the last time you had a

day or 2 to relax, reflect, and be refreshed? If you don’t know the answer, it’s time for a vacation.

If you can afford to book a trip to your favorite getaway right now, by all means, get your summer on! But for

those of you that may be on a budget, you may want to try a staycation.

Staycation: “A vacation spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.”

Dr. G’s Staycation Kit

(full version can be found at

Where Does a Staycation Take Place?

·         Your home (most cost effective)

alone!) Take an exercise class. Go to the park. Go to a play Read. Etc.

What Not to Do

·         Work. If you can help it, refrain from doing work for your place of employment. However, it is okay to work on a personal project such as a book, crafts or cleaning your home. But you must be still at some point. ·         Spend too much time out

·         Focus on negative things. You must be mindful of your thoughts. ·         Get on that phone!  What to Do

·         A hotel or friend’s home

·         Keep praying for guidance and clarity.

·         Pray. Ask God to reveal to you what things you need to take advantage of in order to get the most out of your time off.

I challenge you to take at least 1 day for yourself in the next 3 months! You need it and you deserve it!

·         Set realistic expectations for yourself ·         Take days off work, if needed

·         Make all necessary arrangements (i.e. securing babysitter, etc.)

·         Tell a few close friends and family members what you will be doing

·         Turn off your cell phone. This is probably the most difficult step, and I know many of you stopped reading when you saw it. But it really does wonders to keep your cell phone off, even for a day. Really! Consider changing your voice mail to say something like, “I have limited access to my phone and will respond when I am able” in order to inform those trying to contact you. You’ll be surprised by the freedom you feel after turning your phone off. ·         Select an activity or 2 just for you to do. Go to a movie or a restaurant alone, (YES

·         Rest. Reflect. Just Chill. 

Finally, I want to give a shout out to the 3 most amazing mothers I know: My mother Sheila, my sister Danielle, and my aunt Lisa. I love you!

STAYCATION: “A vacation spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.”

What to Do in Preparation for a Staycation| ELISIA


101 10 RELATIONSHIP TRAINING 101 || Charles Bowman

I like to think that the relationship that I have with my wife started with one question: “What can I do for you?” I hear women in young or new relationships often say that their husband or boyfriend just doesn’t get it, and they don’t

have time to raise a grown man. You might be thinking the same. “That’s ridiculous. My day is way too busy to ‘train up a husband.’” But the truth is that the only real way for him to “get it” is to teach it to him through patience and communication.


ow, for this ‘training” to work, a few things have to already be in place. The couple

MUST be in a committed relationship and

be willing to put in the time and make some sacrifices. You also have to have a lot of trust because you

will be making yourselves vulnerable to each other. My wife and I have a few extra rules: 1.


Subtle hints do not work. Strong hints do not work. Hints just plain old do not work. Instead, we say

what we need and provide each other with an op-



portunity to acknowledge and follow through with

the request. 2.

RESPECT A “NO” || If something is bother-

ing her and I ask what it is and she says, “Nothing,” I know that is not the truth. But I will accept it and

move on because I cannot read her mind. I even let

it go knowing that we may have just lost the opportunity to settle the matter. Why? Because we … 3.


I don’t bring up old stuff. The past is the past for a


TELL THE TRUTH || We have agreed to

answer any question asked honestly with no repercussions or hard feelings about the answers, even

if it hurts. We also confirm tough questions should be answered by asking, “”Are you sure you want to

know that?” If the other person says, yes, we plainly and fairly talk about what is on our minds.

When a man meets a woman, SHE DOES NOT COME WITH A GUIDE BOOK. He has to learn what she

likes and does not like. The same goes for a wom-

01101 reason, so, for the most part, we leave it there.

make it through the trial and error stage because we expect the other person to know how to treat

us. We all think that we are already a good man or a good woman, and that’s that. But in reality we have to strive to be the good man or woman that our partner needs us to be.

I tell my friends if you want a better relationship,

TELL ‘EM WHAT YOU NEED! Explain your likes and

dislikes to your man without being afraid to repeat

yourself. Remember to say thank you when he gets it right because that is an invitation for him to do

an meeting a man. I think most relationships don’t

that good thing again. Trust me. A kiss and a “good job” go a long way.

My wife trained me on how to love her and now that is all I want to do because I love to see her smile. I also learned to discuss my feelings and how to

express myself in a way that she can understand. I

find my wife thanking me out of the blue, and I say, “What is that for?” She simply replies, “I just want

you to know that I appreciate you.” Then I sit there

thinking what can I do to hear that again? And it all started with one simple question: “Baby, what can I do for you?”| ELISIA





veryone thinks their parents are rock stars, and

lived ‘the life’...well, they have. They’ve lived a difficult life, one where they learned the skill of overcoming and living beyond their circumstances long before that teaching became a trend in the church. They’re obviously trendsetters.

maybe they are. But there is something abnormally special about Brenda and Felton Benton-they are

So on this, the thirty-first year of my life, I wanted to take the

rare. I actually did not realize how extraordinary

opportunity to honor my parents.

they are until I began writing this article. There is not enough time or space to detail the complex pieces of their story. Forty-two years of marriage has inevitably brought its share of twists and turns. Cancer. Homelessness. Fatherlessness. Pre-marital pregnancy. Miscarriages. Bankruptcy. Death. Everything, they’ve actually seen everything-much of which I’m too young to remember. They did the most brilliant job of making us think and feel like everything was actually fine. They are the strongest people I know, and their experiences make mine look like dust. People look at Felton and Brenda Benton and think they’ve





tian does not exempt you from trials and tragedy. On the

contrary, acceptance of Him seems to serve as an inevitable trigger for the funk to hit the fan. 2.


want to know a person’s character, watch how they go

through a rough patch.That’ll tell you everything you need to know. 3.

TAKE CARE OF TODAY: You have ZERO control

over what is going to happen tomorrow. You can do all the planning in the world, but you just don’t know when cir-

cumstances, positive or negative, are going to happen. Live right now. It’s all you’ve really got.



dad had a semester left of school

when he decided to drop out and take care of his 3 girls while my mom finished nursing school.

He’s 65 now and never finished. God has provided and honored him by giving him 4 daughters

who collectively have 7 degrees. Looks like God gave it back.

Cardio Glide, and they get to sweating.

Against my dad’s better judgement, they have also eliminated most red meat and

treat themselves weekly to a McDonalds smoothie. Don’t judge them-they know it’s not the best choice, but it’s better

than the carton of Blue Bell they used to

go through every single week. The lesson is simple-to keep your minds and your bodies, take care of yourself. It doesn’t

have to be much, but something is better than nothing.






row, he’s boarding a plane to

go to Mexico with his children,

our gratefulness. We don’t deserve any of what we have, even if we don’t have

will be 99 in September. Tomorgrandchildren and great grand-

children. For a man who’s almost graced a century, his life is pretty awesome. I could only hope that my children and grandchildren will do the same for me… 6.


SELF: Have you ever heard of a

Cardio Glide? Yeah, neither have most people in America. My

dad bought it from one of those

wacky informercials during one of our less impoverished years.

20 years later, believe it or not, it does not reside in their garage.

Nay, it lives…in their living room.

And whenever their 60+ year-old bodies are feeling puffier than

they prefer, they hop on that ol’


TIME: Even in the seasons that my

parents had little to nothing...God honors much. Why not thank Him for...



taught us to dream-I know, that makes them sound like bad people. We can’t

control our dreams or our purpose. If we dream something that is not what our

maker desires, there is a strong possibility that what we dream won’t happen,

now or later. What God DOES control is our purpose. My parents taught us to

discover and pursue God’s purpose for

our lives. When that happens, everybody wins. 10.


ER. Don’t get so wrapped up into your

current state, positive or negative. Your

now won’t last, so embrace the day.



when you’ll need their help. 12.


CLOSE - Even if they piss you off

to high heaven, even if you live a million miles away, even if they

have no interest in being close to

you, do what it takes to keep them close. I’ve had my share of tiffs

with Brenda, Felton and the rest of the Benton clan. But they always, I mean ALWAYS have my back,

regardless of whatever dysfunction we are experiencing. Fight every-

one to keep your family close, even if that means fighting yourself.


seen my parents fight. Perhaps they have, I’m just saying that I’ve never seen it. They either kept them to

the car or in the bedroom. Makes

me think they might actually love each other.



most sensitive beings in the world. I get my sensitivity from my mom.

My mom has been in the corporate side of the medical years for much

of my life-she’s got skin as tough as the bottom of my feet. But let me

tell you, the wrong combination of

words from my daddy’s voice, even in the kindliest voice, will set off

bitty Brenda! Thankfully, my dad| ELISIA


PROVERBS FROM MY PARENTS has learned how to appeal to my mom

There is nothing worse than

er that’s the food you put in your

other person was ever wrong, they’d

sickness. It’s not worth it. Shake it


with reason during her times of unreasonableness… and vice versa. If they admit it and move on.

BE HONEST WITH THE ONES YOU LOVE: There were times when my


mom and dad ‘just didn’t have it,’ whether that was money for a school trip,

money for a new pair of shoes, or money for a candy bar after lunch. If they didn’t have it, they didn’t lie about it, but they also didn’t make a big deal out of it, ei-

ther. Whatever you do, just tell the truth.

HAVE PATIENCE WITH THE PROCESS. We are not who we were or


who we will be. To become the person

we desire takes time, energy and effort.

Embrace the process. It makes our experiences, even the difficult ones, so much easier to endure.

YOUR CHILDREN WILL TURN OUT LIKE YOU, so don’t suck at life.




or want something, open your mouth

and ask for it. Ask God, ask friends, ask family. Don’t be needy, but if you need something, you should say it.



Shake that off: The most amazing things happen when you step out and take risks. 20.




carrying grudge filled bitterness.

Holding onto it can lead to literal off and move on with your life. 21.


don’t freak out when the bills come to your house in your name every.

single.month…and you still haven’t bought groceries. 22.


like one that says you learned a

skill. People who hire people will want to proof that you finished something. 23.


mom always told me that I’d never

be able to work for anyone because I don’t take orders from people very well. She was right. I can’t

stand it. So, I work for myself, and it’s so much better. Learn about who you are and be that.



Style and quality never die.

READ A PROVERB EVERYDAY, even if you don’t have


time to read anything else. Being

close to God doesn’t have to involve daily intense study. Put something good in your body everyday. 26.


EAT, in every single way. Wheth-

body, the things you watch on TV,

or the music you listen to on your



ever feel like people are always

watching you, it’s because they are. Live like everyone is watching you. You’re bound to perform better.

SLEEP IN HEAVENLY PEACE. Don’t allow your problems


to interfere with your rest. They are still going to be there in the

morning. Give them over, rest well,

and seek direction from your heavenly daddy the next morning. 29.


TER: The ones who set the bar gets

to stay on the top. Force people to

have to come up to where you are.

THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY OUT. The hustle inevitably


pays off, especially if you are doing what God has called you to do and living out His plan for you. If you

just keep swimming, you’re bound to reach dry land.



always fighting. Nuf’ said.


Talitha Burris

||LOVE ON A MISSION By Talitha Burris, Artistic Director Cumi Productions


hat can I say about my wonderful parents? I know everyone thinks they have the best parents in the world, but I really do. My parents have gone above and beyond to make sure that we, a blended family will never have to endure problems because of it. We are family and that’s it!! My parents met and fell in love in 1995 shortly after my birth mother passed away from cancer. My now mother bonded with my father in his time of distress and mourning because she too had experienced a similar loss in the passing of her husband 8 years prior.

It was a whirlwind romance and a lot can be said about God’s timing. Getting involved with a recently widowed man? To some people that could make my mother look selfish or opportunistic. But that is simply not the case, and, more importantly, God’s timing is God’s timing. Who are we to question it? So, in June of 1995 my parents married and brought a family together of 4 children

from my mom and 3 children from my dad. I guess you can kind of call us a modern day Brady Bunch.

Not long into their marriage they began to feel the need to minister to people outside of the church in which my dad was serving as an associate pastor at the time. They began a small Bible study once a week that was well received by the community. After prayer and fasting, they decided to start a church and These Are They Community Church was born.

In their 17 years of overseeing the ministry, they have worked together to reach the community, started the We R One couples ministry, helped bring transformation to many lives and been a light to lost souls. My parents have since moved on from the church and are now ministering in Houston, Texas, and my dad has become the first African American to hold the position of Executive Director of Community Relations at the prestigious Dallas Seminary. Hats off to my parents. They have raised 7 children to adulthood, and they continue to be a power Christian couple helping other couples and ministering to other pastors and wives all over the country. I am so proud of all that they’ve accomplished. Thank you for your support, mom and dad.

|| Talitha Burris, Artistic Director Cumi Productions 469. 643. 8838| ELISIA


learning to Listen to God’s voice

|| Cheryl Rischer Skinner



A few years ago, I found myself in a difficult place professionally. I dreaded my job and looked for excuses not to go to work. I allowed the negative and dysfunctional culture of my 8 to 5 to impact who I was. Friends would tell me to pray about it and let God give me an answer. While I received lots of

answers, it was difficult to determine if they were from God.

I didn’t know if I was being led to leave or to stay. It was only after things didn’t work out well that I realized that the answer was my own. I now understand what I must do to hear God’s voice and how I know that I have heard Him. Here are a few things that I have learned about hearing from God. 1. Sometimes you have to remove

yourself from the situation to hear clearly.

2. God’s answer may not always be what I want to hear, but it is always what I need to hear. 3. Hearing God’s voice often requires me to be still.

4. If it isn’t working, that’s not what He said. 5. God’s voice does not always have to be heard, sometimes it is seen. 6. I may not always agree, but I have learned to obey.

7. Beware of those around you who may sound Godly. 8. God’s no, may really be a yes.

9. When God speaks, it will be clear. 10. It is better to wait on God.

When I hear clearly and respond accordingly, it is a decision that brings me comfort and clarity as I move in faith and not with trepidation. In Bishop T.D. Jakes recent book Instinct, he states, “As long as it is His purpose, no weapon formed against you shall prosper.” I believe that when I fail at something that I have prayed about, it is because I’ve heard and followed a voice other than God’s. When I am able to walk boldly and confidently into a choice, or decision it is because I have patiently and intentionally positioned myself in a place to hear what God has to say.


arden not your heart the day you hear God’s voice.” I would hear that every Sunday at church during alter call. And every Sunday, it would just sit in my mind in an uncertain place. I always wondered how would you know if you heard God’s voice? How would you know for certain that it is God’s voice you are hearing? There have been many times throughout my life that I have questioned my path, my actions and myself. It has been easy to say, “God spoke to me.” But if I was asked when or where or how I knew it was God, I would not be able to explain.

God’s voice is not always herd. Somtimes it is seen.| ELISIA


what’s your style

what’s your style

what’s your style what’s your style what’s your style



et’s face it. This ever changing world of fashion is quite the bipolar female. From the current

printed palazzo pants that went out in the 70’s all the way to the now trending harem pants, one thing is for sure: trends fade only to return. However, I’ve learned over time that if you truly tap into who you are and you know what really works for your body type, your style will never fade.

Knowing What Works for Your Body



This is HUGE to me! As a stylist, I work with every shape and size you can imagine. It’s my civic duty … ok, not my civic duty but my JOB

to tell my clients what will and won’t work for their body type. For example, while the bodycon dresses are the current “in thing,” even with my perfectly curvaceous self, I can’t wear them. They just aren’t flattering on me. I realize it. I accept it. So guess what? I DON’T WEAR THEM. But what I can wear, I wear well and in full confidence that I’m representing who I am as a person.

Stylists are always asked the same question: What’s your personal style? I normally sum it up and just say “me.” I’m not conservative and


I’m not overly trendy. You’ll never see me in sneakers and a track suit, because that’s just not who I am. I’m sorry, but that box that you’re trying to put me in doesn’t fit! I challenge you to do the same. Buck the trends and trust the real you. Know your body type and RIP THE RUNWAY, even if the runway is the break room at the job! In the words of Shakespeare “to thine own self be true.” In laymen’s terms? That means don’t believe the hype, and don’t fall for the okie doke. Don’t buy low riders if you‘re wider than the saddle. Wear what works for you.

The Insider Tip || I’m going to let

(and that’s a whole ‘nother article) and

on most body types. Slacks, blazers, maxi

A-line flare skirt is that it’s versatile. It can

you in on a little secret. There are actually some articles of clothing that will work dresses and distressed jeans are just a

few. I suggest you subscribe to magazines, search online, find these items and make sure you have several of them in your

boudoir. One article of clothing that is

currently trending for Spring 2014 is the

A- line flare skirt. From the curviest chick

to the tall slender model, A-line skirts just work! With the proper undergarments

the right accessories, you will definitely turn heads. My favorite thing about the

go from lunch with the girls, to date night with the honey, to a day at the office or

in class with just a simple change of shirt

and heels. Easy right? Listen, style doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should

reflect who you are. Here’s my challenge

to you. Dig deep. Discover what story you

would like to tell each day. Then allow the garments you wear to speak for you.

|| Nikki Hurd

Photographer: C. Rene Photos

MUA: Nikki “Platinum” Darden Stylist: Shenaque Nikki Hurd

shop our spring/summer 2014 collection


My mom equipped us with the ability to figure things out, no matter what the situation...


...her children rise up and call her || KELLI MACATEE If you know me, you know my mom. Threaded through my personal narrative is my mother’s foundational influence on my life, my heart, my mind and soul. She trained me in such a way that allowed the gifts and abilities God gave me to rise to the surface. For instance, service is central to who I am and my mother cultivated that natural propensity in me. Whether it’s in ministry, working in my other passion, clinical psychology, running our family business, or being a wife and mother my mom’s lessons have proved to be fundamental to all I do.


y mother grew up on a ranch in the heartland of America and wanted for nothing.

In her early 20s, she married her college sweetheart and they started a family to-

gether. But when her husband of 25 years left and she endured

a long separation that ended in divorce, her solid foundation in

the Bible carried her. My sister and I watched her walk graciously through some of the most difficult times in her life, demonstrating to us in a tangible way what a Proverbs 31 woman

looks like. Her heart is built on the Word of God and combined with some sage advice, we have a solid legacy to pass onto our children. Here are just a few of her famous sayings.



“A lady knows how to do everything. She just doesn't always have to do everything | | My mom equipped us with the ability to figure things out, no matter what the situation. She taught us when

to lead and when to follow, when to be submissive and when

to delegate to accomplish a goal. She taught us the importance of holding our tongue, even when it’s painful to do so! She

would snap her long, red fingernails and tell us to “Live inten-

tionally!” as she showed us when to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty and when to keep the white gloves on.

“I'm your hitching post.”| | My grandfather broke horses as a

rebellious horse, he tied it to a hitching post in the coral. The

hitching post was so deeply grounded that it allowed the horse to buck as hard and as long as it needed to until the horse fi-

nally quit fighting and learned to be trained. When I was being rebellious, I took great comfort that my mom was my hitching post. She was stable and strong, and when I bucked too hard, that hitching post pulled me to the ground. Through prayer,

sound Biblical teaching and the Holy Spirit, my mom bridled my strong will instead of crushing it.

“Not making a decision is making a decision.”


hobby on the ranch. When he had a particularly obstinate and

Growing up, I was gifted in avoidance. I would often put off

difficult decisions until I was bound by worry, anxiety and fear.

sloppy on the inside and vice versa. She taught us that some-

control are illusions. They aren’t real. Keep moving forward,

a smidge of concealer and lip gloss and no one will ever know!

She would say, “You’re going to make mistakes. Perfection and Kelli. Not making a decision is making a decision. Just not usually one you’ll like.”

“What are you wearing?”|| In college, if I called sounding a little

down, she would say, “What are you wearing? Is your room a mess? Clean yourself up and get dressed!” She was teaching

times you have to fake it and that’s okay! Put on clean clothes, These lessons have become my lessons to my daughter, and I hear my mom’s voice every time I say them. Thank you mom

for working so hard to parent me. You taught me how to love and truly live!

me that the physical impacts the emotional. (For a more scientific perspective on this idea, check out Amy Cuddy’s TED talk

on body language.) Sloppy on the outside can be indicative of| ELISIA



PRIORITIES the importance of time management || A BLOG BY BILL DOTSON


he other day, I met a middle-aged husband and father of three grown children. He is also a new grandfather, and, like many folks, he holds a full-time job. In addition to being a husband, father, grandfather AND full-time employee, he has included seminary into his schedule, as he feels he’s been called to be a pastor. Did I mention he also started an internship for men at his church? Needless to say, this guy is BUSY. And he’s not alone. As director of the nonprofit Abiding Fathers, I meet with just about every age group of men and without exception they all are carrying a

full load. These men often ask me, “Where do you spend your time?” as they are in need of guidance and balance. Let me pose that same question to you. How do you spend your time? Is there a plan? Are there priorities that govern your day, week, and year? Are you effective in all, some or none of your roles? Many of us are in “crisis management” mode— reacting to the issue that presents the most stress, running from pillar to post with tongues hanging out and stressed dispositions. But did God create the universe that way? No! He had a plan! He set His priorities for each day and exe-

cuted His plan accordingly. Here are a few ways to help you manage your responsibilities. DEVELOP THE ABILITY TO SAY “NO”

Too many of us, starting with me, believe that if someone asks us to do something, we should just do it. But if you keep saying yes, others will start asking you also. Then you’ll look up one day, realize you’re not doing a good job at anything and your life will be too crowded. So, when you’re asked to take on a new task, back off, prayerfully consider it and wait till God gives you peace. PLAN YOUR WORK, AND WORK YOUR PLAN! God has given us 24 hours every day. This is His gift to each one of us, and He wants us to use it wisely. In Proverbs 16:9, He exhorts us to plan but leave the results in His hands. In order to plan well, we must prioritize. Starting with God’s commandment to Israel, we are to put no other gods before Him. Here is my suggestion for prioritizing the rest of your time: LORD > WIFE > CHILDREN > FAMILY* > JOB/CAREER > PERSONAL > CHURCH > MINISTRY *(IMMEDIATE AND EXTENDED)

We are God’s stewards and He wants us to maximize His return on investment. Matthew 6:33-34 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” If we seek God first each day, and if we have prayerfully set priorities and given these priorities back to Him, He then promises to fulfill His part by adding everything else we need. Prioritizing allows us to stop worrying and be at peace with what lies ahead.

A Day When I Learned What Was Important || I was in a critical

meeting a number of years ago when our children were very young. It was a time when only phones were available for communication. My secretary broke into the meeting and said my wife was on the phone in panic mode, screaming that she could not find our daughter. She told me that the last time my wife saw her, our daughter was with the neighbor’s little girl playing in the back yard. I explained the situation to those in the meeting and left immediately. I raced home praying all the way. Twenty-five minutes later when I arrived, my wife calmly informed me that the girls had gone into the neighbor’s master bedroom walk-in closet and were playing house. I was grateful that everything turned out to be fine. But, in that moment, I didn’t even have to think about what decision to make. Yes, I was involved at work and my presence was needed. But when my daughter’s safety was in question, my wife and daughter became my only priority.

Sometimes the important things aren’t always clear. There are gray areas. But by having preset priorities in our lives, we can determine which things should take precedence over another at any given moment. So, plan your way, set your priorities, trust God’s promises, and learn to say “No,” until He says “Yes!”| ELISIA



the BATTLE I’ve got a secret to tell you and you’re probably not going to like me very much when you hear it: you’re as replaceable as the light bulb above your bathroom sink. When the bulb burns out, what do you do? If you’re me, you let it stay that way until you get tired of looking like a clown because you applied makeup under less than desirable lighting, stop by the nearest drugstore, buy a new pack of 60W bulbs, and replace that sucker. It’s like God said, “Let there be light,” all over again.


rreplaceable is not just the single girl, she-ro anthem of the 2000s. It’s what you are if you work yourself to the point of exhaustion. We’d like to think that the project, program, or report won’t be completed if we elect to leave at a decent hour, but it’s a smoke screen that we’ve created for ourselves. As much dialogue as there is around work-life balance, we have failed miserably in that realm, and it’s our own faults. Here is just a sampling of what I’ve heard in recent weeks from my sister circle: “I thought this job would bring better balance, but it’s worse!”

“We had a huge fight about the fact that I’m never home.” “I’m so busy. I need a few more hours in the day.”



“I think I’ll go to the office on Sunday to prepare for Monday.”

That last one belongs to yours truly. I was immediately stopped in my tracks by a wonderful peer mentor who informed me that I need to use personal time for personal time. These tidbits of conversation made me wonder how much of our lack of balance is due to the pressure we place upon ourselves to do more and more within the same amount of time. We live in a society that already pays us less to do the same amount of work (many times, more) than the average male. Why, then, are we pressuring ourselves and each other to perform at a level that isn’t kind to our mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional health? Did You Know? •

People who work more than 10 hours per day have a 60%

Multitasking increases the amount of time it takes to com-

The more anxious we feel, the less clearly, imaginatively, and

The more overworked you feel, the more likely you are to

higher chance of a heart attack

plete your primary task by 25%

rationally we think and we become more impulsive and reactive resent your coworkers and your organization

of Balance Ladies, it’s time to start a rest revolution! The balance you crave in your life can be achieved, but you have to own the process for yourself. If you don’t want to listen to my words, listen to what Jesus had to say about it – “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34) I challenge you to look at this passage within the context of your time. How do you want to focus your heart? There is merit and reward for our professional accomplishments, but we must not lose sight of the complete woman God has called each of us to be. I personally recognized that the more time I spent on programs and projects, the less time I spent on what mattered the most to me – God and family. I’m sure if you audited your time, you’ll see patterns of behavior that have led to your own imbalances.

By beginning to say, “No,” you’ll be giving yourself permission to say, “Yes!” to more energy, increased creativity, better relationships and greater success. Just try it once. I promise that you’ll find joy in never letting the light burn out. Cultivation and Empowerment Opportunity (CEO):

Within the next 30 days, challenge yourself to complete at least two of the following: •

Leave work at your scheduled end time

• Take at least 1 hour to do something completely for your personal enjoyment (i.e. read, watch a movie, work in your garden) •

Plan a staycation and actually take it

• Go for a drive (or walk, bike ride) and clear your mind from all the work clutter

• Start your day with a personal chat with your heavenly Daddy and a little spiritual preparation


As you complete your CEOs, tell me about them and the impact they had. Tweet me at @tracytrw with your stories so we can spread the rest revolution to others who are just as tired as we are. ||Sources: Tony Schwartz, How Well Are You Managing Your Energy? Sarah Brooks, How Being Overworked Affects Your Health| ELISIA


#WhatsYourStory 30





FELECEIA BENTON // editor-in-chief ARIAN AUGUSTUS // managing editor SYDNEY CORNELIUS // graphic designer ERICA EDWARDS // accounts manager

Elisia Magazine // Issue TWO  
Elisia Magazine // Issue TWO  

We're #HonoringOurParents in this issue of Elisia Magazine! Learn more at