Table of Contents Intro
Fearfully & Wonderfully Made
Letter from the Editor
List of Contributors
Travel & Recreation 9
Church Check In
It's A Faith Walk 11
The Dan & Deme Experience
Love & Marriage 25
Jamel & Natasha Williams
April 27 Daniels Fitness 38
Arts & Entertainment 43
Society & Culture 58
Iron Sharpens Iron
The Power of Prayer 59
Christina King Rogers
Virtuous Woman of the Month 62
Miracles, Signs & Wonders 64
Wrap Up 71
Prayer of Salvation
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
STACY SORRELL MOORE Editor-in-Chief of MB Mag Dear Readers, So thrilled and thankful — that’s how I feel about introducing you to the premier issue of MB Mag, an exciting, historymaking magazine designed just for you, a beautiful woman-ofGod whom He sees. And knows. And loves beyond your wildest imagination. I’m so thankful that God has led you here today, to step into these pages and hear authentic stories and new ideas that I hope may inspire your faith and heal your soul. I pray each one lets you see real-life miracles that encourage you to see God’s faithful hand upholding you daily — no matter where you find yourself on this life’s journey.
Certainly, life can be hard. Sometimes paved with broken dreams and unquenched thirst, a dusty path before us. Let the testimonies and tips you find here blow all that dust away, blow the cobwebs of despair from your mind and soul. Blow God’s refreshing, healing breeze into the recesses of your thoughts to rejuvenate your heart and life of faith — and help you rediscover your best life and true purpose as He continues to write and refine your own amazing story. That’s truly what we call Mind Blowing. It’s the heart of MB Mag: To join with God in blowing away all in life that holds you back and to reflect His love and how He sees you. Perfect just as you are. Perhaps that’s an idea that catches you by surprise and blows your mind in a whole new way. We hope so!
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I cannot overemphasize how much I love the mission of MB Mag: to restore joy, break generational curses, and be a light to all readers through powerful testimonies. I pray you don’t miss all God has for you in each bit of content here. Please take a peek at all we’ve assembled for you this month — a buffet of divine inspiration and soul-care that we hope you find helpful and healing, from the awe-inspiring interview with April Daniels to the articles that offer a new look at our daily habits and life strategies.
Then if you have time, let us know what you think. I’d love to hear from you and get your first take on this collaborative effort. Please go to the MB Mag website at www.mindblowingmagazine.co m and message us through the contact form. I will then try to reply to each and every one of you. More than anything, I pray that you are blessed, that your tests and trials can become your own testimony, that your worries can become reason to worship and praise our Lord and Savior, Jesus.
May the Lord bless you and keep you. All this for His glory!
Stacy Sorrell Moore PAGE 4 | MINDBLOWING MAGAZINE
LORD'S PRAYER â&#x20AC;&#x153;OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME. YOUR KINGDOM COME YOUR WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD, AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS, AS WE ALSO HAVE FORGIVEN OUR DEBTORS. AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL." MATTHEW 6:9-13
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APRIL DANIELS In this inaugural issue of Mind Blowing Magazine, I feel like I should be summoning an orchestra to play the “Hallelujah Chorus” or a crescendo of drum rolls on the timpani — those huge drums that sound like thunder. Because maybe that will somehow catch all the emotion I feel in introducing you to April Daniels and inviting you to read her story. Ladies, her spirit is angelic. Her smile is contagious, never failing to brighten a room. I immediately gravitated to her, to the loving and inspirational marriage she and her husband shared. Undeniably, their love for one another was heaven sent. Even more, I was blessed to witness April supernaturally persevere through the tragic loss of LaShawn . . . and was deeply amazed and inspired to see how she grew spiritually through that trial. Clearly, God was moving miraculously in her life — mind blowing to say the least.Then, when I began to think about who to feature on the inaugural cover of MB Mag, hers was the first name God gave me — the woman He was telling me would capture the heart of the magazine so beautifully, so exceedingly.
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And when April agreed, I was in utter shock. God is so good! I pray her story touches your heart and changes your perspective as it has mine. We all need the kind of faith encouragement she so authentically conveys. Whatever you are going through — grief, depression, worry, or concern — I pray her testimony reaches down into those secret places and reminds you of the truth that God is always there to lift us up and carry our burdens. He will do just that; all you have to do is ask. I thank God for April Daniels and her courage to share with us so candidly. So, now, if you’re ready, open your ears and tune in your heart to what God’s about to do. Can you hear the thundering drum roll in the background? May you sense God’s presence as He speaks to you today through April’s words. Hallelujahs all around . . . God’s love and joy to you!
COVER GRAPHIC DESIGNER
SENIOR CONTENT EDITOR
THE ARMOR AGENCY CONTRIBUTING WRITER
BRITTANY CLUBINE CONTENT EDITOR & PR MANAGER
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CHURCH CHECK IN
So often when we travel to an unfamiliar city, Sunday arrives and we have nowhere to go to church. Our Church Check-In is designed for the travelers. This issue takes us to Chicago, Illinois. If you are ever traveling in the Chicago area, be sure to visit Bright Star Church.
PASTOR CHRIS HARRIS SR.
Pastor Chris Harris, Sr. who is a native of Chicago, Illinois is the Senior Pastor of Bright Star C.O.G.I.C. and founder and CEO of Bright Star Community Outreach. This organization is committed to creating collaborative partnership program models designed to provide educational enrichment programs, antiviolence prevention and intervention activities along with good student incentives. BSCO also provides employment to more than 450+ people in the Greater Bronzeville Community. Pastor Chris Harris travels the country building relationships between AfricanAmerican and Jewish Clergy. Pastorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; 2012 trip to Israel prompted the development of the TURN Center (The Urban Resilience Network) based on the Israeli model of NATAL in Tel Aviv.
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TURN endeavors to focus on five core competencies: counseling, parenting, mentorship, work-force development and advocacy. Its unique model will utilize faith leaders as post-trauma counselors and use community surveys as the basis for services that directly correspond to the unique needs of constituents. BCSOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s partners in this effort are: Northwestern Medicine, University of Chicago Medicine, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, CIGNA and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to name a few.
BRIGHT STAR COMMUNITY OUTREACH Over the course of its proud nine-year history, Bright Star Community Outreach has made significant contributions to the renewal of Chicago’s most vulnerable communities as a nonprofit organization. Driven by hope for change in this city and the families that call it home, Bright Star’s presence has been marked by effective programming, social development, and advocacy, particularly in the 3rd and 4th ward of Chicago’s south side. Founder and CEO, Pastor Chris Harris Sr. grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood where the church is currently located. Its strategy includes developing impactful community development initiatives aimed at facing its largest societal challenges: violence in our communities, poor economic opportunities, inadequate mental health services, homelessness, child safety, and drug abuse. These efforts are designed to strengthen local families and communities, as well as leverage key partnerships with organizations and businesses that share their passion for seeing renewal in Chicago.
Bright Star’s mission is to empower residents to share in the responsibility of building community through resource development and collaborative partnerships. They will accomplish this mission by developing innovative performance-based practices and programs to address the need for Violence Prevention, Community Engagement, Economic Development, Education, Healthy Children/Youth, and Families. They envision today’s underserved communities becoming selfsufficient, livable communities for individuals, families and organizations — communities strong and nurturing in positive thought and behavior in the home, community, and marketplace.
735 E 44TH ST, CHICAGO, IL 60653 WWW.BRIGHTSTARCHURCHCHICAGO.COM
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IT'S A FAITH WALK! ERIKA BRACEY I am an eleven year cancer survivor as of this year. I was diagnosed when I was 39 years old. Before my diagnosis, I was a young woman that just wanted to be great in life. After I finished getting my master’s degree, I planned to get married, move to New York, and become a writer. My fiancé worked in the movie industry, and we were going to write screenplays together. We were going to get married and become a big time screenwriting power couple. But before we got the chance, he was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma, a common form of kidney cancer, and died within 30 days. At that time, I didn’t know much about cancer. Of course I had heard of it, but I didn't personally know anyone that had died of it. I didn’t know any intricate details about it. He just seemed to be really tired and exhausted. I was just going on about my life and thinking he was just being lazy. I had no idea that he was stage 3.9. I had no idea what a stage 3.9 was.
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In one week’s time, the cancer had spread to his kidneys. The tumor had grown to the size of a soccer ball. Then the cancer also spread to his liver. It was very aggressive, and they decided to do surgery on him before chemotherapy. He was in surgery for 11 hours and coded five times. The hospital summoned me to come up and see him. I began to talk to him, telling him, “You are going to make it. You can't leave me. Just try!” At 2 a.m., the hospital called me and told me he had died. My world was upside down. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what happened. I didn't understand it. I stayed in New York for a while in a complete daze. My fiancé passed away in August. It was now October. I had been lying on the couch staring at the cracks in the wall for about six weeks. I only left the couch to go to the bathroom. I didn't want to eat, I didn't want to think, I didn't want to do anything. I had gone down to 89 pounds and felt like a ticking time bomb ready to explode. I would beg God to just not wake me up. Put me on the Do Not Wake Up List. I didn’t desire to live anymore, and every morning the sun would rise and just slap me in my face. I’d wake up mad like, “God, didn’t I tell you not to wake me up?”
One day as I was sitting on the couch trying to act normal (because I had learned how to do that … act normal with a dysfunctional mindset) there was a pesky mosquito flying around, and it bit me on my chest. When I went to scratch the mosquito bite, I felt this big lump on me. When I found that lump, I snapped out of it and thought, “I can't believe the cancer is now after me!” I flew back to Chicago, did a mammogram, did an ultrasound, and it turned out to only be a cyst. As I was at the counter looking at the lady as she took down all my information, I thought, “God, I know I asked to die and for You to not wake me up. But you have to give me one more shot.” At that moment I felt God respond, “Okay, you asked me for death. Is this what you want? Is this truly what you want?” I told God “I want to live. I’ve got more life to live!” I realized my fiancé belonged to God. He didn’t belong to me, yet I had taken possession of him. He was here for me, but he wasn’t HERE for me. He was here to do a job. He was here to deliver messages. To do whatever his assignment was and his assignment was over, but I was still living. I still had more work to do. I had to have a talk with myself like, “Look E … you’re gonna get through this.”
I had grown up in the church. I loved God, but I was trying to fight by myself, and I couldn't do it. I began praying and asking God to be my compass. I was going through the motions of life because I was lost. Seven years later, I had this nagging cough. It was a persistent and deep cough. I was on Z-packs and inhalers. I had x-rays done. I did everything to try and figure out what it was. One day while in the shower, I started to cough and coughed up a bloody mucus plug. I was dumbfounded. Out of the shower, I sat on the bed and a thought popped in my head. I took my hand and placed it on the side of my left breast, and it felt like a little pea. It was kind of hard. On any other day I probably would have just looked over it, but something told me to go get it checked out.
I went to get a mammogram. The technicians took seven pictures. They didn’t see anything and told me I could go home. “Women come in with lumpy breasts all the time, but if you feel anything else, please come back” they told me. I started gathering my things, but a couple of seconds later, I decided I KNEW I felt something, and I asked the technicians to do an ultrasound. Because I had an ultrasound seven years prior with no results, they didn't think it was necessary, but I insisted and they did it and still saw nothing on the screen. As I was getting up, I asked the technician if I could try again to find it, and she agreed. I laid back down and found it. The technician had me open my fingers, and they put the camera on the lump and it appeared on the screen. The doctor said I probably didn’t have anything to worry about but did another ultrasound to be sure. Seven days later I got the diagnosis that I had breast cancer. I thought I was coming in for them to tell me I didn't have breast cancer. I refused to put on this pink robe that was sitting on the bed waiting. It was like I was in a movie. I couldn’t believe it. My life shattered into a million pieces in front of me as the doctor’s mouth was moving while saying something about “mastectomy … blah blah blah, etc.” … all these things I knew nothing about. I remember her asking if I was okay. Uh, no! I composed myself as I walked out of the office and told myself, “Erika, you have to get yourself together because this is going to be a journey.”
"It was like I was in a movie. I couldn’t believe it. My life shattered into a million pieces in front of me"
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On putting it all in perspective and prospering through the pain … I believe it was God that found the cancer because I was not doing self-examinations regularly like we should. For me to find that cancer just as I'm sitting at home absent-mindedly watching a movie? That was all God! When I left radiation, I said, “Lord, I don't know why I'm going through this, but I know there's something that you want me to do.” For me to have the support system I had, for me to meet all these people that have problems and to see how this disease affects women of color as well as others … it was all just mind blowing. I heard a lot of their stories and I asked God, what was I supposed to do? God allowed me to prosper in my pain. I wasn’t in physical pain but my heart was in pain. Between losing my fiancé and now I'm going through this … it was just a lot. I couldn’t help but think, “Am I going to die, too?” I felt God say to me, “Yes, you are going to die one day, but not today. I’m going to make you a messenger. There’s a message that I want you to deliver.” And so I kept that mind frame of “what am I supposed to do?”
When I finished my treatment, I was trying to figure out my next move. I don’t have a platform. I didn’t think I had a voice. I didn’t have any money to do anything. I said, “But you know what? I’m gonna use my hands and figure out how I can raise money to help people.” And that’s exactly what I did. I believe that He put me in a place to prosper in the midst of the storm. He was like, “I got you. You’re gonna go through this.” I feel like cancer exposed all my insecurities and fears and God put a village of people around me so I was never alone. But even in that village of people, the only person I felt that could really help me was God. It all led back to Him. Cancer is a very humbling type of disease. It humbled me in a way that I just felt like I needed God. I just prayed to God and asked Him to help me get through this. I didn’t know scripture like a lot of people do. I called on people that I felt like were very close to Him that knew the Bible. I wanted to get to know Him more because, again, mortality hits you. And when you start thinking about that you think about Heaven and Hell and I definitely didn’t wanna go to Hell.
On becoming “The Brave Chick”… I created “The Brave Chick” because I felt like we needed a superhero. Not that I was the superhero necessarily, but I made her my alter ego because I needed a superhero myself. I needed someone who looked like me that I could look to. When I was going through cancer and first started all my treatments, people were telling me all these horror stories and everything negative that happened to them. I decided this was not going to be MY story. I didn’t resonate with anything they were telling me. They said I would feel sick, but I didn’t feel sick. I decided that my story would be MY story and it would start today. So, whatever it was gonna be, I was ready to take this journey, alone if need be. From that moment on, I went through the journey. I did everything that I needed to do to make sure that I would be a survivor because again, God was in control of this.
I did simple things like becoming a vegan and taking note of the things I was putting into my body. I paid attention to my mental state and recognized my need to have positive people around me. I’m a people person, or rather, I was a people pleaser. As a result, I battled with saying no to others. People would ask me for stuff and I’d be like, “I gotta do this …” A friend had to tell me, ”Erika, God don’t need you to do nothing! He’s given you another chance.” Still, I had a desire to do something to help others. I remember going through treatments and meeting all these people that were going through different levels of disparity. I talked to some of them about eating healthy and being a vegan, and they looked at me like, ”Girl please. I’m trying to keep my lights on. I got five kids at home. We’re having spaghetti for dinner because it stretches!” Meanwhile I was going to Whole Foods and buying all my healthy foods, and I began to think, “Man, people really need help.” Then I met a woman that changed my life. She said to me, “They’re trying to kill me. The system is trying to kill me,” and I asked why she felt that way. She went on to tell me, “Because I have two more chemo treatments that I need and my insurance won’t pay for them. I have insurance, but I don’t have enough insurance.” I kept hearing stories like these, and I felt a calling to do something.
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On Different Shades of Pink …
When I finished my last treatment, everybody was cheering me on, but I felt so awful because I felt like I was leaving my sisters and my brothers behind. I wanted to help but with no voice, no money, and no platform, what could I do? I wanted to go out in the street and hear people's stories. What was really happening in their lives? How were they really feeling? What did they need more than anything? I started visiting people in need and surprising them ambush-style, trying to help get them whatever they needed. That’s how it started. I made these bracelets to sell that were called Blessed Bracelets. The bracelets told my story, and it resonated with people, and they began buying the bracelets. Cheryl Burton of ABC 7 ended up buying boxes of bracelets from me and insisting that I not give her a discount. That was the beginning of my movement. Her purchase helped me help a young lady named Elizabeth Rivera. She had ONE chemo pill she needed that cost $200! Sadly, that is very common. It was stories like that that inspired us to form our Different Shades of Pink charity.
On dealing with the emotional toll of it all, especially when God calls the ladies home … This is another God moment for me. There was one lady named Adele Langham, and she and I were gonna take over the world, literally. We were going to show people a new face of breast cancer that was progressive and educated and fly! She had triple negative breast cancer. When I had breast cancer, people were trying to get me to meet her, but I had heard so many cancer stories at the time that I was at my limit. I didn’t need any more stories, so I didn’t meet her that first year. Everyone continued to insist that I needed to meet her, so the following year, when I finished my treatment, we were introduced. We became quick friends, or rather, quick sisters really. One day she called me and said, “Erika, I need you to come over.” I was out with a friend for their birthday, but the urgency in her voice gave me pause. So, I left and got to her house, and as soon as she opened the door I could tell that her spirit was low. I said, “What’s up? What’s going on?” She goes, “I got something to tell you.” I knew what she was going to say before she said it. “The cancer is back.” I was floored. I looked at her, and she embraced me and I embraced her, and she said, “You got a couple minutes to cry and I'm gonna cry, but then we're gonna move on. You know we got work to do.”
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From that moment on, we did a lot of things. Adele ended up dying, That was the most difficult time for me. This was somebody whom I had grown to love, and she was like a big sister to me. It was very, very difficult for me, and I remember telling God, “You know what? I don't think I'm the one for this. I thought I wanted to do this, but I'm not cut out for this.” I'm too emotional when I see people in pain, and I wasn’t used to death around me. To see her go to the hospital, see her as she was transitioning, and then for her to leave … it was very hard for me. After I spoke my frustrations to God, I kid you not, that same year, I met a young lady named Kizzy. She had triple negative breast cancer as well. It was actually three girls that met each other in chemo and had become like sisters. I met Kizzy because somebody asked me to go and ambush her. So, we helped her with what she needed, but she became somebody that I kept up with and I stayed with her the whole time she was in treatment. I became close with her family, and then Kizzy died.
When she passed, I remember her daughter called me at like 3 in the morning to tell me. I rushed over to the hospital and Kizzy was lying there. Just lying there. I touched her leg and I stood there; then I sat down to collect myself and no tears came. After that it got to the point that I could see people and kind of know when they were going to transition, and it was like I became in tune with the Spirit and it felt like He said, “You know what? I'm not going to have you experience that again. I got you.” After going through that, for me when people survive cancer … it's a freakin’ celebration! Like I celebrate them. When we do some of these ambushes, it’s not just people that are in the fight, it’s people that have survived as well. You know, we have had people that have been 10-year survivors. We’re still going to celebrate them because every day they get up is a battle. So if you can get up, stand up, go outside, see the sun, smile, keep living in spite of, keep thriving in spite of, you should be celebrated. All of us should be celebrated. So, we go and we celebrate those people, and then there's people that don't make it. My mother was one of the ones that did not make it. It’s unbelievably hard. Especially for kids, you know, we've had a couple of young ladies … 18, 24, 25 years old that pass away, and people that are older pass away, and it's always sad, but somehow I find a break of light in the whole situation. You gotta trust that God knows best and He doesn’t want people to be in pain anymore. Those are the things that I tell myself. We gotta learn to prosper through our pain, and even though we are going through a lot from an emotional perspective, when people leave this earth, we know that they’re in a better place. A place that eventually we all have to go. The question is, what are we gonna do right now with the time that we have left on this earth that is going to be pleasing to God?
ROBB JACKSON PHOTOGRAPHY
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In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE NOMADIC
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Creative Sippin' an interview with Veranda Adkins and Latonya Morgan
Creative Sippin’ is an African American owned Paint & Sip business by Veranda Adkins and Latonya Morgan, who are both serial entrepreneurs. We are located in Chicago at 11832 S. Western in the Beverly Community and have been featured on WGN TV and Radio, and Windy City Live. Our studio offers paint parties with both step-by- step guided instruction as well as pre-sketched canvases with instructor assistance. We are an establishment that allows our guests to bring in any food, beverages or decorations of their choice and often provide live DJs to enhance the experience. Creative Sippin’ is an untraditional paint and sip business, having spearheaded events like “Canvas & Comedy,” “Canvas & Karaoke,” etc. In addition, we have hosted private events for celebrity guests such as Val Warner. We have also done fundraisers for various churches, NBA player Joakim Noah’s foundation, and Breast Cancer Foundations, to name a few. Creative Sippin’ provides Community Outreach by hosting Toy Drives, Coat Drives, and Food Drives, and has partnered with several schools to host events for their students.
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Our inspiration for Creative Sippin’ came when Veranda attended a birthday celebration at a paint & sip in Atlanta and thought it was a fun and relatively simple concept to consider exploring. I attended a home paint & sip event in Chicago, where it sparked my interest to potentially become an instructor and host my own events. When Veranda and I shared our thoughts, we decided that it would only make sense to explore the idea of opening our own paint and sip in Chicago. We prayed about it, asked God to lead us in the right direction, and began the journey of searching for a location. With God in the center of everything we were doing, it didn’t take long for Him to lead us to the perfect location. Once our location was placed in our lap, we hosted our first paint party two weeks later. By the grace of God, when we were plagued by the COVID19 pandemic and forced to close our doors, we immediately launched an idea we’d had years prior. We call it a “Paint Party in a Box,” where we create and ship out boxes that include all the supplies you need to host your own paint party. Thank God that idea took off immediately, allowing business to continue flowing seamlessly! We will be blessed to celebrate five years in this business where we get to bless others using art as entertainment, with both a brick and mortar and an online store.
Ladies, let’s be honest ... it can be hard to find places we can trust to make us feel beautiful while also recognizing that our beauty starts on the inside. It can feel overwhelming sometimes to find a place that fits what you are looking for. Melica knows the feeling. My name is Melica Collier. I am a licensed professional in the beauty industry. Originally from Chicago, IL, I now reside in Austell, GA. I’ve been dedicated to professionalism and pursuing my passion of beautification and pampering of clients for more than 20 years. My number one priority is to help assist all clients in enhancing their natural beauty. God has given me the ability to use my gift to bless others. I believe the Word of God when it says, “For I know my plans for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God is doing just that!
SIMEON KELLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
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The Dan & Deme Experience is your ultimate beauty experience! Dan offers you hair extension services while Deme offers your lash extension services. Our business is led by God, who is love. While servicing clients, it’s very important for us that we pour love & positivity into each & every client. We serve a miraculous God, one who allowed us to open a business during a pandemic. We have been blessed beyond measure during this time. For some, we may have a simple beauty industry job, but as for us, we are serving the Lord by walking in our purpose. We are truly blessed to come across so many women who love God the way we do. We are able to uplift women & share testimonies while providing services that leave them feeling beautifully & wonderfully made. We speak life into our clients, our business, & ourselves as it is important we stay full on His Word so we are able to pour into others. I pray that you are blessed by this preview of The Dan & Deme Experience & we hope to see you soon!
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7
JAIMEE "DEME" EDWARDS WHAT CAN I SAY… How blessed am I to work side by side with my big sister? The person whom I admire, respect, and definitely annoyed as a little girl (lol), but somehow God has aligned for her to be my business partner. To start a new business can be nerve-racking … Will people support you? Will you be able to meet all your needs? Am I equipped to do this? The ability to enter each other's spaces in between clients for prayer, encouraging words, and support is all God. Wow!! I’m left speechless! I would watch her do hair as a little girl thinking to myself ... How did she just do that? Not knowing at the time that God gifted me with the exact same creative gift. I realize that I was called to be in the beauty industry; this is my purpose. Not only do I love to make someone feel beautiful on the outside, but while they are lying on my table receiving a lash install, I’m able to pour God’s love into them, which in turn makes them feel beautiful on the inside as well. My hope as they leave “The Dan & Deme Experience” is that they feel better than they did before they came in, and I’m not just talking about them outwardly. When my clients tell me, “I Really Needed to Hear That,” or, “You Just Made My Day,” it fills me up with so much joy! I realize I’m only a vessel and I’m doing exactly what God has called for me to do. To Love, To Forgive, To Encourage … you know, share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how blessed am I to be able to minister while I’m working.
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I never knew why we came up with the name for our salon until recently! The word “Experience” is so meaningful to me. We have experienced God’s miracles, we have experienced praise reports from our clients, and we have experienced the power of prayer every time we enter our salon! Now that’s MIND BLOWING!
JELISA "DAN" EDWARDS IMAGINE … being 9 years old, and you're playing with your doll’s hair and your fingers automatically move and miraculously form a “braid”... How cool is that, right? IMAGINE ... at the age of 13 years old, you actually start braiding and styling hair, receiving family support, with your family actually allowing you to repeatedly practice hairstyles on them until you finally perfected it. AND BOOM, you actually got paid for client services at the young age of 13 … Wow! IMAGINE ... Now you’re 16 years old and you land your first job as a shampoo girl, being blessed to work amongst so many amazing women. And not realizing this was actually a snapshot of your life. My dream came true! I wish I could stay before you longer and tell you more about my life in between all these years (lol!). But let’s fast forward to 19 years old, being pregnant, and not having any income for my baby. Then boom, I decided to go to hair school to professionalize this thing called hairstyling. And I remember walking across the stage with my 7-month-old baby on my hip at the age of 20. Just writing this is making me very emotional! I am now 30 years old, and in all these years, this “thing” actually turned out to be a GIFT FROM GOD! I now own the By Dan & Deme Experience along with my sister. THIS IS OUR MINISTRY! God has literally elevated us and shown His face during this whole process. I’m using this platform to glorify my Jesus Christ, and because of HIM and His undeserved Grace, River of Mercy, and Abundance of Favor, I am here today! Hairstylists can style hair … BUT WE EVANGELIZE and PREACH the Gospel behind these chairs, too!
JAIMEE "DEME" EDWARDS
“You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.” 1 Peter 1:8-9
LLOVE STUDIOS PHOTOGRAPHY JELISA "DAN" EDWARDS
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I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalms 139:14
FEARFULLY & WONDERFULLY MADE NOMADIC
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I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalms 139:14
BAMBI MONTGOMERY @hivefragrances Yet, it is her rare synesthetic abilities that set her apart from her contemporaries. Like the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet before His crucifixion, Montgomery uses the gifts God has given her to glorify Him. Affectionately known as Chicago’s very own Queen B, Bambi Montgomery is the reeve of ambiance — the maven of vibe. Her commitment to excellence, her unparalleled attention to detail, and her dedication to the enrichment of the lives of everyone she encounters set her apart. Her seemingly effortless approach and extraordinary abilities have cemented her reputation as a true master in the art of sensory experiences and luxury.
Think about the verse above. God made us. He knows us to our very core, and He cares about us. What a blessing we have in serving our Father, Who knows and cares about us more than we can comprehend. These next two articles feature women who have been given the talent to work creatively with their hands.
Bambi Montgomery — Lover & Curator of ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL
Atmosphere Curator Bambi Montgomery is a dog mom of Shih Tzu Honey Jack and Sugar Sweet. She adores children and not only volunteers at Children’s Home and Aid Society but also donates some of her Love Child Fragrance profits to that organization. Her work as a perfumer has seen her featured in InStyle, Time Out Chicago, Journey, Women’s Health, and The Oprah Show.
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n g i s e d d o o f s s e n @simplysweet Owner of Simply Sweetness Food Design, Nicole Hamilton pursued a corporate position for 14 years. Then she discovered that producing dessert marketing for her corporate clients gave her a unique way to blend both worlds. She would arrive with cupcakes, cookies, and cakes with customers' brands and logos — a personalized touch that made the customers smile from ear to ear. Simply Sweetness continued to grow into a full-scale catering, event planning, and decor company, offering every component needed to create a memorable event. Fresh flowers, waitstaff, pre-poured wine, appetizers, and designer desserts only begin to scratch the surface as to the personalized experience created for each and every event.
“Simply Sweetness Food Design is the part of my life that I constantly fall in love with over and over again,” Nicole attests. “God blessed my hands and gave me the ability to make my clients smile. Absolutely every one of my experiences that God graced me with has helped me become a better entrepreneur. Faith and trust in the process has blessed me with seven years of business, amazing trusting clients, and abundance during a pandemic. Investing in myself and walking away from corporate with all the tools they gave me to increase their profits has helped me in every facet of my business. I thank God every day for allowing His gift in me to be seen and nurtured.”
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Thank God, therefore, that He loves us, not because we are always loveable, but just because He is love. Thank God that He didn’t wait to save us until we were worthy of being saved. Thank God that, “when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Thank God that He doesn’t treat us as we deserve, but rather loves us even though we don’t deserve it. Thank God that He loves unconditionally! Romans 5:6-8
UNCONDITIONALLY LOVED NOMADIC
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LOVE & MARRIAGE JAMEL AND NATASHA WILLIAMS Jamel and Natasha Williams met in college at Northern Illinois University. While they had several mutual friends, the pair only crossed paths a few times in those years. After college, they connected again through those friends. As odd as it was that they didn’t come to know one another in college, they believe it was God’s timing for them to connect when they did. Jamel knew Natasha was the one for him when he realized he had no reservations. “To say I was wide open when dating Natasha would be an understatement. I felt I could trust her with my most vulnerable moments and insecurities.” He was willing to give or do anything to spend the rest of his life with her. For Natasha, she knew she felt safe and comfortable with Jamel from day one. “Jamel and I were friends before dating and have maintained that spirit of friendship throughout these years — even now after 12 years of marriage.” She knew he was special when she realized how much she was relaxed around him. As Natasha attests she is an introvert, she recognized the importance of being so completely comfortable with someone. Like always, life isn’t perfect, and neither are people. Jamel and Natasha shared how God has taught and helped them through rough patches. “Our challenges often surface during times of transition — whether that’s when we’re moving into a new home, one of us is starting a new job, or even during this year, with all of the changes of the pandemic. We’re both on edge a bit more during these times because we are both very action-oriented and get to ‘doing’ everything that needs to be done. It almost always means that at some point we make an assumption about what the other is doing. Our faith and relationship with God have been critical to being patient, listening more, and being grateful for each other because our intentions are good.” When asked about some advice for a successful marriage, Jamel and Natasha emphasized the need for fairness and communication. “Communicate — overly communicate — and when you feel like you’ve done enough, do more — just to be sure there’s no confusion with anything. We’ve learned the majority of disagreements derive from a communication gap.” They made it plain couples have to talk; no matter how hard or uncomfortable, couples have to communicate. In that same mindset, they also stressed the importance of being fair to your spouse. “Everybody is wired differently,” they said. They learned to make a purposeful effort to be more understanding and accepting that people will have different opinions, perspectives, likes, and dislikes. Knowing that, they encourage others to remember a key takeaway: “love loves fairness."
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Robin V. Photography
RESILIENCE. If you had to describe April Daniels in a single word, you'd be hard pressed to find another that fits her any better. Defined as the ability to adapt and persevere in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy or significant sources of stress, resilience is an attribute that most of us like to think we have until our feet are put to the fire and we discover what we're really made of. It's been a little more than a year since her husband, Grammy award-winning songwriter LaShawn Daniels, tragically perished in a traffic accident. In that time, April has had to dig deeper than she could have ever imagined to keep going. She had no choice but to persevere. Not only for herself, but also for her three sons: Omarr, Tahshon, and Jett. In addition to her main "job" of being a full-time mom, the modern day renaissance woman is a noted Philanthropist, Entrepreneur, and Inspirational Speaker and Real Estate Agent. Not to mention, she's embracing the lane of being an Author as she opens her and Lashawn's love story slated for release early next year.
Since coming into the public eye on We TVâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hit show Tamar and Vince, April has used her platform to inspire young girls and women around the world when she started her movement, Rock Out With Me, that she founded in 2014. She continued to use her platform with LaShawn, and together they created Cool Couples, a movement designed to help couples navigate the ups and downs of their relationships. Through their 19 years of marriage, April grew stronger in her faith and her leadership abilities. Continuously encouraged by LaShawn to be the leader he knew she was, those words, especially since his passing, has propelled her to live out the truth of his encouragement daily. April's story consists of many qualities including deliverance, faith, love, sacrifice, and salvation.
THIS IS HER STORY. IN HER WORDS.
Can you tell us about your background and upbringing? I’m currently writing a book, and it takes the reader through my childhood all the way up to the passing of my late husband. It's so funny … you just don't realize all the things you've been through until you start writing them out. Then you realize, ‘oh my goodness’ there’s so much revelation! For instance, growing up, my father was a military man and my mother was a stay-at-home wife. In the home, there was an abundance of love for me. So much so, that it definitely camouflaged all the dysfunction. I did not realize it then as I do now. Looking back, my parents were absolutely crazy toward one another! *laughs* But God! His hand was on me even then. However, going through that whole timeline, I’m realizing I had a father and a mother who probably loved me more than they loved themselves. They gave me the best of everything, but like anything else, you're only able to put a Band-Aid on an infection for so long. So as I got older I started to see things weren't as sugar-coated as I thought they were as a child. Now, as an adult, I’ve lived a little and I'm looking back at it, like ‘Whew...they were no good for each other! I’m surprised child services hadn’t paid us a visit!’ *laughs*
You sort of gain a whole new perspective in adulthood, right? Yes, exactly, and it's really crazy how you look at things through a different set of eyes once you had experiences and you’ve gained a clearer perspective. There was no accountability in my childhood home, God and church were very far and few. We didn't really talk about it. I didn't grow up in a religious home. I didn't even really attend church with my parents. I don't even know if my father ever stepped in a church from the time I was born. He had his ways about him. He spent time in the military, so he was very militant. It was his way or no way, and that was how things had to be done. It was almost as if he was God in our home. It was my great-grandmother who instilled in me the importance of having a relationship with God and taught me to pray before I go to sleep and again when I wake up. It was her that gave me that experience of even knowing about God. But even with that, I still didn't really have a whole lot of Him in my life outside of church on Easter, maybe Mother's Day, and other significant holiday’s. During these times when church tends to be a little more packed and people feel obligated to be there for that specific holiday and then in between.
In time, were you able to sort of reconnect with God in your own way? Yes, as I got older I fell into the habit of praying more often. I didn’t have any type of revelation that maybe God is working this out. I don’t even know if I would have recognized a revelation at that time. But as I matured, I began to understand the importance of a prayer life and recognizing the testimonies that were being built on my behalf. The journey stretches you in ways where you have to transition from relying on others to pray for you out of circumstances, to now praying for yourself. It’s in those places that you transform into becoming a prayer warrior. Then of course, having an amazing husband like I did, who loved God more than he loved himself, definitely added more spiritual value.
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What was your first "Wow Moment" with God? It was three weeks after my oldest son was born. He stopped breathing and was fighting for his life in the hospital. During this time my father and I were estranged due to the bad decisions he made that cost him greatly. These incidents altered my feelings toward him deeply. I had two younger brothers from his second marriage that were forced to grow up without their dad because those decisions had our father in jail for most of their childhood. I was SOOO disappointed by their upbringing compared to my own. My dad’s absence from my brothers triggered me to reflect on my own disappointment in the ways he wasn’t there for me as a teenager. I missed out on so many lessons that should have come from a father to his daughter before coming into her own. It was in that place my anger took root and I distanced myself from him. I remember going to the chapel in the hospital and saying, ‘If I need a miracle, which I do, this is the only place I can get it.’ Whenever I wasn't at my son's bedside, you could find me in the chapel. I remember praying like, ‘God, just please save him!’ and He said it so clearly to me: "How can you ask me for a blessing when you don't even speak to your father?"
It was like an epiphany moment? It really was! I was like, ‘Wait a minute! Are these voices I'm hearing in my head?’ because this was the first time God had spoken to me, and I could hear clearly as I’m talking to you. I said to myself, ‘Well, okay …’ I wasn't reluctant. I immediately did what I felt He had said to do. I went to the phone to call my father. At this time, he was living in Hawaii, and I said to him, ‘Dad, I need you to listen without asking a bunch of questions ... I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me.’ And instantly, we picked up where we left off and he received me with open arms. I went on to share with him what was going on with my son, his grandson and that was that. Immediately I saw a shift with my son’s health. From the doctor saying, “We don't know what's going on with him. There's nothing we can do. You might want to prepare for his funeral” to him coming off the ventilator, to coming out of his induced coma, to coming out of ICU all after the apology to my father. When he was discharged from the hospital, he was not on any type of medicine and he didn’t have any restrictions. All the doctors recognized this moment and him being a miracle baby. The doctors said to me, “We can't tell you anything that man or medicine did to make him get better. This is definitely only God." I don’t care what anyone says, that was my first real life encounter with God and the power of obedience. A miracle from God. It was a dual testimony, not only for me, but for my son. It just blows my mind at His love for me. It started way before Shawn, and it's still alive and well after Shawn, and I'm just completely in awe at how He takes care of me.
From there, did you begin to cultivate and solidify your personal relationship with God? Once we left the hospital, prayer had become a part of me. I struggled to find a church home living in Los Angeles. I would go and visit different churches, and they just weren't doing it for me. That was something I wanted but just couldn't find at the time. With that, I continued to develop a relationship with God through prayer. All I knew how to do was pray. I was like a little Prayer Warrior after that experience, but I knew it worked. I saw the power of it. And so that was something that I definitely continued with. It wasn't until meeting my husband that my everyday walk was enhanced. You know, with his father being a Bishop, coming from a First family who ate, slept, and woke up in church made me feel like he was knowledgeable spiritually in areas I wasn’t. When I met him and he shared that with me, at first I was like, ‘Whaaaat? Huh? How long are we gonna be in church?’ But, in the same breath, I was excited to have this knowledge now accessible to me. Shawn would always joke, "If it wasn't for me, I don't know who April would be praying to!" *laughs* And I would tell him, ‘You are not gonna have people thinking I was praying to a head of lettuce or something before I met you!’ But I must say, it's really true that the woman of God I am today, I owe it all to my husband.
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Speaking of LaShawn … What were some of your favorite parts of your marriage to him? What made your marriage so strong and resilient? You're gonna have me crying! Good tears though. Good tears! The thing that I miss the most is his covering. The way he loved me unconditionally and the way that he just protected me ... not only protected me physically … but my heart and my spirit. When you find a man like that, I don't care what's going on in the world, you don't let him go! He was so adamant about the lessons. And sometimes I would be like, ‘Okay, I hear you, but God loves me more than you, and He's gonna take care of me, and I don't need you to be hammering it over my head how I need to change this and stop being so stubborn …’ Or he'd be like, "You just need to stop it!" and I'd be like ‘... well that person did me wrong and I'mma have to wait for the Lord to absolve my heart before I can forgive them.’ But those lessons of his ... he would not let up. He had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the world. The way he poured into me and our sons … priceless. It was those conversations that gave you life lessons, but also love at the same time. Just the level of concern and commitment he had towards his family. That is the thing that I miss the most. Those are the things that in our relationship kept us as solid as we were. I know I brought things to the table. Between him and I, we had a balance that kept us spiritually grounded. He had a way of making us feel like we were invincible as a couple. Even though we went through problems, we disagreed, we had heated arguments like the next couple. We weren't perfect, but our love for one another was.
How old are your sons now? So we have two 24-year-olds. When I met Shawn I had a son from a previous relationship and so did he. They're two months apart. Then, together we have a 15-year-old. Omarr is my son I came into the relationship with, who is the oldest, Tahshon is our middle son, who was Shawn's son when he came into the relationship, and then Jett is our son we had together.
Can you talk about your thoughts and plans on continuing to raise them and how you pray that LaShawn's legacy continues to shine through them? I think with them the hardest part as their mother is knowing that there's a void that will never be filled, regardless if I get married or if I date again. It's just a void. Nobody will ever be able to fill those shoes. Not that I'm looking for anyone to fill his shoes, let me just make that clear. But the example my husband left behind is the blueprint that they will continue to operate in moving forward. Everything that he needed to instill in them, he did. And anything more that they need, know that God will provide. I'm continuously blown away at how I see my husband in all three of them. Even my oldest son, who is not Shawn’s biological son, is so much like him. The impact he had on them went so far that it's just like, wow! The conversations we had with him … we have so many things that we can fall back on. Honestly, I believe Shawn knew that his time was approaching. Too many things have resurfaced and transpired that just won't allow me to believe anything else. I don't think this was by chance. I don't think this was a freak accident. I think this was a time that was appointed by God.
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Some people never get to experience in a lifetime the impact my husband left behind. He was a wise man, wise beyond his years. He was an outstanding husband and an excellent father. He was hands-on. He wanted to make sure that his sons would be prepared for life, whether he was in the room or across the country. There's so much wisdom in them that I know was birthed from Shawn. The way they articulate themselves, how they think, how they respond ... It's just crazy that I often see my husband as if he's just talking through them. I am not concerned about what it may appear that they don't have with my husband being gone because I am a firm believer they have everything they need, Shawn made sure of that. However, I am more concerned as a mother raising three AfricanAmerican males in a world that's filled with so much hate and what the future looks like. We find ourselves in this journey often reflecting in a way that keeps Shawn present daily. What I mean by that, our sons know how their father would respond in a situation. They know how their father would respond and what he would say to them. It's just crazy, they'll come to me and say, "Mom, this is what's going on ..." and we'll really have a great conversation about whatever it may be. But in addition to that, we're like, "... and Dad would say this if he was here." Like, nothing is foreign to us. It really isn't, and not that we've gotten used to Shawn not being here. That's something that you never get used to, but we are so comfortable in what he left us with. To know how to respond to things, how to react, sort through, to think things out, whether to address or not to address. We just know that he left us as well-oiled machines to be able to navigate through life and then things that may come our way.
What's your best advice or encouraging words for anyone who may need a comforting message? You don't know God is faithful until you trust Him more than you trust yourself. And if you are always trying to be the one in the driver's seat, because for some reason you THINK you can control the outcome, the situation, the deal, the movement, the purpose … you can't! None of us can. I had to really step out of everything I knew, that I can control, or that I could contribute to, and just really fall in the arms of God. It wasn't until I was completely able to release everything that I could see His faithfulness in everything. When my husband passed away, I didn't have the strength to try and control ANYTHING, and when I say “control,” I just mean keeping it together, trying to be the matriarch, and be strong. It was like, I was really at a dead end. What do you do? How do you recover? What's next? What am I supposed to do? You know, it was so many questions, but I knew for me … the example again that my husband was … it was imperative that I show my sons, and that I show myself, and that I showed those who are watching the promise of God. How good He is. How faithful He is. Even at one of the most tragic times of our life, we can still praise Him. Still give Him the glory. Still trust Him. Still keep Him at the head and not at the foot. Continue to rest in His arms. Continue to allow Him to open and close doors. Whatever that may be! Giving Him full control.
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Because patience is a virtue .... Yes! A lot of people need to see results quicker than the speed that God moves, but God's timing is always perfect timing. I would never, ever try to navigate through anything without Him. I don't ever want to try and delegate anything without Him. I don't ever want to try to force the speed of what I think should be happening in the room for me than the time God allows. If you don't allow yourself to become one with Him, you will never see His greatness on the magnitude that He wants you to see it. Sometimes there’s days I feel like, ‘God, I ain't got it in me …’ but the more I lean towards Him, I find that those days are amazing. I wake up feeling so depleted and just like, ‘Today will be a day I want to stay in the bed. I'm not getting up today. I'm just going to stay in bed all day long’ and He's like, "No, you're not!" Whether it's through His Word that I read every morning. Whether it's through a phone call I receive with a gang of inspiration that I needed on the other line. Whether I turn on the TV and there's a message right there for me ... He's always gonna give you signs. It's just a matter of will you catch them or will you miss them? And I think that depends on your posture. If I'm not making time for God, then oh, yeah, I'm for sure gonna miss a lot of things He presents in my path for me to correct. But if I know that I'm dedicating time and I'm building a relationship with Him and I'm trying to grow as one with Him, then I'm gonna see every little sign He gives me. Because my faith is centered on Him and not the distractions of the world.
Do you have a favorite quote, affirmation, or Bible verse that you frequently find yourself going back to? Yes, I absolutely do! Jeremiah 1:5. What's crazy is that it used to be a different Scripture, but as you grow, as you go through life, things change. There's a song I heard recently that made me remember this Bible verse. It was Tasha Page-Lockhart's "Why Not Me?" and when I heard it, I was like, ‘Whoa! Why not me?’ You know what I mean? Everyone always thinks we're supposed to have this amazing life with no twists and turns and no storms and it's like why not? Why should God give you a pass? What makes you different? And honestly this whole season has allowed me to appreciate the storms even more because it means He trusts me enough to weather it. And so, when I reflect on Jeremiah 1:5 and just knowing that before He even made me, He knew who I was. He knew that I had special work to do and He chose me to do this special work. God knows I wouldn't have wanted it if asked, but that's why He never asked, right? But just the fact that there is a responsibility with everything that we go through. Some of us drop the ball. I've dropped the ball a million times in the past. But I will NOT drop the ball on THIS because this is important not only for me and my salvation, but for those that are walking through it and for those that don’t even know they're about to. That morning was the LAST thing that I would've thought I would've been dealing with. The same day I went to take my real estate exam? And it's crazy that on that exam, it's two parts, and I missed the state portion. I passed the national, but missed the state, so technically I failed. But I look back on it and have to think that God was even intentional on that. I knew everything to pass that exam. Who passes the largest part but fails the smallest part? But could you imagine that date being associated with my license date? The same date that my husband went on to be with the Lord? Everything happens for a reason, and I just try not to dissect the “why?” but trust the Maker in His selection of me to be the one to walk it out. He's been too faithful for me to feel like this was anything but God. He continues to allow me to feel my husband's presence daily. And so knowing how my husband referred to God and loved God, made God the foundation of our marriage and our home … it would be so disrespectful of me to now question God. So part of his legacy is continuing to hold the banner to let people know just how good God is. That He can turn every situation around and if He doesn't turn the situation around to your expectancy, just know that greatness still is in it. It just didn't work out how you wanted it to work out. That wasn't the plan. So I'm just grateful for what He gives me daily. How He inspires me. How He allows my eyes to see things from another perspective and just to continue to allow me to grow with Him.
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Can you tell us a bit about what to expect from your upcoming book? I am so excited to tell my story. It takes those who have been following me and my husband on the journey down to the very beginning of who April was before Shawn. We have always been advocates of transparency and just really walking through the Journey. I want to continue to inspire and encourage women. If hearing my story can do that, then it's all worth it. I’m looking to release it at the top of 2021, so stay tuned!
Lastly, what's something about you that most people would be surprised to know? I can’t believe I’m telling you this… When I get sleepy my one eye gets crooked. I'm not making that up. My husband would always say when it got late, "Baby, go to bed. Your eyes are crooked." That's a true story. He would call me "Lil Biggie" when I would get sleepy.
Dress: On And Off The Runway, Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell, Jewelry: April’s......................
Kimono: On And Off The Runway, Pants & Blouse: Nichole Lynel, Shoes: Louboutin, Rings: Sheree Elizabeth Boutique & Nordstrom.................. Pants & Jacket: J. Bolin, Shoes: Louboutin, Rings: Sheree Elizabeth Boutique & April’s Jeweler......................................................
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PHOTOGRAPHY - ROBIN V. PHOTOGRAPHY IMAGE CONSULTING/STYLIST - JASON MCGEE MAKEUP - DENISE GRIFFIN, SCULPTED ARTISTRY HAIR - ANGEL MORRIS, IAME HAIR
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Surely, He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5
HEALTH & HEALING NOMADIC
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MEGAN HULBURT As women, we can sometimes find that one of the hardest things to manage is our schedule. Finding time for both taking care of our bodies and developing our spiritual muscles can seem impossible. But we know both are so important. Always an inspiration to her friends, Megan Hulburt talked about her life and how she manages her busy schedule as a mom and personal trainer. Megan received her bachelor’s degree in nutrition. Then, a year after getting married, she and her husband decided to become foster parents. At that point, Megan decided to stay at home with her kids, and soon after she became pregnant. “Fast forward, we ended up adopting two kids, I had my baby, so we had three kids under 18 months old.” Not much longer after that, she became pregnant with her fourth child. “Of course, a huge focus of my life was taking care of my kids, so fitness got put on the backburner.”
As her kids got older, Megan was able to get back into fitness, and she started working as a personal trainer at a local gym. “When COVID hit, the gym had to shut down. When they opened back up, they decided to bring almost none of their employees back and start fresh. A lot of the clients I was working with in the gym were upset that the gym treated people like that.” For Megan, God was using a hard situation to open a door of opportunity. With the clients that wanted to work with her, Megan was able to start her own personal training business, “True Grit Training.” Hearing Megan’s story and seeing how God has moved in her life may prove uplifting to many. How does she manage to balance her own business with being a wife and mother of young kids? “Some days there is no avoiding the chaos; it just happens.” Megan shared. Yet, she has found that intentionality is her key to balancing work and family. “I set time when I’m going to train and also when I’m not going to train. It is important for me to spend time with my kids during the time I’m not training. Even when the chaos happens, we have dinner together as a family where we can all talk about our days.”
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Megan also works with intentionality for her customers. “It is not just about working out physically,” she says. Sometimes clients need to work out emotional baggage from a hard day, and she is there to help with that. True Grit Training is as much a business as a ministry, where Megan gets the chance to pour into her clients and be a light for Christ on a daily basis. She encourages her customers to focus less on their physical appearance and more on who they want to be. Whether they want to be healthy or simply able to play on the ground with grandkids, the point is to have a goal. “For me in my life, it is important that my daughters know that Mommy and Daddy are both strong.” Megan works to be a good example to her kids by developing strength — mentally, physically, and spiritually. Finally, Megan shared some important advice for us as Christian women to remember. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” This verse reminds us that no matter what we are going through, God has a plan. Sometimes it takes time and we have to be patient, but God’s plan is worth the wait. This truth also reveals why it is so important to have people around you encouraging you, both in your spiritual walk and in your physical journey. Megan Hulburt’s business “True Grit Training” is located in North Richland Hills, Texas. For information about personal training, contact: 972-658-7982.
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HONOR YOUR TEMPLE THROUGH EXERCISE AND EATING RIGHT SHARISSE KIMBRO As believers, we know that our bodies are not our own; instead, they are temples of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. We are charged by the Gospel to take care of our bodies because doing so not only honors the God who dwells within us, but also equips us to do the work God has called each of us to do. In order for each of us to fulfill our God-given purpose, we have to be strong in our spirits and in our bodies. With so many demands on our lives, especially in these unprecedented times, finding the time to exercise and eat right is especially challenging, but also is more necessary than ever before. In Matthew 9:37, Jesus reminds us that “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” If we want to be available for the work that God has for us to do, we have to keep our temples in order. Physical fitness is an important component of maintaining our temples. My fitness journey began over 10 years ago. I had two small children and a full-time job, and my life was falling apart. God led me to start working out with a personal trainer. I changed my diet and changed my life. Weight training (which, by the way, does not build bulk) improved my physical strength, which complimented the spiritual strength I was also developing. My children are now teenagers. I have had several jobs since then, and God has proven Himself faithful. I still workout regularly with the same trainer that I started with over 10 years ago. I still try to eat right, even during the quarantine. I have identified five key principles that have enabled me to remain consistent in my commitment to fitness and physical wellbeing:
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” 1 Corinthians 6:19
Start where you are with what you have. You don’t need to have a personal trainer or
Build accountability. Find someone to workout with. A workout partner can be
join a fancy gym to get in shape. Just start wherever you are with whatever you have.
your prayer partner, a sibling, or a friend. She can help you get to the gym or
Walking or running is excellent exercise that requires little to no equipment (just a
go for a walk on those days when you might lack the motivation. Remember
good pair of shoes). When I go for a walk, I often listen to sermons or spiritual music
Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron.” You and your friend can help each other
and use that time to pray. Do your kids have a jump rope? That’s a great way to get in
achieve God’s best for your physical bodies.
shape. Hula-hooping requires a bit of coordination but can be great fun as well.
Extend grace to yourself. If you miss a workout or eat less healthy than you
Go virtual. There are lots of free online exercise classes you can try in the comfort of
would like — give yourself a break. Remember, we are all doing the best we
your home. There are workout videos on YouTube, and many gyms have shifted to
can. And tomorrow is another day.
providing their classes virtually for no cost. Find something you enjoy. The key to sticking with any exercise regime is to find something you like to do. Whether it’s tennis, golf, zumba, or kickboxing — find something that moves your body that also moves you. If it’s fun, it will be easier to stay committed to doing it on a regular basis.
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Eating right is a necessary and natural companion to exercise. There are plenty of different food plans and diet strategies out there. Ultimately, each person has to find a plan (consult a trained professional if necessary) that works for them. What helped me lose 30 pounds of stubborn “baby weight” was to start small. Start with one unhealthy food or beverage you can eliminate. For me, it was soda. I was a Diet Coke fan. I stopped drinking it. Then I eliminated bread, while simultaneously adding more fruits and vegetables. And I kept eliminating until my diet was mostly healthy. Eating well requires planning and preparation. It won’t just happen. If you leave it to chance, the chances are more likely that you will make unhealthy choices. Just like we must be purposeful about what we feed our spirits, we must also be intentional about what we put in our bodies. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). We owe it to ourselves and to God to carefully maintain the beautiful creation that God made. You can do it. Start today. Lace on those gym shoes. Take a walk around the block. Eat some kale. Drink more water. Find an exercise class you like. Get a friend to join you. We are God’s handiwork. We should honor Him with our bodies.
Sharisse Kimbro is a writer and mother who resides in Evanston, Illinois. Her debut novel, Beyond the Broken, is available on Amazon.com. Her work has also been featured in We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart, and Humor. She has written extensively on empowering women, recovery from divorce, and managing single parenthood for Esme, Grown & Flown, and other online outlets. Sharisse earned a BA in English and a MA in Sociology from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of Michigan School of Law.
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"Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17
GOD'S FAVOR NOMADIC
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FAVORed PODCASTS Podcasts have become increasingly popular throughout the years. From true crime and fantasy stories to lifestyle tips, there seems to be no limit to the number of podcasts out there. But how is one to know what podcasts to trust? We know the struggle. Here are the wholesome, Christian podcasts we are listening to this month.
“Women Worth Knowing.” In this historical podcast hosted by Cheryl Brodersen and Jasmine Alnut, each episode digs into the life of a Christian woman from the pages of history. Some of these women are well-known, and others have mostly faded from memory as the years have passed. All their stories, however, are worth hearing. “Don’t Mom Alone.” This one is for the moms. Heather MacFadyen hosts this longstanding podcast all about motherhood. Each week, she interviews different people with the goal to uplift and encourage moms. Put your feet up, drink some tea, and let this show uplift your heart.
“Praying Christian Women” hosted by award-winning authors Alana Terry and Jamie Hamption. This podcast is exactly what it sounds like. With new episodes posted each week, this podcast is here to give you biblical encouragement and a deeper, richer prayer life.
WE HOPE YOU ENJOY THESE PODCASTS AS MUCH AS WE DO.
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FAVORed BOOKS Is there anything better than curling up with a good book? Reading is a popular pastime especially among women, but it can be frustrating sometimes when books take a dark or inappropriate turn. What a goldmine to find books that are clean and wholesome, yet still exciting and interesting. In this light, we’ve compiled a list of the books we are reading. While some are Christian fiction and others are Christian nonfiction, all are great reads. We hope you love them as much as we do!
Do It Afraid: Embracing Courage in the Face of Fear – Joyce Meyer
Hidden Witness – Shirlee McCoy
At a time when fear is especially common, this inspirational book by bestselling author Joyce Meyer encourages readers to find courage in the presence of fear. Her method teaches her readers to understand the effects of fear in their own lives, address them, and find freedom from them. God doesn’t want us to be held back by fears. He longs to help us push through them and embrace His plan for our lives.
Love Inspired Suspense published this exciting, faith-based novel from best-selling author Shirlee McCoy. FBI defense attorney Annalise Rivers enters witness protection as the only witness to a murder. She takes shelter at a remote dude ranch, relying on the owner, former navy SEAL MacArthur Davis, for protection. Will he be able to keep her safe to testify? And what will her safety cost? This gripping novel will have you on the edge of your seat.
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Collateral Damage – Lynette Eason This first book in her “Danger Never Sleeps” series, Lynette Eason tells the story of Brooke Adams, an honorably discharged military psychiatrist for the army. She sets up shop in the states in order to help others — but her days of helping military personnel are over. She's got her own battles to fight from her time overseas, and she's not equipped to take on more. Former Army Special Ops Sergeant First Class Asher James could handle anything that war sent his way — terrorists, bombs, bullets, and more. The only thing that scares him now is sleep. As the shadows close in, the nightmares begin. Finally convinced that he needs help, Asher makes an appointment with a counselor. When he arrives at her office, she isn’t there — but a dead body is. When it becomes clear that Brooke was the real target of the attack — and that her secrets go even deeper than his own — Asher vows to protect her no matter what. The first two books in this series are already available. Read them, love them, and let them inspire you.
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FAVORed AUTHORS SUSIE JENNINGS Susie Jennings, founder and president of Operation Care International, has her new book, No, Not Me, slated for release in December. This memoir tells the story of how God used hardship and tragedy in Susie’s life to accomplish something only He could fathom. Susie shares how her whole ministry started in her mother’s kitchen in the Philippines when she was young. “She would feed the homeless and I didn’t like that. They would eat my food and take over my space.” It wasn’t until years later that God did a work in her heart and called her to serve the homeless. At that time, Susie was struggling with anger against God. Her husband’s body had just been found, and a few days later her neighbor had also died by suicide. Susie was hurting over her loss and the way it happened. That night she had a dream that she was knocking on her neighbor’s door, sharing Jesus with him. “The next morning, I woke up and chose to have joy. I asked God what He wanted me to do for Him.” He was about to take Susie way out of her comfort zone. Later that night, as she was driving, she could feel God telling her to look to her left. There were homeless people living in cardboard boxes, and she heard God telling her to help them. “I said ‘no, God not me, I can’t help these people.’ But I knew God would provide what I needed.” His first direction to her was to give them blankets.
She encourages others to have faith and walk in obedience with the Lord. “He will use you in ways you could never imagine,” she attests. “You need to have a personal relationship with the Lord. Be sensitive to His call, and when you hear His voice, just go. God will provide what you need if you follow in obedience.” Susie added, “There is no other place to go than on your knees.” Prayer is so important in our lives, she agrees. We have to be faithful to daily spend time talking with our Heavenly Father. Finally, Susie encourages others to develop a heart that is grateful. God does not promise us an easy life, but He does promise that He will be with us. God is still good even when things feel like they are falling apart. Even in the storms, He is there. God is good all the time.
The ministry that started with Susie’s obedience is now an international ministry, providing for and caring for the homeless and needy. Operation Care International hosts a huge and extraordinary birthday party for Jesus — where volunteers serve thousands of homeless people, giving them shoes and food, and even washing their feet. Her ministry is truly a labor of love, with God’s hand of blessing over it.
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ASIA BROWN Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, the beautiful Asia Brown is a single mother of “three wonderful gifts from God,” she attests, now ranging in age from 11 to 16. A God-inspired debut-author and motivational speaker in her hometown, Asia is also known professionally as a Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant. In 2016, God instructed her to sit down for a year and begin writing. This call led her to birth the memoir, The Olive: Pressed Down and Refined. However, God used the events that led up to her finally accepting the call to set her free. After discovering that her husband was cheating on her, Asia gave up on God and her marriage. With a heart full of resentment, she took her own path toward Damascus. On a quest to find acceptance, she stumbled down a trail that would almost cost her life … or so she thought. But God had plans of His own; He met her there just as He did Paul. He shook things up in such a way that she had no choice but to surrender all she had found along the way. She had no clue of how crushing it would feel, or the hearts it would break after giving God her hard yes. The cost of her oil was quite expensive.
The Olive is a memoir written to shed some light on the consequences and destruction resulting from the act of adultery, and just how much our Father in heaven disapproves of it. This inspirational memoir will bring out every emotion inside you, but none will top the overwhelming feeling of the love of Christ that you experience throughout the pages. He stops at nothing to save His elect. Be inspired, be delivered, be set free.
THE OLIVE: PRESSED DOWN AND REFINED, WRITTEN AND SELF-PUBLISHED, IS AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON!
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"FORGET YOUR PLANS, EMBRACE YOUR PURPOSE"
HANIYYAH THOMAS Here is a list of a few things you cannot do before you turn 18: Vote. Get a tattoo. Serve on a jury. Get married. I agree that most teenagers do not have the wisdom or proper judgement to make these decisions. Yet, we are left to determine what we are supposed to do for the rest of our lives. Deciding on a lifelong career is too much pressure to afflict on a teen. Instead, the focus should be on the impact you want to make right now or that thing that drives you: your purpose. When deciding on what I wanted to major in, like most people, I tried to “find my passion,” which, when you think about, is a ridiculous concept. Your true purpose will be revealed when you surrender the authority over your life to God. Nevertheless, in efforts to unearth this “passion,” I sifted through my hobbies and classes and arrived at ... architect. I like to draw, I’m pretty good at math, I took an engineering class — this must be the career for me. Yet, I wasn’t excited about it. I couldn’t even tell you what an architect’s daily workload looked like, but I could tell you that the median salary was $76,100. It was convenient and it made sense, but it wasn’t my purpose. It was time to shift my focus from finding a career to deciding how I would enact the change I wanted to see. You may not want to have the same job for the rest of your life, but the empathy you feel for the child with a widowed mother will never go away. The sympathy you have for families that don’t know where their next meal is coming from will never go away. The anger you feel when you see the world go deaf to the cries of black people marching for change will never go away because that is your purpose.
MARIST HIGH SCHOOL '21 GPA: 5.0
My passion found me when I noticed that many schools were silent on the murder of George Floyd and the civil unrest that followed. It baffled me that the anger and hurt of many students was seemingly disregarded. It dawned on me — not only should schools try to ensure their students know their voices are heard, but they should be required to do so. I realized that a policy needs to be instituted that requires schools to implement a platform where students can voice their own concerns about the real world and how they and others unlike themselves are affected by it. This is the change I want to see. Upon embracing God’s purpose for my life, the search for a career became less daunting because I realized that as long as I was allowing God to use me for His purpose, I would have peace. Right now, I want to get my master’s in Public Administration in order to gain a position in government that allows for me to live in my purpose. What do I want to do for the rest of my life? I don’t know. As long as I trust that God has it figured out, I don’t have to. That’s the incredible reality of a favorite, well-known verse: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28. Do you really believe it? I do!
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TAYLOR MOORE When I initially chose Howard, I had no idea what to expect. Coming from a predominantly white high school, I was extremely nervous yet excited. For the first time in my life, I would be 750 miles away from my parents; every 18-year-old girl’s dream — until it wasn’t. A few months before I went off to college, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a disease that takes the life of 87 percent of patients. Having always been a daddy’s girl, this took an immense toll on me. My father was not able to work for quite some time due to his treatment. I heard that chemo was ugly, but I had no idea it was that intense. Alongside this battle my family was facing, I was in the middle of leaving a very unhealthy and toxic relationship. Naturally, it was too much for a teenage girl to handle on my own without all of it taking a toll on my mental health. Sure enough, it was eventually time for me to go away, and with my father not really able to work, my mother took complete control over my tuition and had to send me to school almost all on her own. With this being said, I had scholarships and grants, but it still wasn’t enough to actually help my mother out. It is safe to say I was in a really dark place coming into my freshman year. I struggled to accomplish the things I should have been doing: joining clubs and organizations, making friends outside of the people I already knew, and completely dedicating myself to my schoolwork. The temptations and negative resources at college are real. Drugs, alcohol, partying, etc., are all the tools one needs to completely self-destruct. However, my biggest flex is that God never took His hands off my family and me through all of this. Even though I was struggling, I made a conscious effort to attend church every Sunday, even if that meant going alone most days. By God’s grace, my father was healed and left with not so much as a scratch, just a few months after his diagnosis. I managed to completely separate myself from the toxic relationship I described earlier and get my mental health back on track. And to top it all off, my mother successfully and single-handedly put me through my first semester at Howard.
HOWARD UNIVERSITY GPA: 4.0
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"RELEASING MY FEARS AND TRUSTING GOD" I recently obtained a 4.0, a leadership position on student council, and a seat as treasurer of a community service organization on campus, and these are just some of the things God had planned out for me. The Bible tells us, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil” (Phillippians 23:4). Holding fast to this verse, I never lost faith because the Lord makes no mistakes; I knew I was exactly where I needed to be and that the storm would never last, the pain was temporary, and the worry was all in my head. The Lord never said that we would not endure storms. He said that they would never prosper and we would never be alone. After my trials my freshman year, I know now I am never alone.
FAVORed ARTIST JESSICA HAUSMANN Jessica Hausmann’s new album My First Five dropped this year during a time that was pretty rough for most of America. With “uncertain times” quickly becoming the theme of 2020, songs like “Let Go and Let God” and “On God’s Time” stand as beautiful reminders of the sovereign God we serve. Jessica grew up around music. She sang in church and at school. As she got older, she began to understand how incredible and special music is. To her, being able to create music is a gift and a way she reflects the image of God through her life. Music has the power to speak to people’s hearts, and Jessica loves using music to bless those around her as it also blesses her. This passion for music largely comes from her faith in Jesus Christ. “It changes my perspective when I sing,” she says. “When I lead worship, I love hearing the people I’m leading sing with me.” So what inspires Jessica’s music? “From all over and at different times,” she said. “Sometimes I have a lyric and a melody in my head, and they are just there for a while before I realize they go together.” In the case of her newest song “Found,” she wrote it when she found herself concerned with questions about the future and God’s plan for her life. “I wrote down all of the questions I had and brought them to God.” This song came out of her prayers to God during a season of learning to trust Him fully. Jessica encourages others to hold onto their community in every way. Sometimes God puts His people in places outside of their comfort zone. Like the Israelites, sometimes we do not understand our circumstances, but God has us there for a reason. We have to dig in where He has placed us, as we remember, “God’s mercies are new every morning.” No matter what is happening in the world, we can choose to have joy because our God is good. He has a purpose and a plan for our lives. He just asks us to follow.
JESSICA’S ALBUM CAN BE FOUND ANYWHERE YOU STREAM MUSIC
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MUSIC FOR THE
Ladies, let’s be honest ... the daily grind can be exhausting. We have learned that one of the best ways to relax and refocus during a long day is listening to some inspiring music. Here is our list of the uplifting music we can’t get enough of right now.
Kari Jobe’s song “The Blessing” is a true blessing to all who listen. It never ceases to put a smile on your face and comfort in your soul. The song offers a beautiful and powerful reminder that God is indeed for us.
Natalie Grant’s new album No Stranger is full of lyrical songs and compositions that speak to the heart. This soft album is great for when you find yourself overwhelmed and in need of a break. Let the songs enrich your heart and encourage you through your day.
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We the Kingdom’s album Holy Water, featuring the same name as their 2019 upbeat single, is a new favorite of ours. This is the kind of playlist you want to listen to when you begin to hit that midafternoon wall. Sip some coffee, jam to the music, and get ready to take on the rest of your day.
Jekalyn Carr’s single “Changing Your Story” encourages listeners to take courage in the trials and hard times because God is moving and has a plan for your life. So let your heart be lifted as He uses your disappointments and setbacks to write your life’s amazing story to bring Him glory.
Rich Tolbert Jr’s. song “Never Be Defeated” reminds listeners that even though we might be going through hard times, we are never abandoned, never crushed or without hope. God is our greatest ally and our source of strength. He is there to lift up your head and encourage your heart.
IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR SOME UPLIFTING MUSIC TO KEEP YOU GOING ALL DAY LONG, WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND TUNING IN TO K-LOVE, WAY-FM, OR AIR1. THEY CAN BE FOUND ON THE AIRWAVES IN MOST STATES, OR YOU CAN LISTEN ONLINE AT IHEARTRADIO.
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MOVIES THAT WILL
We all love a fun, exciting movie, but it is truly disappointing how often movies we want to love contain scenes we don’t want to watch. It can be so refreshing to get to watch a movie that is not only clean, but also uplifting and encouraging. We are here to help with that. These are the Christian movies that inspire our hearts.
I Still Believe
This new 2020 released movie tells the true story of musician Jeremy Camp. This movie is an inspirational romance based on the singer’s love for his wife and how they walk through uncertain times. Through this trial, Camp writes the song “I Still Believe,” the movie’s theme song and namesake. This beautiful story encourages viewers to hold fast to the hope we have in God, even in the midst of storms. Fair warning, this one is also a tear-jerker. We advise lots of tissues.
Also based on a true story, this movie shows the power of prayer and the blessings of community. When her son slips under water for almost 15 minutes, Joyce Smith can only pray for her son to survive. Miraculously he is found and resuscitated but sits in the hospital in a coma. Having to rely on her faith in God, Joyce has to find a way to release her desire to control and rely on her Heavenly Father. This is a beautifully encouraging movie that reminds us to trust God and never underestimate the power of prayer. Once again, a box of tissues is highly recommended.
This family-friendly movie teaches the importance of forgiveness and finding one’s identity in Christ. It follows high school cross country runner Hanna Scott. She has to face forgiving her father, who was not a part of her life, and is ultimately faced with herself. She has to come to grips and accept the new identity she has as a child of God. We highly recommend this as an encouraging movie for the whole family
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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
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JULISSA CADENA @julissadesigns
It can be so difficult as Christian women to find fashion that is not only beautiful, but also modest and honoring to God. Julissa Cadena believes you can be fashionable and maintain a degree of modesty at the same time.
ABOUT JULISSA I am a Christian fashion designer. In 2014, God gave me a detour. I went to school for fashion but I was seeking my own glory. As time went on, my eyes were opened to the way women dress in the fashion industry. The immodest clothing was objectifying these women. I was making those clothes, but after that realization I started making more modest clothing and shifting my focus to giving God the glory in everything. The fashion industry can become very prideful, and as we know, God hates pride. During my fashion college days, I loved participating in fashion shows. Taking the walk at the end of the show was my favorite part. I reveled in having everyone there looking at me, clapping for me and telling me how great I was for my amazing work. I used to love it, but now I absolutely detest it. I try to avoid it as much as possible. The fashion industry is the only industry in which you see the creator come out at the end, take a bow, and wait for applause. In contrast, a singer is already on the stage, but I have yet to see a chef come out from the back and have everyone turn their heads and clap for him.
H JOHN VOORHEES III / HEARST CONNECTICUT MEDIA
Pride is a very dangerous thing, and during the days where you can get followers to be your fans, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s even worse. We as Christians need to take a stand for Christ and always remember that God is the One who gives the talents and abilities. Who are we to boast on that? All the glory should be for God and God only. I mean, we can't even breathe without Him, yet we think we can boast in the things we do. When I do fashion shows now, I also always use Gospel music to match my message. I always try to find every way I can to share the Gospel of Christ, which is our command from God. Since God has done this work in my life, I have added Glory to God to my brand as a constant reminder that I do this for Him.
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KATHLEEN DUNN @modern.word
A few years ago, a dear friend asked me to design scripture cards for a group of young moms she was mentoring. As a graphic designer, I’ve always enjoyed creating memory verse cards for myself, so I was excited to do it for others. Eventually, the women started asking for extra cards to give away, and some excitedly told me they were “actually memorizing verses!” because they loved the clean, easy to read designs and kept them in prominent places in their homes. I was thrilled that the cards were having an impact, so I decided to take the idea and run with it. Modern Word is a line of cleanly designed and beautifully produced cards, apparel, and gifts that help you experience the power of God’s Word in your everyday life. Wear His words, see His words, light His words. My hope is that as you experience God’s Word with your senses, they will seep down deep into your heart, light your path, and lead you to actually meet and intimately know The Word Himself.
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e e r t e l g o i r u z p o @sh Born and raised in Newnan, Georgia, American fashion designer Zuri Ogletree started her fashion brand at the age of 24 in Atlanta. Zuri is a bespoken designer who creates elaborate, one-of-a-kind custom gowns for women that have the desire to not only look stunning but feel confident and vibrant. Zuri’s fashion design journey started when her mother bought her a sewing machine at the age of nine. With Zuri gThen seeing her daughter growing up reading Vogue magazines and designing clothing for her Barbies, Zuri’s mother sensed that fashion could be Zuri’s calling. Zuri attended Bauder College for Fashion Design,, where she graduated in 2010. To gain hands-on experience with hopes of becoming a seasoned fashion designer in the future, Zuri worked at her professor’s boutique to understand the ins and outs of the fashion industry, but more importantly, the business side of fashion. It was then when Zuri realized she didn’t want to just make clothes, but create designs and an experience that her clients wouldn’t forget when wearing her clothes. She had no clue that a decade later she would be living her dream of becoming a fashion designer and empowering women to look and feel like a queen.
“God is the most important relationship in my life,” Zuri shares. “I’ve been through trials and tribulations, and at times I wanted to give up. It wasn’t until I was at my lowest in 2015 that I heard what I thought could be God talking to me in a small, still voice, but I wasn’t sure. But what I heard was ‘pick your head up, lift your shoulders back, stand up, and walk into what I, your Heavenly Father, have called you into.’ I thought my mind was playing tricks on me until God sent someone to give me the message face to face. I had never met this man before. He told me with tears in my eyes, ‘God said, He is going to lift your name out of the mud and wipe it clean. Just like you eat nutrients for your physical body, God wants you to fill yourself with His Word from Scripture. His words will bring great health, protection, peace, blessings, and happiness.’
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I burst into tears. I knew God was real, but it was then in that particular season that God told me my purpose, and that no matter what I go through, He will always be there for me to pick me back up. God is my everything. I cannot live without saying His name at least once a day. God is the only reason I’m standing, and He will forever be my number one priority. I owe God everything.”
IRON SHARPENS IRON Brittany Clubine Throughout church history, God has called His people through difficult times to minister to others and be a light to the world. This year has been a prime example. In March 2020, large numbers of people became infected with a novel virus, COVID-19. Within a few weeks, many states were shut down, with only essential businesses allowed to open. Even churches were asked to cancel in-person gatherings for a while. While many churches found these mandated closures difficult, and some churches felt it was wrong to stop meeting in person, many churches abided by the quarantine in order to hopefully keep their congregants safe. In the face of these difficult and challenging times, the American church collectively and individually had to adapt to the new events. I often heard around my Christian college campus, “They don’t teach this stuff in seminary.” As confusing and difficult as the decisions were, each pastor did their best to accommodate the new restrictions and follow God. In spite of the challenges, pastors across America adapted, making videos and livestreams of their services, allowing multitudes to watch and worship online. And they never stopped ministering to and meeting the needs of their communities. Churches volunteered to partner with food banks and developed safe ways to pass out food. Churchgoers donated large amounts of supplies to ministries to make sure no one within the community was left without. Small groups and women’s ministries met online so people would not be lacking community. It was inspiring and heartening to watch the church come together and be the hands and feet of Jesus, even in these unprecedented times. In many ways the response of the church has been good. However, another emphasis in some churches has had some undesirable effects. When some pushed back against mandates to close church doors and held verses like “do not forsake the gathering” as a banner for Christians to come back in person, an unforeseen consequence resulted.
Some church members and Christians less familiar with all that Scripture teaches received the message that the church is only useful, biblical, and honoring to God when done in a church building in the American traditional concept of church. We know this perception isn’t true; Jesus himself spoke against the rigidity of the religious leaders who claimed that salvation was only possible with works. While it remains important for Christians to meet with one another, this has looked different across the world, across many different generations. This presents an opportune time for our churches to offer resources to families, to encourage men and women to be spiritual leaders in their homes and communities. It is so easy for us to allow Sunday morning church to be the only spiritual feeding we get all week. God wants a relationship with us. That means we must spend time with Him on our own. Our pastors can’t give us relationships with God. It is our job to spend time with our Savior. A church is so much more than a building. It is the people that matter.
"So, his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong." Ephesians 4:12
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The Power of Prayer! CHRISTINA KING ROGERS Christina King Rogers is a woman after God’s own heart. She stands for holiness and righteousness. From humble beginnings, Christina has overcome emotional and sexual abuse, a major health crisis, mental breakdown, trauma, and low self-worth. Through the grace of God, she has risen above every challenge and learned the value of prayer in her life.
Christina King Rogers’ Prayer “Father, in the name of Jesus, I say a special prayer for every woman that will encounter this testimony. Help them to see that they are not alone in their journey, and You, Yahweh, still have a divine purpose and plan for their life . I decree and declare that all past failures, hurts, or disappointments are behind them, I pray Father that you will give them enough strength to push past the pain and experience Your agape love, tender mercies, and a miraculous miracle today. I speak peace and clarity over them as they wait upon You, Abba. We call it done NOW in their life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior’s shed blood and divine love for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
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Prayer has made a massive impact in her life as well. In 2009, she found out she had stage three thyroid cancer and was going to need immediate surgery and treatment. It was a fearful time for her, but her mom, knowing Who was really in control, reminded Christina how much God had already brought her through. He surely was with her now. He is truly Jehovah Rapha, “God is my Healer.” Christina made the intentional choice to put her treatment in God’s hands. She poured herself into Scripture, taking comfort in the Word of God. God walked with her through her two-year battle with cancer. God cared for her, and as of today she is 11 years cancer-free.
Bio Christina, wife and mom of four, is also an entrepreneur and founder of Blessed Organic Essentials LLC, a plant-based skincare product line. Some of Christina’s most recent accomplishments include her appearances on ABC’s Chicago talk show Windy City Live, and WCIU The Jam TV show. She is also the recipient of 100 Black Women of Chicago High Honoree Recognition. Through everything God walked her through in her life, Christina desired to create a platform where women wouldn’t have to suffer alone. She launched Be Made Whole With Christina Ministries Inc., a ministry that focuses on reaching lost and broken people and sharing the hope we have in Jesus Christ, our Savior.
GUIDING SCRIPTURE: ROMANS 8:38-39 (KJV)
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Please join Be Made Whole With Christina’s Live Worship Broadcast on Sundays at 1:30 p.m. CST. And join The War Room Prophetic Prayer Broadcast every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. CST.
"Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God's people." Ephesians 6:18
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V I R T U O U S
W O M A N
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”” 1 Samuel 16:7
TIFFANY BOSS Tiffany Boss is a mother of three and currently fighting cancer. Her beauty has truly been shining from within through her battle because she is not fighting the traditional way. Tiffany decided not to receive radiation or chemo. “I had a lumpectomy, and I’ve been doing well for the most part,” she shares. She holds fast to the truth that GOD sees the heart. She does not worry about what others think of her physically; instead, she strives to be genuine and sincere towards people. Most of all, she wants others to see the love of Christ through her. “As I fight cancer I say I’m fighting pretty. Meaning from the inside out.” Her goal is to inspire people not to give up, no matter what they are going through, because we can rely on God to walk with us and give us strength.
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God himself showed that his message was true by working all kinds of powerful miracles and wonders. He also gave his Holy Spirit to anyone he chose to. Hebrews 2:4
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HIGHER PRAISE MINISTRY PASTOR CLARENCE MARKS JR. & & PRENESS MARKS 5200 COMPTON AVE, LOS ANGELES, CA. 90011 MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. BOX 1863, HAWTHORNE, CALIF, 90251 WE ARE STREAMING LIVE ON FACEBOOK, SUNDAYS AT 1PM
Our God is a good and powerful God. We see examples all throughout the Bible of Him demonstrating His power. Our Heavenly Father loves us, and He hears us when we pray. God doesn’t always answer in the way we want or hope for, but He does listen, and in His sovereignty, He answers our prayers. Evangelist Preness Marks is a woman of God who believes in the power of God to transform lives. She is a prayer warrior and loves to minister to the broken-hearted. Faithfully, she has seen firsthand how powerfully God answers our prayers, believes that when we Pray God hears us and answers us according to Our Faith. Preness and her family live in California, where she works along with Her Husband Pastor Clarence Marks Jr. of Higher Praise Ministry, C.O.G.I.C. They both Serve in the California New Journey Jurisdiction, He is over the Pastors and Elders Council, she is over The Pastors/Ministers Wives. These are her personal stories of how God has responded to her prayers. In January 2004, The Holy Spirit nudged me to pray hard all week for my four sons. That Friday, I took a group of ladies from my church to a Women’s Conference in San Pedro, California. During their concert, I was worshiping, and it was all and only for God.
In a room of people, I heard God say to me, “Look up, something is about to happen, but it’s going to be alright.” Inwardly, I knew I was going to start getting phone calls before me and the ladies from my church left to get tea. I turned to my fellow sister in Christ and shared with her what God had spoken to me. As soon as the concert was over, we began to walk out, and my cell phone started vibrating. Call after call was coming through and I had missed calls. My second son C was shot. I turned back to my sister and said, “I told you what God said.” In that moment, all 17 of us ladies knelt on the gravel parking lot and began to pray! As we prayed, I heard God say, “pray that your son would live and not be paralyzed.” I did not know yet where he had been shot. When we got to the hospital, I found out he had been shot in his back while sitting on a friend’s porch. It was a drive-by in Los Angeles that left a bullet lodged in his back, two inches from his spine. When I entered the emergency room, he said mama, “I can’t feel my legs.” I anointed him with oil and prayed. By morning, the feeling came back in his legs. To this day, the bullet is still in his back. By God’s mercy he is walking, working, and living a productive life! In 2009, we experienced hardship and were staying in the Sheraton Hotel. God gave us favor. We were paying $52.98 a night, for 10 months. We never complained, instead we blessed God and trusted Him. We got behind on our bill to the sum of over $3,000. Somehow, the card had reversed all the payments, and neither we nor the hotel knew. The hotel manager gave us until 6 p.m. to come up with the money, and my husband went to work. I told the hotel manager that we would have the money by 3 p.m., not 6 p.m., and that God would answer. He gave me a strange look and replied, “I hope so, or you will have to leave.” I went to the room alone, and spent time in worship, praising my God! A few weeks prior, the IRS attacked my husband’s paycheck, and he had to call them to try to get it straight. So now, here we were in this dilemma. Well, a few hours later my husband called and said he had been summoned to HR. Upon arrival, he found that the IRS had delivered two checks to his job, well over $5,000! Have you ever heard of such a thing? My God! We cashed those checks, and I was at the front desk with the money at 2:45 p.m. The manager had already gone home, but I said, “Get him on the phone, he needs to hear this testimony!” He was in shock, but happy for us at the same time.
What a "mindblowing" testimony!
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Beloved Readers, Thank you for allowing us to share these mind blowing testimonies with you. Our prayer is that it leads to your salvation and healing. We would be remiss to end this magazine without offering the best gift you will ever receive in your life. The gift of salvation. If you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know Jesus as Lord and Savior and desire to surrender your life to Him, or if you are born again and would like to rededicate your life, repeat this prayer out loud and believe it in your heart and you will be saved or restored.
PRAYER OF SALVATION “FATHER, I ADMIT THAT I AM A SINNER, AND I ASK FOR YOUR FORGIVENESS. I BELIEVE THAT JESUS CHRIST IS YOUR SON. I BELIEVE HE DIED FOR MY SINS AND THAT YOU RAISED HIM TO LIFE. I TURN FROM MY FORMER LIFE AND BELIEVE THAT INVITING JESUS CHRIST INTO MY HEART AND MY LIFE THAT I AM NOW BORN AGAIN. I WANT TO TRUST HIM AS LORD, FROM THIS DAY FORWARD. GUIDE MY LIFE AND HELP ME TO DO YOUR WILL. I PRAY THIS IN THE NAME OF JESUS. AMEN.”
If you said this prayer and believed it in your heart, you are now saved … Born Again! The former you is now in the past, and you are a new creature free from guilt and shame of your former self. Please find a Bible-based church to learn how to walk with Jesus and to enjoy the abundant life He has planned for you.
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