Page 1

OPTIMAL-LIVINGMAGAZINE.COM january/february 2013









11 True Confessions of a Saved man






14 .



OUR STAFF PUBLISHER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tanisha R. Hopson ASSISTANT TO THE PUBLISHER Subscriptions - Distribution Christine Davis EDITORS Laketa Lewis ROBERTA SHANNON GRAPHIC MEDIA DESIGN RNA PRoMOTIONAL DESIGN CONCEPTS CONTRIBUTORS MS. ALANA B. MS. MARSHA CARROLL DR.SANDY MCNEILL-FINKLIN JASON OTTLEY MS. ASHLEY MOORE MRS. DELONDA ADAMS MR. HASANI PETTIFORD MS. WENDYE SAVAGE MS. MICHELLE WILSON Ms. Rosemarie Phipps COVER STORY PHOTO CREDIT Russell Baer Optimal Living Magazine is published six times per year with a mission is to encourage our readers to live the most abundant life possible as it relates to their spirituality, purpose, careers, finances and relationships. Advertisers who offer products, services and events in support of our mission are encouraged to contact our Advertisement Sales Department at 1-888-876-1722 or Š Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, including photocopying, electronic retrieval of publication without written permission of the Publisher.

THE PUBLISHER’S PERSPECTIVE WISE PEOPLE KEEP IT MOVING IN 2013! next best thing for your life. Sometimes keeping it moving can be hard because you can be tempted to stay there in regret, become a lifetime victim of the wrongs done to you, and mull it over in your mind repeatedly. However, this perspective does nothing for you, the situation, or your current mental/spiritual state.

The mind and spirit that stays refreshed/renewed by the Word of God opens itself up to new beginnings,stays focused on God’s business, and keeps it moving. The year 2012 is over; now what are you going to do about moving forward in 2013? If you are going to grow into your destiny with class, distinction, grace, and God’s favor for your life; you must be intentional about understanding who you are in Christ, where you are in your life journey, and what lessons you need to learn to get to your ultimate destination. Always remember that nothing just happens! Nothing you experience in this life is a waste of time. Keep your mind sharp and

“The lessons that you fail to learn from, you will repeat.” ~ Bishop Dale C. Bronner


eflection turns experience into insight. However, you can’t stop there. You must begin to discern, learn your lessons in life like a champ, and keep it moving!

As we cross the threshold of time into the year 2013, there are some things that we must get into our spirits to be prosperous in all areas of our lives! God is requiring us to walk according to His Word, in His will, and on purpose! We can no longer look at how

excited about every season...Take all things in stride and above all else; keep it moving. As we celebrate our 25th issue, I would like to say thank you to all of our readers and those that have believed in the vision for Optimal Living Magazine from the beginning. I pray you will be blessed by our special feature story as Ms. Jazz Raycole from the show “The Soul Man” shares the secret to her victory through her strong faith in God.

Tanisha R. Hopson

the rest of the world does things; we have to walk in the destiny that God has called us into. It’s a new day, it’s a new time, and it’s time to see the new you blossom! What’s holding you back from becoming the best YOU possible? When life throws you curveballs that you didn’t expect, you must discipline yourself to learn to give it to the Lord in prayer, rest in His ability to work things out for your good, and get on with the

Follow me on Twitter @Olmagazine Facebook @OptimalLivingMagazine

“The earth is filled with the Lord’s glory.” ~ Hababkkuk 2:14

PURPOSE DRIVEN LIVING TIPS HOW MAJESTIC IS HIS NAME BY MICHELLE WILSON Last year, I went on a cruise to the Bahamas. Although I was suffering from shingles, I decided to go on the trip anyway because it had been planned a year prior, and I was so excited about taking my first cruise. Before leaving, I promised God that regardless of my physical challenges, I would make every effort to enjoy the blessing that He so graciously assigned me. In order to give me peace over my situation, He placed it in my spirit to focus on the balcony of our room because that would be my source of solace. Needless to say, as soon as we entered the room, I immediately made my way to the balcony. God told me that there would be something special waiting there just for me. And, it was. I pushed open the door and stepped out into God’s glory. The view from the harbor was amazing. The same city where I live and travel throughout on a daily basis suddenly seemed fresh and new. I marveled at the buildings, the bridges, and the boats scattered about to bid us bon voyage. Before the ship even left the




port, I was praising God for the beauty of His of bringing great glory to His name. I thank creations and for allowing me the opportunity Him for my experience and for our precious to appreciate them one more time. time together. I praise Him for revealing His presence in the beauty of the natural As the days passed on, I found myself wonders that surround us. They are special drawn to that balcony to commune with God. gifts to be cherished by all of His children, The clouds were the most beautiful I’ve ever and you don’t have to be on the balcony of a seen, the water was calm, and the sound of ship to see them; you just have to open your the waves crashing against the side of the eyes! ship soothed my restless spirit. Slowly the cares of the world disappeared to the point that all I could focus on were God’s great MICHELLE WILSON is the author and marvelous works. How fantastic to be of the book, It’s Already Done! This book able to sit in the middle of the ocean with takes readers through the intimate accounts nothing standing between me and my Lord. of her being diagnosed with a series of The details of life couldn’t block my path life-threatening conditions, as a result of a to the One who loves me more than words severe allergic reaction. Yet through it all, she could ever describe. During the course of maintained a strong relationship with God, the trip, He showed me sunrises and sunsets, which strengthened her faith and led to a darkness and day, rain, wind, lightning, water greater understanding of His purpose for her spouts, and rough seas. It was His way life. of reminding me that He is in control of all things at all times, and that like nature, we too are marvelous works that are capable

HARVEST MATTERS A CANDID TALK ABOUT LIFE INSURANCE BY MARSHA CARROLL As we get ready to start a new year, now is the time to take stock of all your financial safeguards. Financial safeguards are any plans that you have in place to ensure you and/or your family will be relatively unscathed in the event of an emergency. One of the most important financial safeguards that every adult should have is life insurance. The most recent report from the Center for Disease Control indicates that over 2.5 million people in the United States of America died in 2011. These deaths occurred from various causes such as heart disease, strokes, and varying cancers, as well as unintended causes such as automobile accidents. Though the Bible states that as a child of God, we will spend eternity with Him, most people are reluctant to talk about anything related to their own mortality. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that, unfortunately, death is a part of life. If you own a car, chances are your state of residence requires you to have car insurance. If you are working fulltime and/ or if your budget allows it, chances are you have health insurance. Due to the fact that life insurance is voluntary and not seen as a priority, only 44% of US households have any type of individual life insurance policy. There are a few yet significant measures that can be used to assess whether you need life insurance. First, if you are alive, you need life insurance; period. If you plan to eventually retire, you need life insurance. And last, but not least, if you have family members that depend on

your income to sustain the household, you should definitely have life insurance. Life insurance is not a safety net for yourself but rather, will cover your funeral costs and will also provide for those who depend on you when you pass away. Life insurance falls under the umbrella of two main products: Term life insurance and Permanent (also known as Whole) life insurance. Term life insurance is the most common policy because it is less expensive, has an expiration date ranging from 10 to 30 years, and the death benefits are only paid if you (the person who is insured) dies within the term period for which you secured the policy. Conversely, Permanent life insurance is a broader category which is inclusive of universal or whole life insurance and has a cash value. This option tends to be more expensive because you are paying a higher premium at a younger age to cover higher liability costs as you age. Most Permanent life insurance policies usually cover individuals up to 90, or even 100, years of age. Life insurance pays a pre-determined amount of money to the beneficiaries, such as a spouse and/or children, who are listed on the policy when the policyholder dies. Similar to any other insurance policy, it is important for you to shop around; get multiple quotes and see what policies would work well for your budget and your household needs. Keep in mind that prior to securing a policy most companies require a thorough medical examination. As you search the market for a policy to fit your needs, a benchmark to keep in mind is the life insurance coverage should

pay out 7 to 10 times the income of the policyholder. Many factors could affect that figure, so it is imperative to periodically reassess the policy and its options. In addition to establishing a financial safety net for your family, life insurance also provides tax advantages. Benefits are excluded from income taxes. Therefore, if you have $500,000 policy, the beneficiaries of the policy receive that sum in full without having to pay any type of tax penalties. Additionally, when you have a Permanent/Whole life insurance policy, the cash value accrued is tax free. These benefits prove especially important when your family members are already contending with the emotional challenges that come from losing you, in the event of your death. Life insurance policies can also be earmarked by the policyholders for expenses such as education costs, living expenses, debt reduction, or medical bills left behind in the event that you are ill prior to passing away. Whether you are young or simply young at heart, be sure to put the necessary financial safeguards in place, before you enter the winter season of your life.

As always, contact a financial professional and in this case, a life insurance agent, who can better assess your individual needs.

Marsha Carroll is a freelance writer based in Princeton, NJ. For debt elimination questions, email:






here is so much that we want from God. When it comes to the things that our hearts really desire most, do you really believe that God will answer them? It’s easy to automatically say “yes” to this question. Yet, when pressure hits the fan and it feels as though God is not responding within your time schedule, do you really believe that He hears you? We should rely on our faith. We must not be afraid to step out on faith and move forward to our heart’s desire. Jazz Raycole is a well accomplished 24-year-old actress, who has acted in major television shows and movies approximately every year since 2005. She shares exclusively with Optimal Living Magazine that waiting for her most recent role, in TV Land’s “The Soul Man”, was a total worship and faith experience. It was serenity to hear Jazz Raycole’s deep revelation and appreciation of how God held the keys to her complete career celebration by her strong faith and long worshipping




encounter. The results of her strong roots in faith are how she credits everything to her road of success. When you make God the center of it all, everything falls into divine order. According to Jazz, “If God is not the center of it all, there is no success and destitute life results”. The core of your faith predicts your victory. God responds to faith not need. Without faith, there’s no peace or victory. The just shall live by Faith, “a substance with no evidence” – Bishop Henry Fernandez of The Faith Center (FL). Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1, KJV). As Jazz reveals, “Faith thanks God beforehand! I prayed, worshipped, and thanked God right before I was scheduled to receive the phone call for the new acting role, like I already had the role. I honestly knew I had the role before they called because God had me. I had the joy flowing in my heart. When its God you feel it.”

Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”. (Mark 11:24, NIV). Paul says, “Faith will endure to the end”. Abraham waited 25 years for Isaac to be born. Caleb waited 40 years for his land. Noah waited 120 years for his physical salvation. Faith does not look at the calendar, but only to Christ to get the results. Hope may last a few hours or a few months, butaith will endure until it is replaced by the thing for which we believe. Faith is an absolute requirement for answered prayer and produces worship during the uncomplaining wait. Jazz Raycole has practiced Faith without limits with a sprinkle of full worship. She can be spotted in her new role as “The Soul Man’s” Lyric Ballentine on TV Land every Wednesday Night at 10 p.m.

INTERVIEW WITH JAZZ RAYCOLE: OLM: When did your relationship start with Christ? Jazz Raycole: I’ve always grown up in the church. I attended church at the tender age of 4 with my Grandmother and Grandfather (he died 10 years ago) at a Church of God In Christ and sometimes with my uncle also at a large nondenominational church in L.A. My uncle has been pastoring for over 30 years. I would spend at least 2-3 times at church weekly. However, the fear of the God didn’t really arrive until I was 12 years old. I would fast and pray with Grandmother. I’ve also attended Andraé Crouch’s church. It is an amazing church geared towards artist and actors of faith. I really believe it’s not about rules but relationship. OLM: How did you first get started in the Hollywood acting career? Jazz Raycole: Well, my mom was a dance teacher. I really enjoy dancing but eventually I auditioned at a show like star search got discovered by my agency manager and kept auditioning for roles. I was in my first movie at the age of 6. OLM: What was it like to play your role on My Wife and Kids and why did you leave? What gave you the courage to leave this golden opportunity? Jazz Raycole: My role on My Wife and Kids was such a great experience. I was age 13 and began to start a “work” family. It hurts to leave your set family but God knows best. I left because they wanted an older girl character which I couldn’t give them at that time. Honestly, it was a decision with my mother. I respected it and trusted God. I went to dance in New York and Boston. You never know what God is up to. The courage that was given was from God. I totally trusted in him alone. Remember, the industry doesn’t make sense most of the time; it is very strange.

OLM: What’s your current role in “Soul Man” with Cedric the Entertainer? Jazz Raycole: I play the role of an interesting “PK”, Preacher Kid’s daughter, Lyric Ballentine. It is such a funny role to play. I can relate to this role because I’m use to structure. The role is very much like my childhood. I’m glad to not be over the top. The show shares a positive teenager. I’m so glad to be playing this role. I’m blessed to work with the cast every day. OLM: What sage advice you could offer other young people attempting to enter the field of entertainment and have a solid faith relationship? Jazz Raycole: 1. Stay prayed up! There will be so many things coming at you; the only way to get through is with God. 2. Continue to hunger and love your gifted passion and talents. 3. Stay on the purpose of God; it’s so easy to go another route rather quickly in this industry. OLM: How’s family life? What aspirations do you have for the future? What can we expect from you down the road? Jazz Raycole: My parents are my best friends. I’m only 15-20 minutes away from them. I feel that you shouldn’t just visit family on holidays. We pray together. My grandmother is full of life. She’s 83. I’m really close to my family. I love them with all I have. I’m applying to UCLA in Film & Entertainment. I want to write positive films that are not told. I believe I can create great art through film. I want to change people’s minds. I was encouraged to attend by my former instructor at another private school since I’m a straight “A” student. He thought I should do more with my skills and talent. OLM: How can people get in touch with you? Jazz Raycole: Follow me on Twitter @JazzRaycole

Dr. Sandy McNeill-Finklin is a feature writer for Optimal Living Magazine. Formerly from the Northeast, she has lived in South Florida for the last eight years. She’s a woman after God’s purpose in her life. She’s a Writer, Minister, Counselor, Speaker, Philanthropist, Professor, Marketing/PR/Media Consultant, and Soul Winning Advocate. Follow her on Twitter @thedpa2001, Like her on Facebook @TheDrButterfly or Call her: 508-372-0010 For more information on her services, visit website:




Optimal Living Magazine is the premiere Christian lifestyle magazine encouraging readers to live the most abundant life possible as it relates to their spirituality, purpose, careers, and relationships.

Subscribe Today! Send me the next 6 issues of Optimal Living Magazine! I have enclosed $25.00 for (1) annual subscription via Check, Money Order or Credit Card. Please make all orders payable to: Optimal Living Magazine LLC.

Name Street Address City/State/Zip Code Email, Telephone Number Send all orders to:

Optimal Living Magazine, LLC P.O. Box 9962 Alexandria, Virginia 22304 1-888-876-1722 Subscribers: If the Post Office alerts us that your magazine is undeliverable, we have no further obligation unless we receive a corrected address from you within twelve months. By ordering, you agree not to resell any subscriptions. Note: You will receive your first edition within 30 days of placing order. 10



TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A SAVED MAN PUT YOUR TITLES AWAY: ONE MAN’S REFLECTION ON MANHOOD BY MR. JASON OTTLEY Society has given more prestige lately to titles than it has to the man or woman behind the title. A CEO, Executive, Director, and Owner are terms that we have become conditioned to think carry power, promise, and possibility. While it does speak to the role of leader versus follower, it does not speak to a person’s character or integrity. And if we continue to chase after titles to gain power, promise, and possibility and forget to acquire great character or integrity, we have missed the mark.

Titles adversely affect our relationships if they are not governed properly. For instance, some men will use being a man to benefit himself entirely too much. The level of control stems from biblical scripture that has been taught out of context. The Bible never states that a man is to control a woman. What is does say is “the two will become one” and “man will have dominion over the earth”. Some men feel as if women should move to the beat of their drum and do as they are told.




Today’s millennial woman is moving to the beat of her own drum and has leveraged herself enough where she can stand on her own two feet. Has this diluted a man’s role as a man? Absolutely not! Although women have become more independent, most independent women have no problem following a competent man. The problem has come where incompetent men are expecting that women follow them because they are men. Yes, by title and gender a man is a man and a woman a woman. But, unless your character and integrity line up to being who a man and woman is designed to be, you will merely carry the title without any power. Are you looking for the power, the promises, and the endless possibilities in your life? If so, that doesn’t come by climbing the rungs of corporate America, graduating with multiple degrees, or even winning the lottery. That, my friend, only comes with great character and integrity. When you have both, a woman will follow a competent man and a man will partner with a virtuous woman!

Jason Ottley Founder of Empowering Relationships, a company tailored to meeting the personal needs of individuals while helping to enrich their relationships. Ottley’s first novel, PillowTalk, inspired him to take the relationship discussion between men and women on the road, launching a unique nationwide Relationship Tour. For more information about the tour and the book, PillowTalk, visit:






50 SHADES OF GREY HAS NOTHING ON OUR LOVE BY MRS. DELONDA ADAMS I usually arrive at my son’s school about an hour early so that I can get a good spot. During that time I read, pray, or use the extra time to call up a friend to catch up. I happened to look at the car behind me and what do I see? I see a woman passionately reading 50 Shades of Grey. Women all over are reading this book, from the soccer moms to the career woman. This book is being read and it has its readers captivated. Personally I have not read the book, but after reading the reviews of how explicit the sex scenes are and the types of intercourse and erotica introduced had me wondering: When was it decided that reading porn was okay just a long as you were not looking at it on the Internet? The truth of the matter is that the enemy is taking the porn industry from the television to book, where it started anyway. Perhaps with the book, pornography is looked at as more attractive and it can’t be that bad because there are no visuals to haunt your mind, right? Maybe it is okay because the characters are purely fictional and you cannot take it seriously, and besides reading is just entertainment, right? For the sake of the word entertainment, I will let you come to your own conclusion. You must realize your imagination is far more intense in some cases than any audiovisual stimuli. The worldview perpetuated today is that our sexuality is limitless and we have the right to explore our sexuality to our heart’s content. The act of sex is no longer viewed as a sacred expression of intimacy between a married man and woman. Pornography is one of the fastest growing and revenue producing industries in many nations and it is notorious for destroying lives and families. The Word of God is very direct about the marriage bed. “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 As Christian women, we don’t have to run to the shelves reading books like 50 Shades of Grey to add fire to our bedrooms. We can be sensual, sexy, pleased by our husbands, and pleasing to our husbands without defiling our marriage beds with the tainted images of what we have seen, read, and in some cases experienced which are not of God. Our Father in Heaven warns us in Matthew 15:11 that:




“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” When we allow ourselves to read, watch, and hear things that are not of God those things make impressions on our minds and hearts, then “out the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45) and of course the body acts. Therefore, sexual purity does not stop at being single, but it reaches all the way to the marriage bed. Reading porn is just as dangerous (if not more dangerous) than looking at it on the Internet. Some of the downfalls of opening our doors to erotica, pornography, and/or sexual behaviors that do not align with Christian conduct, etc. are outlined below:

• You begin to have unhealthy expectations of your spouse in the bedroom.

• While lovemaking, images of what you have seen and read will play like a movie in your mind—a.k.a. adultery of the heart.

• You will become less interested in being intimate with your spouse because you have been getting pleasure from your use of erotica, porn, etc. Furthermore, opening the door wider for the enemy to wreak havoc on your marriage.

• Addictions arise and your eyes begin to lust after other

men because your sensual appetite has been defiled with lust of the flesh.

Beware! You have brought sin into your bedroom and God is not pleased. We are in a constant battle to either walk in flesh or walk in the Spirit and we must consistently choose Spirit-filled living. The marriage bed must remain pure. We may question what sexual acts are allowed in the bedroom. Every marriage is different so the majority of answers to that question have to be decided between that couple and God. However, there are a few things that are NOT allowed in the bedroom.

• Intimacy that involves a third party person. This is

With all that being said, nothing can keep your marriage bed sacred better than involving God and prayer. Each day we must pray for ourselves and our husbands. Our husbands have to see images everyday of beautiful women whether they are clothed respectfully or not. However, the word tells us that “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”-Proverbs 27:20. What must you pray now? Pray that…

• although there are great temptations out there that your husband only has eyes for you.

• communication is kept open about what you do and do not like in the bedroom.

• your sexual attractions for each other grows more and does not dwindle.

• the Lord will help you to discern when you are in danger of opening doors that will hinder progress in your marriage.

• you are healed from your past so that you can enjoy intimacy with your spouse to its fullest.

My personal testimony is that I was one of the women who got caught up in pornography early in marriage, but I pray that you avoid the tactics and schemes that the enemy has planned in order to kill, steal, and destroy intimacy with your husband and marriage. Remember to go to God when issues arise regarding your marriage bed. He orchestrated sex in marriage and it is good. In conclusion, know that God designed sex in marriage so there is no need to hold yourself back from enjoying your spouse any longer. Keeping your marriage bed pure does not mean that you are limited from experiencing true pleasure in lovemaking with your spouse and even experimenting. In a pure marriage bed, you will experience true freedom in sexual expression that is in no way related to the enjoyment of sexual perversions. Be Blessed.

adultery and therefore it is sin.

• Involvement of animals. This is bestiality and therefore it is sin.

• Intimacy, in which any one of you is insulted, debased, or experience pain that is unwelcomed.

• Forcing your spouse to perform sexual acts that they are

not comfortable with, or they feel is a sin. You should hold off and communicate with your spouse and wait until they are ready.





has been married to her husband, Sean Adams for 10 years. Together they parent two great children, Sean Jr. and Sherry. She is the founder of Proverbs 31 Mama Ministries (www., an innovative women’s ministry. She unpacks the Word of God with relevance and simplicity. Her southern accent and inviting presence instantly engages and provides a sense of familiarity and realness. She has authored a curriculum and hosted successful online and offline studies. Her latest project, Forgetting My Past, will be released later this year.



that most successful people are well disciplined. Disciplined people set their sights on very high targets and figure out creative ways to reach the target. They seldom allow anything to distract them or knock them off course. They often maintain an aggressively high level of selfcontrol. Disciple and self-control require a lifestyle of constant sacrifice. Sacrifice is forfeiting one thing for something else considered to be of greater value. This plays an important role in success because success is about the long-term and not about giving into instant gratification. It’s a lifestyle of denial causing one to reject, turn down, and refuse to comply with or satisfy a request. First Corinthians 9:25-27 says, “To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best…like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to.”

The eighth habit of successful people is a lifestyle of self-discipline. When you study the lives of great men and women, you will find that the first victory they’ve won was over themselves. These are people who are willing to get a grip on their lives in order to take control of areas that will bring them success. The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do. People who succeed may not like doing certain tasks, but they choose to do it anyway because of the results it produces. Discipline is not genetic – something some of us were born with and others were not. It is not instinctual – something that comes naturally to us without effort. It can only be taught, modeled, and learned. Discipline is a state of mind, something you can access and apply whenever you choose, for your own benefit. With self-discipline, anything is

possible. Without it, nothing worthwhile is possible. Discipline is what turns a dream into reality. Discipline is the establishment of a systematic method of training or a set of habits and behaviors in order to accomplish something. Unfortunately, the reason why people find it so hard to maintain a consistent level of discipline is because there is nothing glamorous about it. In fact, it is very bland, boring, and dull. It’s neither fun nor exciting and it fails to keep the interest of those who embrace it as a habit. That’s why most people don’t finish what they start. They get bored of the same routine day in and day out which often offers no immediate visible sign of progression. Though you may detest it and despise it, it will ultimately bring you the results that you want. It has been proven

Successful people are willing to do things they hate to create the things they love. They make decisions that create the future they desire. Unsuccessful people, on the other hand, make decisions that create the present they desire. Discipline is the most important key to total fulfillment. Once you have properly mastered the habit of discipline, success will become your reward.

Hasani Pettiford ( is an award-winning author and speaker and has an appeal that transcends barriers of age, culture, and occupation. For over a decade he has been a recognized authority on human sexuality, interpersonal relationships, and personal growth and development.





THIS IS LIVING! KITE FLYING AT ITS BEST… BY MS. ASHLEY MOORE Our lives are filled with many opportunities for grand adventures; we just have to have eyes to see them! A few years ago my mom, sister, and I met in Florida for a “girls’ trip.” I saw a kite in one of the souvenir shops and bought it, excited about the adventures that awaited me. About a year later, back in the DMV, I stirred up the courage to go out and fly my kite alone. (As much as I like company and companionship, I’ve had the privilege over the years of learning how to enjoy some adventures all by myself.)

assembled, I attempted to actually fly my kite. I was unsuccessful at kite flying, but I was successful at causing myself to crack up with laughter! I felt the blessing of God’s joy and the gifts of simplicity and liberty. I felt alive. At one point, an old man passed by and asked what I was doing. He tried to help me, but my kite attacked him. It was extremely windy that day! I apologized and asked if he’d take my picture while I held my kite up. That was the only way I could get it to stay in the air.

At Gravelly Point Park, I pulled out my “high-tech” kite and completely assembled it the wrong way. (I should’ve bought a simple kite, but no: I wanted a cool kite.) At one point, I found myself running around trying to catch a piece of the kite that had flown away. Finally, improperly

For my next few kite adventures, I was blessed with company from the onset. With the same kite from the previous story, a friend and I set off to the National Mall, laid out our blanket, and sat for 20 minutes untangling the string that had not been fixed since my first adventure. We




then attempt to fly the kite. Did I mention that there was no wind? Did I mention that we knew that before we went out? It was HILARIOUS!!! We tried taking turns holding the kite up for each other while one person took off running. The only thing that came from that was the release of endorphins. Again, I came alive- alive with joy and laughter; alive in the beauty and preciousness of the moment. This moment was a gift from God and despite the fact that the kite never flew; my soul soared! I finally broke down and bought a few cheap kites, one dollar each. I flew them during recess with my students. I flew them with a close friend visiting from Birmingham, and I flew them on a date. Each time brought with it the gift of the moment- an opportunity to frolic in the joy of the Lord, to be gleeful, and yet still enough to delight in His creation (people, space, and time). I’ve flown the kites on a field at work and I’ve flown the kites in a high school parking lot. I’ve flown the kites in the day time and at night (my date night). I’ve flown them with wind and without wind. (When there was no wind, I tried to make wind.) Each of these moments, I count as gifts from God. I am blessed: blessed to be a child in my Father’s presence; blessed with opportunities to smile and laugh; blessed with good company; blessed to have a kite; and blessed with times in which my kite flies and my soul soars in the bliss and simplicity of the moment….fully alive!

Ms. Ashley Moore was raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a 28 year old teacher residing in the Washington, DC metro area. She is a poet, dancer, artist, sister, daughter, prayer partner and friend. Her heart’s passions are tied to the arts and in using the arts to empower, encourage, and to inspire others. She is a romantic, a dreamer, an adventurer, a lifelong learner, and an advocate for life


“BRAND NEW!” BY Wendye Savage

In remembrance of what used to be Yesterday is gone, a memory: With all of it’s good and bad; The success and failures that we’ve had: It is the hour, the time has come, To wave goodbye from where we’ve come: Hold onto lessons learned and such Press on to dreams, conquer much: With a list of hopeful things to do In a season of beginning new: As we celebrate gift of life so dear In a bright and hopeful brand new year. “HAPPY NEW YEARS EVERYBODY!”

Ms. Wendye Savage is a proud mother of five children. Wendye began writing poetry at an early age. Currently, she is a weekly poetry columnist for The “Jasper County Sun,” a newspaper based in Ridgeland, South Carolina. She is considered an asset as she inspires those around her with her in depth, from the heart, and candid style of writing. In 2010, she became a published author of a collection of inspirational poetry titled, “ONE SWEET DAY” and completed a second book of poetry titled, “AFTER THE RAIN” in 2011.




“WORDS” BY Rosemarie Phipps It’s true words can’t break bones, like sticks and stones. But they strike like a copperhead; releasing venom that quickly spreads. There is no possible way we can retract ugly words released in verbal attacks. Some find their self-esteem and love of self. Relegated far back on a hidden shelf. Many believe if they simply apologize, the deadly erosion will be neutralized. But there is no way words can be eradicated. Once they have been communicated. After the passage of many years the memory of them can reappear. Outwardly, it may appear that those attacked don’t care; But, inwardly the terminal effect is still there. Will you keep these thoughts in mind, when to harsh words you are inclined? May I again simply emphasize, be aware of what you vocalize. In your speech kindly omit-words that have no benefit… Ms. Rosemarie Phipps is a mother, grandmother and friend to many in the Jackson, Mississippi area. She is a retired Elementary and Junior High school teacher. Over the years, she has written poetry and short stories and enjoys public speaking. As a breast cancer survivor, she uses every opportunity to encourage women who have breast cancer, or have survived cancer. Her hobbies are music, writing, and being around enthusiastic people.





Low Fat Breaded Chicken Parmesan Ingredients:


12 oz. white meat chicken (one double breast)

1. Cut the chicken breast horizontally (filet it)

1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese 1/2

Cup Italian-style bread crumbs

1 Tsp. garlic powder

so you will end up with two thin pieces. 2. Rub each piece with olive oil. 3. Mix dry ingredients together and pat each

1 Tbsp. onions, dried

piece with the crumb mixture until well covered. 4. Bake at 375*F for about 20 minutes. serves 2

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil Crushed red peppers if desired


Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes



“No weapon that is formed against us shall prosper.”

A TIME OF INTERCESSION Almighty Father, creator of Heaven and earth. We humbly come before you with thanks giving in our hearts, asking for Your never ending mercy. We lift your name on high, above any name that has ever existed, our father and creator, we ask you to bless, protect and to pour your supernatural favor upon us, our children, spouses and friends. Father, we ask you today for divine intervention in our lives, we ask for your touch in all areas of our lives. Provide divine intervention for new jobs, promotion, freedom from debt in our own homes, and with the national debt situation in America. Father, help us to rebuild of our relationships with You, our spouses and friends. Father, we believe that any situation you touch, will never be the same. Father, let Your will be done in our lives as Your decision in our lives are always the best, please do something extraordinary and new in the life of the person that is reading this prayer now. In Jesus’ matchless name we pray, Amen.





I will always put God first in everything I do!


I will love God & love my neighbor as myself.

Matthew 22: 36-40


I will keep my vow to pay my tithes, give with a cheerful heart and look for opportunities to bless others as God freely blesses me.

Nehemiah 10:37; Malachi 3:10


I will be joyful as I live within my means and not covet my neighbor’s blessings. Deuteronomy 5:12


I will study God’s Word daily and make it come alive by living it every day of my life! Psalm 1: 1-3; Psalm 119:15


I will honor my mother and father all the days of my life.

Exodus 20:12


I will learn to forgive others, as God forgives me.

Ephesians 4: 32


I will strive to be at peace, as much as possible, and treat others with respect and kindness. Galatians 5:22-23


I will be sure to feed and clothe my brother or sister in their time of need. Proverbs 19:17


I will intercede daily for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, those that have not come to Christ yet, the President of the United States of America and all those in power all over the world.




SPONSORSHIP Rhonda Feimster, Owner An Eye 4 Order

Professional Organizing & Consulting Services

DI HOME IMPROVEMENT General Contracting Services Carpet to Hardwood Conversions, Expert Painting, Kitchen Facelifts, Window & Door Replacements & much more! Serving NJ, MD, DC, VA, & NC

MRS. LYDIA McLEOD, Ardyss Life Consultant

Courteous and Reliable Service 718-355-1366 Email:


Call me today & Find out how I lost 4 dress sizes in 6 months! Visit our website: 202-258-1885

Dr. Sandy Finklin, CEO & President Divine Purpose Associates Follow her on FB @TheDrButterfly Follow her on Twitter @thedpa2001

The Writing Authority, LLC. Make Your Experience Count!

Call her: 508-372-0010 Website:

Resumes – Cover Letters – Editing & Proofreading Office: 1-888-876-1722





Optimal Living Magazine celebrates its 25th Issue with a special segment featuring actress, Jazz Raycole from the TVLand sitcom “The Soul Ma...


Optimal Living Magazine celebrates its 25th Issue with a special segment featuring actress, Jazz Raycole from the TVLand sitcom “The Soul Ma...