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Winter 2017





To Increase Your Credit Score

If I Could Speak To A

Fatherless Generation




Purchase Your Tickets to

Fit, Fabulous & Full of Faith Woodbridge, Virginia


February 25, 2017

Myself: The Weight Loss Challenge

Woodbridge, VA ï‚&#x; February 25, 2017

Winter 2017

Tanisha Hopson


Mark McDonald Associate Editor

The Layout Box Graphic Design

DeLonda Adams Chanel Alexandria Rose Belk Janita Colbert Lynette Harrison Janice McMillian Reverend John C. McNeill, Jr. Contributing Writers

4 Publisher’s Perspective 5 Harvest Matters 7 Feature Story 10 Intentionally Loving Myself 12 True Confessions of a Saved Man 13 The Wifey 101 Series 14 Prayer of Intercession 15 Spices of Life Recipes



Walking in Wisdom for 2017

s the Editor of Optimal Living Magazine, I am often in a position to make important decisions in a short period of time. Most of the decisions I need to make are pretty obvious… However, I recently felt an uneasiness in my spirit regarding whether to travel out of state for a business trip. So, I started to inquire of the Lord concerning the matter. At first, I heard absolutely nothing at all from God. So, I decided to wait on Him, before confirming my flight arrangements. Finally, by the next morning, the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart to simply "use wisdom."

Every move you make, every step you take, whether big or small, is significant in the eyes of God.

Proverbs 4: 10- 14 says, “Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” As we move forward into the year 2017, we must look at things circumspectly before making choices, because evil is not often displayed in plain sight. It is often hidden in the details that we are not privy to seeing immediately. Yet God, in His infinite wisdom, gives us opportunities to seek Him and walk in victory! He gave us the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of our lives; the Holy Spirit to teach us, in all things, discernment to let us know when something isn’t right, and a mind. After applying wisdom to my situation and getting the much needed peace in my heart, the choice that I made kept me from danger, helped me to maximize on my time, and worked out wonderfully for every person involved. I encourage you today to walk circumspectly in all that you do and to keep God’s Word and prayer at the epicenter of your life. Always remember, successful people walk in wisdom!

Olmagazine OptimalLivingMagazine



Optimal Living  Winter 2017


By Kelly Long Happy New Year! One great way to get started is by understanding what your credit score is and what it means for you. For many people, without an attractive score, usually ranging from 650 or greater, you are forbidden in most cases to make certain purchases (unless you have all the cash necessary, of course). In some cases, people have even been denied job opportunities and lost jobs because of their low credit scores.

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to get your financial house in order.

Nevertheless, being “credible” is simply a matter of positioning yourself for wealth building opportunities. In 5 simple steps, I am going to help you master and take charge of your credit score. Whether you are trying to establish or reestablish your credit score to purchase a home, a new vehicle, or to acquire a loan for a new business venture, I’m going to share with you some simple and powerful tips that can increase your FICO score to obtain your financial goals. Before you endeavor to take advantage of the tips listed below, be sure to obtain your credit report and scores. A few websites to consider are:,, and

5 Simple Ways to Increase Your Credit Score Correct All Errors. Errors can be found in 80% of all credit reports. It is your duty to review your report and check for errors. By law, you have the right to challenge any error that is on your report. If your dispute proves to be true, then the law requires the bureaus remove the error, which in turn will increase your score.


For a free credit consultation and more information about how to restore your credit


Harvest Matters

Simple Ways to Increase Your Credit Score

Pay Your Bills On Time. Most people know this, but have no clue how serious this first point is, so let me give you an example. Let’s say your credit score was a 700 and you had a mortgage or credit card that you were paying on successfully for 10 years without ever being late. But one month you just so happen to miss a payment because of some hardship. I can guarantee that your score of 700 would have dropped by 50-70 points because of that one missed 30-day payment. Now imagine what would happen if you missed two or more payments? Enough said. Make the intended effort to pay your bills on time in 2014!


Keep all balances low. Whether you have remaining balances on your store cards, credit cards, and/or installment loans, your goal should always be to pay them off to zero. You may have heard that keeping a low balance on your credit cards have a positive effect, but I would challenge that and say no, not at all. The less debt you are carrying, the higher your credit score will prove to be. So if you have a card with a zero balance, surely that’s better than having a card with a 10% balance remaining. NOTE: 30% percent of your score is the amount owed on all cards and accounts.


Types of credit in use. The types of accounts you have established determines 15% of your credit score on your report. What I mean by types of credit in use is simply a diversity of accounts. You will have to establish an installment account, such as a car loan, or a borrowed loan from a banking institution while managing several credit cards (two or three credit cards, at least two). As you pay on these accounts over time, without being late, your scores will gradually increase.


Don’t ever close existing accounts. You should never look to close out existing accounts, especially if you had a very positive history with the creditor. Closing out your existing accounts because you are no longer using them could impact your score negatively. I highly recommend keeping those cards open. Another reason for keeping the cards open and active is simply due to the history behind the cards. The longer the history behind the card, the more positive effect the account will have on your score.


In conclusion, if you follow these 5 simple and powerful steps, you will almost immediately see an increase in your overall FICO score. Some would have you think that fixing your credit score is next to impossible, but I would say it’s simply a matter of taking the initiative to follow the guidelines above and maintain a consistent and good history for all established accounts. After all, you were created to “be the lender, not the borrower”.

Winter 2017  Optimal Living


What Healthy Sisters Do To Stay Fit, Fabulous and Full of Faith for 2017 An Interview with Tangie Henry OLM: Optimal Living Magazine has watched you blossom on Facebook over the years. What inspired the start of the Inspired Healthy Sistah Movement? TH: In 2012, I found myself 25 pounds overweight with borderline to high blood pressure. Working fulltime as a Registered Nurse and building a coaching business, I was running high on stress and low on sleep. After a fast with my church, I received the revelation that if I was truly going to be authentic and inspire women to live victoriously from the inside out, I had to live out that truth in my own life. OLM: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge you see facing African American women in the struggle to get and remain healthy? TH: I believe as a culture of women we have been taught to nourish everyone but ourselves. One of the biggest hurdles I have to help my clients overcome is that they are worthy of the same love and care that they provide for others. And I am not referring to getting our hair and nails done because we have that down pat. We need to culturally stop perpetuating the “Superwoman Syndrome,” pushing through illnesses, weight challenges and emotional deficiencies. The reality is that we allocate resources for things that are important to us, and we need to put ourselves on the To-Do List and make our health a priority. OLM: Hitting the pavement isn’t for everyone, what are other workouts to stay fit and fab? TH: It is recommended that we exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. That being said, variety will keep us consistent. I recommend doing whatever you enjoy that you feel you can do forever and give you the results that you desire. So whether it’s Soca, Pound Fit, Cycling, Running, Swimming, Weight Lifting or Whatever, just get moving!

Winter 2017  Optimal Living


What Healthy Sisters Do To Stay Fit, Fabulous and Full of Faith for 2017 (continue)

OLM: How much does food play in losing weight? What are a couple of favorite tasty snacks that won’t give you all the calories of junk food? TH: Managing what you eat is probably THE MOST effective way to manage your weight and health, in general. It is said that weight loss is 70-80% nutrition and 20-30% exercise. The fact of the matter is that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. So you may be burning 600 calories in Spin Class, but you won’t see desired results if you’re still eating processed, fried or fast foods. My favorite tasty snacks are portioncontrolled nuts, berries and Greek yogurt.

What Healthy Sisters Do To Stay Fit, Fabulous and Full of Faith for 2017 (continue) OLM: What is the latest national marathon or local run you have been a part of? TH: In November 2015, I was training for the Disney Marathon when I broke my ankle. My recovery lasted longer than I expected so I have slowly been working my mileage back up. Of recent, I completed the Atlanta 10 Miler the weekend before my 45th birthday. That was a huge milestone for me after coming off of an injury and having an extended recovery process. My goal is to complete a half-marathon in the Spring and start training for a full marathon by the end of the year. OLM: How has your faith played a part in keeping "the movement" going? TH: My faith has been paramount in my message as Inspired Sistah. If it were not for my faith, I wouldn’t have anything to share. I believe God allows me to live my life “out loud” so that I can be a source of encouragement for others who are faced with similar challenges. I often receive messages from people who I don’t know, but they follow me on social media and are inspired by my consistent faith. That makes all of those tearful talks with God in my shower so worth it! OLM: What is the scripture that you live by on a daily basis? TH: Because EVERYTHING that I’m doing is God-Inspired and GodDirected, I have to trust Him on a daily basis for my next move. So Numbers 23:19 is a constant source of encouragement for me: “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” Numbers 23:19 (NLT) OLM: There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit amongst women of all ages, what is a tip you have for women to start living their dreams? TH: Don’t shrink back or play small when it comes to the dreams you hold in your heart. God placed them there for a reason. Your gift is needed, so don’t allow fear, intimidation or the opinions of others to hinder you from doing the thing you have been purposed to do. OLM: What are some suggestions you can offer our readers on staying fit, fabulous and full of faith for the year 2017? TH: Just Go! Stop contemplating, overanalyzing or making excuses. If you want to lose 50 pounds, do it. If you want to write a book, do it. If you want to start a business, DO IT. There are more resources and opportunities than ever before. The only thing holding you back is you. But most importantly, understand that having God at the center of your life is like having secret intel. His spirit will lead and guide you into all truth. Meditate on His word, rest in His promises and watch Him blow your mind with His goodness. OLM: What’s next for you in 2017? TH: In 2017, I will be expanding my Wellness and Coaching Practice to really assist women in making the shift to total wellness: Mind, Body and Spirit. Personally, I plan to continue on my own personal wellness journey and hopefully upgrade my status to tri-athlete.

Winter 2017  Optimal Living


Intentionally Loving Myself The Weight Loss Challenge Queing Jones

It made me think about how hard I'd been on myself. I decided I was going to be more compassionate. I wanted to treat myself like I would my best friend.


here was something different about the summer of 2014. I was going through a lot of different transitions. I had recently lost my job; I was moving; I had ended a relationship with the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I was feeling hopeless in a lot of different ways, and I felt like things were so out of control. I moved out of downtown Chicago and close to the water, which has always been soothing to me. The day after I moved into my new place, I went for a walk along the lake. I sat on a piece of driftwood and glanced behind me at a sign that was posted in front of a protected area of the beach. The sign said, ‘Do Not Enter. Restoration in Progress.’ And I just thought, "Wow." That was a sign telling me that this journey I was on was not simply about eating right and working out. It told me that I really needed to be restored from the inside out. So I just kept walking every day. And not even to work out, but because it was soothing and helped me feel refreshed. I lost about 20 pounds that way.

Around that time I went to a seminar for women who had experienced heartbreak, and came away from it with even more motivation to change my life. At the seminar someone said, "When someone breaks their leg and they're on crutches, no one says, 'You know what, you just need to throw those crutches down and just start walking." Her point was that any reasonable person understands that bone takes time to heal, but so do emotions. You have to be able to apply that same level of compassion to yourself when healing from emotional trauma. Even though I didn't like what I saw in the mirror, I was not going to say "you look disgusting" and insult myself anymore. I started to understand that I had to love myself, or I would never be successful losing weight. I literally would stand in front of the mirror and tap my belly and say, "Alright. I love you, but you'll be gone soon.” It wasn't until I was 5 or 6 months into my journey that I started changing the way I ate. I knew I didn't want a diet. I wanted a new lifestyle, something that would work for me for the rest of my life. So I tried a few different styles of eating— Paleo, vegan, vegetarian—to find one that I was happy with. Before, I ate like a crazy person! Breakfast sandwiches with extra hash browns, double bacon cheeseburgers with fries, and chicken with rice and beans and loads of guacamole were my favorite meals. Now, I eat mostly Paleo with lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. For breakfast I like egg whites with an avocado, or I may do lean meat with some nuts. And I snack on clean, healthy foods every 2 to 3 hours.


Optimal Living  Winter 2017

About a month after I discovered clean eating, I was frustrated because I couldn't break the 200-pound mark. Then I joined a boutique weight-training gym for women. In the first month, I lost 13 pounds and broke the 200-pound barrier for the first time in 10 years. Weight training was huge for me; I later lost 60-something pounds just focusing on that alone. Before I do a workout, I say a prayer or a mantra. That can be something as simple as, "I have the strength and ability to lift more weight today." Or "Lord give me the ability to make it through this class without giving up." Or even, "You can do this!" I do a lot of self-talk. Drawing from within takes me all the way through. When I was 142 pounds in college, I was a size 8. But I'm 153 pounds now and a size 6. I weigh more, but I look leaner. So I understand now that it's not all about how much you weigh. The most important thing is that I continue to progress on my journey. Self-love helped me lose nearly 100 pounds, and I'm still going. But I don't focus so much on the scale anymore. Instead, I let my body show me my progress. If my story has inspired you to take your weight loss journey to the next level in faith, I invite you to meet me at Fit, Fabulous & Full of Faith event in Northern Virginia on February 25, 2017. Tickets are available at God Bless You & I look forward to seeing you there! - Queing Jay

Winter 2017 ď‚&#x; Optimal Living



“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. - Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NKJV


If I Could Speak To a FATHERLESS


For a moment, consider this question: How has your earthly father prepared you for a relationship with your Heavenly Father? Or, think of it this way: How has your human parent informed your understanding of your Divine Parent, God? The sentiment of these questions, in either form, can be unsettling for many of us leading to reflect on the unfavorable shortcomings and to traumatic failures of our fathers. To others of us, these questions bring a smile or a sense of joy as we reflect on the loving and tender care of our faithful and attentive dads. The difference is seemingly clear, but the questions give a fresh vision for evaluating a father’s efforts in both scenarios. Either way, we often live drawing from our list of do’s or don’ts and, in either case, a “fatherlessness” may develop. The Wounded Healer’s author, Henri Nouwen, asserts that it is possible for a generation to contain “parents but no fathers.”

We often think of it as the absenteeism of a father but there is an under considered definition that is just as tragic. Nouwen explains that a type of “fatherlessness” occurs not only or not so By Reverend John C. McNeill much in the physical absence of a father but in the diminished influence of male figures in a young person’s life. Most persons would contend that elders in a preceding generation deserve respect from the generation that succeeds it because they are older and are assumed to be largely more mature and wiser. Peer advice is ubiquitous through evolution of social media making it possible to communicate almost anywhere and anytime seems to either challenge or undermine the influence of the believed authority figures. Nouwen’s perspective gives fresh weight and meaning to the impact of peer pressure in our current circumstances. Our children have the opinions and advice of their friends in the palm of their hand. Fathers, what can we do? We have a biblical mandate to be influential, loving and humble spiritual teachers in the lives of our children. Deuteronomy 6:4-9, the Shema, a central prayer to Jews the Bible offers a spiritual mandate for fathers. The prayer begins “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord alone…” speaks of God’s indispensable authority with His people. We are to serve as a primary spiritual teacher for our children demonstrating for them a life lived with God and God’s authority first. We are later encouraged to love God with our heart, soul and might— the totality of our being. I found this to be an extraordinary thought and striving that fathers are to teach their children how to live life in loving fellowship with God and how to love God. Teach with humility. Think of it like this: You are a “Child of God” teaching a “Child of God.” Our children are trying to figure out the world around them. My son and I like to visit the National Zoo in Washington, DC to see the animals, especially the giant pandas. He constantly asks questions about what they eat and where they live. I enjoy sharing with him details about our Heavenly Father’s care and provision in the world. We can do this anytime; the details of our Heavenly Fathers’ love are all around us and we are to talk about it with our children with the hope that we’ve prepare them for a life-long encounters with God. Live knowing that you are not alone is this parenting journey. God, our Father Heavenly Father, is with us and provides a hopeful, clear and achievable path for an earthly father in a child’s life.

Rev. John C. McNeill, Jr., M. Div., CAS, the Youth Minister at First Mount Zion Baptist Church VA, is a graduate of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and Lincoln University. As a youth pastor, he is responsible for overseeing and supporting youth programs that introduce young people to Christ. He actively assists in discipling them in spiritual growth, while training them in serving Christ. Reverend McNeill, Jr. is Co-President of the Prince William County Ministers Association and a Staff Consultant with Ministry Architects. He's married to Rev. Starlette McNeill and together they have a charming son, John III. Be encouraged by his blog at: or contact him at 12

Optimal Living  Winter 2017

The Wifey 101 Series Intimacy: The Key to Leaving and Cleaving in Marriage Leaving: Single is what we are until we choose to become married, it implies wholeness, completeness, and maturity, neither Adam nor his intended was broken in spirit before they married. Oftentimes, we enter marriage to replace the void and emptiness of our soul. God’s institution of marriage is between one man and one woman to fulfill HIS purpose on the earth, have godly seed (children) and glorify him through the union (Malachi 2:13-15). Notice in the beginning that marriage was God’s idea, he put Adam to sleep, created his wife, and awakened him when he was ready for them to meet. Adam had no knowledge of his wife until God presented her to him (Genesis 2:21-25). Perhaps, if women would remember that Adam is sleeping until God opens his eyes then they wouldn’t get so impatient and make costly decisions that make them bitter and men wouldn’t weaken their power by giving their strength to the wrong woman. Communication: Communication allows us to connect by reaffirming our intentions and listening to our spouse’s intentions. Transition is the process of changing from what you were and the Cleaving: The Hebrew meaning for the word cleave is dabaq (da-vak).It newness of entering into what you shall become. Notice again, they literally means to stay with, overtake, stick together, be joined together both had time with God alone before he brought them together (as by glue) to pursue closely, and to catch by pursuit. It means to at(Genesis 2:15-20). This is crucial time. A man and woman’s first vision tach oneself and to come upon. There is no you or me, there is only us: must be God (Genesis 2:7). Adam came into the knowledge of who he having one vision, one union, and one purpose. “I” gives up “me” for was (identity), he had a career (purpose), and he was in charge “us”. When we leave parents and self-centered motivations behind we (authority). When the woman came on the scene everything was alcan hear the Lord call our name, we learn to trust God, depend upon ready prepared and ready for her, she entered into what God already him, and become one in soul (mind, will, and emotions) with each othformulated. She was intimate with him before she was ever intimate er. Those not fully committed to the process will divorce because they and presented to Adam. Lastly, notice that God determined when they have lost their purpose. Surrendering your will unto God will regulate both were ready. God established the first marriage with himself. Their your emotions. You have entered a covenant with God and your marriage union was not established by their own efforts, it was first spouse by agreeing to be responsible not just for each other but to established with God himself; conversely, their union was not the each other and God. Here is where a marriage becomes glorified: love. establishment of the marriage, God was. The institution itself is perfect Love is the essence of it all, for God is love (I John 4:8). Love is able to but can be destroyed by human will and choice. bind the relationship together (through covenant) even when misunderstanding, confusion, anger, and discontent is prevalent in the Leaving home is necessary to cleaving because you cannot operate marriage, if we let him. The love will hold you together, if we will yield your own house effectively under your parents’ dominion…not effecto him, spend quality time with each other and by all means never lose tively. .Marriage is a ministry unto God (not man). We leave the security respect for each other. of parents to cleave with our spouse as written in the Bible. Becoming a glorified union means you (both) endure and overcome all challenges Lynette is the President/Founder of WOMAN, INC (Women of God by remaining faithful to him. On the Move Making a Difference Achieving Greatness Now), non-profit organization since 2007. She is also the President/Founder Three Keys to Intimacy in Marriage: of Lynette Harrison Enterprises and author of: Reduce Me to Christ, Commitment: Commitment goes beyond duty and sacrifice. It is W.O.M.A.N. Lessons, and Baby I Didn’t Marry You for Your Feet! Imbedded in having the right attitude as you endure the hardships of President/Founder: The W.O.M.A.N. INSTITUTE. To purchase marriage. products or to book Lynette to speak at your engagement visit: Covenant: The covenant is between three and not two. Remembering the covenant by choosing to depend on the covenant giver, which is God himself. Winter 2017  Optimal Living


A Time of Intercession Father God in the name Jesus, we come to you thanking you for this day. We lift Your name on high and come humbly before Your throne of grace with thanksgiving in our hearts. We have no idea what this year will bring, but we rest in the fact that you are with us. We ask that you bless, protect, and pour Your favor upon our families, children, spouses, and friends. Father, we pray for divine intervention in all areas of our lives. Where there is sickness, we pray for wellness; where there is brokenness, we pray for wholeness; where there is grief, we pray for Your comfort; where there is loss, we pray for restoration. We pray that Your loving kindness will be felt throughout this land. We pray that lost souls would be restored to You from the east, west, north, and south. Father, we trust You with everything concerning us and thank You that as we speak Your Word, it will not return void. We thank You that wherever we go and whatever we do, Your favor goes with us. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much. Therefore, we believe we receive what we pray for right now.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen!


Optimal Living ď‚&#x; Winter 2017


Paleo Diet Recipes For the New Year, we are focusing on Paleo Diet Recipes that are delicious, easy to make and very healthy.

Lemon Garlic Herb Crusted Paleo Salmon Servings: 4 Calories: 419 kcal


3 oz Butter 1 tsp Coarse Real Salt Zest of 1 Lemon 1 T Fresh Parsley chopped 1 t Fresh Dill chopped 1 Clove Garlic minced Dash of White Pepper 4 4-5 oz Wild Salmon Fillets


Place all ingredients except for salmon in a small bowl and melt in the microwave for 30-45 seconds.

Stir until combined. Place the salmon fillets on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, coat the salmon with the lemon herb butter, evenly spreading it over the tops of each fillet. Bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees on the top or second to top rack for 10-12 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. Alternately the fish can be broiled on medium/high on the second to top rack for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through. This method will give you a bit more crunchy, caramelized crust.

Winter 2017 ď‚&#x; Optimal Living


Optimal Living Magazine: 2017 Winter Issue  

Our Fit, Fabulous & Full of Faith Issue features an exclusive interview with Tangie Henry - the "Healthy Inspired Sistah from Atlanta, Georg...

Optimal Living Magazine: 2017 Winter Issue  

Our Fit, Fabulous & Full of Faith Issue features an exclusive interview with Tangie Henry - the "Healthy Inspired Sistah from Atlanta, Georg...