The Briggs & Barrett Project Life After SIDS
Ms. Black Florida 2019 Get all the “TEA” about this year’s annual
JUST SIMPLY SAYING IS FEAR HOLDING YOU BACK
ACCEPTING AN APOLOGY I NEVER RECEIVED
PURPOSE DRIVEN WOMEN MAGAZINE Often times we fail at connecting to our purpose because we feel inadequate. What we don’t realize is when we were created God placed our purpose inside of us. We already have it. It’s what we were created to do. The obstacle is taking the time to seek God for revelation and instructions of our individual purpose. Once we truly have an understanding of what we were created to be or why we exist there is no force on this earth that can stand in our way. We don’t have to worry about being good enough or if we have what it takes. When we know without a shadow of a doubt who and what we were created to be the rest is history. Purpose Driven Women Magazine is the woman's guide to connecting to their purpose.
ABOUT US PDW is a multi-cultural bi-monthly digital Christian magazine designed with everyday women in mind. We give women a voice and platform to share their story of how they overcame hardship through faith, in the end giving God the glory. We provide support to women on their purpose journey by providing inspiration through testimonies, tools, resources, and informative articles that help them to discover and become all that God created them to be.
Subscribe Today! WWW.PDWMAG.COM FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA @pdwmag
“SPREADING THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST, ENCOURAGING WOMEN TO CONNECT TO THEIR PURPOSE”
Publisher Kimi Johnson
Editor in Chief Ann Marie Bryan
Cover Designer: Kimi Johnson
Graphic Designer Kimi Johnson
Branding and Marketing Director Damien Jones
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.â€? Jeremiah 29:11 NIV OUR MISSION Our mission is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ while encouraging women to connect to their purpose. We give everyday women a voice and platform to share their story of how they overcame hardship through faith, in the end giving God the glory. We provide support to women on their purpose journey by providing inspiration through testimonies, tools, resources, and informative articles
Tarnya Coley Rhoda Whitfield Christina Malloy Nicole Mason Kendell Lenice Michelle Cook-Hall Carmelita McRoy Danielle Lyles
that help them to discover and become all that God
tribulations they all knew they had everything
Ms. Black Florida Tamara Smith
Cover Business Mention SHE Tea 5th Annual Conference The Briggs and Barrett Project
Cover Photo Photographer Joyanne Panton
Share My Story Nicole Mason Melissa West Allison Uecker
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created them to be.
OUR VISION Imagine a world where every woman knew exactly why they were created and despite their economical background, past failures and mistakes, trials and needed to be who God created them to be. Our vision is to create an international publication that creates unification and connection amongst women from different walks of life, giving them an opportunity to uplift each other by sharing their story. EBSITE: pdwmag.com
CONTACT INFORMATION PDWMAG.COM EMAIL: email@example.com
JOIN WOMEN JUST LIKE YOU PDWMAG.COM
GOT A MINUTE? GET YOUR FREE SUBSCRIPTION NOW START GETTING PURPOSE DRIVEN WOMEN MAGAZINE DIRECTLY IN YOUR INBOX. SUBSCRIBE AT PDWMAG.COM
MAY 2019 Contents
Cover Feature: Tamara Smith Ms. Black Florida
Cover Photography: @Joyannepanton Make-up Artist: @thenatalieblackexperience Hair: @Sterlingthestylist *Instagram
GETTING PERSONAL WITH MS. BLACK FLORIDA, TAMARA SMITH
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GET ALL THE “TEA” ABOUT THIS YEAR’S 5TH ANNUAL SHE TEA CONFERENCE
44 SHARE MY STORY NICOLE MASON, ESQ: SHINE BRIGHT IN DARKNESS
SHARE MY STORY THE BRIGGS AND BARRETT PROJECT: LIFE AFTER SIDS
64 Get al l the “TEA” about this year’s annual SHE Tea in Tallahassee Florida. Meet the founder and keynote speaker, breakout speakers, and mentors, all happening on page 32. *Photo credit: Lavish Touch Photography
Success Tools 18 TOP 7 SMALL BUSINESS RESOURCES
Authors & Readers 22
ANN MARIE BRYAN
HOLD YOUR POSITION
28 IS FEAR
HOLDING YOU BACK
Love & Relationship
56 JUST SIMPLY SAYING: BEING A STEPPARENT IS NOT ALWAYS AS EASY AS 1-2-3
SHE Tea 32
DR. ASHA BREWER
40 KRISTIE KENNEDY WARD
DR. JENELLE ROBINSON
THE “L” WORD
ACCEPTING AN APOLOGY I NEVER RECEIVED
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
May/June 2019 PDWMAG.COM 7
Connect with your
PURPOSE from anywhere.
Follow us on social media today. @pdwmag @purposedrivenwomenmagazine @pdw_mag
8 PDWMAG.COM May/June 2019
Our Contributors Trasetta Alexander Trasetta Alexander is a faith based business coach and motivational speaker. She helps women of faith step into their kingdom purpose and launch their purpose driven business.
Rhoda Whitfield Rhoda Whitfield is the co-author of A Well Rounded Love Affair “More than Between the Sheets” with her husband Danny Whitfield. She is also the columnist for Just Simply Saying in PDWM.
Carmelita McRoy Carmelita McRoy is a bestselling author, speaker, and certified life coach. She was the previous editor of Pneuma magazine, and she hosts an online radio program on Blog Talk radio called “Woman to Woman Ministries;” that will start back broadcasting in April of 2019. Carmelita has a degree in Christian Ministry with an emphasis in Christian Counseling from Ohio Christian University.
Danielle Lyles, God’s Babygirl, Navy wife and Momma to 4 amazing kids, discovered her love for writing in 2008. A screenwriter and freelance writer, she enjoys the faith-based genre but has also worked on musicals, sci-fi and television. Upon completion of her Bachelor’s in Creative Writing, she plans to use her works to bring hope and healing and to give voice to the African American military community via feature films. May/June 2019 PDWMAG.COM 9
is the author of "This Journey Is A
Process" which equips and empowers readers to persevere. In 2014, she begin a children book series entitled: "Mimi's Book Series". Michelle's purpose is to equip, empower and inspire others to pursue their purpose..
Kendell Lenice is affectionately called, Lady Motivator. Her daily goal is to empower people, motivating them to reach and discover their fullest potential. Her innate love for people compelled her to start Living True Living You- Life Coaching & Speaking.
Nicole S. Mason Esquire is armed with a law degree and an entrepreneurial legacy, Nicole was destined to become a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President of her own company. She is an author, a contributing author in several projects and a dynamic speaker.
Christina Malloy is from Fayetteville, North Carolina. She enjoys watching basketball and football games. Writing letters and poetry helps her release the stress in her life. A lot of her poems are love letters to God and prayers to help her make it through.
Tarnya Coley is the bestselling author of Open Doors which is rated â€˜an
inspirational bookâ€™ by many readers. It is endorsed by the founder of S A C o n s u l t i n g w h o i s a Leadership Coach and renowned Women in Leadership Speaker.
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A Word From Our Publisher Before I decided to launch Purpose Driven Woman magazine, I was a hairstylist working in the beauty industry for over 10 years. I watched women from all walks of life flip through numerous magazines searching for that one style that screamed, “This is you!” While in my salon, I have heard countless jaw-dropping remarks from women, searching for the person they were created to be. These women were physically beautiful yet crying on the inside because they did not understand who they are in Jesus Christ. I saw that no amount of money, friends, or men, could have saved any of them, and me, from reaching this point. The more I listened to these stories, the more I realized how much we all have in common and the strong desire I have to encourage women to be all they were created to be.
absolutely no experience in the magazine industry. I questioned the Lord, “Me? Do a magazine? But how, Lord? I’m not good enough? Who is going to buy or read a magazine?” Eventually, I started believing my negative thoughts and insecurities.
Driven Those thoughts carried on for years until one day my pastor walked into my office and said, ‘I’m not sure why I’m showing you these but…’ and he placed a stack of magazines that he had published on my desk. That’s right, you heard me! The Holy Spirit knows how to get your attention! I burst in tears, and that was the day I connected with my PURPOSE! Not long after, I found out, I was more than enough. All I needed to do was step out in faith and God would do the rest. Now, I have embarked on a movement to let women all around the world know they too, are more than enough.
Purpose One day while reclining on my sofa at home, I reflected on my purpose. I thought about the things I liked, the things I disliked, and the ways that I could make a difference. As I contemplated, I began to seek the Lord concerning my purpose. However, it wasn’t until I was at the lowest point in my life, when things began to change. I was a single mother; my son was only 6 weeks old and my life was falling apart. While I was thinking how I was going to fix my situation, the Lord was dealing with me about publishing a magazine. A magazine? That was the last thing I thought I was good enough to do. Publish a magazine? This can’t be right. I had
Women Within the stories of Purpose Driven Women Magazine, I pray that you are graced with empowering words of encouragement and motivation to aid you as you travel on life's journey. We believe that testimonies change lives, and when God puts His “super” on our “natural,” we can’t be stopped because we are all Purpose Driven Women.
Kimi Johnson Photo credit: Jeremy Howard
A Word from Our Editor
e are super excited to bring you the May/June issue of Purpose Driven Women magazine. As always, we give you real stories and testimonies, tips for a healthy lifestyle and personal insights, to fuel you for your journey. We have featured the amazing Tamara Smith, Ms. Black Florida. This purpose-driven woman uses her platform to celebrate and empower other women, encouraging them to make self-care a priority. Further, we have turned the spotlight on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). We may not know the exact cause of SIDS, but the good news is that there are ways to reduce the risk. We know that you’re thrilled about Temple Fit Co.’s annual SHE Tea Conference, so get all the “tea” about it in this issue. Their theme this year us “Overwhelm to Overflow.” Enjoy our life-changing articles. We know you’ll find information to help you hit the mark of excellence so that you will finish strong and victorious. Walk in faith. Move forward, step by step. Happy reading!
Ann Marie Bryan EDITOR IN CHIEF
CONNECT WITH ANN MARIE
Ann Marie Bryan is a dedicated, graceful, multi-talented leader with a passion for excellence. She is the CEO & Founder of Victorious By Design, an organization committed to providing top quality professional writing services, comprehensive personal and professional development programs and exceptional performing arts services to meet the unique needs of individuals and organizations. Website: www.annmariebryan.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorannmariebryan Instagram: www.instagram.com/authorabryan
Why did you decide to compete for the Ms. Black Florida Title? I have had the opportunity to experience great opportunities in my various career paths. But when I had my children, my focus became them. In 2018 I became aware that I had not pursued any of my interests or new opportunities in the years following my pregnancies, and I started to ask God what that would look like now that I added "Mommy" to my many titles. I kind of wanted a "boot camp" towards purpose, and I felt an urgency to radically shift my perspective at the time. When I learned about the titleholder opportunities in the Ms. Black USA division of the Miss Black USA organization, I felt a strange peace in applying to do something that felt outside of my comfort zone, and that I didn't feel ready to achieve. How has being Ms. Black Florida connected you to your purpose?
Like I mentioned before, it has been a sort of "boot camp towards purpose." It has been a reminder of some of the gifts and talents God has given to me that felt as if they were lying dormant, and trying to be my best for my community has only strengthened them. I have gained more clarity on the direction of my business ideas and projects I would like to pursue, and new connections
There is no need to find yourself before you move toward your dreams. God already knows who you are, so put your trust in Him and confidence in who He created you to be. No need to be fearless, just be courageous enough to face fear. No need to be certain, just undeterred by uncertainty. And believe those who love you when they say they see more in you.
On a typical day out you will find me rocking a banging pair of heels or a comfy pair of sneakers? Definitely a comfy pair of sneakers. If I had to choose between chocolate or gummies I'm going with Chocolate. Dark chocolate. Would you rather be hot or cold? I'm a Florida girl. I love warmth and sunshine, and an air-conditioner.
Getting Personal with Ms. Black Florida 2019 My own quest for physical, mental, and emotional wellness is a personal journey that is rooted in my story of dealing with several conditions, especially Endometriosis, and I suffered for many years because I just didn't know what was happening in my body or how to explain it at doctor's appointments. We can support each other through telling our stories, connecting through them, and learning from each other.
to people and opportunities have truly been confirmation of taking this leap of faith!
What has been the biggest challenge for you on the pageantry journey? How do you keep thriving and moving forward? Keeping up! Everyday I wake up as a wife, mother, and full-time higher-ed professional, and none of these roles include the crown. Being Ms. Black Florida has been an absolute joy, but it takes time, planning, marketing,
A good book or a good movie? The younger me would be ashamed of this because I was an avid book reader, but right now...a good movie. When I am relaxing I like to be alone. I'm reenergized by alone time, and it's when I have the best conversations with God. May/June 2019 PDWMAG.COM 15
communication, MONEY, and everything else that it takes to build a brand. Sometimes I wonder how I will achieve it all! But every time I meet someone or read a message that says I have somehow impacted a person because of my platform, or I see pride in the faces of those around me, I'm reenergized and ready to do more.
Ms. Black USA. Monetary donations, sponsorships, individual contributions, or in-kind donations will be essential to my success. I want to represent the Sunshine State in excellence!
What is one thing you have learned in your role as Ms. Black Florida that you will never forget?
My ongoing life's goal is to thrive and to see others do the same. It starts with being our best selves, and for women, there never seems to be enough time for "self-care." My platform is to empower women to make self-care a priority, and bringing awareness to reproductive health conditions. My own quest for physical, mental, and emotional wellness is a personal journey that is rooted in my story of dealing with several conditions, especially Endometriosis, and I suffered for many years because I just didn't know what was happening in my body or how to explain it at doctor's appointments. We can support each other through telling our stories, connecting through them, and learning from each other. Tamara "Tam G" Smith www.tamgsmith.com @tamgsmith Ms. Black Florida USA 2019 @msblackflorida
People can benefit from my voice, and God didn't design me to play small. What advice would you give to a young lady that aspires to be the next Ms. Black Florida title holder? Pursue this opportunity and all that can come with it--it's hard work, but it's fun! However, do not seek this, or any other title, to define you. You will serve our state, and yourself, best by bringing YOU to this role. And contact me! I would love to help a fellow queen. How can people partner with you in bringing the national Ms. Black USA title back to Florida?
How do you plan to use the platform as Ms. Black USA to make a difference?
My ongoing li thrive and to same. It starts best selves, an there never se time to "self-c
Visit tamgsmith.com to learn more about contributing to my road to
My favorite food is "Rice & Peas," which is kind of like Jamaican red beans and rice, and a side of plantain. My Jamaican mother makes it best and it's the ultimate comfort food to me. My favorite bible verse is Hebrews 10:35-36.
My favorite song right now is "As" by Stevie Wonder. Most people don't know this about me but I am really good at acting. I hope to have more opportunities to act in the future. For my dream vacation I would
like to visit Cuba. It is a place of my heritage, and I would love to see my father's favorite places. I have been to my other heritage home, Jamaica, several times. If I had to describe myself with one word it would be Curious.
ife's goal is to see others do the s with being our nd for women, eems to be enough care."
TOP 7 SMALL BUSINESS RESOURCES With all the corporate downsizing, merger and acquisition along with degrading economic conditions, more and more people are turning to entrepreneurship as the career of choice. Being in control of your earning potential can be quite exhilarating. As exciting as it is, it can also be a very daunting step to take. However, having access to resources can help put you at ease so you can focus on the essentials of running a successful business. When I launched my business almost three years ago, I was excited at the prospect of turning my hobby into my livelihood. Although I have to admit, after filing the necessary paperwork I wasn’t sure where to begin so I just dove in. I’ve had to figure things out along the way. I’ve read countless books, articles, and blogs on various aspects of running a business. Google is my best employee. When I don’t know what to do, I Google it. You’d be surprised at what is out there on the web. I digress. In all my research and trying different things, here are my top 7 resources for small business owners.
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Trasetta Alexander www.trasettaalexander.com
Speaker & Faith Based Business Coach
Weebly.com In this day and age, it is nearly impossible to run a successful business without having a website. However, having a professionally designed site can cost you a pretty penny. Not to mention maintenance expenses. Weebly has a free service with lots of themes to choose from that can be customized to fit your brand. You can drag and drop elements to design you pages, such as contact forms, social media icons, and e-commerce links. Some features are only available with their paid services, but their basic plan starts at less than $5 per month. They also have an app that you can use to manage your site from your mobile phone or tablet.
Vistaprint.com Every business owner needs business cards to help promote their business. Going to a printer can set you back a couple hundred dollars. Vistaprint has a large collection of designs to choose from. Some of them enable you to insert your logo. You can get 250 business cards for less than $10 depending on the design you choose. They also do brochures, flyers, banners, and other marketing materials. Promotional items like pens, T-shirts, and cups are also available. If you sign up for their email list, you can stay abreast of sales to take advantage of even lower prices.
Waveapps.com Wave is a free and very easy, full accounting application. It allows you to track sales & expenses, send invoices, receive payments, and save receipts (no more shoe box to take to the accountant at tax time). It also includes bank account integrations and report generation. When you log into your account, you land on your dashboard page that gives you a snapshot of your overall business financials. They also offer a payroll integration service for $15 per
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month plus $4 per employee if your business requires you to hire staff. Another great thing about Wave is it is a web based application. No need to worry about your computer crashing and losing all of your data. You have access to your account from any device connected to the web. Facebook/Facebook Pages Manager As of the third quarter of 2015, Facebook recorded 1,500 million active users. If you own a small business and don’t have a Facebook page, this statistic alone should compel you to start one today. The Facebook Pages Manager app gives you access to analytics about your page usage, reach and audience demographics. It also enables you to promote your business for as little as $5. Posting to your page doesn’t have to be a chore. You can schedule posts in advance, so you don’t have to be tied to it every day. You can designate one day a week or per month to schedule all of your posts. Just set it and forget it. You’ll even be notified when your scheduled posts are posted to your page.
Fiverr.com (totally coincidental that it’s #5) I was introduced to Fiverr last year through a friend who is a success coach. I’ve used them to redesign my logo, do event flyers, and website banners. All gigs start at $5, thus the name. You can do “Add Ons”, for an additional fee, of faster delivery, source files, larger quantities. You get the picture. This is a great resource for high-quality media content. Todoist While reading a book on how to be more productive, I learned about the Todoist app. Seriously….this app has changed my life. No more paper lists shoved down in the abyss of my purse. I wear many hats, and this app helps me keep it all organized. It is an electronic today list. In the free version, you can create projects to keep your to-do lists organized. You can
schedule them as far in advance as you like. Each morning you’ll receive an email reminder of all that is on your list for the day and any past due items. You have the ability to postpone an item to another day if you are unable to complete it the day it is scheduled. This is particularly useful for when the completion of one item is contingent on another. I also like that it taps into my competitiveness by giving “Karma” points. There is a web based and app platform available. I use the app on my phone the most, but if I have several items to add at one time I use the web based version. Typing is so much easier on a full sized keyboard. Square Squareup.com was created to enable anyone to be able to accept credit card payments that are more affordable. You begin by creating an account and then they will ship you a free card reader that can be plugged into any mobile device. They charge a small transaction fee of just under 3% with no monthly access fee. Customers can have a copy of their receipt emailed or sent via text message. If you find yourself in an area with spotty wireless service, you can accept payments offline, and they will be processed when connectivity is restored. However, in doing so, you take a risk of the transaction being declined. You have to decide if it is worth the risk. These are my “can’t live without” resources. If you have any additional ones, please share them.
AUTHORS AND READERS MEET AUTHOR: Ann Marie Bryan From #1 Amazon Bestselling author Ann Marie Bryan comes the highly anticipated final installment in the Encounters of the Heart series—a riveting story about rising from the ashes, unlocking love, and learning to create and maintain an atmosphere of faith. “Hearts over the Line” will be released on Thursday, 5/30/2019, and it is now available for pre-orders. Don't miss out on this captivating love story that will stir your emotions on many levels, before coming to a satisfying conclusion. Pre-order now: Amazon
Back Cover Description Chandler Peynard has it all—family, fame, fortune, and salvation. This A-list celebrity has come a long way from his philandering days. That’s no longer his style. He’s head-over-heels in love with Sabrina, his wife, and in full pursuit of God’s calling on his life. But when shadows of the past beckon, he panics. Eventually, he has no choice but to face his previous indiscretions, but will Chandler’s past activities be more than his wife can handle? Larry and Rozene Kanate have moved beyond the consequences of their mirrored sin. The birth of twin daughters helped to seal their happily-ever-after. Life is wonderful, until it’s not. After the beaded curtain falls, Rozene scrambles to put the pieces together and avoid public humiliation. As the past crosses paths with the present, will their marriage survive? Madison Bradshaw has moved past her inability to trust and love. But when Tyler, her husband, makes a special request, she hides the truth from him. What could go wrong? In this captivating conclusion to the bestselling Encounters of the Heart series, unresolved issues make unwelcome visits to test the resiliency of love. Will the characters learn to reset the atmosphere in which they live? Will they live in a place where God finds it easy to bless them? In a season that brings many challenges, they
must summon the courage to forgive, heal and fall in love again. Release Events Join the Book Release Celebration for Hearts over the Line. This is a Facebook event. Connect here: Book Release Celebration - Hearts over the Line Pre-Release activities are taking place in Ann Marie’s Facebook readers’ group. Click to join the pre-release celebration: Ann Marie Bryan's Facebook Readers' Cafe. To enter the pre-release giveaway, click Pre-release Giveaway. Standalone books in the Encounters of the Heart series: Book 1 - Shades of the Heart (The story of Blake & Gabrielle Montgomery) Book 2 - Mirrored Heart: Sealed by Fire (The story of Larry & Rozene Kanate) Book 3 - A Place for my Heart (The story of Chandler Peynard & Sabrina Benjamin) Book 4 - Where My Heart Belongs (The story of Tyler Bradshaw & Madison Kanate) Book 5 (Coming 5/30/2019) - Hearts over the Line (The conclusion)
Hold Your Position By: Michelle Cook-Hall
“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that he exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NIV). I can say I believe in God to everyone I meet, but my actions must line up with what is coming out of my mouth. My life must demonstrate in action a person who believes in the existence and sovereignty of God. If I am exemplifying the actions of a person who believes in God, then I am not worrying about what I will eat, drink or wear. I am not stressing about what the future holds for me, because I know who holds my future. Faith and works equates to victory. You’re not fighting for a victorious outcome, but you’re fighting from the position of victory. Faith positions you in a place of favor and so victory is sure. Hebrews 11:3 (NIV) states, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
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Faith is accepting that God made something out of nothing. If you give me the right ingredients, I can produce an exquisite meal. But if I don’t have the ingredients, I’m not able to produce. This is an analogy we can understand and relate to. But if you are telling me that God produced without any ingredients but with the Holy Spirit, I cannot process this without faith. That’s why, it is impossible to please God without faith. The wilderness of uncertainty is the product of a faithless life. In Jeremiah 29:11-14, the Prophet Jeremiah wrote a letter to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priest prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to
harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” God has a purpose for you today, just as He did during the time of Jeremiah. His plans are still “to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And whatever has held you in captivity—fears, addictions, struggles— God can bring you back from captivity. People don’t normally shout victory before the battle is over. But victory should always be the position of the believer in Christ. Using Joshua 6, let’s discuss the power of standing in the position of victory before the commencement of a battle.
Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse, and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” There is a connection between faith and obedience in the Word of God. To work your faith, you must be willing to submit in obedience to the Word of God.
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By: Carmelita McRoy
Why are you letting fear hold you back? Yes, most of us are not fulfilling our dreams because of fear. Fear is a strong spirit and emotion. Fear has us worrying about things that have not taken place, but we assume they will. Why haven’t you asked for that promotion? Afraid you will get turned down? Why haven’t you started that business? Afraid you will fail? Why haven’t you returned to that church? Afraid of the things people know about you, and that they will judge you? You see how crippling fear is? The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” That means stop letting fear take control over your life, the Lord has defeated fear. Sit back and think if you had not let fear into your atmosphere where would you be. All of your second guessing yourself has cost you many opportunities. The anxiety of thinking about, “what if”, this is the biggest setback of all humans. We worry more about what would happen instead of what we could make happen if we move forward. Now, do not get me wrong some people may come toe to toe with fear a few times in life, it doesn’t just happen one time. But you must tell yourself each time it comes up; I am an overcomer and if I fail it is not the end of the world. I can try again tomorrow, that is why I’m still here. Face your fears face to face and stop
trying to be perfect or wait for the perfect moment. Sister, that perfect moment may never come. What fear or fears do you need to conquer or overcome? It is time for you to face them head on, no more procrastination. God has so much more for you, if you would just totally trust Him and stop second guessing what you know in your heart you are supposed to do. In 2009, I know God called me to be an Evangelist; but I did not go forward full speed because the things around me did not line up with what I thought I needed to do the ministry. A lot of it was fear of remembering my past faults and failures, and not recognizing that God had forgiven me, and He would equip me in my journey. I had a lot of hard lessons to go through for about seven years, until I gave up the fear and trusted God in my journey. Now that I let go of “what if” now I am free from fear and can walk in the anointing that the Lord has gifted me with. I am asking you today, Will you stop letting fear control your life and fulfill the destiny God designed for you? Aren’t you ready to be free and live the amazing life you were born to live? I am rooting for you, remember with God by your side anything is possible.
Poetic Purpose New Section
DEPRESSION Christina “Truchrissy” Malloy
Faith Faith is the essence's Of things unseen. Unseen Lord which Makes it hard to Believe because The devil is showing me The things that I can See which is the troubles In my life. Oh Lord help me with My faith. The faith to believe That trouble won't Last always and The faith to believe That You are the Living God. By Truchrissy AKA Christina Malloy
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 KJV
Meet Dr. Asha Brewer
Tell us a little about Temple Fit Co. and the SHE Tea Conference.
What inspired you to host the SHE Tea Conference?
The Temple Fit Company, LLC (Temple Fit Co.) is a wellness agency that takes care of the busy and overwhelmed. We are known for our wellness education services, and we have over 25 educators and fitness instructors that help us teach college students, companies, churches, community organizations, and more how to live life abundantly. We also have a nonprofit, Temple Fit Health, Inc., which is our faith-based wellness organization. SHE Tea is one of our premier nonprofit efforts.
SHE stands for “self and health empowerment”. I saw that women, especially women of faith, were struggling to tap into “life abundantly.” So the conference simply started as workshops on faithinspired self-care. Over the years SHE Tea has grown into so much more than a self-care conference. It is a safe space where real women can have real conversations about real life! I encourage our SHEs to “Take off their masks and
hang up their capes.” Because, for me, SHE Tea is where Superwoman comes to refill her cup.
How can guests expect to be empowered by attending this year's SHE Tea? Last year, we incorporated mentors into the conference line-up. I think women were really empowered by the opportunity to candidly speak with community leaders about business, beauty, faith, finances, purpose, relationships, womanhood, and more. Additionally, participants were able to split up into intimate groups (about
six-to-eight women each) and engage more deeply on specific topics with our mentors. They dove into the who’s, what’s, where’s, why’s, how’s of life. These mentoring experiences are in addition to multiple breakout sessions and the opportunity to connect with and be inspired by amazing women who attend SHE Tea from all over the North Florida and South Georgia region. I’ll go ahead and leak the full conference line-up for your readers, tehe… SHE Tea mentors: Shishandra Devlin (Owner & Blogger, Fashioned for Hem); Gina Kinchlow, MBA (President/CEO of Kinchlow & Co.-Strategic Business Consultants); Tena Pate (President/CEO of Tena Pate & Associates, LLC); Kris Spell (Mentor, Coach, Storyteller); and Prof. LaTanya White (Entrepreneurship Educator, Becoming Fearless). This year’s mentor panel is hosted by Tamara Smith (Ms. Black Florida 2019). SHE Tea breakout presenters: Stephanie Jones, LCSW (Founder, Women @ Werk); Antionette "Toni" Mutcherson (Owner, BFF Publishing); Dr. Jenelle Robinson (Author and Health Educator); and Kristie Kennedy Ward (Executive Coach, Queenfidence Image Consulting). We’re excited to have Nicole Everette, host of Conversations with Nicole, as the conference emcee.
What makes the SHE Tea Conference stand out from other conferences? I am told that SHE Tea is a one-of-a-kind experience that impacts far beyond the day’s activities. Everything we do is centered on purpose. We operate in purpose and on purpose to bring women closer to their purpose. Each conference has a focus, and we
marinate on that focus for a year, and sometimes even longer, before rolling it out. The breakout speakers, hosts, and mentors are carefully selected and prayed over. Our team works intentionally to create a space that fosters healing, learning, growth, inspiration, and community. Also, we made some additions to this year’s conference. When we were smaller, vendors and sponsors could also participate in SHE Tea. Now that we’ve grown, vendors and sponsors are busy with their patrons during the conference (which is a good thing!). Therefore, we have expanded the conference to include three days of “Pre-SHE Tea.” We will have Facebook Live Q&A Interviews within our private SHE Tea Community Facebook Group. It is designed to be an extension of our mentoring experience, so vendors, sponsors, and even registered participants can engage in meaningful dialogue leading up to the conference itself. Our Pre-SHE Tea guests and topics are as follows: Dazi Lenoir, Esq. (Founding Partner, Lyons & Lenoir, LLC), “Life After the Unexpected…”; Antoinyce Mathis, MBA (Founder, The Jesus Brand), “Balancing My Blessed and Busy Life”; and Chaena Hollist, LMSW (Author, The Value in Violation), “Why Can’t I Get Married?”.
This is the 5th Annual SHE Tea hosted by Temple Fit Co. What motivates you to keep going? Honestly, last year’s conference almost didn’t happen. SHE Tea is a major sacrifice of my personal finances, time, and physical and mental energy. This is in addition to recruiting and training volunteers to
host the experience. After three short years, I was tired and ready to give up. About two months before SHE Tea 2018 (which wasn’t planned to happen at the time), I was in attendance at a community function. Multiple women came up to me and asked, “When is SHE Tea this year? I haven’t seen the flyers yet.” The women continued chatting among themselves about the impact SHE Tea has had on their lives. In that moment, I felt both convicted and motivated. It is so true that we are overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the power of our testimony. Those testimonies and so many others continually motivate me to create the safe, sacred, and highly anticipated space that is SHE Tea.
What are you looking forward to at this year's SHE Tea? Do I have to pick only one thing?! SHE Tea is so dynamic that it’s hard to limit myself. What I am super grateful for every year is the opportunity to highlight woman-owned, minority-owned, and faith-inspired businesses. Purpose Driven Women Magazine is the perfect example of this partnership at work, since you all are “awesomely” serving as this year’s Official Media Correspondent! I love seeing the gifts of our community displayed, not only to circulate the dollar among these principled businesses, but to also serve as a source of inspiration. With over 25 small businesses represented, business owners can organically expand their networks and be reminded that they are not alone in this entrepreneurial journey. Additionally, the
business owners serve as role models for those who are in attendance and considering entrepreneurship themselves. We have had many participants that go from attendees one year to sponsors and vendors the next year. Seeing this makes me smile, as it is a reminder of the power of SHE.
Share a little "TEA" about what you will be speaking about this year as the keynote speaker. I love to study happiness. How do we define it? How do we experience it? Why are we lacking in it? This year, I am bringing my signature accountability and practicality to the conference by challenging the women to go “From Overwhelm to Overflow.” I hope to create healthy conversations about who we are socially, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, economically (career and finances), intellectually, and, of course, spiritually. If we are promised to have life and that more abundantly, then why aren’t we bubbling over with happiness in all of these areas of our lived experience? Why are we continually pushing ourselves to pour out of an empty cup? I looking forward to engaging the participants in this dialogue, as well as helping women discover their own personal strategies to go from being anxious, stressed, and burned out to maintaining an overflowing cup.
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Tell us about Conversations with Nicole. What can viewers expect to gain from watching your show? Conversations With Nicole (CWN) began in March of 2016 at Nefetari's Fine Cuisine & Spirits in Tallahassee, Florida as a weekly video blog show featuring a variety of guest sharing information about initiatives and projects important to them as well as giving a bit of personal history about themselves. CWN expanded to television in October of 2016 which broadened the show's programming. More than 75 episodes have been produced during CWN's 6 seasons and it remains true to connecting community influencers with viewers through conversations about guest passions and philosophies. Viewers can expect to learn more about guests, relate to some aspects of their lives and possibly contribute to the guests' special interests. What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career? The biggest lesson I am learning in my career and my life in general is listening to that small voice within. I believe I work on purpose for God and I want to be where the Creator wants me to be, walking in perfect will rather than permissive will. Walking in my purpose takes focus, discipline and the ability to hear that small voice leading and guiding me into all truth. What advice would you give someone that wanted to follow your footsteps as a T.V. Host? I would advise someone that wants to be a Talk Show Host, like me, to begin working in the field where they are, right now. Think of topics to discuss and develop questions to ask. Begin recording videos of yourself interviewing friends and family members. Research and work towards becoming an expert in the industry. What are you most passionate about? I am most passionate about helping people be their best selves. What do you enjoy most about what you do? I enjoy listening to peopleâ€™s stories and connecting with them when they share their truth. If you could change one thing in the world what would it be? I would change the lack of love in the world. This would look live human beings focusing on love rather than anything else and this begins with a genuine love of self.
What are you most excited about this year? I am most excited about Season 7 of Conversations With Nicole (CWN) which begins Thursday, May 2nd on FOX49 WTLH at 11:30am. CWN will be connecting the community though conversations every week in May, June and July in 2019.
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What are the signs that let a woman know it is time to re-design her life? One of the greatest gifts we have been given as women is intuition. I believe instinctively we know when it is time to re-design our lives. A primary indicator is a loss of joy and peace. Life seems more of a chore than a celebration. Another hint is when you are no longer challenged to grow. I remember working as a secretary and thinking, “There has to be more to life than this!” An underdeveloped potential leaf you feeling frustrated and dissatisfied. You will know it’s time when you can no longer settle for less than what you believe you are worth. What do you think is the one thing that holds women back from fully embracing their greatness? The root of resistance to embrace our internal greatness is FEAR. This inhibition shows up in multiple ways. We have many fears—the opinions of others, success, failure, challenge, lack, our brilliance, making mistakes, standing out, truth, lies, being ostracized and the power we see as we look into our own beautiful eyes. As a result, we fail to give ourselves permission to become someone different and we hold on to comforting behaviors that keep us standing still on the shore of safety. There comes a time that greatness will provoke you to step out of the boat of limitation and walk on the water of your faith. Celebrate or compete? Which word best aligns with your personal and business values and why? If you would have asked me this question in my teenage years, I would not be able to say the word celebrate with such ease. As an only child, I developed selfish tendencies that often seek to resurface. It is the main reason I am extremely intentional about honoring other women. I understand we each have experienced pain, are experiencing pain or will soon experience pain. It is my belief that the most powerful leaders demonstrate by example. During my youth, I was wounded by the cruel words of bullies and I inadvertently became an angry black woman. I would walk around with a huge boulder on my shoulder, until one day in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “I could not live in hate, it was too heavy a burden to bear.” Now I celebrate women. I celebrate her courage to rise above the obstacles, I celebrate her strength to love known enemies, I celebrate her courage to be audaciously authentic, I celebrate her willingness to smile through the pain and I celebrate her confidence to reign when she feels faint.
"And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition 'ere long. With courage, born of success achieved in the past, with a keen sense of the responsibility which we shall continue to assume, we look forward to a future large with promise and hope. Seeking no favors because of our color, nor patronage because of our needs, we knock at the bar of justice, asking an equal chance." Mary Church Terrell
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If you were a shoe, which style would you be and why? The fashionista in me initially thought, Christian Louboutin’s red bottoms. One of my mottos adapted from the first high-end coach I studied under was, “Slow feet don’t eat.” The warrior who has been on the battlefield fighting to manifest dreams for multiple decades says, “A pair of black steel toe boots.”
To become who you were pre-destined to be will require every ounce of strength to obtain victory. I’ve had to fight against all odds and fight against the raging thoughts of giving up. I’ve had to fight fear to use my voice and fight the status quo to evolve into someone phenomenal. I’ve had to fight the nagging whispers of my past and I’ve had to fight through the lies to believe I deserved unconditional love. In the words of Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
You travel and speak on many different platforms, meeting women from different walks of life. If you could give one gift to every woman you met, what would that gift be? Recently, I witnessed an online influencer have an emotional breakdown via Facebook live stream. As she cried hysterically, she stated, “I am tired of wearing a mask.” I would give every woman the gift of freedom to be. I know what it’s like to be a prisoner of pain, a slave of condemnation, a hostage of shame and a captive of confusion. We must embrace not just the pretty parts of truth but the ugly parts as well. This is where an unshakeable confidence thrives and resides. The power to accept the fact that inspite of what you’ve been through, God sees you as fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. Whomever the Son sets free, is free indeed. One of your areas of expertise is coaching women on how to move from stuck to unstoppable. What encouraging words would you say to a woman who recognizes she needs to make changes in her life to be a better her but is paralyzed by the fear of the unknown?
One of my innumerable favorite quotes is by Theodore Roosevelt, “Do what you can, with what you have, right where you are.” As you journey towards greatness, remember to bend with the wind. The bamboo is flexible and capable of adapting to any circumstance. Be not deceived by the speed in which movies thrust a hero to his peak in three hours. This is real life and you will come face to face with adversity. Proceed with fortified resiliency. Your spirit is pregnant with limitless possibilities. Celebrate the joy and the pain, honor the freedom to love lavishly, marvel at the priceless moments you've created, exhale the disappointments, embrace new waves of expectations and rejoice always for the blessed opportunity to rise again. Be happy and pleased with the woman you see standing audaciously authentic on the cusp of prophetic destiny. Your radiant light is a true reflection of God’s love, intersecting with heaven and earth. Be happy and pleased with the way you continue to conquer mountains of adversity. Your strength in the valley of challenge is a testament to God’s faithfulness to draw near, after hearing your faintest whisper in His ear. Delighted is the woman whose God is the Lord. On today, be of good cheer and choose His shielding presence, over the shadows of fear. What can guests expect to gain from your segment at this year’s annual SHE Tea conference? I believe God Himself will exceed our expectations, as He is the force behind everything I do. I believe that each woman will receive insightful revelation about the power she possesses and the unique advantage she carries as an instrument of transformation in the earth. I believe the shackles of stagnation will break into a thousand pieces. I believe clarity of thought will allow dull vision to be revitalized. I believe hidden pain will dissolve and brand-new unstoppable woman will evolve.
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SHE Tea Feature: Gina L. Kinchlow What would you say are the three essential steps to setting yourself up for entrepreneurial success?
Developing a good idea.
This means spending the time in the ideation phase to think about a product or service that can survive in the marketplace over the long term and can bring value to consumers in a way that the competition cannot.
Doing the necessary market research.
Just because the entrepreneur likes the product, doesn’t mean the product will be profitable in the marketplace. It’s important to do the market research for the geographic areas you intend to reach with your product. Who is your target market? What is the economic profile of your target market? How will you deliver your product to your target market? Is your product priced competitively?
Preparing a business plan, including a budget.
Entrepreneurs get so “romanced” by the idea of their wonderful new ideas, they don’t take the time to learn the principles of business and the principles of budgeting.
From your entrepreneurial experience, what has been the most common reason why a person is detoured from pursuing his/her entrepreneurial dream? I think many people underestimate the time, knowledge and skill needed to develop a business idea and launch it into the marketplace. It can be discouraging to work hard on a product only to realize that there is still a lot more to do before that product can be put into the marketplace. Also, lack of capital and other resources can be a key deterrent to the ongoing pursuit of great entrepreneurial dreams. It’s difficult to attract the money needed to move a dream forward; particularly for women and minorities. What advice would you give a woman who wants to transition from working a traditional 8 to 5 job to fully pursuing her own business? Plan, plan and plan some more for your exit! There’s an emotional side to being an entrepreneur and developing a great product or business idea. The emotional side can lure us into this false sense of security that may not really be there yet. Working for oneself is very different, financially, from working for someone else. One of the greatest differences is the “automatic” paycheck and benefits that are part of being employed by someone else. So my advice to someone wanting to exit the workplace is to make sure you have the funds in reserve (12-36 months) to cover housing, food, and the basics. Additionally, do as much as you can before you exit the workplace. If possible, write the business plan, write the five-year financial plan, do the market research, etc., while you are still employed. When you take that giant leap and exit the traditional workplace, you won’t be at “ground zero”. You would already have a lot of your plan in place.
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What benefits does the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce offer to small business owners? Full disclosure and total transparency, I’m no longer the interim president for the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce. However, I served in that role for almost four years (with only a brief six-month break in 2017), so I have a pretty good sense of how members benefit from the organization. The BBMC business model is built around three core values: education, advocacy and connection. These are the three main benefits BBMC members receive. EDUCATION: The BBMC provides training and development opportunities through workshops and the promotion of other organization’s and their workshops. It’s important to know and understand business, business concepts, and how all of it fits together. ADVOCACY: The BBMC has a pretty impressive 15-person board of directors who are all very experienced, knowledgeable and professionally connected. They advocate on behalf of BBMC members on a regular, ongoing basis in a variety of forums—the state legislature, educational networks and private industries. CONNECTION. I think connecting members to revenue-generating business opportunities is the benefit members appreciate the most. We do it as often as we can, but we really are trying to do it more frequently. Through the online database and directory as well as the occasional networking mixers and events, we bring vendors to our members. All of these activities are done in an effort to increase the opportunities for our members to sell their goods and services. How can a small business owner get involved with the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce? A chamber of commerce is a member-driven entity that provides a menu of services for its members. The services are provided in an effort to realize the chamber’s organizational mission which is to help businesses achieve economic growth and prosperity. When a business “joins” the chamber, that business owner has an opportunity to take advantage of as many or as few of the services offered by that Chamber. Business owners join chambers for a variety of reasons. Their level of involvement (that is, use of the chamber’s services) is up to the individual business owner. What is the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur? I enjoy being an entrepreneur. I’m creative and have a lot of ideas for goods and services that could make our lives easier. The greatest challenge for me has always been time. There’s always more to do than there are hours in the day! What can guests expect to gain from your segment at this year’s annual SHE Tea conference? It’s my understanding that in my role as a mentor, I will be part of a panel discussion with other mentors and will then facilitate a small group discussion at my mentoring table. Guests can expect me to just be me. I’m open, honest, forthright and caring. I have many years of business experiences to share and I’m more than happy to listen to the concerns of the guests and try to help, assist and advise as best I can.
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What does it mean to live unapologetically single? Being single has lost its true representation. Itâ€™s a status that some are afraid to embrace because traditionally, we have been conditioned to believe that being single means incomplete, lonely, or broken. It somehow means that in order to be happy and fulfilled, you must find a partner to share your life with. Wrong! Nevertheless, it is during this season that you must remain open to a relationship. However, you must never forget to cater to the relationship that matters mostâ€”the one with yourself.
What do you enjoy most about being single? Actually, I’m in a long-term relationship. However, being in a relationship doesn’t mean that you should lose sight of your singleness, because your status has shifted. I read somewhere that “the best love is the one that makes you a better person, without changing you into someone other than yourself.” Being single is about making yourself a better person, not looking to better someone else or feeling that it is your responsibility to complete them. Singles can have fun—choosing to take spontaneous trips, trying new hobbies, pushing outside of their comfort zones, or just dancing with the music as loud as they want. Simply put, it’s an opportunity to discover what kind of woman you want to be and bringing her to life! What do you think is the best way a single woman should spend her time? Having fun! I personally have a bucket list. It is filled with places I’d like to visit, restaurants that I’d like to try, or just things I’d like to do. Depending on where I’m traveling, I’m committed to doing one thing from my bucket list. In the age of social media, I’ve found myself not even taking pictures anymore because I’m just enjoying the moment for what it is. But this is actually something that I need to do a better job with— documenting memories even if they’re not publicly shared. What has been the biggest struggle you have faced while being single? Oh my goodness, I was such a lost lamb. I really didn’t know what I wanted, but I could itemize everything I thought I wanted. At some point, I realized that I was unconsciously walking into a relationship, expecting to receive whatever it was that I thought ‘the perfect man’ had to offer me. Because of this, I struggled with being alone. Without company, I was bored. That was definitely my only-child complex kicking in. Finally, I said to myself—what am I a child that needs to be entertained. As I started to peel back the layers and really looked inward, there were a lot of areas that needed some growth. It was during that self-exploration that I realized being by myself wasn’t that bad...I just needed that time to unpack my “stuff.” How do you think society has shaped the negative perspective of living single? Society has most certainly influenced our narrative of what it means to be single. But I will say that I’ve noticed a recent trend in women embracing more self-love, freedom of expression, and empowerment. We’re holding our sisters accountable for their growth. Because of this I feel the pendulum is swinging away from the negative perception that is attached to being single.
What advice would you give women who are struggling with the pressure of getting married by a certain age? I’d say spend more energy enjoying the best parts about living life, rather than being bogged down by timelines. Find love in the books you read, the places you explore, the people you meet, and the experiences you have. You’re looking to have a healthy relationship with yourself. If you do that, you’ll not only know your worth in a relationship, you’ll add tax! LOL! What can guests expect to gain from your segment at this year’s annual SHE Tea conference? Our time together will be interactive. Sharing my experience while understanding the experiences of others is what I love to do. I’ve never been a lecturer, so I love interactive discussions. We’re going to be collectively unpacking our stuff because for me living single has never meant doing it alone!
What can guests expect to gain from your segment at this year’s annual SHE Tea conference? Guests can expect tools, techniques, and tips on embracing their bodies while molding it into the healthiest version of themselves. Have you personally dealt with body image or weight struggles? How did you overcome those struggles? Most of my life has been a struggle with body image and my ideas of my weight. I am on a journey of overcoming these struggles. Throughout my journey, what has helped the most is self-love, prayer, and refocusing of priorities away from the scale. What advice would you give to a woman who has reached her ideal weight but is struggling to maintain it? Re-examine your goals and develop sustainable goals based on your lifestyle. Why do you think some women struggling with weight and body image issues choose to suffer in silence? Many women suffer in silence because dissatisfaction with one’s own body has become a societal norm amongst women. This leads many to believe and feel their struggle is not significant enough to discuss. At what point should the number reflected on the scale be a woman’s concern? The number reflected on the scale should become a concern only when joined by a waist circumference above 35 inches, and multiple “high risk” numbers on relevant lab work (i.e. blood pressure; glucose; triglycerides; cholesterol, etc.). How prevalent do you think body image and weight struggles are amongst women? I believe most women suffer from body image and/or weight struggles at some point in their lives. What do you think is the main cause of weight and body image struggles?
I believe the main cause of weight and body image struggles is the constant societal pressure to fit into unrealistic body types.
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What is one thing you wish you would have known prior to writing your first children's book? I wrote my first children’s book eight years ago when I was pregnant with my now seven-year-old. All I knew back then was that I wanted to author a book. Understanding the business now, I wish I would have found a company that allowed me to keep 100% of my royalties. I really wish I would have started my publishing company eight years ago! Did you always want to be a children's book publisher and author? No, becoming an author and even more so, owning my own publishing company has been God’s plan. It all happened so divinely. I’ve always been a writer. As a young child I remember getting into trouble and writing my mother apology letters. Over the years, I fell in love with literature. I never dreamt of publishing other people’s work. It has both blessed me and stretched me. What is the hardest part about what you do? How do you preserve? The hardest part about being a publisher is editing BY FAR. It takes research, patience, and a thorough understanding of grammar and story structure. I preserve my sanity by sometimes outsourcing editing services when a manuscript is in critical condition. I also seek best practices by finding out what other publishing companies are doing. I am a life learner; I love attaining knowledge that allows me to fine tune my craft. What advice would you give mothers with children who are aspiring authors? Encourage your child by becoming their biggest fan. Celebrate their stories and expose them to the community of children authors. It inspires them to know that there are like-minded people that are also their age. Also, seek opportunities for writing contest they can participate in and expose them to book festivals! Who or what inspires you? My family inspires me. Without fail, they support me in everything that I do. They encourage me and when people believe in you it feeds your spirit. It makes you want to be your best; my family deserves to a front row seat to my success. One day, they too will take the stage with me and we will be great together. Then there are my BFF Publishing House authors. They have such beautiful, painful, and triumphant stories. God loves me so much that I am the first one to read their stories and get to be blessed first! That is an incredible feeling. Do you think it is important to begin teaching children about purpose while they are young? Why or why not? Absolutely, it is our responsibility to sow into our children. We plant seeds whether good or indifferent and most of the time we are sowing into our children unknowingly. They are watching us, imitating us. We ourselves must live in purpose, living a purpose-driven life is the best way to teach our children purpose early in their developmental stages and it is more impactful than merely telling them about purpose. What can attendees expect to gain from your segment at this year's SHE Tea conference? Blessings and connections are the expectation! The SHE Tea is one of my favorite conferences to attend and speak at and because I understand the culture of the conference. I will literally be an open book in regard to the writing, publishing, and marketing process during my segment. Ultimately, there are numerous personal, professional, and financial advantages of becoming an author. That is the high-level expectation attendees will gain from Write Now!
Describe your style in 3 words. My style is smart, effortless, and admirable. What is your favorite go to fashion piece? My favorite go to fashion piece is a basic tee shirt. A basic tee is a must as I can dress it up or down. My favorites are soft cotton V-neck tees that can be easily paired with jeans, and pumps for a more put together look. A basic tee can be worn with a blazer for a more classic look. If you want a more unique look a basic tee can be paired with skirts, slacks, and worn under dresses. How did you get started in fashion styling? My start as an image consultant and stylist began at a very young age as I would always assist my family members with their looks. I learned at about 16 years old that I loved fashion and style. I was very particular about what I would wear and always took on the motto I share with clients “you have one chance to make a first impression why not make it grand.” What is the most exciting part of your job? The most exciting part of my job is helping others. I have a passion for fashion, style, and helping others. I just love to see the smile and joy in a client’s face when I am able to help them find their own style or dress them for an occasion. Tell us about your brand. What does Fashioned for Hem mean to you? Fashioned for Hem is a brand and blog that is focused around fashion, style, inspiration, and faith. The brand is a way to share and inspire others through fashion and style by allowing them to know it’s not about the clothes but the way that individual rocks it. Also, the brand is a way to encourage others that everyone’s style is unique and there is beauty in that uniqueness. I created Fashioned for Hem to help others grow to know that fashion and style aren’t determined by the cost of what they are wearing or their attire yet, the confidence that will be exuded when the focus is on inner beauty not outer.
What fashion piece should every woman have in her closet? The fashion piece that every woman should have in their closet is a Little Black Dress (LBD). Having a versatile LBD that can transition from work to a night out is a must. I find that a LBD can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. LBD’s can be paired with a statement pump and accessories to give the look a jazzier flair. Find a LBD that fits your style as it should be a staple piece in every woman’s closet.
How can style expression help build confidence? Style expression can help build confidence as it can help a person focus on more than just their outer appearance. With Fashioned for Hem, I believe when a person is confident in who they are their style expression is reflective of it. Style expression is the honest expression of self and allows others to show their true personality.
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Love & Relationship JUST SIMPLY SAYING:
BEING A STEPPARENT IS NOT ALWAYS AS EASY AS 1-2-3 By: Rhoda Whitfield
ave you ever been told by your spouse’s child, “you’re not my mama” or “I want my Daddy with my Mommy, not with you?” Children can’t even begin to understand the dynamics of marriage when they verbalize such statements. It’s not that they don’t like you, but they want to live in a home with their parents and they feel you are hindering their parents reuniting. My parents divorced when I was three years old. All I can remember is being back at my grandmother’s house and my daddy wasn’t there. When my mother remarried, I was a little rebellious against my step-father. However, it was my step-father who taught me how to be a step-parent that loves despite the opposition of the child. Is it hard? Yes, it is. However, we cannot allow ourselves to stoop to childish levels, because the child is merely acting out the confused emotions that they are not able to process or explain. When I got older, I saw how difficult my father was to live with, which could have been a major factor in my parents divorcing. When you mix that with being a young couple, that’s a set-up for disaster from the start. They were merely children themselves, raising children
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and trying to handle adult situations. Say what you want, but maturity is important in a marriage. One or two immature parties can’t make a marriage work. Though I am a child of divorce, I wasn’t for or against my parents getting back together. However, I would have preferred my father living closer or in the same city as we did. My feelings for my step-father were misplaced feelings because he was trying to be a father-figure to me, not take my dad’s place. When he and my mother started having children together, he never changed, where my older sister and I were concerned. He was still there for us as though we were his own. Ever so often a step-parent is able to develop a relationship with a child who is not caught up in the world of I-want-mymommy-and-daddy-together. This child is more open to the new person in his/her parent’s life. This child is more focused on how you treat them. If you treat them with love and demonstrate that you genuinely care, he/she will definitely grow to love you. However, on the flip side, the child that
feels you are blocking their parents from being together go through phases. They may love you today and not like you tomorrow for no valid reason. I call it a sad commentary because you don’t have to do anything to cause this reaction. This mainly happens because they can’t process why their parents aren’t together and they have to go between two homes. I think the most difficult part of a blended family is when a child tries to harm your relationship and your spouse has blinders on. You get married in hopes that the new family will mesh, but now you are beginning to get a bitter taste in your mouth, not because of the child but because your spouse is blind to the child’s actions. I tell you, until they take those blinders off regarding the child, you are living in the worst days of your marriage. If your spouse doesn’t set boundaries for the child regarding you, the child will feel as though they are in control. If limits are not in place, the child will attempt to push certain buttons with you. Your spouse must let the child know what’s expected and not be afraid to lay down the law.
You might have step into your marriage with the best of intentions but find yourself faced with many road blocks. Winning over this child can be difficult but still possible. Therefore, you must remember that you are the adult and the child is a child. As I said before, don’t allow the child to cause you to stoop to childish levels. The Bible makes it clear that our relationship with our spouse is our top priority. Therefore, we can’t allow a child to stress, disrespect or harm our marital relationship. In some cases, the former spouse will make it real clear how he/she feels about the new spouse. This may cause the child to develop resentment for the new spouse or the child may like his/her step-parent but feel like it’s an act of betrayal. No child should be placed in this position. Reassure your spouse of your commitment to the marriage in your children’s presence, and let the child know, you will not tolerate anyone sabotaging your new relationship. As a parent, you must maintain control and not allow your children to pull leverage in your relationship. I’m Just Simply Saying.
May/June 2019 PDWMAG.COM 57
Love & Relationship
The “L” Word By Kendell Lenise
The most common 4 letter word in the world is, love. It’s the universal language, which transcends any barrier. People love LOVE and all that comes with it. There is comfort in knowing that someone out there truly loves you. It somehow validates us in a way that nothing else does. After all, love makes the world go ‘round. Right? A good love story intrigues us to seek a love of our very own. Movies lead us to believe in the fairytale of the perfect love. Our knight and shining armor awaits, as we stand in our Victorian gown, holding the reins of our horse. Our hair and make-up, done to perfection, as we wait for our King to get down on one knee, as he proposes and professes his love. Real life love can be a magical experience, if you believe true love exists. Who doesn’t want to be in love? Maybe, that one person who’s had their heart broken recently, has no interest at the moment. BUT eventually, the urge to love again will creep up in your spirit. You won’t stay down forever. You will brush your shoulders off and reopen your heart to love. It is inevitable. You will love again. Everyone wants a genuine love experience. It’s in our DNA, running through our veins, in its purest form. Statistically, people who are in love and coupled up, live longer than those who are single. Essentially, we were designed to have help mates in this game of life. God wants us all to experience love. First and foremost, witnessing his love, allowing that to flow into the love we have for others. In Romans 12:10 it states, “Be devoted to one another in love, Honor one another above yourselves.” Love is meant to be shared and explored. It’s commonly said that it’s better to have loved
and lost, than to have never loved at all. I’m not sure if that is completely true, but what I know for sure is that a large number of individuals, want a romantic kind of love within their life span. If you don’t believe, check the numbers on many of the popular dating app and sites. People are actively searching for their Kings and Queens. People are very interested in sharing their lives with someone. No one wants to grow old alone. Let’s keep it real. When you’ve had the opportunity to love, the last thing you want to do is loose it. However, the way life is set up, it’s a strong possibility that all loves won’t last forever and that’s quite alright. Don’t fret, every love doesn’t have to last forever. Not all loves are for a lifetime. Some are just seasonal. They are set up for you to build muscle. That lost (temporary) love allows you to grow, get in tuned with your needs and wants… making space for your forever love to walk into your life. When God sets it up, he knocks it out of the park, bringing you the perfect design. Stay patient and walk in faith. Your love is out there, preparing itself for you. Love has many levels and branches, like a beautiful tree. As we love we learn about other people, but most importantly, we learn about ourselves. It’s the gift that gives back. Love is divine that way. Through the love experience, you will begin to let your walls fall, exposing your vulnerability. In love, you will be introduced to another side of you. Your air becomes fresher, scents become more robust and music sounds sweeter. Love becomes your muse, your permanent smile and your sunlight on not so bright days. It’s a feeling that many want to experience in their life time and rightfully so. Women and men alike, are hopeful (not hopeless)
“If you aren’t a full person, with 100% to give another, you aren’t ready for a mature kind of love.”
romantics, believe it or not. Men aren’t exempt from that warm, cozy feeling that love gives. In order to receive everything, love has to offer, you have to let go of age old expectations and love freely. You have to open yourself up to receive all of your desires. Forgetting all the negative stories you’ve heard from your single girlfriends and miserable married couples. You have to get to know the “L” word for yourself. There is no standard format to love, other than, God knows best. Pray for the right love to come into your life and it will, in God’s time. In the meantime, work on yourself, so you can present your best self when love arrives. If you aren’t a full person, with 100% to give another, you aren’t ready for a mature kind of love. If you are a half of person waiting for another half of person to sweep you off your feet, then you have the wrong idea about what love truly is. It may sound harsh, but it’s true. There is no such thing in someone completing you. Stop saying, “I’m looking for the one who will complete me. That math doesn’t work in the game of love. You have to have two solid people to make a strong union. No exceptions. The “L” word is not a one size fits all kind of thing. It’s about preparation meeting opportunity. If you stay in a place of betterment and wholeness, you don’t have to scurry to get there when your man shows up. There is nothing more appealing than a woman and a man who work on themselves, making themselves better for God, the world and their future mate. That’s what lasting relationships are made of. You aren’t looking for someone to
make you whole or happy, you’re looking for someone who can help you change the world to make the lives of others better. Your love can be the spark to spread love all over the world. No love is perfect, but it’s always worth it. If you are in love, looking for love or waiting for love to find you, I pray you receive the love you deserve. Take action, pray, make a list of your wants, talk about it, create a vision board, put the word out there that you’re ready for love. Manifest what you
need from love and God will provide your heart’s desires, when it’s time. In the meantime, work on yourself, so you can be the best woman you can be. Discovering what you love about yourself, will allow you to recognize the greatness in the man of your dreams. Nevertheless, if you don’t love you, then you’re wasting your time entertaining the idea of love. In order to love healthily, you must first master the love of God and the love of self. Open the window to love and allow it to blow in!
May/June2019 PDWMAG.COM 59
Share My Story
We all live in a world where we must engage and interact with others. It is important to know and understand who you are and who you have been created to be in the earth. You must also know what you represent and stand on the values, morals and principles of our ancestors. I was born to be a disrupter! I have
always been an advocate for justice, from as far back as I can remember. I was always standing up for people who either couldn’t or wouldn’t speak up for themselves. As you might imagine, I found myself in a bunch of fights that some might say weren’t my fights, but they were indeed my fights. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his famous letter from the Birmingham Jail said it best, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” At the tender age of 9, I knew exactly what I wanted to become – a lawyer! While other kids were feasting on cartoons or other kids’ shows, I absolutely loved The Perry Mason Show. Mason was an attorney who had the uncanny ability to always get witnesses to confess before the show ended. Wow! I was mesmerized,
NICOLE MASON, ESQ.
SHINE BRIGHT IN DARKNESS intrigued. Slowly, I became a force to be reckoned with. Maybe, it was fate that I ended up with the same last name!? Too much… probably so! LOL! When the time came for me to apply to law school, I applied 9 times and was rejected 9 times. Yes, you read that right. I was finally accepted on the 10th time I applied. I just refused to take no for an answer. I tell you this so that you will understand who I am and how I ended up fighting against an entire system to make a much-needed change for those impacted by the system and those making the decisions to keep the system at status quo. I am a disrupter, and I have always been an advocate for justice. Approximately 11 years ago, I began working for an Agency that was dominated by white men, most having PhD degrees in scientific disciplines, and many
more of them considered experts in their fields of study. I was the only African American and the only African American female senior leader in my organization, a subcomponent in the larger Agency. That’s a subject for a book in and of itself, but we’ll save that for another time. I served as the Equal Employment Opportunity/Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager, the only African American and the only African American female to ever serve in the position in the history of the organization. I don’t need to go into a long discourse, the culture of the organization is … interesting. During my tenure, the Agency’s prestigious leadership development program was offered to the employees. The program was coveted, because most of the people who had been accepted into the program had experienced an exponential acceleration in their professional careers. The program was offered every 2 years. My
“I did lots and lots of praying. I knew God was trying to teach me a lesson of monumental proportions through this situation.” organization had only sent one minority through the program, in the 16 years that the program had been in existence, and that employee matriculated through the program, 14 years prior. During one of the last rounds of the program, 2 minority employees applied. During the panel review of the applications, I served as an observer to ensure that EEO/Diversity and Inclusion principles were adhered to. The panel was a diverse panel, or as diverse as can be expected with such demographics as mentioned earlier. The applications were scored and ranked. The ranking had one of the minorities moving to the next round in the application process and the other one out based on the applicant’s score. The final roster of approved applicants was then sent to the organization’s leader. The leader made the unilateral decision to move a Caucasian employee from the bottom of the list of applicants. This employee was not even ranked, yet this individual move forward over the minority applicant who was ranked at the top of the list to move forward. What? Really? Is this what we are doing!!!!!? I spoke up about the overt decision and all hell broke loose for me in a variety of different ways on a variety of different levels. My decisions were being scrutinized. My work was being challenged and viewed as not good enough any longer. My performance was rated low, the lowest it has ever been in my entire professional career. These actions were very difficult for me to digest in the beginning. I think a part of me was really trying to figure out if I was really being harassed. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that I, the EEO/Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager, the one who was hired to help eradicate the very behavior I was being subjected to, was under fire for doing exactly what I was hired to do. Surely, they had enough experience with me to know that I was not going to back down. Surely, they had enough experience with me to know that I would speak up about the matter. Or, did they think I would lie down and take their mistreatment and bad behavior like so many others do and have done!? After I got over the initial shock, I was angry and ready to fight. I had not been that angry in years. In my mind, I was not backing down. Resilience and courage are in my DNA! I come from a lineage of women who not only knew how to fight – they had to fight! I had to spend some time recalibrating myself in prayer and seeking Godly counsel from mentors and family, I got to the root of the problem and my anger - I expected more from the woman who was my immediate supervisor! Why didn’t she stand up for me? Why didn’t she take a stand for what was right? What added insult to injury was the fact that I coached and
mentored her to get the position, and as soon as she got the position, the organization’s leader began to use her to come after me and to do “his dirty work.” When I tried to explain to her what really was going on, it didn’t change my situation and it appeared to go into one ear and out of the other. I did lots and lots of praying. I knew God was trying to teach me a lesson of monumental proportions through this situation. I used one scripture daily that resonated so deeply within me the first time I read it in The Passion Translation of the Bible, Psalm 35:4 says, “… Frustrate their plans to defeat me and drive them back.” I watched God answer that prayer and more. The rules of the leadership program were changed for the entire Agency. The organization’s leader could not make a unilateral decision any longer without written justification. And, the entire process became a “blind” process. The applicant’s name and personal identifying information were not seen during the process, offering minority applicants a better chance of being admitted into the program. Additionally, my supervisor nominated me for the Employee of the Year Award with a huge bonus. One major thing I learned is that I do not have to fight as hard as I used to. God is indeed watching out for me and fighting for me! I am confident that I am a disrupter and an advocate for justice and that wherever God places me, I have been strategically sent there to shake things up and to make a difference. I also learned that God uses us as examples in different times. People watch us and gauge their own battles based on how we fight or not fight. I also learned that your opponents in a battle may not like you, but when it is all over, said and done, they must and will respect you! Most people know when they’re wrong, but most people who abuse their power, are not used to others standing up to them and for what is right. I learned that the saying is true, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” We all live in a world where we must engage and interact with others. It is important to know and understand who you are and who you have been created to be in the earth. You must also know what you represent and stand on the values, morals and principles of our ancestors. The United States of America was founded on the principles of “liberty and justice for all.” We must do exactly what our ancestors did, keep making an impact and making a difference for those coming behind us. Let the record reflect that you were here and that you were a light shining bright in darkness!
64 PDWMAG.COM June/May 2019
The Briggs & Barrett Project
Life After SIDS www.briggsandbarrettproject.com Providing Peace of Mind SIDS & Safe Sleep Awareness & Education *Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
May/June 2019 PDWMAG.COM 65
passed, I knew that I needed to do
How has the passing of baby Briggs affected you and your family?
Melissa West Baby Briggs’s Mom
The pain my family and I are experiencing now from losing Briggs is just as strong as the day he died and went to heaven. Our Angel Briggs has brought us new friends that surround us today. They continually say Briggs name, and find out how we are doing. They are a part of the Briggs and Barrett Project Foundation that we have formed in honor of Briggs, and they attend the Foundation’s event to help spread SIDS awareness.
With that being said, we have a handful of friends and family who are in denial concerning what happened to Briggs. They don’t say his name or find out how we are doing, and they don’t participate in the Foundation’s events. This is hard to deal with and hurts our already wounded hearts. What happened to Briggs is real and pretending it never happened only brings more pain. My husband, Shawn and I have had to learn to shift our focus back to each other and our faith. After Briggs passed, we leaned on each other, but our focus was on our children. We made sure that they were okay, and even to this day, we allow them to express their thoughts and emotions. Shawn and I have had to learn again that we need each other. It has been a year since Briggs passing but the pain is still there, and we are leaning on each other. I am more vocal with my feelings while Shawn is more closed. Constantly, we affirm our need for each other. If we break, our world around us will fall apart. That being said, God is the center of our home.
Left to right: Melissa West (Baby Briggs Mom) and Allison Uecker (Baby Barrett Mom)
What is one major coping skill that you find highly effective in times of sadness or grief? When I feel sad and tears pool, I let them fall. I have learned to not hold my pain inside. Everyone grieves differently, but I find that I have to allow myself to grieve. I cry, yell at God, and journal my thoughts. These are ways that I am able to release my emotions and not bottle them up. When Briggs passed, I knew that I needed to do something. Something to honor him but more importantly, to educate others about SIDS and Safe Sleep. So when Allison and I established the Briggs and Barrett Project Foundation, that was a way for me to say Briggs’ name every day of my life. Also, to hear other say his name, and to hear their stories of how we have saved lives through the education and tools we have provided. Knowing that Briggs’ name is living on, not only in my heart and the few pictures we have, but in the world of SIDS education, is what helps me to cope. Any advice for moms who have lost their little one(s) to SUIDS OR SIDS? We all deal with loss differently. Don’t let people tell you how to grieve or tell you how you should be feeling. You will hear from many “you are so strong.” People don’t say this to hurt you, but we all know that we are not strong when going through a tragedy like this. We have no choice, but to appear strong for our family, careers, health and life in general. We can drown in our sorrow, pain and loss, or we can choose to take the next step forward. Each step is a sign of strength. That is what I want for every parent that has lost an infant one step forward shows strength, and it’s a sign you are going to be okay.
You said that at the hospital, you were crying while
Right to left: Melissa West, Baby Briggs, Melissa’s husband Shawn, and their three handsome boys (Brock, Brodie, Braxton)
the team was working on Briggs. However, you found the strength to pray, saying the Lord’s Prayer repeatedly. Can you explain why you said the Lord’s Prayer? I can’t tell you why I chose the Lord’s Prayer. At times, the memories of those moment at the hospital are crisp and clear and other times they feel surreal. I beat everyone to the hospital, so I sat with the Chaplain waiting for the ambulance with Briggs. I just knew it was not a good situation. I remembered not knowing what to feel or say, so I prayed. When Briggs arrived and they took me to him, the hallway was lined with what I felt were angels, but they were firefighters, cops, nurses, doctors. I didn’t know what to do so I just prayed. I knew I needed God by my side for whatever it was that I was experiencing and going to experience so I just prayed! I needed God by my side more than ever. I needed His strength and to feel his presence as Briggs was lifted up to heaven. Have you ever felt angry with God for calling baby Briggs to his heavenly home? Why or Why not?
Melissa holding Baby Briggs
My faith is what has put me where I am today. Does that mean that I don’t have moments of anger and questioned God? No! Still to this day, I find myself asking God, “Why Me? Why Briggs? Why couldn’t you give me more time with him?” These questions will never leave my mind but what I know is that God wouldn’t put me through something I couldn’t handle. Even though I don’t understand, I still yell at Him today. But I know that Briggs had a mission and that he was needed in Heaven. He was needed in heaven and that is what I put my focus on. That is what gets me through each day. Knowing that Briggs is in Heaven making a difference gives me peace. I tell people all the time—Briggs has me busier today than when he was here for those short three months. I consider myself his secretary down here on earth helping spread SIDS and Safe Sleep awareness so other families don’t have to
Melissa holding Baby Briggs’s hand as he transitions to Heaven
I feel that talking about Barrett helps us cope with the loss. It helps us keep those memories alive and will help his little brother and future siblings know who he was.
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Left to right: Allison Uecker husband, Brad Uecker hold photo of Baby Barrett, Allison Uecker holding Baby Barrett, and their handsome son Beckett
Left to right: Beckett and Baby Barrett
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Left to right: Baby Barrett
How has the passing of baby Barrett affected you and your family?
to put our trust in God and know that there was a reason for Barrett being sent to us for such a short time.
Since Barrett passed, it has made me realize just how fragile and short life can be. One minute you have all these hopes and dreams for your child and the next minute your whole world comes crashing down.
In your opinion, how important is it to connect with other moms who have lost their little one(s) to SIDS OR SUIDS? Why?
Barrett’s passing has truly shown our family the brevity of life. It has taught us to love unconditionally and to never take a moment of life for granted. I have noticed that we aren’t afraid to take pictures without makeup or when we aren’t looking our best. We realize that those pictures will eventually be keepsakes, and they will be cherished forever regardless of what we look like in them. It sounds like there were plans and expectations for baby Barrett, which is typical, although he was so young. Can you share some of those hopes and dreams that you had for him? Also, how do you cope with not being able to see those hopes and dreams fulfilled? Barrett had a thick body so we envisioned he would be a lineman for Nebraska one day. He would go to college, work hard and become someone great. I cope with this by thinking about how much more amazing he is in heaven. He is living his best life. Better than we could ever dream for him here on earth. Ultimately, we just have
I think it is very important to connect with other SIDS parents. Talking about your feelings with someone who can truly relate to your situation is very therapeutic. This individual understands your struggle firsthand and leaning on each other is a very important step in the healing process. If you could have baby Barrett back here on earth for one day, what would you say to him? This question makes me emotional. There are so many things I would do with him and say to him. Most importantly, I would make sure he knew how much his mommy and daddy love him and how much his big brother looks up to him, even though Barrett was younger. Do you have any advice for moms who have lost their little one(s) to SUIDS OR SIDS? Don’t be afraid to speak their name. We talk about Barrett every day. Sometimes, I imagine him listening as I talk with him. I feel that talking about Barrett helps us cope with the loss. It helps us keep those memories alive and will help his little brother and future siblings know who he was.
Left to right: Beckett holding photo of Baby Barrett and Baby Barrett
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ACCEPTING AN APOLOGY
RECEIVED By Danielle Lyles
72 PDWMAG.COM March/April 2019
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV) A few years ago, I was faced with an onslaught of accusations and hurtful words from someone I held dear to my heart. We were the kind of friends that didn’t talk everyday but when we did, we picked up right where we left off. That’s why I was surprised when she called and asked if we could speak candidly. I was a bit apprehensive because her tone wasn’t what I was used to but I agreed because I wanted her to feel free to say what was on her heart. Five minutes into the call, I was surprised to find out exactly what was on her heart. Apparently, she’d been harboring feelings about me that I had no idea she had. These feelings had been festering for years and I was surprised she waited so long to tell me. I was glad that she poured out her heart but bothered that a lot of how she felt was related to misconceptions and misunderstandings. When it was my turn to speak, I explained each and every accusation. By the time I was finished, she told me how relieved she was to know the truth. Then I waited… I wanted to give her the chance to apologize, but she didn’t. She needed to get back to work so we said goodbye and ended the call. I remembered feeling confused and speechless. Why hadn’t she apologized? There was not one moment in her candid conversation that she wasn’t saying hurtful things. I rationalized that maybe she found it hard to say sorry or perhaps she said it in her own little way and I missed it or even worse, perhaps she meant every word. Regardless, I knew the Christian thing to do was to forgive her, so I did… or so I thought. As the days, weeks and months went by, she continued to call and text me but never made mention of that conversation. Frustrated with her unwillingness to acknowledge her wrong, I started sending her calls to voicemail and put her text notifications on silent. I was short with her and passive aggressive in my responses. Surely, she would feel the breach between us and make amends for causing it. Still, she continued like nothing happened and I truly felt some kind of way about it all.
While lamenting to a good friend of mine about how wrong the situation was, she made a comment about me needing to forgive the offense. I didn’t agree with what she said because I knew that I’d already forgiven her. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I hadn’t forgiven her. I may have spoken the words but my actions showed otherwise. I was being self-righteous and hypocritical. I knew to do better but chose to mull over my pain and the fact that I’d been done wrong. I gave no thought to the fact that I was breaking God’s heart and giving the devil a foothold in my life. So, I resolved to do better by:
Repenting for my behavior and disobedience to God’s Word about forgiveness
Releasing the pain of the offense to God for healing only He can bring
Praying that God would allow me to see her heart versus the offense
Praying blessings over her and her family
Not engaging in conversations that put her in a bad light and justified my sin
I would be lying if I said it was easy because it wasn’t. There were times when I had to stop and pray for the strength to walk in love and forgiveness towards her. Over time, I’ve been able to be more loving towards her. God is always faithful to help us succeed at doing His will. I am forever grateful for His grace in this situation. Two years later and still no apology… and that’s okay because I know now that even if she had apologized, only God could heal the hurt that was caused that day. I know that the pain that was caused didn’t negate my responsibility to forgive her. I’m grateful to God for the chance to get this right and for the lesson in learning to accept an apology I’ll probably never receive.
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Family more to be thankful for. Isn’t that a great feeling? It is good practice to keep focused and have positive thoughts. When you do this, your mood will improve, and your life will feel more enriched. You will begin to have a different outlook on life, and notice what is important to you. Be thankful for your loved ones. Thank God each day for your family and loved ones. What a blessing it is to have them in your life. The important people in your life make your life more meaningful.
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself By Tarnya Coley
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A key element in life is to always appreciate what you have. It is important to value the people that are in your life. We do not know how long we have here on earth. As the saying goes, you won’t know what you have until it is gone. Love the people in your life by letting your loved ones know that you appreciate them. By doing this it will make them feel valued. Tell your loved ones that you love them more often, visit them more, show acts of kindness. There are many different ways to show your love and affection. Appreciating what you have makes you feel happier and extremely grateful. So while we have our loved ones in our life, appreciate and embrace them, do not wait until it is too late. Embrace and celebrate the people in your life, it will give them a sense of belonging. Your loved ones are special and deserve to be treated with love and respect. Make it a habit to focus on what you have, and not on what you don’t have. You will realise you have more than you thought. You have
1 John 14:19, says “We love because he first loved us.” God has demonstrated his love to us, so let us love others in the same way.
I came across this powerful quote, ‘It’s not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy. - Unknown Reflect and think about the loved ones that you have in your life. Here are some tips to show them that you love and appreciate them.
Make more time for your loved ones. Tell them they are special. Give them a great big hug. Buy them an unexpected gift. I challenge you today to go out of your way and appreciate someone today. Remember it is the little things in life that put a smile on people’s faces.
All around the world women from different walks of life are letting their light shine by sharing their story and encouraging women.
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