To Push Through, You've Got to Look Back

To Push Through, You've Got to Look Back
by Alicia Williams

Yesterday, I spent most of the morning and early afternoon sitting in the office of the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). I filed a complaint against my employer, a major bank, on the basis of retaliation for me going to HR. The situation is so messy, but I find myself fighting for my dignity.

I do not want to go into the new year with old stuff and baggage. I want to go with the expectations of wonderful opportunities, freshness and new beginnings. Goodness, I truly hope this mess doesn't set the precedent of 2009 for me, otherwise I would have to take a seat and wait for 2010.

Hold up! Is that defeat and fear talking? No, I am just tired of fighting battles. (I say that as I have been watching several documentaries on the Civil Rights Movement, don't I have a lot of nerve to even think of the word "tired"?)

You know what? Things aren't actually that bad for me, as compare my situation to others. A friend of mine invested everything she had, and then some, in her dreams to get her pilot show on the air. Oh yeah, networks loved it, but none bought it and now she is broke and starting all over. Another friend, who is a single mom, is losing her home to foreclosure because the landlord wasn't paying the rent. And, countless of people we know are pushing through horrible situations such as losing their jobs, foreclosures, the economy, etc. (and an extra etc.)

Hmmmm...my little fight with the big bank is not that bad, eh? And, you know what? I truly have a lot to be thankful for. I have my health, I was dealing with depression and anxiety and it actually felt like I was losing my mind, but guess what? Baby, I'm back! My daughter is fine, I've been protected and kept safe from all hurt, harm and danger. Chile, I am doing just fine...just fine.

So, 2009, here I come...no, 2009, here WE come! Because guess what? WE are all in this together. And, to be sure that we are on the same page, let's gets some basics down for the new year.

1. Do you want some cheese to go with that whine? No? Then stop whining and complaining! It could be worse and for some folks it is. Take the moment to cry, if needed. Talk about it with a friend, get advice. But, stop the whining and complaining. No need to regurgitate the story over and over about who did you wrong and what happened. Get over it and get moving! We have a whole lot of work to do and 2009 is almost over (well, it'll feel like it soon). Use the hurt to fuel your purpose. Obama didn't sit down and cry over all the attacks, he kept it moving...so did the Civil Rights Workers when their houses were burned, the dogs and hoses were turned on them...no rest or whining for the weary, I know.




2. Count your blessings! You have heard this 100 times, but here it is for the 101th time. We ignore so many small blessings, that is is shameful. How many stories have you heard about people being robbed, houses being broken into or car accidents on the road you travel? Hey, it wasn't you! That is a blessing, so count it! Health, eyesight, feet to stand on, hot water working, heat pumping...count all of that and keep counting. After all, when we cease to count our blessings we become ungrateful. When something doesn't go our way, we get bitter and angry because we haven't counted all of the other things that have worked out for us.

3. Stop talking about it, be about it! I don't want to hear another "I wanna" in 2009 because I heard enough in 2008, and nothing got done, but talking! (Am I preaching to the choir, or what?) Anyway, it is time to put your wheels in motion, stop the yapping and follow through on a goal. I learned that I couldn't keep asking God to bless me with opportunities when I never finished them. I finally finished my book, Up From Rock Bottom, and the thought that I completed it was so incredible. So, as God told me, "finish the thing that you set out to do and see it through to completion."

Now, if I have to carry some old stuff from 2008, then that's fine. I'll just apply these three steps above and keep it moving. And, I also realize like the line in A Color Purple, "I had to fight all my life..." So, that's nothing new to me, I'll keep my boxing gloves nearby and stand on the shoulders of my ancestors who had to fight so that I can stand (and fight sometimes, too.) Hey, what does all of this deep stuff mean? It means that life will keep coming at you, don't get weary and start to doubt and fear. Get stronger, look back over your life and see all of the trials that you've survived. Look back over the lives of our people and realize that surviving and pushing through is in you...its in the DNA, baby! Use it for inspiration because I know 2008 will follow us into 2009!

Hey, look at Barack Obama, 2006 through 2008 will be following him into 2009 and he's not whining, complaining or giving up! Now, things don't look so bad, do they?

Alicia Williams, Author of Up From Rock Bottom
For more information: http://www.bigdoorllc.com/


Alicia Williams is a gifted actress, writer and motivational speaker. The Detroit native received a Bachelor’s of Art Degree in African-American Studies from the University of Kentucky. Alicia immersed herself in college life by joining the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, working as a radio disc jockey and forming Circle of Imani, a collegiate woman’s support group. Using the support group as a platform, Alicia facilitated workshops, retreats and performances for the Charles Young Community Center, which addressed concerns involving self-esteem, abstinence and family issues. Read more about Alicia here.



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People That Changed My Life by Pam Perry

Top Ten Books and People That Changed My Life in 2008

Success does not come by accident - you have to be deliberate, persistent, consistent and relentless. One of my favorite quotes from one of my mentors, Mike Murdock, is: “You will only succeed when you develop an obsession for your dream.”

You must also have the right resources and relationships. 2008 was indeed a year of change for me personally and professionally and many others! Change was hailed as the popular winning campaign slogan for our President Obama. For me, I fixed what wasn’t working in my personal life and professionally, I changed my business model.

How did I make these changes? Reading. Information does change the seasons of your life – and you can tell where a person is going by the books they read AND the people they hang around. Well, I read some terrific books in 2008 and connected with some great folks.

I’d like to share with you the books that made a real difference in my life this year and some people that had an impact on my business perspective.


Top 10 Books that made a difference in my life

Inspired to Succeed: Wit & Wisdom for Your Unlimited Success by Dr. Stacia Pierce http://www.ministry4women.com/

The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude: How to Find, Build and Keep A YES! Attitude for a Lifetime of Success by Jeffrey Gitomer http://www.gitomer.com/

Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Strategies for Savvy, Sassy and Swamped by Eli Davidson http://www.funkytofabulous.com/

8 Steps to Create the Life You Want: The Anatomy of Successful Life by Dr. Creflo A. Dollar http://www.creflodollarministries.org/

Utmost Living: Creating and Savoring Your Best Life Now by Tim Storey http://www.timstoreyonline.com/

Caught Between a Dream and a Job: How to Leave the 9-to-5 Behind and Step into the Life You’ve Always Wanted by Delatorro McNeal http://www.delmcneal.com/

Get Real, Get Rich: Conquer the 7 Lies Blocking You From Success by Dr. Farrah Gray http://www.drfarrahgray.com/

Connect: Building Success Through People, Purpose and Performance by Keith Harrell and Hattie Hill http://www.connectyourattitude.com/

Relationship Networking: The Art of Turning Contacts into Connections by Sandra Yancy http://www.ewomenpublishingnetwork.com/

From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur: Make Money with Books, Ebooks and Information Products by Stephanie Chandler http://www.stephaniechandler.com/

Now of course I read gads of ebooks & magazines, went to conferences, took tons of teleseminars but I also have had some great “coaches” who pushed me and stretched me – and I am better because I listened and followed their advices or watched their cues.


People that made an impact on my life in 2008

Andrew Morrison (http://www.90dayplan.com/)
Sherese Duncan (http://www.shereseduncan.biz/)
Connie Ragan Green (http://www.ebookwritingandmarketingsecrets.com/)
Judy Cullins (http://www.bookcoaching.com/)
Fabience Fredickson (http://www.clientattraction.com/)
Alex Mandossian (http://www.alexmandossian.com/)
Crystal and Anthony Obey (http://www.dollarmakersusa.com/)
Karen Taylor-Bass (http://www.taylormademediapr.com/)
Andria Hall (http://www.andriahall.com/)
Dr. Teresa Hairston (http://www.gopeltoday.com/)

There are new influences in my life now too – those relationships have come from my social networking sites such as linkedin, twitter, facebook and Chocolate Pages Network. Plus my favorite NINGS.


Where did all this lead to:
My first book – “Synergy Energy: How to Use the Power of Partnerships to Market Your Book, Grow Your Business and Brand Your Ministry” written by me and Crystal/Anthony Obey (that’s real synergy!) www.blogtalkradio.com/ministrymarketingsolutions (and a new talk show!)

My PR Boot Camp Teleclasses & coaching program – thanks to the vision spurred by Karen Taylor-Bass & the PR Distinction.

The creation of new information products from the responses to the survey of Christian authors earlier this year (debuting CDs/MP3, Special Reports, Home Study Kits, Membership Programs, Teleclasses, Webinars, Videos and Ebooks in 2009) – I also want to make my coaches proud! ere
Exciting trips, speaking at fabulous conferences – some even out the country!
Awards! I got more awards this year that I have ever gotten my entire life – I got so many my husband was like, “We need another room for all your plaques.” J

I expect 2009 to be simply divine as well. Yeah, we know there are some major issues going on with the economy – but hey, if you keep the right perspective and expect the best – you’ll attract the best!

If you’d like a list of my 2009 books that are going to set the trail ablaze for YOU – shoot me an email to pamperry@ministrymarketingosolutions.com (I have 10 great ones that you MUST read!)

Pam Perry is a ministry marketing pioneer and expert in the African American Christian market. Her public relations career spans over two decades. She spent the first ten years working in ad agencies, media and has dedicated the past ten to ministry marketing and PR coaching authors. Her company, Ministry Marketing Solutions, Inc. has a roster of the most well-known publishers and Christian authors in the industry. She’s the creator of the ChocolatePagesNetwork.com, a social network for Christian authors. She is also the co-author of “Synergy Energy: How to Use the Power of Partnerships to Market Your Book, Grow Your Business and Brand Your Ministry.”

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Note from Cheryl Lacey Donovan

Isaiah 42:9 “Behold the former things have come to pass and new things I declare, before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (New International Version).

Each year we make resolutions and set goals for our future. But, how many of those goals are based on serving Christ and building His kingdom?Each New Year offers us the opportunity to do just that.

During this year we should make plans and set goals that will allow us to continually grow in the Spirit of the Lord through each area of our life. At the end of the year, if we’ve worked our plan, our marriages should have grown, our children should have matured, our gifts and ministries should have increased, and our testimony and witness should have increased. Read More

Cheryl Lacey Donovan is an author, inspirational speaker, and talk show host. To learn more about her vist http://www.cheryllaceydonovan.com/

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Make The Dream Happen

Make The Dream Happen
by Pamela Samuels Young

Do you ever fantasize about leaving your current career behind and pursuing something totally different? Perhaps you've thought seriously about it for a day or a week, but then the fear of leaving the virtual security of your current job floods your head with dozens of sound reasons why you should stay put.

Whether your dream is to write a novel, start your own business or go back to school, you can make it happen. Here are five tips that will help you begin your journey.


1. Find Time To Plan Your Career Move
With the demands of work, family, church and community activities, you may feel you don't have a spare moment to even think about, much less pursue, your dream career. You're wrong. It may not be easy, but you can find free time where you least expect it. The next time you're taking a neighborhood jog or walking on the treadmill, use the time to mull over the plot for that book you've been wanting to write or to think about possible locations for the day spa you've dreamed of opening. Instead of listening to your favorite CD during your morning and evening commute, use the time to work on the business plan for your catering business. Even if it's only an hour a week, use it.


2. Don't Reinvent The Wheel
You may not realize it, but you have a multitude of resources all around you – family, friends, colleagues, church members, sorority sisters, and even strangers. Don't be afraid to request an informational interview. People love to talk about themselves and many will be flattered to have someone asking them for advice. The Internet is also an invaluable resource.


3. Join Professional Organizations
It's a good idea to surround yourself with others who share your interests and passion. There are dozens of professional groups whose sole function is to help their members develop their creative talents and realize their business goals. Find the organizations that can be most helpful to you and join them.


4. Understand That It Won't Happen Overnight
Achieving your goal will take time. I recently read an article in Writer's Digest about a writer who received more than 400 rejection letters before getting his first book deal. Now that's what you call perseverance! There will no doubt be disappointments when things don't happen in accordance with your time schedule. But if you remain faithful and focused on your goal, it will happen.


5. Ignore The Naysayers
We all know people who believe you should find a good job, work as hard as you can for 30 years, then retire and enjoy life. For them, the thought of leaving a secure, well-paying position for the uncertainties of entrepreneurial life is unthinkable. That kind of limited thinking won't help you realize your dream. You have decide what you want to do and go for it. And don't be surprised if you turn out to be your biggest obstacle. When that happens, just look your self-doubt squarely in the face and command it to go away.


So don't just dream your dream, make it happen!

Attorney Pamela Samuels Young is the author of the legal thrillers Murder on the Down Low, In Firm Pursuit and Every Reasonable Doubt. Visit her website at http://www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com/.
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Friendiligence By Sherryle Kiser Jackson

Friendiligence By Sherryle Kiser Jackson

Friendiligence is one of those Internet buzzwords up for consideration to be added to the upcoming edition of the Merriman Webster Dictionary. Google it. It loosely means the time and energy used to establish and maintain friends and friend requests mainly on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. As an author trying to navigate the vastness of the World Wide Web in order to market and promote my book, friendiligence most surely is an action verb.
It is the type of action that can take the man hours of two full time jobs to complete effectively.

I must admit I haven’t been a very good friend this year, virtual or otherwise, being reprimanded by my oldest and dearest buddy for being aloof and insensitive because I told her about my mom’s surgery in a blanket Reply-All email. I’ve even been guilty of sending condolences in a text message, albeit, a sincere and well written text message. I had to check myself on that one. I would have pressed less characters dialing the ten digit number, speaking the sentiment to a live person and would have registered more sincerity points. I told myself that I can’t be that busy.

Bottom line, the people we interface with everyday in person and those we connect with through the Internet want to be treated like real friends, not spam. It takes due diligence to establish and maintain those connections. As an educator and citizen of the world I’m keenly aware that social skills and a certain amount of tooting your own horn (self-marketing and promotion) is the new literacy. Making connections with people is and will always be the most important skill set for every career path.

My pastor quoted last week that theoretically your less than five people away from getting in contact with anyone. Like six degrees of separation. I contemplated the probability of getting my next novel, The Manual to Oprah’s producers as soon as I get it in galley form. Now, we are talking about people that on any giving day are in between attitude adjustments, reality checks and lattes. There are a lot of variables to take into consideration, but I think we’ve all witnessed a miracle in our own lives when everything aligns, you make that nearly impossible connection and doors open. Even if it only happens about as frequently as a total eclipse.


So there is something to this friendiligence thing. Verizon wireless says your service is only as good as the network your on. I think the key to success is rooted in what you already know about establishing good friendships. You learned it from Grandma. I have compiled a few do’s and don’ts to help you beef up your network.


Choose your friends wisely. Momma didn’t let you just play with anyone. Many of us join these social networks to help build a brand or image. We shop through graphics, 20create slideshows and pimp our profiles to coincide with that image. You can’t accept everyone’s friend request. Do a little investigation to see if the potential friend meshes with your brand, image and values.


Check in. What’s the matter? Did your fingers fall off? You can’t call, email of text a person? I was that person that used my email inbox as a caller id of sorts. I would see that some left me a message on My Space and think to myself, “That’s nice.” Or, screen my messages to see who I wanted to reply to. I figured out that it won’t shave time off my life to comment to a blog post about a new pet or to send out a birthday greetings. Remember it’s about connection. Relationships are reciprocal. I wouldn’t want to be guilty of calling on my friends only when I need something.


Treat others the way you want to be treated. Before you capture gazillion friends or even capture that ma ny email address and inundate them with comments, bulletins and messages like a telemarketer, think about it. Do you like it when you return to your page and find a bulletin the size of Mt. Rushmore on your space (My Space). Similarly, you want other people to get a word in on your wall (Facebook) in between the continuous post of an overzealous cyberfriend. Less is more. Work on a brief constructive response.


Ask for help I admitted my weakness. Friendiligence was kickin’ my butt. A good friend of mine, Ella Curry, internet publicist, and founder and Host of the Black Author’s Network radio show sent me an email this summer that gave me an epiphany. It said that she had some assistants answering her accounts and that she was away from her business for a time and estimated the time she would get back to me. I appreciated the time line. At least I didn’t feel like I was being ignored. I found out later that she had hired some tech savvy teens in her family to help her keep up with emails and requests on her My Space account. I got to thinking about how empowering this was for a young person to be outsourced for certain administrative duties. This wasn’t your typical paper route and lemonade stand gig.


Friendiligence, write it three times and use it in a sentence. I’m sorry, that’s the teacher in me. Social networking sites are not an accidental phenomenon. People are making the necessary contacts to get discovered, to gain exposure, and to stay connected. Friendiligence is not something you can just talk about. You have to be about it.


Sherryle Kiser Jackson is a fresh voice in Christian fiction. Her style reflects an honest commentary on her life with Christ. Soon and Very Soon is her debut novel. She anxiously awaits the publication of her second novel, The Manual, October of this year. Experience her too real to be preachy, Biblically based, out-the-Christian-box fiction at www.sherrylejackson.com or on MySpace/sherrylejackson.

Sherryle Jackson, Author of Soon and Very Soon
ISBN-13: 978-1-60162-949-4
ISBN-10: 1-60162-949-4
Soon is not just a promised destination, but a journey
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The Spirit of Nannie

The Spirit of Nannie
by LaTonya Branham

Women, beautifully dressed in unison with a common theme, mission, and scripture verse, gather annually at their church – many unknowingly, in the spirit of Nannie. This spirit was actually a vision brought to life in the early 1900s by author, educator, businesswoman, lecturer, and religious leader – Nannie Helen Burroughs from Virginia. Totally committed to the development of women – both young and old – Ms. Burroughs took a bold step in 1901 by requesting that the role of women in foreign mission and job training be addressed by the church. She wanted a more significant role for women and was not afraid to present her vision at the National Baptist Convention in Richmond, Virginia.

One of her accomplishments as the founder of Women’s Day - 100 years later - still exit today throughout many churches across the United States and abroad. We can only imagine the faith and fortitude it took for Burroughs to assert her dreams before a convention of leaders who perhaps looked down upon such a request from a woman.

Even though she is credited for advancing the role of women in the church, Ms. Burroughs acknowledged her own mentors, which included Mary Church Terrell and Anna Julia Cooper. Both of these dynamic women committed their lives to education and social change. Cooper, Terrell, and Burroughs are founders of major organizations. The National Trade and Professional School for Women and Girls founded in 1909 by Burroughs was later re-named in her honor. She also helped to establish the National Association of Colored Women. Ms. Burroughs’ message was very clear. She set out to establish a school and train young women to become contributors to mission projects, earn their own wages, keep their homes in order, and maintain moral values – while committing themselves to a life of service and development of character for all Christian women.

It is easy to become inspired by Nannie Helen Burroughs because she personifies the kind of woman who rejects excuses for not becoming the best that you can be – then takes a stance by articulating and creating an environment where dreams become reality. Of course, life is filled with challenges that often block our way toward achieving our goals – or even ‘just making it’ day by day. After witnessing how we are increasingly so quick to tear each other down rather than building up one another, it becomes apparent that in this day and age, we could use a dose of Nannie’s spirit - not only for women, but for men and children as well. Our children are learning and displaying adult behavior at an earlier age - oftentimes in a negative way. I believe that we owe our children the opportunity to see and experience a better way of life.

Exercising our faith has become more critical because the challenges are mounting – health issues, financial crises, prison rates, family members at war, a lack of education, and morally bankrupt. It is possible to stop pretending that all is well, or acceptable. In my assessment, the era of “anything goes” should cease. We make it harder on ourselves and society when “anything goes.” Ignoring our own needs and the needs of others is damaging – and in many cases becomes irreparable if the result is death. Life was not meant to be that way. Our conduct, our words, and our actions must flow from love. Love for ourselves, our families, our community, and our environment. A commitment to improving ourselves and the lives of others is truly the essence of Nannie Helen Burroughs' life.


**********************************


LaTonya Branham is an author, college administrator, and adjunct professor at Central State University in Ohio. Her latest book released December 2007 is entitled Spirit Seek: Words from Scriptures That Transform Your Life. Visit her web site at www.Latonyabranham.com. E-mail can be sent to Latonyabranham@hotmail.com. Her books can be purchased online and wherever books are sold.





LaTonya Branham, Author
CultureSeek - ISBN 13: 978-0-9787296-0-8
Spirit Seek - ISBN 13: 978-0-9787296-1-5


E-mail: LaTonyaBranham@hotmail.com


http://www.latonyabranham.com/
http://www.knowyourhistory.com/


Founding member of the Soul of the Pen
http://www.soulofthepen.com/
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THAT THING WITH WINGS

THAT THING WITH WINGS
Niama Leslie Williams, Ph.D.
Copyright March 2008


She is finally getting tired of it, exasperated, dissolving into tears. It has gone past wearing her down; she has begun to wait for the truck that will barrel her down, the semi that will make her a grease river on Main Street. She'd like to flow seamlessly into the little bit of water by Taylor's on the Olde Mill.

It was the shower that did it. One more morning of wheezing and gasping and groaning in the shower. Cleaning one's body should not be such exhausting work, but when you have eaten your way to 400 pounds, where can you point the finger? The voices said night before last as she put another dozen in the oven, "cupcakes are not bread," and you were grateful for that insight, you understood that they were trying to help. You needed that pointed out.

Yes, cupcakes were an improvement over the cakes you had taken to baking once you discovered he liked homemade sweets, sweets period. Then he had to face that the icing was ripping his stomach to shreds, so you stopped buying icing and reverted to plain cupcakes.
You are a gifted cook, so your cupcakes are moist dreams. They melt in your mouth. He laughs about their calling him from the kitchen.

And yes, you were grateful night before last about that bit of vocalized insight, and you resolved to once again bake oat and wheat berry muffins, not cupcakes. Cupcakes for him, but not for you. Because you want this weight off your body and why, for God's sake, won't Donna return your calls? If it is a simple matter of Eccoes not wanting to deal with anyone who insists on using their insurance, fine, Donna, say so, but at least have the decency to call and say that. The Health Partners Member Services person insisted that a morbidly obese diabetic who got her doctor to write a knowledgeable letter just might have Eccoes paid for, and I want, I deserve that you and Dr. Feinstein at least try. I deserve at least that the two of you collude and write a decent letter. I am tired of, and cannot do, everything myself.

I balance his checkbook, I spend his money, I pull out all of the stops working at my business the week I have off from substituting, when the money still does not come in I apply for more jobs and more jobs and more jobs.

I am tired of broke. I am tired of no money. I am tired of my locs looking frayed and broken off because I cannot afford regular maintenance visits. I am tired of no lipstick when I want to dress myself up for an interview. Can't even get together seventeen dollars for one tube of Mac sinful red.

I am tired of wheezing and not being able to reach my crotch and straining and no breath as I try to do the right thing and lotion my body. My poor skin crying out for moisture and I finally treat myself to lotion and get myself to apply it, but this morning, this morning the reaching and the straining and the windedness too much. I don't deserve this. I don't deserve to be ignored, Donna. If Eccoes doesn't want me as a patient then just call back or email and say so and I'll take my miserable ass to ...... Byetta. Stupid me wants to believe in diet and exercise. Stupid me wants to believe that a good diet, a good eating plan and regular exercise will do it. That the cushion of massage and chiropractic and psychotherapy would hold my hand as I embraced weight loss, the concept of a Dr. Niama at 250, 150, not 425. That now with the dissertation finished, the Ph.D. done, I can focus on losing weight, something I never placed in the hot seat before.

I'm lazy. Getting to the gym harder, much harder, than working out once there. The ideal would be private yoga instructor a la the one who used to come to my home in California. That woman knew how to work a large woman out and make it fun, change it up so I never got bored, encourage me when I thought a posture impossible. She helped me feel good about myself.

I can't even successfully pay for one visit from the personal trainer I was going to work with. Can't even pull my budget together to pay one $43.50.

I am tired, God. Tired.

I would like to come home now.

Because I realize that Jim isn't coming, ever; oh, I'd like to believe but why, God? Why when the silence is so deafening? He had eighty years without me the time before and I know that was harrowing, but ten years without him, full of the angst and anguish and longing ..... it's harder on a woman, God. We are tied into the earth, the seasons, every moan and groan of Mother Nature. We feel it more deeply and it rips us to shreds much, much faster.

I would like to come home now.

I would like to come home and wait for him there. He will probably be afraid, ashamed to face me, his reluctance having brought me once again to the brink. It is merely that I am tired of the alone, tired of the ache, of the wanting. If it is to be a love of the spirit then at least let me love from the spiritual plane and not this earthly one that breeds such palpably empty arms.
I would like to come home now. I don't want to do the job-hunting thing again. I am tired of trying and trying and trying with my company and people not even having the decency or thinking I matter enough to call or write back.

I am sure Wideman will feel only one small moment of regret that he did not get back to me about The Journey, will probably put me down as oversensitive bipolar who made too much of one kindness at a conference. We sensitive ones, we mystics, even when we pick out and lovingly support, with all of our spirituality, the gifted, are frequently ignored by them. I have hungered too much for acknowledgement, for assistance, for a loving glance. Still want that loving glance from a father, a brother, a lover. This incarnation, not to happen. The Massey is the closest I will get.

I hope I can pass from the Massey without too much of a blip. He's had enough pain, and I hope he can put me aside without grief or anger or too much investment. I just wasn't strong enough, Papa, but I will remain grateful for the love you did share. It is my fault, my wayward hoary ego wanting more, wanting complete satisfaction. A job that paid me enough, that would allow us to live without worry or juggling, a job that allowed us to buy a home and one for Kim. I follow your daughter in tears only because I have failed, failed miserably, Ph.D. and all. It is the only thing I have accomplished and puts my failure in grand shocking relief. The failures began once that great mission accomplished. Had I not been interested in learning, had the gift of your fatherly love not delayed this transition a moment or two, I would have missed thinking that love was possible. That satisfaction was possible. It was not for me this time, love from a man of my choosing, but that is not why I leave you, Papa. I leave you, I ask to leave you because the weight and the unsatisfactory employment and the ugliness--the not well kept hair, the not keeping the apartment vacuumed and the dishes washed, the slovenliness in my housekeeping when there was plenty of time and not much house ...... I have not measured up in so many ways, Papa, and now, now I just tire of trying.

I have revered the color purple when I saw it, Papa, but perhaps the die was cast too early: the grand sweep of The Temple of My Familiar was always my favorite.

I won't go by my own hand, Papa, I know God has no love for suicides, but I withdraw from here on in, Papa. I ask my God that if He loves me He end my suffering and bring me home. I asked for much too much this incarnation and not even my ego can cash this check.

Let me go, Papa. Close up shop and head to Monroeville to that daughter and granddaughter you love so dearly. I am a lost cause who was touched by your kindness for a moment. But my moment has stretched too long and the elasticity of my sensibilities has frayed beyond usefulness.

Go forth, Papa. I will smile at you from Heaven and beseech God on a regular basis to give you all that you desire.



Love and blessings,
Dr. Niama L. Williams
Norristown, PA
http://www.blowingupbarriers.com
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Images in Reflection by Laura Major

I participated in the Grown & Sexy with Ella Curry broadcast of the Black Authors Network Blogtalk Radio. Amidst the sexy titles and erotic explorations came real conversations about definitions of sexuality.

· What makes one homosexual?
· Are you bisexual or just a freak?
· Can a person be "on the down-low" and still be straight?
· Why women who experiment with other women aren’t considered gay and men are?

All those in attendance agreed that healthy sexual interest begins with some level of attraction. What interested me most was what wasn't being discussed. Everyone assumed that finding attractiveness in others instantly leads to sexual desire. That being said, straight people would only remark positively about specific physical features exhibited by members of the same sex in relation to body characteristics they wish to acquire.


In other words, a straight man would not admire the tight ass or ripped abs of another man for the sake of the taut body part itself. It can only be recognized as an example of how the admiring man would like to fix his own self-perceived flaws. Some women on the panel expressed the same for themselves. That part of the conversation struck a chord with me in that we as people should be able to recognize the beauty in others regardless of gender or orientation without sexual desire or sexual preference coming into play.

I am a heterosexual black woman and, as one panel member remarked, I am an erotic person by nature. I can see the eroticism in another female and not desire her in any way. I can recognize what makes her sexy and have no desire to possess her. I can also see the sexual prowess of a man and not want to go to bed with him.


While nothing makes my panties buzz more than a man's strong shoulders and a nice broad chest, I take pride in the fact that I can appreciate another woman's beauty without feeling threatened and without feeling less sexy in my own right. I don't think I am physically perfect, but I realize that there will always be someone taller, someone with a flatter stomach and longer hair.

Once we can all view beautiful bodies of both genders without it defining our sexuality, we will come closer to understanding why we love who we love.

If only it were that simple. As curious children sneaking peaks at Dad's girlie magazines and as teenagers practicing intimacy with each other, society teaches us to control our urges instead of being a slave to them. Then with adulthood comes the right to pursue those urges, even be consumed by them. Something that was meant to be so beautiful and pleasurable has become so perverted in the search for instant gratification. So much so, we can't admire the sexual energy of others without calling our motives into question.

The human body and its sexuality should be viewed like a piece of artwork. It should be admired, expressed and appreciated simply because it exists in its natural state. Sexuality which is as old as humanity itself holds only the connotation we assign to it. For some it's pure ecstasy while others associate excruciating pain in its power to make one vulnerable.

As long as we are obsessed with sex and its personification, happiness with our bodies and our sexuality will remain outside our comfort zone.

Laura Major



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History: Mamie "Peanut" Johnson


Rejection Applies To Only One Opportunity
by author Laura Major

Often rejection seems to be the final answer. In reality, it is just a temporary response. Such was the case in the baseball career of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson. Born in the mid-1930's South, Johnson developed a love for baseball that prejudice could not extinguish.

At the age of 17, Mamie confronted the obstacles to playing the sport she loved at a time when professional and minor league sports practiced segregation. Since the White Female Baseball League declined Johnson the chance to try out and no Black female equivalent existed, Mamie found her place in the men's Negro Baseball League. This being the first time Johnson experienced racial ignorance directly, she fondly looks back on its outcome instead of dwelling on the experience itself. She was quoted in an article honoring her contribution to baseball and South Carolina's Black history, " If I had played with white girls, I would have been just another player, but now I am somebody who has done something that no other woman has done."

Johnson's career lasted from 1953 to 1955, as one of three women who played in the Negro League. She won 33 games and only lost eight. "Peanut" became her nickname when an opponent doubted her pitching abilities because she "...was no bigger than a peanut". She swiftly struck him out. While her playtime took place shortly after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier, Peanut's career quickly evaporated as females regardless of race were not included in major league play.

Mamie went on to earn a nursing degree from NYU and embarked on a 30-year career of helping others at their weakest. Although her baseball career may have ended after only three short years, Peanut Johnson maintained her link to America's favorite pastime by managing the Negro Baseball League Memorabilia Shop in Prince George's County, Maryland.

Even though Peanut played ball in an era that did not appreciate her talent on a large scale due to her race and her gender, on June 5th, 2008, Mamie "Peanut" Johnson joined 29 surviving members of the Negro Baseball League in Orlando, Florida where several Major League Baseball teams drafted the former players in an honorary pre-draft ceremony.

Thanks to Dave Winfield and others who respect and appreciate the Negro League's contribution, rejection was temporary and acceptance is eternal.

Laura Major
Website: LauraMajor.com
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To My Mother by Gwynne Forster

To My Mother by Gwynne Forster

I wonder what kind of woman I would be now if I had had a different mother. I thought about that this morning and thanked God for the one I had for most of my life. I say most of my life, because she was an inspiration even in her death.


I was born a middle child and, somehow, I expected less and got more. More, because even in my independent ways, I paid careful attention to what my mother did and said. Early on, I was impressed that what she did and what she said were totally congruous. She lived the life of a Christian and, from her, I received a legacy of faith, integrity and strong moral values. She believed in the work ethic, and taught us that a person who would not work would be capable of theft and dishonesty, that we should do to the best of our abilities whatever we agreed to do and for whatever we were paid. To her, theft meant more that snatching something and getting away with it; you stole if you accepted pay for something that you didn’t do or didn’t do well.

I’ve often said that I wish I was as nice a person as my mother. And that is true. Although a leader in her church and community, a teacher and school principal, this never seemed to impress her. She loved people and met some of her closest long-time friends at the bus stop and at the supermarket. Some of them hadn’t finished high school, but she said they didn’t have her opportunities and had done well with what they had.. In her late seventies, she took “the old folks” as she called them grocery shopping in her car every Wednesday morning. The neighborhood children loved her, and volunteered to run errands for her. Of course, she rewarded them with goodies that she loved to bake.

Her faith in people surpassed any that I’m likely to have. Well into her seventies, one evening in late autumn when darkness had already set in, Muz, as we called her, drove to the supermarket for something, parked in the parking lot and headed toward the entrance. A young man stopped her and said, “Lady give me those car keys.” She looked at the switch blade knife, then at him, threw her arms around him and said, “Son, don’t you have a mother?” The unfortunate young man, wrung himself out of her clutches and said, “Get away from me, Lady.” “But son,” she persisted, “What you’re doing isn’t right.” He ran. My siblings and I begged her never to do such a thing again, but she said. “He has a mother, and he obviously cares about her.”

If I have talent as a writer, I probably inherited it from my mother. She wrote the first fiction that I ever read. At age seven, I found a short story on her desk or some other place that now escapes me. The title, THE DREGS OF THE CUP, intrigued me, and I read it. I wasn’t sure how she’d react to my having done that, but she asked me what I thought of it, and when I said it was too short, she seemed very pleased. One day, I am going to write a novel suitable for that title.

Muz loved to laugh, and my fondest memories of her are of her laughing. I used to come up with all kinds of antics to make her laugh. It was a lovely, musical sound. I remember distinctly times when I told her one joke after another to keep her laughing. Mind you, the jokes were squeaky clean, or I cleaned them up before I told them. One Saturday when I was about seventeen or eighteen, I went with my church club on a picnic, pitched baseball for a few innings and, the following Monday, I was forced to go for therapy to improve my injured shoulder. In all truth, the very next Saturday, Muz went to the same place on a picnic with the choir to which she belonged, pitched nine innings of softball, won the game and never had one pain. Obviously, that made me the butt of family jokes.

I haven’t mentioned my father, because this is about my mother. But given the chance, I could say some wonderful things about him, including his exquisite singing voice, a little bit of which rubbed off on me. Celebrate Mother's Day 365 days a year!

Gwynne Forster
Author of:
Getting Some Of Her Own
Drive Me Wild
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Rewind: Development of Political Controversy

The Development of Political Controversy
By Laura Major

During an election year, a potential candidate's perceived flaws and strengths are put on display for all to see. The public scrutiny is not limited to the candidate alone, but is broadened to include the people closest to the contenders. It reinforces the meaning of the old proverb, “Birds of a Feather Flock Together."

Throughout this long election campaign, many are interested in the types of birds that flock with our candidates. Hilary is constantly haunted by the professional and personal misdeeds of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, while Barack was called to justify his friendship and respect for militant preacher Jeremiah Wright until that very friendship was fractured under the pressure.

The search for controversy has no statute of limitations as even the bachelor's thesis of Michelle Obama, which examines the changing attitudes of middle and upper class blacks in Ivy League white academia toward lower class blacks and the black community during various stages of academic attendance, was a target for ridicule and judgment. Understanding the political climate and the inevitable existence of dirt digging and mud slinging, Michelle attempted to reduce the potential impact of her racial research from 23 years ago. It is not unreasonable to investigate to whom the presidential candidates are coupled and Michelle knew her words could have an impact on her husband's campaign. It is an example of another old saying, "you are judged by the company you keep". As a result, it has been reported that she requested her thesis be removed from the Princeton library until after the election in November 2008.

In a respected move, the Obama campaign quickly released the thesis upon request of media outlets. Some judged this act as Obama's attempt to capitalize on the the controversy surrounding the dated words of his wife, the very words she was trying to keep private for the benefit of his campaign.

Upon reading her thesis firsthand, I had trouble detecting the controversy. It became apparent that the point of contention rested in what the thesis might say instead of what it actually said, which explains why the Obama campaign released it. The speculation is always worse than the reality. Once it was made available, some of the silliest remarks were made regarding its validity and its ability to convey Michelle's findings. I read comments like, "well there are no white history classes" and "that thesis was full of grammatical errors". I found humor in these meaningless judgments. My first thought was, there's no white history classes because nearly all history is white history. It makes sense that at a predominantly white academic institution of the 1980s the majority of classes, clubs, and activities would spotlight white culture, placing all other cultures in the dark.

What Michelle's thesis really focused on is the attitudes of middle class and upper middle class blacks toward the black community and the white community prior to, during and after attending a predominantly white affluent Ivy League institution like Princeton. The sample was compiled of 400 names of black Princeton alumni collected by choosing every fourth name in a list of 1200 obtained from Princeton's Alumni office. A survey of 18 questions yielded a 22% response rate or 89 respondents, which consisted of 60% males and 40% females. Ms. Obama delved into the lifestyles and the perceptions of these undergraduate alumni, considering their dating and religious practices, their friendships, as well as their comfort level with whites and other blacks. Their economic and educational backgrounds prior to admission to Princeton was also considered.

She wanted to discover the following:
· Attitudes of black undergraduate alumni and the intentions between blacks and whites.
· The Ivy League Black's feeling of obligation to help lower class blacks
· Interaction with white students on campus
· How experience at Princeton changed personal values
· How the obligation to give back to the black community was affected by social practices while attending Princeton


Her research revealed that a black alumni's loyalty to the black community had a lot to do with whether integration and assimilation took place while attending Princeton. Those from lower class families and neighborhoods felt more comfortable with other blacks and were more likely to participate in separatism, thereby not interacting with whites by choice. As far as giving back to the black community, Michelle determined that benefiting a given group had a lot to do with the time invested in getting to know that group. Those who integrated and assimilated into white culture were more likely to give back to the community of whites and blacks as a whole rather than focus on black society specifically.


Other theories such as the need to band together within the black culture before integrating into white society were discussed. In the introduction, Michelle wrote about her experience as being on the fringes of Princeton academic society but not being welcomed to embrace it.
This study analyzed the affects of the white upper middle class academic experience on blacks and how that experience shaped their evolving views of black culture, the black community and their obligation to contribute to that facet of society during various stages of the academic experience. In the end, Ms. Obama had to derive several new hypothesis models that spoke to the general social climate between blacks and whites which were in effect regardless of economic class.


Finally, social research studies such as this are designed to encourage analysis of society, it's effectiveness and one's place in the evolving entity that is our environment. As with any research study, Ms. Obama posed a question that spoke to her own experiences and curiosities while attending a upper middle class Ivy League school as a black woman in the 1980's and determined based on the responses that her hypothesis had to be adjusted as the outcome was not solely based on each person's social history or economic status. In fact, Michele Obama's thesis and the social scrutiny of the presidential candidates demonstrates how a person's character and value go beyond those in their current inner circle by taking into account their past and present social environments.


Cultural loyalty is affected by the overall social climate of the period. Much is the same in our current political climate, as each candidate's potential to successfully carry the presidency must be analyzed by their intelligence, a commitment to their values and their ability to convey and personify a sincere message of hope for all those involved both within the United States and around the world.

Written by Laura Major
Website: LauraMajor.com


___________________________________


Reference:
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0208/8642.html
http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/02/23/michelle-obamas-princeton-thesis-reveals-doubts-about-her-own-integration/
http://www.rightpundits.com/?p=1182
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MINISTER CELESTE & WRITE THE VISION

MINISTER CELESTE & WRITE THE VISION
PICK UP TWO STATIONS IN SYNDICATION

Though a vision tarries it shall speak! The voice of many visionaries is being heard, as well as many authors whose visions have spoken through their literary works. The vehicle being provided for sharing the visions of others is the Write The Vision Radio Show, hosted by Minister Celeste Tolliver-Kelley, Author of The "Sister Girl..." Series. The WTV Radio Show has been selected by Wilkins Communications Network, Inc. for syndication on 1140 AM WBXR, heard in Huntsville, AL and surrounding areas, along with 940 AM WCPC, heard in Tupelo, MS and its surrounding areas. Included in the surrounding areas of both stations are cities in Tennessee and Georgia. Syndication for the WTV Radio Show began on Thursday, October 2, 2008.

Founded in 1989, Wilkins Communications Network, Inc. is a group of Christian radio stations dedicated solely to the Great Commission that states, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15) Through the building of trusted relationships with national ministries and local churches, Wilkins Communications is able to minister to thousands of listeners across America daily. The mission of Wilkins Communications is to serve by utilizing the resources with which the Lord has entrusted us so we may partner with Christian radio ministries to edify fellow believers while reaching out to unbelievers by sharing the salvation message of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Minister Celeste's platform for the WTV Radio Show was borne from the foundations derived by the second book of The "Sister Girl..." Series, "And The Sisters Said, 'Amen!'" The mini-book encourages the reader to write their vision as they travel their road of destiny and gives keys in how to live through the obstacles of the vision victoriously, and thus presenting the segments of the show: Victorious Visionaries and the Visions of the Scroll Spotlight for Authors and Poets. Minister Celeste also provides some discussion topics through the "Sister Girl..." Forum segment which addresses various issues that plague women in today's society. Together, the segments provide a very informative and inspirational radio show that has captured the ears and attention of many. It is Minister Celeste's desire to be a vessel in sharing the gifts and talents of those appearing on the show in celebration of the blessings being bestowed in their lives, and to provide inspiration to others to realize that their dreams and visions can be obtained, as evidenced through the guests of the show.

The WTV Radio Show began on January 7, 2008 and has been graced with several outstanding visionaries and authors, such as: Best Selling Author and National Speaker, Stephanie L. Jones of "The Enemy Between My Legs, Best Selling Author Kimberley Brooks of "He's Saved... But Is He For Real?", Pastor to the stars Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland, Pastor Rudy Rasmus, Author of "Touching Lives", International Women Success Conference Host, Dr. Stacia Pierce, Minister Cheryl Merchant, Author of "Order My Steps", as well as sister of the famous R&B group DeBarge, Bunny DeBarge, Author of "The Kept Ones".

Coming up in its second season is Oprah winner, Singer LaShell Griffin, Singer Sean Simmonds, and Dr. Dorie McKnight, Founder of Cover Girls International, along with other authors, ministers and entreprenuers who will share with their experiences in obtaining the dreams and visions in their lives.

The Write The Vision Radio Show can be heard live on Monday evenings at 5:30 PM (Eastern Standard Time) on 88.1 FM WHPR in Highland Park, Detroit and Hamtramck, Michigan with live online simulcast at www.tv33whpr.com.

Syndicated shows will be heard Thursday afternoons at 1:30 PM (EST) on 1140 AM WBXR and Friday evenings at 5:30 PM (EST) on 940 AM WCPC.

###

In case you miss any show, tune into the WTV Podcast at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/Write-The-Vision. For a complete list of WTV Guests, visit www.PraizPR.com



About Minister Celeste
The "Sister Girl..." Series was motivated by the calling that God has on Minister Celeste’s life - to help and encourage women and girls. As her desire to write a book has come to fruition by the grace of God alone, Minister Celeste is committed to carrying out His purpose. The Series is now nationally distributed and Minister Celeste is living her dream in being a blessing to women all over the United States.

As Co-Founder and Co-Director of The S.I.S.T.A.H.S. Ministry ( www.TheSISTAHSMinistry.org), Assistant to the Pastor at Williams Chapel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, Author, Songwriter and Radio Show Host, Minister Celeste is a woman on a mission for God.


For Booking Information Contact
PraizPR Marketing & Ministry Consulting
PraizPR@yahoo.com
ww.PraizPR.com


Network with Minister Celeste
MinisterCeleste@yahoo.com
www.SisterGirlSeries.com
www.MySpace.com/SisterGirlSeries
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No One Knows My Name

No One Knows My Name
by Tinisha Nicole Johnson

A little shy girl who grew into a woman with dreams and a voice to be heardAnd no one told me this world was going to be so cold

I am but a spec on the earth from up above, looking down
I am but one,
I am but a person,
I am but another writer, another author, another expression of my serenity
I also recognize I want to get noticed...but no one knows my name

I can hear a mild sound, a distance bump-bump in the night,
It is my heart and it is yearning and sometimes stirring with mixed emotions, not knowing which turns are right

Walking on a line so thin, trying desperately to figure out my pathway
I already tried to be someone else, but I now know I can only be me, and yes… I have a name

Calm, delicate, watching the world pass right in front of me,
I see love and hate – a world filled with so much drama and different attitudes
And I just feel full of energy and take on the world by writing in magnitude
Writing is my comfort, it is my Life – I sometimes find myself hidden behind the words on the pageWords for people to read, enjoy, cry and laugh,

I’ve made my decision, and you will find out it’s affections upon you - generations upon generations

I’m ready to say what’s on my mind, so I need your attention, because this may take you on many elevations . . .

I’ve been chained, banged, whipped and multiplied
And you don’t know my name

I’ve raised many children – some, not my own, and they have carried my values and fed from me
I have slaved the fields and held down an entire generation
And I am everyone’s mother, it seems

I’ve been called the minority because of my gender and my race
I have to fight with words and stand by my man and defend my family
If you only knew what these eyes have witnessed…Go ask you grandmother

The world is changing and things are happening, and if you don’t pay attention…well… you may have already missed it
A new generation, a new time…afro-puffs and hand cuffs, trying to fight for freedom. Black Power!

I now have many roles
I have my struggles, but I move on, cause my kind is strong like that
I can be anyone, the opportunity is there for me to grab
Visions, desires, and new challenges…
I am taking on the world with boldness

And yes, you will remember my name, because I am a Black WomanAn undeniable, evident, special, beautiful, God-fearing, phenomenal Black Woman



Written by:
Tinisha Nicole JohnsonAuthor, Writer, & Poet
http://www.tinishanicolejohnson.com/
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Black Nation's Hope and Promise on His Shoulders

A Black Nation's Hope and Promise on His Shoulders by Laura Major

As one talented African American man makes history in winning the Democratic nomination, so does another in the realm of African American activism.
On Saturday, June 7th, 2008, 35-year-old Benjamin Todd Jealous became the youngest person elected president of the 99-year old activist organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also referred to as the NAACP.
Jealous is one of the few elected to this high-ranking position without the having a professional background in politics or the ministry.

Having started his activism at the age of 14 with his participation in a voter registration drive, Jealous, a California native, earned a bachelor's degree from Columbia University and a master's in social policy from Oxford University. Professionally, Jealous continued to support black activism through his role as a community organizer for the NAACP, and an executive director for the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which boasts to be the country's largest community of black newspapers. Most recently, Jealous was president of the Rosenberg Foundation, an institution in the private sector supporting human rights and civil rights advocacy.

As the NAACP nears its centennial, it chose a new direction to regain its fading financial support. It is their hope that Jealous is the answer to many young black critics who accuse the organization of not recognizing the current challenges of young black supporters. With this new appointment, many hope the new leadership will address issues facing younger African Americans that emerged since desegregation.

Just like Obama's presidential nomination suggests a promise of new hope and fresh ideas, so does the appointment of Benjamin Todd Jealous as President of the NAACP. Both men have a lot to live up to but they each possess the passion and the intelligence to make it happen.
Written Laura Major
Website: LauraMajor.com

Benjamin Todd Jealous grew up believing that there was no higher calling than to further the cause of freedom in this country and in the world. It is a mindset he inherited from of his parents and grandparents. Their drive for community betterment blazed the trail for Jealous’ own deep commitment to social justice, public service and human rights activism. Now, as the 17th President and Chief Executive Officer of the NAACP, and the youngest person to hold the position in the organization’s nearly 100-year history, Jealous is well positioned to answer the call.

During his career, he has served as president of the Rosenberg Foundation, director of the U.S. Human Rights Program at Amnesty International and Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation of more than 200 black community newspapers. From his early days of organizing voter registration drives up until his nomination and election as NAACP president, Jealous has been motivated by civic duty and a constant need to improve the lives of America's underrepresented.

All things considered, Jealous’ leadership roles and active community involvement have well prepared him for his current duties as president of the NAACP. In fact, his path through journalism and the Black Press is not unlike several other former NAACP presidents, including Roy Wilkins, Walter White, Ida B. Wells and W.E.B. Dubois. Read the entire article about Benjamin Todd Jealous here.


Sources:
http://www.blacknews.com/news/naacp_ben_jealous101.shtml
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/05/17/naacp.president/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/17/AR2008051702320.html
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Not Straying From Your First Intentions

Not Straying From Your First Intentions
by Michele Cameron

November 4, 2008 history was made as Barack Obama the first African American was elected as president of the United States. I felt a sense of euphoria as I watched citizens of all races throughout the world celebrated this momentous occasion. A renewed spirit filled of hope consumed me as I watched tears of hopefulness cascade down the cheeks of young and old in New York City and Chicago’s Grant Park.

The last couple of years have been rough. I’m a public high school English teacher and I view with gravity the budget cuts that have affected the school system. For the first time in eighteen years, teachers in my county didn’t get a pay increase. I’m also greatly concerned about the obvious change in finances for my students. I’ve seen more students relying on school lunch than ever before and the number of families asking for funds that we have set aside to help needy families has more than tripled.

Teenagers can’t get jobs in fast food restaurants because retirees have been forced back in the workforce. I see the difference in my students’ appearance and lack of supplies, that they need in order to get an education. It was high time for a change.


I’m smart enough to know that this won’t happen overnight. President elect Obama is not a miracle man, but if he can keep my parents who are retired from losing their social security benefits and help decrease the monthly amount of money that they have to pay for health care because my father is a diabetic, then he’s all right with me. As I listened to my future president give his acceptance speech, one thing really struck me. From the time he was old enough to start thinking about his future, he knew that he wanted to make a difference. I take my hat off to him because he’s already done that. More people voted in this past election than ever before. I’ve never seen so many enthusiastic people welcome the changing of the guard in the political arena, and people are in turn paying more attention to things that matter, their country The United States of America.





I write romance novels. I could never dare suggest that what I do has or will ever have the impact on people that Barack Obama has, but I can still help in my own little way. I can help someone who may be grappling with some internal pain or feel as if it is them against the world and no one understands what they are going through. My books can offer solace. As I watched this hopeful man, I thought about my own goals. Lately, I’ve been thinking that I need to write a different type of novel. Contemporary romance sells, but if you really want to make the big bucks, erotica is the way to go and I had begun to think that maybe I should go that route. Barack Obama changed my mind.


In every novel that I write, social issues that affect the main characters are weaved throughout the plot. In Never Say Never, released January 2, 2008 the heroine Desiree Diamond had been in a long term relationship with a man who was taking her for granted. After being forced out of this relationship when she realized that he had no intention of marrying her, she was thrown together working on a sexual harassment lawsuit with Tyler Montgomery, an attorney at her law firm. Desiree succumbed to his charm, but she kept their relationship hidden from family and friends and almost lost the true love of her life. Never Say Never deals with interracial relationships and sexual harassment in the workplace. It also touches on how people need to be true to themselves in the pursuit of happiness.

My second novel Moments of Clarity… released October 7, 2008 is a sequel to the Diamond family from Never say Never. The heroine, Sasha Diamond is a registered nurse in New York City. She is content to stand by her man Abdul, until she finds out that he doesn’t deserve her love. By chance, she has an encounter with Sexton Johnson an NBA basketball player for the Knicks. Sexton is a product of the foster care and adoption system. He yearns for the loving relationship that was modeled to him by his adoptive parents and feels that he can have that with Sasha. Sasha realizes early in their relationship that he is the one, but is torn between splitting her time with a needy friend, and being supportive to her man. In Moments of Clarity… the social issues being explored are the down low man, destructive relationships, the health care system in America, and how to rise from horrible circumstances in order to be a model and mentor for others.


My third novel When Lightning Strikes will be released through Genesis-Press, Inc. August 2009. The main characters, Grace Foxfire and Jethro Newman were raised in Lake City South Carolina as brother and sister. Tragedy strikes and it deeply affects them as they try to deal with the loss of a loved one. The social issues in When Lightning Strikes touch on the subject of how African Americans need to take back their community to help it prosper. It also demonstrates how one needs to come to terms with death, and prescriptive drug use through family counseling.


My fourth novel Unclear and Present Danger’s heroine is Solange Montgomery who was introduced to readers in When Lightning Strikes. The hero in the novel is an Arab American policeman Ali Marks. Prejudice and ill conceived notions is the theme of the novel. I explore what a citizen of the country is and how the climate for Muslims has changed for the worse since we engaged in war with Iraq. Also, the effects downsizing is having on the workplace because of our looming recession.


I am deeply indebted to Barack Obama because he made me do some critical thinking about the effect words can have on a nation. He set a course and didn’t stray from it not matter what anyone else said or did, and in the end he was triumphant. He is the right person at the right time to remind me of why I wanted to be an author in the first place and how not to let myself be sidetracked and become too competitive with others in my field. I’m happy and proud of all published authors, but now I am also more accepting of my place in the literary world.

------------------

Michele Cameron, a native of Bridgeport Connecticut is a graduate of the Danbury High School Connecticut school system.

Cameron is a graduate of North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro with a B.S. degree in professional writing and English Education.

Cameron’s first novel, given a 4 star rating Never Say Never was published in January, 2008 and earned her the prestigious title as being named New Face among African-American writers for the month of January by Romanceincolor.
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Christian Workshop Introduction: Under the Juniper Tree

Under the Juniper Tree
“Even Christians Get Depressed”
by Christian fiction author, Shelia E. Lipsey

This is a three part Christian workshop discussing what causes depression and how to manage depression. There are several stories within the workshop sections that may apply to you or someone you know. The goal here is to acknowledge the fact that depression can come into anyone's life, even a dedicated Christian. Please read the three sections and let's discuss the material in each section. If you are dealing with depression, let's talk about it as a community. If you have questions or would like more information, please leave your responses in the comment section below.

Part One and Part Two are also included here. Please take part in all three sessions.


Introduction
Do Christians get depressed? Think about this question for a moment. Ponder over it before you answer.

If we are grounded and rooted in God and our faith, how then can we say that we become depressed? Isn’t that what having faith is all about – believing and hoping in that which we cannot see? Isn’t that why Jesus is our Savior, our Lord, our Father, our everything? Doesn’t his word say if we abide in Him and he abides in us then we can ask anything and it will be done? Doesn’t he tell us to cast our cares upon him? Or what about the passage of scripture that says, ‘He doesn’t put anymore on us than we can bear?’

If I believe God’s word is true, then why are there times when I feel down and out, troubled, like there is no hope and no where to turn? Why do I cry, moan and groan, as if there is no tomorrow and no one who cares? Why do I close myself off from loved ones, family and friends and seek shelter in the confines of my room? Why do I feel isolated and alone, like no one understands what I am going through and how I feel? The answer I give to you is what I have come to call “under the juniper tree.” In other words, I am going through a period of depression. There, I said it – depression. I said it again. Maybe it’s taboo to some believers, but God is not a good of condemnation. He has made us in his own image, that’s true, but God also placed us in bodies of imperfection, that because of Adam and Eve’s sinful nature, must be subjected to various groaning and ailments – including depression. (Leave your thoughts on these questions below and let's talk about it.)


Biblical scholars, theologians, Christians, religious folks and non-religious folks alike, have varying opinions when it comes to Christians and depression. I am particularly interested in this subject because I am a Christian who has battled depression most of my life, starting when I was a young child. Being saved at the age of eight did not give me a ticket to bypass the road of depression. Yet, I know beyond a shadow of doubt within my heart, spirit and soul, that I am a child of God.


I often refer to a story in the Bible that some of you may have heard or read about it. It’s the story of Elijah, a prophet of God. Elijah was a strong man who feared God. In 1 Kings Chapter 18, God had commanded Elijah to prophesy to Ahab that it would not rain until he said it would. Ahab, an Israelite King, married Jezebel, a princess from Zidon. Zidon was known for its paganistic, witchcraft and idolatry. Evil was rampant. Jezebel, like the inhabitants of Zidon was an evil, wicked woman, and quite devious which is why the marriage between Ahab and Jezebel was forbidden by the Lord.


Much like Adam who was persuaded to eat of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, Ahab was persuaded by his wife, Jezebel to introduce the idol god, Baal, and he went so far as to build worship centers for his people to worship Baal. No longer were they able to worship the one true God. Enters the prophet Elijah. Ahab had 450 prophets who were going to compete against Elijah in a contest to see whose God was the true God.


The prophets and Elijah each built an altar and prepared a sacrifice. However, even though it was customary to light the altar, this time things would be different. The contest called for the prophets of Baal to pray to Baal, and Elijah to pray to the Lord. Whichever god responded by setting his sacrifice afire would be judged the true God, and the god losing the contest would be abandoned.


The prophets of Baal went first. They places piles of wood on their altar and prepared their sacrifice. Afterward, they prayed to their god, Baal to light the fire of the altar. They prayed and chanted, screamed and hollered, prayed and prayed from morning to evening without any fire coming forth from Baal. When it was determined that Baal was not going to light the altar that the 450 prophets of Ahab had constructed, Elijah stepped forward.


Elijah’s altar was not extravagant like the altar built for Baal. It was simply built and Elijah prepared his sacrifice. Elijah went so far as to douse his pile of wood with water that was it overflowed into a ditch. At this time, water was a precious commodity because of the lack of rain, so imagine the amazement of everyone who witnessed Elijah’s act.

Unlike the 450 prophets, Elijah did not weep and wail, scream and shout, and have a fit when he prayed. Instead, Elijah simply asked the Lord to reveal himself and show that He was the one true God. Immediately, a fierce bolt hit Elijah’s altar and the sacrifice, the altar and the water was consumed!

Everyone who had gathered to witness the contest between the prophets and Elijah were in awe at what had taken place. Elijah, after the Lord revealed himself in the flames, ordered the 450 prophets to be executed.


I imagine that Ahab hurried home to his wife. He told Jezebel everything that had occurred. Being full of evil, she was so full of rage and hatred that she turned around and ordered that Elijah be killed. Elijah was truly a man of God. He followed God’s commandments without hesitation. He believed in God and in all that the Lord told him. Yet, like so many of us, Elijah seemed to have forgotten all about God when he heard that Jezebel planned on killing him. Instead of standing boldly before her, without worry or fret, Elijah took off. He became fearful and depressed.


We, as Christians, often do the same thing. No matter how good God is to us, no matter how many trials and tribulations he bring us through, no matter how many tough times and tragic events he delivers us from, when trouble hit, we began to worry, become fearful and many of us, like Elijah and myself, enter into a deep depression. We began to have a ‘woe is me’ party. We can’t sleep, we can’t eat. We can barely work. We don’t want to talk or associate with co-workers, friends, families or loved ones. Some of us even think about and/or commit suicide because we believe there is no other way out.
(Readers, do you agree or disagree? Tell us below)


Keep in mind, God had previously commanded Elijah to tell Ahab that there was not going to be any rain until Elijah said so, and there wasn’t. Without rain, there would be very little food because it took rain to make food grow. Elijah had nothing to worry about even in famine and without rain because God had birds of the sky to supply him with food and water. He also had a widow woman to give him a helping hand. You see, God does take care of His own. God does provide for His own. God looks after His own. Then Elijah won the contest between Baal and the Lord. God was ever present in Elijah’s life.


God is ever present in our lives too. He is our father and He will not allow any weapon formed against his children to prosper. He tells us in His word not to worry or fret about what we will eat, or drink or wear. He supplies the birds of the sky with food, so surely he loves us more than the birds in the sky and he will provide for our needs too. Yet, just like Elijah we tend to forget when we are hit with an onslaught or just one thing that we say ‘breaks the camels back.’ And depression sets in. Continue the workshop by visit parts 1 and 2 and leaving your comments and questions at each section. We hope to help each other deal with this issue. Next read the section that continues this message, part 1 here.



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Novelist, Shelia E. Lipsey,is a native Memphian. She attended Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, graduating magna cum laude with a BBA degree. Lipsey, a published author, professional copyeditor and inspirational speaker has been actively writing and speaking most of her life. Lipsey has written several short stories and over 200 poems which she has plans of publishing in the near future. Her novels with Urban Books are entitled, Into Each Life (Jan. ’07), Sinsatiable (Aug.’07). Lipsey’s third novel, My Son’s Wife will be released October 1, 2008.
Visit her website today for more details and to read excerpts: http://www.shelialipsey.com/


Among Lipsey’s list of literary accomplishments and affiliations, she was awarded Conversations Book Club 2008 Author of the Year (thebestbookclub.info), Dallas Morning News Bestselling Author ’07, Urban Knowledge Memphis Bestselling Author ‘07; Founding president Memphis African American Writers Group (MAAW), president Urban Christian's UC His Glory Book Club (uchisglorybookclub.net)


Shelia is also the founder of 1st Annual Living Your Dreams Literary Arts Seminar (livingyourdreamsnow.net); founder of The Word According to Shelia Newsletter; Publishing & a contributing writer for Victorious Voice Magazine (www.victoriousvoice.com) online member of Black Writers Christian Network (bwchristian@yahoogroups.com), Booknibbler_Christian, Black, Copy Editor (http://www.shelialipsey.com/).


Lipsey is also acontributing blogger for Sankofa Literary Society(sankofaliterarysociety.org), guest columnist at Blogginginblack.com, as well as several other online literary groups.



Part One and Part Two are also included here. Please take part in all three sessions.


Share this with at least 20 of your friends and follow this blog so that you too can share The Gift of Knowledge. Workshop brought to you by Ella Curry of EDC Creations and author Shelia Lipsey. To follow the blog, go to the top right-hand corner and select 'follow this blog'--you will be able to keep up with all the comments of Shelia and the other visitors.
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Workshop: Under the Juniper Tree, Part 1


Under the Juniper Tree

“Even Christians Get Depressed”

This is a three part Christian workshop discussing the causes and management of depression. Please read the three sections and let's discuss the material in each section. If you are dealing with depression, let's talk about it as a community. If you have questions or would like more information, please leave your responses in the comment section below.

Topics discussed:
Do Christians get depressed? Think about this question for a moment. Ponder over it before you answer. If we are grounded and rooted in God and our faith, how then can we say that we become depressed? Isn’t that what having faith is all about – believing and hoping in that which we cannot see? Isn’t that why Jesus is our Savior, our Lord, our Father, our everything? Doesn’t his word say if we abide in Him and he abides in us then we can ask anything and it will be done? Doesn’t he tell us to cast our cares upon him? Or what about the passage of scripture that says, ‘He doesn’t put anymore on us than we can bear?’

Part One and Part Two are also included here. Please take part in all three sessions.


Part 1 of this 3 part Christian Workshop Online Continues

Let’s continue to see what Elijah did. In 1 Kings Chapter 19 it states: 1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." 3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, Lord," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." 5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

Here, in the above passages of scripture, we see that Elijah ran for his life. He was terrified. He believed he was at the end, and that there was no one who would rescue him from the evil, murderous hands of Jezebel. He ran so far and so fast that he left his servant behind in a town called Beersheba. He must have really been running! How many times do we run in every direction but toward God, when trouble comes knocking at our door? How many times do we seek ungodly counsel and advice from everyone except God? How many times do we lay awake at night, depressed and worried and wondering how we’re going to pay the stack of bills piled high on our nightstands? How many times do we worry about the bad report the doctor gave us about ourselves or our loved ones? Well, like Elijah, we run away from God instead of toward God. We become depressed; feel hopeless, sad and despondent.

God, however, does not forsake his children. “All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." 6 He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."

Oh, yes, you see. God supplied food and drink and shelter for Elijah. He told Elijah to get up! Rise up, Elijah. Twice he provided for Elijah while he slept and cowered under the juniper tree. The times when he was at his lowest, when he felt like it would be better if he died, God was yet there. God directed his angels to feed Elijah and to give him drink. Not just any old kind of good, but he provided a cake of bread that was good and hot and a jar of water. Elijah gained strength, so much so that he was able to travel for forty days and forty nights!

God is with us, even in the midst of our depression. God is with us, in the midnight hour when we think we are alone. God is with us, caring for us, watching after us, working things out on our behalf behind closed doors. He is our provider, the one true and loving God!
11 The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 14 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." The story continues in 1 Kings Chapter 19. God instructs Elijah to go back the way he came. He told him what he wanted him to do which was to go to the Desert of Damascus and anoint a man by the name of Hazael to be king over Aram and to anoint Jehu, who was the son of Nimshi, to be king over Israel, and anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat, to succeed Elijah as prophet. The Lord said, 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him." 19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat.

There we have the story of Elijah! We see how God yet delivers him out of his state of despondency and depression. God tells him to go back! He tells him what to do along every step of the way. That’s the kind of God we serve. We serve a God who will be with us when we are fearful, when we are afraid. We serve a God who will tell us what to do, where to go and when we get to our destination, God will tell us what to say. While we’re trying to figure it all out, God has already worked it out! God is our present help in time of trouble. When we don’t know where our next dime is coming from, God will open the windows of heaven and blessings will fall upon us. I am a living witness. There are times that I have suffered hardships and defeats, yet God has kept me. I am still here, living and breathing. Whatever the enemy, that old sly one called Lucifer and satan, steals from us, God will restore it and more. God is a God of restoration, even in the midst of depression.

Did you know that Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon, two great theologians, frequently lived with depression? You can answer below.

There’s a story told about Charles Spurgeon. “On an unforgettable Sunday morning in 1866, the great Charles Spurgeon stunned his five thousand listeners when from the pulpit of London's Metropolitan Tabernacle he announced, "I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever gets to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to." Charles Spurgeon is knows as one of the world’s greatest preachers; one of the world’s greatest theologians. Spurgeon was truly a modern day man after God’s own heart, yet. Yes, yet, he suffered from depression. Twenty-one years from the very same pulpit, Spurgeon said the congregation gathered, "Personally I have often passed through the dark valley."

As for Martin Luther, history states that when he was depressed h e often hid away in darkness, away from everyone, including his family. His family went so far as to make sure Martin Luther did not have the chance to get hold of any knives, scissors or other objects he might be able to use to bring harm to himself.

More than Charles Spurgeon and Martin Luther, there are great men of the Bible who lived with depression. Many of you have heard about Job. Job lost so much and experienced so much suffering in such a short length of time that he became totally depressed to the point that he cursed the day of his birth (Job 3:1). Job was so depressed and miserable that he cried out to God, "My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me" (Job 17:1). Then there is Jonah. Jonah had an eye witness view of God’s majesty, power and grace in Ninevah where evilness dwelt. Yet, even after witnessing for himself, the power of God, Jonah still became depressed. Jonah said, in his time of depression, "Death is better to me than life" (Jonah 4:3). What about the great prophet Jeremiah? Jeremiah was so depressed that we questioned his very existence. “Why did I ever come forth from the womb to look on trouble and sorrow?" (Jeremiah 20:18).
Even Moses became so depressed to the point where he wanted to die (Exodus 32:32). So, you see, we are not alone. There are many instances where God’s people suffered from depression. Great people of God! People who had seen with their own eyes the mighty works of God became depressed at the signs of trouble, sickness and turmoil. Just like you and I, they suffered in their flesh and felt as if to die would be better than to stay and face the situations life had them in.

I read somewhere that depression is defined as "the common cold of emotional disorders and it appears to be on the rise. People of both genders get depressed, although women are twice as likely as men to suffer from major depressive disorders." In another article I read, it describes depression as “a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason.

Feeling of isolation and dejection, in other words, depression has touched the lives of not only ordinary people like you and me, but people like Anna Nicole Smith, Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allen Poe, actress Marilyn Monroe, pop singer Britney Spears, news reporter Mike Wallace, famous painter Vincent Van Gogh, actor Owen Wilson. The suicide rate among today’s teens has increased dramatically. It all stems from depression.

While many, literally millions of people everyday, walk around in a state of despondency and depression, there is yet hope. God will not leave us without a way out. God will never leave us or forsake us, even during our bouts of depression and despair. He is able to keep us when we can’t keep ourselves. He is able to hold us and comfort us, when there is no one who we can turn to.
God is the one true and only God. His promises are true. Even in the worst of times. When my fiance’, Roderick was murdered in 1997, the pain and agony seemed too much for me to bear. Yet, God saw me through it all. I don’t remember the times I sobbed and I didn’t see a way out. But I’m still here and God has kept me. God tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:8 (New International Version) We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; Psalms 34:17 (KJS) The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. Isaiah 41:10 (KJS) Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Continue reading for the conclusion to this community workshop.
Read part 2 by clicking here.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.
Introduction for the workshop, Part One and Part Two are also included here. Please take part in all three sessions.
----------------------------
Novelist, Shelia E. Lipsey, is a native Memphian. She attended Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, graduating magna cum laude with a BBA degree. Lipsey, a published author, professional copyeditor and inspirational speaker has been actively writing and speaking most of her life. Lipsey has written several short stories and over 200 poems which she has plans of publishing in the near future. Her novels with Urban Books are entitled, Into Each Life (Jan. ’07), Sinsatiable (Aug.’07). Lipsey’s third novel, My Son’s Wife will be released October 1, 2008. Visit her website today for more details and to read excerpts: http://www.shelialipsey.com/
Among Lipsey’s list of literary accomplishments and affiliations, she was awarded Conversations Book Club 2008 Author of the Year (thebestbookclub.info), Dallas Morning News Bestselling Author ’07, Urban Knowledge Memphis Bestselling Author ‘07; Founding president Memphis African American Writers Group (MAAW), president Urban Christian's UC His Glory Book Club (uchisglorybookclub.net)
Shelia is also the founder of 1st Annual Living Your Dreams Literary Arts Seminar (livingyourdreamsnow.net); founder of The Word According to Shelia Newsletter; Publishing & a contributing writer for Victorious Voice Magazine (www.victoriousvoice.com) online member of Black Writers Christian Network (bwchristian@yahoogroups.com), Booknibbler_Christian, Black, Copy Editor (www.shelialipsey.com). Lipsey is also acontributing blogger for Sankofa Literary Society(sankofaliterarysociety.org), guest columnist at Blogginginblack.com, as well as several other online literary groups.

Part One and Part Two are also included here. Please take part in all three sessions.


Share this with at least 20 of your friends and follow this blog so that you too can share The Gift of Knowledge. Worshop brought to you by Ella Curry of EDC Creations and author Shelia Lipsey.


Read more ...