Saturday, December 31, 2016

In 2017, I'm saying... So Long, Bye-Bye to Facebook "Friends"

There are only a few hours left. It's so close that I can already hear the fireworks being blast on the outside. The year 2016 is quickly coming to a close, and 2017 is anxiously awaiting to make its debut. One year closing and another one opening is a bitter-sweet experience for some; often times because it's hard to let go of what has been and embrace the uncertainty of what is to come.

For me, the year 2016 brought many experiences, and thanks be to God that the good far outweighed the bad. The Lord showed Himself strong in my life and in the life of my family. My husband and I were ordained as Elders in the ministry and installed as pastors of Deliverance Revival Church in Macon, Georgia. Royal Pen Network, the weekly radio show that I launched in 2015 celebrated one year of success on the Stellar Award winning Joynet Radio lineup of talk shows. I stood in the labor and delivery room alongside my son-in-luv and witnessed the miracle of childbirth as my baby daughter gave birth to my first biological grandchild. Oh the joy the flooded my soul!

But God wasn't through . . . 

My 22nd published work released, and I quickly began getting amazing feedback from the readers. My husband and I performed our first wedding; that of our niece and new nephew. And most recent of all, in this very month of December, I reached the beautiful milestone of qualifying for the 50's club (and the benefits of AARP) LOL! In a highly entertaining, yet very much Spirit-filled event, I celebrated turning fifty years old during a private event with 50-plus dear friends and family members. We all gathered at Open Door Community Center in Columbus, GA and marked the occasion with praise and worship, gospel singing, liturgical dance, spoken word ministry, Christian comedy, and delicious food. Yes, I welcomed "Chapter Fifty" with Jesus Christ at the forefront. I wouldn't have had it any other way. It was a night that I know I'll remember for the rest of my life.

But as much of a joy as 2016 was for me, I'm looking for greater in 2017. So much GREATER! In my life, the enemy has set many traps for me, but God has allowed me to trample on his filthy head and triumph each and every time. When God is for you, who can be against you? In 2017, I'm going to another level in every aspect of my life. I'm decreeing that God is going to blow my mind. In order to go where I'm believing Him to take me, I can't be afraid to let go of the familiar. Just a couple of days ago, I posted on social media these words: "Sometimes God has to shrink our circle in order to enlarge our territory." Although that posting touched many, it was a word for me.

And so . . . in the words of gospel artist, Jonathan Nelson, "So long, bye-bye." In his song, he was waving goodbye to his pains and sorrow. I'm saying the same to many Facebook "friends" who really aren't friends at all. For some time I've desired to disconnect from some because I've known all along that they are walking closely with others who I know for a fact mean me no good. God tested my patience and obedience. I wanted to cut them off, but God said, "Not yet." And although it was hard, I stood still and vowed not to make a move until He said so. And now, to my delight and relief, He has spoken. 

As this year bows out and the New Year makes its grand entrance, this is the last posting that many of my current Facebook connections will have access to read from me through my social media page (with the exception of a few post along the way that I may mark "public," making them viewable to anyone whether they are my FB connection or not). If you're reading this and you're one of the ones from whom I'm disconnecting my page, please know... I'm in no way angry with you. I promise; I'm not. There is absolutely no hatred, animosity, or even hard feelings. This isn't a personal lashing out. This is simply God shrinking my circle so that He can enlarge my territory. There is zero space in my life for so-called friends. God has released me. I no longer have to remain connected--not even in the name of being the bigger person--to those who partner with and support those who have not only hurt and betrayed me, but also tried to destroy my character and my testimony. 
It matters not if you know me by blood relation or by business or ministry affiliations, if you know the horrible details of the story, and yet you choose to still be friends with and support the person/people who mentally and verbally abused my children, maliciously attempted to destroy my relationships with family and friends, attempted to distort my testimony, and betrayed me and my daughters in the worst way... then certainly you're not for me. Saying you love me and that you're with me means absolutely nothing if your actions don't line up. Sometimes in life, we have to make hard choices in order to stand up for what is right and righteous. If you don't have the backbone to do that, then I'll make the choice easy for you. So it is without remorse that I bid you farewell. In spite of this online detachment, please know that I love you with the love of Christ, and because of that love for you, I leave you with these words of caution that the Lord has placed on my heart for you...

Please be careful. You can't drink poison and not become contaminated. Don't continue to allow yourself to be fooled. You know the truth. The devil can disguise himself to look harmless, but make no mistake about it; he comes but for three reasons: to kill, steal, and destroy. He will use you for as long as he needs you, and when your usefulness is up, his true self will show. See with your spiritual eyes and not with your natural.

And now . . .

Happy New Year to one and all. I truly pray that 2017 will bring you a new mindset, new discernment, and a new revelation in Christ.

To God be the glory!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ten Days From Fifty...A Testimony

Today, as I walked in to the office building for work, I was stopped by a gentleman who kindly complimented what he referred to as my "classy togetherness." And as I thanked him and headed for the elevators, he added, "You always get here so early, and every time I see you, you look happy. What's the secret?" 

Man!!! God has a way of giving us such amazing impromptu opportunities to be witnesses of His goodness!

Now, I could have taken his words as obvious flirtation (which they very well may have been) and chosen to ignore him or give some sort of smug reply to let him know how unavailable and happily married I am (which I surely am). But that's why it's so important that we keep our ears to God's mouth and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Immediately when he said those words, I saw a door of opportunity open. Instead of admonishing him, I turned to him and said, "It's God." (I know that may sound cliche', but it's the honest-to-goodness truth.)

I went on to tell him that my purpose for arriving early each morning is to get into my work-space in time enough to pray and meditate without interruption. I pray over the atmosphere. I pray for God's protection over the building itself. I pray for the safe arrival of my coworkers. I pray for the success of all of our professional endeavors for the day. And my happiness, I told him, is rooted in the fact that I have Jesus in my heart. I explained to him that God has been too good to me for me to be a complainer or a killjoy. From my family life to my physical health to my faith walk...I'm living my BEST life. God is just so good! 

I've been through hell and high water. The enemy tried to take me out. He tried to make me lose my self-confidence, my hope, my faith, my mind... even my life! satan had a plot, but God had a plan. He set a trap, but God allowed me to trample on it. My personal experiences say that I should have never lived to see 40, but I'm just ten days away from turning 50! I shared with the man that my children should have never lived to become teenagers, but they are adults; grown, married, and have families of their own. We're all healthier and happier than we've ever been, and it's all because of GOD! No one gets the glory except HIM.

By the time I finished talking to the gentleman, I was almost in tears. My heart was overflowing with renewed joy at the remembrance of the extreme FAVOR of the Lord. He was quiet for a minute when I stopped talking. Then he said, "Well when you get to your floor today, will you pray for me too? I've been dealing with some things and maybe I've been telling the wrong people. Maybe God is the one who needs to know." I nodded and said, "He already knows, but I got you." And then I walked away. I don't even know the guy's name, but God does. And when I said my prayer this morning, I prayed for him just like I promised.

We never know who needs to hear our testimony. We never know who needs our prayers. We never know who's watching our life or who needs someone to be a witness of the goodness of the Lord. I'm so thankful that ten days 'til fifty years, God allowed me to be one.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Should I Really Be This Excited?

Today is November 17th and I am exactly one month away from turning fifty years old. Fifty. The big 5-0. A half century. Should I really be this excited?

I know women who just turned thirty this year and they were depressed on their birthdays because they were no longer twenty-something. I spoke to one just last week who is four years away from turning forty, and she said she's already getting sick from the thought of it. Women, in general, are known to be a gender of people who view getting older as some kind of curse. Most men embrace it, while most women avoid it like the plague. Countless of us lie about our age or won't reveal our age; all because society has somehow convinced us that advancing in age is something that we should be ashamed of.

When I was a child, a teenager, and even in my twenties, I thought fifty was ancient. It seemed so very far away that I didn't even try to imagine myself in this place. Now it is upon me. From the time I graduated high school in 1984, time seemed to be placed on fast forward. The second twenty-five years of my life seemed to have passed far more quickly than the first. But somehow I don't view myself as aging or old. I haven't a smidgen of sadness or depression. The last time I was this excited about a pending birthday was when I was turning forty . . . ten years ago.

I LOVE LIFE, and in order to continue to enjoy living, we must get older. The alternative to getting
older is to die. The only way to stop our birthdays is to stop our breathing. If God handed me a choice to go back ten years and be forty again or even rewind twenty years and be thirty again, I wouldn't take it. I'm far happier now. What I went through in my thirties and forties doesn't even come close to being worth revisiting them and redoing it all over again. I look back over my life and realize how BLESSED I truly am. So YES... I am excited!!

I'm excited because what the devil meant for evil, God worked for my good. I'm excited because the enemy's plot couldn't overtake God's plan. I'm excited because God brought me through the fire without the stench of smoke. I've been deceived and disrespected. I've been abused and misused. I've been lied on and lied to. I've been played and betrayed. The things I've been through could have been the death of me and should have been the death of me. BUT GOD!!! He dried my tears and rewarded my faithfulness with joy unspeakable. While the enemy watched and waited for my demise, God gave me new life and brand new reasons to live it. People wonder why I'm the way I am. Why my life is so purposeful; why my Christian walk is so passionate; why my outlook is so positive. It's all because I know where I am versus where I could be. It's all because I know what is versus what should be. It's all because of Christ. Oh... how I love Jesus!

Where I am now in my spiritual, physical, professional, and emotional life is exceeding abundantly above all that I could have asked or thought. I don't deserve it. It's FAVOR. I'm not a perfect woman, but I'm perfectly designed by HIM. I don't have the perfect life, but it's perfectly orchestrated by HIM. All of my shortcomings. All of my accomplishments. All of my valleys. All of my mountain tops. Every single thing that God allowed me to endure and experience in the past was to bring me to this moment in time. It's my season. I'm in a new chapter... Chapter 50 ... and God has only begun turning the pages to the best parts of my life's story.

As an online ministry sister reminded me a few days ago... My best is not yet to come. It's already here, written by God's pen before the beginning of time. And page-by-page, He is revealing it both to me and to the world. No . . . My best is NOT yet to come. My best is yet to MANIFEST. Should I really be this excited? YES!!! As a matter of fact, I just got more excited than ever!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Fifty Days from Fifty!

Today is Halloween. Although I don't celebrate it, it's always an interesting and fun day on my job because employees are allowed to dress up in costumes to commemorate the occasion. It's quite entertaining to pass them in the hallways or ride with them on the elevators and see their enthusiasm about the characters they've evolved into for the day and taking guesses about which character their fellow co-worker is portraying.

This past Saturday, I celebrated the release of my newest published work; a fictional novel entitled, Blondeva's Boys. As I was in the midst of the book release event that was attended by a hotel conference room full of avid readers and loyal supporters--some of whom have followed my career from its inception in 2002--it dawned on me that I was fifty days from turning fifty years young. What a blessing!

Although I've never celebrated Halloween in my entire life; today, I thought about how similar the holiday is to what I do on a near-daily basis. On this date each year, characters are created and people play entertaining and captivating roles. Some of the costumes depict frightening characters while others are humorous, heroic, or even romantic. As an author, I use pen and paper (or a computer screen and keyboard) to do that very same thing all throughout the year. I create an array of colorful characters and dip them into a storyline that I hope will keep readers excited, engrossed, and guessing what's going to happen next.

A lot of time has passed since I self-published my very first Christian fiction novel at the age of 35. I can still remember the feeling that engulfed me when I tore open my first box of books and held a copy of For Love & Grace in my hands. There were a lot of things that I didn't know at that time. I had no idea that debut novel of mine would become a reader sensation. I had no idea that it would go on to become an award-winning book. Not once did I consider the possibility that a Hollywood producer would contact me to talk about the possibility of turning it into a movie. I didn't even realize that the "feeling" that engulfed me on the day I opened the box was what it felt like to come in contact with divine PURPOSE.

That feeling has never departed. From that April day in 2002 until Saturday, October 29th, when I opened the shipped box of my new hot-off-the-press release; I still get that same feeling. It never gets old. It never wains, Regardless of the level of success or the number of accolades, I don't take a moment of it for granted. Without God, I am nothing, and there is absolutely nothing that compares to walking in divine purpose and knowing without a smidgen of doubt that you are fulfilling the Lord's plan for your life; that very thing for which you were created. God trusted me with a beautiful gift, and in return, I'm giving it back to Him by using it for His glory.

So yes; today is Halloween. And if anyone should need to know who I'm dressed as... I'm dressed as that almost 50 year old girl who is blessed to walk in purpose, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ from the pulpit and from the pen... who God just allowed to release her 22nd published work. 

To God be the glory...

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Wait Is Almost Over!

Blondeva's Boys has been (and continues to be) a labor of love. Every literary work that I create, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, is written with passion and purpose; so this process is no different from that vantage point. However, just because of this book's title and the woman to whom it pays homage, the writing and releasing of it will forever have a special place in my heart.

The foundation on which to build this story about a woman called Ms. Blondeva and her four sons (one of which was at one time prodigal, but ultimately found his way home)  quickly and clearly formed itself in my mind. The names of its characters, the twists, the turns, the plot -- they were all revealed to me in the earliest days of the creation process. Because of all that, I predicted that this one would be a fairly swift write. I figured three months tops. Boy was I wrong! The fact that the writing of this manuscript wasn't progressing along at the speed that I wanted it to was very frustrating for me. I don't like to miss deadlines. For some reason, when I don't meet them, I feel a sense of failure.

My initial self-imposed release date for Blondeva's Boys had been set for the spring of this year. When June 20th rolled around, it brought with it the first day of summer and the hard realization that I'd missed my deadline. My first reaction was to get frustrated, but in my years of being a prayerful writer, I've learned that books inspired by God generally get completed on HIS time and not ours. There are some who have already pre-ordered this title, so I still wasn't happy that the book didn't release on the announced date, but I made peace with it.

The art of effectively balancing my career (corporate assignment) and my calling (writing ministry) can be quite challenging sometimes. Add to that the fact that I am a wife who refuses to allow anything to compromise the quality time I spend with my amazing husband . . . and then add to that the live radio show (Royal Pen Network) that I host each week . . . and then add to that my husband's and my July 10, 2016 ecclesiastical elevation and installation as Lead Pastors of Deliverance Revival Church . . . and perhaps you have at least a glimpse of what my daily life is like when trying to keep everything balanced and in perspective. I saw an online posting a few weeks ago that said, "I'm not saying I'm Superwoman. I'm just saying no one has ever seen both her and me in the same room at the same time." LOL!

Daily I thank God for my life. As busy as it is and as much of an acrobatic act as holding it all together can become, what I'm most grateful for is that it is filled with things that are rooted in purpose, and I get to share it with people that bring me love, joy, and peace. That's an existence that is worth more than all the money and status in the world. I weathered quite a few stormy seas to get to this place, but one thing I know for sure; God was always in my boat. And when the time was right, He said, "Peace. Be still." (**WHEW... I almost got happy. That'll preach right there!)

It's all about God's perfect timing. And as far as Blondeva's Boys in concerned . . . the wait is almost over, and the time will be 10:30 a.m. on October 29th during a book release party that will be hosted as a part of the 1st Annual Christian Book Lovers Retreat in Charlotte, NC. It is with great excitement and anticipation that I await this date. I mentioned in my opening paragraph that this project means a great deal to me. My mother hated her first name and very few people were even privy to knowing it. She went to be with the Lord in November of 2014 and shortly afterward, God gave me the inspiration to write a book that would make hers a household name. I understood Mama's dislike for her name. Honestly, I didn't care for it much myself. But after she graduated to heaven, I began seeing it as a name as unique as my mom was, and I embraced the idea of using it in my book's title. The character in the novel who shares her name is not fashioned after my mother. Blondeva (my mother) and Blondeva (the character) have very few things in common; however, the book itself is indeed named in Mama's honor. My prayer is that this fictional story of faith, family, and forgiveness is one that would have made her proud to have her name on the cover--and also one that readers will find heartwarming, dramatic, and encouraging.

Please make plans to attend this years Christian Book Lovers Retreat, And while you're there, also make plans to attend my book release and be one of the first to get a copy of my hot-off-the-press title. It will mark published work #22 for me, and the first five people to enter the party will receive a FREE autographed copy! How cool is that?

Want more information about me and/or about my other 21 titles? Visit my official web home. They call me Royalty Writer! :-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Four Months from "Chapter 50"

Today is Wednesday, August 17, 2016, and I am exactly four months from "Chapter 50." Thank you, Lord for life, health, and strength. And not just a mediocre existence, but a JOYOUS life, EXCELLENT health, and MORE physical, spiritual and emotional strength than ever. God is good!

The reality of being less than eighteen weeks from reaching my life's half-century mark has really sparked inside of me a new appreciation for ME -- for who I am and Whose I am. The trials of my life have been many. It seems that from the moment I reached adulthood, God began permitting challenges in my life that during the time seemed almost unreasonable and certainly undeserving. But it all worked for my good. Even in the midst of my personal storms, I can truly say that I've always loved life . . . even when I hated what I was going through, I loved life. I smiled through difficulty, laughed in times of hardships, and even found the words to encourage others in the moments when I needed to be encouraged the most. When I look back on it now, I have to admit that I'm sometimes in awe of the strength I exuded. How did I do it? How did I get through that? Why didn't it kill me? Why didn't I lose my mind? They are all questions to which I full well know the answer. It was GOD and GOD alone! He equipped me with the endurance. I am a blessed woman. I'm a walking miracle. I don't look like what I've been through!

Elated is perhaps the best word to describe the way I feel about my swiftly approaching "Chapter 50." The thought of getting older doesn't sadden me; it gives me joy because it means I'm blessed to be among the living. And there isn't a smidgen of doubt in my mind that turning 50 will also turn the page to even greater blessings and more amazing opportunities in my life. This isn't the end; it's the beginning.

So much has happened already in this year of 2016 in the months leading up to the my milestone; perhaps the most life-changing one being the ecclesiastical elevation and appointment of my husband and I as lead co-pastors of Deliverance Revival Church in Macon, GA. Neither of us saw that coming, yet somehow we were well-prepared. We weren't seeking it, and becoming pastors was neither of our aspiration, but God called and equipped us, and we answered the charge. 

Another thrilling event that will mark this year for me is the birth of my first biological grandchild. I was blessed to inherit the title of "G-ma" when my husband, Michael and I got married. Between my marriage to him and my baby daughter's marriage 15 months ago (her husband already had a son from a previous relationship), I'm already the proud grandmother of four. But in just a few weeks, with a due date of September 20th, my baby girl and her husband will be having their first child together . . . a daughter . . . Melody Michelle (I've already given her the nickname "MeMi"). She'll have my middle name and she'll be my first biological grandbaby. It is with great anticipation that I look forward to that day!

December 17, 2016 is just four months away. Time passes quickly, and it will be here before I know it. The sooner it arrives, the sooner the manifestations of God's continued grace in my life and the life of my family. When I turned forty, I gave myself a birthday celebration to remember. That was nearly a decade ago, but I can recall it like it was yesterday. My life was in shambles back then, but nobody knew; not even my children, parents, or siblings, because I worshiped and smiled through it all. My worship was real. My smile . . . not so much. 

I gave the theme of that birthday celebration "A Few of My Favorite Things" and from the live band that performed to the people I invited to the colors that decorated the building, I saturated it with favorites. I needed so desperately to focus on only those things that brought me happiness. I needed to block out everything else except the pieces of my life that made me smile. For that day, I refused to allow negativity to outshine the good. I made the day glorious in spite of the circumstances.

This year, what will make my celebration best of all is that there will be no mask on my face. I have an amazing marriage, I love my job, my children are doing awesome, I'm about to release my 22nd book, and I'm walking in divine purpose. What more could I ask for? My joy will be authentic and the smile I'll wear on my face will be a direct reflection of the one that is in my heart. I am living the happiest time of my life. My latter is so much grater than my former. I have more love, joy, and peace than I've had during any other era of my life. Everything isn't perfect, but everything is beautiful! For anniversary celebrations, the fiftieth year is represented by "gold" and I'm living my life like it's golden. Thanks be to God!

So I have absolutely no reason to complain about this new chapter in my life. Why should I? It's my season. Greater increase is coming in my "Chapter 50." I've already decreed and declared it, and God has already given the assurance! Increased blessings. Increased anointing. Increased finances. Increased FAVOR! 

Four months from "Chapter 50" and feeling FABULOUS! Thank you Jesus!!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Countdown To "Chapter 50"

Today is August 4, 2016. I wore red today. Nothing really special about the date, and no special reason for wearing the red. I just thought I'd mention it (smile). 

As I arrived at work early (as I always do), I spent some quiet time with the Lord (as I always do too). I pray each morning before I leave home, but when I meditate on God in the early minutes of my arrival at the office, it sets the tone for my entire workday.

Getting situated in my cubical before anyone else in my department begins filtering in is something that I do on a near-daily basis. It's highly unusual for any others to arrive ahead of me. Getting here at this time allows me to not only enjoy a little quiet time before the hustle and bustle begins, but it provides me with a few precious moments of solitude to pray and meditate on the goodness of the Lord. And today as I did that, I found myself reflecting on my life; both the challenges and the triumphs that have made me the strong woman that I am today.

Time passes so quickly, and life is fleeting. As I did my own personal review this morning, I thought of so many things; so many times that God came to the rescue. Like the time my family and I were in a deadly head-on collision back in 1973 that took the life of the drunk driver who smashed his truck into our car and seriously injured almost every member of my family who was riding inside. The shattered bone in my left leg was one of the less severe injuries, but as a seven-year-old, the entire experience was a traumatic one for me. But thank God we all survived. I also reminisced on the moment I became a young blushing bride at the age of twenty-one and the painful, yet joyous experiences of giving birth to our daughters. I can so clearly recall when Brittney and Crystal were newborns and holding them in my arms singing "Jesus Loves Me" as I rocked them to sleep. That seems like just a few  years ago, but in reality those are fond distant memories. Now they're both married with families of their own. And then, in a not-so-fond memory, I faced the heartbreaking, life-changing moment of burying their biological father--my first husband. That seems like only a handful of years ago, but it actually happened in 1995 and nearly twenty-two years have passed since then. "Time waits for no man" is not a biblical quote as I've heard so many wrongfully state, but it's a true saying just the same. 

I've endured and experienced many tribulations in my past, but I thank my heavenly Father that my latter days have been so much greater. It all worked together for my good (Romans 8:28). By far, my life (neither past or present) isn't perfect, but God has made it beautiful despite the scars. In more recent years, I've been abundantly blessed to meet and marry the man of my dreams. Michael introduced me to a new level of love, and with him I daily experience the joy of working together in corporate America and in ministry with the one God kept for me...until it was time. In my reflecting time this morning, I thought of just how blessed I am in spite of the enemy's attempts to destroy me. So many who know me, don't know all the details of my story; therefore they don't understand the depth of my praise. In just a few months, I'll be celebrating another birthday. It's a milestone I was never supposed to reach. I'm calling it my "Chapter 50" -- such a fitting theme for the 50th birthday of a writer; don't you agree?

Daily, I'm surrounded by beautiful women of varied races and ethnic backgrounds. At work. At church. At literary functions. At the grocery store. Wherever I go, I see them. And it seems that I'm older than most of them. In my daily interactions, I often hear women claiming to be ages far younger than they really are. On any given day, it's not uncommon for me to hear females complaining about getting older. I hear them voicing their longing to return to their more youthful years. Yet I'm not moved by it. I absolutely love me and I love my age! I'm about to be 50 years blessed! Every single year marks a blessing that so many others didn't live to see, yet I'm not only alive, but I'm healthy, happy, and whole. It didn't have to be this way. As a matter of fact, according to modern medicine, it wasn't supposed to be this way. BUT GOD!!! I continuously thank the Lord for His grace and mercy, realizing that had it not been for Him, I would have been dead a long time ago. 

Medical science still can't comprehend why I wasn't infected with the virus that causes AIDS as a young bride married to an awesome man . . . but a sick man. One who had no clue that he was HIV positive when he married me. Medical science can't explain away why I didn't contract the deadly virus in 4 1/2 years of consistent unprotected sex, or how on earth I, in turn, didn't pass the virus I should have had along to the daughters I birthed. Medical science says I never should have made it to Chapter 30 of my life, let alone Chapter 50 . . . and you think I'm going to complain about the blessing of living to see another year? Are you kidding me??? I dare not lie about my age because my lie could have been my truth. No, I'm NOT turning 25! It is with joy that I embrace my two gray hairs. I was never supposed to live long enough to see them! So what if I got a little winded this morning when I decide to take the stairs up to my third-floor office space rather than ride the elevator? Every heavy breath that resulted from the climb was a breath that I was never supposed to live to inhale or exhale. So excuse me if I'm one of the"weird women" who actually thinks that aging is a gift and not a curse.

So YES!!! I am excited about my countdown to Chapter 50. I'm elated that there are only about nineteen weeks separating me from celebrating a half century of life. I'm going to look forward with great expectation to every single day that leads up to that moment.

December 17th is going to be a day that I give God the glory as I celebrate a life that only He could give and the incredible love that God alone has allowed me to be surrounded with in this chapter of my existence. Nope . . . I don't long for the past because my present is far too blessed and my future will be even greater than I can imagine.

I'm ready to turn the page and see what's next in this amazing story titled Kendra that only God's pen could author. No edits. No re-writes. In every sentence written and in every scene created, it's been just what He purposed and designed for me. And at this very moment, I decree and declare that Chapter 50 will be my best one yet!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

DREAM BIG! A Lesson In Black History from a Piece of American History

Yesterday, I was blessed to be among several other employees that gathered in a reserved meeting space within the Fortune 100 company for which I work to see, hear, and experience a piece of Black History. And not just Black History . . . but American History. The guest of honor was Dr. Robert L. Wright, who not only served as keynote speaker, but as an incredible tool of motivation to all who would listen to his words and grasp the powerful messages behind them.

Dr. Wright is a native of Columbus, GA and serves as Director Emeritus of Aflac. He had only great things to say about our company and the many ways it continuously sows into the up-building of the African American community. A few weeks ago, when I met with a company executive and was asked to write an article on Dr. Wright regarding his pending appearance, I had never before heard of him. As I embarked upon the necessary research to put together the feature, my ignorance of this man became a point of embarrassment. Delving deeper into my online exploration, I discovered the life of a man of great wealth; perhaps not financially, but certainly a man rich in determination, wisdom, understanding, experience, and accomplishment. By the time my personal research was complete, I felt I'd been introduced to an unsung hero.

Though yesterday's occasion was one set in place by the company's Diversity Counsel to commemorate Black History Month, Dr. Wright's appearance drew the perfect crowd. Blacks, Whites, Asians, Hispanics . . . the varied culture of the corporation's roster of employees could be seen throughout the room, and from the rousing responses, it was easy to conclude that everyone was educated and empowered by the message presented. During the one hour gathering, our featured guest shared his personal testimony of growing up in the segregated south. By far his wasn't a privileged household. His father was an humble bricklayer and his mother worked as a nurse. Together they did all they could to ensure their children grew up to be more in a world where Blacks were still viewed as less.

After graduating from Spencer High School in Columbus, GA and finding it impossible to gain acceptance into southern colleges due to elevated racial tension, Robert Wright decided upon Ohio State University. There, he pursued a degree from the school’s College of Optometry. Upon obtaining his credentials, he returned home with the earned title of "doctor" and with the intent to begin practicing in his field. But his establishment as an optometrist in the segregated South would not come easy. Because doctor or not . . . he was still black.

Racial intolerance was still prevalent in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and Wright’s first attempts were met with many barricades. One practice went so far as to erase their sign advertising their need to hire a staff Optometrist when he came to apply for the job. Eventually discouragement sent him back to Ohio, but determination wouldn’t allow him to stay. Upon getting word of the goings on in the civil rights movement that had begun brewing in the South, Wright walked away from the independent practice he’d been working with in Ohio and headed back to Columbus, GA where he joined in as an active part of the movement. In 1965, he became a part of the original “Dream Team” when he found himself marching along with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery.

Though he was eventually able to begin a successful practice in Columbus, a new purpose had begun taking root in Dr. Wright’s life and his interest shifted from healthcare to politics. The desire to make a positive difference in the lives of those in the world around him had taken a front seat, and he found himself answering the call; selling his practice in the process. In 1970 Wright was elected to the Columbus Georgia City Council where he ultimately served three terms and was responsible for Council District 2 with a population of approximately 50,000 residents. But his proven level of responsibility and accountability was far too great to be confined to the borders of Columbus’s local government. Dr. Wright became a part of the Executive Leadership Cabinet for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation and he served as Chairman of the Presidential Commission for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Most recently, Dr. Robert Wright was presented with the prestigious Congressional Black Caucus Annual Phoenix Award during a ceremony that was attended by President & First Lady Obama, proving once again that he is indeed a man among men. To say that sharing the same room with this nearly 80-year-old icon on yesterday felt like being in the presence of greatness is not an overstatement. When I shook his hand at the close of the event, I felt honored. 

The overall theme of the afternoon was DREAM BIG, and being one who looks for spiritual messages within everyday experiences, I pulled many things from those two words. As Dr. Wright talked about the challenges that he had to overcome to find success; I thought of the many traps set in place by the evil one that we all have to triumph in order to reach our divine potential. I thought of the Almighty God that I serve and how BIG and powerful He is. When man tells us we can't, God assures us that nothing is impossible with Him. When man defines us as less, God says that through Him, we are more than conquerors.

So yes . . . Dream Big! For there is no dream bigger than the one that shows us our worth and gives us the strength to overcome the odds and strive toward what we know to be our God-ordained purpose.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Tuesday Testimony

Let me pre-warn you. This may be a bit of a lengthy blog entry and it's all to the glory of God, so if you have no free time on your hand and/or if you have a problem with reading about the goodness of my God, you may want to stop reading now. However if you read on, I know this will bless you. The Lord told me to share it, so I know it's meant to be a blessing to those who will read it. Can you stand to be blessed?

Yesterday was a great day . . . not just because of what God did in the life of my household, but simply because GOD is GOD. He is amazing. He cannot lie. He is faithful. He is GOD and even on a bad day, He is good.

Unlike many, I don't choose to use social media (or public blogs) as billboards on which to announce my tests; instead I select to use them as platforms on which to broadcast my testimonies. I use them as means by which I share positive inspirations and encouragement. It is my desire to always be a blessing to those with whom I come in contact, and what I know for sure is that constant complaints and negative remarks don't bless anyone. So on this Tuesday, I want to testify.

Let me be clear: I don't try to appear to have the perfect life. In fact, I know very few people who have been more transparent with their life's battles than I have. I have immortalized some of the most trying and even embarrassing ones in published books that have been distributed both nationally and internationally. So perfection is not the picture I strive to paint. However God has always ordered me to share the messes of my life only after the messages have also been manifested because that's the only way that they can truly bless and encourage the masses. And so today, I share the story of my household's most recently fought battle...because with God's help this battle is over and we have come out victorious!

After twelve faithful and loyal years on the same job, my husband Michael (aka "the babe") was abruptly terminated. It happened on October 7th . . . the eve of his birthday! What should have been a time that we were planning to celebrate life; the enemy instead wanted to speak death into our situation. It was a sudden move that neither of us expected to happen at that time. The manner in which it was done and the timing of it all seemed heartless and calculated. It took us by surprise, but from the moment that it happened; I believe both of us knew that God had to be up to something. Michael was one of the company's hardest and most dependable workers. Nothing about them choosing to release him made common sense, so even though the termination seemed to come with no good reason, we knew there had to be a God reason. Still . . . it was a harsh blow.

Initially, very few people knew about Michael's joblessness. It was a while before we even told immediate family members. Most of those who ultimately came to know about it found out from Michael. I didn't feel it was proper or honorable for me to distribute the information. Ultimately, I shared the information with five saved and Spirit-filled sisters that God placed on my heart. I didn't randomly select them; I sought God for who could be trusted. I enlisted their prayers and asked them to touch and agree with me for God to open the right door at the right time for employment for my husband. They were my secret weapons, my backbones, my prayer circle, and every time I reached out to them, they were right there willing to intercede with me for God's will to be done. If they're reading this, they know who they are, and to each of them, I want to say THANK YOU! 

For the past several months, the income in the Holmes household has been cut tremendously. Michael's termination meant that well over half of our combined income was gone -- literally overnight. My husband was the larger breadwinner, and he had been the one paying the overwhelming majority of the household bills. I cannot honestly say that I didn't feel anxious and even afraid at times realizing his income was no longer there. But I can honestly say that I never lost my faith . . . and neither did the babe. In fact his faith was strengthened and elevated in immeasurable ways. The sudden thrusting of him in this seemingly barren place was also his sudden thrust into a wealthy place -- the face of God.

Every morning, during this time of transition, the babe would rise in the wee hours--even before I'd wake up to prepare for work. He would head to the room in our home that I call "Purpose Central" -- our home office; our very own war room, and there he would lay prostrate before the Lord, seeking strength, direction, wisdom, and understanding that only God could give. He would come out of the office long enough to pray over me before I left for work or just to see me off, and then he'd go back in to continue his time with the Lord. I watched a man who was already spiritually strong become a powerhouse in his faith. Several mornings as I prepared for work, he would leave the office and come in the room with me and passionately share with me all the things that the Lord had poured into him in those early hours before I'd awakened. He was growing spiritually by leaps and bounds.

During this "down time" God also showed us what true favor felt like. I'd become slack in my tithing, believing that I needed every dollar to pay other things, but during this time of major lack, God challenged me to trust Him. I began tithing regularly again. It became a total "faith walk" for both my husband and myself. During this time, God proved to us that our jobs weren't our true source. They were only resources. He was our only source. For months (while both of us were employed) we'd been down to one vehicle and was in need of a second, but didn't have the available funds to get a dependable one. Every door we knocked on remained closed; every person we went to for financial assistance had none to give. But in the midst of Michael's unemployment and while my paycheck was the sole income of our household, God allowed us to obtain a "like new" Toyota 4Runner . . . and when it was driven off the lot, it was paid in full without a dime of my paycheck being used!

Both my husband and I are licensed ministers, and on the very first day that we met, we shared with each other the details of our spiritual callings and our divine purposes. He'd told me that his passion and purpose was to be used of God through the ministry of Christian Life Coaching to help others in their mental and spiritual growths; especially where their relationships were concerned. He had placed the pursuit of his purpose on the back burner largely because of time restraints and financial limitations, but during the season that our household income was severely downsized due to his unemployment, God provided the time and the means for him to re-enroll in Life University and complete all the studies required for his certification. It too was paid in full with none of the resources coming out of my income.

The entire time that the babe was out of work, our mortgage and all of our monthly utility bills were paid without a penny coming out of my paychecks. Every month, God provided a ram in the bush! Take note: during this time, we didn't have everything we wanted, but God ensured that we had everything that we needed. There were people who saw what was happening in our lives and thought we'd been given an increase in salary, but the truth was we'd had a substantial decrease in salary. The blessing weren't in our finances; it was in God's favor toward us! Favor from God doesn't need funding from man.

As the months passed, Michael tirelessly searched for work and our budget got tighter. Things were getting tougher. Ends were getting harder to meet. We were in need of a breakthrough. Some that I owed money to were all of a sudden coming at me for it. Their timing couldn't have been worse, but I didn't share my family's personal struggles with them; it wasn't their business. I've leaned that everyone doesn't need to be privy to our problems. While some will pray, other will hope -- hope you fail, hope you falter; hope you fold. I paid what I could when I could, and the rest I left to God to work out. All the while, Michael was submitting dozens of employment applications but only a couple of interview opportunities were extended. In my personal prayer time each day, I'd ask God to have His way. I didn't request that He grant any specific job or position. My continuous prayer was that God would open the door of His will because one of the harshest lessons that life has taught me is that doing things our way or going after what we want can be the worst thing ever. But I knew if we allowed God to do His thing, it was going to be done right.

To make an even longer story as short as possible, God has revealed His will, He has had His way, and He has done His thing! Ever since I began employment a little over a year ago with the Fortune 100 company for which I work and the babe has seen how happy I am working there, he has voiced a desire to work for a corporation just like it -- a company who values its employees, compensates well, and provides a pleasant daily work environment. Back in November, a high school acquaintance of my husband's called him and said, "The Lord told me to tell you to write down the name of the business you really want to work for, place it between the pages of your Bible, and leave it there." It almost seemed foolish at the time, but God will choose even the foolish things to confound the wise (I Corinthians 1:27). In obedience, Michael followed the instructions given; writing down the name of the same organization for which I work. He had already filled out several applications for job openings he'd found for the company but had been getting no response. But his faith and obedience paid off!

Two weeks ago, he got a call from that very company -- for a position he'd applied for back in November -- the same month he'd gotten that call from his classmate! The company requested an interview, and on the day of his interview, I contacted all the women in my prayer circle, told them the time and date of the interview, and asked them to press with me in prayer. And they did it! A week later, the company asked Michael to come back and meet some of the other employees. Me and my sisters in the faith prayed again. Then on yesterday, he received the call that welcomed him aboard. His official start date is only a few days away. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!

I wanted to share this testimony not to brag or boast, but with the prayer that it will bless someone on this day. No matter what you're dealing with right now and regardless of how hard or hopeless it may seem; STAY FAITHFUL. Continue to do God's will and follow His instructions and His ordained path for your life. We've heard it before and it is the truth . . . Every setback is a setup for your comeback! Things will arise that will tempt you to take your eyes off of God or to make you feel that you have to take control of the situation and handling it using your limited strength and knowledge, but don't waiver and don't stray. When times get the toughest, that's when we have to depend on the Lord the most and allow Him to do His perfect work; even on those days when it feels like He's not working at all.

Know this... All things work together for the good of those that love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Even when your enemies mishandle and mistreat you . . . they mean it for evil, but God is going to turn it around so that it works in your favor! Your enemies have no clue who they're messing with. They have no idea how much detriment they are bringing on themselves when they mistreat even the least of God's little ones. They will see you victorious and they will hate you for it, but there will be absolutely nothing they can do to stop it! Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (I Corinthians 15:58). Don't faint, don't be discouraged. Stand on His Word, stand on His promises and watch your tests become your testimonies!

Amen! To God be ALL the glory!!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 - My Year of Promises Fulfilled

It's been a full year since I've written in my official blog, but the lapse certainly wasn't due to the
lack of things worth posting! I last updated this online diary on December 31, 2014, and the entry I wrote was entitled: "Stepping Into 2015 - Stepping Into My Double Portion." In that article I shared how God had assured me that the year 2015 would be a year of double blessings for me. I didn't exactly know the fullness of those words that were divinely spoken into my spirit, but it didn't take long before they began manifesting themselves.

Indeed 2015 was a year filled with "doubles" that I hadn't anticipated. God's words to me began materializing in the simplest of ways. The first week of January, I received an online shoe order that I'd placed in December. The box containing the black ankle boots came just in time for me to wear on the new corporate assignment I was blessed to land in December as well. A couple of days after the first box of shoes arrived, a second box arrived from the same shoe store. It contain a similar pair of ankle boots; only in blue. I had only ordered one pair. When I called the company to report the error, the customer service rep ended our call by saying, "Well, I guess you got double for your trouble because if you want the boots, you can keep them at no charge." That turned out to be the start of a string of "doubles" to come.

Earlier in 2014, my husband and I learned that our son's family was expanding. He had already given us a grandson so it was good to learn that the little one on the way was a little girl. Jokingly, I'd told them to name her after me. As 2015 rolled in and the due date got close, we learned that it wasn't one granddaughter as we first thought. Twins. Double. In April, our family welcomed Kennedi and Kyndal to the world. Although it was never told to me that they'd actually named the girls after me, those names sound a lot like Kendra, don't they? :-)

God not only made good on His word through our son, but he did the same through our daughters. First, our baby girl got engaged. Then two months later, our firstborn daughter got engaged. Both our daughters were blessed to marry wonderful men of God in 2015, giving my husband and I two handsome "sons-in-luv." Double. And since our baby girl married a young man who'd had a son from a previous relationship, her marrying him gave us our second grandson. So now, not only did we have two granddaughters, but also two grandsons. Double.

The corporate employment that had opened to me in January had been assigned on a temporary basis. After six months, it became permanent. When the position was offered to me on a permanent basis, the offer came with a sizable raise. As I read the contractual agreement that was sent to me, one of the first things I noticed was that the amount of the accompanying pay increase was exactly two-times the amount of what I was paid on the previous job that I'd left in 2014. Double. And when I began working the job, I prayed and asked God to bring someone else on-board who had a genuine personal relationship with Him. Prayer partners...women to whom I could connect spiritually. God answered me in abundance. Today, only a few short steps separate me from two other Spirit-filled women with whom God has allowed me to build a solid sister-friend relationship. Double.

Most recently, I began praying for an avenue to open wherein I could put my gift of writing in action on a corporate level. I work for a Fortune 100 corporation, and being able to write for it would be an outstanding opportunity. The Lord revealed my heart's desire to one of the sister-friends with whom I work, and she approached me and gave me the name of a contact person who might be able to provide the connection I desired. I followed through with reaching out to the person she suggested, and my act of obedience resulted in the offer to become a contributing writer for the company's official employee magazine AND to be a writer for the company's diversity council. Double!!

And I know that there is more to come. I began writing this blog on December 31, 2015, but had to place it on pause so I could attend Watch Night Service to ring in the New Year in corporate worship. As I'm ending this blog entry, we have already been blessed to cross over, and I know in this year of 2016, God will continue to manifest His promises. Last year was a year of doubles. But I have so many stored promises from God that this year I am expecting an overflow!

I decree it in Jesus' name . . . 2016 is my year of promises PROMISES FULFILLED.