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!