Who Pays for your Slay?

by: Joi Divine

 

You may or may not think about your favorite makeup brands’ stance on animal testing, but once you’ve read this I hope you’ll at least have knowledge of what your favorite companies are doing with regards to animal testing and I’ll leave the decision about what products you purchase in your hands because after all, it is your money.

To me, animal testing for cosmetics, is an antiquated and unnecessary practice. In several countries the sale of cosmetic brands that test on animals is illegal. However, there is no such ban in the United States. According to PETA, some scientists have acknowledged that there are cheaper, simpler, and more ethical ways to test cosmetics but they still didn’t suggest banning brands that test on animals. During my freshman year of college, I took an intro level Philosophy class with a vegan professor. He opened my eyes to the fact that in the United States, the vast majority of us could afford to live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle with no problems. We learned about the plight of animals and even though we don’t always acknowledge it, especially when we aren’t discussing cats or dogs, they are conscious beings. This article may be your first foray into animal ethics, so I’m not asking you to do anything drastic like not use animal products because I most certainly still do. However, I try to limit or eliminate spending money on brands that I know test on animals. To put it simply, I limit the unnecessary.

I’ve compiled a list of popular brands (seen below) that do and don’t test on animals. You might even find that you’re already living the cruelty-free makeup life and that you don’t have to spend a lot to do it because a lot of affordable brands are cruelty-free. If you don’t see your favorite brand listed, PETA has a handy search engine on their website or you can look for the cruelty-free logo on your cosmetics.

animaltest

 

Oh, I’m Saved!

by: Zetta Johnson

It is not uncommon to hear the phrase ‘I’m saved’ or maybe even “I know Jesus” being used more and more. I have found that some people identify themselves as Christians or being saved because grandma used to take them to church or because one of their family members is a minister. For some it could even be that they are saved because they were baptized as a child. Then there are others who simply think believing God is real and doing good deeds is what makes them saved. Now don’t get me wrong these are positive things, but what does it really mean to be saved? What does the bible say about salvation?
Romans 10:9-10 say, “That if though shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead thou shall be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The scripture is saying in order to be saved we must first believe that God sent his son Jesus, that Jesus gave his life for us and resurrected to live eternally. We must confess that we believe this, declare it and show it through our actions with righteous living.

It does little good to tell someone I love you if my actions portray the opposite. And it’s the same way with our relationship with Jesus. We must let our salvation shine through how we talk, live and even what we allow to entertain us. If you confess that you believe Jesus is the son of God, there should be a burning desire that reminds you to live for the lord in a way that brings him great honor. Others will notice the difference of character, the character of Jesus, and have an interest in what it is that makes you different.
This walk is not always easy because it’s a narrow path. This is not to say that you will be perfect and never fall short. The truth of the matter is as Paul stated in the new testament, the flesh does not want to do right. There is no good thing that dwells in our fleshly bodies because we lust to gratify our flesh in every way. This is why it’s so important after receiving salvation that we are consistent in prayer, asking Jesus for help, strengthen and guide. In Romans Paul lets us know to die daily denying the flesh and providing our bodies as living sacrifices holy and acceptable unto God. Salvation is, in simple terms, believing, confessing and applying the word to your life.

Presssed Down, Shaken Together & Running Out of Reasons

There are so many ideologies, concerns, and expectations surrounding the most appropriate way to give but what is the correct way to handle the act of giving? Why must there be regulations and structure to something that mentions a free and cheerful giver? 2 Corinthians 9:7 reads, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” If God loves a cheerful giver, why isn’t simply giving enough to satisfy the requirement? The basis of tithing needs to be presented as a culture of pure benevolence instead of a race to fund raise blurry projects. Let’s discuss the basis of tithing and offering, what the instructions were for tithing, and how Christians should show the world why we tithe.

The Bible reference to sacrificing or giving begins in Genesis, but not as a commandment from God (Genesis 4). It actually tells of how Cain and Abel learn to sacrifice from Adam. The offering was that of blood and not from work of their own hands, they did not tithe. The first mention of tithing was a unique incident and relates to a specific person, Abraham. Genesis 14:20 reads “And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Abraham gives a tenth of the property to King Melchizedek as a gift for a recent battle victory. The tenth that was given was not his earnings or property to give they were actually spoils from the war. This incident was not described as a seed or as a payment in hopes of getting blessed, which is a popular justification for tithing and offerings today. This tithing happened once to the king; no other story mentions tithing from Abraham. Even in later practices tithing was an income for kings, more like a tax. These offerings varied with different cultures.

It is true that different cultures are expected to tithe different amounts. Some cultures follow the tenth rule but there were others that would tithe as high as twenty-two percent of their earnings. Although we have been conditioned to automatically think tithing means money; money or earnings are not mentioned as part of the act. Unfortunately, loose interpretations of tithing that have been and are being taught by some ministries have turned the act of giving into a concern and maybe even stress. Pressures to sow seeds or give specific offerings for the sole hope of gaining something in return seems awkward. How cheerful a giver can one be if he/she is tithing a certain percentage but not able to provide basic necessities to their families? If tithing is a requirement for salvation will those that are less fortunate miss their opportunity for grace, mercy, and or blessings? The answer is simple. No. Those that are able to give have a purpose for such gifts.

Tithing has a purpose. “At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes’ of that year’s produce and store it in your towns so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands,” Deuteronomy 14:29. Specific instructions that prove tithing and giving should not be a catalyst for a few stewards to be wealthy. The blueprint has been laid. Tithing is not law and not required to be saved but it is necessary to carry on the mission of Christianity. Worldwide leaders and evangelists need to re-evaluate their motives for heavy tiding and offering and be transparent to their followers. There is no law or shame in tithing a certain percentage, but a strategy and plan should be in place for these monies so that the mission of aiding the less fortunate is being followed at all times.

It’s Tankard Time

You know the old saying, blood is thicker than water? Well, on the reality television show, “Thicker Than Water,” award winning gospel jazz musician Ben Tankard and wife Jewel, along with the rest of the Tankard clan, are showing viewers the true essence of that phrase by allowing Bravo network to capture every moment of their lives. Fans have been waiting and Bravo has answered. The Tankards will be returning for season 3 on Easter Sunday, March 27th at 10 pm EST /9 pm CST.

For those of you who may be asking yourselves, who are the Tankards and why are they famous? Well, haven’t you heard of Ben Tankard? He is a basketball player turned gospel jazz musician, songwriter and now pastor of Destiny Center located in Tennessee. He credits the strong push and encouragement for launching into the music world to the late Darryl Coley, who believed in his gift and talent, along with the likes of Yolanda Adams.  Ben has recently received his 14th Stellar Award at the 31st Annual Stellar Awards adding to his collection of numerous awards and recognition in the music world. He has been in the music industry for over 25 years, so needless to say he IS somebody to the Christian community.

For those of you who are fans of the Tankards and faithfully watch the show, “Thicker Than Water,” you might be wondering what’s been happening with the Tankard family. I won’t blab on everything. We will see Cyrene adjusting to college life at Howard University and the freedom that comes along with it.  Ben Jr and his wife, Shanira, are enjoying their new venture as parents, Brooklyn is beginning to stretch out and make her own mark on the music industry, Brittany is moving forward and starting a new chapter in her life with a growing desire to be a mother and Marcus and his wife, LaTisha, are now leading a second location of the Destiny Center on the campus of Fisk University in Nashville, TN. You better believe there will be plenty of gasping moments causing social media to go hashtag crazy when we see how all of these changes affect the family.

Ben and Jewel are experiencing an empty nest and they have been able to ‘fill the void’ with some new experiences. Ben has added author to his list of accomplishments. He has written a self-help book titled “The Full Tank Life” based on his own experiences. Jewel is taking her own path currently working on the second season of her nationally syndicated talk show, “The Jewel Tankard Show.” Jewel’s show is known for approaching issues that most ‘saints’ would consider taboo. But leave it to Jewel and she will get the conversation rolling. During this season of her show she says viewers can look forward to topics such as realistic challenges of maintaining a marriage, teen pregnancy and parent/community involvement for prevention of this epidemic, female entrepreneurs and who have struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide and a host of special guests like Ricky Smiley and more.

It may seem outrageous to some people for cameras to film every waking moment of someone’s life. Ben even expressed that at the beginning of this adventure their family faced ‘religious’ critics who didn’t quite agree with the family being on camera. But let’s keep it real, what family doesn’t have drama?! I’m sure many viewers see themselves in the likes of the Tankard family from the quarrels among siblings to the family secrets. It’s just easier to watch another family experience it and critic them than for others to know what they would see if we were the one in front of the camera.

The Tankards have opened up their lives on a stage for the world with a purpose of ministry. As Ben put it, they want viewers to be able to relate to their family and see how imperfect people, in an imperfect family serve a perfect God.

Be sure to tune in Sunday evenings on Bravo and watch the Tankards as they show just how imperfect they are. In the words of Ben Tankard, “If you thought season one and two was something you haven’t seen anything yet.” Get your hashtags ready because IT’S ABOUT TO GO DOWN! Tune in on Sunday evenings on Bravo.

 

 

Spring has Sprung with Mz. Red Carpet

by: Mz. Red Carpet

 

Well, it finally looks like spring has sprung. (In some states) Our skin has survived the treacherous winter months and now it’s time to get it back on track. Everything from facial wash down to our moisturizers and even our foundations are about to change to fit the new season. But I’ll talk more about that in the next issue. Cosmetic lines such as Bh Cosmetics, Nars, Anastasia Beverly Hills (just to name a few) are already rolling out the new spring collections. They have some really great products (especially that new highlighter “glow” kit from Anastasia) let’s just say the makeup gawd is pleased hunny!!!

To get us into the spring fever. I decided to create a look that’s simple yet funky and that gives u that pop of color that’s just fitting for this season. This is a very clean, natural look. I added a pop of color to my waterline just to bring it out. Below are some pictures of the aftermath. I promise you don’t have to use a lot of products to achieve certain looks. I have listed the products used to create this lookl. As always, I hope you enjoy and feel free to leave your feedback, questions or looks you would like to see me create on the website contact page.

 

Products used:

1. Nyx “Dark brown” brow pencil.
2. Bh Cosmetics “Wild child” pallet in Gold (for my lids) I also smoked my eye out in my crease with “Colourpops “Central Perk” eyeshadow.
3. Added a splash of color on my waterline. (It’s really just a basic blue eyeliner from LA colors)
4. Foundation I used Covergirls “Ready, Set, Gorgeous in the shade of 315.
5. My setting powder is from Covergirls Queen Collection in the shade “Golden medium”
6. Bronzer I used my good ole faithful Wet and Wild in the color “Carnival in rio”
7. Lastly, for my lips I used Ny lipstick (not nyx) in the color satin followed by a chestnut liner from Mac!

Dear Joy…

Dear Joy…

I grew up in the church. Literally my whole life the only time I ever missed a service was when I was finally old enough to work and was scheduled on Sunday’s. I can remember being a member of three churches in my life with the most recent being since we moved while I was in 5th grade and would have been a member of 16 years by now. When I was 18 I left for college returning every now and then but still going to the same church. When I was 19 I moved out to stay with my dad but still had a desire to go back to that same church because my family was there. This caused problems because I didn’t have a car so service times interfered and no one wanted to give me rides or let me drive but I managed.  My issues began when my pastor invited me to his office one day after service. I’m thinking this could be about me not being there as often as I use to or just a check in since I’ve been away at school but no. He brought me to his office to tell me that the way I dressed and presented myself was too “flamboyant.” As a young, maturing woman this turned me off from wanting to be there anymore because I didn’t understand. This was my pastor. On the other hand all the people at my father’s church always welcomed me with open arms with the come as you are spirit. I didn’t wear skirts or shorts that had my butt hanging out. I didn’t even wear jeans because I grew up “knowing better” per say than to come to church that way even if it was for choir rehearsal or bible study. But, I wore what I had and thought appropriate just so I could be there, where I had grown up and was comfortable. I didn’t feel he gave me any guidance or even cared about where I wanted to be spiritually but pulled me into his office to tell me off about my clothing. After all I was going through just to be there I felt embarrassed. Thinking if the pastor feels this way how many other members feel this way? Was it him that noticed or was it brought to his attention by someone else? My mom is even a member here, why didn’t anyone tell her so she could help me? After that I was dismissed. Since then the church saw less and less of me. That alone changed my perception of the church all because this is a place I had grown up and I didn’t know how to take what happened. Honestly, to this day I stay away from churches because I don’t want to go through that again.  I kind of feel like if I was treated that way after being a member and growing up there I can’t really imagine being a person walking in off the street.

 

Hi,

Thank you for sharing your story. Church hurt is indeed real. I know people who have been on both sides and it’s never black and white. You felt misjudged and misunderstood. I understand.

There are many things to address in your letter, but I am going to speak to the root. The root is a lack of forgiveness. When we do not walk in forgiveness, things that happened years ago have a negative effect on our current emotional state and the decisions we make. We develop skewed perceptions of people and our relationships with them. For example, a church hurt from your past influences your perception and decisions regarding attending church now.

I strongly urge you to forgive the Pastor that hurt your feelings. When we fail to forgive in one area of our lives, we fail to forgive in many other areas as well. This leads to a life of misery. We make ourselves a prisoner to our pain. If you forgive him in this area, you will change the course of your life. Yes, learn to forgive in this 1 matter and it will teach you how to let go of other things in your life and you can walk in joy.

Here are some strategies to help you learn to forgive:

Humble yourself
Realize you cannot do it in your own knowledge and understanding. Pray and ask God for help. We all need to be forgiven. Ask the Lord to forgive you for your sins and for all the hurt you have caused.

Extend some Grace
Recognize that you have hurt someone else as well. You have made mistakes and it helps when someone cuts you some slack. Try not to punish the pastor in your heart anymore. Try to view the situation objectively. Is it possible his intent was not to harm you? Think of the good qualities about him. Has he ever helped you, encouraged you? I suggest this because negative thoughts tend to flood our minds and we forget all the good qualities about the person. We become judgmental and hard heartened. If there be any virtue in him, think about those things.

Let it out, so you can let it go
Talk to the pastor; write him a letter; leave him a voicemail. Tell him in a respectful manner how you feel. DO NOT expect anything from him. Don’t expect him to apologize. You would do this just to get it off your heart. Many times our freedom starts with confession.

My friend, trust me. Take the step to forgive and discover the “you” that is longing and craving to come forth. The “you” that is free, unburdened and filled with joy. It’s time now.

May God bless you with Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding!

Sincerely,
Joy to the World

#BlackWomanHeal

For this issue our editor was able to speak with Alexandra Gee-Lewis about her strong desire to help others. That desire began at a young age watching her own mother who was involved in non-profit organizations. When Alexandra was 17 she went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Upon her return she felt a need to become more involved with her mother and work with Lilada’s Livingroom.

Lilada’s Livingroom is an organization that is geared towards working with teenage girls and young adult women. Lilada’s Livingroom was founded by Alexandra’s mother, Lilada Gee. After Lilada battled with overcoming her past life experiences of sexual abuse by her step-father and a difficult marriage Lilada began meeting with other women to share her story to encourage them to leave dangerous situations in their own homes and create a sense of community for single mothers.

Alexandra works alongside her mother in the efforts of the organization. She can be found conducting groups and keeping up with young women who have come through the school programs that are conducted as part of programming for Lilada’s Livingroom. Specifically, those programs are prevention groups with younger girls in elementary, middle and high school that centers around cultural identity.
Quite a bit of the work for Lilada’s Livingroom is Afro-centric. There is a global movement called Black Women Heal Day which began to provide early intervention, healing support and help to equip others to work with a particular population of women. April 1, 2015 was the first year that this was done. In the first year there were black women from 40 states and 12 countries who joined.

Black Woman Heal Day occurs on the first day of April, and how befitting that it does. April is the month for sexual assault awareness. This April you can be apart by hosting a group in your own living room or a small event in your local area for women to come together and share with others to increase the awareness of sexual assault and the grace that God can grant to be able to move forward in life and begin healing. Feel free to make posts on social media sharing your testimony or photos from your group/event using the hashtag #blackwomanheal.

To learn more about the organization visit their website www.lilada.org or on Twitter and Instagram @blackwomenheal at for the organization on all of your social media outlets and their website.

Spring Fashion: Little White Dress

 

With the smell of spring at the tip of our noses, it’s time to toss away the deep Fall and Winter tones, and whip out some light colors. As the old tradition goes, we store our white dresses after Labor Day until Easter Sunday. So let’s reach into our closets and resurrect those white-as-snow, pure white dresses!

Raising Friendlies

by: Esperanza Cherry

 

As parents we try to raise kind and loving children and in return we also want to see our children treated with love and kindness. It breaks our heart to see our children being mistreated or abused. We so quickly turn into Momma Bear to defend our child but do we protect the precious children of others with the same passion from our own kids? Are we more concerned that others are good friends to our children than we are about our children being good friends to them?

So the question is, why isn’t our child’s lack of being a good friend being acknowledged? Maybe the negative behaviors aren’t properly addressed because we think it’s just a phase that will be grown out of instead of developed. It is also possible we don’t see our child’s behavior as “that bad.” Whatever the reason may be, we do our children a great disservice in not addressing their heart.

Here are some ways to help your child be the type of friend you would want them to have:

1) Create a zero tolerance Approach
For some things be sure to create a zero tolerance rule and stick to it each and every time. If you don’t want your child to be hit by other kids, then be the first to immediately take your child out of playtime when you see them hurt another child. Be sure to give them the appropriate discipline for their action and discuss with them why they are receiving this consequence. Remind them that this action is never acceptable and it will always be responded with a consequence. You would want the parents of your child’s friend to respond with the same care.

2) Help create a sincere heart
In a child’s mind it’s hard for them to see past their own needs and wants. They are living in an “it’s all about me” world. It is our job to help them see the rest of the population in that world. Let’s help our child be the caring friend we want them to have. Teach your child to rejoice about the celebrations in their friend’s lives. If their friend is excited to show your child their new shoes, teach your child to rejoice with their friend and take a sincere interest.
Another way to help your child escape the “It’s all about me” world is to help train your child to engage in conversations by asking about the other person and how they are doing and feeling without turning the conversation back on them. Allow opportunities for your child to care completely about the emotions and concerns of others.

3) Avoid the master manipulator
Children are observant and can learn the right words and actions to take to get themselves out of trouble. Remember that the goal is to do our part in raising a kind and loving child, this means that though we may want to believe the “I’m sorry mom” and let it go with a simple apology it must sometimes come with a consequence. Not doing this teaches them that saying just those words allows them to act selfishly and do what they want without repercussion. Be sure your child understands that being sorry means they feel sorrow and regret for how they hurt their friend, it’s not just a statement to get out of trouble. This is your opportunity to teach your child empathy. When your child says sorry even with an insincere heart, be sure to thank your child for saying the words but that their action still means there is a consequence. It is an important life lesson that they will have to learn, you can’t just say sorry and avoid the consequence.

It is important for us, as parents, to love our children enough to help hold them accountable for their actions and help them to act out of a sincere heart to love, feel remorse and empathize with their friends. Let’s help develop our children to be the kind of friends we long for them to have.

Empowering Women, Igniting Change

With March being Women History Month it is only befitting for Nouveau Exposure to feature a woman who is impacting the world locally, nationally and globally. Carlisha Williams is a woman of many hats. She was born in Monroe, LA and raised in Tulsa, OK. She started her career as a young woman teaching and has grown to be the Executive Director of Tulsa Legacy Charter School. She also does consulting work as well as runs a growing organization known as Women Empowering Nations (WEN). She describes herself as a social entrepreneur. In her own words, she “helps leaders to identify their power, unlock their purpose and develop their platform.” Her passion ignites the most when she is working to empower young girls and women.

It wasn’t until Carlisha attended college that she felt something unlock within her to ignite change. Carlisha experienced her own struggles with self-esteem during her childhood and from that was inspired to help young ladies to be able to overcome any struggles they experience and take every opportunity she could to expose them to a world they never knew was accessible to them.  Upon her completion of undergraduate studies, she competed and won the Miss Black University of Oklahoma pageant and went on to compete for the Miss Black Oklahoma USA pageant. From her role as a pageant winner, she was afforded the opportunity to travel and speak with girls across the state of Oklahoma helping them to build their self-esteem and find their purpose in life. After her graduate studies ended, she resided in Gambia working on a consulting project with the Gambian government for a girls education program. It was also there that she started Women Empowering Nations with their Literacy and Empowerment program for girls. From there, she returned to the United States to participate in the Teach for America program.

Through teaching, she was able to see how all the pieces of her life had aligned together and to took advantage of the partnerships she had created. She brought the work of WEN into her classroom and other schools to provide social and emotional development for female students.

WEN has been operating since 2009 and promotes the self-esteem and leadership development of girls through mentorship, leadership, and travel seminar programs. In the United States there are girls participating in Tulsa and Oklahoma City in the state of Oklahoma as well as participants in Houston, TX. The participants and mentors attend the quarterly sessions focused on leadership development, team building, global awareness, women’s empowerment, advocacy, and more. The experience culminates in the summer with the travel seminar to The Netherlands and Tanzania in July where the girls will participate in the Girls Leading Our World Leadership conference that WEN will be hosting in Tanzania. They will have the opportunity to build relationships with Tanzanian girls and do volunteer/mission work. There will be connections made on the social level and exposure to places inaccessible in the local communities of the participants.

What is beautiful about the WEN organization is that the girls who were in one of the very first programs in Gambia have completed the program and graduated from high school. Some of those young ladies are now mentoring in their own branch of the program in their own country. This is truly an accomplishment in Gambia as Carlisha informs that only 30% of girls go on to even enroll in high school.  Not only are there past mentees participating as mentors in Gambia, but in the chapters in the United States as well.

The program directors are currently working to build a technology platform for the mentor relationships to connect with participants abroad and across the nation. This development limit he barrier of having to be in the physical location of a partner school. Now  mentors will be able to reach girls globally in their homes through technology.

With all of the work that Carlisha is doing through WEN, it is not as a faith based organization but the leader does have a Christian foundation. Carlisha is also a published author on top of everything that she does. She has written a book entitled Choosing Faith Over Fear.

“My motivation for writing this book was to share the story behind the glory and allow for people to realize that this life is precious and it is time to step out of your comfort zone and run towards your calling,” said Carlisha when asked what inspired her to write this book. She became an executive leader at the age of 28. Carlisha has been asked what her secret to success is to accomplish all that she has done. She simply felt the need to share her testimony of how her faith in God grew. People were able to see the success but were unaware of the choices that she had to make. Carlisha simply explained that for this reason she decided to share through this book how she has chosen faith over fear in her professional choices, relationships and self-views.

With a book having such a powerful title some would think that there just has to be a strong foundation of faith. Well, while Carlisha was raised in the church, there was a pivotal moment in the 7th grade when her life changed. Carlisha experienced a tragedy losing her best friend, at the time, who was murdered by their father. Carlisha recalls that she was supposed to have a sleepover at the friends’ home and her mother had told her that she didn’t feel right about her spending the night that particular evening and had her stay at home. The next morning a mutual friend called to tell her to turn on the news and she learned that the friend and her entire family had been murdered by the father.

The following week Carlisha attended a youth group that her friend would bring her to and remembers that the words the minister spoke that evening felt as though he was speaking directly to her. She feels that literally from that moment her life had changed. She began to travel to do mission work and witness to people in various countries. From there her view of the world was unlocked.

Carlisha’s life has been a puzzle coming together piece by piece connecting each story and building a grand portrait of what her heart has a desire to accomplish. She has a heart to encourage others and God has enabled her to continuously have opportunities where her past experience helps to build the future. To you, our readers, she says, “Really take a hold of your gifts and your passion to use it and not allow the obstacles you face or the pain and the valleys  you go through to be a detour from that path of purpose. Often times it’s in our pain that God transforms it into purpose to be used to bless the lives of other people.”