Dear Joy… Hope for the Hopeless

Dear Joy,

I am a, 20 something, single woman and sometimes I think maybe marriage is not worth it. I have never been married and it’s hard to meet someone on the same wave length as me. I mean, if he has it together financially and educationally, he doesn’t spiritually. Or vice versa. Then, there are the guys who don’t want to even think about marriage, because they’re keeping their options open.

I mean, I have friends that are married and some that are divorced already. Their marriages don’t seem all that great. They are constantly into it over stupid things, posting petty statuses on social media about each other. Some even know that their spouse is cheating, but refuse to confront them. Don’t get me started on the ones who have confronted their spouse but, the spouse hasn’t changed their actions.

I just don’t think dating to get married is worth the trouble if it’s just going to end up like all the marriages around me. Am I right or is there hope?

 

Hi Almost Hopeless,

I, indeed, know there is hope that “dating to get married is worth it.” Actually, there are current examples that are more tangible than hope. You just have to change the channel of the reality you are watching. Yes, there are many bad marriages that will absolutely discourage anyone with a brain, from desiring such a union. However, there are also many examples of good marriages, that will evoke much hope and joy at the thought of wedded bliss. Shift your gaze. Talk to people who are successfully married. Get an understanding of what having a successful marriage means. If you do not know anyone with a healthy marriage, go find a book about marriage. If you’re not a reader, find some you tube videos teaching on the concept of Godly marriages.

It’s likely, that your perspective of what makes a person a good husband, or what makes you a good wife, could use a reality check. The fact that you can’t seem to find this “ideal” man (who possesses everything) is a good indicator that your perception of what makes a man compatible needs adjusting. Trust me when I tell you, if you attempt to build a marriage on your own concepts, morals and principals…it’s doomed. A good marriage is built on Godly principals, not human understanding, desires and measurements.

As you are talking to people, reading, and viewing positive evidence, you will gain an understanding of the necessary components of a healthy marriage. This new understanding and insight will transform you and your perspective. It will also equip you with tools that will enable you to have good relationships with all people including your future husband. Purposeful dating that leads to marriage is absolutely wonderful; because God made marriage and everything God made is good (whoop whoop)!

Thanks for writing and posting your question. May God bless you with Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding!

Sincerely;
Joy to the World

Funding Fun

I know what you’re thinking, “How can I have any summer fun if my finances aren’t expendable at the moment? I want to enjoy some quality time with the family and/or friends but I don’t think I can afford it.” Don’t fret and get into a financial frenzy. There are ways to have an exciting new adventure and stay within your allotted budget. Not only can you find deals in your city, but you can even get out of town with a few tips and tricks. This article will examine hidden treasures within you city, exploring the idea of mini-vacations and things you can do at home in lieu of a vacation.
Hidden treasures within your city limits may seem far-fetched but can be a fun way to get the family away from its normal routine. All cities have tourist attractions, museums, and amusement parks. Explore your zip code for those forgotten gems. Search for something new that you and your group have not experienced before. One example, is historical tours and sites. Most will only think of history during school and with that comes sighs of assumed boredom and less enthusiasm. Ignore those preconceived notions while getting online and searching for cool historical facts about your city. Get your group excited by showing and/or telling them stories about the past and maybe even find some type of connection with a relative or someone you know. There’s always museums and its tours if there isn’t a specific attraction available in your area. Just keep in mind that a familiar story or connection will only heighten the excitement of all involved.

If you have the itch to get out of town, you can still do it. Instead of booking a week-long trip opt-in for 3-Day weekend specials. Groupon, BookIt, and LivingSocial.com are a few examples of sites that advertise a plethora of vacation deals. Sometimes, a special offer is given for becoming a member or simply signing up for a rewards program or newsletter. Take advantage of all reward offers and watch the discounts and specials come rolling in.
In fact, Groupon is offering inviting romantic getaway packages that include trips to New York or the Caribbean. If those places are too far for you, Expedia has an application that will find getaways specifically 3 hours from your location. If you are already a rewards member for certain hotels such as Holiday Inn, they also offer 3 day getaways for reaching a certain number of points.

Vacation at home might seem lackluster to some, but can open up a whole new world of new possibilities, with little, to no additional costs. Take off from work and if you have kids, let them stay home and together you can work on new ‘Do It Yourself’ (DIY) projects. Applications such as Pinterest have spiked an interest in all things creative, so get on board and find projects that peak your interests! BoredPanda.com and Topdreamer.com are two sites that have multiple ideas to assist in decorating your home and organizing items. One cute DIY example is making a photo clock to cover one wall in a common room. This project involves painting the hands of a clock but instead of painting numbers to tell time, framed pictures will hang in their places. What a wonderful way to showcase a photo story of special family moments!

Everyone deserves a break and the summer months are perfect for relaxation and rejuvenation. Do not let your financial situation prohibit you from joining in on the fun. Innovation and initiative can go a long way with the convenience of technology that lives at our fingertips. Psalm 128:2 reads, “You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be!” (NLV) So reward yourself with a financially fun summer!

Christopher Swims – A Pastor’s Inspiration

“It’s ok to grieve.” Something I preach all the time to others, but fail to apply in my own life. Grief is never an easy task to handle. Grief isn’t just the loss of a lifetime loved one, grief happens when your normal routine is hit with a sudden interruption. I.e. you’ve given loyal service to your job for over twenty years, but you’re replaced with the newest technology. You didn’t get that raise and what you thought would last forever, ended abruptly. It is the sudden interruptions in life that causes us to lose our breathe.

How do you recover from interruptions? Grieve, mourn or even take off the Band-Aid. Stop trying to hold it together. These are mechanisms we use to numb the pain that we’re feeling. Numbing never heals, it just prolongs healing. It’s easy to find alternatives that’ll get our mind focused on something else, but when will we deal with our brokenness?

Grief opens the door to know a different side of God. Recently, I did a devotional entitled, “5 Names of God for Grief,” by Christopher D. Hudson and Rose Publishing. It brought a great comfort to me in knowing God cares, not only about my future, but also my heart that is hurting. This is who God is and He desires to intentionally and personally help you when you’re grieving:

• Elohim Shama – The God that hears

• Jehovah Uzzi – The Lord is my strength

• Elohim Qarob – God is near

• Rum Rosh – The one that lifts my head

• Shub Nephesh – Renewer of Life

You don’t have to deal with life’s interruptions on your own, God is there waiting to reveal Himself to you!!

You can learn more about Pastor Swims and Hopewell at www.hopewellmb.org

Carrington Nakwaasah: Tale of A Daddy’s Girl

Carrington and her Father, Kirk Franklin.
Photo provided by Carrington.

Through reality television and social media, we have been welcomed into the lives of so many people, from the average Joe and Josephine to Mary Mary and John & Aventer Gray. There is one person who has made their mark on the hearts of many through song and word. They have drawn the attention of the churched and unchurched from all over the world. Who, you may ask? Your cousin, your nephew, the living legend… Kirk Franklin. While he has yet to have a reality show, he has offered transparency through countless testimonies and song for over 20 years. Through social media he has welcomed fans and foes into his life experiences. One thing you can gather from paying attention to the things he shares with the public is that his family is important to him.  Who better to share about the impact he has had in their life than his daughter, Carrington Nakwaasah?

Carrington is the eldest daughter in the Franklin family. She truly cherishes the relationship she has with her father. While the world may see him for his gifts, talents and fame; she sees him as daddy. Carrington knows that God has been able to use her father’s music to have an impact on the lives of others and just as many of you, she has been in awe of how amazing those moments have been.  Over the years his music has impacted the lives of so many people. His influence surpasses that of the gospel music industry. Carrington recently heard Chance the Rapper mention that her father had an influence on his life and music. She even shared a memory of a performance her father did when she was about 10 years old. English was not the native language of the audience, they needed an interpreter. When her father began to sing, the audience knew every word in English.

Because of the fame that Mr. Franklin’s music has brought him Carrington and her siblings have been afforded experiences that many dream of having. As expected, the level of fame he has reached and the amazing impact of his ministry worldwide comes with some ups and downs. For those who have been a fan of Mr. Franklin’s music for more than a decade you may recall an album titled The Nu Nation Project. The first track on the record is “Interlude: The Verdict.” When listening to the track, you can hear the criticism of the music that Mr. Franklin produced. While comical, this was truly art imitating life.  Has Mr. Franklin ever really been charged with “tearing down the walls of religion” or “making gospel music too secular”? No. But, Carrington shared that there have been occasions when time together has been disrupted by those who are excited fans and those who want to… let’s just say, share their disagreement on some things. In the age of social media people are not fearful of expressing their opinions through comments, statuses and tweets. Carrington says she “has learned to remain humble and personable when dealing with certain situations with people.”

Carrington has learned so much from how her father handles himself in all areas of his life. She has never had the desire to be a performer as her dad, despite the assumption of others that she wants to be a singer. The closest she has come to being a singer is singing on demos for her dad. However, she does aspire to become involved in the music industry as a writer.  What she admires the most about her father is his business savvy. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Carrington is a creative in her own right and as an entrepreneur, she has a graphics design company offering services from creating snapchat filters to designing logos and websites. She does merchandise for Anthony Evans Jr. and Priscilla Shirer while they are on tour. She recently did a little free hand word art on a chalkboard wall in her father’s office with words from a saying of his, “God is the writer. We are the pen. The world is the paper.” How dope is that?!

Instagram : Word Art by Carrington

 

Carrington admits that as a child she had moments where she wondered why her father had to be so honest about things and share so much about his personal life. As a young adult, she believes that people can connect with him and learn from his testimonies, including herself. “My dad’s transparency has helped me in a lot of ways. It’s taught me that in order to achieve any type of healing that you have to be completely honest,” said Carrington. Her father’s truthful approach in life has taught Carrington to be truthful in all things. She confessed that she is not the person to come to if you want the response sugar coated, she believes in lovingly telling the truth and applies that to every relationship from friendships to marriage.

 

In October of 2016 Carrington said I do to Maxx Nakwaasah. Carrington mentioned, “my husband, Maxx, actually mirrors my dad in more ways than I realized before marrying him.” She desired the characteristics of integrity, care and honesty in a spouse and she received that and more. She feels that her father’s personality helped to prepare her on how to interact with her husband.

via Instagram – Daddy/Daughter Dance
Photo Credit: Pharris Photos

Her father is someone she turns to for sound and godly advice. He offers her a safe place to be herself. He is one of her biggest cheerleaders. Her father is her friend. The emotion and energy of their friendship was displayed by them both on Carrington’s wedding day. It was truly a testament to the dynamic of their relationship. Carrington and her father wowed the world last fall when videos of their father/daughter dance from Carrington’s wedding reception went viral on social media. The dance was everything you could imagine from the creative duo. Carrington and her dad were originally planning a typical dance number until they realized people were anticipating something that would be different and exciting based on their relationship and personalities. They went back to the drawing board and in a matter of minutes they choreographed the dance. The next day the videos recorded by wedding guest were viral. While the world saw Kirk Franklin and his daughter doing the latest dance moves and enjoyed the moment for the excitement brought during those few days it was viral, for Carrington it was a moment within a day that she will remember for a lifetime. To her Kirk Franklin isn’t the famous living legend whom she idolizes and crazes over usies with him for likes, shares and comments. He is her role model, her friend and her father.

Jessica Chow: Lost & Found

Hollywood has a stigma of being sin city and full of nothing good but there are plenty of individuals in the entertainment industry who have shown the world that no matter their residence Jesus is Lord of their lives. Jessica Chow is one of those people.

~ The Testimony ~

Jessica didn’t grow up in the church. She didn’t experience life as a child and teen in the knowledge of who God is and how much he loved her. It’s because of that she chooses every day to live for him and prays to be used by him. She said, “I think knowing life without the Lord really sets me on fire to remain in him. I know what this world can offer and it’s empty.”

During Jessica’s teen years, she became sexually active and stated that she was always in relationships. She began drinking alcohol while in high school as well. Education was important to her mother who dreamed for her children to accomplish things that she did not have an opportunity to. From high school Jessica went on to attend college. After graduating from college Jessica began using drugs and had two abortions.

Jessica admits that she has success as the world measures it. She was previously employed through one of the top talent agencies in the world, Creative Artist Agency. While there, she was in the limelight. She attended the hottest events along with being around people that many would kill for the chance to meet. Surprisingly, Jessica stated this point in her life was one of the saddest. At that time, her life focus was herself and what she could gain. She remembers feeling broken and alone.

Jessica’s brother, Jeff, drew her to Christ. She began noticing a change in his character. She remembers her brother having a callused heart and being angry but this change caused him to be peaceful. She became curious about a God and church that brought about this change in him.

Jessica & her brother, Jeff

 

While the transformation God was doing with her brother peaked interest for Jessica about God, she recalls an encounter she had that opened her heart.  It was an experience she had at a rave where God began to tug at her heart. Jessica explained how she felt different and felt the presence of God telling her that he loved her and understood the regret and shame that she felt. Her friends were asking her if she was okay or needed to rest or a glass of water and her response was that she felt like everyone at the party were “a bunch of lost souls.” Her friends responded with offense. Jessica tried to brush it off but it felt real. She became repulsed by the people around her and their actions. Jessica stated, “Nothing about my physical state was sober. I laced five different drugs and yet God met my spirit in sobriety in the most gentle and loving way. My dying spirit recognized His almighty powerful presence and I listened because I felt his love for me to chase me down in the darkest place of life. We can’t hide from God.” Jessica believes if it’s God’s time to call you, it doesn’t matter where you are. He will meet you where you are.

Between the changes that Jessica noticed in her brother and her encounter at the rave, Jessica was ready to attend church and learn more about God. It helped that her brother had a cute friend she was interested in as well. Jessica mentioned, “God can use anything if He wants to. Something as sinful as being lustful for man. He redeemed my sin just to get me into church.”

~ The Transformation ~

 When Jessica attended service for the first time the worship experience drew her. She thought it was weird that they turned off the lights while singing but she joined in and began singing the words to the songs. She recalls the lyrics to songs such as “Oceans” by Hillsong. As she began singing the words tears streamed down her face. She was worshiping, but she didn’t know anything about God and wasn’t too sure if she wanted to trust him only to be let down like everyone else had done. She felt like there was a catch. But, God was a gentleman. She never felt God was forced on her. She was drawn in by the love of the church community and the feeling she received from her God experiences. She didn’t know how to go about changing but she was willing to try. In 2012 Jessica was baptized taking a step to accepting God in her life.

Jessica remembers praying for God to help her stop doing the things that she shouldn’t. Jessica’s prayers were answered. Jessica attended a party and as her routine went for partying, she did drugs. Only this time about five minutes later she began to vomit. Her friends were concerned. Jessica tried to ignore it and took more drugs but vomited again. She went to the bathroom and felt God tell her in a gentle way that she could no longer defile her body that she belonged to him. Jessica left the party. She figured there was no point in trying to take drugs over and over only to vomit them back up. God didn’t stop there, the last time Jessica had sex she was with her boyfriend, now ex-boyfriend. They felt as though a wall was between while they were in the act having sex.  They stopped mid-way and apologized to each other for violating one another. They accepted each other as a brother and sister in Christ.  About a month later they ended their relationship.

~ All Things New ~

Everything became NEW! Jessica’s life began to transform from her acquaintances to her employment. When Jessica quit her job, she began acting. She has been acting for five years now appearing on sitcoms Jane the Virgin, Bad Teacher and more. When she goes out to casting calls and auditions she is not shy about sharing the gospel with others. She is confident in the love God has for her and she isn’t afraid to share her testimony with anyone. She developed a desire to see others transformed just as she has been. Her prayer is that God uses her as a tool to draw others to him, she knows that she doesn’t have the power to save anyone. She doesn’t want anyone to feel that God is forced on them.

Jessica Chow doing interview

Jessica went through spiritual and emotional healing from the guilt and hurt she had from having two abortions by going to counseling beginning 2015. Her counselor advised her to write a letter to her best friend explaining how she felt about everything that happened, except her best friend would be herself. Because of the feedback she received for her letter, she began her blog. The blog allowed her to express her thoughts of things she had experienced in life from the abortions and the loss of her mother to dating as a Christian and more. In September of 2016 Jessica began doing her YouTube series 31:30. The title is influenced from Proverbs 31:30. She works with her brother and his friend who have their own cinematography company. She interviews individuals who are involved in the entertainment industry in some way who are also believers. Her desire is for them to see God for the gentleman that he is and receive his forgiveness so they can walk in freedom.

 

Jessica’s message to anyone who is lost and feels like they need to make themselves perfect before God accepts them is “God’s mercy triumphs over judgement. There is nothing that he can’t forgive and that he has not already forgiven. We will never be completely perfect” Isn’t that the best news ever?! God will accept anyone, don’t delay another day of having Jesus as Lord of your life. God sent his son Jesus to die for the sins of the world, John 3:16. Accept his gift and be lost no more.

Caryce Porter : Blessed by Frustration

Imagine you are preparing your attire to attend an event and you can’t find a nude shoe. You begin searching online shops, the major retail stores, your local boutiques but nothing. You have even gone as far to try goodwill or the thrift store and there isn’t anything that comes close to the idea you have in your head. Do you give up and pick another option or do you design an option yourself?

Caryce Porter picked option number two and there are hundreds of women who are grateful that she did.

 

Caryce was tired of being frustrated with the lack of options for a nude shoe that she could wear. During spring of 2016 she made the decision to design a shoe for herself. While designing the product, she was inspired with the idea of making it a product that other women could purchase as well. She feels that the fashion industry defines nude as the color beige but nude depends on the complexion of the person wearing the product. When she began designing the products she wanted to ensure that she offered something for all shades of women. Caryce stated, “I want to make sure that I fill that need and want. It’s almost a staple, like having a nude bra.”

Dawn Collection

 

Fast forward to February 13, 2017 at 7:31pm (cst) when Caryce posted a status on Facebook showing her friends several photos of the prototype for her nude shoes and sharing the website www.nudesoles.com for people to subscribe for updates. The status was intended for her social media family and friends. To her surprise, it went viral. The status has over 11,000 likes, over 1,500 comments and over 7,000 shares. She began receiving comments and messages from women who wanted to know when they could get the product. With just one post on social media Caryce gained so many supporters. With the encouragement, she received from other entrepreneurs, along with the compliments of her being an inspiration to women who were in the idea stage of creating a business Caryce was motivated to continue with her endeavor of NudeSole.

Espresso Collection

 

With the wind of the initial announcement pushing her into success, Caryce put her digital marketing experience to work and used social media as a tool to engage potential customers. The followers of NudeSole could suggest style and color names. The company has four styles of shoes and each style comes in four colors. The styles are Beatrice, Eva, Chantelle and Reecie. The styles are available in the colors of Dawn, Fox, Cocoa and Expresso. Pre-orders are currently being taken through the website and Caryce anticipates that they will be able to take live orders in the next month.

Fox Collection

 

“A dream can be more than just a dream,” says Caryce. She didn’t set out to make this product. She was initially hoping that someone, some company would finally create a nude shoe for her to purchase. The thought crossed her mind to create the product herself and from there she ran with it. No, she does not have a degree or training in the fashion industry. The closest she came to retail was being a customer shopping in stores like any other citizen of the world and a job she held at a shoe store during breaks of her undergraduate education which was studying Biology. Anything that she didn’t know how to do from experience she researched or reached out for help from those who had the experience. Now look at her!  She has a full-blown business and is making moves to turn this into a movement in the fashion industry.

Cocoa Collection

 

Let Caryce inspire you to become the solution to your problem and allow God to direct you every step of the way!