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8 in 2018

We are midway into year 3 as Nouveau Exposure Magazine and we have seen so many people making moves that sometimes it is impossible to feature them all. So this month we decided to bring you our 8 in 2018 list. Here is a list of individuals or groups you should be following and/or supporting whether by social media or their business. Let the countdown begin!!!

 

[source: instagram]
#8 Darlyshia Menzie 

For those of you who are faithful Nouveau followers, you may recall Darlyshia wrote a few inspirational pieces some time ago. Well, she has taken her gift of encouragement to another platform and in 2017 released her first book, At the End of Me: A Journey of Identity and Self-esteem. She has been seen at various events and conferences sharing as God graces her to do so. If you want to hear the transparent and encouraging words from this young woman of God do yourself a favor and follow her on social media (@theferventservant) or check out her website www.ferventservant.life

 

#7 Simone Yael #6 Olamide Giwa

[source: instagram]
[source: instagram]
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simone and Olamide are besties who have known each other since their college days at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. While they live hundreds of miles from each other now, their journeys happen to be on the rise at the same time. Talk about soul sisters! Simone is located in the area of St. Louis, MO and has embarked on the world of fashion. She is the founder and executive director of Creator. the brand as well as a designer/stylist. Keep an eye out for her work. While you’re keeping an eye our for Simone…be sure to catch her bestie, Olamide, as well. She ventured to the west coast world of Los Angeles, CA nearly several years ago and this talented woman is a dancer, hair stylist and model. She was recently blessed with the opportunity to serve as a hairstylist to Solange.  Solange displayed her braids in a 2017 issue of the Evening Standard Magazine. Who know what 2018 holds for these two gal pals?! Follow them both on social media (@heysimoneyael and @_lamilam_ ).

 

 

[source: leaharmwood.com]
#5 Leah Armwood

Leah Armwood is a Chicago native who has survived a life of abuse since her childhood and broken relationship after broken relationship as a young woman. She was gifted to express herself through poetry and song writing between the ages of 7 and 9. That gift has brought her to her present where she has endeavored on a journey to have a career in the gospel music industry. But it doesn’t stop there. She will be releasing her book this year titled “The Weight Is Over.” A testimony like Leah’s is one that should be read far and wide. Be sure to keep up with her via her website, www.leaharmwood.com

 

[source: instagram]
#4 Ti Nicole Danridge

Ti Nicole Danridge is another Chicago native. Go ChiTown! She has always shown a passion for theater and drama. She has been seen in countless performances and in the Midwest entertainment city of Chicago she was cast on an episode of Chicago P.D. playing Kayla in 2016 and in 2017 she acted, wrote, directed and produced a short film, Plow. In February this short film will be viewed at the Indie Night Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA. Follow her on social media (@blacktress_mommy) to keep up with all the excitement for her latest project and what else is in store for this woman on the move!

 

 

[source: facebook]
#3 Cameo Profit & 1 Way

Cameo Profit has an AMAZING testimony of overcoming a whirlwind of self-destruction, the abandonment of “friends” and finding God’s grace as he moved forward for a fresh start. God’s hand never left him through all that he has endured and his testimony rings through the lyrics of his music performed by the group he leads, One Way. They have one project under their belt and will be releasing their new project this year titled Resurrected. Revived. Reloaded. Do yourself a favor and follow this group. Their first project, Speak to Your Day was wonderful and we eagerly anticipate their return. 

 

 

[source: facebook]
#2 LXW Chicago

We have featured LXW Chicago in the past but this group has moved on to do so much more since our last mention of them, we thought it was only fair to suggest you follow them in 2018 so you won’t miss anything! This youthful and anointed group of singers is spreading the love and welcoming dancers to join their ministry. They have been hosting a weekly radio show and it is broadcast through their Facebook account as well for a live feed where you can interact with the hosts and their guest. Catch the train while you can because they are going places!

 

#1 Theresa Mosley

[source: facebook]

Theresa Mosley has been awarded our number one spot! Why? She owns the first black owned cosmetology school in Grand Rapids, MI (Mosley School of Cosmetology) because of God and she doesn’t hesitate to share her testimony with anyone. She wants the world to know how much God has blessed her and she is fully aware that without God ordaining every step and every choice she would not be where she is today. Theresa has gone from searching for a way to make a living and attending undergrad to using her gift of doing hair to make extra money on the side. Little did she know, God had a plan. She eventually became licensed to be a hair stylist, made thousands upon thousands before age 30 only for life circumstances to cause all of that financial gain to go away.  She didn’t let that stop her. She kept the faith and believed God for his promises to her. Theresa eventually obtained a degree in business and became credentialed to teach cosmetology classes. While she held a dream of opening her own school she did not have experience teaching. While volunteering at her church putting her business degree skills in action she was offered a position at a school in Grand Rapids where she would gain experience teaching and learn the ropes from the owner of the school. God had different plans. At the same time she was offered a position from her church by her pastor. After praying she accepted the position at the church. We are sure you have heard the saying delay is not denial, and Theresa learned it’s not denial at all. God began to move her towards her current blessing of not only opening her own school, but being able to purchase the school she was once offered employment. Talk about God ordained!!! 

Nouveau Exclusive with Married at First Sight’s Sheila Duhon

Love Through the Eyes of God

by: Anise Marshall

 

The drowning sound of a beating drum grows faster, now louder. You clench the neck of your pajama shirt to discover the unrelenting pounding was the sound of your heart. The struggle to saturate your waterless mouth prompts you to reach for the night stand, only to find a phone that won’t stop ringing. Sit up, close your eyes once more, and use the cusp of your wrist, to clear the gooey mascara and lashes from your eye lids. You stretch your hands through the air, place them on the ball of your frigid, yet saturated cheeks and slide them to the back of your neck. Breath in. Then out. My mornings won’t always be like this, you think. It is 4:30am. Time to go to war.

 

Sheila Duhon has fought so many battles in her life and discovered, not too long ago, that a prayer room has been her gift from God. We’ve all had those morning where it has been difficult to wake up because of an overwhelming anxiety about something hard, something exciting, a bad feeling, a desire to change your relationship with Christ or even divorce. She has had to dabble in a bit of all these emotions for the past few years and it has truly transformed her relationship with God.

 

 

Sheila, as you are aware of, decided to trust God and “Get Married at First Sight.” Married at First Sight’s intent, was to create compatible couples based on scientific matchmaking with a team of specialists. The team, that they describe as experts, consists of a sociologist, relationship and communication expert and a marriage counselor, who happens to be a pastor. Not only do the couples meet for the first time at the altar, the struggle for their marriage is recorded to document their own unique journeys. They have several weeks, that are constantly being documented, to decide if the marriage will work or if they will separate. This seems to capture a unique struggle and success along the way as each couple goes through their own personal journey. Trusting God, for most of us, does not always imply that things will go the way you thought. Isaiah 55:8-9 in New International Version (NIV) says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Her hope was that this would be the beginning of something great. She truly thought this would be “it,” because marriage was always what she desired and she prayed for. Sheila described it as a covenant that weighed heavily on her heart.

 

In a world that loves, lives and thrives on negativity, it can be very challenging and intimidating to be the lighthouse God intends for us to be. Sheila took on that duty when she said, “I DO.” From the very beginning of the show, she made it known that her faith in God was what she wanted to be the base of her marriage. She uses her platform to share the gospel of the Lord. Sheila’s marriage did not take the turn she hoped for, but we will get to that later in her story.

Something Hard

Sheila’s worst fears, throughout her life, was not living to her full potential and prior to the ending of her marriage it was not being the wife that God wants her to be. Do you know that God will test your fears even when they are the desires of your heart? According to the Bible, James 1:2-4, says:Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Sheila’s Thoughts

“Marriage exposes you. It is a journey where you have to decide to roll up your sleeves, even when you’re not excited about it. Every day is not happy. You have to enter a marriage with a wholeness from the beginning so that you are not expecting someone else to feel a void. Getting married, the way we did, presents so many struggles already, so being added in the public eye makes it even more difficult. We had to face something most couples don’t have to experience in the beginning, and that’s being in the public eye. We both, I think, underestimated the spiritual attack against our marriage. We would, most times, default to prayer. Some weeks ago, I created a war room (This is a room dedicated to awakening your inner prayer warrior). I created it because I wanted to have intentional prayer with God and sacrifice my time to show God how serious I was. I needed this to fight for my marriage and for me. It was about figuring things out—because we were in different places in our lives, we were dealing with different issues. We brought in expectations, previous hurt and different insecurities. I knew that if I wanted to be who God called me to be, I needed to address my relationship with God.“

Something Exciting

Sheila woke up, much like what we described at the beginning of the article. This was a new and exciting part of her journey. She was getting married to someone she had never met. Sheila was raised in the church and describes the beginning of her life as being a “pew baby.” Her thoughts of marriage were a covenant that she held close to her heart. She prayed for her husband before the show and even had experiences in the church that led her to believe that being married would be a good thing. She recalls a time before her wedding where she had been prophesied over. “God says your relationship will be the real thing. He will bless you,” she recalls the prophet saying to her. She stood in her wedding gown, ready to marry a stranger and felt at ease and at peace with it because she knew that it was what God had gifted her. She was not sure of the way her marriage would unfold but constantly told herself, “Lord I trust you!” This is the very “anthem” that has gotten Sheila through the good, the bad and the ugly. “I was beyond hopeful. My whole thing was that I felt at ease. I was nervous when I got married because I knew that with prophesy, it also comes to warn. I decided, though, it is well with my soul.”  She described her wedding as the most beautiful, authentic and sincere thing that she had ever been a part of.   

A Bad Feeling

4:30am. This was the time Sheila set aside for her prayer. She was committed to this. Her marriage had become so difficult to handle. Yes, she relied heavily on prayer, but she could not sleep. While Sheila was taping for the show, she had a scene where she called her husband out of his name. She called him, in less disparaging terms, a female Dog. It was a moment of weakness and, as Sheila would describe, “walking in my flesh.” She hated that she had publicly disrespected him and says she will forever regret that moment. “You can’t undo but you can choose to not repeat.” (This was something that she would have to revisit and decide on days later.) “The bad and ugly are me. The good, that’s GOD! Even with the show, it showed that God is who He says regardless of our shortcomings. When you truly surrender, God can do things we can’t.” She still recalled the prophecy that she was truly starting to think was a warning. “I think God paired our souls. It was bigger than us. It helped us to be the people God called us to be. We will persevere no matter what. I have to keep going and praying because I meant forever on that altar.”

A Desire to Strengthen in the Lord

Psalm 9:9-10 says “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 34:10 “Even the strong young lion sometimes goes hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:17 “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.” These are a few scriptures I could see being along the corners of Sheila’s prayer room. “God, I want to live the life You have for me.” Sheila uses every platform she has had access to to share the Love of God. “Anything I post, is not only meant to encourage others, it first encourages me. This is why I share my struggles and my joy with everyone, so they know that it is authentically me.” Sheila expressed her desire to be close to God no matter what path that has for her life. She has adopted the mantra, “It is well with my soul.” She says it is this saying that helps her draw closer to the presence of the Lord.     

 

THE DIVORCE

“Sometimes the fouls in life, all of the wrongs that have been done to you in your relationships, if you just trust, the vision will come back and lead you directly in your purpose.” Sheila looked back over her marriage with her husband and decided that bitterness was not a characteristic she wanted to radiate. “Hurt people, hurt people.” She decided that she no longer wanted to make the same mistakes she made in the past. She admits, though, when she found out about her husband’s infidelity and unwillingness to salvage the marriage she wanted to discredit him.  She knew that belittling him, from past experiences, wasn’t the answer. She would never diminish him again. Instead, she decided that she would just publicly end their marriage. When looking back on who she became in the marriage, she described a woman who sounded broken but healed. “I must say, I was extremely guarded and I would retreat and throw up walls with anger. I made a decision that I would not love him based on how he made me feel. I would love him through his flaws regardless of the situation. The events happened. I loved him and still do. I refuse to say bad things even if he no longer wants the marriage. My great grandmother told me that ‘love is an action word, even through divorce.’ I legit got married for forever. I have been fighting since the alter and honeymoon. I have made mistakes of saying things in the past, but it was my husband that broke those vows. I love me and I am excited about my future. I am who God says I am and I am ready to walk into the calling on my life. It’s time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.”

 

When asked what advice she would give to women battling with infidelity in their marriage, Sheila had this to say: “ I think it is important to fight for marriages. Divorce is not the remedy for everyone in every situation. If you have two people who are willing, you can come back from infidelity, but it takes two to bring it together. I don’t doubt that God will allow you to come back from situations. Everyone’s story is different. I don’t look at my failed marriage as failing God. We are supposed to experience things. Free will sometimes voids out our desires. Marriage is still worth fighting for. I think my husband is a good person and has great potential, but we were in vastly different places. My husband was younger than me. People make mistakes. My husband just should have made better choices. One mistake does not paint the portrait of a person’s whole picture. Our marriage…our story, was raw from the very beginning. Although it is not ideal, it is still a story that people can learn from. Even if you are hurting, build your husband up and take it to him. Don’t be guarded. I am not in a place of bitterness I am holding on to my hope. I am not living in the ‘what if’s’ and owning my moment…hoping tomorrow will be better than yesterday.”

 

When asked about continuing her relationship with her husband’s brother, Tyrique, Sheila only said that she would respect the boundaries set by him and that he would always be a brother to her. Sheila feels that learning about the infidelities in the marriage made her stronger for the next chapter in her life. “This marriage exposed my weaknesses and fears, previous hurt and forced me to deal with it and dig deep. I am in counseling and I think it’s helping me to be the best person I can be. I’ve done this through my brokenness. You don’t know how strong you are until it’s your only option. I know that I am worth it. I won’t let anyone dictate my value. I am still the daughter of a king adjusting my crown. The Bible says that people without a vision will perish. We depend on things to help fulfill our vision. Sometimes God will strip you of the thing you thought your vision was intertwined in. God showed me that this is well with my soul. My vision is not what I said, but is on God. I am yielding to the will of God. I am finding comfort in GOD. “ When asked if any of the “experts” reached out to her when she publicly ended her marriage, Sheila informed me that Rachel, the relationship and communication expert, was the only one who did.

Hopes for the Future

“I am excited for my future. Although there is a new sadness there and it will be an adjustment, there are still so many things that I have to look forward to. I’m excited for my book, career and looking forward to meeting the love of my life. God does not make mistakes. I want to travel and have children. I still will NEVER denounce the name of God. just like Job who had been through so much, I still choose to believe that God has a purpose for my life. I have started a blog and it’s amazing! I am also writing a book that I started when I was 18. I am really excited to finish writing and publish within a year. It’s about a girl who grew up in the church and grows into a woman who is finding her place in this world. It is not an autobiography.”

 

Nouveau Exposure magazine is for women who are bold believers and bold achievers. When Sheila was asked about the things that make her a bold believer and achiever, she simply said: “I am bold in my faith because I realize all good things come from the Father and I can only achieve that with Him. It is easier to be bold in your faith when you haven’t been through anything. The standing of the test comes from trials. Regardless if people like me, and follow me on social media, my only request is to first follow God!” Sheila Duhon sends out so many encouraging posts via social media. Her most popular following is on Instagram at handle @happyfromwithin. She engages with most of her followers and is an inspiration to all that she meets! 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” I encourage you all to love despite circumstance and know that your steps are ordained by the most High!

I Don’t Like Girls

My mother is one of the most loving people I know, but she has never really trusted women. I didn’t grow up in a home where my mom had girlfriends or sorority sisters who came over regularly. I never saw my mom go shopping or take annual girl trips with her friends or even her biological sisters for that matter. This just never happened.

I can remember my mom having two girlfriends that I saw every few years, but never regularly. Even while my mom has sisters, her stance on women remained the same. She would say to me “Pooh Pooh, I don’t trust women. They are always up to no good. I just can’t trust them.” While I never agreed, I could sympathize with her. I understood that her philosophy on women was birthed out of a painful, frustrating, abusive and dysfunctional relationship with her own mother.

Negative experiences with my grandmother deeply wounded her and affected how she related not only to her sisters but also other women who came into her life. Like my mother, many of us have unfortunately had similar relationships with a pivotal female figure our lives. Many of us have had negative encounters with women on the course of our journey that has tainted our view on women. Without an intentional, conscious effort to break this cycle of thinking, we become like my mother and perpetuate a heart of hate and distrust for other women that is passed down from generation to generation.

I learned very quickly that whenever a woman said, “I don’t like women” or “I don’t trust women,” more times than not, this attitude was birthed out of pain that was caused by a woman that they loved. While I never adopted my mother’s philosophy on women, I understood it. I understand how I may have intentionally or unintentionally hurt another woman. I understood it because I too have had my own hurtful encounters with women that I respected and loved. However, I determined in my heart, that I would be a woman who would become a disruption to this type of thinking and relating to other women.

As a woman, I firmly believe that the older I become, the more important it is to have healthy relationships with women. It is important for me to be connected to women who inspire, encourage and challenge me to become a better woman. Relationships with women are so important. The right relationships and divine connections with God-ordained women will change the course of your life. While there are clearly relationships that we become aware of in the Spirit that are unhealthy, there are also relationships that are revealed in the Spirit that are so amazing! The power of being connected to a woman who knows who she is in the Spirit is a gift. These are the women who can be who they are and embrace and bless you at the same time. It doesn’t take anything away from them to love and support you. These are the relationships where envy, jealousy and hatred are not a part of the equation. And if there is ever a time where they rear their ugly heads, they are honestly addressed and dealt with swiftly. These are the relationships in our lives that I believe are sent from God. These are the divine connections that bring forth the best in you and you bring forth the best. These are the mothers, sisters and friends that have been designated to you in the Spirit. They cover, protect and keep you lifted in prayer. They celebrate with you, cry with you and lift you up when you are low. These are the women who have the ability to see you in the Spirit during moments where you are unable to see yourself. They agree with God’s promises for your life and vow to walk with you until they come to pass. These are the midwives assigned for birthing your purpose. These are the women who may have also been hurt by other women, but had the capacity to learn the lesson and move forward. They may have hurt other women but they understand the power of forgiveness and therefore are able to walk without condemnation. They realize that it is a gift to love and honor a woman in friendship. The responsibility for this type of friendship is great and is not easily found.

Who are the women in your life? It is a gift to select the people that we can choose to have in our lives. When we understand this power, we should place a high value on ourselves and the women that we have an opportunity to share and exchange seeds with. We are to also constantly look at ourselves to see how we can be a better mother, sister, friend and supporter to the women we love. It is a mutual exchange of love and support that translates into healthy relationships amongst women that continue from generation to generation.

Pastor LeAundre Hill: Disciplined Servant of God’s Servant

God calls those who have character and will not call us to where our character cannot keep us. Every chosen servant of God possesses certain types of characteristics that God uses for His Glory. Moses, who was one of the first biblical examples of a chosen servant has been noted as being a man of great character. He was an obedient, visionary with integrity and had compassion for God’s people as a leader. Moses character allowed him to faithfully and successful serve God as he led the children of Israel out of bondage. To serve God, servants must have integrity so that they are trusted and followed by those whom they are called to serve. “And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:” 1 Kings 9:4

Those whom God calls as His chosen servants are also disciplined. Discipline is essential in the lives of believers and credible leaders because often there are very few people who are around to watch over their shoulders to make sure that they are privately living a disciplined life as they should. Leaders who lack discipline in their private life has been an issue that the church has struggle with for many years. No one likes to be disciplined but no one can deny that the results of having been disciplined leads to better living.

The Apostle Paul writes in Hebrews 12:7-11 “As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening, it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way”. Having discipline helps prevent these types of issues and struggles to surface in the life of those who are called to serve God. A good leader will make every effort to gain as much knowledge and wisdom as possible in the areas that he or she struggles with in life.

Our character matters when it comings to serving God and fulfilling his purpose for our life. Someone said, “Don’t let your gift take you where your character cannot keep you.” This is a true statement because no matter how gifted someone might be if they are lacking good character traits as a servant they might do or say something which could cause them to lose the position or place of influence where they are. I would add to that statement by saying, make sure that your character has been can keep you in the place that God has called you.

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

A Pastor’s Inspiration – Pastor Melissa McKinnies –

It was at the young age of 15 that I discovered my life verse in the Bible. It is found in Psalm 37:4. It reads, in KJV, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

That verse kept me in the darkest of hours, in the strongest of storms and during the loneliest times of my life. It was an anchor for me; a refuge. It was my source of hope. When I was tempted to question the seasons or the timing of things in my life, I would revisit this verse. I would write it out in my journal day after day and recite it over and over like a mantra. It kept me grounded and rooted, and man do we need those kinds of things during the teenage years! High five that neighbor beside you in Panera as you’re reading this article! They’ll get it! But I digress.

We have all been there. That time in your life when the dream looks hopeless, the degree out of reach, or the relationship you’ve been hoping for is non-existent! Maybe you’re there now. The hour seems the darkest, the storm is the worst yet or maybe you have never been this lonely. Not only do you feel alone, you are downright lonely.

Can I just breathe some hope into you today? Your dreams are not hopeless, that degree is not out of reach and there is somebody out there designed just for you! Maybe I haven’t described your situation exactly, but know this, you can do this! You were made for this! You were made for more! The dreams and plans inside of your heart and mind were meant to be lived out by YOU! Don’t get discouraged! Keep watering the dream, feeding the dream and work hard at keeping the dream alive! You can do this! I believe in you! Keep on keepin’ on!

You can learn more about Pastor McKinnies and Southern Illinois Worship Center at www.siwcenter.org.

Let there be Peace on Earth

by: Darlyshia Menzie

 

Holidays are here! You know, family gatherings, food, and so much laughter. For some, this time of the year brings drama, bad memories, and outward displays in differences of opinions. Each family has its own functions and dysfunctions, however, as believers in Christ, we are commanded to love through it all.

Think with me on the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). He decided that his life in his father’s house was not what he wanted, so he went off to “live his own life.” He partied, drank, slept around, and squandered all of his inheritance on temporary things. Once he ran out of money, all of the temporary pleasantries ran out with it and he realized he was alone, hungry, and lost in his sin. In the midst of working a part-time job feeding pigs, the thought came to him that the pigs he was feeding had more to eat than he had, so he decided to return to his father’s house. Upon seeing his son approach the house, his father was overwhelmed with joy at his return. He forgave him immediately and prepared a celebration. On the other hand, his big brother was jealous and bitter about his return. He was frustrated that he had never gotten a celebration and he served his father faithfully and hadn’t messed up like his little brother. The father explained that the welcome celebration was necessary because the family was once again complete and the prodigal son was no longer lost and on his own. All was forgiven just like that! During this holiday season, consider the principles shared through the parable of the prodigal son.

1. Forgiveness is a must! Forgive your family members for any offense they may have caused you or the family. Colossians 3:13 (ERV) states “Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity.”

2. Be available for your family. For some, you are the only bible that they will ever read. Make sure your witness is not tainted and that you are loving with the love of Christ, being careful to not be standoffish and/or overbearing. “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).”

3. Rely on the Holy Spirit to move through you. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ERV) says it best in saying “Trust in the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge. With every step you take, think about what he wants, and he will help you along the way.” When your family is experiencing dysfunction and you aren’t sure what to say or do in response, call on the Spirit of God to guide you. You never know who, in your family, you might lead to Him or help, by depending on Him for instruction.

4. Love is always the answer. When you respond in love, you get love back. I know you’ve read 1 Corinthians 13 and it is convicting once you realize you might not have been loving your loved ones the right way. Endure with them. Don’t constantly bring up past mistakes. Be gentle in responses and patient in waiting. Don’t be arrogant in thinking that you are better, rather, be meek and enjoy the company. Don’t get yourself in a spiritual debate trying to tell a family member how to live his or her life, just love on them and let that be that. Overall, Christ is love, unconditional.

5. It’s perfectly okay to have your convictions about your faith and what you will allow in your spirit, but above all, love is the greatest focus and goal. Pray for your family members who are unsaved, but don’t beat them over the head with it. God is a gentleman and never forces Himself on us. To love God, is to love His people. Let Joshua 24:15 be your prayer for your family. “But maybe you don’t want to serve the Lord. You must choose for yourselves today. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Declare and decree it, in Jesus’ name, and let God do the rest. Your responsibility is to live an upright lifestyle before them and love them like Jesus would if He were walking this earth.

Family is a gift; never take them for granted.

I Weathered the Storm!

by: Anise Marshall

 

Vanessa Murray’s testimony is the definition of what it means to be a bold believer, bold dreamer and bold achiever. Vanessa’s dream as a teenager was to become a successful meteorologist. As a child, she was always intrigued with the inner workings of weather. She had her entire life planned out and thought about her plans daily. As for many, when we desire to accomplish something, everything and anything happens to deter us from moving forward.

During the interview, I was beyond grateful to be able to hear her testimony and unbeknownst to Vanessa, she was encouraging me. Vanessa has faced so much in her life. At only 26 years of age, she has experienced things that make most want to give up and curse God, like Job. Vanessa, however, has chosen to play a role that insists on giving God praise instead of grief. Not everyone will face the same test in life and that’s okay. I’ve found that every testimony comes with a test, built to encourage someone else. I hope this testimony will encourage others just as it has recharged my heart. She has truly weathered the storm at such a tender young age.

Decisions we make sometimes cause us to have setbacks in life. How many of you know that those “setbacks” are nothing but setups for come backs? The enemy will cause us to believe that things we have not planned, will stop us from reaching our destination. That is a lie from the pit of hell. Vanessa found that even though she lost loved ones (her great-grandmother) along the way, God had a plan for her, her husband, her children and her extended family.  God had taken her on a path that would speak to multitudes whether Christian or a non-believer. She has a story that many young women face daily, only to throw in the towel. Included in this story, is a visual timeline of the life of a walking success.

2006

– Junior year of high school, got pregnant with her first born child.

2008

– Turned down an opportunity to visit, and gain first-hand knowledge from, a news station due to shame of being pregnant again.

2009

– While pregnant, with her second child, she was attacked by racially motivated individuals causing her to lose control of the car.

– Hospitalized and told she may lose her child due to the accident.

– Brought up charges against individuals responsible but was told that, “they had a future,” and case was thrown out.

2010

– Got married to the love of her life.

– Boldly changed her negative views of herself, and asked for a transfer from junior college at home to a university, 6 hours away, in Edwardsville, IL.

– Moved to Edwardsville with a scholarship as basketball manager.

 

2012

– Had to move back to her home town due to financial stability and personal issues.

– Did not have a place for her and her children. Vanessa was pregnant with her 3rd child, and “Homeless.”

– Decided her prayer life and spirituality needed to be revitalized and strengthened regarding marriage, children and family.

2013

– Hospitalized, for a month, after a severe bout of pneumonia. Had to withdraw from an accredited meteorology program at NIU.

– Gave birth to 3rd child and found that he had many medical issues causing constant hospital visits.

– Oldest child started having medical issues that caused frequent hospital visits.

– Noticed a positive shift in her home and decided to move back to Edwardsville and pursue degree in Geography.

2015

– Made dean’s list and got nominated for academic achievement and leadership, in Geography program, along with the Madison county scholarship award of $1,500.

– Great-grandmother passed.

– Criticized for working on degree while being a non-traditional student.

2016

– At the peak of her prayer life, she found that her husband could potentially have cancer.

– Found that husband was cancer free on drive to her externship, with a meteorologist, to Cleveland, Ohio.

– Graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Geography, with a Minor in Meteorology/ climatology.

 

Vanessa’s journey did not unfold as she had planned as a child, but it was the journey that established her into the praying woman she is today. She will soon be blessed with the gift of recording a sample meteorology tape, to submit for job offers. If you take anything from Vanessa’s story, learn that adversity does not have to stop you from reaching your dream. In the midst of: financial turmoil, racist attacks, stereotype of being a non-traditional student, medical scares and even death, Vanessa still found a way to find the calm in every storm. Let God use your trials, to draw you closer to him and trust that he is equipping you for your future. He will bring the right people in, at just the right time. She learned that instead of giving up, she must weather the storm.

 

Fate whispers to the warrior, “You cannot withstand the storm”, and the warrior whispers back “I am the storm” – Unknown

Make Time

by: Esperanza Cherry

 

Life with work and children can make it difficult for many families to find time to spend together. Our time with our family may feel like its over as soon as it starts. It is important to focus on what we do and say during these fleeting moments. So what is it that we do with the time we have with our loved ones? Do we spend it on our electronic devices, use it to complain, or place focus on our own needs and ourselves? Our time together may be short, but let’s value every moment of it.

As wives and mothers, we have been given a great gift of influence in the lives of our husbands and children. We have been created to use our words with wisdom so that we may build up, not tear down. One way we can build up our family is to manage the time we spend together and set a standard for that time. Here are some ways to help you be a better builder:

#1 Honor the time you spend together

Whether it be dinner, a special day of the week, or date night, make it a priority. For instance, this would mean that you would pass on a girls night out if it falls on your agreed upon family day, date night etc. If you continuously set barriers for this time, your friends will catch on and also respect the days or times in the day that are important for your family. By treating that time special to you, you also allow your family to see and treat it with the same respect. It is a way to make your loved ones feel important and loved in your life.

#2 Be present

During your time together, make certain you are actually “together”. This means, if you are having dinner, then sit together at the table and be completely engaged without distractions. In this age of technology, it is so easy to turn on the TV, respond to a text, a phone call or plug into social media. Your family already has limited time together; keep technology out of the picture. Plan to turn off your phone or keep it in another room during your time together. Your time together is limited so make it sacred. You can always respond to that email or phone call later but that moment with your family, once its gone, it’s gone.

#3 Intentional Dialogue

Pay close attention to the words and emotions you are expressing to your husband and children. Coming home to you from a long day at work or school should be a relief not a burden. Avoid sharing unfruitful dialogue. Though there will be times needed to discuss issues, it is not required to be the first thing said nor should it dominate your fellowship time. Use this time to speak life and positivity into your husband and children, being careful not to complain or nag at them. Speaking positivity into your family can have an amazing outcome; if you are expressing your excitement to spend time with them instead of using that time to complain about the time you don’t spend, they may feel more inclined to plan more intentional time.

#4 Find Bonding opportunities

God created us all uniquely different which is what makes families so much fun because we are all able to bring something exciting to the table. Observe your family and find what you can do to cultivate your time together as a whole or one on one. This might be working on a DIY project with your husband, a dance class with your daughter, a soccer game with your son or a game night with the whole family. Whatever it may be, be intentional to find what develops moments of bonding and appreciation for one another.

Time may feel like its going quickly but in the moments when you do have the opportunity to be with your husband and or children, value it, honor it, protect it and build on it. 

I’ve Got the Power!

by: Joi Divine

 

According to a report by Nielsen, African Americans spend a trillion dollars each year from shopping trips. African American women also spend a large amount of money each year at health and beauty supply stores, making them “more relevant than ever”, as the title of the summary of the report says. That report was published in 2013, so you can imagine that the buying power has increased even more. In fact, the buying power is projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2017. African Americans spend 9 times more money on beauty products than consumers of other races, yet when a lot of the female African Americans seek to purchase makeup, they cannot find a foundation to match their skin tones. I just want to know why this is still an issue in 2016. Brands clearly have a unique opportunity to literally cash in on the buying power of African Americans, yet some still don’t.

As a makeup enthusiast and self-proclaimed addict, it hurts my feelings that I still can’t purchase from a lot of mainstream brands because the darkest shades they offer will have me looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost. In my experience, I can only buy lipsticks or blush (if I’m lucky) from a lot of mid-to-high-end brands. Of course, the vast majority of drugstore brands understand the opportunity they have, but others…I’m looking at YOU. Almay, Rimmel and Physician’s Formula seem to completely ignore people darker than a paper bag. It took Neutrogena several years to finally offer darker shades, and even then I’m the darkest shade they are willing to produce (I’m a MAC NC50 for reference). I know I’m complaining a quite a bit, but I can’t help myself when things don’t make sense.
There are a few solutions to this issue. Some choose to only purchase from Black-owned brands, and I definitely practice that option on a regular basis. I personally believe that it isn’t too much to ask if I want a brand to cater to myself and other African American women. I personally believe that boycotting, while a solution, is less effective (unless the population voices to the brands that there is a boycott for their products) because if they don’t know that there’s an issue, boycotting them altogether is going to perpetuate their ignorance.

Social media has given consumers the power to speak directly with brands and their ambassadors about what they would like to see. Anastasia Beverly Hills and ColourPop Cosmetics are among the first brands to swatch colors on light, medium, and deep skin tones. They also feature makeup artists of different races and skin tones so everyone can feel valued. Because of fed up consumers, Too Faced rolled out six more shades in their Born This Way Foundation. I believe when we speak truth to power, good things can happen and everyone can be satisfied. These brands may or may not be intentionally discriminating against darker skin tones, but they won’t know until people tell them what they want.

Data from:
http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2013/african-american-consumers-are-more-relevant-than-ever.

Happily Ever ….Life After Iyanla Fix My Life

by: Anise Marshall

 

Imagine the joy of finding out that you were blessed with the privilege of creating a child with the love of your life. The thoughts of broken crayons lying on the floor and laughter echoing through the halls as you set the table for your family to sit and gather for dinner. Having a child is a joyous occasion, especially when it is shared with your partner.

Now, imagine discovering that your husband/ wife had come to tell you that he/she was expecting the same “joy” with another individual. Our beginnings don’t always match up with where we thought we’d be, but our stories are created to help others around us. That is the “truth” that Ryan and Shetara Reed decided to reveal to the world.

Ryan and his spouse, Shetara Reed, first appeared on Iyanla’s popular show that airs on Oxygen titled, “Iyanlya fix my life.” They were portrayed as a family in dyer need of intervention. Ryan, among a host of other men, was a Christian man who struggled with addictions and insecurities that led them to life of deceit, infidelities, broken relationships and children divided between multiple homes. Things, however, aren’t always as they seem. Nouveau Exposure wanted to pick up and update our readers on life after “Iyanla fix my life.” This interview centers on love and life after the show.

Ryan works as a therapist in the community empowering others to be the best version of themselves whilst working on his Doctorates. His wife, Shetara, is a school teacher striving to give her students the tenacious and success driving minds needed for their future. They are both graduates of SIUC where they also graduated with honors. Collectively, this is not a couple you think would have multiple children with multiple individuals living in several different places. For the Reeds, this happens to be their story.

Anise: “Ryan, our motto is to inspire bold believers, bold dreamers and bold achievers. If the only way you could inspire others was through your downfalls/ lessons, what would you tell them?”

Ryan: “Learn to find comfort in not being comfortable. That’s when you’re your most vulnerable. Learn to find peace with the stuff you don’t like about yourself and be free with sharing those moments with the world. If you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to be vulnerable, you not only let yourself down, you stop others, who have crossed your path, from the opportunity at growth.”

Anise: “How has being on the show affected your life?”

Ryan: “Being on the show hasn’t affected my life. All it really did was make me aware of my relationships and give me a larger platform to show the world that being honest can be good. Being true to yourself can be liberating. That show didn’t give me a healing moment, that was God. My mother has been in therapy for 20 plus years and I’ve been there [therapy] since I was 7. Like I said before, it was an amazing platform but that wasn’t the reason for healing. Premarital counseling with Pastor Swims has helped us the most. That moment that looked so emotional– was only emotional, because my mothers cry took me back to my fathers grave the day of his funeral. I could smell, touch and feel everything. That particular cry makes me cry at the drop of a dime. I loved my father so much. If you saw emotion it wasn’t from that show, it was God allowing me to go back in time and face my reality.”

Shetara: “Being on the show helped me discover that my ‘perception’ of myself was nothing like what I saw. I wish I would’ve represented who I truly was.”

Ryan: “What was aired on ‘that t.v. show’ was nothing like what we experienced. It was not some pivotal and philosophical moment in time. They simply opened wounds that were rooted deep and slapped a band aid on the surface. They did offer a couple of counseling sessions but nothing that would give anyone comfort. Comfort can’t come in a quick form. There is no easy fix for trauma. My pastor has shown us that prayer is the most efficient tool to help you get through while discovering your purpose.”

Anise: “Ryan, do you think your infidelities in your present relationship affect your wife’s ability to depend on you spiritually, mentally or even on a physical level?”

Ryan: “Yea, I regret my infidelities towards my wife but I don’t regret that it happened because it made us stronger. I mean, I haven’t cheated since we’ve been married but the insecurities are there. I think she does have a hard time depending on me but I wouldn’t be able to comprehend that because she suffered in a different way. I feel bad knowing I put her through what I put her through.”

Shetara: “Spiritually, I fear going to the word together and working towards a common goal together. I struggle with thinking we are working together. Physically depending on him after the infidelities for me has been more like looking for things instead of believing. I find myself loving him more than I love myself or even God. It’s like I’m scared to love him a different way or he’ll get distracted by someone else. Emotionally depending on Ryan has been the hardest after I found out that I was having a baby at the same time as another woman. I had moments where I felt weak, pitiful, insecure and as if I had lost myself in him. I think [it]would’ve been different for me if I had a better relationship with my father.”

Anise: “What could your father have done to make you feel more secure and how does he differ from Ryan?”

Shetara: “My father is a lot older and from the south. We just didn’t talk about things out of respect and he wasn’t very affectionate or emotional. We were to keep family matters personal and quiet. That’s where Ryan and I are different and sometimes clash. He is very open, opinionated and wants to talk. I internalize and keep my thoughts. I think I am doing it out of respect but I think I make the situation worse. That’s why I am thankful for my husband. He pushes me to be and do better. He always inspires me to do more. I’ve never had a man tell me I am beautiful much more than my own father, praying for me. He goes ridiculously hard for me. I feel safe and secure in knowing Ryan can take care of me. He is the definition of an alpha male.”

Anise: “Ryan, since the show, have you tried to find out what spiritual battles you’ve struggled with the most?”

Ryan: “I don’t think I’ve specifically thought about my spiritual battles because of the show. I’ve always known what I struggled with. Sex addictions, Alcoholism and narcotics. I know that I still struggle with sex addiction but not in a way that most would think. My addiction deals mostly with intimacy. I didn’t truly love me so any love I was given was never enough. That’s why I had so many women and cheated. It wasn’t anyone else, it was just something I dealt with.”

Anise: “What made loving Shetara different and what separated her from the mothers of your other children?”

Ryan: “The first thing that changed me was witnessing a woman tell me NO. She wasn’t where everyone else was. I saw her for what she was and she was comfortable in her own skin. At first it wasn’t what I wanted but it was what I needed. Shetara was the first woman to show me the importance of giving. She was the first woman I wanted to prove myself to. She liked me for who I am. I didn’t have to pretend anymore. My mother immediately loved her. Shetara would even help to take care of my kids. She would and still does tell me ‘Baby we gone be alright.’ That kind of stuff makes me feel good. She stops my dark thoughts… She reminds me daily that ‘baby, God chose you for a reason’ or ‘God would never put us here if it wasn’t in his plan.’”

Anise: “Do you think that your marriage is strong because of your personal relationship with God?”

Shetara: “I’ve not developed a personal relationship with God and that affects my relationship with my family. God has mercy and favor and looks into my family and is going to bless us. I have to grow. I know that I have to grow. It’s putting the action behind it that scares me because I know that I have to be set to a different standard. We know better so we do better.”

Ryan: “I am not sure how I feel about my relationship with God some days. I know that my marriage can be stronger but I need to dive deeper into my word. I just battle sometimes with things because I don’t understand it all. No one can be perfect, I can only try to do my best.”

After this interview, I realized that so many of us love with conditions. We choose not to follow the very scripture we quote in 1st Corinthians without realizing we love with the intent to be loved back. Our Christian walk begins with being honest but it ends with Love. God says in 1st Corinthians 13:13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. We can have all the faith and hope in the world but it is nothing without Love. Love is the greatest of them all. Life after Iyanla’s show may not have been what was expected, but facing truths become a little more palatable when Love is involved. When asked what legacy you would want to leave behind to your children, both Ryan and Shetara said that they would want their children to know that they are loved and to love others even when it gets a little uncomfortable.

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.

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