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The “F” Word

Pastor Harmon is an evangelist with a strong desire for people to know they are never too broken or lost. Everyone is someone else’s miracle. When God brings you through something that is now a testimony to share with someone to help them. Pastor Harmon mentions, “Forgiveness can catapult you into your purpose and we have glossed over forgiveness. There is a lot of sickness, bondage and pain that happens to us from not forgiving people.” Forgiveness is sometimes the “f” word that we would rather not use and if we do, it’s forgive but not forget.

People harbor bitterness but Jesus’ message was forgiveness. The sacrifice of his life for the sins of the world is about forgiveness. Pastor Harmon’s story that he shares has definitely catapulted him into his purpose with Burn for the King ministries.

Nathan Harmon was raised in the church by his parents. He remembers at the age of twelve when his parents divorced that he began to turn away from the life that he knew and live a life that was a downward spiral. On his website he shares how he struggled as a young adult with drugs, alchohol, suicide and more. It was in 2009 when he made the choice to drive drunk with a passenger, Priscilla Owens, that his life changed. Pastor Harmon was in an accident where his vehicle was totaled and Priscilla lost her life. Harmon was able to go home but eventually had to turn himself in for the crime he committed.

In 2010 he was sentenced to serve time for what he had done and it was at his sentencing that God began to change Harmon’s life. The family of Priscilla, in their restitution request, asked that Harmon be released from his handcuffs so they could hug him and forgive him. Harmon remembers being in his jail cell on August 17, 2010 crying out to God that he was done running and he wanted to live for him. The forgiveness of Priscilla’s family sent Harmon launching to a place in God where his prayer was “Lord use me, send me.” He asked his mother for a bible and the bible he received was a black covered bible with a poem inside picked by the editor. The poem was written by a hymn writer, Priscilla Owens. That’s not the only thing that will surprise you about Pastor Harmon’s story.

While in prison God, being the miraculous God he is, opened doors for Harmon to share the gospel with the public on college campuses. He was there to share his story and how his life had changed up to that point and at the end he would say, “By the way, I’m in prison.”

When the question and answer portion came he was not shy to glorify God for the transformation that had taken place in his life. From prison he was released to a program that allowed him to live in a community and go from place to place sharing the gospel of Jesus. How did this happen you may ask? Some things, such as this, only God can explain! You see the program that he was a part of when he was released from prison was a new program and once he had completed the program, not too long after the program ceased.

In 2013 Pastor Harmon was released from the program to go home. When Harmon came home someone unknowingly gave him a car that was the exact make and model of the vehicle he had ruined in the accident. Burn for the King was birthed shortly after his return home.

He never anticipated that his ministry platform would be what it is today, he only wanted to be a vessel used by God. He has been welcomed to the Big Ticket Festival two years in a row. God has allowed his ministry to grow so much from the time he came home in 2013. He has recently become the lead pastor of a church that he and his wife had come to only to be an evangelist. His desire as pastor is to drive for outreach and evangelism. He wants to be a help to other ministries and churches to help them evangelize as well.

Pastor Harmon feels that churches have become more like country clubs where members are being swapped and what he hopes for his ministry to do is to go into the world as Jesus commissioned and to share the gospel and the love of Jesus. His desire is that they will adopt a burning passion to live for Jesus. He calls it a “reckless abandonment for Jesus.”

Just as Pastor Harmon was able to say to God that he was willing to let go of his past and live for the Lord his prayer is that he can encourage others to do the same. He wants God to continue to use him to share his story of forgiveness and the gospel of Jesus whether it be in a tent or on a corner. Revivals are not dead to Pastor Harmon. Jesus still has the power to forgive and the love that will open hearts to move forward with purpose for the king.

Byron Rideau & Mariah Houghton: First Comes Love, Then Comes…

If you are a pessimist, thinking that true love doesn’t exist and people don’t really fall head over heels in love anymore, take it from me, when I say, Byron Rideau and Mariah Houghton’s relationship will renew your faith in God having your ideal partner. In March of 2016, the couple announced their engagement through social media. If the photos connected with this article don’t emanate the joy of young love in your heart, you may need to visit the Wizard of Oz for a heart check. Okay, just kidding! But they are oh so cute!

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Boy Meets Girl

Mariah Houghton, that last name may sound familiar to you, is the oldest daughter of gospel singer Israel Houghton. She is a song bird in her own right. Byron is minister, poet and an all-around talented young man.

Byron and Mariah met six years ago at church through mutual friends. While they didn’t actually become the best of friends then, their circles always remained connected. Some years passed and Mariah and Byron were helping to set up for a conference. Mariah found herself stressed, trying to make sure everything was as planned. She noticed that Byron was very helpful doing things that were needed, without having to be asked. Byron observed how stressed and exhausted Mariah was. He took that opportunity to check on her and offer her some help and reassurance. Byron encouraged her to take a short nap and continued setting up for the conference. From then on, Mariah says, she knew that they had to be best friends. She made it very clear that she was not looking for a romantic relationship with Byron.

During the interview, Byron went on to admit his ploy’s at gaining her interest. On March 9th, during their friendship, Mariah invited Byron out to an event to hear her sing. This was the date that changed things. Byron says, “I genuinely wasn’t flirting at all. I went and put my arm around her (Mariah), and put my arm around one of our other friends. Mariah moves my arm and says: ‘um, excuse me,’ and dropped my arm on my thigh.” Byron definitely knew, at this point, Mariah was not interested in him. He remembers telling God, “I was like, you know God, I tried.” But, as the evening was ending, Mariah invited Byron out for coffee the next day. They sat in the coffee shop talking for almost eight hours. Wait for it, their story gets even more sweeter. Mariah professed that she knew Bryon was not into her. Why? Because, “Bryon was so popular, so handsome and I was not popular at all.” By the end of their “marathon coffee friend date,” Byron expressed to Mariah, that one day, he would marry her. Mariah remembers being caught off guard because she did not think he was into her. They count that as their official first date. How adorbs!

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The Proposal

Mariah’s desire was that her and Byron date for one year before getting married. So while they knew, eventually, that they would be married, they did date for a year.

Byron recalls Mariah picturing, perfecting and imagining her perfect ring. One day, while in the mall in their home town, Houston, TX, he saw the exact ring Mariah always wanted. Being as smooth as he is, Bryon let Mariah look and try it on. He then told her he just couldn’t get the ring right then and they should pray about it. He escorted her home and quickly left because he had to “pick up my paycheck.” He didn’t lie, he really did need to pick up his check. But, he immediately went back to the mall to get the ring for Mariah.

Byron pursued counsel from those he trusted most, to see if March 10th would be the perfect day to propose, and most agreed. In case you don’t remember, that is the anniversary of their coffee date.

Mariah recalls not having a clue that Bryon was going to propose because he always took the time to do loving and sweet things for her. Byron made it a point to make the whole day about Mariah. As the day got started with breakfast, He made it priority to ensure her nails were done and as the day progressed, they ate dinner at Tiny Boxwood’s and danced to their favorite song, “La Vien Rose” by Louis Armstrong.

Mariah loves when Byron tells stories, so he told her a story after dinner about a lumber jack and a princess who lived in a glass house, relating the story to their relationship, and had a video for her to see. From there, Byron walked her outside to the canopy for the restaurant, and got down on one knee to propose. Mariah said yes, of course. When she turned around, their family and friends were standing behind them.

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The Critics

Mariah, soon to be 20, and Bryon, who recently turned 22, have had many people encourage them to “wait” to be married. But, as Bryon put it, “the wrong people” were giving input. So with their young wisdom Bryon and Mariah have learned to chew the meat and spit out the bones. Meaning, when people tell them stories or reasons why they shouldn’t get married at a young age, they listen to what they have to say. They understand that while people may be speaking on their own circumstances and fears, it doesn’t define how they have to view marriage.

Bryon said, “it’s not that we’re getting married because we want to be able to have sex or anything, it’s because we love each other.” They have had someone, who wasn’t married until they were in their late 30’s, tell them that they wished they were able to find each other as soon as Bryon and Mariah had. On the other side, they have had others try to convince them, that they should wait until they are more financially stable and established themselves.

Their parents are a huge support to them and answer any questions they have about marriage and relationships. Support comes from couples that are closer in age and also, older couple’s council them in areas where they struggle. Bryon and Mariah refuse to allow fears of finances or their future to keep them from trusting God on this journey.

Happily Ever After…

Because Bryon and Mariah were friends for a year and dated for a year, they have experienced many changes with each other. Learning to pray for each other and minister to one another gives them a deeper understanding of their relationship. They consider themselves blessed, knowing that they were both on their own paths, doing their own thing and God brought them together.

They are each other’s biggest cheerleaders, besides their parents. It’s not just something that they display on social media, creating a persona for people to see, but their love for each other shines through. They are moving forward with plans for their wedding and know that with God, and each other, they are writing their own story of happily ever after.

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* all photos provided courtesy of Byron & Mariah

Dear Joy… Young & Married

My name is Rosie & I’m a Christian, 22 year old college student. I also happen to be engaged to the Love of my life, Malcolm who is a 23 year old student; and our wedding is this September!
It has been quite a journey leading to marriage, but since we got engaged this past Christmas, many people have taken the opportunity to give us advice. The general consensus on the advice given to us (a young Christian couple) is to not get married so soon, you are too young. A you tube vlog that I watched this week peaked my interest because she talked about being young and married. Her and her husband are a military couple & they got married at the age of 19 & 21. In this video she discussed the reasons why people told THEM not to get married.
People have given us a few reasons why they told us to not get married so young. They say things like “How do you know that your fiancé is really the one? You need to date other people. And how do you know what you like if you haven’t dated multiple people?” Others have said things to my fiancé like “You have the rest of your life to be married, you should be having fun now.”
Why do you think society is more comfortable with a young single parent raising a child, than a young & married couple?

 

Hi Rosie;

Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for your submission.

I think the “comfort” level with single parents vs. young married couples is based on exposure. Unfortunately we see more single parents than successful young married couples; and thus it might appear that people are more accepting of single parents. We actually don’t see many successful marriages in our society period, young or old. The world we live in today teaches us to be self-pleasing, which is a poor foundation on which to build a marriage. Society does not value the necessities that a successful marriage requires, like a relationship with God, self-sacrifice and unconditional love.

I understand your frustration regarding the responses you and your fiancé have received. However, I think it would benefit you greatly to take heed to wise counsel with a spirit of humility, meaning don’t just automatically dismiss it as inapplicable to you. If people whom you respect and whom know you well are raising concerns, this warrants pause. Stay prayerful. Continue to seek God. Go on a fast or 2 or 3. This is absolutely necessary because Rosie, love is indeed blinding and your feelings cannot be trusted. It is almost impossible to accept any truth- that is contrary to what we want- when we are in love.

Fasting helps quiet the voice of our own desires and it helps us see those things to which we would be blind. We are then able to hear God clearly and receive an answer. Sometimes we will get a quick yes, no or wait. Sometimes it can be a process to get the answer. Look for indicators that you are in God’s will, like peace of mind, things flowing and coming together easily, support or lack thereof of the people closest to you, scriptures, sermons, Christian songs (what are they saying to you).

If you have done these things and/or you are 100% sure you are in God’s will then walk in that blessed assurance. I pray God’s will prevail in your life Rosie and that He continues to bless you with wisdom, knowledge and understanding!

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he that hearken unto counsel is wise – Proverbs 12:15

Joy to the World

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. 

Proverbs 31 featuring DarLisa Radford

DarLisa Radford is the author of a new book titled It’s Been Too Long! Lessons Learned
From Traffic Jams.


Editor: Who is DarLisa Radford?

DarLisa: DarLisa is an author, public speaker and entrepreneur. I have come to the conclusion that over the years I have let society and my job title define who I was even though I already knew who I was on the inside. So from that I also named myself a Destined Leader Rising.

I grew up on the south side of Chicago. I have overcome many obstacles in life, although at the time I didn’t really see them as obstacles. I graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2010 with a bachelor’s in Biomedical Science. My elective courses allowed me to take some classes that sparked my interest in public health. During that time, I became passionate about health education and the next year I joined the Americorp program. After that year of service, I went on to graduate school to get my master’s in public health. I couldn’t find positions in that field. Initially I thought it was because I wasn’t qualified for the positions I was applying for but in retrospect my qualifications made me over qualified for different positions. While I was in those traffic jams in life I noticed that I wasn’t the only person who felt discouraged, frustrated or irritated with life circumstances so I took a stand and said, “Where I am right now, won’t be where I will always be.”

Editor: Tell us what you are currently working on right now?

DarLisa: Currently I am working on getting my book, It’s been too long, Lessons Learned from Traffic Jams, out there mainstream. It sat on my computer for like a year and before that it was in my notebook for three years. The title actually came from the thought that, “you procrastinate a lot.” So, it’s been too long. I started it because my commute to work I would be sitting in traffic and get so frustrated from sitting in traffic I would take detours throughout Chicago city streets thinking it would be faster not realizing it was taking me probably about the same exact time. So throughout a month’s time I started getting on the express way instead of taking all these detours that really didn’t work and listened to music and different speakers during the ride. I realized that traffic isn’t that bad, that I’m not the only person in traffic, that my attitude might affect my whole day and that as long as you get to hour destination it doesn’t matter what time you get there then everything will be fine.

Editor: How has your faith influenced your choices and aspirations?

DarLisa: My faith has been an intricate part of my choices and has a big influence on my life. Sometimes, even though we have a strong faith, life circumstances knock us down. If we have a strong foundation, overtime, we come back to where we were supposed to be anyway. While I was writing this book, it really gave me the strength to be able to say that I love God, I trust God and all God wants for me is something good. The process allowed me to be more transparent with other people and even more transparent with myself. Sometimes we focus on other people and we don’t realize that in order to help other people, we have to help ourselves first.

Editor: Why now, for your book?

DarLisa: I went to a book conference last year called Destined to Publish through an organization called Heavenly Printing. That conference sparked me into the process of realizing I really needed to write my book. I was around people who had ideas to write and hadn’t expressed them to others because they were afraid. As I was telling some of the people at the conference about my book I kept saying, “ I want to get my book out, I’ve got to get my book out before I get married.” One lady, who is also married, told me “Why must it be published before you get married?” I was thinking I won’t have time to publish it after and she said, “Your life doesn’t stop once you get married, it just continues.”

After I got married I took a step back from the book. Even though I took a step back I had some of my friends help edit the book, I talked with my grandma about it and kept taking steps to get it out but I didn’t feel like I was moving fast enough. The irony of that is the book talks about God’s timing. We have been somewhere for too long, in a relationship for too long, should have gone back to school years ago, but God’s timing makes everything okay.

Their Lives Matter

The men in our lives give us so much life! Where would we be without them?? Everyone from our grandfathers, fathers, husbands, brothers, cousins and sons help us, motivate us, make us laugh, offer a shoulder to cry on and make us feel secure, so YES! Their lives matter! They set an example by working hard to be the best they can be in every aspect of their lives, including their careers, spirituality and family.

Although we see our men as such strong characters in our lives, I must; however, disclose an aspect of life that men typically slack at… health maintenance. Some health care providers actually depend on the women in their male patient’s lives to help them keep their patient’s healthy. With that being said, I’d like to discuss a few important health maintenance screenings that you can speak to the men in your lives about to help with early detection of some the most common illnesses.

Health Screenings

• Dental health- Teeth cleanings are every 6 months to 1 year for all ages.

• High blood pressure- Blood pressure checks are every 1-2 years starting at are 18.

• High cholesterol- Cholesterol checks are every 5 years starting at age 20.

• Diabetes- Fasting blood sugars checks are every 5 years starting at age 45.

• Colon cancer screening- Starting at age 50, start any of the following:
o A colonoscopy every 10 years;
o Stool blood testing every year or
o A flexible sigmoidoscopy (mini colonoscopy) every 5 years with stool blood testing every 3 years

• Prostate cancer screening- Rectal exams are every year, starting at age 50. The blood test is controversial so they are done on an individual basis.

• Lung cancer- Cat scans should be done on adults ages 55-80 if they were/are a heavy tobacco smoker (smoking a pack per day for 30 years or anything equivalent).

Tips for encouraging men to visit their doctor

• Tell them how much you appreciate their presence in the family and that their health is important to you.

• Let them know that you want them to live long, successful lives.

• Schedule appointments for them.

• Help them overcome their fear that they may learn bad news.

As you can see, offering a little “nudge” to men related to their health can result in early detection of a curable illness and ultimately save a life. So in closing, I have to share a motto that I live by: Each one, teach one! We’ve learned about the screenings, now it’s time to teach those around us!

Dr. Jay

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.

Gifts Do A Man Good

Are you a woman juggling several priorities in your life such as spouse, children, and career? The department of Labor Statistics shows that nearly sixty-two percent of all married women work both inside and outside of the home. With all of those things going on, how would one find time to do something special for the person or people in their corner? This article will highlight ways to make the man or men in your life feel loved. There are plenty of unique and financially savvy gifts that will make your husband/boyfriend or your father realize that they are the real MVP in your lives.

The significant man in a woman’s life takes on the role of best friend, lover, and protector. That is a huge undertaking and deserves great reward. Women should take the initiative to offer something special, something different for the man that plays the biggest role in their life behind our savior. A new idea that is gaining popularity is starting a savings account or plan for one of his favorite past-times. If he is a big football fan start an account that is strictly for saving the funds for an all-expense paid Super bowl vacation for him. What better way to show appreciation than to show responsibility and creativity for hard-earned cash.

The relationship between a woman and her father can be very special and gifts become harder to find after years of birthdays, Father’s Days, and other special occasions. There’s also the common phrase that Fathers will use, “I don’t need anything.” Men like the idea of leaving a legacy by making a meaningful impression on their children. Do some research with the help of other family members, if you need it, and make a life size collage of a picture storyboard chronicling his life! His chest will burst with pride as he marvels at the hard work and dedication put into something so lasting and timeless.

There is no doubt that any gift given to the men in our lives would be loved and cherished. Why not continue to step outside the box and think of financially sound ways to honor and show appreciation to our loved ones. The end result will not only cause satisfaction for the receiver of the gift but also to the giver. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, {so let him give}; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

BreeAnn Hammond: Life with a Legend (Fred Hammond)

 

Just as history was about to be made at Fountain of Praise church in Houston, TX I was privileged to interview the eldest child of gospel legend, Fred Hammond. While being backstage prior to a live recording or concert is based on granted access passes for most, it’s all too familiar for BreeAnn Hammond.

There were people scrambling everywhere making sure everything was just perfect for the live recording that was about to take place and in the midst of all of the action here I was sitting across the table from FRED HAMMOND’S DAUGHTER. I’m sure that many of you, as myself, wonder what it would be like to have parents who are famous. I would want the hook up to every tour and be in on studio recordings.

Well, that’s not technically the life that BreeAnn experienced and thankfully she was willing to share her story.

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Left to right: Editor Sharonda Cawthon, Fred Hammond, BreeAnn Hammond and Pastor Remus Wright

 

Fred Hammond’s My Dad

BreeAnn recalls actually realizing what her father did when she was about five or six years old. To her recollection this was just around the time that Commissioned was very popular. There were occasions when BreeAnn and her mom traveled with her father, but not on a regular basis. To this day, as she travels with her father, she says that people tell her they remember her running around in her dresses when she was a little girl. I had to laugh because shortly after she mentioned this in the interview I literally witnessed someone saying this to her. But, as a young girl she learned that it was going to pretty much be she and her mother at home as she witnessed her father constantly leaving to travel. When she wasn’t able to go along with him, her father would bring back gifts or keepsakes and still does today. (How sweet!)

As any child, she would share with other children that her daddy sings. As she aged, wisdom kicked in and it became more of a need to know basis to protect herself from those who befriended her just because Fred Hammond is her dad.

When generally describing her childhood BreeAnn stated, “my childhood was pretty amazing.” The early years were not as fruitful as the present years. The fame was new. BreeAnn can remember as the financial status of her parent’s changed they were able to move from neighborhood to neighborhood. People have made assumptions about her life because of who her father is but she has an understanding that God has just been good to them over the years. She has counted living in a total of ten or eleven locations. She understands what it takes to live with nothing and appreciates the luxuries that her father’s career has afforded her to have.

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BreeAnn Hammond and her mother, Kimberly. Photo courtesy of BreeAnn

 

Because Mr. Hammond’s career was taking off just as BreeAnn was a young child she was groomed in the environment of a little luxury. “I had grown accustom to studio life and getting on planes. It was definitely exciting because not a lot of my friends were able to have the same experience. Their parents had professions that required them to stay local and at home,” said BreeAnn.

It’s not always glamorous having someone such as Fred Hammond as your father. BreeAnn recalls her twenty-first or twenty-second birthday being a bit un-enjoyable. Her family got together for an evening of fun at Dave & Busters to celebrate. Well, for most families this wouldn’t be much of an issue. In and out without any problem. Well, BreeAnn thought it wouldn’t be too bad. It wasn’t like her dad was on a mainstream platform such as Sean Combs or Beyoncé. Normally people would look as though they recognized her father as Fred Hammond, but would not approach him. Well, this night she was wrong. She recalls people coming up all night asking for autographs and pictures, even while they were sitting at the table with her birthday cake on the table, candles lit and all. As you might have felt as well, she was ready to leave.

BreeAnn has learned that the kindness her father demonstrates as he meets fans who have followed him over the years is truly an example to her of how she should interact with others as she is working to make her imprint in the world of gospel music.

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A young Fred Hammond and BreeAnn Hammond. Photo courtesy of BreeAnn

The Divorce

You may recall over a decade ago the news that Fred Hammond and his wife had divorced and for a teenage girl who knew them as father and mother it was earth shattering. BreeAnn described it as rocking her world.

At first BreeAnn was accepting of the divorce because she was focusing on the benefit of having two separate locations to live. In her mind, if she was upset with her mom it would be cool because she could just go to her dads and vice versa. But, then reality sank in. She began to be angry. She blamed her father for the marriage ending. As a teenager she was under the impression that her mother wanted to stay in the marriage and her father was the one to “pull the trigger on the divorce.”

When asked if the divorce put a strain on her relationship with her father she responded saying, “The strain came as a result of me and my brother primarily living with my mother. To go from living in the same household as one family unit to living in a single parent home and only seeing my dad sparingly was THE strain on the relationship. My dad also relocated to Texas and the distance made it where we only saw each other if someone traveled.”

BreeAnn and her brother lived with their mother in Detroit as she transitioned from being a stay at home mom and involved with the family business to having to manage on her own and join the workforce again. In a declining economy things were difficult and for a while BreeAnn recalls that she blamed her dad for her mother’s struggles. “I changed and started to realize that every individual is responsible for his or her own actions. I believe that if I am struggling, I need to work harder. If I am met with opposition, I need to fight harder for what I want. I started applying that principle to everyone. I was able to resolve that both my mom and dad affected each other’s lives but they were ultimately in control of their own individual lives.”

Several years after the divorce and conversations with both of her parents helped BreeAnn to realize everyone (including herself) on the outside looking into her parent’s marriage would never have a full understanding of how or why the marriage ended in divorce. She stated, “There are three sides to every story, his, hers and then Gods.”

After experiencing married life, herself, BreeAnn feels pretty silly that she had such strong opinions. Now that she has her own personal experience with marriage she says, “It’s no joke!” From her conversations with her parents she has learned from both of them that they are “imperfect human beings who are trying to live right. Nobody is perfect and my parents are able to fall short sometimes just like I can.”

 

My Dad, the Boss

In case you didn’t know, BreeAnn sings background for her father. That’s right! She gets to sing with Fred Hammond! She began singing with her father at the age of 16, on occasion. Due to school schedules she wasn’t always able to travel with him but after completing college several years ago she is able to work with him more.

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Fred Hammond and BreeAnn Hammond photo courtesy of BreeAnn.

You might recall the vocals of a female on the hit, I Will Trust. Well, that’s BreeAnn. She not only sings with him but they have written songs together as well.

Not too many family members can work together, but BreeAnn has found that things go pretty well. She definitely wants to make her father proud and realizes that people are watching to see if her sound will be a good follow up to the legacy that her father has laid.

If you attended the Festival of Praise tour in 2014 you may have witnessed BreeAnn singing a single, He Is. This is an example of the type of songs they have created together. The song isn’t available for purchase or download yet but if you give her name a google search you will find YouTube videos.

During the recording Mr. Hammond stated that it would be the end of one phase of his career and the beginning of new ventures announcing that he is putting the mic halfway down, not all the way down, and making room for the next generation. In response BreeAnn said, “I really don’t know how to feel about his announcement. I guess I have mixed emotions because the thought of him putting the mic down is a very foreign concept for me. He’s had “the mic” for longer than I’ve been alive. I do think it’s admirable, however, for him to make room for up and coming artists like myself. Truthfully, I don’t think he’ll ever totally put the mic down though. There are so many legends who continue doing what they love all the way until they transition out of this life. My dad’s career has been part of him for most his life…it’s in his veins and I would be completely shocked if he stopped all together.”

BreeAnn has been working with her father developing a project to make her mark, as time allows. She isn’t on social media as much as her dad, but she dibbles and dabbles a bit. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

She hopes to eventually be in full time ministry in several years. She is definitely someone that you want to keep an eye and ear out for the future.

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Fred Hammond and BreeAnn Hammond posing together after the live recording in Houston.

Encouraging Words

BreeAnn has had ups and downs in her relationship with her father and still today, they are both actively working on healing the relationship and moving forward. When asked what she has to say to encourage those who have shaky relationships or no relationship with fathers she stated that for her, she had to just love him and be determined not to just cast him to the side. There were times that she felt as though she was reaching out more than he at one point.  to the last few years of the relationship changing. She encourages you that if you still want to be your dad’s princess to reach out and remember with love and kindness that you can draw even if you don’t get it back, still give it. If your father is completely unavailable, God will make provision.

 

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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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.