Chasing After Fantasies

What provokes us to look outside of ourselves to fill the void? Is it an unfulfilled longing? An insatiable need? Past hurts? Lost dreams? Lack of love or intimacy? What makes us chase after fantasies?

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Perhaps it’s something you want so badly, you are willing to risk everything for it? But when you do, you discover, it was only a fantasy.

Like a thirsty man walking in a hot desert who falsely sees water. He musters every last bit of energy he has and runs toward it, only to discover it was a mirage.

We are like this thirsty man, only that, we are not chasing after water. We are chasing after things, dreams, success, fame, money, power, sex, love, intimacy, you fill in the blank.

We are all on a pilgrimage sojourning this earth. Each trying to discover who and what they are. Some seek it through religion, others through relationships, or careers, etc…

But the bottomline is this, we are all seeking to fill that insatiable void… with things that will never truly satisfy us. It’s only a temporary bandaid to a deeper issue.

We run and chase after things, relationships, sex, whatever. And we somehow convince ourselves that this is the answer or solution to our problem. But it isn’t.

Some repeat the cycle, until they finally reach the conclusion they’ve had enough and that none of what they are doing, is actually bringing them any happiness or fulfillment, but pain.

This chasing isn’t beneficial, and only results in more loss, disappointment and hurt. When will we learn this isn’t the solution? How many mistakes will we need to make in order to stop the cycle and arrive at a proper conclusion?

I wish I had the answers, only God knows. I will say this though, every mistake we make is not meant to destroy us, but to teach us a lesson. However, when we keep repeating the same mistakes over again, we have to ask ourselves why? We need the courage to dig deep within ourselves and face the truth.

The way to overcome things in this life is by facing them; not by avoiding, escaping or chasing after fantasies. We need to keep it real with ourselves. If something is not right, instead of running from it, pray and ask God to show you the root cause of the issue, so you can break the cycle and heal.

If not, you will continue to chase after fantasies under the guise of believing it will bring you everything you’ve ever wanted or desired, when in actuality, it will only leave you feeling more empty.

Have you been chasing fantasies lately?

Is Your Word Bond?

Since the start of the new year, I seem to be getting hit with a reoccurring theme.

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In that, some people use the words loyalty, friendship, and trust loosely. Too loosely, I might add.

I guess I’m old school when it comes to my word. What I say, I do. I am not the type of person to play games with people’s feelings. I don’t just tell people things for the sake of saying them. What you see, is what you get with me.

Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you straight up, I’m a real and loyal person, which makes me a loyal friend. But what I’m realizing, to my dismay, is that not everyone is like this.

My favorite motto is “Actions Speaks Louder Than Words”. This is something I live by.

I have learned early that if someone’s words does not match up with their actions, then you can’t trust them. Trust has to be earned, and if one’s not careful, it can be lost.

Back in the day, the original gangsters lived by a code and loyalty was everything. Nowadays, it’s almost instinct. I think social media has something to do with this.

There is a benefit in dealing with people face to face as opposed to social media. In dealing with people in person, you have the ability to detect where they are coming from and what their true intentions are. You can discern it through their body language or the inflection of their voice. But not so in social media, which why it’s such a slippery slope.

On social media, people can hide behind their keyboards, and paint images of what they would like you to believe. Whereas in person, you can’t do that.

Bottomline, the only way for you to know if someone is telling you the truth, is if their actions are lining up with their words. For example, if someone is promising you something one minute and then ignoring you the next, then you know it was just words. If there are no actions supporting what they told you, then you are wasting your time with this person.

Yes, it’s disappointing when this happens, but at the end of the day, it’s better know the truth, then be strung along and taken for a ride.

This is why I question everything. People don’t like it or feel comfortable with my questions. They say it’s too much. But I’m not going to take what someone tells at face value, especially if their actions are not supporting it. God gave me a brain and I intend to use it. I’m not going to accept “whatever”, especially if I don’t know the person.

When someone says one thing and then does another, that’s called mixed signals, which never promotes trust. It also does not allow for a foundation to be built for any relationship to grow, whether it be on a personal or professional level.

Truth is, your word is bond, and without it, you have nothing.

What do you think has happened to loyalty, trust and friendship today?

A Public Announcement

I wanted to make a public announcement to all my subscribers and readers…

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When I first began this blog, I was mainly focussed on reviewing Christian genre books. However, as time passed, I started reading and reviewing books in other genres.

Based on this new development, I no longer want to limit this blog to one genre. I decided to expand and include other books and genres that pique my interest.

As not to mislead or cause confusion to those who are either subscribed, visiting or reading my blog, I had my web designer remove the word “Christian” from the title of my blog.

This is not to say I won’t ever be reviewing Christian books again. It only suggests my desire to include other genres and not limit it to only Christian titles.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for following my blog and for your continued support in this transition.

 

It’s Ok To Be Different

I’ve been evaluating my life, my choices, and what lead me to where I am today. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that many of my choices were poor ones. Especially when it came to relationships.

There seems to be a constant theme of being misunderstood and the tendency to blame myself for it.

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However, what I’ve discovered is that there has been way too many times in my life I’ve assumed responsibility for things that had nothing to do with me.

The burden of being “different” carried a stigma throughout my life. I have walked around thinking I was the worst person on earth based on other people’s words and opinions.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, people misinterpret my pure intentions as having some underlying agenda. It appears that people can’t seem to figure me out. They can’t grasp that I’m actually a real and genuine person, who loves to give and does not expect anything in return.

Unfortunately, there are those, for whatever reason, perhaps it’s their background or what they’ve been exposed to in their life, that often misconstrue my genuine intentions. They are unable to see me for who I am. They project whatever it is they’ve gone through with other people on to me. They are unable to see my heart, and value as a human being. Their inner filter is tainted by their own negative experiences, that they are unable to see properly.

Since when did being different, unique, real, genuine or good become a crime?

For those of you reading this, I’m not fake. I am who I say I am. I am a real and genuine person. I don’t do things for others expecting anything in return. There is no underlying or hidden agenda with me. What you see, is what you get.

It’s a sad commentary at this stage of my life, I still feel the need to explain myself.

This is the reason why I’ve gotten so selective in whom I allow in my inner circle. I have learned that you have to choose wisely, because not everyone has your best interest in mind. Nor is everyone going to be able to value and appreciate who you are. Some people lack vision based on their own hangups which has nothing to do with you.

It’s important to choose your associations carefully. If you are around people who constantly bring you down, criticize or judge you, talk behind your back, create unnecessary drama, and falsely accuse you, it’s best to keep it moving. There is no reason to be around people who will not encourage or bring out the best in you.

Don’t waste your time, energy and precious life on anyone who doesn’t value, accept and appreciate you. It’s better to have one true and good friend, than many who smile in your face and stab you in your back. This includes family too.

Have you been misunderstood or falsely accused in your life? How did you handle it?

Tropical Illusions by John Bowens

ISBN-13: 9780985330309
Publisher: Step Ya Game Up
Publication date: 4/20/2012
Pages: 264
Price: $15.00
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Tasia and Jeff are in a monogamous relationship and they share a bond befitting that of a fairy tale. Misfortune befalls them when two things happen. First, Jeff is seduced by a stripper named Tropical, and what begins as a protected sexual escapade ends as a harsh reality when Jeff learns that the condom broke during intercourse.

Next, Jeff is accused of murder, and he finds himself trapped in an unforgiving system, figuratively and sometimes literally, fighting for his life.
The drama unfolds when Jeff is diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and he’s forced to break this life changing news to the love of his life. Unfortunately, Tasia has no understanding. Instead of getting tested, she automatically assumes that she’s infected with the deadly disease. Out of hatred and anger, Tasia concludes that all men are dogs…and she vows to share her newly acquired fortune with as many men as possible.

Review

It’s been a while since I have reviewed a book, but Tropical Illusions by John Bowens was one I could not pass up. I have to be honest and say, that I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book. I read the description and was on the fence about wanting to read anything about HIV or AIDs. However, I’m so glad I did, because Tropical Illusions taught me a lot.

I believe this story is vital and needs to get into hands of the youth. Tropical Illusions articulated a variety of life lessons, the greatest one being, the dire and fatal consequence of engaging in unprotected sex.

Let me tell you, if you or anyone you know is having unprotected sex, this book will scare the living daylights out of you. I can assure that after you read Tropical Illusions, you won’t have unprotected sex again.

Tropical Illusions was written as fiction, however, it felt real to me. It is the type of book that you can’t put down. You want to keep reading to find out what will happen next. The characters were palatable, the story was raw and explosive. Bowens did an excellent job as I was able to visualize and feel everything as if I was there.

I highly recommend Tropical Illusions, as it has an important and life saving message. I believe it needs to be read by as many people as possible, especially the youth.

After being sentenced to 19 years to be served in federal prison, John Bowens utilized his time by furthering his education. During his incarceration he lost a friend to HIV/AIDS which prompted him to begin writing. He was born and raised in NYC but currently resides in Charlotte, NC where he is an advocate encouraging others to join the fight against HIV and AIDS as well as the fight against illiteracy.

 

 

 

 

 

Free Your Mind

Happy New Year! I started my new year with a bang. I posted a question on social media and little did I know it was going to spark such contraversy.

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One thing I’ve learned through the years is to keep an open mind. If not, you will always be stuck in your own way of thinking and never know the truth.

Lately, there has been so much controversy and it’s been spilling into everything and causing division. It certainly wasn’t my intention to cause more. I was only asking a question and unfortunately, it spiraled into something else.

Which provoked me to write this:

It seems we all have different life experiences and truths. White people have their truths based on their own life experiences. But so do Blacks and Latinos. I am white, but by the grace of God, I am able to go outside of it and listen to others who do not share in my experiences. I allow myself to learn and hear other people’s points of view and experiences. I am not rigid, nor do not walk around thinking or acting like I know it all either. Because I do not. I have not walked a mile in another person’s shoes to know what life is like for them. We must try to keep an open mind in life.

People seem to translate everything into an “us versus them” mentality. But this shouldn’t be, because it’s a much broader and deeper issue than that.

We are all going to have different views and opinions. Some will be based on life experiences, and others on education. But either way, it will be different. Which is why we must free our minds and allow ourselves to step out of our comfort zones and understand other people’s reality.

For instance, a white person’s experience in life is going to be way different than Black’s or Latinos. White people tend to mention Blacks and Latinos use the “race card” too much. But I beg to differ. As they truly live a different experience than white people. White people don’t know anything about this because they have never experienced it for themselves.

The reason why I know about it, is because I am fortunate to have many Black and Latino friends. I’ll even take it a step further, I married into a Black and Latino family. So I’m privy to a lot of things that ordinary white people are not aware of.

I try my best to communicate, impart and share information to educate and open the minds up of those who refuse to see beyond the scope of their own understanding or experience.

No, I do no subscribe to the fact that all cops are bad. However, I’m also not walking around believing that they are all good either. The fact of the matter is, there are a multitude of corrupt cops. Some people have a hard time believing this and get defensive. But if they would only stop and do some research, they will see this truth for themselves.

The fact is we live in a fallen world. Human beings are susceptible to various temptations. There are no perfect people walking around who are exempt from committing crimes or acts of corruption. The Bible says, we have a sin nature and it’s very easy to fall prey to things. Which is why I’m a big advocate for not judging people.

My hope is that we can respectfully agree to disagree, and try to keep an open mind in life. My life is not going to be like someone else’s life or vice versa.

For instance, people love to judge drug dealers, making them all out to be the scum of the earth and the cause of why society is the way it is. Again, if they do their research, they will understand that our government is involved in allowing drugs into this country. Drug dealers are not putting a gun to anyone’s head to purchase or consume it. So, to put the entire responsibility on drug dealers is wrong.

Again, I beseech you to keep an open mind. Don’t believe the media or everything you read. Do your research and find out the truth for yourself. Yes, the truth may disappoint you, but wouldn’t you rather know the truth, than believe a lie?

Please don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone to understand another person’s truth, experience and reality.

Are you willing to keep an open mind, step outside of yourself and not subscribe to the herd mentality?

 

No One Is Born A Racist

Recently, our country has been so divided. Racism is alive and well. But no one is born a racist.

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Racism is taught and a learned behavior. I am thankful that even though I grew up around it, I did not allow it to influence me. I touched on this in my previous post.

Children are taught to fear other races and cultures that are different from their own. But a child doesn’t know the difference.

Despite being taught to stay within my own demographic, I wasn’t able to. I was attracted and gravitated to the black community early on.

As a child, my family planned trips to Sunken Meadow Park. We would first go to the picnic area and have breakfast. Afterwards, we headed over to the beach area. I loved staying in the water for hours, to the point my hands were wrinkled, and my body, sunburned.

I remember there were a group of black kids playing in the water. They were all laughing and enjoying themselves. They were vivacious, fun and energetic. I was attracted to their vibe, and started playing with them. We all had a blast.

I remember going back to where my family was to get something to drink. I immediately got “shade” and remarks. Call it rebellion, defiance or whatever, I did not fold. I went right back and continued playing with my friends.

This was one of many scenarios I faced growing up amongst those who feared the “other”. I wouldn’t have known the difference between white, black, brown or yellow, if I wasn’t taught or subject to it.

Things went up a notch when I became a teenager, the fear and dread of my dating the black and brown boys was too much for them to handle. They tried setting me up with a boy from Spain, who was smart and had a great future. He was on his way to medical school to become a doctor on full scholarship. The dude digged me, but he wasn’t my type.

My grandmother went and bought a beautiful dress for me to wear to his prom. However, they didn’t ask me if I wanted to go to his prom in the first place. They were forcing me to be with him, to try and distract me from the other boys I liked.

It didn’t work. I refused to go to his prom. My grandmother had no choice but to return the beautiful dress she bought me. She was angry at me. She wanted me to be with this guy in the worst way. But, eventually she came around and understood that I had my own taste in men. Eventually, she embraced my boyfriends.

My heart longs for the day when racism and division ceases. My heart aches for my black brothers and sisters who have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of the white man. Please know I am standing with you in solidarity and protesting against the injustice.

Do you believe we are not born a racist? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Why I’m Not A Racist

I was born in the late 1960’s to European parents. My parents were pureblooded Spaniards, but for all intents and purposes, acted “white”.

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I don’t recall when it was exactly that I was made to feel different, but what I do remember were these comments:

“You must be from another planet.”

“Why do you always have to play with the black kids?

“Don’t you have any friends who are white?”

The crap hit the fan as a teenager, when I decided to date the brown and black boys against my parents will. My parents happen to be like many who grew up in an era of racial ignorance. They were a product of their environment. All I knew was that I didn’t think like they did nor did I want to.

One childhood memory stands out the most. I had a best friend. She was like a sister to me. Forty something years later, we are still friends. I remember hanging out in her house a lot. Her parents loved and embraced me like if I was their own.

Yet, my parents would not permit my friend to enter our house. My girlfriend eventually figured out why and I remembered feeling embarrassed and ashamed. I wanted to bury myself in a hole somewhere. It was the worst feeling in the world and I never forgot it.

I vowed to never have my kids feel this way. My home is open to any race, religion and creed. I am not raising them to be racists or discriminatory toward anyone.

Gratefully, when friends or family come to visit, they feel comfortable, as it should be.

I am not a racist. I love and embrace the African American community. Truthfully, the African American community has always treated me better that my own demographic.

I would love to live in a world where no racism, discrimination, ignorance or injustice existed. Unfortunately, that doesn’t to seem to be happening.

I can’t change people. The only thing I can do, as a white person, is bring awareness and not go along with the status quo, but challenge it.

With the recent current events, I’ve been inclined to speak up in favor of the black community. I am finding that many people want to shut me up. But I will never be silent when it comes to injustice.

Maybe I couldn’t do anything as a child to defend my best friend, but I can now as an adult. I will always speak up and stand up for what’s right. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, feels or says.

Do you go against the grain of what was expected of you regardless of what your family or friends think?

Love, Don’t Judge

I’ll be the first to admit, I am fed up with all the “holier than thou” Christians in this world, who point their fingers at everyone else around them. Do they know what it’s like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes?

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Wouldn’t it be better to use their energy and focus on themselves?

I never understood why people gossip and talk negatively about other people behind their back.

Unfortunately, this happens in the Christian community as well, and it’s hypocrisy. Aren’t we suppose to be a light in this world and salt of the earth? (Matthew 5:13)

How is it possible that Christians are tearing each other down?

If you have been following me or my blog for any length of time, you know what I’m about.

I have never been the type to judge other people. I don’t care who they are or what they’ve done. I accept people for who they are. I respect the Word of God, and as I age, I realize I’m no one to point my finger at anyone. I do not care who they are.

The job of a true Christian is to love others.

There was a time I didn’t get this. I didn’t get the importance of loving others. But God in His grandiose, gracious, merciful way, was patient enough with me to allow me to learn this vital lesson.

The lesson happened this year, while I have been in the process of advocating for someone who was wrongfully convicted.

I’ve learned that passing judgement is reserved for God alone. Jesus didn’t die for perfect people. He died for flawed and broken people.

Christians are sinners saved by grace. How dare we think we are better than anyone else.

How can we point our fingers at anyone?

I don’t care if they are murderers, serial killers, rapists or pedophiles. The only way they are going to see Christ in us, is if we stop judging and start loving.

I know this may sound cliché, but love is the force that changes the hardest heart… not judgement. Judging others doesn’t lead to any change.

If you are a Christ follower, the only way to truly reach others for Christ is by loving them.

What do you think is stopping you from loving others?

Author Interview: Umar Quadeer

Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Wahida Clark Presents
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936649071
ISBN-13: 978-1936649075
Price: $15.95
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is an honor to present a new author whom I had the pleasure of reading his most recent book, Enemy Bloodline and thoroughly enjoying it. I wanted to know more about him and he was gracious enough to do an interview with me.

Mr. Quadeer has a fresh voice and is gifted writer. I see great things ahead for this talented young man. It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you, Umar Quadeer.

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? How was your childhood?

I grew up in North Philadelphia. My childhood was fun and adventurous, but dangerous.

2) When did you discover you wanted to be a writer?

My father taught me how to write rap songs at 9 years old. Over the years I grew a name in the underground hip hop world and my best songs were based on stories. So I ended up branching out and writing books.

3) What are some of your favorite authors?

Of course, Wahida Clark and Rumont Tekay. But I also like Stephen King, Robert Greene, Donald Goines, Joy Deja King, T. Styles, and K’wan to name a few.

4) What do you believe help shape you as a writer?

Signing this deal with Wahida, and going through the editing phase really molded me as a writer.

5) Tell us a little bit about your book, Enemy Bloodline. How did this book come about? Was it based on true life events?

I came up with this book sitting in my cell bored. I wanted a TV in my cell and couldn’t have one, so I went into my mind and started watching TV, lol!

Every night I would watch this movie in my mind and decided to write it down and that’s where Enemy Bloodline was born.

All my books are based on real situations with a fiction plot.

6) Will you be writing a sequel?

The sequel is finished I’m just tweaking it. But it will be coming soon!

7) What inspires you?

Energy and thoughts.

8) What is your dream?

My dream is to become one with the universe.

9) I read you were in federal prison for a number of years? How did you get through it? What did it teach you?

Being in the Feds taught me how to associate with millionaires. It trained me to be patient during setbacks and depend on myself to make anything happen.

It starts with yourself, then other elements of help come after.

I got through my time by writing books every month.

10) What advice would you share with our youth today?

Stay focused on your goals and stay out of trouble.

11) Lastly, what advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

My advice is to study the game, don’t just dive into a situation because it looks good. Build your craft and know your worth.

Umar Quadeer was raised in North Philadelphia, at a time were the city was the murder capital of the United States.

At the age of 13 Umar moved to Sacramento California where he was introduced to Crips and Bloods. At the age of 9 his father taught him how to write lyrics, memorize and recite them.

At the age of 16, Umar performed on stage with the late Notorious B.I.G., Mob Deep, and the Roots.

While doing time in the FEDS he began writing stories and decided to hone his craft. He joined a novel writing class and earned a certificate and upon his release landed a deal with Wahida Clark Presents.

You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Be The Church

In 1995, I had the pleasure of traveling to India. It was a dream come true for me. I had this romantic view of India, until I stepped off the plane and faced the reality of what real poverty looked like.

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When I arrived, I went from being ecstatic, to sad, to depressed in a matter of minutes.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was such a disparity between the poverty and opulence I saw. What especially broke my heart was seeing the children, dirty and living in shacks made out of garbage.

I stood there dumbfounded. I whispered under my breath, why God? Why must these children be so poor? They didn’t ask to be born into hunger and pain. Why such a cruel fate? My heart was faint.

I was despondent for the rest of my stay there. I walked around like a zombie, going through motions. It seemed like everywhere I turned, I saw poverty, hunger and suffering.

In India, I learned that no amount of religion or theology could reach the heart of the poor and hungry. The country is filled with people who believe in religion and worship a multitude of gods. Religion is part of their spiritual infrastructure.

But religion doesn’t give life, and it certainly isn’t the answer. Do you know what the answer is?

Love.

But not the sappy, sugar coated nonsense being propagated from the pulpits across America today. No.

Do you realize we are the Church? It’s about demonstrating love to those you wouldn’t necessarily show it to.

It’s about getting out of our comfort zone and doing things we wouldn’t normally do or going places we wouldn’t normally go.

I don’t refer to myself as a Christian anymore, because saying I’m a Christian holds a different connotation to whomever you are speaking to. Some people call themselves a Christian, but they are “religious”. They tithe and go to church regularly. But they never stop and love others.

How many Christians are bringing the church to the outcasts and rejected of society? The porn stars, strippers, murderers, gang bangers, drug addicts, drug dealers or satanists?

What Christian steps out of their safety net to be the church to those who are hated, rejected or despised? The poor, the suffering, and the sick? Those who are shunned, isolated and ignored by people.

I personally know Christians who don’t want to associate with those who have problems, who are depressed and walk around with dark clouds over their heads. They are afraid it might rub off on them.

But if we are the Church, we shouldn’t shun or avoid those who are suffering or struggling. How will they ever know that hope and love exists?

The true love that Jesus exemplified and demonstrated when He walked on this earth.

Folks, it’s much deeper than religion or religious acts that appease our own conscience. We must be willing to be the church and bring the love and compassion of Jesus to those who are broken, rejected and despised. If we don’t, who will?

In James 1:27, it says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (KJV)

In Hebrews 13:3, it says, “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” (NLT)

This is not to boast, but even with my limited time between home, work, college, and writing, I’ve decided to use the gift God has blessed me with and write to those who are in prison. I also try to minister to families who have loved ones who are incarcerated. Families do the time along with their loved ones. It’s heartbreaking.

I’m not saying you need to do what I’m doing. All I’m saying is to be the church in whatever capacity God is calling you.

It’s no longer enough to preach or try to bring people to your Church. It’s time to be the hands and feet, and be the Church to the lost, the hopeless, the poor, the rejected, the shunned, the outcast, the incarcerated, the abused, and the sick.

Have you felt a burden to serve in your community, your neighbor or co-worker, but have been afraid to do so? Why not step out of your comfort zone and reach out? Why not take a step toward making a difference in someone else’s life? If we all do our part, we can bring hope to those who really need it.