Category Archives: blogging

Ta-Ta 2016… Hello 2017!

2016… what can I say? You were like a bad marriage on steroids. Lots of downs, and not enough ups. But like any other commitment, we trudged along together through every obstacle with gritted teeth. But boy did you hit us with some doozies.

There were a lot of disappointments, shedding, and letting go of people, places, and things. Which is why, I’m not sorry to say, ta-ta, arrivederci, and good riddance!

Courtesy of Creative Commons

In 2016, I learned to surrender, obey, pray, and trust Jesus. He taught me how to stand in the midst of each relentless and incessant storm. As a result, my faith got stronger. My Comforter gave me the courage, and strength of a lioness to confront things without fear.

Through every wind and wave of adversity, He taught me not to cower or give up. I am determined to walk with Jesus every single day, every step of the way, with no turning back. Ever again.

This verse became real and personal to me,

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise up against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:17)

When others turned against me, Jesus never did. He never left me nor forsook me. He showed me His faithfulness, and showered me with His unfailing love, grace and mercy. He truly is a good, good Father, which is why I will follow Him all the days of my life. No matter what. Even if I must walk it alone.

No, I didn’t like you very much, 2016, however, I would be remiss not to thank you for every lesson, test, trial, tribulation, storm and adversity you’ve sent my way. My circumstances may not have changed, but gratefully, I have.

Happy New Year!

A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 4, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0310346770
Price: $11.72
Purchase: CBD | Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Do you ever wonder why God created you? The Bible spells it out plainly: God created you to showcase His glory—to enjoy it, display it, and demonstrate it every day to all those you encounter.

After nearly 50 years of living as a quadriplegic, and dealing with chronic pain on a daily basis, Joni has learned firsthand the importance of glorifying God through the toughest of situations. Through this devotional, Joni will help you discover how to put God’s glory on display—how to say no to complaining and say yes to daily following God down even the most difficult paths. Along the way, you will find great comfort and encouragement by focusing on the one who longs to lead and guide you every step of the way, every day.

Don’t ever think your life is too ordinary, your world too small, or your work too insignificant. All of it is a stage set for you to glorify God.

Review

Many years ago I had the pleasure of reading When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada. So, when I was offered the opportunity to review her new devotional, A Spectacle of GloryI gladly accepted.

Just as her book spoke to me, so is her devotional. She writes from a deep place. Her words are rich and full of substance. There is no fluff or superficiality.

I relate to her, in that she knows what it’s like to suffer, and not get healed. She had a diving accident which left her paralyzed, and she has been a quadriplegic now for forty-nine years. She prayed that God would heal her, and went to several healing services, but was never healed. Yet, she never lost her faith, which is why she is my hero.

I read A Spectacle of Glory every morning and it ministers to me. I highly recommend it.

In conclusion, I want to thank Handlebar Publishing and Zondervan for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Joni Eareckson Tada is founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community. Joni and Friends provides practical support and spiritual help to special needs families worldwide, and equips thousands of churches in developing disability ministry. Joni is the author of numerous bestselling books, including Joni, Diamonds in the Dust, Heaven, When God Weeps, and A Step Further, winner of the Gold Medallion Award. Joni and her husband, Ken, have been married for over 30 years. For more information on Joni and Friends, visit www.joniandfriends.org

 

 

 

Life’s Unfamiliar Terrain

I can’t believe this year is almost over. I apologize for not blogging, but this year has been full of changes. I seem to be in the process of transition and walking in unfamiliar terrain.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

You may have been wondering of my disappearance, and this is an attempt to fill you in.

From 2014 through 2015, I sort of fell away from my Christian faith. There were many reasons for it, which I won’t go into. But what I learned from the dabbling, experimenting, and indulging, is no matter who I was with, where I was, or what I was doing, God was with me.

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.¹

At the time, I was making bad choices, which grieved the heart of God as well as the people that care about me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking much about this while I was out there, painting the town, and being self-indulgent.

The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.²

I was a faithful, fervent and zealous Christian prior to falling away. So you could just imagine the amazement to all those who knew me.

Sin is like being on a raft that gradually drifts out to sea.  One minute you are near the shore, and the next, you are in the middle of the ocean.

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.³

All the things I was choosing to do, weren’t the things God wanted me to do. I was refusing to die to self. I still didn’t want to surrender ALL to Jesus. It wasn’t His will be done, it was my will be done. Until everything came crashing down on January 2, 2016, and a light bulb went off. I suddenly realized what I was doing, and immediately repented.

Through it all, I learned how much God loves me, and how faithful He is. He never gave up on me, and kept pursuing me.

Today, I am grateful for all that God has done in my life. I am still in an unfamiliar terrain, a place of a transition, and in a process of restoration. But I can honestly say, that I’m at peace. Jesus saved me, rescued me, delivered me and set me free. Praise Him! No one could have done it, but Him.

If He did it for me, He can and will do it for you. He is no respecter of persons. He loves us, which is why He died for us. There is nothing you or I can do that will make Him ever stop loving us. He is a good, good Father.

¹Psalm 139:8
²1 John 2:16
³James 1:14

Setting Goals

Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I was glad to kiss 2015 goodbye. 2015 was a difficult and challenging year for me. It wasn’t all bad, as there were a lot of good moments. I learned a great deal about myself.

Growth doesn’t always feel good though. It reminds me of growing pains we experience as a child; it hurts like hell. However, we have to embrace the pain to grow. If not, we will remain stagnant and complacent.

Pain tells us something is wrong, and needs to change. It pushes us to reevaluate ourselves, our decisions and lives. It also allows us the opportunity to recalibrate and set new goals.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

For me, it’s not about making new year’s resolutions. It’s more about setting goals and sticking to them. Right before the start of a new year, I sit back and do an overview of what I’ve accomplished and didn’t accomplish. I analyze the things that worked and didn’t work. I do a complete assessment, and then I begin to think about my goals for the new year.

What I’ve learned is a stumbling block for me is that I get distracted and lack focus. I also get tripped up on doing too many things at the same time, that I wind up not accomplishing a bloody thing! Does this sound familiar?

I have several goals for this year, and they are all run along the same line. But what I need to be able to achieve them is the proper focus, dedication, discipline, perseverance, and persistence. My natural stubbornness needs to kick in.

It really does come down to setting our minds on doing it, instead of talking about it. We have to set small, and realistic goals at first. If we set the bar too high, we won’t stick with it. If we set our goals in small increments, it won’t feel so overwhelming. The procrastination comes from being overwhelmed, it paralyzes us. This is why it is easier to do things in small increments and then build up momentum.

This is basically how I’m going to approach my goals for 2016. What about you? How are you planning to achieve and accomplish your specific goals for this year?

Temporary Fixes

When we’re not getting our needs met the human tendency is to search for a temporary fix. I’m not saying everyone does it, but the majority do. We substitute one thing for another.

We fantasize, run and chase what we believe will fulfill or satisfy us. If you are an artistic person, with a vivid imagination, you will come up with a lot of creative ways.

Courtesy of Creative Commons ~ Bewitched by Paula Ferrary

We tend to build a fortress of lies, believing if we get this one thing, it will be the answer to our happiness.

What I’ve discovered from various and random conversations how dissatisfied people are. Whether it is with their jobs, careers, families and marriages; people are unhappy.

No wonder romance novels, movies and love songs do so well. Deep within us is a longing to be loved. I believe it is deeper than being loved. There is this inner yearning for a real connection. Who doesn’t want a love story with a happy ending?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many happy endings. People are walking around with broken hearts, relationships and marriages. People are losing hope, and settling for temporary fixes to assuage their wounds.

I see a bunch of lonely, disconnected people walking around, having sex, and nothing more. They claim this is all they want, which I can understand. I’ve entertained this kind of thinking, only to realize how empty it is.

There are single people looking at married couples, and secretly envying them, but what they fail to realize is that they are only watching a snapshot in time. Granted, there are those few exceptions of happily ever after couples who still hold hands and kiss at eighty, but they’re rare.

So, for those who are single and dreamingly looking at married couples, thinking they’re blissful; relationships require work. But instead of working, they want easy, they want temporary fixes. They buy into cheap fantasies to fill the void. Hollywood does a good job in feeding us a *feel good* dream, and who doesn’t want to feel good?

However, what feels good, may not necessarily be what is best for us. What we think we need, may not be what want and what we want, may not be what we need.

There are many in dead end marriages who cheat on their spouses thinking that’s the answer in alleviating their misery. Unfortunately, those who do, come out more empty than when they went in.

The answer is not another person, job or thing. People, jobs and things aren’t going to fulfill you because they are only temporary. You must focus on you.

Value who you are and know your worth. Don’t settle for breadcrumbs, when you deserve the main course. Don’t lessen your standards to meet someone else’s expectations. Don’t betray yourself in the midst of trying to please others. Get to know who you are and what you want. When you love, embrace and accept yourself for who you are, you won’t feel the necessity to chase after temporary fixes.

Do you chase after temporary fixes? What has been your experience?

Guest Post: “Black Lives Matter” by Author Dutch

This is between you and me Black sisters, so lean in. Stop coddling Black men. I know your motherly instincts and your womanly proclivities make you want to bring, confront and care. I know you want to support him, but trust me on this, it’s time for tough love.

Challenge the Black man’s manhood. Not in regard to yourself, as his woman or the woman in his life, respect that, but what I say is challenge him on what he is doing in the community or for his community? Put your hand on your collective hip, look the Black man in his eye and say “stand your ass up and fight, stop marching in circles and lead us somewhere!”

If you beautiful Black sisters would say, “I know my man is not going to let nobody hold him back, because if you are going to protect me, what I need with you?”

Do you know what would happen?

Have you ever been to the club and a sister screaming on her man like, “I know you ain’t going to let him talk to me like that!” No matter how big the man or the fight in him, if he is any kind of man, somebody is getting knocked out. That is what will happen, but in a meaningful, constructive sense. Force him to use the brain and body he has to get his people to a better standing. Whisper in his collective ear “win” and watch that Rocky music anthem light up in his eyes. But, if you keep mourning his death, justify his weakness and coddle his insecurities, then he will forever remain your baby… are we clear?

Boko Haram is using little black girls as human bombs. The press is calling them, “suicide bombers.” They are not doing this of their own will or their own accord or based on their beliefs. It is murder. If they resist, they are tortured and killed. The same little girls the First Lady marched and tweeted about are now being strapped to explosives and blown to bits. Where is the outrage about this? Where is our outrage about this? Do you have children? Could you imagine your ten year old daughter being strapped with dynamite and then her being nothing but a mist? If that doesn’t move you to tears or to anger or to action, then you are only human in appearance.

Black lives mattering is not limited to the United States. Globally, the treatment of Blacks is not on the up and up.

To the Black Muslim Brothers, I am calling all Black Muslim Brothers, Sunni, Shia, Nation of Islam, Moor or Five Percenters, your Nigerian daughters are being slaughtered in the name of Islam. When are we, as Muslims going to hold the International community accountable for their silence in the face of such horrors?

If Syrian is a tragedy and Palestine a tragedy, then Nigeria is the very face of evil. When are we going to stand up and call Boko Haram a coward, disgusting and a bitch for hiding behind children in the name of Islam?! When? Because if you don’t, if you remain silent, then you are a coward and disgusting also. Straight like that. Black lives matter? Really? Show me. Save those babies if you don’t there is nothing Black about you, but you are sick at heart!

Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, Kwame Teague is the award winning, critically acclaimed, and Essence #1 bestselling author of the street classic Dutch trilogy. His other novels include Above The Law, the Dynasty trilogy, ? (pronounced Que), The Adventures of Ghetto Sam and the Glory of My Demise and Thug Politics under the pseudonym Dutch. With a passion for writing, Kwame is hard at work on his next novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Your Passion

Not everything in life is about money. Yes, we need money, I’m not saying we shouldn’t work or be responsible. What I am saying is when we truly follow our passion, money isn’t the motivation, purpose is.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

My wise father once said, do what you love and the money will follow. His passion is cooking, singing and people. If you see my father, you see me. I probably would have followed in his footsteps and taken over his restaurant, if I wasn’t passionate about the arts. I was good in the restaurant business because I love food and people. Yet, the restaurant business wasn’t for me.

My passion was the arts. I spent hours listening to the radio growing up. My mother bought me my first phonograph at the age of seven. I had 45’s and I would listen to them over and over. I would take walks from my house to Sam Goody on Queens Boulevard, where I was introduced to musicians like Al Di Meola, who is a radical guitarist and ahead of his time.

I didn’t realize I had a singing voice until two musical directors from a play I was in, told me I had a beautiful voice. I thought they were just being nice, until my peers started to tell me the same thing. It was then that I started taking singing seriously and found a coach.

In the midst of this, I loved to dance (still do). My mother was a professional dancer, so I started dancing as soon as I learned to walk. But, in order to get into the top clubs in Manhattan, I needed a fake ID. So me and my friends took a trip to 42nd Street and got ourselves some. It was then that I started frequenting clubs like, the Palladium, Red Parrot, Copacabana, Limelight, Tunnel, and much more.

Yes, music is a passion of mine. But so is reading and writing. I started reading books and keeping a journal as a kid. I devoured books and poured my feelings out on to the page. I also started dabbling in poetry, by the time I reached High School, I submitted my poems to the school newspaper and they made it to the front page. I also drew, so I would draw something that would coincide with my poems which was a plus.

But sadly, for years, I didn’t think I was a “writer”. I knew I was an actress, singer, dancer, and artist, but for some reason, I never thought I was a writer. This discovery happened later in life, when I read Jeff Goins book, You Are A Writer.

If you are not sure what your passion or purpose is, I highly recommend reading his other book, The Art of Work. Jeff is a good friend, colleague and mentor of mine. I have watched him do some amazing things over the years. He is inspiration to me. If you don’t follow his blog, I recommend that you do. I have learned so much from him.

If you don’t know what your passion is, you won’t know what your purpose is either, because passion and purpose go hand in hand. I encourage you to explore and discover what your passion and purpose is, because once you do, you will feel fulfilled.

Are you struggling with knowing your passion or finding your purpose? If so, let’s discuss it in the comment section below.

An Open Letter To the Industry from Kwame Teague (Author Dutch)

I’m not one to publicly disclose my personal associations. However, I thought it imperative to make an introduction prior to publishing this open letter. I have been in contact with Kwame for quite some time now and we have become close friends. I’ve been able to benefit from his brilliant mind and visionary concepts, especially when it comes to the urban literature industry. I have come to respect him a great deal. I truly believe and am in support with what he is presenting in his open letter. I hope you do too.

 

A Letter to the Industry by Kwame Teague

To my brother and sisters of Urban Lit,

I salute  you, I salute us. Here’s to our tenacity, our drive, our passion, our hunger, our HUSTLE. Together we have taken this street lit to another level. In just over ten years, we’ve created a MULTI MILLION dollar industry… for everyone else, but ourselves.

Take it from someone who was here from the beginning, day one, one of the first born so to speak. Like Hip Hop started in the basement, we started in the trunk, car trunks, selling our joints hand to hand until we created a buzz, and this buzz blew! Before you knew it, everywhere you looked, someone was reading a street joint.

But then the majors heard about us, the big publishing houses, the MAINSTREAM, and they cut checks, big checks, six figure checks, and we thought we had it made, we thought we had arrived.

But there was a catch.

You see, the majors didn’t step in because they were feelin’ our vibe. They saw us as a THREAT. We were upstart independents, making the game bend for us. We had proved we didn’t need them. We had our own publishers, our own distributors, our own blooming industry, and they said, “We have to stop this!

It wasn’t racism, it wasn’t a conspiracy, it was just good ol’ American business. Because those six figure checks weren’t for book deals. No. They were buying our shelf space, our real estate! They signed the best sellers, took the space, then fell back. Genius. Now, of course, we didn’t see it then, some of us still won’t see it now, but just because we can’t see the sun rise over China, doesn’t mean it won’t shine.

We got played.

But, the question is… Where do we go from here?

Now… this part of this letter isn’t for my brothers or sisters of urban lit, it’s for my brothers and sisters of like minds. The Gods and Goddesses who know how to create, and once awakened, we never sleep again. If this is above your head, I still love you, but run along, this is grown folk bizness.

Again, where do we go from here?

I don’t have all the answers, but we do. We need to come together A.S.A.P., combine forces, let go of the petty jealousies and squabbles and figure out how to get the millions back that we created! Because if we don’t, we’re going to die a slow death by a thousand cuts or suffocate because our one market has become a gas chamber. We must come together. The milk industry did it. The movie industry did it. The mainstream publishers did it. Why can’t we?

If you feel like I feel and think like I think, then hit me: Kwame J. Teague #0401897 P.O. Box 600 Nashville, NC 27856 or email me at dutchthegame @ gmail.com. Let’s form a voltran and take back our millions!

I love y’all.

Peace.

At A Crossroad

Have you ever found yourself sitting back and evaluating your life? Well, this year has been one of those for me, as I find myself at a crossroad.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Crossroads aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, they make us feel uncomfortable and force us to face the unknown. But, none of us knows what lies ahead, life is one big leap of faith anyway.

Growing pains never feel good, neither does facing the truth about yourself and the choices you’ve made that have lead you to where you are today.

Let’s face it, we all want easy, simple, and less complicated. However, life will never hand us a box of chocolate covered strawberries neatly tied with a bow on top. I’ve learned that things will get messy before they get better.

So what do you do in the meantime?

For one, don’t run. Running won’t solve anything. Sit with your feelings, look at it for what it is, analyze why you are where you are, and if there is something you can do differently not to repeat the same pattern.

Second, get help. It’s okay to seek counseling when life feels overwhelming. Some people may not admit it to you, but everyone goes through rough patches in life. None of us are exempt from difficult or hard times.

I can’t tell you how much the rooms have helped me throughout my life. It’s a gift when you are afforded the opportunity to learn about yourself and receive unbiased support.

Pain is a signal, a sign for you to pay closer attention. Be brave and courageous. Face it. Delve into those areas that hurt the most. Don’t be afraid. You’ll be surprised at what you discover, and how free you’ll feel as a result.

Do you find yourself at a crossroad today? If so, how are you coping or dealing with it. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Are you coming to the online event of the year?

The Self-Publishing Success Summit starts MONDAY — are you going?

Here’s the scoop, in case you missed it:

Over the past few months, my friend Chandler Bolt gathered 35+ world-famous authors & entrepreneurs for a one-time-only online event.

And you can get in for free:

https://xe172.isrefer.com/go/spss/pilar/

The list of speakers keeps growing.

So far it’s Brian Tracy, Jeff Goins, Joanna Penn, Michael Port, Hal Elrod, Russell Brunson, Ryan Deiss, Joseph Michael, James Clear, Pat Flynn, Charlie Hoehn, Ty Cohen, Nick Loper, Jaime Tardy, Hollis Carter, and over 20 more top entrepreneurs and bestselling authors.

If you want to become a bestselling author — and use your book to build your brand, following, or 6-figure business — you don’t want to miss this.

But get your ticket fast.

Because after the event, the only way to catch these speakers is to buy the All-Access Priority Pass — which costs $297.

So hurry and get your free ticket now (takes 10 seconds).

https://xe172.isrefer.com/go/spss/pilar/

Pilar Arsenec

P.S. I can only hold your spot for a few more days, so get your ticket now.

https://xe172.isrefer.com/go/spss/pilar/

This Quiet Madness

Have you ever wanted to give up? You look around you and everything looks grey? A sense of hopelessness envelopes you, that you can’t seem to shake it off?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Well, you are not alone. Throughout my life, I have struggled with the torment composed of invisible scars. I’ve danced to the same tune more times than I care to admit.

It’s a combination of hopelessness, worthlessness and despair rolled into one. Unless someone goes through it, they won’t understand. So it’s like you are walking through life, on the outside looking in. Disconnected, disoriented, and in a bubble.

I get it, I do. You wonder when you will ever feel “normal”? Whatever normal is. You try hard to mask the gnawing pain with a smile. Sometimes someone will *see* and a wave of shame will come over you. Pushing you to hide, avoid and isolate even more.

This quiet madness is as real as real can be. No one knows how you truly feel or what you are going through. These invisible whips and chains torture you daily.

The incessant voices inside your head telling you, you don’t matter. You are worthless, you have no value, and you are failure.

Yes, yes… I know all too well what this is about. I’m living it right now.

Are you surprised? Don’t be. Most people don’t know the road I’ve been on, or the suffering and pain I’ve endured.

These invisible scars are hidden from the naked eye, but this silent disability is alive and well. It frames my life, and experiences.

I long for the day where I can truly be free. I envision the day where I can fly. Where I won’t be subjected to people’s opinions, or criticisms. Where I can be me and accepted and loved unconditionally for who I am without judgment. Or perhaps reach the point, where it won’t matter anymore.

This journey of mine has been a long and hard one. There have been times I have wanted to give up. But as hard as it is, by the grace of God, I continue on. I am grateful for the praying friends God has graciously placed in my life who know of my internal struggle.

I am writing this post today for those of you who may be struggling too. Depression and anxiety are real. It’s considered a disability. Please join me in trying not to beat yourself up. Know that you are not alone, that God is with you and somehow, someway, you will heal and overcome. Be encouraged even in the midst of the storm. God promised to never leave or forsake you. I’m gripping on to that word for dear life. I hope you will too.

If you are struggling, please let me know in the comment section below. You are not alone. Let’s pray for one another. There is power in prayer and community.