Friday, December 10, 2010


Eight years ago today I held you in my arms and looked into your beautiful blue eyes for the very first time. You were so dazzling. I could tell by the little dip in your gums that you were going to have a gap. How cute! You had a head full of hair and your smile was like an angel’s. You were so innocent and so perfect. I couldn’t believe that you had come from me. I felt so blessed.

Eight years ago today my life was forever changed. Something amazing happened inside of me. I knew that I could no longer compromise and do the things that my flesh-led self had once done. I knew you’d be watching me and I wanted to be the best example I could be. It was difficult at times, but slowly the Lord removed my desire to do that which was not of Him.

Eight years ago today I asked God to partner with me and parent with me. I asked Him to guide my decisions regarding you. I asked Him to show me how to love you. I asked Him to protect you. I asked Him to be your all. And He said ok. And He has provided all of our needs. And He has ordered all of our steps. And He has been our everything, just like He said He would.

Eight years later, December 10, 2010, I’m so proud of you. I see so much potential in you, and I am glad that God saw fit to bless me with you. You are a pulchritudinous and intelligent 8 year old young lady who loves the Lord. You think deeper than a lot of 8 year olds. You are constantly looking to God’s word to help you understand the world. You are confident. You’re highly self-motivated. You are a go-getter. You’re a wonderful big sister. You are a very caring person. You demand the best from others and from yourself. You are a great example to all those around you—including me.

Happy 8th Birthday, Amari. I wish you many more filled with God’s love and joy and peace. I urge you to put the Lord first in your life and promise you that if you do He will bless you beyond measure. Remember that God loves you and wants you to be happy. Don’t allow anyone to tell you that the things of this world are better than what God offers. It IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE. Please remember Mark 9:23, Psalms 119:11, Psalms 119:105, Romans 8:28 and Proverbs 3:5-6. They are lifesavers.

Amari, I thank God for you EVERY day of my life. I am so much better because of you and I LOVE YOU WITH EVERYTHING THAT IS IN ME—and I always will!

Mark 9:23

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

Psalms 119:11

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalms 119:105

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Proverbs 3: 5-6

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Preparation is Key

My dad is an amazing man. He’s 87 years old and SHARP. He can still kick his leg in the air and touch his toe. His lye hominy, succotash, and hot water cornbread are delicious and can’t be matched! He knows every word of “’Twas the Night before Christmas”—and recites it with great emotion every year. He’s serious. He puts his best foot in EVERYTHING he does.

One thing I have learned from my dad is the importance of preparation. John F. Kennedy said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” Henry Hartman said, “Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity.” My father is the embodiment of preparation. He is always READY.

On any given day you can find him in his room studying his Bible, reading a newspaper, or watching the news to keep up with current events. You can talk to him about almost anything, and he will have something intelligent to say about it. He’s charismatic and his demeanor attracts people to him. You can’t help but admire him and listen when he speaks. You care because it is obvious that he cares.

He shares knowledge about things most people are too busy to think about. On Thanksgiving, for example, my family and I cooked at my parents’ house. I asked my dad to say the prayer. We gathered around the table, starving to say the least, and before he prayed he gave a lengthy speech about the origin of Thanksgiving. None of us expected it…but he had his speech prepared and he delivered it, enlightening the young and reminding the old about where it all began. I appreciated it.

When it comes to money matters, he is on top of things. He reads every statement and hops on discrepancies right away. When tax time comes he is able to give accurate records to his preparer so that all she has to do is plug in his numbers and things go fairly smooth.

When he goes on vacation, his bags are packed neatly and efficiently. I don’t think he’s ever forgotten anything he NEEDED for a trip. His tickets are in hand and he is always on time for his flights.

When called to give accounts for any choices or decisions he’s made, he’s right there—documentation in hand—READY.

He has been in the ministry for over 53 years. In the 28 years that I’ve known him, there hasn’t been a time that he brought a message that he didn’t first prepare. I won’t say that every message he preached had the entire congregation shouting and running around the church, but I will say that the subjects had been given a great deal of thought, attention, and prayer.

My dad knocks out the stressful situations life throws him by being prepared. He enjoys the uplifting situations life sends his way because he is prepared.

One of my goals is to take my dad’s example and be better prepared for whatever comes my way. Preparation is key. And today I make the conscious decision to stay READY.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All Eyes Are On Me

I’m being watched. Everything I do is being scrutinized—and then emulated. And everything I say is being recorded—and then regurgitated. Can you imagine that? There are literally at least 2 sets of eyes studying my every move and 2 sets of ears listening to my every word every single day of my life…

If I put on skinny jeans and boots, sure enough there is a 7 year old in skinny jeans and boots and a 2 year old in Dora panties and boots looking right back at me and smiling. If I put on my sunglasses and look through the rear-view mirror, I will see 2 pair of shades staring back at me. When I listen to Amari playing teacher in her room, she sounds just like I do when I am checking her homework in the evenings. And when Halle brushes her father’s head a little too hard, she says, “I sorry, daddy” JUST LIKE I DO to her.

This got me to thinking. There are many ways that we can be witnesses for Christ…and one is to live for God and walk upright in our very own homes. The way I live in front of my children when no one is around is of the utmost importance. It affects how they see themselves, how they see our world, and how they see Christ.

Proverbs 22: 6 says to train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. I’m nowhere near perfect, but I am working diligently to be a great example for my children. With the help of God, I am training them well.

I want my children to be honest, so I am honest and I stress the importance of being honest. I want them to understand forgiveness, so I forgive…and I love. I want them to be kind to others…so I am kind. I use situations that our loved ones go through to explain God’s order and the importance of living within His will and being obedient. I want them to always put their best foot forward, so I don’t accept mediocrity. I want them to live for Christ…so I do.

When I am driving down the street and someone cuts me off, I have a choice. I can use profanity and blow that person off the road or I can breathe, slow down, and thank God for traveling grace. The choice is mine to make…but all eyes are on me, and the choice I make affects more than just me--so I must choose wisely.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On Friendship

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. (Proverbs 13:20)

If asked to describe my friends, I would say that they are those who I enjoy spending time with and talking to the most. They are people who are honest with me even when the truth isn’t easy for me to hear. They are positive, upbeat, optimistic, fun-loving, and God-fearing people. They care about me and would “ride or die” if the situation called for it. They are compassionate and understanding. They rejoice with me when good things come my way. They are not jealous of me at all. I can trust them. I know that they would never do anything to intentionally hurt me. My friends are all goal oriented and constantly seeking to grow into their better and stronger selves. They are driven and supportive and challenge me to be better. I look to them for strength, godly counsel, and wisdom.

I hope they would describe me the same way as well.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

It took an incident in which I wasn’t the “friendliest” to rock my world and show me the importance of not only having good friends, but of being a good one too. One day in high school, one of my dearest friends asked me to sit next to her on the school bus because she REALLY needed to talk. I don’t know what was wrong with me that day, but I told her that I didn’t want to change my seat and she was welcome to sit next to me if she needed to talk. She looked at me with such hurt in her eyes and I looked past her hurt and turned away. By the end of the bus ride, she hadn’t moved and neither had I. Her heart ached and mine was filled with anger (since that was the emotion I ran to when I didn’t know what else to feel). That day changed our relationship. We went from being inseparable to seeing each other in the hallways and looking the other way.

I later found out that she was dealing with a weighty family situation and didn’t think anyone would understand better than I would. This friend was someone who was usually in a better mood than I was, but in her (rare) moment of need I wasn’t there for her. Why? There was honestly no good reason. When I found this out, I felt terrible. I attempted to apologize a few times after that, but she was too hurt to hear me…

We eventually reconciled years later, thank God, but I missed a lot of opportunities to celebrate her life with her and vice versa because of that one moment when I was too stubborn and too selfish to be a good friend. Me staying in my seat wasn’t worth what I lost.

That situation taught me that being a good friend means sometimes stepping outside of my comfort zone, getting over myself, and being aware of and sensitive to the needs and desires of others. To have friends, I MUST be one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Me, Defined

If I allowed others to define me, I’d be a messed up individual. You name the term, it would be me—trifling, selfish, stubborn, stupid, indecisive, helpless, dirty, nasty, unsuccessful, average, ugly, mean, bitch. I’ve been called them all—and sometimes by those I love the most—and sometimes by those who know me the best. If family, friends and associates label me outside of my name, the labels must be true, right? And if they’re true, I might as well define myself as such and live as such, right?

Wrong. Yet those labels swirled around in my head about myself for YEARS…and the enemy smiled while my spiritual and emotional growth were stifled by my negative self image and negative self talk.

Over the course of the past year, God has allowed me to see myself through His eyes. The latter has shown me that the titles others had given me couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m God’s child. In Him I’m made perfect. Nothing about Loureva is trifling, or selfish, or dirty, or nasty, or stupid, or ugly. Nowhere in my make-up does the word bitch have a place. It is impossible for me to be anything less than a great parent when my partner is the Almighty Himself. Where I am inadequate, God is enough. And He loves me so much that at a time when I was being very critical of myself, He sent word that he was proud of me…Imagine that.

I thank God for allowing me to see myself through the eyes of truth. Who am I? I am a creative, caring, loving, encouraging, inspiring, intelligent, beautiful, talented, passionate, positive, empathetic, and optimistic spiritual woman. I am a great mother, a loving daughter, a dedicated worker, and a humble student. I speak peace and love. I am a prayer warrior. I am a woman of God. I am BLESSED and HIGHLY FAVORED. I am a child of the King, and that means that I am royalty.

If I allowed others to define me, I’d be a messed up individual. You name the term, it would be me—trifling, selfish, stubborn, stupid, helpless, dirty, nasty, unsuccessful, average, ugly, mediocre mother, mean, bitch. But I’m glad that God is the author of my life’s book. I’m glad that He knows me intimately. He is the one who defines me…and He calls me His beloved child, and He is well pleased with me.

Ephesians 1:4 – 6

1 John 4:17

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Thank You for Your love and affection. Thank You for Your PEACE and protection. Thank You for truth and unspeakable joy. Thank You for allowing me to feel Your presence. Thank You for talking with me every day. Thank You for walking with me every day. Thank You for sustaining me. Thank You for your mercy…and Your forgiveness. Thank You for saving me. Thank You for Your grace. Thank You for CONSTANTLY thinking of me. Thank You for holding me in Your arms and making me comfortable as I REST in You.

Thank You, oh Lord, for being who You are--my Creator, my Father, my King--my EVERYTHING.

Thank You for all the positive energy that flows in, around, and through me. Thank You for confidence. Thank You for creating me in Your image. Thank You for beauty. Thank You for Your divine favor. Thank You for opportunities to grow, and learn, and love. Thank You for my marriage. Thank You for my children. Thank You for my extended family. Thank You for my friends.

Thank You for laughter. Thank you for tender moments. Thank You for allowing me to see good in people. Thank You for your guidance. Thank You for discernment. Thank You for financial blessings. Thank You for showing me who You are (and Whose I am). Thank You for the vision You have given me. Thank You for VICTORY.

Thank You, dear Lord, for being patient with me as I grow into the person You want me to be.

Thank You for a sound mind. Thank You for great health. Thank You for supernatural healing. Thank You for deliverance. Thank you for Your Holy Word. Thank You for Spiritual growth. Thank You for loving me in spite of myself.

Thank you, my Lord, for You are all that I need.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Word on Closure

When God removes a romantic relationship from our lives sometimes it can be quite painful…especially when it is someone we genuinely care about. But what I’ve learned is that He doesn’t make ANY mistakes. He knows what’s best and I have to trust that He is only protecting me from that which I cannot see and preparing me for something better.

When I was 18, there was a guy who I thought was THE ONE. I thought him the most beautiful, intelligent, and talented young man I had ever met. In my mind, he could have talked to any woman he wanted to…and he chose me. And I was honored.

We talked on the phone or hung out almost every day until the one day I didn’t hear from him. I called and there was no answer. The next day I called and still there was no answer. A week later (in the midst of me worrying, crying, and then worrying some more) he called and told me that something traumatic had happened and that he would never be able to return to L.A. My heart sank. I couldn’t understand it. Things were progressing so nicely between us so how could this be happening?

When we hung up the phone that day, life as I had known it had CHANGED forever. I had HUNDREDS of unanswered questions and I can’t begin to express my anguish. My anguish turned to anger—and of course it was directed toward God. How could He allow this to happen? Why did He remove someone I cared so much about? Why hadn’t I been allowed to say goodbye face to face? Why had I given up so much of my heart and myself to someone who had left so soon?

I felt stupid.

It took me years to get over him—and when I say years, I mean THOUSANDS of days of prayer for myself and from others, a WHOLE lot of wallowing in the mud and feasting with swine, buckets full of tears, battling my own insecurities and fears, and a great deal of unnecessary hurt and pain for my loved ones and myself.

In time, however, something amazing happened. I realized that everything that had happened was for my good. (Romans 8:28) I learned that what I thought was just right for me was not at all in line with what God had for me. I learned the importance of loving and demanding the best for myself. I learned the TRUE meaning of love. I also came to understand that everything had to happen the way it did for me to grow into the person that I am. And in the end all I can do is give God the praise for blessing me exceeding abundantly.

You see, the thing about closure is that sometimes it doesn’t come in the time frame or way that we think it should. Sometimes God chooses to close doors for us that we might not have the strength or desire to close for ourselves. And when He does, we have to praise Him even when we don’t understand. We have to know that in time it will all be clear. Instead of trying to force what isn’t meant to be or looking for answers that will never be good enough, we have to trust that God is who He says He is. We have to trust that He is looking out for us and protecting us from that which our finite eyes cannot see. We have to know that He LOVES us and is preparing us for BLESSINGS!

There will be many emotional storms throughout our lives, but there will also be rainbows at the end of them. And the rainbows are there to remind us that God was in control all along.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On 10/10/10

I woke up feeling GREAT on 10/10/10! The weather was perfect and I was with people I LOVE. I just couldn’t stop thanking God for allowing me to see my 29th birthday and for blessing me as greatly as He has. I was just downright HAPPY and full of His JOY.

I made a quick stop by my parents’ home, and I had been there for about half an hour when I heard rustling at the front door. I peeked out the window and noticed my gorgeous neighbor, Mrs. C.

Mrs. C has been an inspiration to me for many years. She’s a beautiful woman who was a devoted wife and who is a loving mother and grandmother. She “adopted” me 29 years ago. I’m honestly not sure what it was that made her take a liking to me. All I know is that before I could talk, Mrs. C was right there offering support for my mom and LOVING me as if I were her own. As I grew older, she was right there celebrating all my achievements with me and encouraging me when I was disappointed. She is one person who has ALWAYS supported whatever I had going on NO MATTER WHAT.

I was SO happy to see her on my birthday. She literally made my great day even better. I opened the door and gave her a HUGE hug. She told me that she was trying to sneak a card in the mailbox for me. It made me feel special to know that she remembered my birthday ONCE AGAIN. What a treat! Every year for 29 years Mrs. C has given me a card and a dollar for each year I’ve been alive…and every year I am SURPRISED and immensely grateful when I receive it. (I really am.) I get choked up when I think about it.

My Sunday birthday surprise made me think about my strong circle of support. I am so thankful for all the wonderful people God has placed in my life. He has blessed me with people who have loved and encouraged me through all the stages of my life. These people have believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. They have prayed for me during good times and bad. They have been honest with me, they have reprimanded me when I needed it, they have hugged me, they have cried with me, they have supported me, they have connected me with various opportunities, they have been genuinely and unselfishly GOOD to me…and I am eternally grateful.

I love the fact that God knew me intimately before I was formed in my mother’s womb and that He knew exactly what I would need long before I needed it. I am glad that I am His child and that I have divine favor. I am VERY thankful for my strong support system and for having had the opportunity to know and feel LOVE every day of my life. And I bask in that love.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

All the Way to the Top, Baby!

I'm not the type of person who likes to exercise. In fact, if it isn't dancing, or taking a slow 30 minute walk on my lunch break, you usually won't catch me doing it. Why? It has just never been appealing to me...that is until my brother's friend, Kelly (who I happen to admire a great deal), mentioned that she and a few of her lady friends go hiking every weekend. She invited me along. I asked her whether they are "professional hikers" because I didn't want to get out there and embarrass myself, and she assured me I would be just fine. I was finally able to hook up with them yesterday, and let me tell was amazing!

When I first got to the hiking location, I felt VERY overwhelmed. I saw quite a few people walking to the top of a hill that looked like Mount Everest to me. I texted my best friend and my hubby that I didn't think I would be able to do it. I DEFINITELY wanted to quit before I started. I hoped and prayed that Kelly and her crew didn't plan to go ALL the way to the top. The sight of hill tired me out! I had almost finished my entire bottle of water before we even got started.

The ladies were awesome. They had all hiked before, but they were encouraging and told me that the hike--up to the tip top of the hill and back down--would only take about an hour. They assured me that I could do it.

25 minutes later, with aching legs, a pumping heart, and a sweat drenched shirt, I was at the top--overlooking the city of Los Angeles...feeling GREAT! It was exhilarating. The ladies talked and laughed their way up the hill. I was fairly quiet--just trying to breathe!

When they got to the top, an energetic Kelly said, "Ok ladies...down and back up or halfway down and back up?" I thought I was going to pass out. There is NO WAY she just asked that question, I thought. Heck, my only hope was that I would be able to get down the hill and then back to my car. On that note, I bid the ladies farewell. One showed me the "proper" way for a beginner to get down the hill. And then I was on my way.

Heading down, I passed many people and all of them were breathing just as heavily as I was (which made me feel good). I couldn't help but wonder why people would torture themselves this way...and yet I already knew that I would be back again soon. One guy saw the desperation in my eye and told me to be strong. "Only five more steps," he said...There were more like 25 more steps. I couldn't give him my usual friendly response, but I managed to smile.

When I hit the bottom of the hill I didn't look back. I high stepped to the car with the biggest grin on my face. I was VERY proud of myself. I did it...and I can't wait to do it again.

Thanks for the invite, Kelly! :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Turn it Over

Some of the greatest advice I ever received was from my big brother, Wimberly. One day we sat in the living room at my parents’ home and he listened while I poured my heart out about some things I was going through. At the time, I was VERY overwhelmed with guilt, sadness, hurt, anger and disappointment. Through tears I told my brother that if I did a few things differently I could make everything better. Although I had been unsuccessfully working on the same problem for a number of years, I refused to give up. I had a plan and I would win!
My brother stopped my ranting and said something that has stuck with me from that day to this—something that has made a world of difference in how I handle situations. He reminded me that I am NOT God and have no control over ANYONE else. He suggested that I stop trying to fix things, stop trying to force people to be people they are not, and COMPLETELY turn my situation over to the Lord. Just because I created the problem didn’t mean I had to solve it. In fact, that was my biggest mistake—trying to handle a situation that God wanted to handle for me.

He was right.

The problem: For many years I had been unsuccessfully trying to fix a problem I had created. My failure made me feel terrible about myself and prevented me from growing and moving forward. I was stuck, bitter, and mad at myself and everyone else. The enemy laughed.

The solution: JESUS!

The lesson: We often find ourselves in quicksand because we ignore the warning signs. We use all our strength to get out, but can’t. Our inability to rescue ourselves leads to more and more frustration. God, however, is standing near holding His hand out and offering to pull us out and safely place us back on solid ground. Yet we look away, flail our arms, and sink even more. How silly is that?

It is IMPOSSIBLE for us to solve our problems better than the Master can. He knows what is best for ALL involved, and He is able to thoroughly rectify problems in a way where there is nothing we can do but give Him the praise. He wants us to give our problems to Him and leave them there. As hard as it may be, you have to! We are His beloved. Trust that He will work it out every time.

My testimony: I am 100% confident that EVERYTHING will be just fine. The stress has been lifted. I am much happier, content, and secure knowing that the One who created the world, the One who holds the future, the One who can do anything He wants to do is working everything out for me. And I give Him the praise! The Devil has been DEFEATED. I have the VICTORY. God gets the GLORY!

“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Psalms 55:22)

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Music Thing - My Hip Hop and R&B Dilemma

Back in 2000, I was literally addicted to Hip Hop. I had been collecting CDs for a while—DMX, Luke, Ruff Rydas, Nas, Jay-Z, Kurupt, Tha Dogg Pound, Snoop, Dre, Suga Free, Akinyele, Juvenile, Biggie, Pac, Eve, DJ Quik, Trina—you name it, I had it. And if you named it, and I didn't have it, I would have gone and gotten it. You couldn’t get in the car with me without me bumping one of these artists full blast.

One morning I woke up, got dressed, and headed down to my car only to find that it had been broken into and all my CDs had been stolen. I was devastated. The police took a report over the phone, but refused to come out and look for fingerprints or take pictures. In other words, justice would never be served. My CDs were GONE and I would never get them back. I was miserable.

A few days later, I heard that little voice that I hear from time to time and it said that the reason my CDs had been stolen was because I had no business listening to them in the first place. Nothing about my music said that I was a Christian. I argued back and forth with the voice for months and eventually decided to buy ALL the same CDs over again. I was very stubborn…and I LOVED my music. Looking back I can say that at the time I even idolized the music and the artists. Now you know that was not AT ALL pleasing to God...

For nine more years I listened to filth. I thought about the filth that I listened to. And then I engaged in filthy behavior. All the while I knew that it was wrong, but I just kept right on at it--The filth is what made me fit in, right? (Stinking thinking.)

Fast forward to 2009. The little voice got louder. It told me to get rid of the music. Throw everything away…EVERYTHING—even the R&B. It was not conducive to the life I want to live…obedience is better than sacrifice. But, I didn’t want to sacrifice and I didn't want to obey. For the next few months I reasoned with the voice. Could I sell the CDs on Amazon or Craigslist? NO. They needed to be thrown away. Could I give them to someone who would appreciate them? NO. They needed to be thrown away. Could I sell them at a yard sale? NO. They needed to be thrown away. I thought about how much money I had spent over the years. I thought about all the places I had been when I first heard my favorite songs. I thought about all the people I had known. I put the CDs in my changer and played them loudly, but the music didn’t do anything for me anymore…and still the voice said to get rid of them...

God also placed a few people in my life who He knew I needed to hear…one girl who I got back in touch with on Facebook just out of the blue mentioned that a few years ago she had gone through the same struggle with music. We went to high school together and she loved hip hop just as much as I did (and maybe even more). She said she had lots of magazines and all the CDs you could imagine. Her husband was in love with hip hop as well. She said they both decided that the messages in many of the songs did not coincide with their Christian walk and so they threw all their CDs away. They got rid of all their magazines. They turned their speakers to more positive things and they hadn't looked back. She said that she totally understood how I felt and that she would support me and pray with me. Thank God for Sharisma.

Second…God placed a 13 year old young man in my life who proudly blasted Christian artists like Lecrae, Trip Lee, The Ambassador, Fred Hammond, Tye Tribbette, Tha T.R.U.T.H., etc. He was unashamed to tell his father that he didn't want to listen to Jay-Z. I thought back to when I was 13 and just wanted to fit in. I thought about the dances I did and the songs I loved and I hung my head. I NEVER would have asked someone to turn off Ice Cube and put on Kirk Franklin. NEVER. Here was a 13 year old standing boldly and witnessing by standing out from the crowd and proclaiming his love for God and here I was 27 years old and afraid of what a life without hip hop would be. I thank God for Shomari. He has been one of my biggest inspirations and my prayer is that even as he grows older he will stand firm on his beliefs, regardless of what the crowd is doing.

My conviction ended up being so strong that I threw away the CDs…and they were everywhere. Just when I thought I had trashed the last of them, others would pop up in unexpected places and tempt me all over again. But I kept tossing. I deleted my old youtube and pandora playlists.

I replaced the old hip hop and R&B titles with gospel music...and I haven't looked back.

Now if you get in the car with me, if I’m not playing Christian rap I am either listening to a motivational speaker, a message from church, or something else positive and uplifting. I am trying my hardest to keep a right mind. I'm trying to be an example for my children. (You can't imagine the joy I feel in my spirit when my two year old waves her hands and chants, "I'mma Saint, I'mma Saint..." It's too cute.)

Everyone's walk is different. Some people listen to and process music differently than I did. For me, the negative music had me thinking all kinds of negative and ungodly things. It was an idol for me and it HAD TO GO. I am thankful that God was patient with me. 10 years ago, He placed on my heart JUST what needed to be done. For 10 years I didn't want to hear it. I disobeyed Him. Now I have finally listened to His direction and I am VERY happy. My desire is no longer towards dropping it like it's hot or candy shops, and I am NOT missing out at all.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Find a Penny, Pick it Up

My mommy always told me that it’s important to think highly of myself. She made it a point to tell me that she loved herself and thought she was beautiful. She didn’t care what anyone else said about her. She knew who she was and she loved who she was.

With that said, my mom has ALWAYS walked with her eyes glued to the ground—not because she lacks confidence, but because she is looking for money. My mother can spot a coin or bill faster than any other person I know. Her walking buddies are awed by her coin-finding dexterity.

When I was in Junior High it embarrassed me so much. She would literally park her car after school and come on campus to pick me up. She would walk around the courtyard and clean up on all the pennies the kids dropped. She didn’t HAVE to pick up pennies. (She REALLY didn’t.) But she enjoyed it. I remember her going home and excitedly telling my father how much money she would find each day. He would smile. I would hang my head.

To help me get over my embarrassment, my mother explained that it takes pennies to make dollars. Many times it is the poorest people who turn their nose up at pennies (or any other coin for that matter). Often they drop them just because, or leave them when they inadvertently drop them just because, or even step over them because they are too embarrassed to pick them up. That mentality keeps people poor. I paid attention and found that she was right.

15 years later I am an official Penny Picker-Upper. I find pennies everywhere—parking lots, grocery stores, sidewalks, restrooms—you name it. I am ridiculously happy when I find them too. And if I don’t pick them up, I point them out to my oldest daughter and she happily picks them up. Afterwards, I make sure I explain that she has received a blessing. It takes pennies (nickels, dimes, and quarters) to make dollars and that she should never be ashamed to add a little cash to her stash in this manner.

My advice to my children: You are beautiful. Be proud of who God created you to be. You’re nothing shy of a masterpiece. You are a “Designer’s Original…” Keep your head up, but keep those eyes glued to the ground. You never know what you’ll find.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Family Reunion

Last weekend my family and I headed to Waterproof, Louisiana for our reunion. For the first time ever I was able to ride down the Louisiana highways and see the beauty of it all. I usually see the cotton fields and find myself angry. The humidity usually takes my hair to new heights—LITERALLY. This time my hair was already upset with me before I got there, so the moisture in the air didn’t make a difference at all. The bugs, after introducing themselves and scaring me senseless, flew away and minded their business. The cool breeze against my face was so crisp and refreshing. The stillness and peacefulness of it all was so relaxing.

The family barbeque at the park was actually more like a barbeque in the field, but it was perfect nonetheless.

Hardly ever do I see people who look anything like me in L.A., but at the reunion, foreheads and high, bold cheekbones were everywhere and I absolutely LOVED it. I was there with my people in the place where my father called home for many years of his life, and I felt right at home too.

My father took us on a tour on Saturday after the BBQ. We passed by his mother’s home, which he was quite proud of. I could see the memories flooding back while he walked around and took it all in. He showed us the old Negro schools, which were shut down with integration, when separate but equal was ruled unconstitutional. We drove to the top of the levy that he enjoyed standing on as a boy. We visited my grandparents’ graves and said a prayer. We drove through “town,” which consisted of a post office, a tiny city hall-type building, and about three other businesses.

It was very important to my dad that we all be there together, and I’m glad I was able to make it. I did a lot of complaining before I got there—4 airline tickets (because Halle JUST turned 2), a rental car, hotel, and food costs for a weekend trip can really hurt a girl in these uncertain economic times—but it ended up being worth every penny.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Be Fearless and Soar

I usually try to keep my dreams within city limits. In other words, if it’s in or around L.A., I’m with it. Don’t count me in, if it’s not. Any thought of packing up and leaving my family and everything else I know and love in L.A. has always been ephemeral. I thought about moving to Kentucky once until that little voice inside reminded me that I’m a Cali girl. Kentucky couldn’t handle me. I thought about North Carolina for a spell, but those darn Confederate flags on the fronts of pick-up trucks really piss me off. Then there was Atlanta. I thought about Spelman, but opted for CSUN because it was near my mom and dad.

This past weekend, I met a guy who totally blew my mind. His name is Brian O’Connell and he’s been in Los Angeles for 10 years. He moved here from North Carolina to pursue his acting dreams. Brian is headlining shows in Hollywood, he is amazing on stage, and above all he is happy because he is living his dreams. He is fearless and confident—a combination that has made all the difference in the world. If he had been unable to dream outside of North Carolina, he would have blocked so many of his blessings. He might not have ever realized the true extent of his passion and his love for the stage.

He might be doing something in technology or maybe he would have been teaching (two VERY honorable careers…I’m not at all knocking them), but he wouldn’t have been on a stage in Hollywood every week doing what he LOVES. He might have been tracking storms or sitting behind a news desk (again two VERY honorable careers), but he wouldn’t have felt the sensation of standing on stage and hearing the applause of a satisfied audience after he rocked an improv performance…

This past weekend I learned so much from Brian. I learned that if I want success and fulfillment, I can’t be afraid to take a giant step outside of my comfort zone. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean packing up and moving 3,000 miles away. Sometimes it can simply mean joining a group that I wouldn’t ordinarily join, or setting up coffee meetings with people I admire. Sometimes it means starting a blog and forcing myself to write and post something new every week. Sometimes it means boldly telling the world who I am and what I have to offer. It definitely means doing what I love.  Today I challenge myself to be fearless and soar…

No. Today I choose to be fearless and soar.

(Check out Brian O'Connell at

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It Happened for a Reason

When I was at Audubon back in ’95 I started to think about what high school I would attend. My home school was Dorsey, a school that I KNEW was NOT for me. Hamilton High was my first option. I had heard that they had the best music academy and at the time I didn’t think there was such a thing as life outside of the performing arts. I mistakenly wrote down the number for Hollywood Performing Arts Magnet on my Choices application and was accepted there. The problem was that there was NO part of me that wanted to attend Hollywood High. I had never even heard of Hollywood High before 1995.

I was devastated.

I begged my mother not to make me go to Dorsey. Although my sister had gone there 10 years earlier I didn’t want to. I didn’t think it was a safe place. After all, it was too close to the notorious Jungles (as seen in Training Day). Dorsey just didn’t match the image I wanted for myself. I pleaded with my mom to let me go to Crenshaw instead. She said no. She knew people at Dorsey and was confident that it would be a great place for me.

I cried and cried…

And then I cried some more.

4 years later I graduated from Dorsey (D-House) with honors, thousands of dollars in scholarships, great friends to last a life-time, and experiences that I couldn’t have had anywhere else. It ended up being one of the most nurturing places with a staff who genuinely cared about the students’ success. The stats may not have been the best, but it was the perfect school for me. I was encouraged to pursue my dreams, to think creatively, and to demand success.

Looking back I see that God’s hand was all over my high school “mishap” turned blessing. Why hadn’t I checked (and re-checked) the numbers I wrote down on my Choices application? Why was my mom so opposed to me attending Crenshaw High? Why was Hollywood High so unappealing to me?

It all happened the way it did because it was in God’s divine plan for me to attend D-House! It was meant for me to be a Don. It was meant for me to be the Co-Captain of Pep Squad in 10th Grade, the school Mascot in the 11th Grade, and a Cheerleader my senior year. It was meant for me to be a member of Young Black Scholars, Knights and Ladies, Junior Statesmen of America, Choir, and Play Production. It was meant for me to participate in the Career Awareness Program and the Fox STAR Mentor program. It was meant for me to meet every student, teacher, mentor, and administrator that I met. It was meant for me to be in an environment that inspired and motivated me to soar. I am who I am today for many reasons, but one of them is because I was first a Don. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Romans 8:28

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Can Stand with You in Prayer (For My Children)

Somewhere along my journey I lost my ability to communicate my feelings openly and confidently to others. If someone hurt my feelings, I would close myself up in the back bathroom and cry. If someone upset me, I would close myself up in my room and sleep the anger away. If someone did something to offend me, I would try to find ways to deal with that person in a loving way without ever addressing the offense in hopes that I would eventually just “get over it.”

When serious matters arose in my life and forced me to make decisions about things that would affect me and many of my loved ones for the rest of our lives, I was so tangled in my own thoughts and so lost in my own emotional turmoil that my vision became more and more blurred. The line between right and wrong was vague. The distinction between things of significance and the small stuff that really didn’t matter became less clear.

I wrote in journals A LOT throughout my teenage and young adult years. I figured it was best to write in journals and deal with issues on my own than to talk with others—and I mean REALLY talk with others—who genuinely cared for me, wouldn’t judge me, would pray with me, and wanted what was best for me. The problem with that is that the enemy had a chance to get into my psyche and place some thoughts there that, when watered by me, grew into actions that I was not the most proud of and had consequences I would have to deal with for the rest of my life. I was so ashamed that I shut down even more. And I shut others out even more. My prayer life suffered. I felt guilty and unworthy to approach my Heavenly Father.

How could I pray for forgiveness when there was no telling if I would do the exact same thing again? How could I witness to others when I felt like such a sinner? How could I stand in front of God’s people when I had been so low the night before?

I could go so many directions with this, but I will stick with my original intention and address other points at a later time. For now I just want to say that while it is imperative that we have alone time with the Lord spent praying, listening to, and strengthening our relationship with Him, it is not a good idea to shut others out. God intended for us to have relationships, friendships and interactions with other people. We can draw strength and support from other positive people that He places in our life.

It is a trick of the enemy to convince us to cease interaction with other strong, positive people who are on fire for the Lord. He wants to get into our minds and make us feel terribly guilty and inadequate. Satan rejoices when we are isolated and stop communicating with God. He loves to watch us falling further and further into sin and moving further and further away from the Master.

Thank God He loves us in spite of ourselves. Thank God He continues to tenderly call out to us to return to Him. Thank God for His grace and mercy.

I want you to know that no matter what, I love you. I am here for you. I want what’s best for you. When I don’t know the answers I will tell you JUST that and pray with you through whatever situations may arise in your life. No matter how bad things seem, no matter how upset you think I will be, no matter how disappointed you are in yourself, you can ALWAYS talk to me. Chances are I’ve been where you are or know someone who has been who can provide spiritual guidance and sound counsel. Your life is yours to live. I can’t live it for you, but I can stand with you in prayer.

Friday, August 20, 2010

For My Daughters

God made you beautiful. He blessed you with amazing skin, captivating eyes, luxurious hair, and all the other things that make up “stunning good looks.” He fashioned you in His image and when He was finished He said, “It is good.”

Don’t ever allow yourselves to get caught up in society’s ideals of “beauty” captured in airbrushed images in magazines or by made up celebrities on television. You’d be surprised by the illusions a camera and some make up can create. Short people appear taller, skinny people appear thicker, old people appear younger. It is very deceiving. Some people look in the mirror, frown at what they see because it is so different than what is in the media, and turn to plastic surgery, unhealthy diets, and other unnatural means to alter their images. I pray this is never an issue for you.

Don’t allow the enemy to trick you into feeling insecure about the beautiful masterpiece God created you to be. The color of your skin, the color of your hair, the curve of your hips, the reach of your arms, the length of your legs—all of those things were determined by the Master before the beginning of time. He doesn’t make any mistakes, so there’s no way your lips are too big, or your hair too nappy, or your ears too pointy. You are just as you were meant to be. Stunning. Gorgeous. Uniquely beautiful, YOU!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Things That Make Her Happy

She doesn’t care anything about a day at the nail spa or relaxing at Burke Williams.

She’s not interested in dinner at a fancy restaurant.

She will probably fall asleep in the latest action movie.

She couldn’t care less about shopping sprees at the ritziest establishments.

Trips around the world don’t excite her anymore.

She will attend a musical, but she won’t care to understand it.

You can shower her with gifts but she’ll tell you to take them back if they cost too much.

It was when I figured this out that I was finally able to love her in her language.

An hour at a thrift store or flea market is exciting for her.

Spending time with her sister in North Carolina is relaxing to her.

Sitting at the kitchen table and having a conversation about roses means the world to her.

Playing a game of Trouble or sharing ice cream with her girls makes her feel special.

A lightly-seasoned home-cooked meal is her thing and she will brag about how great it tastes.

A thirty minute conversation with her oldest daughter or her only son makes her day complete.

An entire day outside selling goods at a yard-sale is exhilarating.

Washing her hair or oiling her scalp is the best way to pamper her!

A kind word from her husband makes her smile on the inside.

Taking inventory of her trinkets, polishing her silver, reading the first chapters of a book, taking notes in shorthand, dancing to her own off-key singing, clipping coupons, baking a home-made cake…

These are simple things and they are what matter most.

These are all the things that make her happy.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Percent Breakdown

Amari received a $100 check from her grandmother. She was so excited! Before she did anything with it, we sat down to discuss how it would be used: 10% for tithes, 10% to a charitable organization of her choosing (which she decided would go to provide toiletries for people on Skid Row), some to her savings account, and the rest could be used for whatever she wanted. She chose to put 40% in the bank and to keep the remaining 40% to buy all the things I normally say no to—candy, chocolate milk, unhealthy snacks, etc. I watched her. She spent her money VERY slowly. She made and revised lists and bought only the things she really wanted and only IF they were on sale.

What ended up bringing the biggest smile to my face was the fact that she decided to buy her little sister a birthday present with some of her money. We went to Babies R Us, just to look around, and she headed to the sales rack and found an adorable pair of pajamas on sale for 8 dollars. She insisted on buying them for Halle. I reminded her that she only had 11 dollars left at the time, and with tax, she wouldn’t have very much left once she purchased the PJ’s. “That’s ok,” she said. “I want to get Halle something really nice.”

Later on we had (yet another) little talk. I told her that I was proud of her. I told her to remember during her life that whenever she receives a financial blessing, she should ALWAYS tithe. It is a practice that she must make a habit even at a young age. That way it won’t be difficult when she gets older. I told her that she is always to use a portion of her blessing to bless another. I assured her that she would be blessed beyond measure for this. “Don’t give to receive, but understand that you will receive when you give. It’s just the way things work.”

I told her that she should always save and invest—not necessarily for a rainy day, but for financial freedom. (If I had begun as a child there’s no telling how far along I’d be.)

I’ll eventually throw in that a portion of her earnings/gifts should always go toward increasing her knowledge base, but for now I’ll cover the costs associated with that.

I admire that Amari stuck with her spending game plan. Although we didn’t put the $40 in the bank right away, she held on to it. She didn’t dip into it (as I may have if it were mine and sat around too long). She definitely has what it takes to do great things! She has tons of drive. She is focused. She knows how to prioritize. She understands beyond her years. She listens to my lectures and really tries to internalize my messages. She sets goals and achieves them! She is my little hero. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness

When I was in elementary school, I was the featured singer in 2 or 3 concerts at my father’s church. It was a very special thing for me. One year there was a write up about me in the A.C.C., which is a newspaper distributed to African American churches throughout the city of Los Angeles to keep everyone posted on church events. I received a post-card from a random older lady who saw the A.C.C. write-up and said she was proud of me, happy that I loved the Lord, and wished me the best in my future endeavors. It was a VERY kind and encouraging gesture. She didn’t know me and had never even heard of me before the write-up, but she wanted to let me know that she supported me. I will never forget that. I don’t know her name and I misplaced the post-card, but I will NEVER forget her random act of kindness.

I hope I am able to encourage someone in the same way. Whenever I am presented with an opportunity to say a kind word or give a token to a young person who is doing something positive, I don’t let it pass me by. It may be my random act of kindness that keeps her moving forward and feeling great about herself…even 20 years later.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Love—what a wonderful gift from God! When I come home in the afternoon and see the smile on Halle’s face and hear the screams of excitement coming from her little mouth, I feel loved. When Amari runs to the door with a huge smile on her face and her arms stretched wide awaiting my embrace, I feel loved. When my mother meets me at the front door of her home, her eyes light up as she leans in for a kiss, and I feel loved. When my father tells me to “Hold my jaw” for a little “head sugar” I feel loved. When Shannon holds me in his arms and looks me in my eyes, I feel loved.

Each morning when I awake, I feel God’s presence. Every moment of each day, I can feel His tender touch as I see Him move in EVERY aspect of my life. I KNOW that I am His child. Because of His grace and unmerited favor I know that He cares for me. He is good! He is ALMIGHTY and with Him ALL things are possible. He has blessed me with far more than I deserve. In Him I find rest, peace, security, and comfort. He IS LOVE and He loves ME and His LOVE is the greatest feeling in the world. Knowing that a God so GRAND loves EVEN ME brings great JOY. Hallelujah.