Monthly Archives: September 2010

One Single Mom’s Story

Overwhelmed The Life of a Single Mom BookCoverAs the nurse left the room of the local, free health unit, tears began to roll down my face. My 17-year-old frame began to shake uncontrollably. The nurse confirmed that I was indeed pregnant. I was six months along, homeless, and alone. I had no money, no job, and no future. What would I do with a baby? Just a few months ago, I was Class President, Valedictorian, and on my way to a top-notch university with a full paid scholarship. Now, my life was over. And there was nothing I could do.

As a child, I had already walked through my share of heartache. My mother was killed when I was only a year old. Consequently, I was raised by my father, who used alcohol to mask his pain. My father married a total of six times and my home became a revolving door of misfits of every kind. I was but three years old when I began being molested by my stepbrother. This led to a series of sexual abuses over the next nine years at the hands of step-relatives, neighbors, and family friends. With the incoming of each new stepmother, I experienced a different agony. The loss of a “mother” became quite common. My stepmothers were rarely kind. I suffered beatings, malnourishment, and emotional torture at their hands.

Is it any wonder that I fell into sexual promiscuity at the ripe, old age of thirteen? Although I was a bright student, I never quite felt that I measured up. I never felt good enough. At 13, I became desperate for attention, love, and validation, and became sexually active. This led to a series of mistakes. By the time I was 17 years old, I found myself pregnant for the third time. Two miscarriages should have been my clue that my life was quickly spiraling out of control, but here I was, a 17-year-old graduating senior with a third baby in my belly.

It wasn’t long after my father found out about the pregnancy that he quickly ushered me from the family home, never inviting me to live with them again. I was on my own. Where would I go? What would I do? I had the clothes on my back, a few items in a luggage, and that was it. That was all I was left of my past. My future had been flushed away and I was certain I had ruined my life. The father of my child traveled away to college and offered little support. It was in that moment that I had a choice to make. Would I allow this to defeat me or would I pull myself up by the bootstraps and make a way for myself and my soon-coming child? I chose the latter and began my new life immediately.

The future seemed bleak, at first. The best I could do was obtain government housing and used food stamps and welfare to help make ends meet. I landed a full-time job ten days after giving birth and started college full-time during the evenings. I had little furniture, no extra money, and an old clunker of a car that left me roadside weekly. But I was making it. It wasn’t glamorous or perfect, but it was a life. I began to see a glimmer of hope. However, my long-term boyfriend came home from college on summer break and in an instant, I found myself pregnant again.

I was embarrassed and ashamed. I was emotionally devastated and was the closest to suicide that I had ever been. I began to take a hard look at my life. Where was it going? Would I always be a single mom living below the poverty line, unable to give my children the things they needed? How does a 4.0 scholarship recipient go from the fast track to a dead end so quickly? I began to toy with the idea of going back to church. Despite my past, I had always been in and out of church. I knew the ways of God and the things of God. But how could I go back? I had two kids outside of marriage and a barrage of other mistakes lingering in my past. They weighed on me like the weight of a thousand years and I was certain the walls of the church would cave in when I walked through the door. But……………I went anyway.

I would like to tell you that I had some life-changing, God-encounter on my first trip back to church, but I didn’t. However, I did commit to continue going. Before long, I found myself attending two to three times a week. Slowly, very slowly, I began to have a new outlook on life. I was refreshed, optimistic, and more at peace than I’d ever been. During one of the Sunday services, the pastor began to speak on the principle of tithing– giving ten percent of your income to the church. This was not the first time I’d heard the concept, but my instant thought was “How can I give the church money when I barely make ends meet?” Over the next several months, I could not stop thinking about tithing and what the pastor had said. I decided to give it a try.

Within six months of writing my first tithe check, I landed a job almost doubling my meager income. It wasn’t enough to get me off food stamps, but it was a start. I remained faithful. There were plenty of bumps in the road, but I never wavered with my church attendance or tithing. Within two years, I landed one of the most coveted jobs in our area and eventually became a highly-recognized corporate executive in our Fortune 500 company. To God be the glory! With his grace and mercy, he had chosen to pull me from the depths of financial poverty and put me on solid ground. I was living the life I had only dreamed about – taking lavish vacations, driving a luxury car, and purchasing a lovely home. I didn’t deserve any of this, but my Father in Heaven loved me enough to bless me with those things. He didn’t care about my past mistakes, the choices I’d made. He loved me. It wasn’t long before he brought me the man of my dreams and we married shortly, thereafter.

I eventually left that Corporate America job and all its lavish amenities to pursue my God-given passion of ministering to single moms. I embarked on a journey of reaching out to the poor and hurting – the widow, the teen mom, the divorcee. Through the generosity and leadership of Healing Place Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, we opened the HPC Single Moms Ministry, now working with more than 200 women on a bi-weekly basis. Praise God that he never leaves us where we are. Praise God he hasn’t forgotten a single one of us. Praise God his word is true and all of us have a story for his glory!

Jennifer Maggio’s new book Overwhelmed: The Life of a Single Mom details her gut-wrenching tale of drama and hardship through her single mom journey, but ends in praising God for all he taught her along the way. The book offers a 12-part Bible study ideal for single mother’s ministries. Jennifer has personally counseled more than 400 single moms and currently travels sharing her story. She has been featured on CBN.com and The Carolyn Gable Radio Show, along with many others.

Suicide Couldn’t Destroy Me

Prophet Oliver T Reid PictureMy life was no different from any other individual who has felt helpless, hopeless, meaningless, and restless. Only through the endless love, grace, and mercy of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I’m alive to write my story today. Similar to some of you reading this page right now, I was practically born and raised inside of the protected and fortified walls of church. It was no surprise that I became a minister of the gospel. My grandfather was a Methodist preacher, my mother was a pastor, and I always aspired to one day carry on the legacy. However after my matriculation from high school and enrollment into college I began to explore my surroundings like most young scholars who find themselves away from home for the first time. Attending church on Sunday’s quickly became a thing of the past, and my relationship with Christ diminished. In place of my day to day fellowship with Jesus Christ I occupied my time with parties, social events, and a long distance love affair that I had been involved in for four years. I barely talked to God in prayer anymore or called on his name for anything, my social life, and my thirst for my love affair became everything to me. Little by little I became more and more sadden as my smiles turned to frowns and internal cries turned to external tears. Each passing day my pain grew deeper and it became extremely difficult to get out of bed in the morning. On the outside I continued to be the life of the party and maintained a cool persona, but inside all I wanted to do was sleep, cry, and win the internal war intensifying within me. The more I tried to hold on to my love affair the weaker spiritually, mentally, and emotionally I became. No longer could a long distant love affair soothe my pain, I was in need of God’s Agape (unconditional) love.

“MY BREAKING POINT”
After months of eagerly trying to find eternal peace, joy, and love within temporary circumstances the straw had finally broken the camels back and I reached my breaking point. Christmas day 1995 following a heated disagreement with my mother over my long distance relationship I began to cycle out of control letting all of my suppressed feelings and emotions out at once. Verbally I displaced all of my anger and frustration from my own internal struggles onto my mom. My mother immediately began to cry as she fell paralyzed by my verbal lashing and the fact that she could no longer recognize her son’s voice. Anger, frustration, and pain had become the driving forces behind my words and I didn’t care at that time about the effects of them on others. Shortly after my disagreement between my mom and I, instantly I felt guilty, and at a loss for words regarding the dispute that had just occurred between my mother and I. I didn’t mean to hurt her by pouring all of my emotional trash out on her. See I love my mom dearly. How could I have ever disrespect mom in such a manner? Feeling cornered by the spirit of Self Destruction I proceeded to lock myself in my bedroom and at that moment I could heard suicide’s voice ever so clearly. The spirit of suicide started to flip through the files of my life in order to remind me of all of my failures, sorrow, pain, anger, rejection, and meaningless victories. My perception of suicide’s false truths caused me to collapse onto my bed, the tears of agony started to stream down my face staining the pillows underneath me. The Spirit of Self Destruction whispered distorted facts that no one understood my struggles and reassured me that I could trust his father Satan. Self Destruction instructed me to end it all, and encouraged me that I would feel better after I was gone. I replied by way of mental thought to the Spirit of Self Destruction by asking are you certain that this is the only way out? Self Destruction answered with one of the greatest lies Satan ever told, God will forgive you this is the only way out.

“FAILED ATTEMPT”
Under the coaching and constant pressure from both the spirit of Self Destruction and Suicide I finally yielded to follow its lead. Determining quickly that I didn’t want to experience any more pain I slowly opened my room door and headed right for my mother’s medicine cabinet. I hastily scrambled choosing six pills from a small bottle with a faded label. Take note there was no time to waste, I was under the influence of suicide and self destruction following through was my only option. Closing my room door behind me I grasped tightly onto the six pills and with no need for water I swallowed them one by one. Shortly after ingesting the pills my vision became blurry, everything around me went blank, and I was told that I began to hyperventilate. Preceding these changes of events my sister walked in my room and found me collapsed on the bed. My sister quickly informed my mother of the situation and immediately called 911.

Rushing to my aid the paramedics checked my vital signs and quickly loaded me on to a stretcher. On the way to the hospital I vividly remember the sounds of the ambulance sirens, engine purring, bumps in the road, and the noise of the medical equipment moving back and forth. Nevertheless I will never forget the voice of the EMS attendant as he looked down into my flushed brown face and said these words in a calm tone “You know you are going to be fine because Jesus Loves You”. Then he ensued to clutch my trembling hands and with no more words exchanged I could feel the peaceful presence of God’s Holy Spirit like never before. I knew from that point on I would be more than ok and that my attempt to end my life had been unsuccessful. After arriving to the hospital I searched for the EMT that had ministered words of comfort to me however, I never saw that gentleman again. Praise the Lord! Suicide tried but couldn’t destroy me because God had put a but in my life.

Prophet Oliver T. Reid is a nationally and internationally recognized Speaker, Poet, Author, and Founder of O.T.R. Ministries International www.otrministries.com

Surrender40

Surrender40 ButtonSurrender40 began as a voice from God speaking to our founder, Trachena Muchnick on the eve of Christmas, 2008. No explanation, no real direction at that point, except that she knew that it WAS HIS voice telling her to Feed His Sheep on the mean streets of downtown Miami, Florida. Miami is among the Top 5 Un-Churched cities in America. By its very nature and reputation, a party town and a very dark, drug infested city! Obedient to His voice, Trachena, along with her husband and co-founder, Steve, began to organize what is now known as Surrender40, Inc. a tax-exempt non profit ministry.

The ultimate dream of Surrender40 is to someday open a shelter for people coming out of prison, or who desire to get off the streets and devote their lives to the very God who created them and will NEVER stop loving them. They will be placed in a 40 day program where they will learn structure, skills, and scripture, in order to regain the self worth that God intended for us all to have since we are created by Him and for Him. They will then turn around to disciple others in the same way that they were trained up!

Surrender40 is blessed with the privilege of feeding over 200 people every two weeks as well as handing out Bibles, socks, clothing, hygiene items and BEST of all preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost and homeless of Miami. The ministry also visits inmates at the Homestead Correctional Facility as well as other prisons around the country when we are called. In addition, we have a hospital team that prays for and ministers to sick people in various Florida hospitals.

To learn more about Surrender40 visit their website – www.surrender40.com or email them at surrender40FL@aol.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/surrender40
Facebook – www.facebook.com/surrender40
YouTube – www.youtube.com/surrender40

Meet V.Ophelia Rigaul

Ophelia Rigault PictureOphelia resides in Kingston, Ontario Canada.

Her hobbies include Finding new ways to live my best life. Meditating. Reading Inspirational Books. Power Walking. Sharing my knowledge with other women.

Bio:

Too many women today have adapted their natural female behavior to fit a very masculine energetic world and in doing so have lost something magical and profound!

Women want to let go of the feeling of being ‘stuck’ and go to feeling ‘Sensational!’

What is the problem?

Many women lack the tools and guidance to from feeling pitiful to feeling POWERFUL!

About your Business:

With this powerful motivation in mind, Ophelia created her DARE 2B A D.I.V.A.™ based on the premise of Ophelia’s own personal mantra :

‘You can’t love someone else until you first love yourself’. DARE 2B A D.I.V.A.™ will:

Create an new awareness of yourself so it’s impossible not to love who you!

Will lead you to a place of discovery where you will truly know yourself!

Connect you to your Divine essence!

Motivate you to celebrate the power and guidance of your Intuition!

Leave you with a grand life Vision.

Who do you want to connect with:

Women who want to dare to let go of emotional blocks that are stopping them from living a great life now. You may be successful in the board room – but are you happy when you at peace at night in your bedroom?

She wants to connect with Women who truly want to let go of the ‘I shoulds – the mother/father issues – women who are emotionally healthy but are still feeling stuck in an area. She thrives in going to a dark area with a client – and be there as a spiritual life coach so they can truly become a D.I.V.A.

Visit her site here.

Meet Victoria Gwinn

Victoria Gwinn Picture AVictoria resides in Atlanta, GA.

Her hobbies include Writing, Singing, Shopping, and Social Media.

Bio:

Your Thoughts, LLC is a Professional Writing, Personal Assistant, and Virtual Administrative Assisting Company. We cater to all of your writing needs which include: business plans, proposal writing, dissertation editing/review, resume and cover letter writing, official and unofficial correspondence, book/ghostwriting, and so much more! Our writing services have no limits for the business professional or student that seeks our services.

Your Thoughts, LLC supports CEOs, CFOs, small and large businesses, and individuals who have a demanding schedule, countless calls, and an arduous work load that need a reliable personal assistant or virtual assistant to keep things organized and moving in the direction of stability, success, and growth. We also maintain all social media components for you to make sure that your brand is constantly visible to populations that support Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other prominent networking sites. Our personal assistants travel to assist all clients and to have face-to-face and hands-on interaction while our virtual administrative assistants use the most up-to-date technology to keep all clients ahead of schedule.

About her Business:

Your Thoughts, LLC is waiting on you to let go and allow us to take your dreams, plans, and visions to the next level! We will take care of you and your brand!

She wants to connect with anyone that is willing to allow her to add value to them in exchange for the same.

Visit her site here.

My Primary Purpose for Being An Entrepreneur

Regina Baker NewAs I was preparing to share this message with my friends on my Keeping It Real page on facebook, the thought came to me, why not share it here on my blog! So here it goes…

When I first got the idea for being in business for myself, it was June 1990. I was working in Corporate America and not very happy with my salary. I loved my job but the pay just didn’t come up to my expectations — I needed more, mind you I didn’t say, wanted more… we needed more to make ends meet.

Being the computer geek that I am, at that time I would create greeting cards, brochures, flyers, wedding and funeral programs for friends and family at no charge, simply because I loved doing it! Well, that’s until the day the light bulb came on …

“Start Your OWN Desktop Publishing Business ~ and make money doing what you love!”

Bingo… extra cash!

I gotta tell you, although I made some extra income here and there… it just didn’t turn out quite like I thought!

Why? Because I didn’t have a plan. I just thought business was going to come from…

where?… I dunno, LOL!

A lot of us start business the same way. We just know we want to do it without doing our home work first.

You see, there’s more to business than just an idea, DBA, bank account and computer.

It all begins with your mindset.

* If you’re a negative person, you’ll need to fix that.

* If you’re a “know it all person” (i.e., you have a problem with listening), you’ll need to fix that.

* If you’re hard headed, you’ll definitely need to fix that.

* If you’re in a box, you need to get out (you’re subconsciously suffocating).

* If you’re cheap and not willing to invest in yourself, let alone your business, you need to fix that.

* If it’s just about money, it will never last.

I’ll also share with you why there’s the 3% who make it in business and why 97% struggle on a continuous basis.

My problem was, I wanted to do it my way! I thought I had everything I needed. I didn’t want to listen to anyone else because my idea was better than they could ever tell me! I didn’t want to network, I didn’t want to read boring books, I didn’t want to go to workshops or attending seminars… I just wanted to design whatever was requested and pass out business cards!

Well needless to say… all of my business was based on word of mouth… uh, that equaled to approximately 45 to 50 customers.

My primary mistake? I made it about money. All I wanted was the extra cash and didn’t realize I was struggling in my business!

When the cash stopped flowing, I justified my business failing saying things like, ‘people don’t want to pay for anything’ and ‘I don’t know what to do to get more customers’ and ‘I don’t have time for this or that’…

it was pretty sad! I had justified failing… failure didn’t come to me… I quit on myself.

It wasn’t until years later, I realized or for a better choice of words… faced the truth about myself – that I was just flat out lazy and on top of the fact, scared to approach strangers… I had the big four letter word syndrome…

F E A R (false evidence appearing real)

Subconsciously I knew I was dealing with fear – I just didn’t want to face it – however, I knew I wanted to change it. I read a book by Mark Matteson entitled, “Freedom from Fear”, talking about revelation! This tiny little book changed a lot about what I was doing to myself! I had missed the whole perception about business because I chose to overlook my shortcomings.

SIDE NOTE: I’m a very spiritual person and that’s a personal relationship between me and God… its His direction, peace and promise that keeps me focused every single day (I believe in giving Praise to whom it’s due).

At this point, I wanted to read everything… well everything that pertained to self improvement (personal growth) and I had a mentor. He was a strong force in my [personal growth] life… he would say things to me that no one else could ever get away with (other than my Husband and Mom, LOL!)… He pushed me to dig deep, he encouraged me to try things I had never tried before, he insisted that I get out of my own way… to my purposed life. That’s not an easy journey… but it was one I welcomed because I wanted CHANGE. (All the things I didn’t want to do, I started doing!)

dunns_river_fallsDesiring change, opened up so many opportunities! I traveled all over – to places I never thought I would go! I ate at restaurants that I never thought about going to – we frequented Ritz Carlton hotels – I even climbed Dunn’s River Falls (in Jamaica) … yes me! I did it! LOL! (here’s a clip of the falls, not my clip just one I found on YouTube).

I’m saying all of this to say… even though I don’t have enough time to list everything I’ve been blessed to see, do, buy, etc., — those are not things I dreamed about! I didn’t have a dream and…

I Didn’t Have Purpose!

What I do know however, is that I’ve always wanted to help people. I just didn’t know that it would include making money, LOL!

I have a passion and that passion is helping people succeed in life and business and I get paid for doing it.

I allowed myself to get out of my own way… I stepped outside the box, no matter how fearful it was (cause let me tell you, when I saw Dunn River’s Fall… I was like, “who’s going to climb that? Not me! LOL!” – but I did. When I was told to speak in front of a room of hundreds of people, oh my gosh, talking about trembling! But I did that too…) because I knew my story would inspire others, even if it was only one person… I made a difference!

Today I have an entire different perspective of what business truly is – including my purpose. I’m a lover of people, right where they are IF, they desire to live life on and with purpose. When it comes to friends, I only associate with those who are positive (and yes, I’m human — sometimes we vent, but its not what we do every single day – we’re encourager’s!) I despise constant negative conversations, gossip and self justified (fit in) cliques. Removing such negativity from my life is a breath of fresh air.

The Truth WILL Set You Free

I’ve learned a very hard lesson and that is, business is not about money. Yes, there are those who would beg to differ and that’s okay for them… I’m just sharing my perspective. My sincere passion for helping others has afforded me the opportunity to be 100% self-employed for many years – I don’t have to answer to a manager, or punch a time clock, I set my own hours, and I go to lunch whenever I get ready. That’s important to me because that type of freedom allowed me to take care of my husband when he was terminally ill, to be there for my Mother when she needs me, to lay down my life and support my brother and to attend events if they are held during a week day without having to take a vacation day.

Is everyday peaches and cream? Heck NO! LOL! I still go through challenges and have obligations just like everybody else, but so does Oprah, etc., and the so called ‘gurus’ online – we’re all going through a process – there will never be perfection — money or no money!

And yes, money is very crucial to my overall needs however, the purpose, passion and commitment to educating myself regardless of what I *think* will or won’t work – overrides just thinking about money… the money comes as a result of reading, listening, commitment, mentors and my coach – this has made all the difference in the world and as my old mentor says: “it just gets gooder and gooder.” ;-)

Does this mean I’ve ‘arrived’ financially? Nope. I have a couple of bills that that are a thorn in my side — and with the same persistence, they’ll be gone VERY soon — however, money is no longer the primary reason I’m in business.

I’m constantly understanding the importance (unlike before) to have a plan — to rid myself of things that have no room for where I’m going (roadblocks that must be eliminated.)

Remember, it’s not about always having to be right! It’s about what’s the best solution/answer for your situation (even if you didn’t come up with it yourself!).

My most favorite quote in the world (cause it’s mine, LOL!)…

“An excuse is a justification to make the soul feel good.”

I stopped justifying the reason things ‘didn’t work’ and looked at the truth, started the process and loving the journey.

Regina Baker is the co-creator of Wahmcart.com and Certified Business Consultant at ReginaBaker.com. She’s dedicated to educating the small business individual on how to do business by the book as well as teaching ecommerce solutions that will allow them to work smarter, not harder. Find out more about Regina at www.reginabaker.com

She Builds a Vineyard: A Single Parent’s Transformational Journey

She Builds A Vineyard BookcoverShe Builds a Vineyard: A Single Parent’s Transformational Journey by Dr. Willie Mae Hawkins

She Builds a Vineyard captures the life of a woman. She aims to reach for the best…for herself, her family, and
the Kingdom of God. She sets out to do her work vigorously. In order to succeed, she must be conscience of her
divine space of existence in the world. As she rediscovers herself as God desires her to be, she understands she
must first take care of her own well-being and maintain her balance…mind, body, soul, and spirit.

Purchase your own copy here.

Life After the Down Low (A Lily Among Thorns)

Life After the Down Low BookcoverMen on the down low. Affairs revealed. Marriages unraveled. Though the phenomenon is all too common, the discussion about it rises and falls with the times. A universal dialogue typically takes place only when it has to do with a high profile male’s fall from grace. The ‘DL’ lifestyle has become the elephant in the room. It’s happening in somebody’s home, but whose?

In Ingrid Michelle’s novel, “Life after the Down Low,” we take a look into the life of a man on the down low. However, it’s not through the tell-all perspective of a man on the ‘DL,’ but through Michelle’s real life story as a wife who must pick up the pieces of her life after her husband reveals that he has had sexual relationships with the young men entrusted to his care in youth ministry.

Michelle gives a voice to the otherwise silent women whose lives have been forever changed, and sometimes ended, because of deceitful actions of the men that they made the commitment to love and honor. And who were supposed to love and honor them in return.

A gripping read, the book opens with the weight of her then husband’s confession dropping with a thud. As we relive what Michelle calls the greatest catastrophe in her personal history, the pages are awash with disbelief, pain and anger. But rather than buckling from the pressure and shame, Michelle takes the high road, exhibiting phenomenal strength as she uncovers the entire truth, layer by layer.

“Life After the Down Low” takes us on an upward journey. Leaning on God, Michelle seeks to fill the gaping holes in both her natural and spiritual lives left by the tumultuous marriage. She takes the time to orchestrate her own healing while raising and protecting her young son. The novel is centered around scripture that imparts wisdom and life lessons to pass on to other women.

The story is one of a situation made bearable only by standing on the promises of God. For Michelle, pain is not a dwelling place, but a bridge that she crosses to journey into her new life. Michelle is a living testimony of God exchanging “beauty for ashes.”

Michelle says that writing the book was therapeutic for her, as well as an opportunity to “speak with other women and encourage them.” It is her chance to say, “Hold on sista. Hold on. A change is coming.”

In a world where dark truths are hidden, Ingrid Michelle emerges as a hero to tell her story, shining the light to free herself as she gives other women permission to do the same.


Life After the Down Low (A Lily Among Thorns)

By: Ingrid Michelle

Book Review by Adrienne Adams
President
The Write Vision Group
www.wtvmin.com

Forgiving the Unspeakable

Lori McKenney PictureExclusive Interview with Nicole Cleveland

Forgiving the Unspeakable
My Father Killed My Mother

Recently I met a woman by the name of Lori McKenney. Little did I know she would be such a fireball for the Lord.

From the time she picked up the mic, I knew there was a story to be told. You see, when some people are changed they walk it, they talk it. That’s Lori.

Lori has been through many trials in her 40 something years she’s been on this earth. But forgiveness seems to be at the center of it all.

My prayer is that you see God through her testimony

In this interview we talk about how she forgave her father for killing her mother
while she was outside playing. If you have unforgiveness in your heart may I encourage you to let it go?

BAM: I believe what you have to say, people need to hear. I have been blessed to hear a little bit about your testimony and I came out to your book release party. Congratulations on your new book “Transformations”.

Lori: Thank you very much.

BAM: I know you are excited about it.

Lori: Yes, absolutely. The phones are still going. I’m so excited.

BAM: That’s such a blessing. Now your testimony has a lot of forgiveness wrapped up, tied up, and tangled up in it. You have had to forgive family members, friends, and the people closest to you. I really want you to talk about forgiveness and how you had to forgive your father, because that touches the core.

Lori: Yes, first I want to say that it was definitely God that did it because there was no way what my father did I would have ever imagined that I would have to forgiven him. As a young child, I didn’t have a childhood like most children did. I had to come home to my grandmother and my dad shooting back and forth because they didn’t like each other. It consisted of sometimes bullets and sometimes axes. But praise be to God I never got hit.

I remember we came home and my dad made me go outside and I was on punishment. That’s how I really knew that my dad premeditated murder. He made me go outside and my mother used to be a prostitute. You could look out the back door and see where my mother was. My dad used to make me go over and get her. But this one particular evening, he went over to get her. My grandmother told him she wasn’t there. He made me go outside. So when my mother came in the house my dad took a double barrel shot gun and killed her.

A lot of anger, bitterness, and rage sat in me. I began to hit the streets. I became a run away, living in woods and in and out of foster homes and in and out of the system. Always fighting. My life just spiraled down. Then I began to get in other relationships with people that was the same way. Fighting and anger and bitterness set in. How I forgave my dad was a process with time. I kept going to God because I didn’t want to keep holding this. I couldn’t be around him for 2 minutes. We would have cook outs and I wouldn’t go to cook outs. Even if I got the muscle to go see him I couldn’t be around him. I gave myself a time limit. I could be around him 2 minutes and that’s it. Anger would always set in. One particular evening the Lord really dealt with me and asked me to forgive. It took some time, but I made a decision that I was not going to allow this situation to hold me hostage anymore. I couldn’t go further in my life, in my ministry, with my kids. It held me in captivity for years.

BAM: Right, now let’s back up a little bit Lori. Now, you talked about your Father and grandmother shooting back and forth with actual guns at each other. Then you also talked about your mother being a prostitute. So you haven’t had a healthy upbringing or childhood. Then after your father killed your mother you had to make a decision within yourself and decide to forgive him because it was holding you hostage.

Lori: Absolutely. I think the most powerful thing was, I tried to go on with life pushing that aside, but it would always come up. I had to make a decision. The only way to go on with life and this won’t haunt me any more, I had to forgive. I started reading scriptures on forgiving. I didn’t want to want to forgive. I could justify why I didn’t have to forgive him. Because I would go to school and see other mothers there and I was angry that my mother wasn’t there. When a girl goes through the growing up things, I felt like I was deprived because if I had my mother there I would have got the things that most girls should have gotten.

BAM: And you blamed your father.

Lori: And I blamed him. I blamed him for everything. You know… just girlfriend things. When I would go to the mall and go to places and the enemy kept rewinding. He would make sure I saw things that had to do with mother and daughter. In whatever situation. Those things held me captive. It made me depressed. Depression went to suicide. I tried to kill myself. I began to start reading the word and crying out to God. Fasting and praying. But only when I made a choice to release this and to forgive. My life has never been the same. If I would have known that I could have went on and released that a long time ago verses me going through all that turmoil.

BAM: Tell me what was the time span that it took for you to forgive. From the time he killed your mother, and I’m so sorry for that… It’s such a terrible loss and the time that you forgave him. What was the time frame, how many years?

Lori: I’m 46 now; it’s going on 4 years that I forgave him. It took me a long time.

BAM: A long time. Wow!

Lori: A long time and the reason it took so long was that I could justify why I didn’t need to forgive him. I knew he did his time in jail which was a year, but he didn’t do my time.

BAM: 1 year

Lori: 1 year. The purpose of 1 year is because at my grandmother’s house there were always murders down there, so this was just another murder. So my thing was they released him for a year, but in my mind he was going to not be released until he died, in my spirit.

BAM: Isn’t that something though? I don’t believe you are alone. A lot of us, most of us, have certain things we forgive people for, but there are some things that are justified, in our minds, they are justified that you’ve crossed the line. That just can not be forgiven. When God said it’s forgiven, it’s forgiven.

Lori: Exactly

BAM: He was not the only one you had to forgive. You had to go through domestic violence, you were abused physically. Is that correct?

Lori: That’s correct. I went into a marriage that I stayed in for 20 years. This man beat me; he burned my hair, told me not to cry while he snatched my hair out, and had multiple affairs with family members. I had to forgive family members who had been with my husband and even people that went to school with me that had been with my ex-husband and it had gotten so bad to the point that God was still dealing with me but he wouldn’t let me get revenge. So I became angry with God because his word was saying something different than what I wanted to do. Yet I knew that in order to be released I had to forgive but my ex-husband –he sliced my face.

BAM: Jesus

Lori: When he sliced my face, I’m like ok God, you are showing me the scripture of ;”forgive them for they know not what they do”, but God why is it that people keep doing bad things to me and you keep telling me to forgive. I got to a point where I got angry with the Lord because revenge set it. When revenge set in and it got so strong and you stack everything up that has gone on against you, it kind of makes you torn between the word and the reality of what happened to you.

BAM: How did you forgive your ex-husband?

Lori: That took another process of time because I had to get out of the relationship. Once I got out of the relationship, I had to forgive him for the multiple affairs, I had to forgive him for having affairs with my family members, and then I had to forgive the family members for doing that to me and then what he did to me physically. That took a lot of counseling, a lot of me talking it out, people told me to pray about it, pray about it, fast about it. I didn’t have a chance, I kept it all in and I became explosive. But when I got to a point where I had to do it again, I had to make a choice. And how I made a choice was I remember reading a passage, it was something I was reading in a magazine and it let me know that God didn’t cause me to be abused. When I said ,God has not caused me to be abused then I made up my mind that if God has not caused me to be abused, then God doesn’t want me to sit around suicidal, he doesn’t want me to sit around with unforgiveness, then I had to do it again. I had to make a choice. I’m telling you it was not an easy choice to make. Here I go again; I wanted to justify these things that happened to me. But the minute I said God, you take this. I know what they did to me was not my fault. I stopped blaming myself, it went away.

BAM: I think a lot of times people blame themselves. They feel as though it’s my fault that this it happened to me. I must have done something wrong. Especially when it happens over and over and over again. It seems like it’s a cycle.
But Lori I want you to talk to the people that are listening right now that may be in a situation where they can’t forgive and they’ve held this thing and they’ve been hurt and they’ve held it in their heart and they won’t let it go. They are being held hostage. What advice would you give them right now?

Lori: One of the main things that I would give them that helped me get delivered was a picture in my mind of a warden. A warden has the right to release a person or has a right to give a person a life sentence. I do prison ministry so I remembered that. I was thinking in my mind when I go in with the people that had done wrong, they were sorry for what they had done, but they had to do the sentence. I became compassionate for them, even thought they said they were sorry for what they did, they still had to do the life sentence or years they had. I’m not a warden within myself. I became a warden. One of the things that will have you is you have to remember number one – it’s not your fault. Number two – in order for God to release you of the things you’ve done wrong to people, you have to in exchange release the wrongs that people have done to you.

BAM: That’s good.

Lori: That is one of my biggest things, I didn’t want to allow the things that happen to me in life to hold me in captivity. Where I couldn’t enjoy life. You will not enjoy life if you have unforgiveness. You will always stay sorrow and you will always be bitter. Depression will always come to you. When I made a choice, I want to live. I don’t want to live in the past. You have to make a choice. I can’t keep living in the past. I have to rid of the past and go forward. But only when you make a choice. When you make a choice, I’m telling you, you will live again.

BAM: I think it goes back to the childhood prayer that we learned in kindergarten. Forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass again us. We can’t be forgiven unless we have forgiven others. It’s so important. I’m so glad you touched on that.

Let’s talk about that book. Tell me why you wrote Transformations Lori.

Lori: Transformation is defiantly about my testimony. It defiantly talks about the heart of it being forgiveness as a matter of fact. I did the four stages of a butterfly. The metamorphose process. What it is is that we got to stop fighting the process and let God transform our life. The egg stage is the things that God calls us to. What his purpose is for you in life. That’s the egg stage. The caterpillar looks ugly. They want to kick it because they don’t think it has a purpose. That’s what most people think about our lives. It has no purpose and because it has no purpose they speak negative about it. Sometimes we even speak negative about our own dreams and goals. So that’s how I dealt with the caterpillar. Then we go to the cocoon stage. The cocoon state, you know it hangs on a string and it’s brown. It looks dried up and ugly like there is no life in it. Sometimes the things we go through in life are so hard and so heartbroken. It has so much anger and pain that God can’t get the glory out of it. What that cocoon stage is when God begins to close you up and he begins to speak to you, he begins to heal you and tell you based on the word of God. Jeremiah 29:11 “the things that I have for you are good and not evil. There is an expected end.” The part I love the most is the caterpillar, how the caterpillar always get his color in the trials and what he went through. So everything I went through in life is how I became a butterfly because I got my colors through my bruises. I got my colors through my sorrow. Never knew to this day that it was making me into a beautiful butterfly. So I explain in the book that the metamorphose process is all apart of God’s plan. He said there is an expected end.

BAM: That’s right and you talk about how many believers have a hard time excepting that transformation is apart of God’s plan for their lives. You also talk about how we accept address changes, income changes, management changes, even physical appearance changes, but we have a hard time accepting that change from that simple nature to that of a wholly people. I think it’s so important.

Lori: Yes and I think that everybody agrees that we need a change, but only a few are willing to change.

BAM: True, now tell us how to get your book.

Lori: Go to the website. www.lsktransformation.com or you can go through Amazon, Barnes and Nobles. Call me at 757-806-9315 or email be lrandolph41@hotmail.com

BAM: Tell us about Life Saving King Ministries What exactly is that?

Lori: Life Saving King Ministries is the ministry that God has birthed out. That particular ministry is a world wide ministry. It’s what I do with my books and CD’s. It’s mainly conferences of teaching people to transform their life. We’ll be doing seminars out of that on how God wants to transform your heart, your mind. It’s a world wide ministry. We also have LSK ministry this is where we teach people from city to city that there is a book inside of them. Teach them how to start with the book, on napkins, on paper and teach you how to put it together and help you all the way until the day you print.

BAM: That is wonderful. Well you know what Lori, I thank God that we were able to meet and that you were able to join us today and talk about forgiveness, the butterfly stage and your book Transformations. So thank you so much for joining us today.

Lori: Thank you for the opportunity.

BAM: You’re welcome

Visit Lori’s site here for more information on her book.

A Farewell Journey

A Farewell Journey ButtonI walked along the flower adorned pathway, then stopped at the usual spot.

“Honey, I know you are not here but this is where I visit you. I came to reminisce about our happy times together.” I mentioned several highlights in our twenty plus years of marriage. But only silence followed. I sensed my husband’s love and mine mingling in the flower-scented breeze. “I know our love is so real it’ll never die.”

Minutes later, a cool wind shook the pine tree branches. I moved under the tree for shelter and gazed at the gray grave stone as clouds rolled overhead.

After praying and reminiscing I walked the four blocks home from the cemetery. My husband, Dave and I had lived in that town for over twenty years. We had savored our family time with our four children there.

Now I had to move away to where I could earn a living to support myself. Our children lived in driving distance in different towns. Each daughter and our son had invited me to move near them. “We’ll be nearby in case you need us,” each had said.
I could not sell our paid-for family home yet. I might return to my familiar town. I could drive home on weekends if my employer’s tentative idea became reality. He said perhaps I could do some work for the firm from my home computer. It sounded promising. I could even continue my freelance writing.

I had rented the furnished lower level to a young teacher couple, Mike and Sue Ann. Their rent and yard care would help me.

As I packed my last suitcase, planning to pursue my farewell plan, my phone rang. “Mom, why wait until tomorrow? You could get in the car and drive to Green Bay now. We’ll go out to dinner when you get here.”

I thanked Marie for her kind suggestion. But I needed to complete my plan before I could leave. It was a crucial step to continue my journey. It would free me to leave despite my longing to stay with my happy memories.

First, I wanted to revisit the church where we were married but it was a several hours’ drive away. So I did the next best thing. I opened our wedding album and gazed at the flower adorned church where Dave had waited up front for me. My white gown had flowed as I had walked down the aisle with the wedding music filling the air. My breathing had tightened. I wanted to marry yet at the last minute I felt a bit torn. Was I truly ready to begin my journey through life, hand in hand, with Dave?

Seeing Dave’s shimmering blue eyes and gentle smile, my thoughts flew away like butterflies. I knew our marriage was meant to be—blessed by God! I sensed His peace!

We began married life like two children playing house in our first apartment. It was furnished with the landlord’s odds and ends. But we were cozy there. We prepared our first meals there. We had jobs so the first one to return home began the dinner.

Closing the wedding album, I got in my car and drove to the red brick hospital where each of our babies was born. I parked in the crowded lot and the years melted. The man heading toward the hospital door with a bouquet “became” my husband for an instant.

I closed my eyes and recalled the labor pains that had been eased by my husband’s big warm hand holding my sweaty one. My mind’s eye saw his worried blue eyes when the pains worsened and it was time to go to the delivery room. At that hospital, husbands were confined to the waiting room. Knowing he was praying for me gave me emotional and spiritual comfort.

Later, as I held my newborn infant with the round red face and persistent cry, Dave and I smiled at our very own baby. Soon we would wrap our child in a soft blanket for the ride home.

Each newborn and I had our private meeting time during the late night feeding. The town was dark and the quietness held us in its soft embrace. My thoughts faded as I drove from the hospital parking lot and headed for our picnic spot near the lake on the edge of town. There, the clear water lapped at the beach and even in that dark evening with no one in sight, memory rushed our children’s laughter into the still air.

Our stop for ice cream cones after our lake outings suddenly flowed into my memories with smiles and exclamations: “This was a fun day!”

Next, I rode by the school where each child first let go of my clutching hand and began a new life journey for us.
Their journeys ended with high school graduations before our children left home to tread their personal pathways. But our prayers kept us bonded.

Dave and I were alone for only a short time when he was diagnosed with a terminal disease.

Now, alone in our town, I drove again to the cemetery. I put the bouquet of golden flowers from our yard near the grave stone. I knelt and prayed thanks for the journey of life Dave and I had taken together.

Someday, hand in hand, we would walk together again in our Father’s Kingdom.

Before driving from town, I rode past the church where we had worshiped for years—and I prayed thanks for the journey that began on our wedding day.

As I drove alone I sensed the Lord’s presence. Jesus was near me.

He promised to never leave us or forsake us, according to Hebrews 13:5b.

That provided soft peace for a widow’s new journey!

By Beth Craig as told to A. Carli