Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Truth Shall Make You Free

FaytheWorks Publishing

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32, KJV

THIS SCRIPTURE offers an amazing combination of relief and freedom for the believer. God’s life-changing truth can never be trumped by the enemy’s deceptive lies. For those who have a desire to learn more about Jesus Christ, the Scriptures testify of Him. In Him and only in Him is there eternal life. It is simply up to the individual to receive what God has to offer. Considering what the Holy Spirit has taught me, I feel a great obligation to share Christ and love another brother or sister enough to tell them the truth. In my new non-fiction book, Soul Ties, many taboo topics are discussed, but with helpful solutions to those who suffer in silence.
     Through all of my ignorance, disobedience, and sin, God still loved me. God loves those who don’t even love Him and this is threaded throughout His Word—the Holy Bible. Jesus Christ saved me from Hell and saved me from myself. When I fell in the desires of my flesh, God still remained the same: loving, giving, patient, and kind. Although we encounter trials and tribulations here on Earth, even after being saved from Hell, God still does not allow us to go through more than we can bear. He does provide us with a way of escape. The problem is that many of us don’t take advantage of the emergency exit He affords. Why is that?
     One reason could be that so many are preoccupied with “life” and the things of the world that the open door of escape is either ignored or not even noticed. Being this heavily engrossed could cause a person to become more attracted and deeply devoted to things that are outside of God’s will. What a chilling thought. Through my experience in witnessing, I’ve often found that the generic response or attitude to my deterring others from dangerous pitfalls and toward the Lord is, “Oh, God knows my heart…” This is a sobering truth. Do many realize the divine revelation they’ve actually spoken? And the sad part is that this complacent response typically comes from many professed Christians.

These people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me. Uselessly do they worship Me, for they teach as doctrines the commands of men.
Matthew 15:8-9, AMP

     As the Lord has placed on my heart for some time now to write this book, I finally humbled in submission. I had to repent for procrastinating. My mind swarmed with thoughts of how to present it, how to make it relatable, and how to share without appearing judgmental (although the Word will ultimately judge, not man). Clearly, eternal judgment is reserved for God, as He has the final say. While human beings form opinions and are biased in certain instances, only God can pass judgment to either receive a person into Heaven or hurl them into Hell.
     The bottom line is the truth is the truth. There is no way to sugar coat, no way to dress it up to receive widespread approval of man, and no way to share it other than to be direct. God has taught me this by example through His Word. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 12:4).
     It is my sincere desire to share with others what I have learned. The damaging effects of Greek Lettered sororities and fraternities, Masonry, along with other subjects are discussed in this book. I aim to encourage readers with the testimonies included from dedicated Christians who openly share the Light of God with the world—not some generic god who is powerless in the face of the One true and living God.
     In Soul Ties, at the end of each chapter (beginning with Chapter 2), you’ll find a self-examination question in addition to practical applications to help you discover areas in your life that may need repair. These things will assist you in becoming a healthier and more spiritually minded person.
     Other topics covered include deliverance from the devastating affects of rape, molestation, promiscuity, bondage to drugs and other addictions, and domestic abuse. We are our brother’s keeper and should care enough about the next person to share what we’ve learned through Biblical insight and personal experience that line up with God’s Word.
     It is not my intention to ignite discord. That is far from my motive. It is to simply share with others the caution that should be taken upon entering any relationship or association, whether with a potential mate or in joining a sorority, fraternity, or secret society that is inconsistent with one’s Christian faith. One day we will have to give an account to God for the things done in this life. We must be careful of the decisions we make because sometimes the consequences may have an eternal effect.
    The contents of Soul Ties are in no way, shape, or form intended to condemn anyone. When I justly deserved to be cast out of God’s sight, the Lord was patient with me and I just want others to experience the freedom and mercy that I have. God knew my previous outlook was distorted and not as He would have it to be. In the past, my view was assuredly that of a carnal mind, but what a loving and forgiving God we serve!
     This world, Earth as we know it, is only our temporary home and before I leave, I aim to do something meaningful with the life God has given me. Our experiences are not just our own. Our tests can become testimonies. It is my hope to help, even if that means only one person, to receive deliverance from damaging soul ties—deliverance that can only come through God.

View Book Trailer

Thank you all for your support. May God bless and keep you. Consider sharing this information with a friend or family member. God came to set the captives free.

Ebook coming soon!

Monday, July 4, 2011

In the Land of the Free

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed,” John 8:36, NKJV.

Imagine, many Christians don’t enjoy the freedoms that Americans do in sharing their faith. We are allowed to stand on corners, pass out Gospel tracts, go into prisons for services, et cetera, but how many of us, saints, actually do it? We are to let our light shine before the world so that God will be glorified in Heaven.

I encourage every Christian to consider how it would affect you if you couldn’t share your faith. If it wouldn’t matter either way to you, then you need to reevaluate what Christ means to you. I’m well aware that there are moments in life, even in the land of the free, that sharing one’s faith is challenging or even prohibited, but that should never prompt a person to deny God. We can still share Christ by the way that we live. A great example would be that of Richard Wurmbrand, who founded Voice of the Martyrs. In His book, Tortured for Christ, the reader will discover how free you can really be, even in chains for God.

In this issue, I share an interview with a woman of God whom it was a pleasure to meet. It is wonderful to meet another Christian who has a desire to do His will. Deanetta Thompson's life in itself is an inspiration to others as she serves the Lord. Here, you'll get an inside look at the woman who survived numerous setbacks, but pressed forward and became a published author who started her own Christian Lifestyle e-zine (Christian Women Lifestyle xPress) that will become a trademarked LLC in just a couple weeks. Deanetta is a 20 year veteran of the army, defending our freedom here in the United States. I more so salute her dedication for her steadfastness in the army of the Lord.


Introducing Deanetta Thompson, Budding CEO

With a vision to share through her writings what God has placed upon her heart, Deanetta is well aware of spiritual warfare. As shared in her bio (full bio here), Deanetta accurately identifies that we are living in the last and evil days. As wickedness increase, it becomes even more important for Christians, the saints of God, to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Deanetta admits that her childhood was not easy, but realized that God had a plan for her life. And today as a married woman of three children, she realizes many of those dreams through her steadfast faith in the Lord.

An interview with Deanetta…

Deanetta P. Thompson
Photo courtesy of author
SUN: Have you always wanted to be an author? How did you start writing, and what pushed you to finish your first book?

DT: I started writing at the age of 14. I did not realize at the time what I was doing. I just picked up a pen and piece of paper and started writing. But the most amazing thing is I started writing songs. Something I don’t normally share with the world… but originally I wanted to be a singer. I still have that urge every now and then to blast a few notes, however my magazine is where my heart is.

SUN: What are the titles of your books? What are they about?

DT: I have two eBooks I have on the market now: Sistas… Do You Know What to Look For When Choosing Your Man? and Marital Warfare.

Sistas… Do You Know What to Look For When Choosing Your Man? deals with all the qualities a woman should look for in a man with biblical Scriptures to follow. This is not a boring e-Book; I had to get raw with a few topics, but I am sure I got my point across.

Marital Warfare is about different women and their issues in life that affect their marriages. The majority of these women came into the marriage with problems. I also provide biblical Scriptures for each story to give my readers a Godly solution to whatever their issues might be.

SUN: In your books, are you able to identify with any of the characters, if so, how? If not, why?

DT: I can identify with Sistas… Do You Know What To Look For When Choosing Your Man? I expressed in this e-Book a lot of the foolish mistakes I made and decisions that caused me pain, drama, along with a life spiraling downhill. [Details will be included in a future book.]

SUN: What do you hope to accomplish in sharing your literary works with the world?

DT: I hope women will be able to grasp the concept “put God first.” Make no decisions without Him. Stop looking for a sugar daddy and value your body. Some women are so desperate for a man [that] they will go to any means to get one. Before you get married discuss it with God. Make sure he is the right one for you; it could cost you your life and sanity!

SUN: As you write, do you find yourself learning new things as the process goes along?

DT: Yes I do. I find out more about myself and how my mind operates which causes all the decisions I make in life.

SUN: What is one thing you’d encouraged someone to do?

DT: Follow your goals and be good at it. Keep God in the picture and ask Him, “Lord what do you have planned for me?” Because your dreams might not be what He has planned for you. Sometimes we can take it upon ourselves to create our own future without including Him and [then] fail, but can’t seem to understand why.

SUN: If you could sum your life up in one sentence, what would you say?

DT: I am a survivor because of God’s grace and mercy He bestowed upon me.

SUN: How can readers get in touch with you (website, email)? And where are your books available for sale?

DT: The older version of my eBooks is on Amazon ready for download:
Or the new version can be ordered from my site
My email is I am always looking for writers to contribute to my online magazine and of course they will receive all the credit.

I appreciate the opportunity to share my eBooks and thoughts with Straight Up! readers.

Until next time,

Happy Reading and a safe 4th of July! And remember, true freedom only comes through Jesus Christ.

To submit a testimony or an article for contribution, please email me at

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Building Success from Failure

"If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength, but wisdom brings success," Ecclesiastes 10:10. 

Surrounded by those who go after their dreams, no matter how much adversity is faced along the way; I thank God for where I am in my life. I thank Him for hope, I thank Him for grace, and I thank Him for mercy. I choose to focus on the good things that He has afforded to me rather than dwell on the negative distractions. Isn’t it a good thing to thank God along the way to where you ultimately want to be?

As we celebrate Father’s Day this month, I thank God for a father who did what he knew he could do rather than succumb to what society says he can’t. I thank God for men in my life who are pillars of strength, shunning the image of a black man who’s weak, compromising, and prison-prone. Isn’t it a good thing to thank God for who is in your life now along the way to embracing those who will eventually will be there?

Failure comes in many different forms and it’s meaning varies depending upon whom you may ask. For some, it is in a relationship that doesn't work out, for others it may be in a career path where you can't hold a job, yet let us consider that in God you can’t go wrong. It all depends on how you look at the situation, are you looking through rose-colored lenses or the death-defying shades of negativity? Things may not always go your way, but consider that it is going the way it’s supposed to. What God has for you is for you, and as long as you make Him the head of your life, you’ll never fail unless you stop trying to succeed.

In this issue, Renarda Williams presents an interview with author/talk show host Tavis Smiley about his new book, Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure. Insightful words from a man whose failure provided stepping stones to where he is today.


Tavis Smiley on Building Success from Failure
By Renarda Williams

In today's society, no one is exempt from setbacks and failures — whether he or she is a renowned (or not so renowned), clergy, educator, attorney, physician, political figure, or scientist. Everyone has experienced some type of failure in their lives. And they had to start all over to succeed and achieve lifetime goals.

Tavis Smiley — a successful business owner, notable philanthropist, host of his own national and radio programs — is no exception. Who would ever believe Smiley experienced setbacks such as: being fired, arrested, and turning down a major television opportunity and risking his future in broadcasting. Well, he did ... and all of these — and more — describes what Smiley faced during his “success scars.”

Smiley shares his "success scars," and how he overcame them, in Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure (Smiley Books, 2011). Smiley has created a "remarkable" blueprint, with Fail Up, to help people overcome failure — by learning from disappointments, setbacks, ... — in order to achieve success in life.

Here are some of Tavis’ 20: Quotes from Fail Up (courtesy of Smiley Books)

Father Knows Best: Even when things aren’t equal, if it’s meant for you to receive God’s grace, you’re going to get it.

Get Ready to Be Ready: The truth of life is that it isn’t always up, but it’s not always down either. Life, by definition, is a series of ups and downs. It really boils down to high-quality choices. The challenge is making the right choice…

Remain Civilized Even When You’re Justified: When we conduct ourselves with dignity, we walk through the world with an inviolable sense of respect that invites emulation. Respect for others means we commit to making sacrifices.

Before Honor Comes Humility: If arrogance is the disease, then humility is the cure. If we want to create a balance where our passions don’t elicit accusations of arrogance, then we must strive for abundant doses of humility.

Cheaters Never Win: You can correct and even reprimand somebody, but at the same time, you can affirm that person. If you are in a position of power, you can also offer a second chance.

Don’t Do Me No Favors: Make sure you always give before you get. Be it in your personal or business life, reciprocity is sweeter when the exchange of services, favors, or goods is mutual.

Due to Smiley's busy schedule, he was not available for a telephone interview with Straight Up. The following is a list of questions submitted by Straight Up, and answers by Smiley in a news release offered by his Smiley Books publicist.

RW: What influenced you to explore that failure can be good for us in Fail Up?

SMILEY: When I turned 40, I realized a crisis point in my life; I didn't believe I would ever succeed at all the things I wanted to do. The fact is that it's true — and that's a beautiful thing. As Samuel Beckett put it, 'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.' This brilliant philosophy pulled together what I then understood as an inherent truth: Failure is inevitable. How we respond to failure is the key.

Looking back at my life, I, like many who have succeeded in spite of failure, have achieved what I have because I took life's setbacks and turned them into steps forward. My decision to share what were at times embarrassing public and private shortcomings wasn't easy. The reality, though, is that we all struggle and we all want to succeed. Not sharing this most crucial lesson of success — that it begins by turning failures into 'fail up' opportunities — would be far worse than any blemishes and mishaps I have suffered.

RW: What personal “fail up” do you think will surprise readers?

SMILEY: I can say for sure that some of my earlier indiscretions and mistakes might have some folks shaking their head. Yes, even Tavis Smiley has had run-ins with the law. The section where I find out firsthand what writing bad checks can do to a person, I think, will both surprise and, hopefully, scare some young folks straight.

The other fail up moment I think people will come away surprised by is when I delve into a personal indiscretion I committed while in a relationship, which I detail later in the book. Like I said, I’m not one for letting all my dirty laundry air for just anyone to see, but this situation was very real, personal reminder of how one’s professional life can be impacted by the wrong things said, at the wrong time, to the wrong people in your private life. I learned the lesson the hard way: Loose lips really do sink ships.

RW: How is Fail Up different from your memoir What I Know For Sure, and your previous books?

SMILEY: There’re a lot of similarities between Fail Up and my memoir. But they are, at their core, very different books. My memoir was the retelling of important segments of my life. It was a chance to share my story with my fans and supporters. But like most memories it was a one-way street.

Fail Up, on the other hand, is more of a conversation. Yes, my life and experiences are at the center of the message that adversity can become an asset if you approach it correctly. But Fail Up pulls from the challenges and successes of many others. Many of them are personal heroes of mine. Others are people in the spotlight, whether in sports or politics. I also share the story of everyday folk experiencing a real teachable moment. Through all these treads, Fail Up weaves together a powerful, crucial message that challenges readers to become agents of change in their own lives — by daring to change their minds.

RW: How important it is for young people to experience the opportunity to “fail up?”

SMILEY: Kids can do some pretty dumb things—I know I did—but it doesn’t mean mistakes should become life sentences. With the right guidance and compassion, a young person’s shortcomings can become a valuable moment of maturation. It’s important for adults to remember they, too, can, allow a young person to ‘fail up’ simply by taking the opportunity to help that young person become a better person for their failure, rather than beating them down or branding them for life.

RW: What do you hope Fail Up will do to help Americans who struggling to find employment during these tough economic times?

SMILEY: Let me be clear up front: too many Americans today are suffering through no fault of their own. Despite some encouraging signs that the worst is behind us, many parts of America —not least of which is the African American community, which continues to lag behind in employment—don’t feel like things are getting better. In face of this adversity, we have a choice: give in or grab hold.

My hope is that Fail Up will motivate people through powerful examples, helping them to focus on what’s possible, even in these challenging times.

RW: You mention the importance of “faith” throughout Fail Up. Do you believe God wants everyone to fail up?

SMILEY: Absolutely. As human beings, cracked vessels that we are…only through failure are we able to realize how human we are and to see the path that God has laid before us. We all fail at points in our lives and think that we’ve got things figured out better than God, whether it’s in our careers, in our personal lives, or even in what we think we want to major in college. But believe me, what God has in store for us cannot be avoided. Failing up is, in many ways, the process of realigning ourselves with the path that we were meant to be on all along —we just got lost along the way.

That path is different for everyone, but each of us has tremendous potential in what the Lord has called us to do. I am blessed every day that God has called me to do what I do, but there is also an inherent responsibility. In that way it doesn’t matter if God is calling you to be President of the United States or president of the local PTA, your gifts are suited to make you the best at what you are, and in the process be the best for those around you.

Tavis Smiley hosts the late-night talk show, Tavis Smiley on PBS, The Tavis Smiley Show distributed by Public Radio International (PRI), and is the co-host of Smiley & West on (PRI). He is the first American to simultaneously host signature talk shows on both public television and public radio.

Smiley has authored 14 books, including the book he edited, Covenant with Black America, which became the first nonfiction book by a Black-owned publisher to reach #1 on The New York Times bestseller list.

He is also the presenter and creative force behind America I AM: The African American Imprint—an unprecedented traveling museum exhibition celebrating the extraordinary impact of African American contributions to our nation and to the world. In 2009, TIME magazine named him to their list of The World’s 100 Most Influential People. This year, 2011, marks his 20th year in broadcasting.
Thank you for reading and remember, you never fail unless you stop trying to succeed. Don't be afraid to get up and try again.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, of love, and of a sound mind," 2 Timothy 1:7.

Until next time,

May God continue to bless you!

To submit a testimony or an article for contribution, please email me at

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's All About God

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.

Everything we do ought to point back to God. He is the reason why we are here, the reason why we have life. The reason why we were created is to praise and worship God. As we celebrate Mother’s Day amongst other personal triumphs we have in life, let us not forget about Who makes it all possible. We collectively celebrated His Resurrection a couple weeks ago, and praises for what was accomplished on the Cross is reason enough to praise Him every day of our lives.

Family members graduating from college or high school, in some cases, pre-school, ought not to supersede our excitement of crossing the threshold into the Kingdom of God. There are nice accomplishments here on Earth, but our foremost focus should be on things above: Heaven. So, as we celebrate our mothers, grandmothers, and other mothers, let us not forget about the One who lent them to us: God.

In this issue, I introduce Christian author, Myra Rutledge. We connected online and I am pleased to announce her upcoming novel, Souls Harbor. I’ve only read the teaser thus far, but I’m sure the book will deliver a message that indeed directs us to the Lord. Look for my review later on In His Name Book Club this summer.

Introducing Christian Author, Myra Rutledge 

Photo Courtesy of
Author Myra Rutledge
Myra Rutledge is a Christian writer and the author of the self-published inspirational poetry book, A Powerful Woman. Myra is a life-long resident of Birmingham, Alabama, where her love for creative arts began in the local schools. But it was not until she gave her life to Christ that He enhanced her gifts of singing and writing.

In past years, Myra has also sung in local stage productions and has even filmed a commercial, lending her voice as one of three Saving Graces. And she has worked creatively in the Drama Ministry at Church. The upcoming book, Souls Harbor, is her first novel.

In a recent interview, Myra provided more insight into her world of writing. In her words:

SUN: How did your literary career begin?

RUTLEDGE: My career as a writer began in church in the late eighties. Although I had been writing all my life, it wasn’t until I participated in the drama ministry that my gift of writing was developed. During this time, I was born-again and received the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I wrote original skits, poetry, and produced a play, “Flames of Another Trial,” that was well received by the masses. I’ve written another play, “Juvenile Status,” but I have yet to produce this one. My inspiration comes from church; whether it’s the pastor’s sermons, the congregation, or the Bible stories I’ve studied.

SUN: What has your writing journey been like thus far?

RUTLEDGE: The journey to producing my first novel, “Souls Harbor,” has been an interesting one. I’ve been attentive with an open mind and ears, and I’ve appreciated every person the Lord has sent my way. God is in complete control of my life, so I know He has sent me on this journey and down these paths. Every road I’ve trotted is a learning experience I can use, not only to help myself, but others. In following God’s lead, I’ve learned quite a bit about writing, other authors, publishing houses, and self-publishing.

SUN: What books have you written to date?

RUTLEDGE: I have a poetry book, “A Powerful Woman,” that’s available on Amazon. This is a collection of inspirational poems. This book is named from the poem, “A Powerful Woman,” that’s listed in the book. “Souls Harbor” is my first novel. I’m not releasing another novel until I’ve successfully produced “Souls Harbor.” But I do have another completed novel, “Too Much Like Right,” which I plan to produce later this year, once “Souls Harbor” is released. I also have another novel, “Just Love Me,” that I’m working on and hope to produce next year. I’m also in the works of producing “Souls Harbor” as a play for 2012.

SUN: Tell us more about why you wrote your current fiction title, Souls Harbor.

RUTLEDGE: My first Christian Fiction read was “Church Folk,” by Michele Andrea Bowen. I enjoyed the book and was inspired to write a novel under that Genre. Nowadays, I think that the Genre, Christian Fiction, is stretched too loosely. Being a Christian means more than being a “Church person.”

SUN: What do you hope to accomplish with your books?

RUTLEDGE: Through my novels, I hope that God will use me to bring others into doing His Will. This is the purpose for my writing.

SUN: How can readers get in contact with you?

RUTLEDGE: I can be reached through the following:

About Souls Harbor

AWOW Publications:
Click here for full synopsis

Four years after a devastating Saturday evening car wreck shattered his dream of playing in the NBA, Jamal Greene is married to the beautiful and deceitful Jada Greene; he is oblivious to some events leading to the wreck and the entire weekend.

Living in their hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, Jada is a devoted choir member at Mt. Zion Church and works in Real Estate Sales. Jamal spends time in physical rehabilitation while holding resentment toward God for his present state of being.

The compromising Latoya Hobbs is Jada's best friend and daughter to the pastor of Mt. Zion Church. Latoya quickly becomes weary of Jada's adulterous liaisons with a mysterious, rich, and older man. In reminiscing about her own failed relationships and a secret sexual seduction that haunts her spirit, Latoya prays for a man to truly love her.

Rain Jefferies, the divorced and born-again Christian, is Jamal's new Physical Therapist who offers him a renewed hope through her pastor's Biblical Study Guide. The answer to a secret she holds can complete her but destroy a marriage and the Hobbs' family ministry.

Pastor Silas Hobbs Sr, holding past secrets that a deacon is desperately seeking to uncover, finds himself trying to hold on to his willed position as pastor of Mt. Zion Church.

As these souls harbor destructive secrets and lies, who will grab hold of the anchor before being completely destroyed?

* * *

For more information about the author and her debut novel, visit the author's website. 


Until next time,

Happy Reading!

To submit a testimony or an article for contribution, please email me at

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

There is No Rock Like Our God

"There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God," 1 Samuel 1:2

Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is in Him that everything [outside of His will] was defeated. Any situation or illness we'll ever encounter has been defeated on the cross. He died for past, present, and future sins. God took everything upon Him, even death, so that we may live — eternally. What an awesome God we serve. To know that no matter what challenges or problems we may endure in life, He is the Answer to it all.

Resurrection Sunday wasn't just merely an event that occured over two thousand years ago, it was The Event. Note in Isaiah 9:6, one of God's names is Wonderful Counselor. What an amazing God to know that even when we get weighed down in this world, He is there to see us through it. To minister exactly what we need to hear and what we ought to do. The Holy Spirit is our Guide, our Comforter. God knew that we would need Him in that way... He knows us, after all He created us.

As we celebrate Easter this month, which is not about furry rabbits and colored eggs, let us remember what was accomplished at Calvary. There we have victory. And if you don't know Who He is, read God's love story to the world: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," John 3:16.

In this issue, Renarda Williams shares an interview conducted with Lisa M. Brown about her bout with depression. It is noted that many women of color, many black women, suffer in silence because they assume no one will understand or that it's just something that just doesn't happen to black women. Lisa opens up and shares her story and introduces her new book, Strong on the Outside, Dying on the Inside: A Black Woman's Guide to Finding Freedom from Depression.


Depression in Black Women: A Discussion with Lisa M. Brown
By Renarda Williams

"Depression is a highly treatable disorder affecting some 17-20 million Americans annually," according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) reports that only "one-third of all persons with major depression ever seek treatment."

Even more startling, NMHA reports, "African Americans and persons over 65 years old are the least likely to seek professional help. And among affected African Americans, only 12 percent of women actually seek treatment." This resistance to getting help is often attributable to the belief in the Black community that depression is a White woman's illness and not a legitimate health problem.

Published by Xulon Press

In an inspirational and spirit-filled book, Strong on the Outside, Dying on the Inside: A Black Woman's Guide to Finding Freedom from Depression (Xulon Press, 2011), Lisa M. Brown pulls the cover off this taboo subject to encourage Black women — who consider themselves strong and accomplished — to face their depression and seek professional treatment.

"There is simply not enough being said about depression in the Black community. It affects so many of us, yet our cultural norms and traditions — particularly in the Black church — have rendered us silent. This book will be an important step in the right direction for many, especially church-going women," says Terrie M. Williams. Williams is a health advocate, public relations mogul and founder of The Terrie Williams Agency in New York, NY, and author of Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting (Scribner, 2008).

Brown, a dynamic and passionate entrepreneur, daughter, sister, and mother of three — with the help of God and treatment — overcame depression to lead a thriving Washington, DC-based consulting firm.  Brown's book is a blueprint, and should be considered a smaller version of Black Pain, for Black women confronting depression. Brown remarkably uses her experience, and the biblical story of Hannah, to get her point across to Black women about how important it is to face depression head on, and overcome it!

Black women facing depression, who will read this extraordinary book about Brown's personal story, will feel like she is telling their story ... and knowing they are not alone. Amazingly, at the end of each chapter, Brown says a prayer to spiritually uplift readers (especially Black women facing depression) to be encouraged, knowing that God is always with us.

Recently, I interviewed Brown, via telephone, for Straight Up about her book and depression in Black women today.

RW: What influenced you to use the example of Hannah, in your book, to describe the depression of Black women?

Lisa M. Brown
BROWN: It was for my own personal devotion. I was looking for something in the Bible about what I was feeling during my depression. I read the story of Hannah in 2005 ... it struck me and I related to her pain. I was able to relate to her story.

RW: How important it is for Black people, or anyone, who are depressed to break their silence and seek help?

BROWN: We need to get over the perception that nothing is wrong with us. We [Black people] can talk about racism, discrimination, and other issues, but we cannot talk about depression. Talking is the key to healing. By resorting to silence, we increase the pain. Talking to free yourself of pain ... release what comes out!

RW: During your depression, what was the boiling point where you realized God was the only one to help you?

BROWN: I was [absolutely] tired and hit rock bottom. I was tired of being tired ... and always in pain. I told God, 'I need to get out!'

RW: Why do you think some Black women, as well as some Black men, feel like they can take on the world, and ignore depression?

BROWN: It has been a tradition, and a part of our culture, that was passed down ... . We just keep going, going ... as if nothing is wrong with us. We do not want to be [looked upon], or have the perception that we are weak. We want [everyone] to see and believe that we are strong.

Lisa M. Brown attained professional success early in her career and at the age of 35, she became one of the youngest senior executives with the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association. She later went on the build Nonprofit HR Solutions, a fast-growing and trailblazing consultant firm focused on meeting the human resources needs of nonprofit organizations.

Brown is deeply committed to living out her faith in God in a meaningful way. She has been an active member of the music ministries of her churches in Toronto, Canada, where she grew up, as well as in Washington, D.C.

Brown also served as business manager for the Howard Gospel Choir of Howard University; member of Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church under the leadership of Archbishop Alfred A. Owens, Jr.; and as minister of music and praise team leader with the Bladensburg SDA Church. Brown currently attends Bladensburg SDA Church, where Noah L. Washington is the pastor.


In Closing,

I pose the question to those who may be dealing or struggling with depression: Is there anything too hard for God to handle? If you aren't a Christian, I can understand how it can overtake your life, but as Christians we are called to lay it at the altar of our Lord and Savior. This is not to say we won't encounter times in our lives when we are discouraged by the things that go on around us, but that when we are we can cast our burdens (our cares) upon the Lord, for He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). The Lord is with us, and He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrwes 13:5). Just as Hannah sought the Lord because she grieved, we should also. Seek Him in all things.  Just as King David sought God for strength, we must also encourage ourselves in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6).

And we too will rejoice as Hannah did. "HANNAH PRAYED, and said, My heart exults and triumphs in the Lord; my horn (my strength) is lifted up in the Lord. My mouth is no longer silent, for it is opened wide over my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides You; there is no Rock like our God," 1 Samuel 2:1-2, AMP.

God can do the same for you. Seek Him ...  for everything we need is indeed in the Lord.
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Friday, March 4, 2011

Making a Difference...

"Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp," Psalm 150:1-3.

Thank God for blessing many of us with the ability to entertain through film, books, and music. This is the month where I present my brand new book, The Eleventh Hour, the third installment of The Fiery Furnace series.

The Eleventh Hour is a title symbolic of God’s grace, love, and forgiveness to the youth as well as the elderly. There are many who have been saved since childhood, but often we do find those who accept Christ in their golden years. Either way, it is all good because God forgives whether we’re nine years old or seventy-nine years old. And in this book, it is my prayer that many will consider forgiving others in the same manner that God forgives us. A brief description of the forthcoming novel is detailed below.

Later in this issue, get an inside look at well known Jazz trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis, through an article written by contributing writer, Renarda Williams. Marsalis' contribution to the arts is well noted and an inspiration to the aspiring musician.


The Eleventh Hour (March 2011)
ISBN: 978-1-934195-53-6

Backed against a wall with time running out...

Challenged by the recent discovery of past events, Jermaine holds fast knowing that God wouldn’t bring him this far … just to leave him. He’s new in the faith, but determined to live a life pleasing to the Lord. Just when a ray of light breaks through the turmoil, Jermaine receives yet another debilitating blow that attempts to change his life forever. Will he be able to endure the trial that stretches his faith to the limit?

Moving into a new phase of life, Nia Thomas reveals a piece of her past for the sake of sanity … but is there something else she’s holding back? Racing against the hands of time, Nia comes to term with the fact that the whole truth must be told. Determined to break free from bondage, she must first learn how to forgive. Will Nia surrender all that she has for a future of peace or hold onto what’s old and familiar?

The final piece of the puzzle lies within the eleventh hour. But first, check out the previous titles in The Fiery Furnace series: The Kiss of Judas & Confessions ...

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
By Renarda Williams

The world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) with Wynton Marsalis performs a vast repertoire to Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC)-commissioned works, including compositions and arrangements by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and others to audiences nationally and worldwide.

JALC is dedicated to inspiring and growing audiences for jazz. JALC advances a unique vision for the continued development of the art of jazz by producing a year-round schedule of performances, education and broadcast events for audiences of all ages. The productions include concerts, national and international tours, television broadcasts, recordings, jazz appreciation curriculum for students, and adult education courses. Education is a major part of JALC's mission and its educational activities are coordinated with concert and JLCO tour programming.

In 1987, Wynton Marsalis co-founded a jazz program at Lincoln Center. Marsalis is the artistic director of JALC. He is also the music director of JLCO. He spends over a third of the year on tour with JLCO. One of this year's Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis tours was at the University of Central Arkansas's Reynolds Performance Hall in Conway, Arkansas. The orchestra performed to a sold out audience. They started off with Inaki's Decision, a song from their album Vitoria Suite (which featured Paco De Lucia), that was recorded in Spain. This amazing piece of music had an up-tempo beat, and the orchestra was in a rhythmical sequence. There was also an array of solos: from the trumpets, saxophones, clarinets, flute, bass, piano, and drums. Once the group finished, Marsalis jokingly told the audience, "We were so caught up in the moment [to the point] where we did not want to stop."

JLCO played Ted Nash's Portrait in Seven Shades that began with trumpeter Marcus Printup's solo, and then there was Nash's solo. Afterwards, Printup used his trumpet sounds to chase Nash's saxophones sounds. They were so remarkable to the point where the audience did not know what Printup and Nash were playing.

Trumpeter Marsalis, trombonist Vincent Gardner, saxophonist/clarinetist Victor Goines, drummer Ali Jackson, pianist Dan Nimmer, and bassist Carlos Henriquez performed a piece entitled Weary Blues. The song was filled with a "taste of New Orleans." Gardner opened up with a low-up-tempo trombone solo; then, Goines played a soothing clarinet solo. Jackson's drumming and Nimmer's piano playing were outstanding. Marsalis played a "dynamic" trumpet solo that electrified the audience. At one point, during his solo, Marsalis was so energized in playing, to where he had to shake his head and smile to the audience. Out of all the songs JLCO played, there were two that highlighted the evening. And they were: Itsi Bitsy Spider and Old McDonald Had a Farm. It appeared as if the orchestra was telling the audience two "nursery rhyme" stories through jazz music.

I've followed Marsalis' career since 1982, the debut of his first album, Wynton Marsalis, during my junior year at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). I interviewed Marsalis, via telephone, for the Monroe Free Press newspaper in Monroe, Louisiana in August 2000. Ever since then, through his assistant Genevieve Stewart, at Wynton Marsalis Enterprises in New York City, I've kept in contact with him. Before the UCA concert, the last time we met was in April 2002. He performed at ULL's Angelle Hall, where I worked during my freshman and sophomore years.

Marsalis, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana (just like JLCO member Victor Goines) began his classical training at age 12; and he soon began playing in local bands of diverse genres. He entered Julliard School at age 17 and joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. To date, Marsalis has recorded more than 70 jazz and classical albums, which have garnered him nine Grammy Awards. In 1983, he became the first and only artist to win both classical and jazz Grammy Awards in the same year. He repeated this feat in 1984.

Marsalis rich body of compositions includes Sweet Release; Jazz: Six Syncopated Movements; Jump Start and Jazz; Citi Movement/Griot New York; At the Octoroon Balls and In House, On This Morning and Big Train. In 1997, he became the first jazz artist to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music for his oratorio Blood on the Fields was commissioned by JALC. In 1999, Marsalis released eight new recordings in his unprecedented Swinging into the 21st series. He also premiered several new compositions, including the ballet Them Twos, for collaboration with the New York City Ballet. Also, he premiered the monumental work All Rise, commissioned and performed by the New York Philharmonic, along with the JLCO and the Morgan State University Choir. Sony Classical released All Rise on CD in 2002.

To mark the 200th Anniversary of Harlem's historical Abyssinian Baptist Church in 2008, Marsalis composed a full mass for choir and jazz orchestra. The piece premiered at JALC and followed with performances at the celebrated church.

* * *

In Closing,

I thank God for those who use their musical talents for the good. At times, it helps me through work-outs and long distance travels. May God guide each of us in the use of the gifts He's afforded to us. We can all make a difference ... for the better.

In Jesus Name,

To submit a testimony or an article for contribution, please email me at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We've Come This Far by Faith

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not,” Galatians 6:9.

I can only imagine what it must’ve been like for my parents and grandparents growing up in the South. Picket signs, black and colored waiting rooms, and being ignored or pushed aside in a store after a white person enters. It was a different America then. Who would’ve ever thought (fifty years ago) black and white people would interact the way we do today? I know that in the minds of certain individuals that racist attitude still exists, but what an awesome God we serve for helping many to move beyond.

As we celebrate Black History Month, I commemorate those who have paved the way; making possible many of the conveniences we enjoy today. Many who lived in southern states (although other states may have been subject to the same racist treatment) have endured a lengthened amount of degradation by the implementation of Jim Crow: the racial caste system which operated primarily between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Deemed more than merely a set of strict anti-Black laws, it was a way of life for many.

In this issue, contributing writer Renarda Williams shares an insightful interview conducted with Pulitzer Prize winner, Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. In this interview, Wilkerson speaks candidly about those who fled the South in order to make a better life for themselves, breaking away from the caste system designed to hold an entire race back.


African American Migration chronicled in "The Warmth Of Other Suns"
By Renarda Williams

The migration by African Americans from the Jim Crow South to the North and West -- from World War I through the 1970s -- is told through the stories of three people during that period.

Pulitzer Prize journalist Isabel Wilkerson chronicled one of the greatest events in African American and American history with her "remarkable" and "magnificent" book, The Warmth Of Other Suns: The Epic Story Of America's Great Migration (Random House, September 7, 2010).

Wilkerson conducted over 15 years of writing, research, drawing on archival materials, and interviewed 1,200 people for The Warmth Of Other Suns -- one of the most important blueprints of African American and American history.

Wilkerson wrote about the one of the most underreported stories of the twentieth century in this country. She focuses on the lives of Ida Mae Gladney, George Sterling, and Robert Foster. They were among the African Americans who defected away from the horrors of Jim Crow South to seek a better life in the North and West.

The Empowerment Initiative Online Newsletter interviewed Wilkerson via telephone about her book, and how it will impact Black America and America.

TEION: How important the Great Migration was for African Americans who left Jim South in shaping the scope of urban America?

Isabel Wilkerson
Photo Credit-Joe Henson
WILKERSON: The Great Migration was more like a defection from a caste system known as the Jim Crow South -- into the urban North and West, to cities like Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. The majority of African-Americans now living in the North and West are descended from people who were part of this great outpouring of people who defected from Jim Crow.

Before the Great Migration, 90% of African Americans lived in the South. By the end of the Great Migration, nearly half were living outside the South -- in the North, the Midwest and the West. It was no accident. They were on a mission. They had foresight, a vision and a dream to flee the 'caste system' of Jim Crow that [oppressed them]. The outpouring was not a haphazard unfurling of lost souls, but an orderly migration that flowed along the railroad lines and bus routes between certain southern states and certain receiving cities. People followed these routes to the North and West.

TEION: What disadvantages did African Americans encounter once they left the South?

WILKERSON: Well, a question that could be asked is why did they leave? They left because the caste system dictated their every move. It exposed them to everyday indignities and was violently enforced in the form of lynching. What happened to Claude Neal in Florida, whom few Americans have heard of, was an extreme example of the kind of mob violence that surrounded them.

In the decades leading up to and immediately following the start of the Great Migration, a lynching occurred every four days somewhere in the South. There were reminders everywhere that there was a caste system. Blacks and whites could not play checkers together in Birmingham, Alabama, for instance. And in courthouses throughout the South, there was a Black bible and a white bible to swear to tell the truth on.

But they faced many challenges in the North and West in the places they fled to. Many unions would not accept them. Blacks were brought in as strike breakers. Many neighborhoods were off-limits to Blacks. Restrictive covenants prevented whites who might have been willing to sell to blacks to do so and many Blacks faced violence and fire bombings when they did try to move into white neighborhoods.

Even though Blacks met hostility in the North, most of them considered conditions in the North to be better than what they left in the South. They did whatever it took to fit into their new worlds. Some African Americans changed their names, changed their accents.

The Great Migration did not end until the conditions in the South began finally to change. And that took longer than might have been expected. The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 were resisted by most Southern states until the 1970s. One county in Virginia closed the school system because they did not want to desegregate schools.

TEION: Out of all the Southern states African Americans left, what state had the most leave the South?

WILKERSON: Mississippi had the biggest percentage of African Americans [who] defected to the North ... and most of them moved to Chicago. There are now more African Americans living in the city of Chicago than in the entire state of Mississippi.

TEION: Did the stories of Ida Mae Gladney, George Startling, and Robert Foster make you understand their importance in making an impact in African American and American history?

WILKERSON: Yes! The African American defection was made by individual people. There were no leaders like Moses, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King ... to lead them out of the South.

Booker T. Washington did not want Blacks to leave the South. He wanted them to remain in the South until things got better. Many black ministers encouraged their flocks to stay in the South. But those who defected to the North did not look to their leaders to save them. They took matters into their own hands and made the decision to leave.

TEION: Do you want your book to reach young African Americans whose parents, grand parents, uncles, and cousins who defected to the North and West, so they can learn about their roots?

WILKERSON: Parents who defected from the South cannot make their children read about Black history and the Black defection. They need to let their children read about Black history ... whenever they are ready.

Every African American needs to know about the Black defection.

Most of us owe our existence in the North and West to someone who made the hard decision to leave the southern caste system for something better. Yet, it’s something most Blacks take for granted.

If it were not for those who left the South, there would not be a Motown. Berry Gordy's parents came from Georgia. Diana Ross and The Jacksons were children of parents from the South.

Music in general, especially Jazz, would not be where it is today. Miles Davis’s parents left Arkansas for Illinois. John Coltrane migrated from North Carolina to Philadelphia where he got his first alto sax. It’s hard to imagine what American music would be and much of American culture had there been no Great Migration.

Isabel Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times. She was the first African American woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize; and the first African American to win for individual reporting.

Wilkerson also won a George Polk Award and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for her research into the Great Migration.

She has lectured on narrative at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and has served as Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University; and as the James M. Cox Jr. Professor of Journalism at Emory University. She is currently Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University.

During the Great Migration, her parents journeyed from Georgia and southern Virginia to Washington, D.C., where she was born and reared.

In Closing,

I thank God for those who helped in paving the way for many conveniences afforded to African Americans today. As that "racial caste system" still exists in the minds of many, we must continue to still move forward ... in faith that things will continue to get better.

In Jesus Name,

To submit a testimony or an article for contribution, please email me at