Morgan Harper Nichols describes herself as a quiet and passionate introvert longing for self-expression in a noisy world. In her book, “All Along You Were Blooming: Thoughts For Boundless Living,” Nichols not only expresses herself beautifully in both word and visual art, she holds a microphone to every person familiar with the sting of suffering and offers a poetic balm.
“All Along You Were Blooming” was originally the fruit of one of Nichols’ Instagram campaigns where she invites her 1.4 million followers to share their stories and, in turn, she responds to those stories with encouraging messages. This book is a collection of poetic encouragements and affirmations—each piece designed as an ode to those who were vulnerable enough to share their stories and their journeys to growth.
Nichols’ book appeals to both the soul and the eye. Sprinkled throughout “All Along You Were Blooming” are Instagram-worthy doodles and soft watercolor-esque visuals, giving the work both a therapeutic and aesthetically pleasing angle.
Nichols’ book not only acknowledges the reader’s wounds, traumas and hurts, but offers a constant, unrelenting, yet gentle push towards the Light. “All Along You Were Blooming” is neither a self-help book nor a polished 12-point plan on how to heal from hurt. It is the book you read if you seek encouragement, inspiration and the audacity to hope in the midst of your mess. These are the human-inspired pages you thumb through when your back is against the wall and you feel alone in your suffering. This book offers a breath of fresh air, the warmth of Light and a necessary bear hug for the soul.
To someone desiring a breakthrough but needs a nudge to step out in faith, Nichols encourages you to say: “I will go forth, with all I have now: a breath, a dozen steps, and a pocket full of fears, but no matter what tries to pull me back, I will find the strength to be here” (Page 3).
To someone actively fighting to make it through each day, she encourages you to repeat: “Even if my eyes are heavy, I will push forward with audacity, and I will rise with strength at dawn” (Page 51).
To someone eager to see the light at the end of the tunnel, Nichols proclaims: “May you know this to be true: no matter how dark the night, in the morning, Light pours through, filling every corner of the room” (Page 5).
Each line of Nichols’ work leaps out of the page with hope and welcomed, non-judgmental encouragement. The affirmations contained throughout the work are simple yet profound universal mantras for the hope-seeker. The book is a triumphant victory march for the long suffering, full of warmth and light.
Interestingly, while Nichols’ work and the basis of her encouragements appears to stem from her Christian faith, “All Along You Were Blooming” does not hold itself out as either an explicitly Christian work nor a theological examination of trauma and hope. In fact, the word “God” is only mentioned once in the entire work. Instead, Nichols may be taking a more nuanced approach to expressing her Faith through this work. Throughout the book, references to “the Light” and “Hope” are capitalized, as is typical when referring to God as the object in question. This subtlety is, perhaps, one avenue Nichols has found to be most inclusive—particularly where matters of suffering, trauma, hurt, pain and overcoming are universal experiences. Nichols does not claim to offer answers—theological or not. Through “All Along You Were Blooming”, Nichols offers a sounding board for the soul—a moment in time to feel heard and understood, regardless of where you stand religiously.
Nichols’ book can be summed up in this quote, where she hopes this for the reader: “I hope someday you know the taste of early morning mountain air, and the saltwater waves of the ocean, and the unexpected bliss of some strange sweet-bitter fruit. But I hope you also know the taste of hope on an ordinary Tuesday, when you do not feel okay, and you rise up anyway” (Page 53).
“All Along You Were Blooming” reminds us that, somedays, having and holding onto hope can be a small act of rebellion. Nichols encourages readers to strive for that hope. To go joy-hunting. And to live a life that blooms, regardless.
“I knew it was a big thing when one time we had a famous artist who I would say was on and interviewing and a real big to do. And his interview was somehow placed over the time when I usually start asking the questions, and somebody said, ‘Is there going to be trivia today?’ And I thought, ‘Wow…alrighty,'” said Washington, who lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Washington says it started with just a few people responding but has grown so popular that she now has “Bible Scholars,” a mix of new people to the Word, along with ministers and Bishops. They interact with each other on her social media channels, cheering each other on.
“It’s a huge, big thing that people are doing,” said Washington. “People were saying, ‘Wow, I was so blessed because I didn’t understand much of the Word before.’ I let the people have some fun, take the tension out of it. I tell them, ‘Hey, don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t get it right. Consider the blessing. If you learn something new from the Word of God.”
Here’s how it works on her radio show. She’ll throw out a question, people will email her their answers, and she’ll call out the names on the air of those who got the answers right. Although her radio show listeners inspired the idea behind creating the Trivia book, she was also motivated by her personal experience in church Bible Study. Washington, a Brooklyn native whose family is from Barbados and Jamaica, grew up Episcopalian, but she moved to the Baptist church as an adult. An eager learner, she was dismayed to see how people were interested in hearing the pastor or Bible study teacher speak but were intimidated when asked to answer questions.
“They were worried that one of their church peers might realize or think, ‘They don’t really know. They’re not as close to God as I am because they don’t know as much about the Bible.’ So the pastor would ask questions, and people would sit there in dead silence. And I’m like, ‘Well, don’t you want to ask? Don’t you want to know?’ They were just afraid,” said Washington.
With that in mind, you might think the idea of being hit with a Bible trivia book could be equally as intimidating. But Washington’s book is a fun, and as its name states, easy read. The 300 questions came from six years of trivia on air. Washington says she attached a fun theme to each question, such as “Compose Yourself,” which appears right before the question about the number of songs King Solomon wrote,” to help people learn by association. And unlike many other trivia books, her book is organized by sections and topics and not skill level, such as beginner, intermediate, or expert.
“The Bible isn’t written like that, and I don’t do it like that on the air. You learn it as you receive it. And I think to try to dumb it down for people doesn’t help them. While you’re participating, you are learning, and you’ll be surprised, you know the more complex parts of the Bible as well as the parts that are, yeah, they’re easy.”
Washington also has a book in development called “On the Third Day,” which includes pictures of nature she’s taken over the years that appear to tell scripture stories.
“Generally, we talk about ‘on the third day’ Jesus rose, but on the third day, God created trees and plants, and all of what we know is nature. And I said, ‘It has its own story to tell.’ And in this book, I am allowing nature to tell its story in its way,” said Washington. “I have an image of a type of plant that looks like flames. It looks like little fur, and I have a patch that’s all red, and it looks like flames. I had the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They are in the fiery furnace. I had the scripture there, you have the picture, and you can see the imagery.”
Even with the newly themed picture book on the horizon, Washington’s still focused on trivia, too. She self-published Bible Trivia Made Easy in September 2020 on Amazon.com, and there is a new edition on the way. Yet even with her good intentions of just wanting to help people, there have been a few naysayers. One listener accused her of making fun of the Word of God, telling her to just stick to the music.
“I don’t want the listeners ever to think that I am making trivial of the Word of God when I say trivia. Bible trivia is meant to help people. It’s one thing to memorize Psalm 23 and be able just to regurgitate it back. But when you learn something new after you have been studying the Word for more than ten years, that’s the real knowledge and the nugget there.”
Trivia Question Answers:
Elijah traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God (1 Kings 19:3-8)
King Solomon wrote 1,005 songs (1 Kings 4:29-34)
Sarah was the first person to bake a cake in the Bible. (Genesis 18:6)
Zim Flores has had her share of compelling new beginnings.
She grew up in a single-parent household with a strong Nigerian mom, Uchenna, who initially came to the United States for an arranged marriage but ultimately fled with her two kids in tow to escape an abusive husband. Zim and her brother, Chebem, were toddlers at the time. The trio moved around a lot but after some time landed back in Minnesota, the same state where they had originally fled. When Zim was nine, her mom, who is a nurse, moved the family to North Carolina because she got a job at Duke University.
Given such humble beginnings, it’s more than admirable how Zim, now thirty-two, has gone on to accomplish more in her twenties and early thirties than some people have in a lifetime. And some of her experiences are so unique, from cloning a gene at age nineteen and becoming the youngest Precinct Judge in North Carolina to living a year in India as a Henry Luce Scholar and becoming fluent in Hindi, she’s someone who isn’t afraid to step out on faith boldly. An entrepreneur at heart, she launched Travel Noire in 2013, a Boutique Travel company so successful that it landed her on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in 2016. Also, Travel Noire was named one of the Most Innovative Companies in the World by Fast Company. Glamour magazine tapped her as one of “25 Young Women Changing the World.” Oprah selected her for the SuperSoul 100. But what surprised many is when she gave it all up and sold the company to Blavity. She wanted a new direction — to follow Christ.
Zim grew up in the church, and many of her fondest memories as a child were the friendships and fellowship she had in her COGIC church community in Minnesota and later in North Carolina as a Baptist. But she was seeking more—a new beginning. After selling her business, the pain of starting anew led to an identity crisis and working through that is what spurred her to write Dare to Bloom. Zim, who is now married, lives in Chicago and has started a new FashTech company called Italicist, which uses computer vision technology to help women discover modest clothing. I talked to Zim about her faith and the struggles she went through, what it’s like to start all over when your identity is tied to a particular way of life, and the impact she hopes her new book will have on readers.
SN: What has your spiritual journey been like?
Zim Flores: One of the things that I remember most about growing up was my mom’s dedication to the church. Most of my fond memories of growing up in Minnesota were spending time in the church. I grew up COGIC (Church of God in Christ), and so every few days, we were either at the church or our pastor’s house. And I have so many amazing memories from that time.
When I moved to North Carolina, I was nine years old. My mom got a job at Duke University as a nurse, and we started going to a Baptist church. It was a change from the Midwest in a Minnesota, COGIC church. We were listening to contemporary Christian music, Amy Grant. And then we’d go down to the Baptist church, and it was a little bit different. That was a lot for me to get used to, but it colored my spiritual journey as well. I joined the choir, and I was at a Baptist church throughout college.
Moving to India, it was really hard for me to find a church, so I just streamed my online services and strengthened my relationship with God. I wasn’t tied to any community after moving back to the States, but I very much kind of held my relationship with God pretty close. Around 2012, I was floating around. I had drifted away from my relationship with God. I had started Travel Noire. There were remnants there, but it wasn’t as strong as when I was living in India.
I remember moving to Chicago. I didn’t know anybody. I knew one person. And I remember it was a season where I was so desperate. I was desperate for God. I was desperate for community. I started going to meet up groups to connect with other people and to get a body. And so I asked my boyfriend at the time, who is my husband now, if he knew of a church that I could go to. It was a church in Brookfield [Illinois] and my first time stepping foot in a Pentecostal church. That was another really interesting experience, a really special experience. And so, I got re-baptized there, and my walk has grown beyond my wildest dreams.
SN: Your mom is a strong woman to do what she did with two small children. What have you learned from her about faith?
ZF: Back then, as a child, you don’t know these things. You just [hear], “All right, we’re going to a new place. Get in the car and let’s go.” Now, when I have these conversations with her, I hear how much pain she has about those particular periods of her life. Sometimes she’ll even shed a tear. It’s like when you deal with trauma in that way, it stays with you forever. There is an element of hope that’s there because you know that you wouldn’t be where you are without that particular trauma. And then there’s also the recognition that God’s grace was there in that season.
When I think about the stories that my mom tells us, I’m like, man, you just left. You left with my brother and me. We got on a Greyhound bus, and we went to California. I mean, you had to have an incredible amount of faith even to think that everything was going to be okay. I’m still having these conversations with her because our parents’ stories are so fascinating; just as colorful and as busy as our lives are today is how colorful, and busy their lives were then. And so sitting and learning from her and understanding what it took for her to go literally from place to place, but also from faith to faith and knowing that she was going to be covered, that we were going to be covered and that she kept us in a community of believers when we were growing up, because she, as a single mother, needed the support and help. And that’s where the church came in.
SN: And so, what was your childhood like?
ZF: When I think back to my childhood, it was the most beautiful experience that I had ever had. I was always around people. I never knew lack, even though my mom didn’t have much. I remember growing up, and we went to, I think, Walmart. She didn’t have enough to buy me the scissors that I needed for a class. Now scissors, back in the nineties, might’ve been $2 or something along those lines, maybe even cheaper, but she didn’t have enough money for that. That’s the one instance that I clearly remember. Because I was like, “I want to get everything for my school.”
I remember the day that we couldn’t afford those scissors, but she did all that she could to shield us from all of the craziness in her own life. And that, for me, mirrors faith. You know that everything is going to be okay, and you don’t let on. You don’t let other people know who don’t need to know what’s going on with you. You keep your relationship with God as strong as you possibly can. And you lean on those in the church who are there to help.
SN:Tell us what you were going through when you sold Travel Noire and how it inspired you to write Dare to Bloom.
ZF: It was such a period of hardship for me because I’m so used to being in control of everything, or as much of the things that I can be in control of. But when I lost control of this business, it felt like I didn’t have control. I dealt with a lot of shame and many things relating to my identity and who I am. Some of the friends that I had because of Travel Noire are no longer my friends. So, does that mean there’s something wrong with me, or does that mean that I’m just moving on to this new chapter? And so, there are a lot of really hard-won battles. I guess, some of which were in my mind, that I had to deal with due to this business no longer being a part of who I am. Or me even mischaracterizing this business and saying this business is who I am. How successful it is, is a reflection of how successful I am. And I think that a lot of us get it so wrong when we start to think that way.
I hope that those who read the book can be reminded that our identity is always safe with God. Even when the world tells us that we are this kind of person or that kind of person, we have sixty-six books that tell us the kind of person we are. We are made in the image of God. We are his image-bearers. He has put something very special within all of us. And if we only knew how special we were and we are, I think that, that would make the process of starting over so much easier for a lot of people.
When asked what she would write about if she could write about anything, Ashlee Eiland’s answer was immediate.
It was 2018, and the pastor said the divisiveness and contention in public conversations was weighing heavily on her. Eiland, the formation and preaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church near Grand Rapids, Michigan, said she felt a “holy discontent” to offer an alternative.
She wanted to help people talk across their differences and, at the same time, still be able to recognize each other’s worth as human beings created in God’s image and likeness.
“I wanted to recapture that because I feel like, especially two years ago, some of that was being lost. I was sensing that would take us down a really hard trajectory if things continued in that direction,” she said.
But kindness isn’t all holding doors and letting people merge in front of you in traffic. The goal of kindness is restoration and transformation, Eiland said.
“I think sometimes what kindness means, if we’re doing it well, is that we are righteously angry,” she said.
“We are lamenting, we are grieving and sometimes holding that grief and anger and lament with someone,” she explained. “I’m specifically thinking of people of color in this country and Black people, who, for generations, have endured an injustice. That should not be met with a pithy call to just be nice to one another, meet each other in the middle of this and this will all be OK.”
In a series of short essays, the pastor and author shares her experiences as a Black woman in predominantly white Christian spaces. She writes of encountering both racism and belonging, of confronting her fears and offering kindness even in the face of radical opposition.
Eiland talked to Religion News Service about what it means to be kind, why it’s important to be able to speak to others across divides and how churches can play a role in that.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What does kindness look like in the midst of a pandemic, when fear and distrust are running high and people are unable to be in physical proximity to one another?
It is interesting talking about up-close kindness now that we are encouraged to not be so close anymore.
Before we get to this idea of outward kindness, have we truly sat with being receivers of God’s kindness toward us? Are we regularly coming back to self-kindness? One quick exercise would be over the next 24 hours just to actively note our own voice and how we speak to ourselves. And if that doesn’t reflect a level of transformation and reconciliation with ourselves, as God has offered it to us, then how are we ever going to extend that to the world around us?
I think there is a level of heart work involved before we look outward. I’m thinking of Paul’s words to the Ephesians, where he actually cautions the people of God away from hardheartedness. He says, “But be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God through Christ has forgiven you.” There’s something about maintaining a tender heart first, before we can look outward to the work of forgiving, to the work of reconciliation, to the work of truth-telling.
In the book, you share the pain you felt on election night in 2016 and your fear about “what this presidency and the rhetoric that accompanied it would mean for the poor, minorities and marginalized.” Afterward, you reached out to a Republican friend to understand why she had voted for President Trump. Why do you think it is important to try to understand and have conversations across differences?
I’m thinking of the greatest commandment — to love God and to love our neighbor — and maintaining distance in an unhealthy way. There are so many good reasons to maintain distance for the sake of healthy relationship in the way of boundaries, but I’m talking about choosing to stay distanced from one another just for the sake of maintaining our own narratives. It has great potential to create a hotbed for bitterness, resentment and hate. And if our hearts are hotbeds for bitterness, resentment and hate based on the narratives that we are persistently pursuing, then we can’t love God and love our neighbor.
I didn’t really have a desire to debate her because I knew where she stood. I really wanted to know why for the sake of seeing her humanity up close. Her being my friend is a key part of this, too. This wasn’t a random person I’d just met. This was someone I’d already done relationship with, had history with, who I’d seen lead teenagers out of addiction and into relationship with Christ — I mean, a stunning legacy. I wanted to act against the potential for bitterness, anger, resentment to grow my heart by being close to her and asking God to show me how he saw her.
Because we had a relationship, the beautiful thing was she was able to hear my heart when I was able to hear hers, and our relationship to this day is wonderfully intact, and not just intact, it’s thriving. To me, the end goal of my relationship with her isn’t to hold her close in order to change her mind or to prove I’m right. I’m pursuing unity, and unity requires truth telling, it requires the pursuit of justice and reconciliation, it requires peacemaking.
You also write about the importance of speaking out and taking action. How do you balance that?
Wisdom and discernment are key here. Spout out an issue, someone’s going to have an opinion about it. We all have opinions on everything, but for me personally, that doesn’t mean my voice needs to be heard in every single instance for a couple of reasons.
You talk about racism. There are times where I feel strong in my spirit to lead and to point others in the direction of how to be a better reconciler and how to do the work of antiracism in a way that honors Christ, how to speak up and to be strong and courageous, to use one’s voice in a way that doesn’t allow the people of God to suffer. And there are times when I feel like that’s not my work to do for that moment. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about it. And it doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion. But there are some times, for example, when you talk about racism and bigotry, where I feel more wrapped up in the community of God, when my white brothers and sisters speak up.
There’s discernment here. I don’t want to speak for the sake of just being heard. I want to speak for the sake of transformation. And that means I have to be attentive to the role my voice plays, whether in that moment I need to make room for someone else’s voice.
Social media is important, speaking outwardly is important and maybe a yard sign is important. I’m not minimizing those things, but am I doing the hard work within the relationships in the spheres of influence that have already been given to me? For some, the Thanksgiving table and the Christmas dinner table this year are going to be the battlegrounds because you’re talking across the table from someone who might hold a different opinion from you, and that might be the place that requires the most courage.
You also share a story about confronting your fear of police by inviting police over for coffee. What does that experience have to say to readers now in a moment of reckoning over systemic racism and police brutality following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others?
Again, I am careful not to be prescriptive. In that moment, that felt like a good next step for me. I felt like I had the energy and the desire to really step into an engagement like that with our local police department at the time. If I’m honest, there would have been other days that would have happened and I would not have had the energy or the desire because so much of what is happening is repeated trauma. So I’d say you have to be really discerning on whether that type of proximity is a good next step.
Fear was leading me, and I didn’t want fear to lead me. I know what happens when fear leads. When fear leads, the oppressed is in danger of becoming the oppressor. When fear leads, I am paralyzed (from) carrying out the mission that God’s called and placed on my life. For so many different reasons, I was sensing fear in that moment was not leading me to the flourishing and wholeness Christ desired for me.
I felt like the next step was to humanize individuals who are part of a larger system. It was also acknowledgement that not every single individual who’s operating within the system is interested in brutalizing citizens. There are good law enforcement agents who have protected and served really well. And so I wanted to counterbalance what I was seeing in the media and seeing around my neighborhood with my own eyes. To be open to it, exploring what would it be like to share with our local law enforcement how this feels for us and to be mutually curious, almost going against my natural instinct. It wasn’t like this Hallmark moment. I think what it did is it interrupted the fear that was festering in my own heart, and it gave face to a system. I was able to engage with individuals, not with a system.
In the afterword to the book, you mention the burden of being a Black woman in a “predominantly culturally white church.” We’re in a moment when many churches are saying they want to listen, learn and do better. What’s something you would share with churches about what it means to be culturally white and how wearying that can be?
Cultural whiteness says to every other culture represented within one’s congregation or staff that ours is the norm, that cultural whiteness is the norm. There might be room made for the existence of difference, but we might be hesitant to let that difference lead us in different spaces.
One is I think for church leaders to say, “How can we get a better perspective and move away from our own blind spots by listening to Black, Indigenous, people of color within our church and staff on their perspective of what whiteness is like in our church context?” If there’s a white staff or leadership team defining the culture, it’s like being a fish swimming in the water and not even knowing you’re wet. There has to be a different perspective to help inform what its impact is for others who are entering into that environment.
So a lot of listening and then examining spaces where there’s not just representation, but leadership. You can say, “Yeah, we’re a diverse church. We have 20% Latinx people. We have 10% African American.” You can say that and think you’re diverse, but unless there is someone who’s sitting at the table, not just offering ideas, but you’re actively asking to lead you, then cultural whiteness will remain dominant. And so there has to be a real reckoning — are you willing to give up some of your own space or for someone else to lead and shape and form culture?
And it won’t be just in one space, like Black History Month or an MLK celebration. Cultural whiteness, because it can be so deeply embedded in so many different church spaces, there has to be commitment to this over time repeatedly. It might seem like you’re talking about it too much or it’s coming up too much, but if it’s not revisited regularly, and if you’re not loving people well by inviting them to the conversation to help actively shape spaces, giving them leadership and authority in some senses, then we won’t see change over the long haul.
Specifically, this shows up on platforms, in the ways of worship and preaching and teaching, all the way to children’s ministry, what Bible characters look like, who’s teaching the story. Cultural whiteness impacts not just staff teams and the racial makeup of a congregation, but systems of how ministry is done. How ministry is done is directly tied to how people are formed and their view of God and life with God and each other. There has to be a willingness to be shaped and formed in any other way.
No matter what generation, being a teen girl is tough. And it’s not easy for girls to wrap their heads around the fact that the Bible can help them get through some of the more challenging times. Author Katara Washington Patton, in her new book Inspiration for Christian Teen Girls, helps serve girls with Biblical guidance in what she calls “just-the-right-size portions.” Even her subject headers are girl-friendly with titles such as “I Am Beautiful,” “Girl Power,” “Attitude Check,” “Meet the Holy Spirit,” “The Power of Encouragement,” “I Won’t Let Anger Get the Best of Me,” and more. Urban Faith had a chat with Katara about her new book and the impact she hopes it has on young women.
What do you hope Christian girls take away from this book, and what inspired you to write it?
I hope Christian girls feel empowered to walk boldly as Christians; to learn more about God and look forward to a wonderful journey and know that even when it is hard, God provides help for them. I also hope this book helps girls think about their actions and think more about God as a friend and guide. I’ve always had a passion for helping teen girls navigate through this phase in life. I can still recall my teen years and the questions and concerns I had and sometimes feeling like I was all alone. That was not true. I prevailed, and I pray every girl will too without having to live with a life of consequences because of negative choices she made in her teens. Life can be sweet and meaningful when we are following God–even when we are young.
Many teens, girls, and boys alike are struggling to discern who they are as a Christian and what they believe. How will your book help guide teen girls in this faith journey?
This book covers many of the issues that will help girls grow as Christians and connect with God on a personal level; I see God as a friend, and I want girls also to spend a lot of time focusing on getting to know God just like we get to know our friends.
Katara Washington Patton
What are the most challenging issues Christian teen girls face, and how does your book address them?
I think some issues are old and some are new and specific to this generation. Self-esteem is always a big issue for teens especially girls and now with social media and videos with filters and photoshop things are enhanced; girls have to know that God loves each of us for who we are and what we see on social media (or in other places) is not always real. Competition and bullying are also real issues girls face these days; I address both in different entries. Of course, makeup, body image, dealing with parents and other family members are also all included.
Many teen girls see all the romance novels and movies about women finding their prince charming. But what the world values isn’t in lockstep with a Godly path. What should teen girls look for to know if they’ve found their soulmate?
In the entry Find True Love, I, of course, point back to God and God’s example of true love; from there, I ask girls to think of people who truly love them and what they do to show that love. I use 1 Corinthians 13 as a model here, and I try to help girls think through what love looks like, whether that’s in a relationship with a friend, family member, or bae. Romance is something we want to experience, but it really is so much more than we realize or get to see in the movies. I pray this entry, and this book will help girls see this and help them pursue healthy, positive relationships as they grow into young women.
What would you tell a teen girl who is struggling with whether to have sex with her boyfriend?
The entry “Let’s Talk About…,” on pages 38-39 not only shares the word of God from 1 Cor. 6:16-18 from two versions (for easier understanding), but it also offers practical things for girls to think about, such as: Do you want to be connected with someone so intimately when you might not even like this person in a month or so? The activities also encourage the reader to think about just how far she does want to go: holding hands, kissing, French kissing? These are things girls need to decide BEFORE it is too late, before it is dark and they are having all of those emotions. This entry provides a tool to help young girls think about their decision before it happens and to apply God’s word on the matter in their life.
What are three or more things every Christian teen girl needs to know about living a life with purpose?
Build your faith–it really will carry you through so much in life; love yourself–so many negative actions stem from just not loving yourself; God created each of us and wants us to live as the true God-created souls we are; love others– it’s just like the great commandment–we have to be connected to God, love ourselves and love others, which includes vowing to do no harm to ourselves or others.
What are three or more things every Christian parent needs to know about guiding their young woman into living a life with purpose?
I think parents need to listen to their teens–not only what they are saying but what they are doing–so they can keep the lines of communications open. Girls need to be able to come to their parents with what they are feeling and/or questioning in life; I also think parents need to remember when they were teens…things were confusing and complex and now they may be 10 times that; give your girls space and time to walk through this phase, keep them prayed up and keep your hearts and minds open to them; guide them well–hopefully this includes connecting them with faith groups and communities who can also serve as mentors and people they can communicate with. It can be lonely and isolating to be a teen; help girls find the resources and support they need during this time.
As a Christian mom with a daughter, what core principles do you hope to instill in your daughter?
Loving God and desiring to grow with God and turning to God for all of our needs; I think when you have that, you will succeed no matter what.
At times in your life, you may feel like you’re in a rut. You’ve got a great job, attained a degree or two, but something is holding you back from reaching your real God-given purpose. For some reason, you just don’t feel fulfilled. Maybe you’ve tried to read self-help books or be inspired by successful business leaders in the past but nothing has spoken to you spiritually. Dr. Ray Charles may have the roadmap you need to make a lasting, meaningful, and righteous change. In his book “Enough IS Enough: What’s in Your S.H.O.E.?,” Dr. Charles openly shares how he overcame his own personal and professional struggles and outlines a method that takes readers on a journey of looking inward and authentically about themselves and what pebbles are hindering their success.
UF: When you’re doing all the things that you were told to do — you go to school, you get your degree, and you work hard — what is the missing piece that keeps people from feeing fulfilled?
DC: I’m going to share with you something that I don’t believe I shared in my book. My best friend was a two-time Super Bowl champ — Chicago Bears and the New York Giants. After the N.F.L., he decided to enroll in the Harvard Executive M.B.A. program. He aced that program. Then, he took a company from $5 million in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to 65 million in five years. He had the “Midas Touch,” everything he touched turned into gold. And then he hit a precipitous fall. The business took a turn. He committed suicide. He had C.T.E., which is the concussion the player had in the Will Smith movie (Concussion 2015). The gentleman reached for a gun and the movie ended and everyone knew that it was suicide. That was my best friend Dave Duerson. Why did I share that story? It’s because he had one of the highest IQs that I know of. Just through the roof. He knew his business acumen. When the pain came and when the storm came, what he tried to reach for didn’t necessarily sustain. College prepares you for the “what” but not the “who.” So companies have a business plan, a marketing plan, a strategic plan, a sales plan, and all of the other plans. But college doesn’t prepare you for a personal plan. So how do you navigate your way when you hit the bumps in the road? Most of us tend to look at things external to combat those bumps, when in fact it’s not external, it’s internal. And that’s what the “who” is.
UF: Is there a particularly emotional intelligence issue that people have difficulty getting over? Something that you see more often than others?
DC: I think what people have difficulty getting over is the depth. Because in order to get to the “who” it goes through the cross. You gotta go through Calvary to get to the “who”. People don’t want to give that up. In order to get to the “who,” you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone.
U.C.L.A. did a research study that shows leadership success comes down to two things — intellect and how do people feel when they experience you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be physically entering the room. It could be, how do people feel when your name shows up in someone’s email inbox? So according to this research, 93% of leadership success depends on how people feel. People have to experience the authentic you that was designed by God. It has to be a pursuit of, “What is my divine purpose?” When I come to terms with that, and when I walk into a room, it’s going to cause a certain sense of joy and peace, gladness and engagement. Most folks spend their time going after the 7%, which is the intellect. So we have leaders of nations and businesses, very smart people who are suffering.
UF: In your book, you talk about what has hindered your success both personally and professionally. How were you able to make a successful shift in your life?
DC: I was arrogant. I changed when I saw right before my eyes a mirror of who I was. But after that change was a transition. The event was the change. I went on an “in-venture” — an internal adventure. I went on that In-venture to discover, “Ok, how do I get out of this? How do I make this habitual? How do I make this a lifestyle?” I thought I was confident. My wife was like, oh, no brother you are arrogant — and then my fraternity brothers validated that. I was like, okay, I get it. I get it. How do I change? Show me the proof of change and the proof came in the Word. That was the event. Change is external, but transition is internal. The transition, that journey, is what S.H.O.E. is about. I’m taking folks through a journey, but change happens in an instant.