MARCH 2020 - REV

Don’t Abort Your

By Myra Walker

What does it take to have your hope aborted? Is it when someone you trust or look up to tells you it can’t be done? Maybe you didn’t get the results you expected after investing your time and efforts into something you believed in? Maybe it was just fear, fear of the unknown or fear that what happened before, will happen again. I must admit the valleys in our lives can make us lose hope that is if we allow them to. Another option is to look at the valley experience from a different perspective, like what does it take for a valley to exist? The answer is that it has to be surrounded by higher ground. This means that there was a time when things were better. A time when you were on higher grounds and things were good. I’ve got news for you: there is a strong likelihood that they will be better again. So what is your valley experience? What is that place that causes you to believe that there is no hope and no chance that you will ever get back to that higher ground? The thing about hopelessness is how convincing it can be, if you let it. The very thought of no light at the end of the tunnel can wear you out. But the truth of the matter is, hope is simply the emotion attached to your expectation. So it’s quite possible that when you lose hope, you’ve actually allowed your expectations of the planned outcome to vanish. No longer able to see through the muck that has skewed your vision, you give up, abort the dream, and walk away from the birthing table. I can vividly remember a conversation I had with a therapist during a valley experience in my life. I dragged myself into her office with every intention of convincing her of all the reasons she should validate my hopelessness. I mean I had all the facts laid out; all my data in check; and of course, all my emotions were leading the conversation. After allowing me to plead my hopelessness case, she looked at me and calmly asked, “If the end of this thing turns out in the dreadful way you anticipate it to, will you lose your life?” Not knowing where she was going with this absurd question, I hesitantly replied, “No.” She then asked, “Will you lose your faith?” Even more hesitantly I replied, “No.” “ “Then everything else is small relatively speaking” she said.

Now, I must admit, her advice was not an easy pill to swallow, and I even harbored a little resentment towards her for making it sound so easy. In hindsight, it actually was easier than I anticipated. And once I put those questions into perspective, the tension I was carrying that came from the fear of failure, subsided and I was able to think clearly. As I reflect on that session with her, and believe me, I frequently do, I am reminded of how easy it is to allow fear, disappointment, and failed attempts to be the culprit in aborting our hope. So when you find yourself sinking into that hopelessness valley, I recommend you ask yourself, “Is it going to kill me?” Or “Will it alter my soul’s final destination?” I can assure you that more than likely the answer will be “No.” In my experience and you may agree, the things that send us to that black hole, hold a false sense of power over us. A power we give to the circumstances by allowing those circumstances to intimidate and question our truth. If we step back, take pause and direct our attention to the things that did work, or are working, we can encourage ourselves to push past that dark place of hopelessness and build the courage to win again. Whatever seemingly hopeless situation you may find yourself in from time to time, I want you to remember that it’s never as hopeless as it seems. Your valley experience is only temporary and you will get to higher ground again. So whatever you do, don’t abort your hope. Just step back, take a deep breath, then push forward and believe again. Give birth to hope.

Present words that say come out of despair and embrace hope. Words that say God’s word cannot fail. Words that shout out, “Stand! Victory is at hand!” Words that bless the Lord at all times- that praise Him continually- in spite of. Words that remind us not to allow circumstances to dictate how we act, feel or respond; lively words! Words that Shabach! Dunamis words.

Words that have a creative force- Words that bring forth the power and beauty of life That gently provides comfort Firmly speak truth Jokingly cause laughter to break forth

That release captured tears That show forth confidence Express resolve Inspiring- thought provoking

Original words - not carbon copies Words that bind the hearts of friends That facilitate forgiveness Words that speak forth knowledge- that gain respect Words that communicate - that conversate That correct wrongs Words that beautiful songs are made of Words that speak forth love- the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts Words that dispel hate and fears

So hear my words. Are you ready for them? They are but an extension of my heart. Will you allow them to wrap around your heart- soar through your soul and permeate your mind?

Words. Powerful words! Life changing words. Prophetic words. Soul stirring - Soul searching words. Words!

By Wendy M. Reynolds Written June 5, 2004

A SENIOR SINGLES MINISTRY

Dr. Janice R. Love

With 60 being the new 40, individuals living longer, and the percentage of single people

continuing to grow, it is becoming highly likely that individuals 65 and older may be in the single category. According to the US census, there are over 46 million persons 65 and older with over 18 million of them being unmarried. Even though are a large number of senior singles, they may not have given up on finding love and companionship. Seniors are now showing up in the dating scene in record numbers. Just Google “senior citizen dating” and you will be amazed at the number of online dating sites specifically designed to assist seniors looking for love. It is not surprising that there are more women than men who are single and living alone. According to the Population Bulletin on Aging in the United States published in December 2015, more than 27% of women ages 65 to 74, 40% of women ages 75 to 84, and 56% of those 85 and older live alone. A longer life span accounts for some of the numbers as women on average live eight years longer than men. Of course women live alone because some are widowed, but there are a huge percentage of those who are divorced and or never married. Interestingly, after my mother passed, my sisters and I determined he needed more socialization. As a veteran benefit he was able to make day visits to the senior day center in his neighborhood. He was apprehensive about going but after a week or so he seemed to enjoy it. My dad loved good food and spoke highly of the meals especially the desserts. When we asked him how his day went, he usually bragged about what he ate for lunch. It wasn’t until he started being interested in what he wore that we realized what he was really enjoying was the attention from the single ladies.

When Dad’s birthday rolled around in October, my sisters made arrangements to have a birthday party on site for him. They arrived with cupcakes and punch and found Dad sitting at the table with three animated women. Each one of the women introduced themselves as Dad’s girlfriend. My sisters got more than an earful from the lively crew. We couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if any of these friendships blossomed into a relationship.

If you have ever read the book or watched the movie, Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, you can see the complications of two seniors, particularly the widowed, who fall in love. In summary, Addie Moore, a 70 year old widow struggles with loneliness and invites her widowed neighbor, Louis Waters, to sleep over nightly because she does not

like to sleep alone. After sleeping side by side

platonically, they develop a deep friendship and a new life for both of them. In the backdrop of their relationship is the gossiping town and their concerned, controlling children.

Surprisingly, seniors are not only dating, they are cohabitating. Forbes reports "In 2006, 1.8 million Americans aged 50 and above lived in heterosexual "unmarried-partner households." In an article entitled: Cohabiting Seniors: Reasons Senior Couples Say No to Marriage, by Sheri Stritof, there are several reasons given for this trend. Despite facing the disapproval of their children and religious faith, senior couples are citing financial reasons as the number one reason for cohabitation. Whether it is loss of military, pension or survivor benefits, insurance reasons, fear of incurring liability for medical expenses or asset protection, seniors are concerned that marriage is not financially practical. The Bible instructs us in Ephesians 6:2 to honor our father and our mother. In Psalm 71:9 the Psalmist requests to not be cast off in the time of old age and not to be forsaken when his strength is spent. If you read Psalm 16:31, you will know that gray hair is a crown of glory and is gained in a righteous life. Clear instructions are given in I Timothy 5:3-16 on the church’s responsibility to care for the widows, but where does the church stand on how to minister to single seniors who are lonely, want to remain socially active or desire companionship?

In today’s times, churches are struggling to meet the needs of not only single young adults, but now struggle with how to minister to single seniors. Why should these individuals have to go outside the church to get their needs met? The church is the perfect place to provide meetings, classes and other activities to meet the needs of this population. A ministry can serve and support those who have recently been widowed or divorced and those who chose to be single as well as those interested in being in a relationship. Noon day Bible studies are great, but what else is your church doing to help seniors address issues of life along their spiritual journey? In conclusion, just as baby boomers impacted the world since the day they were born, they will continue to make their mark in history. Many have already reached their 65th birthday and demonstrating that senior life is not the same as in previous generations. I am encouraging churches to look around your church and assess ways to minister to our elderly. As a church don’t be afraid to tackle the tough issues such as single seniors looking for love. Whether you like it or not you may need a senior singles ministry.

Blessings…

Dr. Janice R. Love,

The First Lady Coach

Email: pearls@janicerlove.com

Website: http://thefirstladycoach.com

Facebook: https://Facebook.com/pearlsperfected/

Private FB group: http://yesiammarriedtoministry.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thefirstladycoach/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janicerlove

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JaniceRLove10

By StacyMcClendon

Tiptoeing into your destiny can feel like just that. Like what? Like nothing at all is happening. Slow motion…stop animation…pause for the cause…oh, is something really happening here?

The answer is YES! We are charged to put one foot in front of the other, even when we don’t know the outcome. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding...’ (Proverbs 3: 5-6). I don’t know how this feels for those reading this right now, but for me who is a natural planner, it can be downright intimidating at times. This is because you must let go and trust the maker of ALL things, who knows all happenings and steps necessary for you to take in the future. One of the best pieces of advice that my Mom gave me is, ‘to take life one day at a time.’ She gave me this wonderful piece of advice when I had just become a single mom to my second son and was wondering how my life had gotten here, and how I was going to handle all that I needed to take care of at the time – my life, self, children, work and all the extra things that pop up out of the blue. All I could think is ‘this was not what I planned for my life.’ I didn’t realize how these words would be sweet honey to my soul, but they were as I began to trust God and know that in time things will get better. I just needed to keep going and doing my best.

Prior to my second son being born, I had been attending a new church for about sevenmonths and was learning who I was to God and what he had in store for me. I learned that he has ‘…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.’ (Jeremiah 29:11) This was a brand-new way of thinking for me, as I had never leaned on God in my life prior. I just made my plans and did what I thought I needed to bring them to fruition. I later learned that the issue with this was it may not be the best plan for your life. I continued to study and show up with my kids’, year in and year out, while learning and beginning to place all of God’s promises into my heart. During this time, those promises began to take root in my mind & heart and began to grow in my life.

I started attending multiple connect groups on a variety of topics. These connect groups were attended by men and women (some even allowed children to attend with their parents) who wanted to learn more about God, meet friends and have fun! I met some wonderful people in these groups (some of whom I am still friends with to this day). In addition, both of my boys received male mentors through church, and they are still connected with them.

The biggest change occurred when I became a member of the Single and Parenting Ministry at church. This ministry was for both mothers and fathers who were single and parenting. We met at church weekly. The parents learned from the ‘Single & Parenting: Hard Work and Real Hope’ curriculum, while our children were taught about God’s love and took part in activities in a separate space. This curriculum was 13 weeks and chop full of things necessary to become a better single parent. We started each week with an ice breaker activity that allowed us to open up and get closer to other single parents. This allowed us to learn a lot about what others were going through in their life while offering our support and encouragement in a safe space. Sometimes it can seem that what we are going through is the worst thing ever. However, when others began to share their stories of what they’re going through, you begin to realize that many are going through much worse, while still smiling and reaching for more. What I loved most was that the curriculum addressed issues/challenges that we may face and offered solutions to help make both the parents/children’s life much richer, while offering hope and showing that God loves and cares for us. This program showed us that being single parents is not a death sentence and just a season of life. Many of the parents that were single parents during our connect group are now re married and living a higher caliber life than they had previous. I believe this has a lot to do when with them taking the leap to access

the curriculum that was offered, being transparent while going through the curriculum and making necessary changes (if need be) to access the better life that God had for them. I attended this program for about four years. During that time, I went from a regular attender with my children to being a leader and co-leader of groups offered within the Single & Parenting Ministry. I would have never thought that my life could have become richer, during that time in my life. I continue to share with single parents, those that I know and that come into my life that we must always believe that God has more for our life, even if we feel there is no evidence showing us this. Then we must put those words into action by putting one foot in front of the other until the next part of our destiny is revealed.

We must always remember that the only person who can truly craft the perfect plan for our life is God, and we must rest in and trust that this is so.

For more information on the Single & Parenting curriculum, please visit: https://www.singleandparenting.org/.

Email : stacluv@gmail.com Facebook : Stacy Mc Instagram : butterflyfree73 Twitter : @butterflyfree73

By Starria Coppins

Have you ever had to wait for something you were hoping to receive? During the moment of waiting, did you dwell on the thought of it coming true? Or did you put it to the back of your mind and actually put in the work to assure you’d receive it? Now that your thinking wheels are turning, I want you to get one thing in your mind that you’ve been hoping for. Whether it’s for a raise at your job, your unborn baby to be in good health, getting accepted to a program/school you applied to or to experience a different country’s culture, get that special something in your mind and make it your center focus throughout reading this article.

Activating a new mindset to receive what you’re hoping for.

When I moved back home from college, I was staying with my grandma with the hope to one day be in my own home again. I had already envisioned the type of home I wanted, how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, the type of kitchen space and even the feeling I’d get coming in from a good day of work and smelling my favorite plugins. After having my vision in place, I told myself, “You have a year to be here, a year to get a solid plan in place, one year and that’s it..” Throughout that time frame, I looked and toured different apartments, applied to hundreds of jobs in my field and stayed consistent in my work ethic. Long story short, a year passed me by and I was still there. Still looking for work in my field, still looking for a new place to call home, continuing to enhance my work ethic and most importantly my new mindset of active hope. Even though my special somethings didn’t come when I wanted them to, I still received them at the time meant for me because of my persistent, active hope. Once I envisioned what I wanted, I had to restructure my mindset to think, speak and act positively towards receiving what I was hoping for.

When hoping for that special something , you first have to understand the difference between having dead hope versus having active hope.

Dead hope: waiting with expectations to receive your special something (that’s it, just waiting) thinking, speaking and acting with gratitude that you’ve received your special something (yes, even if you haven’t received it yet) Active hope:

Having active hope can be referred to as manifesting or using the law of attraction. I learned about these two phrases when reading the book, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, a book about learning to use the law of attraction and applying it to different areas of your life. Byrne wrote, “You must act, speak and think as though you are receiving it now. Why? The Universe is a mirror, and the law of attraction is mirroring back to you your dominant thoughts,” (49, The Secret). When hoping for your special something, it’s most important to start with a vision. Envisioning what it is you’re hoping for is the key to activating your thoughts about your special something . Once you’ve activated your thoughts, it’s time to restructure the way you think, speak and act towards receiving your special something.

Think

“You must believe you have it already. You must believe you have received it. You must emit the feeling frequency of having received it, to bring those pictures back as your life. When you do that, the law of attraction will powerfully move all circumstances, people and events for you to receive,” (49, The Secret). When you restructure your mind to stay on a positive frequency, you have to stay conscious of your thoughts and address any negative thoughts immediately.

Speak

“So get yourself on the feel-good frequency, and you will receive. A fast way to get yourself on that frequency is to say, “I am receiving now. I am receiving all the god in my life,

now. I am receiving [fill in your desire] now.” And feel it. Feel it as though you have received,” (53, The Secret). When you practice having active hope, you must speak positively over your special something , affirming that it’s already yours with gratitude. During my time at my grandma’s house, I decided to dedicate one of my notebook journals to writing affirmations of gratitude for what I was hoping to receive. Some of the affirmations were, “Thank you for my new home and freedom of creativity. Thank you for my new, creative space. Thank you for my new, healthy work environment.” I wrote and spoke these words as if they were already true; the more I said them, the better it made me feel about working to receive it. “Action will sometimes be required, but if you’re really doing it in line with what the Universe is trying to bring to you, it’s going to feel joyous,” (55, The Secret). Acting in a positive manner in order to receive your special something is the final piece to the puzzle. With this being the final piece, comes a final challenge; the challenge of character. You have to pay attention when your character is being challenged because it’ll happen in the most unexpected ways. For example; during my waiting, I was tested by my jobs that expected me to accept less for doing more; by friends who invited me to do opposite of pursuing my mission; and by family on receiving the respect I deserve. To pass the test, I respectfully stood my ground and remained positive knowing I would still receive what I was hoping for. Was it a challenge? Yes, but if you have to remain humble or learn humility while waiting for your special something; understand that it’s getting you ready to receive what you’ve been hoping for. Act

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A Mogul in the Making By Lanette White

From companies such as Pampered Chef to Paparazzi, Melissa Bereal-Brown has shown herself to be more than just an entrepreneur. She is a boss! I caught up with Melissa to find out just how she was able to quit her steady job of 17 years to become a Director with over 1,000 people on her highly-productive team of entrepreneurs. I grew up in Southern California. I went to UC Berkley and have a M.A. in Education. I was a teacher for 17 years. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister and a pastor’s wife. I work hard and have tried to live a balanced life in the areas of family, church, friends and my career. I have always been quiet and shy, but friendly. Focused, but not necessarily outgoing. I’m just a normal woman. Tell us a bit about your background?

How did you get started?

Well, I started with Paparazzi in 2017 just to add another stream of income to my household. I had already tried a couple of direct marketing opportunities but they weren’t a match for me. This one was. I felt like that they cared about me growing and not just about their bottom line. And besides that, I loved the product ($5 jewelry). It was a win-win for me. However, by the end of one year I had already made the money that I was being paid by my “real job”. Who does that? This was phenomenal to me. So after consulting my family, I took a chance on a product that I liked and now I’m here! Growing and glowing! God is too good! Success is many things. Knowing that I can have the flexibility to be the kind of mom and wife that I always wanted to be is success. Success also means being able to ensure that there is wealth for my family long after I am gone. It also means being able to share this wonderful wealth-building opportunity with the people that I love so that we can all benefit. Last year I had over 1,000 people under me in this business and I only had been doing this for two years. Knowing that 1,000 people, mostly women, are being empowered to make major financial moves for their families is success. What does success mean to you?

Did you always know that you were going to be a boss?

Not necessarily in this way. I knew that I was intelligent enough to have a business, but I saw myself as the professional that I had trained to be. However, I also saw multiple streams of income as a path that I was going to be looking into because I was always investing in some friend’s business, but I wasn’t really vested in their business though. I knew that I wanted to control my time and flexibility. Being a boss came with those benefits so I guess I must have known, at least subconsciously. God knew.

How much time do you spend managing people versus increasing your bottom line?

I don’t spend a lot of time managing people at all. I encourage other bosses. The beauty of this business is that we are all the same. Our levels of monetary success may be different but we are all consultants at our base. I encourage, motivate, inspire and empower others with the strategies that they need to be successful in their businesses. I mentor the people under me, which is why our collective and individual businesses are successful. When people now that you are truly concerned about their bottom line, they work harder and everybody’s business grows. We are accountable to each other. The name of my team is Team Propel and that’s exactly what we do: propel each other forward! Beauty Come Forth celebrates women’s inner beauty. What would others say is your best Boss Lady Beauty attribute? I encourage and celebrate others. That is why my team is successful. Because everyone on the team knows that I have their backs and I believe that they have mine as well. They know that when they are having a bad day that I, or someone else on the team, will be there for them. On the other hand, they also know that I will celebrate their anniversaries, birthdays and other special events right alongside them. We do life together, not just business. I am not sure. I am still going to be doing this business because it propelled me to come out of my shell. As I said before, I had always been quiet and shy but this brought out a side of me that not only developed my business but other aspects of my life as well. As I mentioned, I am a pastor’s wife and that puts me in a position of leadership and in the limelight. Although, I don’t necessarily enjoy the limelight, I am not fearful of it now because of the skillset that I have acquired doing this business. What’s next for you?

I give women the opportunity to enhance their looks for very little and without leaving the comfort of their own homes. I sell great jewelry for $5. As far as this business, I don’t see the hazard lights or the caution lights yet, so full steam ahead!

Any last thoughts about women in the midst of chasing their dreams?

Don’t be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone. Paparazzi Jewelry may not be your path but whatever your path is, don’t let present or past insecurities keep you from following it. Look at challenges or fears as opportunities for you to grow and expand your skillset. Also, don’t be afraid of possibly not being the best at something on your first time out. Most people don’t crush it the first time, but at least try. Do something besides sitting back wishing and regretting. If I can, anybody can.

MARCH MADNESS: SOCIAL MEDIA BLUNDERS

By Chris L. Gilrath II

It has the power to connect family members who live in different states or even in different countries. It can reunite old friends or lovers. It can connect you to people you have never met and strike up new friendships. It can be a powerful networking tool to connect you to employment, resources, and events. It can provide you with relevant news and updates. It can be your platform to be you, and get you to the masses. This my friends, is what we know as social media. It has the power to connect family members who live in different states or even in different countries. It can reunite old friends or lovers. It can connect you to people you have never met and strike up new friendships. It can be a powerful networking tool to connect you to employment, resources, and events. It can provide you with relevant news and updates. It can be your platform to be you, and get you to the masses. This my friends, is what we know as social media. Social media is a powerful tool in our world today. A huge chunk of new entertainers are famous (or infamous) by their social media traction. It’s a great resource for anyone wanting to get discovered because let’s face it selling CD’s in the grocery parking lot in 2020 is not going to get you anywhere. But alas there is a downside to social media. Lately, it appears that social media has really gotten out of control. There are so many posts, status updates, and pictures that just leave us scratching our heads, feeling frustrated, and has some of us logging out and deactivating our pages altogether. Its madness! It is time for the madness to end so that we can make social media the jewel that it was created to be. There are categories of the madness that we need to address. How many of u have experienced these: The Elite 8 of Social Media Blunders

• Passive Aggressiveness: That is the type of post that is directed at someone, but you don’t want to really call them out, so you post it on social media and hoping just hoping that they will see it and think its about them. Example: “I am not the one to be played with. And hopefully some

people will finally realize that.” Its clear that you are posting about somebody specific, but you have not reached the point that you ready to confront, so you post that type of post with the hope that they respond to it. • Family Drama: This is a big one. Nobody should know your family’s dirty laundry. Yet, we often see posts where you relatives going back and forth. While it is entertaining for a moment, it is unnecessary and does nothing but make a bad situation worse. Add in comments from both side’s friends and you really got a party going. • Too Much Info: Do we really need to know that you are having difficulty using the toilet, that you broke a nail, or that you just had sex? For what purpose are you telling us this. Some things should be left to the imagination. • HUH: The flip of that is the post that is intentionally vague with the hopes that you will garner responses to clarify or have people reach out. Let’s see if you have seen some these examples before: ▪ “I’ve Had it!” ▪ “I give up!” ▪ “I can’t do it!” Pretty vague huh? Typically, these types of intentionally vague posts elicit a response such as “What’s wrong?”, “Call me!”, “Everything ok!?” It is very clear you want people to respond and stir the pot. The problem is however with these types of posts, how many times before people feel like you are crying wolf and then stop responding all together. • Attention Seeking: See “HUH” above and posts that are trying to elicit some type of shocking response. Sometimes the attention seeker will not be vague but say something so controversial you know its just to get people talking. The only way to make attention seekers humble is to not respond. They want and crave the attention. • Other People’s Business: If it is not your business, you should not be posting it. A prime example of this is when someone passes away. I will never forget a few years ago, I had to find out about the passing of one of my loved ones on social media, while I was at work. It was very hurtful and made the grief process that much harder. If you are not an immediate family member, you should not be posting about the loss until someone in the immediate family has or has given you permission. Its that simple. • Spell Check: Simple. Check your words or we can’t take you seriously. • Fake News: Please check your sources before you post. Before you share a story, consider these questions, Is it satirical? Is the site reputable? Are other reputable sites posting or sharing. If no, that is tale-tale sign that its not a reputable site or story. Also stop sharing the “I do not give Facebook Permission” posts. If any social media site wants to use your info, they going to use it. There is a very important election coming up. Posting fake news or untrue stories could have far reaching implications. • Too Woke: Beware of pseudo woke folks on social media who believe that everything is a conspiracy, and everything is bad for you without evidence to back it up. These are the folks that measure your blackness, womanhood, religion by certain standards. They go after certain celebrities for not being “black enough”. Brag about not voting because “they woke”.

Social media is not “just your business”. Its important to understand that some employers view social media to weed out potential candidates. People have lost jobs because of they are saying on their pages. Again, social media can be a powerful tool, but we must use it wisely. Some posts from even ten years ago, are coming back to haunt people. Once your words are out there, they are out there. You can’t take it back (hello screenshots). Social media is gift, use it wisely and responsibly.

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By Ann Taylor

It is Election Day and you arrive at the polls to exercise your civic right and duty to vote for the candidate of your choice. You present your identification to the poll worker and you are informed that your name is not on the rolls! You have been purged from the voter registration rolls! What state officials explain as a process of cleaning up registration rolls from out of date voter addresses as well as voters who have not voted in two election cycles, or are deceased voters, has resulted in legitimately registered voters getting caught up in mass voter purging. Voter purging is also viewed as a tactic to suppress the vote by eliminating large numbers of people from the rolls. The state of Georgia gained notoriety in the 2018 midterm elections when an estimated 1.4 million voters were purged from its rolls. An increased number of voters nationwide have been unknowingly purged from voter registration rolls since 2016. While some states notify voters that they have been removed from the rolls and invite them to re-register, other provide no notification. Many states may only remove voters who do not respond to notification to update their information. Whether states are simply cleaning up voter registration rolls or massively purging voters from their systems to reduce the electorate pool, or erroneously removing names, voters must be proactive in protecting their right to vote. With technology, voter information websites, and vigilance voters have the tools to fight against voter suppression tactics.

As we move closer to the November 2020 elections, we will be faced with confusing and even false

information. Not only are we charged with being informed about the issues that matter to us, we must be informed about candidates running for offices at all levels of government. A matter that is perhaps of greater necessity is being vigilant in protecting our right to vote. Efforts both insidious and blatant have taken place in numerous states to undermine the ability of the electorate to exercise their vote. However, what appears to pose the greatest threat and potential to wipe millions of voters from voter rolls has been defended as a bureaucratic function by state election bureaus to clean-up the voter registration rolls. Purging voter rolls may sound like a fairly innocuous administrative function, under some circumstances it has been a growing trend that threatens the ability of millions to exercise their vote. In an effort to remove inactive voters, individuals who have missed voting in at least two elections, or have changed addresses, states have also erroneously removed thousands of names. What to Do If You’ve Been Purged Every voter should make sure that his/her name is on the voter rolls long before election day. This is particularly true for people who move frequently. Individuals most affected by voter purging are minorities, young people and low-income groups because they tend to move frequently. It is a good idea to check your voting status every 30 days until Election Day. There are many websites available to check one’s voter registration status. There are several online ways to verify that your voter registration status is up to date. These resources provide a wealth of information that pertain to voter registration, the 2020 election candidates, and individual state election rules. https://www.vote.org/ With its mission to use technology to encourage civic engagement, vote.org provides a variety of tools to increase voter turnout. • http://voter.org/ Contains a wealth of state voting information including voter registration deadlines, educational tools on the election process, news, and political information. • https://www.usa.gov/voting This federally administered site contains a portal that enables the comprehensive search of government information including links to state online voter registration websites. • https://www.rockthevote.org/about-us/ This nonpartisan organization is geared toward political empowerment of young voters. This website uses pop culture to attract young voters by using online social media outlets, college campuses and community groups to promote civic engagement. •

Whether purging voter rolls is an administrative function to create cleaner lists of registered voters to reduce fraud and abuse or a tactic to cause disenfranchising of voters, there is a way to mitigate its impact. An informed and participatory electorate is essential to further democracy and protecting your rights as a registered voter is also essential to that end.

BEAUTY & TALENT

Covergirl Bianca Varner is no stranger to the spotlight. Her tall graceful presence has been in the making for some time now. Her love for entertainment, gifted vocals and picturesque presence has paved the way for a successful career on stage and on the runway. If you want to catch a sample of this songbird in

action, she has her own youtube channel: Bianca Varner and currently performs periodically at The Night Owl , located in downtown Fullerton, CA. Bianca’s grace and class is a common thread that runs through her soul and presented in both her walk on the runway and her vocals on stage. BCF had a chance to connect with Ms. Bianca in the midst of her busy schedule and here is what she had to share…

What made you want to be a vocalist? Singing makes me happy. It’s the way for me to express myself and have fun while doing it.

What is your first memory of knowing you wanted to sing? When I was a freshman in high school and my mom took me to a jazz club called Steamers and Barbara Morrison was performing, I loved the way she interacted with her audience and how she told a story. When I went home I told myself, I want to do that. Who are your top three favorite vocal artist? My top three are Tori Kelly, Jazzneia Horn and Gregory Porter. As a vocalist, what genre of music do you enjoy performing most? My favorite genre is kind of a mix of Jazz and R&B, although I enjoy singing all types of music. Do you write? I used to in middle school. I took a break, due to my busy school schedule. But recently I have started writing again. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I see myself performing, recording, touring and teaching. Do you have any upcoming performances? Yes, I do. I have a gig with a group called Soul Tones this month on March 27 th .

For details of her performances, follow her on social media at: Instagram: @Msbiancavarner Facebook: Bianca Varner

COURAGE

TO MAKE A GOAL HAPPEN

BY CAROLYN BENDALL

The new year sees resolutions abound; the second week of the new year sees dashed resolutions. The second month of the new year sees surrendering to the reality that the resolutions are not going to be fulfilled. Why does this happen? It happens because, though well intended, the resolutions are not something that one can actually fulfill. Instead of resolutions, let’s talk about goals. Goals need to be thought out carefully and then a plan of action must be put in place. A New Year’s Resolution of ‘lose weight’, with no plan in place is doomed to fail at the first sign of a dessert! The goal also must be attainable. ‘Losing weight’ is usually followed by an amount of weight that needs to be lost, ‘I want to be a size 8 again’. Is that realistic? Are you currently a size 18? So, to adjust the weight loss goal it would be simply, ‘Over the next two months I want to lose 10 pounds.’ Then, set the goal over again, same amount of weight loss expected. The next step is going to be how this is going to happen. Going immediately into a diet without forethought is assigning failure to yourself. Start off with, ‘for this week, I am eating no sugar.’ Then, increase to no snacks unless they are grapes or celery. Then, increase the goal to ‘for this week I get one serving only, no seconds.’ Then increase, ‘for this week, I get one spoonful of casserole and veggies.’ Take it slow, and one step at a time. If you don’t achieve these goals, then you repeat that one again, or re-evaluate it and decide if there is a different approach you need to do for that week. Most importantly, do NOT add another goal onto this goal! If you are having trouble with goals, loading oneself up with them will end in discouragement. With this in mind, is a goal of weight loss even a sustainable goal for you? Should it be instead, to change eating habits? Perhaps not eating after 6pm; or, limiting sugar; or, instead of snacks, drink water; or dropping sodas completely. This will ultimately lead to a weight loss; however, it is less restrictive and your only accountability is being able to check off that you did the goal. Where, tracking weight loss means that you weigh yourself and self-loathing and frustrations happen when the scale does not agree with your efforts. Let’s look at another example of a goal that is attainable. Perhaps you want to have more time to read, so you decide that you need to watch less television. Choose a tv show that you really just watch to numb your mind; and block that one off of your list of shows that you watch. Setting the goal that you are going to read a certain book by the end of the week will lead to discouragement. Setting a goal to limit television

viewing so that you have the time to read, with no restrictions on how long one reads, will lead to a successful goal. Stepping into long term goals need to be limited until you can fulfill the short-term goals. Long term goals are usually financial, or educational. So, those can sometimes be achieved with working on short term goals. But always have a reward installed so that you can actually see the process. If it’s a financial goal do not reward yourself with something financial; instead reward yourself with an extra television show (referring back to the previous goal). Don’t sabotage yourself in one goal via other goals, either. This may seem that giving oneself an extra television show is sabotaging your other goal, but notice you are NOT making it long term. It is a ONE TIME gift, one time! Get started with a goal setting thought process by taking this course on goal setting: https://couragemakers.teachable.com/p/your-true-colours

www.couragemakers.com carolyn@couragemakers.com @carolynbendall

Legacy Building Through Insurance

By Settie Crowell

What is insurance? Insurance is protecting oneself against something that is eventually going to happen or that may happen. We get health insurance because we are eventually going to get sick. We get dental insurance because we want to make sure that our teeth stay healthy. Disaster insurance protects us against earthquakes, hurricanes and all types of other natural disasters that we can’t possibly control or be prepared for. And finally, we get life insurance to protect ourselves against the costs that are incurred in the event of the death of a loved one.

Life insurance has traditionally been the most scary for individuals because it causes you to confront the reality of our own mortality. However, it can do more than just that. Drenette Smith , Owner and Managing Partner of Just Right Insurance Services, said “Life insurance is not just beneficial in the event of a death, but can be beneficial right now as well. Life is about living, so life insurance should help to improve your lifestyle and it does! You can borrow against some types of life insurance and build your business, supplement your income if you become short-term disabled, and all types of other things. There are so many things that we, as women and/or minorities, have not been privy to. It’s our company’s mission to

make sure that people understand that WE ALL need to be insured in every area of your life. Insurance helps to build a legacy of wealth.” I wondered what she meant by that and found out through researching that there were many things that we could do to build a legacy of wealth by acquiring the right type of life insurance. Benefits during a critical illness. This is an example of a living benefit and is standard on many term and whole life policies. It lets you build cash value through your insurance policy that accrues over your lifetime.

College for your kids. You can also use life insurance to cover your child’s college education by taking out a loan on a whole life policy. Paying for college does not have to be so stressful. You

do not have to contend with student loans, if you don’t want to. And what’s even better is that your loan payments go back into the policy. Wow! Disability assistance . If you have a major medical condition like a stroke, heart-attack or invasive cancers, you can make sure that you have a critical illness rider on the policy. This will pay for those medical bills that you accrue from the treatment. That’s a great thing too!

Refund for not making a claim - Guess what? Your life insurance company could return all your premiums if you reach the end of a policy's term and never make a claim. Think about it. We buy car insurance and some of us never get in an accident, but there are no refunds for not making a claim. We would love it were so, but that’s not the case. With life insurance , you would have to pay extra for a return of premium rider, but this is how it works. It is good to know that you can get your money back if you end up outliving your life insurance. What’s next? Now although I have done some research on my own, I know that it is imperative to get yourself an agent that you can trust. Just like when you have legal needs, you get yourself an attorney. This is no different. An insurance agent should be able to assist with your car, real estate, rental property, medical needs, dental needs, retirement and post-death requirements. Having insurance should not be optional for anyone that is trying to invest in his/her future and build a legacy for the ones that they love that survive them. Drenette Smith, who has been an insurance consultant for nearly two decades and is licensed in multiple states, says “not having death benefits for your loved ones is really showing them no love at all. In fact. It’s just plain selfish. We make provisions to live and that same energy and thought process needs to be put into our inevitable deaths. Rich people have been doing this for years and that’s why they remain rich. We have to acquire a new mindset in order to build wealth for ourselves and make sure that it is sustainable for the next generations. ” Because, like many I had experienced a death without receiving a financial benefit, I understood. I, fortunately, had enough money to cover final costs, but that cushion would have been nice. My children would have benefited greatly. It was in the future plan, but I thought that I had time. I didn’t and neither do you. Mind your business by building and leaving a legacy of wealth through insurance.

THE FABULOUS AND FIT CHALLENGE By: Nailah Sabah

I really wish my stomach would shut up and stop being a hater. At times I feel like it’s in this epic battle with my thighs and waistline which must be all the growling I hear from my stomach. Then you have these weight loss gurus online telling you that you’re not hungry, you’re just thirsty. No Susan, I’m hungry.

The new age term to describe who I am is a Foodie. I guess that’s more socially correct than calling a group of people greedy. Not sure if that term will bode well in the long run. So, here we are three months into our New Year’s resolutions. I guarantee you most of us picked weight loss. It is the quintessential desire for so many. It would be nice to think that it is for health benefits but let’s be honest, it’s to look cute in jeans. Jeans…my arch nemesis. Why can’t they play good in the sandbox like leggings? Leggings are

your friend. They are your sweet grandmother who claps with praise as you sing karaoke to Whitney Houston all along sounding like a dying cat. But no, not jeans. They are truth slayers…they slay all your visual hopes of how you look the minute you stand in front of your mirror. ‘Where did this layer of stomach come from? I know doggone the Lord did not intend for me to have two stomachs!’ Yet here we are. Drinking vegetables under the guise that it tastes good compared to anything with cheese on it. My friends I am here with you. Standing with you, arms locked in sisterhood ready to tackle this demon, oops I mean the scale. What I have learned is there are strength in numbers, so I decided to create the Fabulous and Fit Challenge. I challenge you for three (3) months to choose YOU! Let me run down the list of things that I have tried that may help you.

Detoxing Before I decide for the millionth time, that I’m going to start my journey on yet another Manic Monday, I do a detox. We all know what a detox involves. Some are water and fruit only for a few days, herbal pills, or no sugar and junk food. Whatever you do, your life will revolve around running back in forth to the restroom. For me this is a necessity. A detox is perfect in jump starting your weight loss. It’s like getting an oil change. Let’s remove all the gunk out the system so it can perform well.

Food Woes I have done many different cutbacks on my eating. Low carb – which we know involves minimizing your carbohydrates. The feeling equates to being on adult punishment but you’re the prisoner and the warden. All jokes aside, it works for me. But you must be careful because once you eat the slightest crust of bread you will gain five pounds. Then there is the pesca-meatless-hungry-tarian. I didn’t add vegan to the list of my cutbacks because I’m not made for prison and if someone removes cheese from my diet, I’m bound to start a riot. The alternative, pescatarian, fish only. Again, this worked for me as well. As I have gotten older, I listen to my body more than when I was young. My body does not like an abundance of meat. Listen to your body. Ask yourself questions. How do I feel after I eat this item? I notice when I drink this, I feel this way. Cutting back on guilty pleasures may be the thing that catapults you to success.

Walking I can’t stress this enough…you need to move daily. I bought myself a Fitbit to track my results and I love it. Initially I bought a step tracker which I thought was great but since I purchased it at the 99 cent store my best friends determined that was not going to work. In my defense although it counted my steps by 2’s, a bit of math at the end of the day would have been easy to calculate my results. Nevertheless, put your best foot forward as much as you can. If you don’t have to time to walk before or after work, YouTube has many walking videos you can do in the comfort of your living room. Doctors recommend 10,000 steps a day which equates to 5 miles. Now I’m no genius but if you’ve been in an exclusive relationship with your couch then this is a bit unrealistic. Start with 2,000 steps a day which is a mile then slowly work your way up weekly. Remember, weight loss is a marathon not a sprint.

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