Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"I Shall Not Die" is at the halfway point....

In the month of December, I had two major editing projects to cross my desk with tight deadlines that forced me to set the writing of I Shall Not Die aside momentarily. It was difficult to put it on pause, but basically, I didn't have a choice. I'd been retained by two clients and was obligated to get their manuscript editing complete. I finished the last of them two days ago, and now it's back to the grind. I'm on a mission, and it feels good to know that progress is being made, and I'm halfway to the finished line.
My past blogging has outlined the challenges of getting my first nonfiction/ministerial book written. I try to adequately express the uniqueness of this undertaking in my blog entries, but believe me when I tell you that you don't know the half of it. I've been writing on and editing other people's projects all month long, and not once during those processes did the uncanny fatigue overtake me. Even as I worked well into the night and sometimes up to 3:00 in the mornings - there wasn't a struggle between alertness and sleepiness. There was even one day that I never went to bed at all. I literally worked from sun up to sun sun up again. The deadine I'd been given was the following day, and I would not have met it had I taken the time to sleep. So I didn't get to bed until 7:00 the next morning. Yet, eventhough my body began to tire as the hours ticked away, there was never a time when sleepiness engulfed me.
Yet in the last two days of me returing my full attention to the I Shall Not Die project, the tug-o-war has set up shop in my body again. Even as I type out this blog posting, I'm continuously yawning and struggling to stay awake. Whenever I work toward writing anything associated with this project, lethargy becomes my greatest enemy. Lord, what is really going on? I know that somewhere along the way, He is going to answer this inquest and reveal, without question, the fullness of the meaning of this perplexing experience.
In the meantime, while I await the divine revelation, I will continue to write at the pace my body allows. I'll write awhile, and then sleep awhile....whatever it takes. But make no mistake about it, I shall not allow this project to die. It will be completed, and it will accomplish all that God has designed for it to accomplish.....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mind, Body, Spirit...Don't Let Them Die!

On Saturday, November 7th, I had the sincere pleasure of sharing the message of the I Shall Not Die ministry with a group of simply marvelous young women. The Theta Tau Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated invited me to be the keynote speaker at their 2nd Annual Total Woman Tea gathering which took place inside the University Center of Valdosta State University (Valdosta, Georgia). Approximately 150 women and teen girls (who are involved in a high school mentoring program called the Delta GEMS) were there to take part in this absolutely wonderful fellowship that somewhat reminded me of my childhood days of sharing imaginary hot tea, finger sandwiches, and intense sista-girl talk with my dolls and teddy bears. Saturday's Total Woman Tea, of course, was a lot more interesting, inspirational, and interactive.
I didn't quite know what to expect of this appointment. I have served as the keynote speaker for sorority functions before, but in the past, they have all been grad chapters. Theta Tau is Valdosta State University's undergrad chapter of DST, Inc. And in the past, all of my spotlight addresses have been more so geared toward business topics such as following dreams, turning a passion into a profession, succeeding despite the odds, etc. But as I was meditating and asking God to direct me on what to speak of to the women of Theta Tau, I could not shake away the message of "I Shall Not Die" that He planted in my spirit.
This appointment had been arranged between chapter president, Mahja Zeon, and my publicist, Terrance Wooten. I'd not exchanged conversations or emails with Mahja, but upon meeting her, I found her to be as beautiful (both inside and out) as her unique name. We almost stood eye-to-eye which made me feel an instant kinship to her. You see, it's not every woman who is blessed with our tailor made statue (smile). The theme of the tea was The Total Woman: Mind, Body, & Spirit. Because of a case of innocent miscommunication between my publicist and me, Terrance had told Mahja that the subject of my keynote address would match their event theme, and at first, I wondered if it would force me to change the direction in which I'd been led to go. But as God would have it, the "I Shall Not Die" message blended perfectly with the theme that the sorority had chosen, and I was able to expound on the theme while staying true to what God had given me to share. It is awe-inspiring how God pulls things together so that His will is done and the needs of His people are met.
Being that I am not a Delta, nor am I a member of any of the "Divine Nine" sisterhoods (my Greek affiliation is on the professional level with Iota Phi Lambda) I felt particularly blessed to have been asked to come in and give the keynote address. Since I fully accepted this new motivational ministry that God had been molding me for and pushing me toward for the past fourteen years, He has been faithful to His promise to open unseen doors so that the message can be shared to the masses. It was a beautiful, empowering experience, and most of all, from the feedback that I received during the book signing that followed and through the emails and Facebook feedback that I've received in the hours since the tea ended, the women were blessed. One young lady came up to me during the book signing that followed and shared with me that her aunt had recently been faced with a experience much like mine...the one that ultimately led to the birth of the I Shall Not Die ministry. This sister seemed near tears when she thanked me for sharing, and then went on to say that because of my candidness and the message that was shared, she felt empowered and informed enough to go back and tell her aunt that she didn't have to give up, and she didn't have to let the situation kill her. "I can tell her to say, 'I shall not die,'" the young lady said. By that time, I was near tears too. In the end, that's what this ministry is all about.
I thank God for this appointment...and I look forward to the next opportunity that He presents for me to share this message of strength, faith, and hope.

Monday, October 26, 2009

This "Stone" Won't Kill The Project

Last week, I took time away from my writing of I Shall Not Die. The break was two-fold. One, I wanted to test myself to see if the fatigue that I had been suffering with while writing the book would continue if I focused on writing some other project. And two, I needed to be rejuvenated and replenished. Writing this book is indeed physically and mentally draining. It even depletes me spiritually. Not in a bad way, necessarily, but after a few days of pouring into I Shall Not Die, I'm left feeling like a car that has run out of gas. I feel as though I need a refilling of God's power so that I can have the strength to go a few miles farther.
Last week proved to me that this lethargy that I've been experiencing is definitely specific to this project. My body returned to its normal energetic self during those "off" days, and there was no bizarre fatigue. None. Nada. This short sebatical of mine gave a definitive answer to a question that had plagued me since I embarked on this nonfiction mission. Not that I really had any real doubts that my writing of the I Shall Not Die book and my physical drainage were connected. But I needed to know beyond any shadow of doubt. And now I do. I will begin writing again later this evening...and I already know what's going to happen. But I'm ready! :-)
As far as my need for a refill of spiritual gas goes, God provided that as well. Dr. Toni Alvarado (see photo below taken with me in 2008), the co-pastor and first lady of Total Grace Christian Center, poured into me and hundreds of other worship attendees during the dynamic message that she preached on yesterday (Sunday) morning. Wow! God really knows how to provide what we need when we need it. Pastor Toni took her scripture text from Joshua 4:1-9 and entitled her message, "What Do These Stones Mean To You?" which was taken from verse 6. She walked us through the scripture and expounded on how things in life get most difficult just when God is getting ready to do something great. The enemy, she explained, knows that if he can get us to give up at the threshold of our blessing, we will never receive what God has for us, and we will never know what God was going to do through us had we finished the task. It was noted in this particular scripture text that God didn't part the river of Jordan for the people until they first took the initiative to step out on faith. Not until they (Joshua and his followers)physically made steps toward the water did He (God) divide it and allow them to walk on dry ground.
Her message was just confirmation for me. I know that God is going to bless this written work called I Shall Not Die. He has promised that it will be a blessing not only to me, but even more so to those who it will ministry to, and the enemy desires for me to become fearful, doubtful, and yes, even tired and depleted. Anything that might bring on discouragement or despondence, the enemy has been trying to feed it to me. So what does this stone mean to me? I'm turning it into a stepping stone. And every time I walk past it or step over it, I'm going to see it as the obstacle that it is, and continue to praise God for giving me the victory to LIVE beyond it and finish the task that has been set before me.
What kind of obstacles are currently in your way? What does that stone mean to you?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The "I Shall Not Die" Experience

Bizarre is a good word to describe this birthing process. From the moment I began writing I Shall Not Die, I have experienced a physical fatigue unlike any other. I mentioned it in my initial blog every time I sit at my computer to embark on the mission of adding to the manuscript, I become so sleepy that I can barely keep my eyes open. It's not the kind of drowsiness that can be fought (at least not fought and won). When the feeling comes upon me, it literally overwhelms me, and I have no choice but to stop typing and climb into my bed. My plan is always to catch a short nap, and then continue, but whenever I fall asleep, I enter a stage of near-comatose. Most times I sleep for four hours or more, and when I awaken, I'm still groggy. Those hours of sound sleep seem to only provide me with enough energy to drag back to my computer to type for maybe another hour or so, but then I'll have to shut it down and go back to bed again.
What is really going on? Until now, I'd given all the credit to the enemy (aka the devil) and I've accused him of trying to prevent me from getting this project done by making me sleep away the time that I could have been spending on writing this book that God has commanded that I write. But just yesterday, a total stranger spoke into my spirit, and now I must take a step back and consider that perhaps this is not the work of the enemy after all.
Yesterday (Saturday, October 17th), I had a consultation with a client by the name of Sonya, who is a new writer and was looking for direction on everything from whether a publicist was necessary for where she wanted to take her career to how to gain exposure for her product so that it could land in the hands of those who would most benefit from the message that she is trying to share. What I thought was going to perhaps be a 2-hour session turned into a five-hour fellowship. By the time we parted ways, Sonya had thanked me several times for the wealth of information that I'd shared, but I felt as though she had imparted some wisdom to me as well. Spiritual wisdom. So much so, that I only charged her for three of the hours that we spent together.
During our meeting, which was held at the Borders Bookstore in the Mall at Stonecrest (aka Stonecrest Mall) in Lithonia, GA, she posed a question to me that sparked the discussion of I Shall Not Die. Sonya's questions was: "Have you ever run from a ministry that God was trying to give you?" What a timely question! I initially laughed when she asked and then I explained to her why I was laughing. I told her the story of God's call for me to launch the "I Shall Not Die" Motivational Ministry as well as the written project and how I'd run from it for fourteen years. In the midst of my telling her about the book that I'd begun writing, I shared this bizarre experience of becoming overcome by sleep in the middle of my writing sessions and my thoughts of how it was all a ploy of Satan to hinder the birthing of this work. In all of the books that I've written in the past, it has never happened, so what else could it be?
Sonya turned to me and asked me to consider something else. She asked that I consider the possibility that my sleepiness was due to the fact that the writing of this particular project was causing me to extract a part of myself onto the paper as I typed. Writing this book - a folio that requires that I open up myself and pour out a large portion of who I am - could actually be draining me physically. It's comparable to giving blood. When a person donates blood, it is not recommended that they get up right away once the process is complete. If they do, there is the risk of fainting because a part of them that gives life has been taken away and needs time to replenish. WOW! I'd never thought of it that way. But true enough, writing I Shall Not Die is requiring that kind of commitment from me, so it is a very real possibility that this peculiar and extraordinary lethargy is a result of the total depletion that my body is going through at each writing session.
I'm not sure what the real reason is, but all that I know for sure is that I have to press forward despite whatever is causing it. Because of it, I can only write for a limited amount of time daily, so this won't be a book that will be completed in sprint-like fashion. It's definitely going to be a journey. Therefore, I have decided to roll with it. I'm wearing my comfortable clothes and packing my favorite CDs in preparation for the roadtrip ahead. No matter how bumpy, winding, or mountainous; I plan to enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Shall Not Die

It is just after 1:30 in the morning as I am beginning the first installment of the I Shall Not Die Blog. This particular online journal is being created primarily to keep me on task with this charge that God has given me to write my first nonfiction ministerial tool, I Shall Not Die. All I can say is that this is turning into a much bigger assignment than I first thought it would be, and any time that we move forward to fulfill the work of God, we can also expect the enemy to do his part to try and produce stumbling blocks along the way. And need I say that he has already begun trying to trip me up.
I wrote my first public thoughts about I Shall Not Die, the pending book, in my Blessed2Write Blog just over a week ago on October 5th, and I won't tell the whole story of this vision and God-ordained charge all over again. But there has been so much spiritual (as in evil spirit) adversity that has come my way already, that I felt compelled to create this blog to keep a record of all of the noteworthy things that may happen en route to fulfilling this assignment.
The full acknowledgement and acceptance of God's will for I Shall Not Die (the book) came shortly before this year's launching of Cruisin' For Christ. I knew long before that that God was ordering me to write the book, but I'd fought it for years. However, at some point in the month of August, I gave up the fight and told the Lord that as soon as I cleared my plate of some of the my current writing and editing deadlines, I would begin this project. Cruisin' For Christ III took place Sept. 5-12, and it was phenomenal! God truly blessed our week long at-sea fellowship, but immediately upon returning home, I learned that while I was away, there had been some suspicious activity on my business account, and as a result, the bank had frozen my account, hindering me from paying any of my outstanding obligations - both personal and business related. I was angry and I was hurt, but I was also determined not to let it throw me so far off course that I failed to honor my vow to the Lord.
Once I got caught up on my literary obligations, I made it a priority to move full steam ahead on I Shall Not Die. On October 5th, the date of my Blessed2Write blog entry, I began writing the book. Meanwhile, I made contact with the company who always designs the covers for the books published through KNB Publications LLC and requested that a cover be immediately designed for this new project so that I could begin promoting it at an event which was scheduled for October 10th. For the first time ever, the graphic designer was too busy to get to my project right away. Orders had her backed up so far that it would be a month before she could begin to work on the cover for I Shall Not Die. In all the years that I've worked with her, she has never needed more than two or three days to get cover samples to me. Coincidence? Maybe. But in my spirit, I felt that a strategically placed stumbling block had been laid in hopes of keeping me from having the cover ready in time. But I wouldn't accept defeat.
After taking a moment to gather my thoughts, God reminded me that He always has a ram in the bush (or in layman's terms, another option). One of my best girlfriends is married to a graphic artist, and althought I'd never had him to design a cover for me before, I sent him an email to see if he would take on the challenge of not only putting together a cover, but getting it done within a few short days. AJ3 Photography accepted my request without a pause, and two days later (half the time that I'd given him) he had sent me about ten cover samples to choose from. The first one I opened (see photo) nailed my unspoken vision with so much perfection that I wept. Because of the nature of this book, it is dearer to my heart than any of my previous writings, and to see how God worked through the graphic artist's hands (without me even giving him the details of what I was envisioning) was overwhelming. But the enemy wasn't finished harrassing me.
Those who know me well, know that I work long and late hours. I generally rise at 9:00 in the morning, and I don't go to bed until 2:30 or 3:00 the next morning. I'm full of energy and well-rested as long as I can get six hours or more of sleep per night. But since I said "Yes" to the Lord and set my sights on getting this particular book written, I can barely keep my eyes open throughout any given day. If there is such a thing as a "sleeping demon" it seems to have found its way to me. Each time I sit down to begin writing on I Shall Not Die, my eyelids become too heavy to fight the sleep, and if I lie down to catch a thirty-minute powernap, it easily turns into three hours of sound sleep. And even then, when I wake up, I'm still tired and groggy. This has been an every day occurence since I began writing the book. Whatever the reasons for all of these bizzare happenings, I am still determined to keep on keeping on. I won't give up. I won't be defeated. I won't be distracted. And I Shall Not Die!
The Women's conference last weekend (the event that I needed the cover image for) turned out wonderfully. Not only did God meet us there at the Clarion Airport Conference Center in Jacksonville, Florida, but he also inspired me to launch a full fledge "I Shall Not Die" ministry that expands beyond the pending book. And today, I sat down at the computer and followed His direction to build an "I Shall Not Die" Website that is specific to this newly birthed ministry. Please click on the link, visit the site, and consider becoming an ISND Vision Partner.
Admittedly, I have no idea where all of this is going to ultimately lead, but I know that as long as I listen to His voice and adhere to His divine instructions, it will be blessed. And I am excited to see how the hands of God will move next.
Stay tuned...