25 August 2012


When I was a child, I was taught, “say what you mean, and mean what you say”, so growing up, I was always very conscious of what I said and how I said it. I confess: I wasn’t always very good at doing this correctly – I was (and still am to some degree) a person who opened mouth and words would just fly out – sometimes without rhyme, reason or compassion. This often led me into situations where I had to go, hat in hand, and beg someone’s forgiveness for hurting their feelings. (And let the record show: I HATE having to say, “I’m sorry”). As I got older, especially during my high school years, for the sake of keeping peace at home, many times I would bite my tongue and just say nothing at all. Losing my “voice” like that, was traumatic and (as I found out later) was often misunderstood by my peers as being aloof, standoffish and conceited. ME? Wow. I eventually found my “voice” again, and I am sure that there are some people in my circle of influence who would be very happy if I would sit down, shut up and be quiet. Yeah, not gonna happen.

I am now at a place in my life where I strive to stop, take a breath, and think before I open my mouth, so that WHAT I say is what I MEAN to say. I wish some of the people currently aspiring for political office would utilize this same technique when they speak before public audiences. Ok, before I go on this “rant”, let me say up front, I am politically biased towards the Democratic party, so my vent will be putting the Republican candidates on the “hot seat”, so if those are your political leanings, you probably will not like what I am about to say.

I am tired of people, politicians especially, who say something (that I personally believe is spoken from their hearts and what they truly believe) in public, their statement gets caught on tape/video/film, someone reacts negatively to the statement, and then all of a sudden, the person (politician) is back in front of the cameras “apologizing” for what they said. And then, we – the American public – are supposed to accept their apology and then just move on as if they never said what they said. REALLY?

Did Todd Akin really just use “the wrong word” when he said that a woman cannot get pregnant from a “legitimate” rape? I don’t think so. He and his buddy, the new Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, co-authored a Congressional bill which tried to define the term “rape” – a bill to determine which “rapes” were “rape-y” enough to qualify as “legitimate” so that permission could be granted to a woman to legally get an abortion. Irregardless of his public appearances since he made the initial statement, Mr. Akin’s record/actions show me that in his mind and heart, he believes that there are “legitimate” rapes. He also believes that there are the “rapes” where the victims just made it up in their own minds for attention, or because they got caught having sex or because, after the initial glow of sex wore off, she decided it wasn’t that great, so let’s just scream “rape”. (Ok, that was snarky, but don’t even get me started on this!)

Did Mitt Romney, the Presidential candidate for the Republican party, not realize that his statement that “no one has ever asked me for MY birth certificate” would immediately make people think about the controversy surrounding President Obama’s birth certificate and citizenship? Of course he did – and no matter what his position has been in the past – I concede that he has never signed on to the “birther movement” – with that one statement, which is now being portrayed as a “joke”, he started up a firestorm again for the people in this country who do not know that Hawaii really is a State and not just a great vacation destination.

In both of these situations, once the media started spinning things out of control for these candidates, they stepped in front of another set of cameras and said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it the way you all took it. I should have used different words.” Whatever. I, for one, am tired of the recent spate of “heartfelt” apologies which don’t amount to a hill of beans. I would have more respect for either of these men if they had just said, “You know what. I said it, I meant it. I’m sorry you don’t agree with my views, but this is what I believe and how I felt.” I still wouldn’t vote for them, but at least I would be under the (false) impression that I could trust that they were men who would speak the truth and stand by their convictions.

When God wrote the Ten Commandments, He included one that says “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” [Exodus 20:16]. We tend to interpret that commandment to mean “don’t lie on your brother” (or maybe that was just me). But expand that a little bit, and I think that God is trying to tell us that we need to watch what we say and how we say it. “Don’t lie” doesn’t only apply to throwing your brother under the bus for breaking your mom’s favorite vase when you know you are the one who broke the vase. It also applies to saying “I’m sorry” when you know you are not, or saying “I didn’t mean it” when you know you did. Finally, Proverbs 16:23 states: “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.” In other words, wise men and women are impeccable with their words. I choose to be wise, don’t you?

Be blessed.
©2012 Kristina Smith

01 August 2012


We have all done it. Read an online newspaper article or watched a YouTube® video and posted a comment. Sometimes the comment is complimentary and constructive. Other times, the comments are just downright rude and snarky. But since you can hide behind the cloak of a screen name that does not identify you – with an avatar that makes you seem more mysterious than you are in real life – you feel free to be the person that you would not be if you had to sign your real name to your comment.

Just how responsible are these online publications for the actions – or in this case, words – of the reading and posting public – especially when the writer has not provided their true name or any clue to their real identity? This is an issue facing a lot of newspapers, magazines and other online outlets that cater to the reading tastes of the public. In fact, one newspaper just went to court to defend one online commentator’s right to remain anonymous after a comment they posted was used in a defamation suit against a prominent member of the Republican Party’s political machine. Eventually, the anonymous commenter came forward, but only after the newspaper had already spent a ton of money defending the free speech rights of their online commentators.

It is easier to show your true character, belief system, and general dissatisfaction with a situation when you are hidden within a cloak of anonymity. If no one knows it’s you, then you can say what you truly feel. I have a writer friend who has a blog. I asked her once what the name of it was so that I could subscribe since I know she is a phenomenal writer. She told me that basically I wouldn’t be able to handle her candor on her blog and she would just prefer that I not subscribe. Since I have known this person for decades, I couldn’t imagine anything she could write that I couldn’t handle, but I respected her wishes and drop the subject. However, I still, to this day, wonder about what she writes on that mystery blog somewhere in the ethersphere known as the Internet.

No matter how anonymous we might want to be, there is One Person who always knows our thoughts, ideas, belief systems and character. Our Heavenly Father and Creator is never fooled by screen names and online personas. The Bible tells me that He knows the number of hairs on our heads (Matt. 10:30; Luke 12:7) and in Isaiah 49:1, we are reminded that God called us before we were born and that, from the womb, He called us by name. So, if He knew you (me) then, He definitely knows you (me) now. Shouldn’t that fact alone make us act with kindness and grace, even when we are clothed (from the rest of the world, at least) in anonymity? I think so.

Be blessed.
©2012 Kristina E. Smith

30 July 2012


As quiet as I have kept it, I have been facing some serious health challenges in the past six months, and as a result, have had to make exercise a more regular part of my life and schedule. Anyone who knows me, even just a little bit, knows that I consider “exercise” a four-letter word to the second power. NOT a fan, but circumstances dictate that I have to get over it, get up, and in the words of First Lady Michelle Obama “Get Moving!” So, for the past three months or so, at least 3-4 times a week, my eyes pop open, I text a message to my walking partner, and we get out there and walk around the neighborhood for no less than 45 minutes on routes that vary between 1.5 to 3 miles, depending on how hot it is as we walk through the door. (And believe me, it gets HOT early and quickly in HotLanta, where I call home). It truly helps to have a “partner in crime” when it comes to exercising, ‘cause it helps motivate you to do the right thing if you know someone else is dependent or waiting on you.

As the enemy of our souls would have it, my walking partner is on an extended trip right now – far far away – and although she still texts me in the morning to encourage me to keep up the walking exercise routine alone – it is not exactly the same. However, primarily because of the health issue, I have been faithful in her absence about getting up and walking. Yaaay me. It is a lot different walking to the beat of my Pandora app on my smartphone than it is discussing current news or personal life goals with a person, but that hour alone in the morning really helps me think through some current challenges – both personal and spiritual – and when I get home, I feel empowered and ready to start another day.

On a recent walk alone, I was debating whether to cut my intended walk short because it was getting warmer and warmer as the morning progressed, and let’s face it: any ole excuse to stop was welcome. My legs were starting to drag, my face was starting to … glisten … (I don’t sweat – that’s my story, I’m sticking with it!), and I had probably had only three hours sleep before my eyes had “popped open”. In reality, I just wanted to squat down on the sidewalk and wait for my fairy godmother to show up with a pumpkin-shaped carriage and whisk me home. But I ain’t no Disney princess and I somehow knew THAT was not about to happen, so I kept putting one foot in front of the other and continued plodding my way home.

I have a charm bracelet. On this charm bracelet, I have charms signifying significant events or aspects of my life: a stack of books (because I am a published author, after all – hahaha); a pocketbook with the inscription “shopaholic”; a flip flop; one that represents the Bible, etc. etc. I also have a charm that simply says, NEVER GIVE UP.

As I was walking, listening for the rumble of carriage wheels, I realized that, if I sat down and waited, I would be defeating the entire purpose of exercising. Motion would stop, the benefit would be diminished, and most importantly, I would not reach my goal – to make it home. How often is our Christian experience and walk with God the same? How many times, along your journey with the Lord, have you just wanted to sit down, take a break, and wait for Him to show up and magically whisk you out of whatever situation you find yourself in? If you are like me, probably more often than you’d like to admit.

Just like I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other to make it back to my home at 5036 in Decatur, we have to keep “Pressing on the Upward Way” in our Christian walk in order to make it to our spiritual goal: our home known as heaven. Yes, sometimes (it seems like) the walk is full of more hills (yea, even mountains!) than valleys. Sometimes the heat is on and you feel sluggish and lethargic and wore plumb out. Your legs feel like anchors are attached to them and there seems like there is no end to the torture in sight. But, as my charm says, “Never Give Up” – keep pressing, keep climbing, keep moving. Your reward is right around the corner, nearer than you think or believe.

Be blessed.

©2012 Kristina E. Smith

25 April 2012


I am a big fan of the essay series, THIS I BELIEVE. I keep saying I am going to submit an essay, but am not sure which “truth” about my life and belief system is the core foundational belief that supersedes every other belief. I believe in the theory of reciprocity. I believe I am “the” Favorite. I believe in the power of music – and food – and coffee. I believe the life is too short to keep people in your life who make you cry. And as Kevin Costner famously said in his movie, BULL DURHAM, “and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.” (yeah, it’s been a while since that has been a reality in my life, but I still believe in them.) I do NOT believe in “fate”, “luck” or “coincidences.” Instead, increasingly, I believe in “divine appointments.” I believe that God puts people in our path for specific divine interactions and purposes if we will just open ourselves up to the possibilities.

For most of my life, I have never felt “comfortable” witnessing to others about my relationship with God. I have never been a person who could just pass out a track or start up a conversation with random strangers about my relationship with God and what it means to me. I tend to be more of a “let my life show my relationship” type of witnesser. That doesn’t mean that I won’t talk about God with my friends, but the random stranger – yeah, not so much. Even with this blog, I feel like I am talking to my friends who already know me (and my craziness), so it is easy to talk about it. And even though increasingly more and more “strangers” are reading my thoughts and opinions, I guess I feel like I am a step removed from the witness. But because God has a sense of humor when it comes to dealing with His Favorite Child (that would be me), He has begun placing me in situations where I am compelled to speak up and out about Him.

This past Monday, I had a meeting at the bank to refinance my home. Before meeting with the attorney who would be handling the closing, I had a brief conversation with the mortgage broker, Mr. Carter, who’d been holding my hand through the process for the last month. During the course of our interactions, Mr. Carter had become aware of the release of my book and in fact, has a copy of the book in his possession. He asked how book sales were going and chastised me for not “shamelessly promoting [yourself] and the book every chance [you] get.” With that condemnation ringing in my ears, I walked into the refinance room and spent a good 45 minutes with the closing attorney, Mr. Jones. At the end of signing my life away (again) so that Mom and I could continue to have a roof over our heads (but at a lower interest rate and therefore, lower monthly payment – woo hoo!), I casually mentioned that I’d just published a book, and handed over a marketing card. When Mr. Jones asked what the book was about, I told him that it was about my relationship with Christ and how He shows up in my life in very simple, everyday, ordinary ways, but how that in itself is extra-ordinary to me.

All of a sudden, this ruddy Irish man turned even redder in complexion and his eyes filled with tears. Very quietly he said to me, “You don’t know how much I needed to hear that. Everyone has trials in their life and I am going through a very rough time in my life right now and today has been especially hard for me. I truly appreciate what you just said to me.” I was stunned! For 45 minutes, this man had laughed and joked with me and made what could have been a tedious process “enjoyable.” I would have never guessed he was “going through” anything. And if I had stayed true to form, I would have never opened up to him about me, my book or my relationship with Christ.

But God had a different plan – for me and for Mr. Jones and even for Mr. Carter, who feed into me that I needed to “shamelessly promote” myself – which led to the conversation that Mr. Jones and I were supposed to have. I am glad that I listened to the prompting and stepped outside my normal comfort zone in order to be a blessing.

And just as I was placed in the Wells Fargo bank on Monday, recently, two of my co-workers were placed in my path to bless me when I needed it. Without going into detail, a great big “thank you” to Marques Richards and Tamara Cotton for feeding into my soul when I needed the blessings they gave to me. Even when you are “the Favorite”, you need human encouragement and consolation and when I needed it, these two people gave it to me and I am forever grateful.

As you move through your day, I encourage you to keep your eyes open for the “divine appointments” God has set up for you. You will be blessed, as will the people with whom you interact.

Be blessed.

©2012 Kristina E. Smith

24 April 2012


It is a well-known fact that I am a lover of music – all music – well, except hip hop, rap, heavy metal rock, but (to me) most of that is just “noise” and not music anyway, so like I said, I am a lover of music. I have been blessed to have seen some phenomenal artists in my life. Classic foundational artists like the late Etta James, the incomparable Nancy Wilson (BEST CONCERT EVER!!!), and the amazing Harry Belafonte. Contemporary greats like the late Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Jill Scott, Will Downing and Lalah Hathaway. Gospel giants like Commissioned, Take 6 and Richard Smallwood. And some lesser known (or critically acclaimed) artists like Bobby McFerrin (he has done sooo much more than DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY), Hiroshima, Pieces of 8, Dianne Reeves and Alex Bugnon.

Recently, a good friend (and fellow music-phile) and I were discussing which artists (living and dead) we really wanted to see in concert – and topping both of our lists was the legendary Roberta Flack. Every time she has ever performed in Atlanta, it has been on a Friday night – and as a “good Adventist Christian”, I have never been able to go. So, imagine my absolute JOY at hearing that she would be performing at this year’s Dogwood Festival – in a FREE concert – on a SATURDAY!! Granted, it was 7p – well within the Sabbath hours – BUT we’re talking about ROBERTA FLACK!!! Surely, God will understand.

And let me just say before I go any further: I think God does understand. But now is not the time for me to go into a long discourse about the holiness of the Sabbath hours and how most Adventists (whether they will admit in polite company or not) have a HARD time keeping ALL the hours of the Sabbath holy, especially in the summer months when the Sabbath hours don’t end until well into the night. That needs a whole blog to itself.

So, I hear about the concert and I start making my plans. I call my good friend to see if he can come to Atlanta to go with me. Nope. I call a girlfriend to see if she will go with me. Nope, she has a conflict. And while my mom’s eyes sparked for a moment, she bailed on going with me as well. The time of the concert is growing closer and closer – what’s a girl to do? For the record, I am not scared to go places by myself, but Piedmont Park (the venue of the festival) can be a little sketchy when the lights go out. Not sure EXACTLY where in the park Ms. Flack would be performing, I was anxious about parking and traffic and … you guessed it … I talked myself out of going by myself. Which turned out to be the wisest course of action. Right about the time of the concert, the skies above opened in a torrential downpour – well, in my neighborhood anyway. So, I took that as a sign that it was a good thing that I kept my happy behind at home.

Two days later, hearing people who went down to the park for the festival and who talked about the concert, I don’t think I missed anything (except checking that item off my “bucket list”). I have a feeling that Ms. Flack will come back to Atlanta before either she or I die – and it will be in a comfortable theatre venue with adequate parking on a night when I don’t have a conflict of conscience and when I will have a friend that will go along with me. I think God will make that happen for me.

What do you think?

Be blessed.

©2012 Kristina E. Smith

20 April 2012


As a “published author”, it PAINS me to write the following sentence: I have become a “collector” of books, as opposed to a “reader” of books. Argh! How did that happen? The whole purpose of books is for them to be read, enjoyed, and passed along to others to enjoy. I blame two good friends, the Brown sisters of Nashville, TN, for this new flaw in my reading habits. Well, them and the Kindle app on my Samsung Galaxy phone. Thanks to Kindle, it is easy to download books to my phone and tablet for “later enjoyment”. Thanks to the Brown sisters, I am now subscribed to two email lists that tell me about FREE books to download and enjoy. (PixelInk and InspiredReads). So, I currently have over 100 books just sitting on my “shelves” waiting to be read.

And that doesn’t even take into consideration the books that I have borrowed, renewed and still returned unread to my local public library recently. Yes, I still believe in the public library and REAL books. With the advent and popularity of e-books, a lot of people have moved away from the pleasure of holding a book in their hands, smelling the pages, and then curling up on the couch, in the bed, in a chair – and reading. Until recently, I could have said, NOT ME, but lately … I haven’t taken or made the time to do what I used to love to do.

Granted, it was a lot easier to find the time to read when I was using public transportation to commute back and forth to work. That was a guaranteed 30-45 minutes, twice a day, where I could get some reading in (if the rocking sway of the bus didn’t put me to sleep). It is a little harder to carve out the time to read now that I work an overnight shift and have to drive myself to and from work. (Oh the horror!)

Having just published my first book, I have a whole ‘nuther perspective. Was it worth pouring out heart and soul into a book if no one reads it? Several of my friends very enthusiastically purchased copies of my book when it was released – and I am extremely grateful for their support. I solicited feedback and have been humbled by some of the stories I have been told about how friends have been blessed by reading something I wrote. (God amazes me constantly that He trusts sinful beings like me to help promote Him, but that’s the subject for another blog on another day.) But, I have also been surprised to hear some of these same friends (when I ask them for feedback) tell me, “Oh, I haven’t started reading it yet”, followed by the reason the book is now sitting on their coffee table or bookshelf, waiting. And while I understand it – after all, I bought a book to support a fellow author friend of mine recently and haven’t cracked the spine once – there is always a moment of “well, why did you buy the book if you weren’t going to read it?”

I wonder if that is how God feels when we don’t pick up the book He wrote especially for us? The Bible is consistently the number one best-selling book in the world – and yet, how many of us are guilty of buying it and then putting on a shelf – forgotten and unread? I know I am guilty. I have various versions of the Bible – each one purchased with the intent of “this time, I’m going read this through”. Yeah, I have YET to read the entire Bible through in a year, no matter what version I have to read. I wonder if God sits there and shakes His head that He has provided all the guidance, instruction, encouragement, and examples we need to make it through any situation – and we don’t access it because our Bibles sit on the shelves, instead of being in our hands and hearts.

So, while it’s all well, good and convenient to have all the books I have in my virtual and literal collections, I think I will be better served when I actually start reading them. What do you think?

Be blessed.

©2012 Kristina E. Smith

30 March 2012

$640 Million Dollars of Crazyness

There’s a madness going on across the country as I write this. In 43 states (plus the U.S. Virgin Islands), for the cost of a $1.00 ticket, people are purchasing a chance to win $640 million dollars – or a portion thereof. A CHANCE, not a guarantee to win, a CHANCE. Foolishness, if you ask me. But, tune into the local or national news, log on to Facebook, or turn on your cell phone to check your tweets on Twitter, and the #1 topic of conversation is, “did you buy your ticket?”, “what would you do if you won that much money?”, or the pleas from those who are not buying tickets to be remembered by the friends who are buying tickets – you know, just in case they win.

I call it foolishness because while there is the potential that SOMEONE (or a group of someones who have pooled their money together so that they can have access to a larger number of potential winning tickets) will win the money – the greater reality is that NO ONE will win, and we will start the foolishness all over again, for a larger jackpot, on tomorrow evening. I mean, the jackpot didn’t grow to $640 million with winners along the way – it grew that large because NO ONE has won it in a while. I will make a confession here – when the lottery hits the $200 million dollar mark, I usually buy a ticket or two, but with the full knowledge that my purchase more than likely will be a donation to my state’s education program (the Hope scholarship) as opposed to a life-changing windfall into my personal bank account.

And don’t get it twisted, THAT MUCH MONEY – yeah, it will change your life, your family’s life, your friends’ lives, the people who want to be your new best friends’ lives, and on and on and on. People will look at you differently – “relatives” you never knew about will crawl out from under every rock in your garden – people will want to help you spend, invest, and waste your newfound fortune – and just for the record, you will become your own worst enemy because unfortunately, the reality is: if you don’t know how to handle the few hundreds of dollars that flow through your hands twice a month (if you are blessed to be working), you truly ain’t gonna know how to handle $640 million dollars if it were to come your way. We have all heard the stories of the millionaires who are broke in a year because they didn’t know how to manage the funds they were “blessed” with.

I don’t mean to be a pessimist, but I am a realist. The cold hard facts are that money is not the great equalizer we all seem to think it is – in reality, it can be a curse more than a blessing. I am convinced that one reason God didn’t/hasn’t blessed me with great fame, wealth and fortune is that I might not be able to handle it in a way that adequately represents Him and His character. I am already enough of a “don’t worry, I got this” kind of girl – and that is on a Kool-Aid and soda budget. Can you imagine how off the hook I might become if I had a champagne and caviar kind of budget? Yeah, I am sure that is why God is keeping me humble, and I thank Him for it.

For the record, I am not condemning anyone who buys a ticket for tonight’s drawing. It is my prayer that God’s will be done. If one of my friends wins, I will be happy for them and will strive my best not to treat them any differently than I treat them now. (Which means, if I ain’t never asked you for money to help me pay my rent, don’t expect me to come to you now with hand out asking for help. Not gonna happen.) And if you don’t win, I’ma still love you the same way as I do now.

Thanks and be blessed.

© 2012 Kristina E. Smith

24 March 2012

Jesus is NOT my husband!

Ok, this is a vent for single women of a certain age who have not always been chaste and are now (unwillingly at times) in the throes of a celibate life…yeah, I’m talking about ME. (and from a conversation I had at church today, I am not alone and I may be talking about you as well.)

This week, the study for our church was about LOVE STORIES found in the Bible and how these stories reveal God’s “romantic side.” The facilitator of the program loaded the choir loft (and the first few rows of one side of the church) with couples from the church, and then had a panel discussion with four couples (married for as few as 2, and as many as 27, years) about the love stories in the Bible – as well as their own love stories. Don’t get me wrong: the program was beautifully done and the information shared by the four couples was funny, informative and insightful. BUT, as I sat there, I thought, “don’t none of this apply to me. What about the single women (and men) of the church who are striving (now) to do the right thing and struggling? How are we supposed to relate to God’s examples of romantic love in the Bible?” In venting to one of the panel members after the program, she turned to me and calmly said, “Well, Jesus is your husband.”

WHAT THE HECK?! Without thinking, pausing, considering – I immediately said (with great emphasis and sternness in my voice): “JESUS IS NOT MY HUSBAND! And the very fact that you would say that to me is exactly what is wrong with this picture!” She then looked at me and told me that if He wasn’t my husband, He should be. Ok, maybe because she has been married for 27 years to a wonderful man, and she has never been a “single woman of a certain age”, she just cannot relate to where I am and what I was saying. And while I accept that, I don’t have to like it.

Let’s be honest here – I understand what she was trying to say. We SHOULD have an intimate relationship with God, we SHOULD put Him first in our lives, He SHOULD be the “end all, be all” of our lives – I get that, BUT Jesus is NOT there to snuggle with in the middle of the night when you just want a human touch. Jesus cannot take you out on Valentine’s Day (or any other “couple-mandated” night). Jesus cannot hold your hand as you walk down the street. You cannot show up to the “married lovers retreat” and say, “I’m here with Jesus because He is my husband.” And to be frankly honest, Jesus isn’t there to soothe the raging hormones that may overtake your body in the wee hours of the morning. Again, maybe when you have been married for 27 years, you just don’t remember what it’s like to be single, because surely if you remembered, you wouldn’t say such a thing to your single friend who is struggling.

In talking with my mother about this later, she said to me that it is the same for her as a divorced woman in the church – and then we expanded it to widows and widowers. While our church celebrates marriage and married couples (and they should – marriages are taking a hit everywhere – seeing couples that are committed to each other is a wonderful thing), I just feel the church (and the members thereof) should also recognize and celebrate those of us who are not married – some by choice, some by circumstance. We have just as much to offer and to bring to the table as our married friends and contemporaries.

Ok, that’s my vent. Thanks for listening.

©2012 Kristina E. Smith

22 March 2012

Praising v. Bragging

I find myself in a particularly peculiar place in my life.  That is really not THAT unusual, but it seems so right now.  If you are a regular reader of this blog - or one of my many Facebook friends - you probably know that I recently published a book based on the first three years of writings on this blog.  (SIDENOTE:  The four year anniversary of the first post on this blog is next week!  Can you believe that!?  I cannot.)

It has been an amazing time since the book launched on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and on my personal website last month.  I have several testimonies I could share with anyone willing to listen, BUT I wonder/worry that I might become that person that I abhore - you know the one who ONLY talks about themselves, their accomplishments, their achievements - the person who starts every sentence with the personal pronoun "I".  And while I want to share every step of the amazing journey that God has placed me on, when does "sharing my testimony" become "bragging"?  I find it to be a very thin tightrope that I walk on on a daily basis lately.

When my grandmother was alive, this very subject would often be the topic of our Sunday morning conversations.  She was often the recipient of gifts - often monetary - from loved ones and friends, and she loved to go to church and "testify of the Lord's goodness", but I would sometimes have to caution her that her testimonies sometimes (ok, honestly - more often than not) tended to lean towards bragging about what her granddaughter had done for her - or what her "beloved Arons girls" had sent her in the mail that week (money, flowers, or other gifts).  She often wondered why the fellow members of her church congregation were not as excited to hear her testimony as she was to give it.  Maybe it's because, while people want to be happy for you when you are blessed, sometimes how you tell the story may turn them off.

So, now I find myself in a position of what do I share about what is going on with the book, without being
As I often do, I posed this question to my Facebook family of friends and while I only got a few responses, the responses I got were right in line with what/how I feel about the matter.  My cousin Kim gave a response most in line with my way of thinking.  She said, "Bragging = When the focus is on what YOU are accomplishing instead if what HE Is accomplishing for you and through you. Got to constantly ask yourself 'WHO am I putting the spotlight on, who is receiving the glory with this report?' If it is all about you, the focus has to change."  And my college friend Linda stated, "I believe it's all about your intent. Some people view the entire praise/prayer request as a time to gain attention. I think a good judge of your own intent is simple: When in the quiet of your own home sans audience, are you saying as much or more? If so, it's not bragging!"  So, according to both of these wise women, it all comes down to MOTIVES, which is something I firmly believe, and strive to remember as I go through my days.  

I want to believe that my true intention behind sharing the stories about all the amazing things happening in my life now is to point the listener to my Heavenly Father, and to bring honor and glory to HIS name (not mine).  So, I'm gonna keep praising His name and sharing the stories with anyone who will listen.  BUT, I am holding my friends accountable for holding my feet to the fire.  If you ever hear me giving myself the praise and glory - uh, pull a sista up and remind me that it ain't about me, and that nothing I do is worthy of the glory God is bestowing upon me.  I could not do it without Him and His blessings on my life and I am ever mindful of that.  I trust that you will do your part to keep me honest, so I thank you in advance.

Be blessed!
about it?  When does sharing the good news of the seeming success of the book begin to turn the stomachs of my longsuffering friends and family?  Is it really necessary (or even desirable) to share the daily events that make my mouth (literally) drop open in amazement at how God is working out His plan for my life right now?  And while my friends may want to hear it initially, when will they start screening my calls with their Caller IDs because they don't want to hear (AGAIN) about what is going on with the book?  And yet, if I don't praise the Lord for what is happening, aren't I being "ungrateful" for His blessing in my life and on the ministry He has thrust upon me?  I am not trying to have any rocks cry out on my behalf, so I have to offer up the praise that He is worthy of.  Do you see my dilemma?

06 March 2012

I stand amazed...

Writing a book can be a solitary, singular, focused experience.  Now that the book has been published, it has become a public, universal, joint adventure that is just beginning.  There are sooo many things that have happened since I received book in hand on Friday, February 24, 2012.  I want to share my testimonies (of which there are many), but am very aware of the fine line between "testifying" and "bragging".  I don't want to be that person that every time you talk to them, all they do is talk about themselves and what is going on in their lives - good, bad, or indifferent.

But the reality is:  my focus right now is the book.  Every waking moment seems to be consumed with either acknowledging how God has worked so many things out in my favor BEFORE the book became a reality - or the marketing aspects of the book that I was not prepared for - or the learning how to stand quietly and accept the support, praise and accolades of my family, friends and loved ones.  It ain't easy for me to be "in the spotlight" (hard as that is to believe).  I am learning, through this experience, that I am much more a "giver" than a "receiver" and more of a "deflector" when it comes to accolades and praise.  I gotta get better at that, without losing the ability to be humble and gracious in light of God's many blessings.

Having said that, I must admit that I stand in humble amazement at how God is working HIS plan for this book.  I am not a "big picture" girl.  I focus in on the minutiae.  Doing the editing, proofreading, re-editing of the book- yeah, that was "easy".  Hunker down, get 'er done.  All I wanted to do was write a book.  Get it in print.  Check that off my "to-do"/bucket list.  I didn't think about what would happen after the book was in print.  Marketing strategies, book signings, seeing/hearing friends and strangers read my words back to me and comment on it - to my face.  Yeah, I wasn't thinking about all that.  But God was.

And because He was, six months ago, He caused me to be reunited with a college friend, who is now in a position of influence with my alma mater and who is petitioning on my behalf to get me profiled in an alumni magazine that will go out to over 20,000 alumni of the college.  WHAT?!

Because it is within His plan for this book, doors are being opened in unexpected places for book signings, "chats with the author" programs, a potential Sunday morning TV spot, placement of the book on the shelves of the local Christian bookstore in my neighborhood, as well as the DeKalb County public library in their "Local Authors" section of their circulation department.  Can I get another WHAT?!  All of this with little or no legwork by me.  I stand amazed.

Everyone who knows me knows that my favorite Bible text is Jeremiah 29:11, where God talks about having a plan for our lives.  My co-worker pointed out another text to me recently.  Proverbs 18:16 states:  A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.  In other words, God gave me a gift, I used it (to the best of my ability) to bring glory and honor to Him, and now He is putting me "before great men" to bring further glory and honor to Him.  Amen!

I still stand amazed that God would use ME to glorify His Kingdom.  He knows my cracks, flaws and imperfections.  He knows how unworthy I am, but loves me and trusts me anyway.  I solicit your prayers as I move forward along the path He has prepared for me.  Come along for the journey.  I am sure there will be many more things ahead that will cause us to stop in amazement and offer up praise.

Thank you and God bless.

27 February 2012

Relishing THIS Moment

The late Whitney Houston sang a song, ONE MOMENT IN TIME, the opening lyrics of which are: 

Each day I live, I want to be, A day to give, The best of me.  I'm only one, But not alone, My finest day, Is yet unknown.

EARLY this morning, I was talking to a dear friend (and self-appointed President of my fan club - yeah, he's a little special) and was telling him about how overwhelmed I was by all the love, support, encouragement and tangible marketing ideas I have received from my friends since I announced the release of the book.  Things like offers for "Meet the Author" sessions at homes, leads on TV spotlights, book signings at churchs that I am and am not affiliated with directly ... the list goes on and on and on - and it's a little surreal ... to me.  To him, it is manifestation of the "pay it forward" theory that I say I believe in.  He told me, "For years, you have fed into the lives of your friends and now they want to feed into yours.  There have been many times you have felt unloved and unappreciated.  Now is the time when the tables have turned and the love and appreciation is pouring your way.  Stop, enjoy it and relish the moment."

Relish the moment.  Good advice to hear.  Harder for me to implement.  One of the lessons I am learning as I move through this journey God is taking me through is that I am more of a "giver" than a "receiver".  There are things I do "just because" that are second nature, don't even think about it, type things  Acknowledging birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions with a card, addressed, stamped and mailed is a no-brainer.  Calling someone when I find out that they are sick or have suffered a loss - again, do it without thinking because it is the "right" thing to do.  But, to have the focus turned back to me (unless it's November 14th), always makes me nervous, uncomfortable and ready to deflect the attention or praise to something or someone else.

According to my fan club President, I'ma have to get over that.  He is convinced that the spotlight is gonna be shining - and shining brightly - on me for a long while to come.  IF that is God's plan, I guess I will have to get used to it.  But I am holding all of YOU accountable for making sure I don't get the "big head."  If you ever hear me say, "yeah, I didn't book that engagement because they would not separate my M&Ms by color", I truly expect you to bop me upside my head in love.

Everyone who knows me knows that my favorite Bible text is Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you, saith the Lord.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."  I don't know what God's plan is ... for me, for the book, for anything ... but I am trusting and praying that I am worthy of whatever He sends my way.  So, I'm gonna take a deep breath, put on a smile and try my best to relish this moment.  Won't you relish it with me?

Thank you and God bless!

26 February 2012

I'm Back!

So....it's been a while, but I've been a little bit busy.  Since August 2011, I have been immersed in the process of transforming this blog - well, ok, the BEST of this blog - into a hold-in-your-hand, turn the page book and as of 2:00 p.m. on Friday, February 24, 2012, this dream became a reality!!!  Yep, you can count yours truly among those who can say they are a published author, with a book that has an ISBN number and everything.  It is an amazing, overwhelming, humbling experience to have a dream realized in such a fashion.

It all started with an email from my now former attorney/employer/friend stating that he had written a novel and wanted me to support him.  Well, of course that was a no-brainer.  I am a big believer in supporting the dreams of my friends.  I didn't even know that he had any desire to be an author, so all of this was a surprise to me.  I ordered his book (FRAUDULENT INTENTIONS by Scott P. Hilsen, in case you like legal mysteries), read it and started thinking, "Hey.  If Scott can write a book, I can write a book."  So, I called him up and asked him for information about the process he went through to self-publish.  I went online and did some research at his publishing company, but will admit, wasn't quite ready to make the commitment (or investment) in the dream of my own book.

In August 2011, it was time for my annual evaluation at work.  I'd heard rumors that a lot of the secretaries in the firm were getting bonus checks (as opposed to raises) as compensation for jobs well done.  Well, this was alright with me because my take was:  my budget is set as it is and a large check (even if it is taxed like a bonus and Uncle Sam is gonna get his share first) would be a lot better than the $20-$30 a paycheck that you never really see and never really impacts your bank account.  When my supervisor told me that I was eligible for a bonus check, she was surprised at the "woot woot yeah" response I gave her.  Initially I was gonna do the usual "responsible" thing with the money - pay down some bills, make the downpayment on a much-needed and well-deserved vacation, go shoe shopping - but, I kept getting pulled back to the whole "write your book" idea.  Would you believe, after taxes, my bonus check was almost penny for penny, the cost of the publishing package I wanted to get from Author House (my publisher)?  I keep telling y'all - God has a funny sense of humor when it comes to dealing with His Favorite Child.

I won't bore you with all the mundane details of the process of picking out the "best of", the editing, the categorization, the editing, the revamping of the blogs to make them timeless, current and polished, the editing, choosing pictures for the interior of the book, the editing, writing the "about the author" section, the editing, soliciting endorsements from my friends for the back of the book, and did I mention, the editing?  It took me going away, over the Christmas holiday, to the North Georgia mountains where there was no Internet, no cell phone service, no nothing but me and my computer to get over the final hurdles of the editing process.

In early January, I submitted my first draft of the book to the publishers.  Now, I was told it would take 2-3 weeks for the publishers to get the book formatted into a "galley" (or first proof) of the book.  Yeah, it took them less than a week!  Because of the information Scott gave me, I took my time going through the galley of the book, and it was another month of re-reading, tweaking and editing before I was satisfied with the product.  I submitted it again.  Was again told "2-3 weeks".  And again, one week later, the second version of the galley was in my inbox for review.  This time, I only checked to make sure they'd made the changes I suggested.  They had.  I signed the approval and on Friday, February 10, 2012, my book went "live" on the publisher's website, as well as on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.  WHAT!!!  Talk about being floored!

And since then, God has just continued to show up and show out.  I could write pages and pages about how He is already opening doors for book signings and "meet the authors" events that my friends, all across the country, are willing to set up for me.  I could tell you about the 13 year old daughter of a friend who told her mother, "Wow, if Miss Kristina can write a book, that means one day I can write one."  I could tell you about how God had me reconnect with a college friend after 20+ years who is now a part of the Alumni relations team at my alma mater, Georgia State University, and how she is recommending me to be an "Alumni Profile" for the college's annual magazine that goes out to over 20,000 alumni!  WHAT!?  And all of this is coming my way WITHOUT me asking or soliciting for it.  I'm telling you - put your dreams in God's hands, do your part to make it happen and He WILL bless you, if it is within His plan for your life.

All praise, honor and glory for anything I do with this tremendous gift and opportunity He has given me all goes to Him.  I could not have done this without the support of my mother who, like me, has read every incarnation of this book since I started this process and acted each time like she was reading it for the first time.  I thank my proofreaders:  Alice, Julie, Debbie, Robin and Jacquie - who read, commented and supported me out of love and the promise of a free book.  And my friends near and far who told me throughout the process that they couldn't wait for their copies and have already stepped up to the plate with book orders and social networking word of mouth support. 

Last story and then I'ma let you go back to your normal life:  When the publishers sent me notification that the book was done and my author copies were being shipped to me, I made the comment that I hoped the book would arrive to my house on either a Friday or Sabbath because I knew that if it arrived on a day when I was scheduled to work (Mon-Thurs), I would be too frazzled, overwhelmed, whatever to go into work and concentrate.  I got a shipping notice that my book shipped UPS Ground from Indiana on Thursday, February 23.  I thought, "Well, it will probably arrive on Monday.  I'll just deal with my emotions then."  [Go back and read the first paragraph of this blog].  God hears and answers even our "smallest" prayers.

The book is available as an ebook as well as paperback and hardback copies.  If you are interested in purchasing the book, the website for the book is http://www.godsfavoritechild.com/.  The book is also available on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.  If you are an e-book fanatic, go to http://www.authorhouse.com/ to get the ebook.  Thank you in advance for any and all support.

Now, as I said in the final lines of the dedication of the book:  "Now that the book is done, I can get back to blogging."  I got LOTS to say! 

God bless!