Blog Series: Blogging in His Light, Interview #7

Interview _7

(Friends, my seventh and last interview is with M. Simone Boyd. I found Simone’s blog at some point last year, and I eventually connected with her over Twitter. I admire Simone for her commitment to her calling as writer. She pursues her writing in various forms such as film scripts and newspaper articles. Since I hope to publish books someday, I was excited to hear about Simone’s efforts towards her novel. Simone has also been in the blogging game for years. With all of the blog posts that she writes, she makes sure to stop by the blogs of others. I have been encouraged by her warm comments on my blog. Hence, I am excited to feature Simone on the blog for the first time. And please stay tuned for the conclusion to the Blogging in His Light Series this Saturday! Blessings, Monica aka afrotasticlady)

1. Monica aka afrotasticlady: I find it interesting that your brother’s wedding propelled your blogging journey. With all of the transitions that have occurred in your own life, what makes you keep blogging?

Simone: Without a doubt, the sense of community has kept me going.

Knowing that I was not alone in my worries about my younger brother getting hitched before me, made me feel like ‘oh, I can share and my sisters will share with me and we’re all together in our sense of wondering about the future.’

Now, that I’m married and on this creative path…I’ve found that there is still a strong sense of community. And I can help connect women to each other. Nothing gives me more fuel to keep going, than getting an email from a sister saying “I’ve had the same struggle and it gives me hope to see how the Lord answered you.” That’s what encourages me to be honest and share the highs and very lows (rejection, facing uncertainty, etc.)

2. M: Labels are tricky and sometimes people would rather stay away from them. Would you describe yourself as a blogger, a Christian blogger, or both?

S: I had to put my thinking cap on for this one, Monica! You know, I really don’t consider myself a blogger. I’m a writer.

Blogging is my most consistent medium. Last year, I wrote a short film on fatherhood and wrote for a newspaper. I have a novel coming out in a few weeks. And I’m currently working on another short film and a play. Also, I’m just not consistent enough with my social media to be a real blogger. I don’t even have a smartphone!

Regarding my faith, I really like what Jamia said earlier “My faith can’t help but permeate everything that I do, so given the opportunity to write about the things on my heart, naturally topics relating to the practical application of my faith are typically the central message I attempt to communicate.” I agree 100 percent.

3. M: You seem to blog a lot about family-related topics.  What do you love most about blogging?

S: Again, I think it boils down to the sense of community. I love reading comments, commenting on the blogs of others, and just getting to share/learn what God is teaching us on this path.

I see the breakdown of the family unit as the root cause of all our societal ills. And I’m grateful that the Lord has allowed me to use my keyboard to share hope and solutions.

4. M: There are so many diverse blogs on the internet. Why do you think it is important for Christians to add their voice to the blogosphere?

S: Hope.

There are a lot of blogs out there, but so many specialize in ridiculousness. We must MUST add our voices to help quiet the noise, and share hope.

5. M: I have noticed that writers can sometimes have difficulties promoting themselves. How do you think writers can overcome this challenge?

S: Ugh. I am totally the wrong person to ask this, because I am the worst.

But I like what another blogger you interviewed shared: seek to solve a problem. When we focus on that, we’re sharing solutions and pointing people to what God has done/is doing.

6. M: You have been blogging for several years. What advice or encouragement do you have for Christians who are new to blogging?

S: Keep. On. Writing.

I’ve been on this path for six years, and I go through ebbs and flows. But one of my mentors told me “the best way to become a better writer is to keep writing.”

It wasn’t the exactly the magic potions I was looking for…but it’s worked for me. When I look back on posts from 2010 to now, I can’t help but be grateful for the growth.

M: Simone, thank you so much! I appreciated everything you just shared.

S: Monica, you are one of my very favorite online friends. You are so generous and I consider it a gift to be included in your series. So. Thank you, Sis!

M Simone Boyd - Head Shot

What makes relationships, marriages and families thrive or die? That’s what M. Simone Boyd explores. Whether it’s academic research shared as creative non-fiction, a novel, or a workshop…Simone tells stories. In the past two years, she’s written 46 freelance articles and a boatload of blogposts. Because she is dedicated to finding solutions for the chaos we see erupting on the nightly news. She aspires to blog regularly at myfamilyfantastic.com and aspires to tweet regularly @msimoneboyd.  

Blog Series: Blogging in His Light, Interview #6

Interview _6

(In the last interview, I hope you caught Latoya’s advice to make friends with other bloggers instead of competing with them. I enjoy meeting other bloggers and collaborating with them. Our next interview is with Emelda, a multitalented woman. I was blessed to meet Emelda on Instagram, and I have been encouraged by her support of my writing. In general, you will find Emelda leaving fabulous comments on the IG pages of other creatives. In our large blogosphere, it’s refreshing to find encouragers like her. I have also been blessed to work with Emelda on #WomenCreativesChat, a chat that began on Twitter and transitioned to Instagram. Both of us value creativity in our own lives, and we desire for other women to make time for their creative areas. Our chat serves as a community forum for women creatives to uplift each other. I’m glad to be involved in this partnership and looking forward to see how #WomenCreativesChat will grow. Please check out how Emelda combines her passion for God, social justice and creativity into her endeavors. Blessings, Monica aka afrotasticlady)

1. Monica aka afrotasticlady:  I find that it’s very important to pick a name for your blog that represents you and your content. Why did you name your blog, “Live in Color?”

Emelda: The great writer Oscar Wilde said “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” For me, life is about celebrating beauty and light, yes there is sorrow and pain, but I believe even in the most dire circumstances, one can find joy.

Maybe it is the poet in me, the dreamer, the little girl writing songs and falling madly in love with rainbows and enticing melodies who refuses to simply exist. Who wants to grow old? When I say old, I am not referring to a chronological age, but expansiveness of the mind.

Our lives are miraculous, and I never want to loose sight of it. Within my small corner of the blogosphere I am determined to cultivate a space which uplifts and empowers us all to rise to new levels of consciousness and faith.

2. M: Labels are tricky and sometimes people would rather stay from them. Would you describe yourself as a blogger, a Christian blogger, or both?

E: Above all, I am, first and foremost, a child of God, one who is walking in relationship with Christ. Since this gift of writing comes from God, my faith and blogging are inextricably linked.

Each one of us has a ministry and some folks have several; over the past year, our family has faced numerous challenges, and I continue to grow along this path of faith.

I am coming to understand it is my calling, sharing words of hope and inspiration, while also encouraging readers to take action and question the injustices around them. So, yes, without apology or hesitation, I am a Christian blogger.🙂

3. M: I love that you have a little bit of everything on your blog: inspiration, social justice, food recipes, etc. What do you love most about blogging?

 E: Thank you! I believe a vibrant life, full of color, overflows with diverse interests.

Years ago, you needed a publisher to cement your status as a writer. Today, with blogs, e-books and various social media platforms, we have a voice, a way to not only connect with folks, but engage in the fulfilling work of building community. One of my favorite writers, Maya Angelou, urged us not to die with our story still inside of us. Live In Color blog is a large part of my voice in the world.

I write because I cannot NOT write. Creativity is oxygen for my soul.  At 7 or 8 years old, I fell in love with creating poems and songs. My inner world overflows with words and thoughts; I feel bound to share them whether thousands read, or a small audience of family and friends.

The other part of blogging which I adore is the sense of community, both with bloggers and readers. It’s so lovely to connect with other writers, especially since writing can be a solitary creative act. Finding folks who share your passion is both uplifting and affirming. And there is nothing quite like the rush of seeing someone’s comment on a blog post. You feel as if your words and way of seeing the world resonate, and for me this is exhilerating!

 4. M: There are so many diverse blogs on the internet. Why do you think it is important for Christians to add their voice to the blogosphere?

E: Our world is in crisis, perhaps now more than ever before. We are grappling with economic inequality, institutionalized racism and systemic oppression, the prison industrial complex (particularly in the U.S.) and many other massive problems. What I feel many folks do not understand is how God fits into all of this dysfunction. How can getting to know Him free us from being overtaken by these concerns, but also empower us to create change during our lifetime? What is our purpose? What does a life of devotion look like?

These questions, and many others, are ones which we, who have committed our lives to Christ, can walk out in our writing. Many people may not open a bible, but they will read blogs on their tablet, phone or Kindle; perhaps our words are their first introduction to Christ.

Christians absolutely should blog and raise their voices. We must begin to influence the discourse around our faith from one of constant judgment and shaming to an all encompassing love which is wide enough for the entire world. Jesus is revolutionary. He challenges the religious establishment in the New Testament, and washes his disciples feet. The world needs to meet Him through our posts.

 5. M: When I look on your social media pages such as Instagram, I feel a sense of community. What are some of your social media strategies?

 E: Oh, you’re sweet! Thank you.🙂

While social media is a new communication platform, the concept of connecting with others to cultivate community is ancient. When I joined Instagram, I came with the intent of being in conversation with people from a real place of commonality, whether around my core blog topics of inspiration, motherhood, faith or social justice, or just what is happening in the world.

I am also quite interested in their lives and passions as well. I don’t know if I would consider this a concrete strategy, I suppose it is more connected to my personality. I’m a people person who thrives on building genuine relationships, and I would say this contributes greatly to the sense of community you see on my page.

In terms of strategy, I choose specific times during the day when my audience is most engaged (mid-morning & evening) and post during those periods. When it comes to hashtags, I am deliberate, primarily focusing on ones with the highest reach. And this might sound overly simple, but it works, when people like my posts, I check out their page, like and comment on their posts. I have met many fellow creatives this way. Also, when I have new followers, instead of just following back, I visit their pages, scroll their feeds, and like / comment on posts.

The other two strategies involve constantly educating myself about effectively using social media (love the podcast Sidehustle Pro and the site Coschedule), and working with apps to maximize content creation. I recently discovered Later, an app for Instagram which allows you to draft posts, set the timer for when you would like them to appear, and you receive a notification on your phone telling you to share. It’s a huge time saver!

However, in the end, I feel it all comes back to relationships. If you cultivate genuine connections consistently, your tribe will grow.

6. M: What advice or encouragement do you have for Christians who are new to blogging?

E: I believe one of the most important things we can contribute as both believers and writers is to show up with our authenticity and heart. Imagine you’re talking to a good friend  as you write. This makes your work relatable, and our readers respond to us when we are unafraid to walk in our truth.

The work we’re doing is our ministry, and so  its important to also pray before you create these pieces. Do not loose sight of putting God at the center of your creativity.

I would like to leave you all with some lyrics from a beautiful song by Lauren Daigle, “Salt & Light”:

“Let my eyes see Your kingdom shine all around

Let my heart overflow with passion for Your name

Let my life be a song, revealing who You are

For You are salt and light

 Oh the love that set me free

You bring hope to those in need

You have written and redeemed my story…

You are salt and light

You are love’s great height

You are deep and wide

A consuming fire”

Emelda Picture

Emelda is a loving wife and mama, creative, and believer seeking God anew in each moment.  She is the founder of Live In Color blog; she writes about faith, inspiration, social justice and motherhood. Emelda is a columnist for Beautifully Said Magazine, and contributing writer at Our Words Collaborative, a Christian devotional website where each writer shares their personal faith journey daily. She also blogs regularly at Positivity Warriors and Adalmar Life. Resisting all forms of oppression and actively creating affirming spaces for womyn of color is important to her, and she is a founding member of Black Womyn Rising, a radical intergenerational black womyn’s organizing collective rooted in transformative love and global sistahood. You can connect with her on her blog or on Instagram and Twitter.

 

Blog Series: Blogging in His Light, Interview #5

Interview _5

(I have to admit that I cannot believe it is August already. I remember vlogging about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in “January’s 6 Grateful Things List.”  As they say, time flies. Anywho, I am glad that I was able to interview Elsie from ToLiveIsChristBlog.com. In the interview, she encouraged Christians to share their voice in the blogosphere, because the world is impacted by their thoughts. My next interview is with Latoya, who previously wrote a guest blog post for me. Latoya and I did not discover each other through social media, but we actually found each other through WordPress.com. As I read her blog, I was uplifted by her bold relationship with Christ. She is a woman of God who motivates others to grow in their journeys with Christ. Please read her remarks on blogging, purpose, and Christian literature.  Blessings y’all, Monica aka afrotasticlady)

1. Monica aka afrotasticlady: I love that your blog is inspirational and offers godly wisdom. What made you start blogging?

Latoya: I went through a period in my life where I was desperately searching for meaning in my life. I felt like God had a purpose for me but wasn’t sure what it was. After seeking God and finally understanding what living a life of purpose meant, I knew I wanted to share with others who might find themselves on this same journey. I had started a few blogs previously but never took them very far, but this time I am on a mission to help others embrace a life of purpose.

2. M: Labels are tricky and sometimes people would rather stay from them. Would you describe yourself as a blogger, a Christian blogger, or both?

L: I couldn’t say I am just a blogger because I would be overlooking the real reason why I blog, but at the same time I think Christian blogging comes under the larger umbrella of blogging. This is just my niche per se, like a food blogger or a tech blogger. We all fall under the umbrella of bloggers. Sometimes just being known as a blogger can attract non-Christians and I like that since I hope to reach not just those who already have a relationship with God but some of those seekers.

3. M: You are such a consistent blogger. What do you love most about blogging?

L: I love the creative process of seeing how a simple idea or experience that I have had can come to life and make a difference in the life of my readers. I also really love to read my readers comments, because it helps me to understand who they are and how they deal with the ups and downs of life.

4. M: There are so many diverse blogs on the internet. Why do you think it is important for Christians to add their voice to the blogosphere?

L: Because we have a very unique and important message that the world needs to hear. I know sometimes the world has no interest in hearing from us, but I do believe that a lot of what the world is searching for can be found in a relationship with God and so if I can at least get them to be curious enough to take a look then that is a good start.

5. M: You seem to be a big reader! What are some books you think every Christian writer/blogger should read?

L: I personally try to read as widely as possible. This season in my life, I find that I am more interested in mostly classical and philosophical Christian literature. For Christian writers/bloggers, I would suggest the following:

C.S Lewis’ Mere Christianity, because it makes the case for the existence of God.

Dr. Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavour, which makes the case that all work is doing God’s work, even those done by secular persons.

Dr. Myles Munroe’s In Pursuit of Purpose which explores how we can understand and live a life of purpose.

6. M: You have a few blog posts in which you share blogging tips. What advice or encouragement do you have for Christians who are new to blogging?

L: Always seek to maintain and grow your relationship with Christ, because it is out of that relationship that ideas will flow about how you can impact others in a godly way.

-Have an ideal reader in mind. This helps me when I get stuck on what to write about. I always write as if I am talking to my ideal reader.

-Write your blog posts as far in advance as you can, so that when anything unexpected occurs it doesn’t affect your flow.

-Write to help your readers solve a problem. Remember it is not about you but your reader.

-Make friends with other bloggers. Don’t view them as competition because we can always learn from each other.

Latoya #2

Latoya blogs about living a life of purpose @PowerfulUblog. She is passionate about inspiring others to explore their God given potential and use their gifts and talents to honor God. You can also find her on Twitter @powerfulublog and @latoyasaddler on Instagram.

 

 

July’s 6 Grateful Things List

July's Grateful Things List

Happy Friday, y’all! Thank you to those readers who have kept up with the “Blogging in His Light” series. I have loved showing you the beautiful and gifted faith writers/bloggers that exist on the web. More interviews are coming in August! But let’s get to the grateful things list! As usual, please let me know what you are grateful for this month! Blessings, Monica aka afrotasticlady

 

 

Blog Series: Blogging in His Light, Interview #4

Interview _4

(Friends, I feel that Mia’s interview was awesomesauce. I’m still reflecting on her words about the power that writers have. We, writers, have the power to impact other folks by sharing our unique stories. Yet, if we leave our stories buried in our tummies, we do not impact anyone. Word! Now, I would like to introduce y’all to Elsie, a writer/blogger/fashionista, who is aware of the power of the personal story. I actually found Elsie through Naomi, and I was intrigued by her challenges with an eating disorder. The social worker in me just lit up at her strength and reliance on God through her journey of healing. Check out how Elsie brings inspiration and fashion together in her blog. Blessings, Monica aka afrotasticlady)

Monica aka afrotasticlady: On your blog, you tackle faith, fashion, and social issues. What made you start blogging?

Elsie: Hi Monica! I originally started blogging back in 2013 because I was interested in what the Bible had to say about the realm of psychology and emotions. A blog seemed like a natural place to begin working out answers to my questions, because blogs invite discussion, and I craved other people’s input. I have a natural interest in psychology, but as the discipline currently stands, it is often stripped of the power of God’s Word. So I wanted to do the work and study to figure out what God has to say about the everyday world of our emotions.

I have always adored fashion and putting together a cute outfit, but the idea of actually being a fashion blogger is still a bit intimidating! Some of my favorite big fashion bloggers like Sincerely Jules (www.sincerelyjules.com) andThe Sweetest Thing Blog (www.thesweetestthingblog.com), and smaller blogs by women of faith like Downtown Demure (www.downtowndemure.com) and Naomi Treviño (www.finite1.com) have inspired me so much, and given me hope that I can showcase my own feminine style to inspire others.

M: I admire your honesty about your challenges with an eating disorder and how Jesus delivered you from it. What led you to share your journey?

E: Aw, thank you Monica! After being through a nightmare like that, all you can do is talk everyone’s ear off, telling and retelling the story of your Savior and how He rescued you.

I deeply believe that being vulnerable within a loving Christian community leads to healing and wholeness. I don’t believe in keeping shameful secrets – they only fester and poison our spirits. So telling my “disordered eating” story on the blog is just one more way to be vulnerable and real with Christian women.

I know a lot of women struggle with varying degrees of disordered eating. My hope is that sharing my story of how God shined light in my dark places can bring hope and clarity to some other struggling women, and maybe it will even inspire them to share their own story in the context of a safe Christian community.

M: Labels are tricky and sometimes people would rather stay from them. Would you describe yourself as a blogger, a Christian blogger, or both?

E: I would indeed describe myself as a Christian blogger, and my intended audience is fashion-conscious Christian women. I suppose avoiding labeling oneself opens up the possibility for a broader audience. But for me personally, I’m not very interested in attracting readers who have no sense of spiritual hunger. I’m writing for people who do.

M: What do you love most about blogging?

E: I cherish the interaction with other women as I share my story. It’s incredible to meet women across the country who can relate in some way with what God is doing in my life.

Women are powerful; I doubt that we recognize the full weight of our power and influence. If all Christian women started thinking and loving like Jesus, I think it would absolutely change the world. So that’s the journey I’m on, learning how to be more like Jesus and inspire others in the process.

M: There are so many diverse blogs on the internet. Why do you think it is important for Christians to add their voice to the blogosphere?

E: With the explosion of the internet in the last couple of decades, blogs have become a primary way that people find information that feels relevant and practical to them.

I hope that Christians with all kinds of interests and expertise will make their voice heard through blogs. We need them; the world needs them. I believe we possess a message of love and truth that needs to be communicated in a way that feels relevant and practical in the electronically interconnected world we live in.

M: What advice or encouragement do you have for Christians who are new to blogging?

E: Ha! I think I myself am a Christian who is new to blogging! I wish I could pour raw courage into every weary heart, and whisper to not give up when it’s hard and takes a while to develop your unique voice and find your niche and develop a readership. I have read that many people start blogs but few keep at them more than a few months. Rough starts seem to be normal, but what separates the failed blogs from the successful blogs is perseverance and commitment to offering consistent value to your readers.

M: Elsie, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! They are appreciated!

E: These were such great, thoughtful questions, Monica! So glad you and I have connected.

Elsie Photo

Elsie was once a homeschooled nerd kid with a backpack on wheels. Now she is an adult nerd who savors dark chocolate, soul-connection during one-on-one conversations, and watching God at work in the people around her. Elsie tracks her encounters with Jesus and fashion on her blog, ToLiveIsChristBlog.com.

Social Media Handles

Twitter: @ElsieLondon1 https://twitter.com/ElsieLondon1

Instagram: @elsie_london https://www.instagram.com/elsie_london/twi

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/elsiealondon/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elsie.a.london1/

URL: ToLiveIsChristBlog.com

Blog Series: Blogging in His Light, Interview #3

Interview _3

(Friends, did you catch my interview with fashionista, Naomi? I appreciated her advice on bloggers focusing on quality content versus number of followers. It’s not easy advice, but it’s crucial to keep it in mind when building a blog. I am excited to share my interview with Jamia. I discovered Jamia on Twitter, and I have been following her daily Periscopes on gratitude since the beginning of the year. Whether I am watching a live broadcast or a replay, I am uplifted by the community that has been formed. We are all intentionally working on being more grateful. Jamia even refers to us as #MyGratitudeTribe. Please read why she talks about gratitude so much. Blessings, Monica aka afrotasticlady)

Monica aka afrotasticlady: I love that your blog is about gratitude. What made you choose to blog about this topic?

Jamia: Thank you so much for this opportunity! I would say this topic chose me. I spent years of my life unhappy and discontent with my circumstances. Over time God began to shape a new perspective in my heart regarding the ups and downs of life and that started with a challenge to be grateful. I saw someone doing a “100 days of Gratitude Challenge” on Twitter in 2011. It looked like a good idea, so I tried it too. First on Twitter, then again in 2012 on Facebook… the second time I participated in the challenge my disposition really started to change for the better. Challenging myself to find one thing I was thankful for each day forced me to train my heart and eyes to recognize the many things, people, places, opportunities and experiences I had to be grateful for. I realized that the call to rejoice in Scripture (Philippians 4) was also the call to be grateful…it was a call to recognize God as the giver of every good and perfect thing (James 1:17) and to acknowledge the abundant grace He provides. Some time after the challenge ended, I dropped the discipline and sunk into a season of despair again due to a variety of events. As I tried to understand the reasons for this attitude shift, I realized that gratitude had to become a daily habit in order to keep my heart from being gripped by envy and discontentment. So for me the pursuit of contentment has gradually taken shape over the years. Contentment must be learned, it’s not something we can just “be” automatically and though there is no formula, I do believe it begins with the discipline of thanksgiving. I hope to be able to encourage my readers to trust God and continue on the path of contentment even in the midst of life’s disappointments.

M: Labels are tricky and sometimes people would rather stay from them. Would you describe yourself as a blogger, a Christian blogger, or both?

J: I would say both! I am a writer through and through. I can remember writing my first poem when I was 7 years old. Writing has always come natural to me and it is typically the primary way I express myself. Truly, writing is one of things that makes my heart happy. Without a doubt, the one designation that supersedes every other marker someone could choose to identify me with is that of a believer in Jesus Christ. My faith can’t help but permeate everything that I do, so given the opportunity to write about the things on my heart, naturally topics relating to the practical application of my faith are typically the central message I attempt to communicate.

M: You blog posts are very encouraging. What do you love most about blogging?

J: Oh, wow! Thank you so much for the compliment. Maya Angelou once said: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” I love to be able to express what God has given me to share. Blogging is one avenue that provides the opportunity to tell whatever the current story is on my heart. It also has allowed me to connect with some great people, there’s some awesome content out there!

M: There are so many diverse blogs on the internet. Why do you think it is important for Christians to add their voice to the blogosphere?

J: Bad news assaults us daily from multiple outlets. We typically don’t have to go too far to find it. It is clear that our world is in desperate need of hope. That hope can only be found in Christ. The blogosphere needs believers that are willing to share and speak of the redemptive, life altering and liberating work of Christ in, through and for our lives. As those that know Him, we can personally testify to His goodness. As we share, I believe that our testimonies have the power to point others to Christ and effect great change in the lives of those who read our work.

M: You have a public platform on Periscope and Twitter. How do you think bloggers should use social media to their advantage?

J: Social media is a great asset, if we learn to use it well. As we steward the messages God has given us to share, it is important to be strategic with our use of the platforms available to us. There are many to choose from and all have their advantages and disadvantages. It’s important for bloggers to know their audience and also to know themselves and let that knowledge guide them towards the best outlets for their personalities. Every social media site is not for me! Social media can also be very overwhelming if we take on too much. I was advised by seasoned writers to choose one or two to focus on before trying to become proficient in more than I could manage well.

M: What advice or encouragement do you have for Christians who are new to blogging?

J: Three things:

1.) Don’t give up!

2.) Don’t try to do this alone!

3.) Be willing to share your writing.

This is my 3rd attempt at blogging, but also the most productive thus far. Where I’ve found success this time is in seeking out community. I’ve begun to connect with other writers and they have encouraged me to press on, in spite of the difficulty. Earlier this year I enrolled in Compel Training (a monthly membership community for writers) and their support gave me the tools and the push I needed to renew my blogging efforts. Writing is a gift and not everyone has the ability to string together words in a way that touches the hearts of others. This gift of ours is meant to be shared! We never know who will be blessed by our story, let’s be faithful to tell it.

Jamia pic

Jamia is an actress, writer, teacher and speaker, but most of all a woman that loves God. Her aim is to point the way to Christ using whatever platform she can. Join Jamia & #MyGratitudeTribe daily on Periscope as they honestly discuss the ups, downs and in-betweens of life on the pathway towards contentment.

Periscope: www.periscope.tv/MsMiaWrites

Twitter: @MsMiaWrites

Blog: www.onegratefulme.com

Blog Series: Blogging in His Light, Interview #2

Interview _2

(Friends, I hope you enjoyed the wisdom that Nicole shared in the first interview. My second interview is with Naomi, who wrote a wonderful guest blog post for me in January. I first found Naomi through Instagram. Her page was filled with beautiful nature and fashion pictures. Eventually, Naomi started her own blog, Finite1. If you are need of some practical or even fashion advice, Naomi is your go to person!  Please read about her experiences with blogging in this next interview. Blessings, Monica aka afrotasticlady)

Monica aka afrotasticlady: Your blog is a refreshing combination of fashion and encouragement posts. What made you choose this combination for your blog?

Naomi: When I first thought about starting a website, I originally just wanted it to be my writings. I decided to also add the style element to it because not only it is fun but it is an expression of who I am as well. I worked in fashion and I would style outfits for regular customers all the time. I love putting together different outfits and passing on those tips. I thought why not combine both elements that can speak to a wider audience.

M: Labels are tricky and sometimes people would rather stay from them. Would you describe yourself as a blogger, a Christian blogger, or both?

N: I call myself an advice writer and style blogger. That is what I do. A Christian is who I am. There is no separating my faith in anything I do and as it says in Acts 17:28, “In Him we live and move and have our being”. I would say that both labels are great.

M: As mentioned before, your blog is filled with lovely fashion and wise words. What do you love most about blogging?

N: I love connecting with others. I truly have met some amazing people I call friends from blogging. We share this common bond of blogging but we become friends though our love of our faith, fashion, traveling, or whatever it may be. Another great thing about blogging is when someone comments that my post was encouraging or spoke to them. I hope to always make a positive impact and speak life into others.

M: There are so many diverse blogs on the internet. Why do you think it is important for Christians to add their voice to the blogosphere?

N: Jesus left us with a commend,”go ye into all the world not stay ye.” I believe we can all be missionaries and minister to others without physically traveling to a foreign country. But the cool thing about the internet is that it is global. We truly can reach people around the world through blogging because of the internet. It is so important to remember the bigger picture.

M: Your blog is relatively new, but do you have any advice or encouragement for other Christians who are new to blogging?

N: Put God first in all that you do even with blogging. Being genuine goes a long way. Do not get caught up with quantity or the numbers but the quality of what you do. Having a spirit of excellence in the content you create and the way you interact with others will leave a lasting impression. 

Naomi Picture

Naomi Noel Trevino is a published writer who loves to encourage people. Her blog is http://www.finite1.com. She can also be found on the following social media platforms:

Instagram:@naomi.noel

Twitter: @naomi_noel_ 

Facebook: Finite1

Pinterest: Finite1

Blog Series: Blogging in His Light, Interview #1

Interview _1

(I am very excited about my first interview with Nicole of www.betterthanwine.net and www.overcomingheartbreak.net. When I first started blogging, I was eager to find other Christian bloggers to read. Nicole was one of the bloggers that I found. I loved how much she talked about her walk with Christ. I also discovered that she was passionate about helping other Christians heal from heartbreak. After you read our interview, I urge you to check out her blog and her author site. Blessings, Monica aka afrotasticlady.)

Monica aka afrotasticlady: You have been blogging for several years. What made you start blogging?

Nicole: In a word: Jesus. Jesus made me blog LOL. And I mean made. I had no intention of blogging. Ever. Initially I was reading blogs during downtime at work. I have always loved reading and I realized I really loved reading other people’s stories. Then all of a sudden I could hear the Holy Spirit prompting me to start my own blog. I was so adamant that I did not want to do something that was not from God so I refused. But His prompting became stronger and stronger to where I could no longer deny what He was saying. So I finally obeyed and I’m so glad I did!

M: Labels are tricky and sometimes people would rather stay from them. Would you describe yourself as a blogger, a Christian blogger, or both?

N: I would say a Christian blogger simply because my blog blatantly talks about my spiritual journey. The name itself (His Love is Better Than Wine) is based on a scripture (Song of Solomon 1:2). I have actually desired to have a less openly spiritual blog site but I cannot get away from what He has called me to. He has called me to be openly spiritual in my writing.

M: You blog consistently about your personal journey with God. What do you love most about blogging?

N: I love that blogging is healing and therapeutic. It is an outlet for my deepest longings and feelings. I have went through some hard times and blogging has helped to heal me from deep pain while going through them. I also love the spiritual insight God gives through my writing. Often I don’t know the answer until I write it. He speaks through my writing and I love the revelation that comes when He does that.

M: There are so many diverse blogs on the internet. Why do you think it is important for Christians to add their voice to the blogosphere?

N: Our words have power and if we are walking with God than we are speaking words of life and truth. We can change the atmosphere with our words and with our writing. He is the Word. We are releasing Him when we share our words.

M: Do you have any advice or encouragement for Christians who are new to blogging?

N: Just speak from your heart and let it flow. God will reward your faithfulness and obedience. You never know how He will use you to help others by you telling your story! Also, if you want to develop in writing, read and write a lot! You can of course take workshops and classes but just reading and practicing writing has helped me so much! I never would have guessed that blogging would be the beginning of my writing career but just taking one step of faith can lead to a series of open doors!

author pic

Nicole is the author of “How to Overcome Heartbreak: Recovering From Misguided Love”. She loves God, her family and writing and expresses those interests frequently on her blog www.betterthanwine.net. She desires to see her generation walk in healing, wholeness and restoration as she herself walks in the same. You can follow her on Twitter: @OvrcmeHrtbrk & @strgtower7, on Instagram: @htohb and Facebook: How To Overome Hearbreak: Recovering From Misguided Love. More information can be learned by visiting www.overcomingheartbreak.net.

An Introduction to the Blog Series: Blogging in His Light

An Introduction to the Blog Series-Blogging in His Light

I have learned to describe myself as a writer and personal/faith blogger. Even though I do not have published books in Barnes and Noble, I am still a writer. And even though I do not have thousands and thousands of followers, I am still a blogger. Despite my modest following, I choose to write and blog. I love writing, and I have discovered that I can use my blog to encourage others. When I write about challenging subjects such as grief, I am sharing my experiences about a subject that others may not want to talk about. When I write about racism and how the Church should respond to it, I am being real about a topic that others just want to whisper about.

As you know, God has given all of us gifts so that we can use them purposely. So, I write and blog about the tough stuff. I read the blogs of other folks who write about the tough stuff and how God helped them to endure their circumstances. I am encouraged by this online community, and I want you, the readers, to know about these fantastic voices.

Since my blog, afrotaticlady.com will be turning two (woot woot!) on August 27th, I have decided to do another blog series! The blog series, Blogging in His Light, is a showcase of admirable Christians who write and blog. Starting tomorrow and ending in late August, I will be posting interviews that I conducted with them.

If there was an awards show for Christian bloggers, these are the bloggers that should be recognized. Please join me in this celebration of my comrades in blogging.

Also, if you are a reader of blogs, please tell me who your favorite bloggers are?

Be blessed,

Monica aka afrotasticlady

When a Parent Grieves

When A Parent Grieves

I vowed to my friend that I would not talk about grief on the blog this year. I felt that my readers were probably sick of reading about my grief journey. Yet, I do not have the ability to read minds, so I do not really know what my readers are thinking. Honestly, I am the one who is sick of writing and talking about grief. I desire to pretend that grief moments do not exist. Those moments where I hear a certain song and think of my sister, Wanda. Those moments when the tears come. Those moments that my mom succumbs to the tears.

Back in December 2015, I claimed 2016 as my year of joy. Basically, I was not going to allow grief to arrest me. To break me in half. But I am not superhuman, and it was a mistake to believe that I would never be affected by grief. My mother and I have been affected. I know that my dad grieves, but it is not as visible to me as my mother’s grief. I am going to share how it feels to watch my mother grieve.

One of the churches in my city has experienced a series of deaths, which has produced empathy and sorrow within my mother and me. When a church member dies, it as though a family member has died. I believe that so much time can be spent in church, that you end having both warm conversations and arguments with other members. You celebrate milestones such as the upcoming birth of a baby or a person’s 80th birthday. Thus, it is very challenging when a church member dies, because you have witnessed so many events with this person.

My mother was particularly concerned with the death of the fourth person that died in this local church. She discussed the death with other folks and was interested in attending the wake or funeral. On one Sunday, I was driving my parents to church. We were listening to a poignant song, and I heard soft noises from my mother. She was crying, and I felt helpless. My mom missed my sister and her daughter. As I drove, I looked back at her face. Her eyes were crinkled, and her mouth was turned upside down. I wanted to jump out of my seat to give her a hug. I thought to myself, “It’s okay to cry, Mom.”

In American society, there is a timeline for acceptable grieving. After the first year, there are not as many phone calls or texts asking how you are doing. Life happens, and people have their own struggles. I understand that people cannot continue to check in with you. But there does not seem to be enough space for folks to process. To be free to cry in year two, year three or even year four.

So, my hope was that my mother did not stifle her tears. I desired for her to be the brave one. To express a courage that I struggled to have.

In church, my mother asked for prayer for the bereaved family and then she asked for prayer for herself. She explained to the congregation that she had been thinking about her own deceased daughter a lot. She cried again, and I wanted to race to her pew. She needed to be comforted, and I had to be the comforter. But my brother ended up moving to her pew and embraced her.

When a parent grieves, you subconsciously take on your parent’s role. You become what your parent was to you when you were little. When you scraped your knee, your mom gently wiped the bruised area with water, soap, and rubbing alcohol. Maybe, she even kissed the area in order to “make it all better.” I have realized that I cannot “make it all better.” Indeed, I can kiss my mom. I can allow her to cry and hug her. But I cannot save or heal her.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Even though, I want to be my mother’s protector, I have to remember that she has Jesus. When her heart splatters on the ground, Jesus is not afraid to see the blood and to wipe it up.

It was unreasonable of me to promise myself to not write about grief this year. There are other daughters and sons out there who are trying to be the solution to their parents’ mangled hearts. They are pushing themselves to be the ointment that only Jesus can be. I have to write about grief even when I am done with talking about it, because I am still extracting lessons from the pain. I have to pass on what I have learned about grief to others.