My 9 Mile Jamaica, Blue Mountains Tour

While standing in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica 3000 feet above sea-level, a Rastafarian looked at me and told me that I was beautiful, like a dream. That is my sentiment toward Jamaica. Yes, I went as a tourist but I have fallen in love. The blue, expansive sky, the brilliant stars at night, the ocean crashing against the shore – I can dig it.  I look back on it and think, it was truly a beautiful, wonderful dream.

Below is a recap of my 9 Mile Tour, the home and resting place of reggae legend Bob Marley.

 

A Candid Look – Shirene Hicks

When I was a young woman, I knew the life I wanted but I had no idea how to get there. I understand what it is like to have to forge your own way through uncharted territory. When I meet someone, who has done just that, I choose to celebrate her. I am excited to share my conversation with Shirene Hicks.

Shirene is a minister of the gospel, radio host, author, and police officer.  I would describe her as a modern day super heroine with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other – carrying the law of the Lord and the land. She is a devoted wife and mother of three beautiful girls. Who says a woman cannot have it all?

  1. Who is Shirene Hicks?

I am the founder of Breaking Through Barriers Ministries. I am an ordained minister.  I am the author of the book, “365 days of Tears”. I have also been a law enforcement officer for the past 13 years.  Currently, I host a weekly radio show every Monday on 1570 am from 4:30-5:00pm. The goal of my radio show is to inspire both hearts and minds. I am working towards a second Master’s degree at Loyola University in counseling. I enjoy spending quality time with my husband and three children.

I am called to missions and the prophetic. I recently visited Haiti and I had a life changing experience. I have a love and desire to help those that are in need. I find comfort while on the mission field. It is my opportunity to humbly give back and minister to others. Over a decade ago I discovered my calling.  Through dreams I saw myself traveling the world and digging wells. I knew then that I had an awesome mission ahead.

  1. What do you absolutely love to do?

One thing that I absolutely love to do is travel.  I enjoy traveling both domestically and internationally.

  1. What is fear to you and how have you overcome fear?

Fear is a stumbling block and it prevents progress.  I had to overcome fear when being vocal about feminism.  I am a feminist.  I am interested in equality.  My goal is not to bash men but to fight for equality among women. When I identify myself as a feminist, I am often judged especially by my male counterparts.  I overcame fear by accepting who I was called to be.

  1. What is your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment is finishing my book, 365 Days of Tears, within a two-month time frame. During that time, I had an infant daughter that I also had to care for. Every morning after, when she was sound asleep, I would sit up and write from 2 am to 5 am.

  1. What is the goal of your ministry? How do you measure its success?

The goal of my ministry is to preach the kingdom of God in a way that will draw all to Christ.  I measure my ministry success by the change that is evident in others.  In the near future, I am working on opening up my very own counseling center.  I am currently working on a second book.  I am also building a global women’s ministry. A ministry where women can come together and build one another up. A ministry that will allow room for travel, retreats, and other outings.

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Website: prophetessshirenehicks.com for upcoming speaking engagements and conferences.

356 Days of Tears is available on Amazon also available at nextcenturypublishing.com

Upcoming events:

Breaking Through Barriers Ministries Prayer call begins on January 1, 2018 at 7 pm. Dial in # (563)999-2090 access #338929 playback# (563) 999-2099. The prayer call is every Monday.

 

From Soldier of War to Children’s Author – Vera Harris

I find women veterans fascinating. Women all over the country have been raising their collective voices in the #metoo campaign, sharing stories of sexual violation. From Harvey Weinstein to Bill Cosby, we are seeing evidence of how years of protected patriarchy leaves women vulnerable to abuse. So, there is something powerful about a woman soldier. Vera Harris is a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Army having earned the distinguished honor of being the first female Command Sergeant Major to serve in an Armored Cavalry Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Vera has taken on a different battle in her retirement from the armed forces; that of an author of children’s books. I had the honor of interviewing her recently.

Why do you write children’s books?

I was inspired by my grandson to write children’s picture books because I wanted not only my grandson but other children to develop a love for reading. I enjoy reading. I have been a reader all my life and I noticed that my grandson struggled with reading. So, I decided to write easy sight words so that kids like him could develop the courage to read (and) would enjoy what reading brings. Reading will help them develop into leaders and productive citizens. In my experience, most readers are great leaders and introducing children to the art of reading will help kids become great leaders in school, in their communities and in their circle of friends.

What impact do you hope your books will have on others?

The main impact that I hope my books will have on others to encourage young children to enjoy and develop a love for reading books so that the love of books will follow them into adult life.

What was the biggest obstacle to you becoming an author and how did you overcome it?

One of the biggest obstacles to becoming an author is writing books that will engage young minds. I am learning more from veteran authors, from training, and conferences that specialize in helping authors improve their writing. I write from experience and from my imagination, so I am constantly working on books that will open up children’s imagination as well.

What should we expect from Vera Harris in the future?

I am excited about the future! I am currently working on my fourth children’s picture book which will be released in 2018. And since becoming a published author, I have been invited to speak at some events. I am enjoying and learning so much on this journey!

From defending our freedom as Americans to championing literacy for children, Ms. Harris is a true American Hero. You can connect with Ms. Harris by the following:

Happy Reading by Vera Harris

Vera Harris
Vera Harris of Happy Reading by Vera

Amazon.com/author/veraharris

Happy Reading by Vera – Facebook

Instagram: @vharris5413

Twitter: @vharris5413

A Most Powerful Prayer

There was a season in my life when I felt like a lioness spiritually.  I could check several things of of my how to be righteous checklist. My prayer game was strong. Check. I had completed reading the entire bible. Check. I paid my tithes on time. Check. My life was so full. I had church, singing, school, family, and friends.  No idle time for the devil to make a playground of.

I was truly asking, believing, and receiving. Feeling self-assured, I decided to ask a bold prayer:

  1. God reveal to me those who are not for me.

It was a prayer that I felt I already knew the answer to. At the time, I naively, believed that I had no enemies. To me knowledge, I had not mistreated anyone. So, I expected nothing to happen.  And then something happened. People started to fall away from my life. I am talking about folk who I thought were my day ones, my ride-or-dies. I look back on it and wonder – wow. It was swift and exact like a two-edged sword.

God will answer your prayers so be careful what you ask. Your frame of mind matters. Ask from a pure heart and not spiritual arrogance, as was my case.

I am older now. I have gone through a process of forgiving, even when the the person has not acknowledged or asked for forgiveness. I realize that Christ has forgiven, and keeps forgiving me without adding each offense to my account. Isn’t that a beautiful thing – grace? All of it stems from God’s love for me. It is infinite and complete. One of my goals in life is to love completely.

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Twenty years older and wiser, I have decided to edit that prayer. I now pray:

  1. God reveal to me those who truly love me.

The good people God allows in our life are a gift. I don’t want to overlook anyone in my life who may be feeling unappreciated. Like Dorothy in Oz, we can spend our lives on an a wistless journey to find favor of impotent wizardly friends. People who we feel that if we can garner their favor they can provide access to some secret loyalty or treasure that has been kept from us. Family and friends – these are the true treasures of life. If you have people who truly love you, you are rich.

 

A Strange Thanksgiving Ritual

The candied corn has not even grown stale and Christmas decorations are all over Indy. The lights have been strung from the top of Monument Circle. Christmas music is playing on radio stations.

Attention people! You will put some RESPEK on Thanksgiving.

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And, why not? In our materialistic and selfie-driven world, Thanksgiving allows us to focus on so many people and trappings we take for granted.  It is the time of year in which we are advised to make a list of things for which we are grateful. Some familiar tropes come to mind;  family, employment, home, safety, the usual suspects.

For an unusual ritual, how about being grateful for the issue that causes you the most angst. What is it that you must overcome to be faithful to the thing you love?

I was an avid reader as a child. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I remember a family friend gave me free access to his bookcase. I selected the thickest set of books I could find. It was Victor C. Andrews, Flowers in the Attic series. As an adult, I understand that this not exactly classic literature. Each book was over 400 pages and I saw completely each one as a challenge.  Those tales intrigued and frightened me. Words on a page could elicit such strong emotion.  This love of reading grew into a desire to create stories that would allow my readers to feel – love, longing, courage, gratitude.

I love to write. It is my calling and my passion. My biggest hindrances to writing as a career are time, work/financial obligations, fear and self-doubt. How can I afford health insurance if I am a writer? What if I am unable to sell my books? What if I reveal too much and people judge me? The struggle is real. The love of writing compels me to sacrifice for the thing I love most. My obstacles push me to not give up. I fight for time to create.

The truth is your problem serves a purpose (courtesy of TD Jakes). If I did not have financial obligations, I may not launch a marketing campaign large enough. In essence, I may just play it safe and small. When the odds are against you, you have to play big. Challenges can be the springboard to success. Ask yourself, what can I learn from this hardship? How can I use it to my advantage.

I am grateful for the struggle. I know I cannot take one second or opportunity for granted. I know I must be ready and not ‘getting’ ready when the big break presents itself. It is hard but that is the point. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

What challenge are you grateful for?