June 2016, Reading For Life

A Review of: Battle Scars of the Mind

June_2016.RFL

June 2016, Witness at Work

Kelli Knight: Graphic Designer, Author and Mom

What the World Needs Now

by Sharon Furrate Bailey
Kelli Knight, owner of Illuminated Designs Studio. Photo by Tina B. Photos: www.tinabphotos.com
Kelli Knight, owner of Illuminated Designs Studio. Photo by Tina B. Photos: www.tinabphotos.com

Kelli Knight has been a graphic designer for 21 years. She started her graphics business, Illuminated Designs Studio, after serving as the public relations assistant for the American Red Cross in Southeast Louisiana for two years. She worked for the ARC while living in New Orleans, but while out on maternity leave with her son, there were many management changes implemented by a new CEO. The dynamics of the local operations had been reorganized and were no longer a good fit.

Kelli says she felt this was a sign from God that it was time for a new direction. Her husband took a job with LSU and her family moved back to Baton Rouge where she decided to begin her graphic design business. Kelli says that she feels blessed to have each of her clients and to be designing and assisting them daily with their graphics needs because not only has her career allowed her to be creative, but it has also allowed her to be a hands-on mom to her two children, Aidan and Lilli. To her, being a mom is her most cherished job.

Kelli believes what the world needs now is patience and kindness, two attributes that she truly believes have helped her maintain long-lasting relationships with her clients. Through word of mouth she continues to build her clientele, which is partly due to her ability to exude patience to others. When one is dealing with a client’s marketing needs, it is paramount to listen to that person and strive to get the project completed to his or her specifications.

Kelli shared a motto she lives by, “If someone is asking for help, it means that person needs help.” This is the reason that she volunteers her time, and another reason that people are drawn to her both as a friend and designer. Kelli and I have also worked together on graphic design projects over the years and her patience is like a salve to those working with her. She has the ability to soothe and calm clients and make one feel at peace, as well as an uncanny ability to assure clients that all things will work together.

Kelli currently has a number of projects in the works for various clients, some new and some old, but the blessings continue to find her. A little more than one year ago, Beth Townsend, publisher of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine, found Kelli, and she has been designing the magazine since its inaugural issue.

Kelli is a witness to others and here is her own personal story of faith:

Q: As a Catholic, what do you feel has impacted your life over the years and what makes the Catholic faith so special for you?

A: I was raised in the Catholic faith and there are many things about being Catholic that keep me fulfilled. St. Jude is my parish and the main thing I like about being part of the congregation is the sense of community that it brings to my family and me. Every morning I recite the rosary. I have a strong connection to the Blessed Mother and feel that this meditative time is a positive start to my day. I feel she and her son are watching over my family and me. I attend mass regularly and feel the Liturgy of the Word and homily speak to me differently each week. Mass reminds me of the true purpose of our life, and that is to “serve our neighbor.” The readings remind us to follow Jesus and His divine plan, which makes me reflect on one of my favorite scripture verses:

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20 

I have found this scripture to be one I can depend on when work and life are tough. It reminds me to stay strong in my faith. The intimacy that connects me to Christ is not only found in this verse, but also as I receive the body and blood of Christ through the Eucharist at Mass. After receiving communion, the connection with Him is more intimate. He is in me, with me and beside me, and my faith lets me know without a doubt that all things are possible to those who believe.

Q: As a professional graphic designer, which is a competitive field, to what do you attribute your success, and can you share about some of the clients you assist?

The anniversary edition of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine designed by Kelli.
The anniversary edition of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine designed by Kelli.

A: My goal with any client is to give them amazing artwork as well as to build a long-lasting relationship. I do take on clients that may need help with a single project, but my hope is to create a connection. Patience and kindness are two attributes I have heard from others that I extend to my clientele. As long as I can give clients the time, understanding, and effort they deserve I feel it will help maintain the success I have had over the years.

Currently some of my clients include: The Silver Sun, S & S Printing, Planet Coupon, The Middleburg Institute, City Bucks and Tiger Bucks coupon books and Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine. I’ve even had clients as far away as Australia. I created the logo for Loss Response Restoration Service in Australia. Another client I have enjoyed assisting is Rhymes ‘N’ Times, Turner Educational Products. It’s an international company, and I had the opportunity to design the entire series of books (in English and Spanish) and created “Sherman,” the interactive character for their DVDs. I still am friends with Anita, the owner/developer of the company.

I also have to share about when Beth reached out to me to do the design and layout of the magazine. A few years back, prior to her contacting me, I had attempted to create a Facebook page that shared positive news and thoughts, but it never took. When Beth called me to share about her endeavor to produce a magazine filled with Christian-based, positive, encouraging and life-changing stories. I was very excited and eager to be a part of BRCLM. The magazine has now been out for over a year, and every month is filled with amazing testimonies to the good that is happening here in our city and beyond. The advertisers are very loyal, and the content in the magazine is the type of news I was striving to share on Facebook. This project helps me remain creative and also share positive stories from others.

Q: Have you encountered a time when one of your clients encouraged you or helped you in some way on your faith walk?

A: Carol Thomas, publisher of City Bucks and Tiger Bucks, has been a client of mine since the late 1990s. Carol’s faith has inspired me because she literally never gives up on something she feels called to do. She has been fervent in prayer and her belief in God which had guided her in her career. Tiger Bucks is still going strong, now run by her daughter, Jennifer, and City Bucks, a book full of restaurant offers, is used as a fundraising tool for schools in the area.

City Bucks came about after trying for many years to get another publication off the ground. As we sat in the printer’s office one day, I remember she led us all in prayer while working on her publication. (The other coupon book was never produced though there was lots of interest and materials in place to launch it.) Out of that situation, City Bucks was birthed and it has been a phenomenal tool for the schools in this area that sell it.

Q: How can the body of Christ be more unified?

A: Praying for one another is something we can all do whatever your denomination is. Prayer is how we all can speak to God, touch others, and prayer is powerful. In my own personal life, I have found that if a prayer is not answered in the way I wanted or asked, it tends to get answered in a better way.

Q: What charities or organizations are you involved in and why?

Kelli with (L to R) son Aidan, French exchange student Charles Druguet, and daughter Lilli in summer 2015.
Kelli with (L to R) son Aidan, French exchange student Charles Druguet, and daughter Lilli in summer 2015.

A: St. Jude is my church and I’m active there in various ways. I lead St. Jude’s Children’s Liturgy of the Word. We take the children, ages pre-k through second grade, during mass and read the readings and give the homily at a level that helps them to understand the message being conveyed. Secondly, I am actively involved in Girl Scouts. My daughter, Lilli, was a Girl Scout, and I like that the girls learn responsibility and we emphasize how to be kind to each other. It can get harried at times when a bunch of girls are together, but they are learning how to be kind despite disagreements or differences.

Currently, I am a Girl Scout Service Unit Administrator over nine troops. I assist the troop leaders throughout the year with activities such as our camping trip, our daddy /daughter dance, and our awards ceremonies.

My family has also been a host family for French exchange students during the last three summers. It’s very difficult to find families to take these kids into their homes, but it is a very rewarding experience. We become family to the kids that we’ve hosted and we love doing it.

Q: Besides being a graphic designer, you have also written books and have had them published. Share with us about your books.

A: One of the books, “Cookie the Christmas Cat,” is very special because Lilli illustrated it. She and I are huge softies for animals and melt when we see pets needing homes. One hundred percent of the profits go to organizations that find forever homes for pets.

"Love for Dunces," written by Kelli. She also designed the book cover.
“Love for Dunces,” written by Kelli. She also designed the book cover.

“Love for Dunces” is my other book. It was written based on my own high school band crush, and I just love, love, love this story. I think it is relevant to so many women and girls because so many of us have had band obsessions. If you ever dreamed about meeting your celebrity crush, you will totally get “Love for Dunces.” It’s also very wholesome and stresses family bonds and friendships. So, for anyone with a teen daughter, this one may be the book to order. You can find both books on Amazon.com or at kellissimo69.wix.com/kellissimo or facebook.com/kellissimeaux

Q: What would you like to share as a word of encouragement to those reading your personal faith journey?

A: One of the stories I read in Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine had a quote in it that has never left my mind: “Our gifts are not from God to us, but from God THROUGH us to GIVE to others.” Writing and designing seem to be a couple of gifts God has given me, but patience and kindness are gifts we can all give to others, and we can use them daily to help people have a brighter day. To me, it is what the world needs now.

Check out her handiwork at illuminateddesignsstudio.com or facebook.com/illuminateddesignsstudio or contact her at illuminatedds@cox.net.

 

BRCLM Lagniappe, June 2016

Anniversary Ministry Mix

Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine celebrated its anniversary with a gathering of ministries in late April at the YMCA. It was a positive and informative experience for all who participated and attended. 

Photos by Rhett Townsend
All attendees
All attendees
Guitar Ministries
Guitar Ministries
Gardere Community Christian School
Gardere Community Christian School
Bringing Leadership Back
Bringing Leadership Back
LSU Cru
LSU Cru
Children's Cup
Children’s Cup
Baton Rouge HOG Soldier Outreach
Baton Rouge HOG Soldier Outreach
Christian Youth Theater
Christian Youth Theater
Kids Hope USA
Kids Hope USA
Empowered Rocks
Empowered Rocks
Southern Christian Writers Guild
Southern Christian Writers Guild

June 2016, Pastor's Perspective

A Father’s Discipline and His Unfailing Love

by Dr. Rene F. Brown
Dr. Rene Brown
Dr. Rene Brown

The other day I was having lunch with several friends, and we invited a lady to join our table as they were discussing politics, religion, and solutions to America’s problems. I found it interesting that in all of their discussion they were not able to apply biblical solutions to the discussion. I chose to remain silent throughout their dialogue because I wanted to see what many people think about issues that I learned early on should not be talked about in public, namely religion and politics.  On several occasions, they talked about what fathers and mothers are not doing and what schools need to do, what is wrong with the government, etc. With June being the month of Father’s day, I thought I would share in the words of what my former pastor, Dr. W. L. Templeton, calls “scattering remarks.”

My father has always been and still is my greatest hero. So many of the values he instilled in me are the things I cherish the most.  Although he suffers from Alzheimer’s now, I remember many of the talks we had as we worked side by side. I also remember the discipline I received from him growing up. I didn’t like discipline then, and I don’t care for it now. However, I remember on one particular occasion I had to go to the doctor. I have always been afraid of doctors, needles and shots. Whenever I had to go to the doctor I would really act up and so my mother would have my father take me.

On this particular occasion, the doctor was going to give me a tetanus shot because I had stepped on a nail. My father said, “Don’t look at the doctor, look at me.” He said this several times and with a stern sort of confidence, so I felt it was in my best interest to do what my father said. After all, I had experience with the kind of pain he could inflict if you disobeyed him.  The doctor was the one who was going to inflict pain, but if I stayed focused on the one who loved me and could ease my pain it would make the shot easier to take. When people or life causes us pain, if we could somehow stay focused on the heavenly father, the one who loves us and can ease the pain, things would be easier for us. Let us examine God’s word to help us expound upon the subject of a Father’s discipline and his unfailing love.

Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Deuteronomy 8:4 says, “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. Job 5:17 says, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”

In Hebrews 12:4-11 it is written, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

God disciplines us because we have rebelled and need to repent, to keep us from sinning, and to prepare us for blessings. It is through discipline that we are able to mature in Godly character. No matter how much it hurts, discipline doesn’t harm us, but instead makes us stronger, giving us wisdom through learned experiences.

The proverbial writer further explains the importance of discipline in our lives. Proverbs 22:15 tells us, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 23:13-14, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” And lastly, Proverbs 29:15 explains, “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.”

Looking back over my life, I could never put a price tag on the things that J. C. Brown Sr. taught me. Oh how I long to draw words of wisdom from him now, but that is difficult. However, I can always draw wisdom from the word of God. Often times we know the price of everything but don’t know the value of anything. It took me a long time to understand the value of the word of God in a person’s life. The first 25 years of my life were spent trying to please my earthly father.  It was not until I got into the word of God that I realized how much more valuable it was to please my heavenly father.

If God’s people would come back to him and seek his guidance many of our problems would be solved. We receive God’s guidance by first learning God’s truth, which is revealed in his word. And it is through his word that we gain the ultimate key to wisdom. Thus, I will close with the words of Proverbs 3:1-4, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

June 2016, Millennial Life

The Arduous Odyssey of Self Discovery

by Trapper S. Kinchen

(Editor’s note: Julie is a pseudonym for the counselor interviewed for this article.)

FullSizeRender-6We, millennials, find ourselves in this transient space between who we were as children and who we will be as adults. It doesn’t matter if you are 13 or 35 — undoubtedly you are bound on the great and unchanging odyssey of self-discovery undertaken by each generation since the birth of creation.

Time propels each of us forward on an expedition to unlock who we are, apart from our parents, separate from what we’ve been taught. We work toward finding life-affirming careers, healthy romances, honest friendships and most importantly, an authentic relationship with God. Sometimes, along the way, our newly discovered personal truths and experiences diverge from the sentiments and facts instilled into us as children.

That separation between what we thought we knew and what we now hold to be true sometimes stalls us with a song of self-doubt and dread, and we often find ourselves in need of a little support and encouragement along the way.

I recently sat down with Julie, a friend of mine who works as a faith-based counselor on the Northshore. She specializes in individual and family therapies and works with a great many people our age. Her job is essentially to offer encouragement, and provide her clients with the tools they need to navigate their day-to-day lives as healthily as possible.

Each of the people she treats represents a unique personal history. The traumas, experiences and circumstances that bring them to her practice are incredibly diverse, but the usual motivations that spur her millennial clients into counseling are stress, anxiety and fear. Sometimes these symptoms manifest in varying degrees of depression, compulsive behavior and/or an urge to self-harm.

PI_2015-04-09_teensandtech_05As the 21st century carves its way through American culture, technology continues to play an ever-increasing role in how we exercise our minds, bodies and spirits. Julie sees firsthand the consequences that widespread overdependence on technology is having on millennials. “Comparing ourselves to other people isn’t new. But, with mobile devices, technology is constantly in our face. A general feeling of inadequacy is practically inescapable these days,” Julie said.

It’s undeniable that social media has exacerbated our national obsession with individual success. We are continually bombarded with unrealistic beauty and material standards on platforms like Instagram, and are often left questioning our worth. Are we #important, #beautifulenough, #reachingnewlevels? We wonder why we don’t have a high enough paying job, a house of our own, a new vehicle, a cohort of attractive friends, a beautiful and affectionate romantic partner or a more symmetrical face. The cultural ideals one encounters on social media have the quiet ability to undermine our confidence.

PI_2015-04-09_teensandtech_01Modern technology has the potential to enrich our lives in ways no prior generation has ever been enhanced before. Skype and social media, for example, afford us the ability to maintain visual relationships with people clear across the globe. But like any other obsessive impulse, over time, technological codependence starts to snuff out our humanity.

The Pew Research Center discovered in 2015 that 24 percent of teens “go online almost constantly.” They also found that 71 percent of all teens use more than one social media site while online.  Such a heavy amount of Internet use is disconcerting because when we glut ourselves on visual media, our desire to live life to the fullest is undermined by a compulsion to sustain a captivating online presence.

All of the externally induced self-doubt we carry, mixed with the litany of heartache and worry each of us endures on the path to maturity, can manifest into depression, anxiety, panic, fear, low self-esteem, etc., and these symptoms become unmanageably enflamed when we ignore their underlying causes. The most cathartic way to confront and reconcile the roots of any emotional or psychological unrest is to seek counseling.

When deciding whether to see a mental health professional and what sort of help you might need, Julie emphasizes that there’s a great deal to consider. As a Christian, ministry-based treatment might be the right choice for you. The differences between faith-based counseling and traditional psychological analysis are not terribly deep, and Julie insists that each technique holds merit.

FullSizeRender-7“I use elements of both traditional analysis and faith-based principles in my counseling. How much I include of either depends on the individual I’m treating. Incorporating prayer and scripture into the healing process can be very beneficial if a person is open to them,” she said. The key is to find a counselor with whom you mesh well, and whose techniques you find effective. Pray about it. The Lord will ultimately lead you where you need to go if you ask Him.

It is also important to be proactive and take a dynamic role in your own healing. To start, do some online research on local counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists. Read about their unique counseling styles and approaches to treatment before making an appointment. If you know someone who is seeing or has previously seen a mental health professional, ask if they recommend their counselor.

If you’re a student, either in high school or college, there are already resources in place to help you combat these achingly negative feeling that might be weighing you down. Go to your school counselor or the mental health facility at your university, and they will act as a launching point for your journey to overall wellness. They can either treat you themselves, or recommend someone for you to see in private practice.

If you ever get to a place of total hopelessness and dejection, Julie recommends you go immediately to someone safe who loves you and let them know how you feel. If you do not have a person you can readily approach or trust, call your doctor or go to a reputable hospital and let them know you are severely depressed. Your physician can quickly refer you to a mental health professional, and all hospitals have at least one psychiatrist on staff that can help you in case of an emergency.

Julie emphasized that if someone ever comes to you with the intention to harm either themselves or others, get them to the nearest emergency room as quickly as possible so they can be treated by a medical professional.

Julie also has some suggestions for any parents who might be wondering how they can help their depressed, anxious or panicked child. “Leave judgment out of it,” Julie said. “If you want your teenage and adult kids to feel comfortable coming to you when they have problems, listen to them and offer them love and encouragement.” Additionally, be conscious not to add any additional pressure to your child’s emotional burden. Let them come to you when they seek guidance. Be ready to hear them. Advise them when they seek it, and provide them with a silent ear when they need someone to listen. Let them know they are loved and supported, not as children who need to be soothed or disciplined, but as capable, flourishing individuals.

PI_2015-04-09_teensandtech_10When I asked Julie what she thought most Christians commonly misconceive about therapy, she said, “People often think their problems are ‘all under the blood.’ They sometimes believe the abuse, trauma and uncertainty they experience can simply be offered up in prayer and that’s the end of it. Yes, the Lord wants us to be whole and healed, and he will help you process your pain and anxiety if you’ll let him. But, each of us has to play an active role in our own healing.”

Mental, emotional and psychological illnesses must be treated as such. God has provided us with plenty of resources to help us engage in complete and lasting wellness. Depression, anxiety, panic and self-hatred are, in essence, no different than broken bones. You would not try to set a shattered femur without the supervision of an orthopedist, would you? Nor should you feel you must weather the aftershocks of mental, physical or spiritual trauma alone and unguided. Let a counselor encourage and direct you through the pain.

The route to self-discovery is sharp and twisted. The terrain is perilous, and our missteps will be many, but we don’t have to undertake the expedition alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when it’s most needed and always remember to take your time and enjoy the journey.

Healthy Life, June 2016

The Y Wants Everyone to be Safe Around the Water

by Kristen Hogan
A child learns basic swim concepts during swimming lessons led by a YMCA instructor.
A child learns basic swim concepts during swimming lessons led by a YMCA instructor.

As swim season approaches, the Y encourages children and parents to explore the many benefits of swimming, while also keeping safety top of mind. In the Y’s swim programs, participants can enjoy water sports, enhance or learn new techniques, meet new friends and develop confidence, while also learning safety skills that can save lives.

“Water safety and swimming are important life skills in the growth and development of all children,” said Kristen Hogan. “All children deserve access to water safety resources that not only could save their lives, but enrich them with an outlet for fun, healthy activity.”

Parents should take an active role in their child’s safety. The following are safety tips to practice when in and around the water:

  • Only swim when and where there is a lifeguard on duty; never swim alone.
  • Adults should constantly and actively watch their children.
  • Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Parents or guardians of young children should be within an arm’s reach.
  • Children and adults should not engage in breath holding activities.

In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, children can increase their physical activity by swimming. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem. Additionally, it teaches life lessons based on sport and sportsmanship, so that children can learn how to work well with teammates and coaches and how to deal with winning and losing.

Children learn important water safety skills while also having fun during swim lessons at the Y.
Children learn important water safety skills while also having fun during swim lessons at the Y.

As a leading nonprofit committed to youth development, the Y has been a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety for more than 94 years. The Y continues to help youth and adults experience the joy and benefits of swimming so they can be healthy, confident and secure in the water. There are a variety of programs to choose from, including family swim, swim team, water aerobics, family swimming lessons, swim birthday parties and basic swimming lessons. To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate, financial assistance is available to those in need to help cover the costs. Contact your local YMCA for additional information.

Healthy Life, June 2016

Simple Meal Tips for Staying Fit

by Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Dr. Catherine Champagne
Dr. Catherine Champagne

LSU football players don’t rush into Tiger Stadium without first reviewing the films of their opposing team. You likely wouldn’t head out for a dinner date without (at the very least) first brushing your teeth and putting on a nice outfit. And you probably would never start a work presentation or project without first putting thought and effort into the task.

Any mission that you plan to succeed in requires just that—a good plan.

So why should eating healthy be any different?

Dr. Catherine Champagne, professor of dietary assessment and nutrition counseling at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, says the key to building a healthy diet is preparation.

“First of all, you have to know what you are eating. You really need to be counting your calories,” Dr. Champagne said. “That’s the only way to truly know how much you are consuming.”

Sure, counting calories may not exactly be your idea of a good time, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Dr. Champagne suggests starting with recipe guidelines. If you are preparing lasagna in a casserole dish, some of us would likely pull it out of the oven and cut a large slice, depending on how ravenous we felt. Instead, Dr. Champagne urges that the dish should be immediately portioned out—if the recipe calls for 12 servings and you cut the lasagna into 12 even pieces, you’ll have a better idea of the caloric content of your food and will be less likely to underestimate what you are actually eating.

If you’re preparing individual servings, Dr. Champagne advises that measuring cups and scales can be very helpful, and they often pair nicely with a variety of smartphone apps that help you count calories.

bigstock-Pasta-Meal-1095251“You don’t need to use these tools every time you eat something, but they give you a good idea to start with of how much of a food is in an actual serving. You’d be surprised how many people are eating twice or three times the actual serving size because they’ve never measured out a single serving,” Dr. Champagne said.

When you’re at the grocery store, Dr. Champagne suggests trying to stick to the outside perimeter of the store as much as possible, where much of the lean meat, fresh fruits and vegetables and other nutritious products are stocked. While you’re there, stick to your grocery list, which is far easier to follow when you shop on a full stomach.

“More things seem appealing when you’re hungry, and you might not have a craving for that snack or sugary dessert now, but once it’s inside your house, you are very likely to eat all of it,” Dr. Champagne said.

At home, Dr. Champagne believes the best way to start the day is by eating breakfast. She says the National Weight Control Registry shows that people who are successful at losing or maintaining weight normally eat breakfast.

What if you’re not a “breakfast person”? Not to worry! Dr. Champagne says that as long as you’re getting some form of nutrition into your system, even if it’s not typical breakfast food, you’ll reap benefits. If you’re someone who can’t stomach the idea of eating when you first wake up, Dr. Champagne said you will also find benefits of eating breakfast even if it’s around 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning.

“That way you’re not famished and tempted to severely overindulge,” Dr. Champagne says. “Oftentimes we see many significantly overweight people who only eat one meal per day and many times it’s dinner. By that time they’re so hungry it’s easy to gorge.”

When it comes to a diet regimen, Dr. Champagne says the most important aspect is choosing one that fits your lifestyle and that you can stick to for the long term. For herself, she consumes a relatively low-fat diet with larger portion of fruits and vegetables, some whole grain carbs and low in refined carbs.

“Fat has more than twice as many calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates,” Dr. Champagne said. “That means if I wanted to eat a higher-fat diet, I would have to eat much smaller portion sizes. If you just can’t live without that high-fat flavor, you can keep it in your diet, but you will certainly need to downsize the amount of food.”

To satiate her need for flavor on her dietary regimen, Champagne avoids full-fat products and sticks with light mayonnaise, light salad dressings and tries to roast or bake her meats instead of frying them.

Dr. Champagne also suggests cutting down on trips to restaurants, which are almost always packing food with hundreds—maybe even thousands—of extra calories to ensure flavor, and serving customers larger than normal portion sizes. If you decide to eat out, check out the menus online and decide what you’ll eat before you get to the restaurant and are tempted to order something that doesn’t fit in with your nutrition plans.

There are also great cooking and flavoring guidelines which dietitians like Dr. Champagne commonly suggest to help stay within your goals:

Butter and Margarine:

  • Spread it
  • Use a little jam instead of butter on toast, waffles or pancakes.
  • Use roasted garlic cloves on bread or to flavor potatoes.
  • Try the low-fat or fat-free versions of these foods on your baked potato:
    • Ranch dressing
    • Sour cream
    • Plain yogurt
    • Cottage cheese
  • Only use a teaspoon size amount of butter on bread, potatoes or rice.
  • Keep the butter off the table.
  • Try light butters.

High-Fat Gravy:

  • Use tomato sauces for meats.
  • Make light gravy by pouring off the fat and thickening the meat juices.
  • Use a package mix to make gravy.
  • Instead of gravy, baste meats wit broth, lemon juice or wine.
  • Refrigerate the meat drippings and broths and then remove the hardened fat before making gravy or sauce.
  • Try experimenting with different spices instead of gravy.

Salad Dressings and Mayonnaise:

  • Try the low-or non-fat versions.
  • Make your own low-fat dressing.
  • Dilute regular dressing with low-fat yogurt, vinegar, water or juice.
  • Use mustard, ketchup or a very thin layer of mayonnaise on sandwiches.
  • Beware of salads made with mayonnaise; use just enough to moisten the tuna, potato or macaroni.
  • Substitute mayonnaise with low-fat yogurt.

Cooking:

  • Instead of frying or deep-frying, try baking, broiling, steaming, microwaving, roasting or grilling.
  • Sauté using non-stick cooking sprays or broth, flavored vinegar or wine.
  • Drain off excess fat.
  • Use evaporated skim milk instead of cream for soups or sauces.

Add Flavor to Vegetables With These Items:

  • Lemon juice
  • Vinegar
  • Onions and garlic
  • Very lean ham
  • Herbs and spices
  • Bouillon cube

To succeed on the mission to eat healthy, start with a solid plan.  The first step is to know what you are eating in order to make healthy and informed choices.

Looking for healthy recipe suggestions? Check out the tasty and good-for-you ideas devised by Pennington Biomedical’s research kitchen dietitians: www.pbrc.edu/kitchen.  Here’s to your health!

Geaux Life, June 2016

Parkview Baptist: Global Missions Start at Home

School and Church Join Forces to Strengthen Mission Trips

by Lisa Tramontana
Pastor Rich Mayfield led a group of 25 students and adults to Nicaragua in March.
Pastor Rich Mayfield led a group of 25 students and adults to Nicaragua in March.

Not many experiences have the power to bring young people together like a mission trip. Encouraging them to share their faith while serving others creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for spiritual growth. Taking them out of their comfort zone gives them a fresh perspective, a new world view, and an instant appreciation for the blessings they take for granted in their daily lives. Leaders at Parkview Baptist School understand this, and have worked hard to help as many students as possible participate in the missionary experience.

In the spring of 2014, Parkview Baptist School and Parkview Baptist Church launched a strategic initiative to partner with each other on several mission trips. The idea was to enrich opportunities for students and their families to participate in church activities.

After all, the school is the largest private Christian school in Louisiana with nearly 1,300 students representing 90 churches and 13 denominations. Combining school and church resources strengthens both. A good example, according to Superintendent Don Mayes, is the recent trip to Diriamba, Nicaragua, which included a team of 25 adults and teens.

Nicaragua – Spring 2016

Students bonded with the Nicaraguan children during the trip.
Students bonded with the Nicaraguan children during the trip.

The group was hosted by Nicaragua Christian Outreach, an organization that works with about 25 teams each year. In Nicaragua, the team participated in house building, community feeding, and worship.

“It was a great experience for everyone,” said Rich Mayfield, associate pastor of Student Ministry, “but especially for the youth members, who were able to work side by side with the adults and even see their teachers in the act of service. We went door to door and fed 125 families. We prayed with them and worshipped with them. As for the people we helped, we built relationships that are just priceless.”

Students bonded with the Nicaraguan children during the trip.
Students bonded with the Nicaraguan children during the trip.

Mayes, Parkview’s Superintendent since 2013, adds that the relationships among the Parkview students are just as meaningful. “It’s a true bonding experience,” he said. “It makes our student relationships stronger than ever. It brings together students who normally would never cross paths with each other. It creates instant friendships among the kids.”

Parkview hosts several mission trips each year, and every single student is invested directly or indirectly. Even the kindergarten classes help raise money and donate gifts and supplies for their schoolmates who are preparing to visit another country. Teachers incorporate the mission trips into their geography and social studies lessons. The young missionaries share their experiences with the school after they return home.

Jamaica – Winter 2016
One trip that is reserved for high school students is the annual mission trip to Jamaica. During the winter break, 15 PBS high school students shared that experience. Their first lesson was an eye-opening realization that Jamaica is a country of extremes. Just past the beautiful resorts so predominant in glossy travel magazines — are the poverty-stricken neighborhoods where residents live in squalor with poor housing and inadequate access to clean water. The Parkview team ministered in St. Mary Parish, the poorest area on the island.

Before a gathering storm, the group holds hands and prays together.
Before a gathering storm, the group holds hands and prays together.

Mayes, who is also a 1988 PBS graduate, was a leader on the trip, and in his online blog, expressed his pride in the students who went through a number of challenges, including a missed flight that created a 22-hour trip just to arrive in Jamaica, and a rained-out beach day at the end of the trip. He wrote:

Our students treated each other with respect, participated in work tirelessly, worshiped honestly, were extremely flexible to the very end, and cared deeply for those they served. They came back with the satisfaction of putting in hard work and with an appreciation for what they have. I believe God used the trip to plant many seeds and to form many perspectives in our staff and students that will produce a harvest of growth and unity on our campus.

New York City – Spring 2015
Some mission trips take place here in the U.S. Just last spring, Mayfield led a mission trip to New York City and students helped the homeless and shared the Gospel. “Every trip we make really opens their eyes,” he said. “It has helped me realize new things as well.”

Mayfield stresses that all of the school’s mission trips combine discipleship and evangelism. It’s an important distinction. As Christians, he said, the team members are disciples sharing their faith. As evangelists, they are reaching out to non-believers and hopefully bringing them to a relationship with Christ.

A Vision for the Future
Although the student ministry program is already strong, Mayes would like to see it grow even more in the coming years. “I have a vision for the school,” he said. “I want our students to look beyond themselves and be sensitive to other cultures. I want them to be grateful for what they have. I want them to be thankful for their parents. Mission work makes them better people, better Americans, with the right attitude and perspective. I want our students to have service and love for Christ in their DNA.”

It looks like that is already happening. On the school website, there are photos and videos of students immersed in their global movement to spread the Gospel, live a life of service, and practice their Christian values.

For more information about Parkview Baptist School, call (225) 291-2500 or visit parkviewbaptist.com.

Feature Story, June 2016

Metanoia Manor: A Journey of Change

by Krista Bordelon
Breaking ground at Metanoia Manor at an undisclosed location .
Breaking ground at Metanoia Manor at an undisclosed location .

The bus was filled, the police escort in place, and the location secure. The elite gathering of some of the biggest names in Louisiana politics, law enforcement, business and church culture was not about bragging rights, but about addressing a devastating need right here in our city. A necessity to band together to fight one of the largest problems in our own backyard: human sex trafficking.

Recently elected Louisiana state Gov. John Bel Edwards was one of several to take the podium during the groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of Metanoia Manor. It may seem odd to see an elected government official standing arm-in-arm with a man of the faith, but the importance and strength of such a partnership was evident. It was a sentiment strongly supported by all in attendance, including District Attorney Hillar Moore who says, “There is no doubt how necessary this is.”

Edwards stressed this point saying, “This is an example of how the state can partner with the faith-based community to make a difference in the lives of so many people.” He continued his speech emphasizing that the majority of the victims of human trafficking are our most vulnerable citizens. “These children are being used as objects, most often not by strangers, but by [those they know]. It’s an unfathomable act happening right here where we raise our families. We have to have facilities like this. This program is needed. Our children need us to stand up and protect them. Many times we talk about how our future is all about our children, and it’s true, but we can’t just say that and not act. I’m very proud of this partnership. Getting this far has not been easy; there are lots of roadblocks out there. I want you to know how proud I am that the state government is not going to be one of those roadblocks.” In a private conversation following the speech, he said he wanted to stress to the faith-based community just how important it is to join forces and work together to support programs like these in our city.

Sen. Ronnie Johns, who is also a board member of Metanoia Inc., says the legislature strongly supports the endeavors of the 501(c)(3) organization in opening Metanoia Manor – a safe and secure facility for juvenile survivors of human sex trafficking – right here in Baton Rouge. In fact, legislation passed allowing the privately funded project to move forward was just one of many legislative acts made over the years to place Baton Rouge as a leader in the movement against human trafficking.

The list of the Metanoia board of directors alone speaks to the importance of this cause and the strength of the fight against human trafficking in Baton Rouge. The senator is joined by Metanoia founder father Jeff Bayhi of St. John’s Catholic Church and Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church, Lt. Chad Gremillion of the Louisiana State Police Department, Sharon Pol executive director of Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center, attorney George Bayhi, the Rev. Leo Cyrus of New Hope Baptist Church, Michael McDuff of the Louisiana State Contractor’s Board, David Ferris from the Louisiana Attorney General’s High Tech Crimes Unit, Bobby Gaston from the Louisiana Sheriffs Association, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, attorney Katherine Green, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Gail Grover, and Dr. Roberta Vicari of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

The home will be run and the rescued girls will be nurtured by nuns from around the world who are uniquely qualified for this monumental task.
The home will be run and the rescued girls will be nurtured by nuns from around the world who are uniquely qualified for this monumental task.

The issue of human trafficking may be a big one, but Louisiana is willing to put its big guns into the battle against it. In fact, this has not just been an issue for the current governor. Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson began speaking with former Gov. Bobby Jindal about making this a top priority here in Louisiana, and together they made sure the issue did not go unaddressed. In the past several years there have been more than 550 confirmed human trafficking cases in Louisiana. “They’re from all over. Right here in Baton Rouge, right here in New Orleans, in Alexandria, in Lafayette, in Lake Charles, and Shreveport, and Monroe and all the points in between. This is absolutely necessary for the victims who have nowhere to go,” Edmonson says. Lt. Chad Gremillion, who has just recently seen the rescue of two victims, one in Shreveport and one in New Orleans, wholeheartedly agrees.

In 2014, legislation passed that helped in training law enforcement to identify victims and protect them by asking the right questions and knowing the red flags. Training them in making a “rescue” instead of simply making an arrest. Sister Eugenia Bonetti, an Italian nun and coordinator of the Counter-Trafficking Office for Women and Children, played a large role in raising awareness of the issues by sharing her expertise – that spans across two decades and around the globe – with the legislators. In fact, it was a trip to Rome and Sister Eugenia that emboldened the vision of Metanoia Manor in Bayhi.

While in Rome in 2002-2003 for the television show he produces for a station out of Boston, Bayhi was introduced to Sister Eugenia by a friend, who at the time was serving as the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. Sister Eugenia is in charge of 250 nuns around the world who focus on the rescue of victims of human trafficking, as well as focusing on helping the Catholic Church provide better pastoral care for women forced into prostitution. Additionally, she appeared in the documentary “Not My Life,” was included in the Inside the Vatican “Top 10 People of 2007” list and won the International Women of Courage Award and the European Citizens’ Prize (as found on Wikipedia).

So when Bayhi led a small group of eight to Rome to investigate the possibilities of opening a facility for juvenile female victims of sex trafficking, she was the obvious choice as a “guide” through the world of human trafficking. Bayhi, Bobby Gaston, Ph. D., Suzan Gaston, Ph. D., Sen. Ronnie Johns, the Rev. Dr. Rodney Wood, Rebeccah Wood, Col. Mike Edmonson and Suzanne Edmonson spent their time in the fall of 2014 at the Vatican witnessing and participating first hand in the world they were about to embark on right here in our city.

For years, Bayhi observed what he perceived to be voluntary prostitution in Italy, but Sister Eugenia helped open his eyes to the dark truth of the sex industry. “I feel strongly that someone needs to make up for the sins of men. Men have made this mess, and men don’t need to sit by and let women clean up the mess we’ve made,” Bayhi says. He is quick to point out that this is not about sex. Human trafficking is a dark aspect of living in a culture that has so devalued human life that we view other humans only in terms of profit, pleasure or possession.

From the left: The Rev. Dr. Rodney Wood and wife Becky, Father Jeff Bayhi, Gov. John Bel Edwards, Sen. Ronnie Johns, Bobby Gaston, PhD., and Suzan Gaston, PhD. Colonel Mike Edmonson, Superintendent of the State Police and wife, Suzanne Edmonson were not able to attend, but they were members of "The Group of Eight."
From the left: The Rev. Dr. Rodney Wood and wife Becky, Father Jeff Bayhi, Gov. John Bel Edwards, Sen. Ronnie Johns, Bobby Gaston, PhD., and Suzan Gaston, PhD. Colonel Mike Edmonson, Superintendent of the State Police and wife, Suzanne Edmonson were not able to attend, but they were members of “The Group of Eight.”

He goes on to explain, “When it’s not this it will be something else. What’s next? Will we be paying others to abort their children so we can sell their parts instead of having them pay us? This is our culture; there will always be something to fight. God always leads us where we never intended to go.” He says that asking, “Why?” is the wrong question. Instead we need to be asking “What?” and we just need to do it. “I grew up in a stable, loving Lebanese family [right here in Baton Rouge]. I cannot even imagine people being used in this way,” Bayhi says. “But I bear the responsibility for other men who, for their own selfish pleasures, engaged in this. We have to address it. What do we need to do to rectify this?”

Many in our state were introduced to the issue of human sex trafficking in our city through the efforts of another local nonprofit that focuses on these issues in our state, Trafficking Hope Louisiana. Through immense community support they launched a widespread awareness campaign and opened the first rehabilitation facility of its kind in our area for adult female victims, but the need is still greater than anything being met at this point.

“It is important that our community and state provide a loving home for girls under the age of 18 because there is nothing like this in Louisiana, or in the south for that matter. It is important that the private sector become involved through donations because the state of Louisiana is low [on funds]. What better than a partnership between the state and a faith sponsored 501(c)(3) to work on these problems? Because of serious counseling and substance abuse costs, the annual budgets need financial assistance. That, plus staffing a 10,000 square foot facility, is not cheap, especially with the cost of keeping these girls away from their traffickers who are losing thousands of dollars a week. By not taking state money, Metanoia will be able to develop plans that will make it possible to handle these girls like parents would,” says Dr. Bobby Gaston.

And who will be there to “mother” these girls? Who better than a handful of nuns from around the world who have each been called specifically to help with the task of rehabilitating trafficking survivors. The assigned sisters – from India, the Philippines, Madagascar and Nigeria – who prefer to stay out of the limelight and focused on the work assigned to them, may each be from a different area of the world, but they all share one very strong common bond in their hearts. The sisters carry a presence with them that is the absolute picture of “though she be but little, she is fierce.”

Father Jeff Bayhi speaks of the plans for building, and the need to raise money and gain community support.
Father Jeff Bayhi speaks of the plans for building, and the need to raise money and gain community support.

“The power the nuns carry is incredible,” Bayhi shares. “Through them we’ve seen the power God’s presence can bring to a situation.” These women fiercely love, fiercely serve and fiercely seek the will of the father in their dealings with the lives of these young girls who have been so misguided, so broken and so tortured by the world around them. When asked what it is that drew them in, they simply said, “God did.”

Local pastor and prison rights advocate Ashanti Witherspoon knows firsthand the harm of human trafficking, even in the church. The human trafficking department of the sheriff’s office found his daughter before she could get on the bus to leave. She had run away from home but was captured that evening. She had met a man who came to a local church with a traveling evangelist, and his charm drew her in instantly. “They said we probably almost lost her. Had she been able to catch the bus, we might never have seen her again, but the quick response of praying Christians and law enforcement stopped her flight. We were told that she might have been grabbed before the bus arrived at its destination,” Witherspoon says. Luckily, their story had a happy ending, but it proves a major point: no one is safe or unaffected by this issue.

Church, state and law enforcement will be working together to ensure Metanoia Manor’s safety.
Church, state and law enforcement will be working together to ensure Metanoia Manor’s safety.

It is still groundbreaking work surrounded by trial and error and compromise. A step-by-step journey in which the next steps may not be fully known yet, but no one is turning back. As bishop Robert Muench prayed at the ceremony he asked the Lord to, “Fill us with righteous anger and sacred passion to whole-heartedly combat [this]. Help us to be ministers of prayer and healing, peace and justice, for those adversely affected and to effectively overcome.”

For more information on the project or to donate to the Metanoia building fund, please visit the website metanoia-inc.org.

BRCLM Lagniappe, June 2016

Remembering Mark H. Hunter

June_2016.MHHR

June 2016, Learning For Life

Author’s Life Mission Result of Family Tragedy

by Lisa Tramontana
Stacie Triche and her 14-year-old nephew Charlie Stroud, who died in March 2015.
Stacie Triche and her 14-year-old nephew Charlie Stroud, who died in March 2015.

Just a year ago, Stacie Triche of Hammond was promoting her first book, a young adult novel with an anti-bullying theme. Then her 14-year-old nephew died, and her world changed. Stacie’s literary work continues, but now, she has added activism to her resume, promoting awareness of the deadly practice that took her nephew’s life.

Charlie Stroud was a fun-loving boy, a good student and an accomplished athlete in Hancock, Miss. One day at school, a classmate took a can of keyboard air duster from a teacher’s desk and inhaled it. Called “huffing,” it’s a cheap thrill that has become fairly common among teenagers and young adults. The classmate told Charlie it was no more dangerous than sucking helium from a balloon.

A few weeks later, Charlie decided to try it at home while he was playing video games with his best friend. He huffed from an aerosol can of Dust Off  (a keyboard cleaner), and then stood up and said he felt sick. His friend offered to go and get help, but Charlie said he just needed to lie down. Ten minutes later, his friend checked on him, but Charlie was unresponsive. He asphyxiated and then suffered a heart attack, also known as “Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome.”

Huffing is the deliberate inhalation of fumes, vapors, or gases from common household products such as canned air, air fresheners, even whipped cream (with nozzles powered by a dose of nitrous oxide). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it’s a dangerous practice that can become highly addictive, and sometimes kills first-time users.

Stacie, of course, was devastated. Charlie, whose mother had died when he was very young, was like a son to Stacie. The main characters in her book, “Concealed Names,” were named after Charlie and his sister.  Charlie loved “Concealed Names” and had told Stacie he believed it should be made into a movie. He said he couldn’t wait for her to release the second book in the four-part series.

Stacie shared her story with HLN personality Nancy Grace.
Stacie shared her story with HLN personality Nancy Grace.

After Charlie’s death, Stacie had a new mission. “I learned as much as I could about huffing,” she said. “I learned that 22.5 million Americans are abusing household products to get high, and 15 million of them are under the age of 18. Thousands of children die each year from inhalant abuse. I started going to schools and educating kids. I went on CNN and other news shows sharing my nephew’s story … anything to let people know about this dangerous practice.”

She revised her book as well, introducing a new character and a new storyline about huffing. Recalling Charlie’s idea that the book would make a good movie, Stacie pursued that dream as well. In a stroke of unbelievable good luck, she attracted the attention and interest of Lisa Arnold and Jarred Coates, who produced the recently released Christian film “God’s Not Dead.” They are seeking funding and once the financing is secured, there are plans to shoot the film in Hammond and Baton Rouge.

Educating schoolchildren on the dangers of huffing has become Stacie Triche’s mission.
Educating schoolchildren on the dangers of huffing has become Stacie Triche’s mission.

The film will have a strong anti-bullying message, and will promote awareness of inhalant abuse and Asperger’s Syndrome. Statistics show that more than 50 percent of children would never try an inhalant if they were warned of the dangers. “That means more than 7 million kids’ lives could be saved with the release of this movie,” Stacie said.

Her inspiration for “Concealed Names” came from a childhood visit to Cate Square Park in Hammond, a time capsule memory, and her own experiences of being bullied in elementary school. “At 12 years old, I transferred from a Christian school to a public school, and the kids made fun of me because I talked about Jesus and folded my hands to say grace at lunchtime,” Stacie said. “I have a memory of sitting down at a table in the cafeteria where there was a large group of students. After I sat down, one by one, they all got up and walked away.”

June_2016.HuffingHurtful yes, but Stacie has found a way to create something positive from those painful memories. She has already seen the fruits of her labor with her anti-bullying message, along with her anti-huffing education efforts. Several parents have contacted her to tell her she saved their child’s life. She is taking both messages now into schools, camps, churches, shelters and seminars. “There is no greater pain than a family having to bury their child, and I will do everything in my power to prevent this from happening to another family,” she said.

If you are interested in investing in the movie, you can contact Stacie via email at: ConcealedSeries@gmail.com.

BRCLM Lagniappe, June 2016

QUIT

by LaTangela Fay Sherman

We have been told time and time again to “never quit,” but in actuality, sometimes quitting is the very thing we should be doing.

  • Quit making excuses for why we are not doing the things that need to be done in order to get it done.
  • Quit responding to negativity. Learn to know when to walk away from situations that are not conducive to painting the bigger picture.
  • Quit doing the work of the devil and then expecting God to bless your mess.
  • Quit serving two masters, running in circles of sheep and wolves, and not being decisive.
  • Quit comparing your situation to others … You don’t know the ins and outs of their story to glory.
  • Quit compromising your morals to gain worldly attention while chipping away at the kingdom’s representation.
  • Quit complaining about every obstacle that comes your way – it is another opportunity to get closer to Christ.
  • Quit stressing over temporary circumstances that God has told you he has already fixed.
  • Quit avoiding the word of God when it is condemning your actions. Run to the word and find your peace.
  • Quit belittling others to uplift yourself.
  • Quit nurturing relationships that are nipping away at your soul.
  • Quit being afraid to step out on faith.
  • Quit allowing others to dictate your worth.
  • Quit speaking negativity over your life. Spewing it into the atmosphere is only setting the shift in your direction.
  • Quit hiding from the better version of yourself and put in the work to bring it to light.
  • Quit thinking that no one is on your side, and understand that God has your back.
  • Quit waiting on a crisis before you kneel to pray – God is longing to hear from you today.

Family Life, June 2016

You Are a Masterpiece

by Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis

TonyaHeadshotNewI was once told that writing is not my bread and butter — it’s my hobby. I was also told that singing isn’t my strong suite. So, as I was compiling my latest project, I began to second-guess myself. I remember questioning myself saying, “I know that I sing in the choir, but am I good enough to record alone? I’ve written for magazines locally, but am I good enough to write globally?” I began praying about it and God said, “No you are not good enough to do it by yourself, but if you extend your hand into mine, we can get it done and reach the masses.”

While getting to this point hasn’t been easy, I thank him now and in advance for where he is taking me next. I’ve had people refuse to help me because they thought I wasn’t good enough. Surely, I’m no Tasha Cobbs, but I am “The Refresher.” Ultimately all I want to be is the person that God wrote in his will for me to be, and I don’t need permission to be or to become that person. Sometimes in life we look for validation and approval from our peers, but if you are doing a project for God, he’ll send the people that really need it to you — he’s just that type of God.

Am I helping someone today? Have you received negative feedback about pursuing your dreams? I am here to testify about the God I serve who makes dreams come true according to his will for your life. I promise the plans that he has are for to prosper if you are lining up with his word.

People who are generally negative are discouraging factors sent by the enemy to get you off task — recognize it, seek encouragement and move on. If the enemy begins to discourage you about your dream it’s because he has peeked inside your future and has seen what God really has in store for you, and he doesn’t want you to have it. The people in your circle should be on board with your vison, and if they’re not, they need to be removed or handled/loved from a distance. Praise God in advance for what he is getting ready to do!

It may be writing a book, starting a new business or going back to school. Listen, God will never give you a dream without plans to make it come true. You are a masterpiece of the most-high God, but you’ve got to realize that about yourself. The promise of God is on the inside of each of us. Extend your hands into his and make a declaration to live. Here are some of the things I declare over my life and my family’s lives daily:

  • Lord, you said that you would make my name great.
  • Lord, you said that I would be blessed and not cursed.
  • Lord, you said that I would have favor.
  • Lord, you said that if I honor you – you would honor me.
  • Lord, you said that you would make me the head and not the tail.
  • Lord, you said that I was fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • Lord, you said that you would give back everything that the enemy took from me.
  • Lord, you said that a man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.
  • Lord, you said that I would have peace and prosperity within these walls.
  • Lord, you said that if I take time to refresh others, I will be refreshed.
  • Lord, you said that you will provide a hedge of protection around me.

Family Life, June 2016

Darry Beckwith Finds Purpose in Life After Football

by Jehan Seals
Darry Beckwith
Darry Beckwith

Darry Beckwith’s name first started gaining recognition during his high school sports career at Parkview Baptist School. The young athlete’s involvement with all things athletic sharpened his skills in the sports arena and propelled his future legacy on the football field. With guidance from parents Darry and Sandra Beckwith, the all-star athlete gained much success on the gridiron, and today he challenges the next generation to do what it takes to be successful.

As a youth, a part of Darry’s claim to fame was his humility. “When coach Guillot suggested making a demo reel, I was cautiously optimistic. I didn’t even consider myself to be that good. I played football because it’s what I loved doing,” Beckwith says.

Under the coaching of Kenny Guillot, Beckwith’s love for the game of football flourished. Upon completion of his senior year, he was offered a four-year scholarship to play football at Louisiana State University. “This was an exciting moment and now looking back also a funny story,” Beckwith says.

“Coach Saban presented the scholarship to me with my parents present, asking if I would like to accept. Although I was excited, I replied by saying, ‘Thank you coach Saban, I will consider the offer,” Beckwith says. “However, as I was speaking, I could feel a scornful look staring at me – it was my mother – who asked me, “What is it that you have to think about? He accepts,” she said to Saban.

Beckwith continued, “The room was silent, coach Saban then asked, ‘Well what are you going to do?’ I said, ‘I guess I accept.’ In short, your parents know what’s best for you, and they have your best interest at heart,” Beckwith concluded.

Beckwith was considered the state’s top linebacker and one of the top prospects in the south, rated the number nine outside linebacker in the nation by ESPN and was named to the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Top 20 Blue-Chip list for Louisiana. He had a total of 140 tackles as a junior and earned honorable mention during Louisiana’s all-state awards. As a senior he had 135 tackles, including 20 tackles for a loss, and six sacks, en route to being named Class 3A Defensive MVP.

Photo courtesy LSUSports.net.
Photo courtesy LSUSports.net.

With the accolades piling up, the former tiger revealed how the pressure to succeed began to affect his character. “I figured since I made the decision to stay at school (LSU) my senior year, I’d make the most of it. Needless to say my senior year did not go as planned. Instead of starting, I was being substituted. I was angry and it led to a meltdown where I questioned the coach’s decision out of pride, and I shouldn’t have done that,” Beckwith says.

Following the incident, game day against North Texas presented Darry with another setback — he suffered a knee injury in the second quarter that ultimately resulted in missing two games that season.

After surgery and physical therapy to help align the injured knee, Beckwith entered the 2009 NFL Draft with speculations swarming about a first round pick. “With my injury I was told the latest that I would be picked up was the seventh round, and I was ok with that, but I wasn’t ok with not being called at all,” Beckwith says. He was told that due to his knee injury his name had been taken off the draft list. “I felt I had let my family down; I wanted to make the Beckwith name proud.”

As an undrafted free agent, Beckwith signed briefly with the San Diego Chargers and then the New Orleans Saints, but today he has shifted his focus to the countless local athletes looking to succeed on and off football field.

Darry with PJ Postgame“The goal is to prepare young athletes for the game of life in order that they may succeed on the field,” he says. The Darry Beckwith Foundation targets athletes in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas with the goal of increasing and maintaining a strong GPA and aims to help them become independent.

The foundation offers high-quality tutoring with an emphasis on ACT prep, language arts, math, social studies and science that is designed to help student athletes achieve college and career readiness. Internships and career training are also available. Athletic training takes place at Traction Sports Performance, which serves as a vehicle to assist athletes in reaching their greatest performance potential. “It provides a unique training system with proven results,” Beckwith says.

“After completing this program, my desire is that each participant would be prepared for the next phase of their lives – attributing the Darry Beckwith Foundation as having a profound effect on their future success,” Beckwith says.

PJ Cannon is a senior at Zachary High School who joined the foundation. Cannon is an outstanding athlete in both football and baseball, and he helped lead the ZHS football team to a state championship in 2015. “The Darry Beckwith Foundation has meant a lot to me. I think it has made me better mentally and physically throughout the past months. It has been a tremendous experience and I would not trade it for anything,” Cannon says.

“Be a part of something to help mold the next generation. Help them change the course of history with a positive impact,” Beckwith says. For more information on how to get involved, or to donate to the Darry Beckwith Foundation, visit the website dbeckfoundation.org.

Faith Life, June 2016

A Dream of Unity

by Lisa Tramontana
Pollie Johnson became a pastor in 2003, and founded her own church, Resurrection Life Family Ministries.
Pollie Johnson became a pastor in 2003, and founded her own church, Resurrection Life Family Ministries.

Pollie B. Johnson is all about creating unity … across racial, ethnic and gender lines … specifically in the church. As pastor of Resurrection Life Family Ministries, she shares the message that a relationship with Christ can transcend pain, heal relationships, close denominational divides, and strengthen the community.

She knows about healing and unity. Trained as a nurse and family counselor, Johnson’s life has been a never-ending gift of service, volunteerism, leadership, time, talent and philanthropy. She hosted a radio show in the 1990s for teenagers in crisis who called in to get advice and support. She led Bible studies as part of her work with a prison ministry. She counseled drug abusers and alcoholics trying to break free of their addictions.

“I realized the Lord was calling me,” she said. “He was saying, ‘That’s enough now. You know what to do. It’s time for you to go out and preach the Gospel.’”

So Johnson stopped trying to bargain with God about her purpose and in 2003, accepted her call to pastor. She moved from church to church trying to find her fit, a journey that led her to start Resurrection Life Family Ministries.

As the leader of her own church, she believes that unity starts with families. “In our church, families worship together,” she said. “Our community worships together. We don’t have to all go to the same church or have the same background. It’s our love for Christ that matters.”

One program that has helped bring people together is the Churches United initiative, which started as a 6-week women’s study group based on the Lifeway DVD “How to Hear the Voice of God.” The program, which includes a Bible study and brunch, expanded to include men as well, and discussions had a profound effect on the participants.

“People were saved,” Johnson said. “It was very powerful.”

IMG_4101-2All adults and teens are invited to join the Churches United group, which holds monthly meetings at Resurrection Life Family Ministries, 722 N. Carrollton Avenue. The group is currently focusing on the film “The Grace Card” (see textbox), a Christian drama that demonstrates the opportunities we all have to heal wounds and rebuild relationships.

Johnson is a woman of achievement with degrees from Tuskegee University in Alabama and Louisiana State University here in Baton Rouge. She has earned a B.S. in nursing, and a M.A. in counseling. She specializes in couples, family and individual biblical counseling as a licensed marriage and family therapist. She has been married for 44 years to Samuel Johnson, a retired Air Force Major and Exxon engineer, who now leads Bible studies at their church. Together, they have raised three daughters.

“My vision for fostering unity is engaging Christians of every denomination, race, age and sex,” Johnson said. “It’s important that we come together and love one another. Jesus said, ‘All people will know we are real disciples as we love one another.’ This is the way to become one, as He prayed. I believe that when we unite, we are building the church without walls.”

For more information about Churches United or Resurrection Life Family Ministries, call (225) 925-8233 or (225) 205-1488.

The Grace Card


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Released in 2011, “The Grace Card” stars Louis Gossett, Jr., Michael Higgenbottom and Michael Joiner. After Mac McDonald (Joiner) loses his young son in an accident, he is filled with bitterness and pain for the next 17 years. His anger at the world damages his relationships with family members, puts his marriage at risk, and destroys his faith. Mac’s rage also affects his work, and soon, his career as a police officer is threatened.

At one point, Mac is partnered with Sam Wright (Higgenbottom), a rising star on the police force who is also a part-time pastor and a family man. Sam feels called to be a minister like his grandfather, and only works as a police officer to help provide for his family. When he gets promoted to Sergeant, however, Sam starts to wonder if perhaps police work is his true calling.

Sam and Mac must join forces in order to do their jobs, but racial tensions between them and their own experiences make it seem nearly impossible. When a second family tragedy befalls Mac, it is Sam who teaches Mac about sacrifice, forgiveness, love and healing.