Creative LIFE, October 2018

Creative Life with Musician Will Wesley

creative life, Will Wesley, Musician

22The Yesterdays hosting a songwriters event a Jolie Pearl in downtown Baton Rouge
Will Wesley

Q: How did you first discover your musical talent?

A: I first discovered my musical talent at the age of eleven. My father was a guitarist, and when he would go to bed, I would sneak his guitar out and play. One night he heard me playing along with the radio and he was amazed at how quickly I could play by ear. He believed that God had blessed me with a gift. From that moment on, I began to pursue music more seriously.

Q: How have you grown as an artist?

A: I play a wide variety of music but that is nothing new. I find it very fulfilling to explore many different styles of music. Currently, I am working on two albums and each has a very different sound. One of my current albums, Reinvention, is a rock and roll based album. My second album in the works, titled Meridian, has a more country/Americana spin to it. It also features my fiancé, Jenna D’Shay as vocalist. We perform as a duo called “The Yesterdays.”

In addition, I consider myself extremely blessed to back Grammy award-winning blues artist Grady Champion. I am making my second tour to Europe with him. In terms of a personal highlight, the music video for my latest single, “The Break” from the Reinvention album actually won the Lakeview International Film Festival Award. In 2014 and 2016, I was a finalist in The International Blues Challenge, so there is never a dull moment in this industry. These highlights just make me want to continue writing songs, playing music and pursuing my gift.

Q: Artistic talent is a gift from God. Talk about your faith and if you ever felt directed by God.

A: My faith in God has carried me through the most challenging times of my life. I grew up very poor, but God was my constant. He made me feel rich because I knew I could always turn to him and look ahead rather than dwell on my immediate circumstance. He provides hope to me. Though the road is often rocky, our relationship is always growing. It may seem strange to some, but when I write songs, I consider God a cowriter. I feel this way because songwriting or playing music is a universal language. I have always felt the Lord’s presence in my music and I hope when people hear it, they feel a connection as well.

Q: Do you have a favorite song, and if so, why is it your favorite?
I do not particularly have a favorite song. Yet I will tell you that I love many songs that range in style from bluegrass, country, rock and roll, the blues and jazz. If I had to pick one of my own, it would be The Hardest of Hearts. There is a universal message to this song. You will know it when you take time to listen to it, which I hope you will do.

Q: Have you ever had an encounter or experience that you felt was divine intervention?

 

A: This may be hard to believe, but God has always spoken to me in my dreams. He lets me know where I am going and reminds me of where I have been. I believe that each person has their own individual language with God. Because we are individuals, we all have our own personal relationships with our maker. Dreams and songwriting seem to be my common language between the Lord and me.

Q: Do you have a favorite scripture or book of the Bible?

A: I have always liked the Book of Job because it describes in detail the trials and tribulations of a common man. When tempted by the devil, Job never turns his back on the Lord. By holding onto his faith, God gives him double for his trouble. The Book of Genesis is another favorite book in the Bile because though the Fall of Man occurs in this book, there is also a purity revealed in the beginning before temptation crept into the Garden of Eden. One of my favorite scriptures is the one that states “you cannot serve two masters.” Daily we are tested, and daily we have a choice to choose good over evil or obedience over our own desires. Satan loves to tempt us in our minds. Our mind is a battlefield. Yet God is our ever-present help in times of trouble.

Q: What else would you like our readers to know about you?
A: I was raised in a poor, yet very rich family. Though money was often hard to come by, we were rich in our love for each other. When I describe my family, it makes me think of some of the interviews I have heard with Dolly Parton. She talks a lot about growing up a country girl in the Tennessee mountains. In her heart, she was rich. I relate to her humble upbringing.

Anyway, my father was a construction worker and my mother stayed home with us most of my life. As a child, in all honesty, I hated how poor we were, but as a man, it was the lack I experienced during those years that helped me have courage and be tough. Family sticks together no matter what is happening and that is the type of family I am glad to be part of while on this earth. I hope people will know that I do not take anything for granted and I hope that people will discover my music.

To sum up my journey, there is a scripture that says, “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth.” (Isaiah 45:2) Hold on and know who has your back if you believe. It is God. He has kept me going.

Wesley’s “The Break” is available on YouTube under the channel, The Will Wesley Band. There is also a Christian-based music video called “The Hardest of Hearts.” Visit his website at Willwesley.com or view his Facebook page. The duo, The Yesterdays is also on Facebook.

Will’s band gets ready for a performance.
Will Wesley and Jenna D’Shay play at Jolie Pearl downtown.
Will Wesley and Jenna D’Shay perform as ‘The Yesterdays.’

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of the Lake Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales, and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at sharon@brclm.com.

Cover Story, September 2018

Actor T. C. Stallings, Art Imitates Life, Christian Media Gains Momentum

T. C. Stallings played the role of Tony in the blockbuster hit ‘War Room’ in 2015. Did you see the movie that continues to inspires audiences of all ages … and became the #1 Movie in America?
Stallings also starred in ‘A Question of Faith’ in 2017.
Dr. Cameron Lewis is Executive Producer of ‘A Question of Faith.’ “My vision does not stop with oral surgery. God has so much in store for me to serve His people. We are here to help one another. We are called to bless one another as we are being blessed.” More from Cameron in our continued “Christian Media Gains Momentum” in our next edition.
“A Question of Faith” became the #7 movie in 2017 according to the Christian Post.
Kevan Otto, Director of “A Question of Faith,” said that the hit movie “Fireproof” rocked Hollywood in 2008, prompting many production companies to make faith-based films.
Dove Award Winner Amber Nelon Thompson played the starring role of Michelle in ‘A Question of Faith.’ “Playing the role of a singer who’d lost her voice was easy, I’d been through that myself.” More from Amber in our October edition.

Art Imitates Life

Meet T.C. Stallings face-to-face and his unabashed enthusiasm for his faith is infectious. Since his acting debut in the 2008 Kendrick Brother’s film, “Courageous,” Stallings’ larger-than-life screen presence in “War Room” and “A Question of Faith” cemented him as a star in the Christian film genre. 

Christian-life reflected in twenty-first century genre is the Platonic/Aristotelian mimesis, that is, Art Imitates Life. To borrow the 1960s spaghetti western title, audiences of Christian-themed pictures generally — whether they want it or not– get the good, the bad and the ugly. As the leading male in the powerful film on the power-of-prayer, “War Room,” T.C. portrayed Tony as the ambitious, worldly husband opposite Priscilla Shirer as his wife Elizabeth. Christian men can easily see themselves in the part of Tony — driven by the treasures of the world and separated from the notion of storing treasures in heaven. 

There has been an explosion of religious-themed movies since 2006 when “Facing the Giants” inspired Christian audiences. Many mainstream productions tiptoe around the edges of Christianity, careful to avoid offending a viewer. But unapologetic Christian producers have cranked out dozens of films that are less timid in portraying what Christianity is about – a struggle to surrender to Jesus and reject what the “world” expects. Maybe the best thing about this form of entertainment is that there is always a happy ending. 

Stallings was bitten by the acting bug and at the very last minute got the role of T.J. in “Courageous.” After the movie, the bug bite grew into a full-blown desire for a career away from his roots as a football player.

Following his career as a star running back at the University of Louisville and several professional stops, TC was working as a sports commentator and game analyst in his adopted hometown of Louisville. Stallings and his wife Levette prayerfully decided to move their family to southern California.

As a Jesus-follower, Stallings was committed to maintaining an uncompromising commitment to his values and to rejecting any opportunity that did not fit. It proved challenging. Forced into a job as a youth pastor to make ends meet, Stallings’ position lasted just one year. After a year of struggling to find roles, dejected by the job loss, the aspiring actor faced a potential return to Kentucky. But God had another plan. The lead role of Tony in “War Room” was offered the same day as the youth pastorate ended. And, as the old saying goes, the rest is history. 

The genre isn’t always a sophisticated representation because of its “B-movie” budget constraints– woefully low compared to the mega-million-dollar major studio productions. It is not always as commercially successful, partly because of the same financial considerations that limit marketing and promotion, but probably even more so because of the progressive-secular nature of post-modern, mainstream audiences that outright reject a Christian theme as irrelevant to their lives. “War Room” crossed over to a broader audience than most of the genre’s films, which is what people of faith should hope will happen. But, sadly, these movies, which are quite cathartic, go unseen and unsupported even by many Christians. 

Hilton and Rebecca Glass have a film ministry based in Biloxi, Mississippi. Hilton promotes Christian films across the Gulf Coast from Florida to Louisiana. His story probably sums up why many believers are reticent to invest their time to go see movies from the genre. “Rebecca coerced me to drive 60 miles to Mobile to watch a faith-based film, made by a church on a very low budget. My thought was “No! How hokey of a movie can that be?” By the end of “Facing the Giants,” Glass’ perspective changed completely. “At the end the sports announcer exclaimed, ‘I can’t believe what I’ve just seen’ and the hairs stood up on my arms. God was speaking to me. It was crystal clear at that moment that ‘I can’t believe what I’ve just seen’ was not about the movie – it was how God can use movies as an instrument to reach His people,” Glass remembered. 

Despite the challenges, Christian film and television are expanding. Independent producers continue to come out with new products. One such film is “Beautifully Broken” by D-3 Productions in Nashville headed by nationally-known entertainment industry promoter Michelle Duffie. Just released in theaters on August 24th, Beautifully Broken is a story of a refugee’s escape, a prisoner’s promise and a daughter’s painful secret as they converge in a powerful true story of three fathers fighting to save their families. 

Pureflix, an industry-leader, releases three new films this fall. Ashley Kelly from Pureflix is promoting the three releases back-to-back. The first is “Unbroken: Path to Redemption” based on the book by Lauren Hillenbrand that comes to theaters beginning September 14th. It tells the part of the story that the 2014 secular production by Angelina Jolie failed to share. Louis Zamperini was an American Olympian turned World War II airman who survived 47 days on a raft adrift in the Pacific only to be captured and held prisoner in a hellish Japanese camp. That is where Jolie’s “Unbroken” ends. The Pureflix film begins after the war when Zamperini is consumed by hatred and a desire for revenge against his captors. Zamperini accepted Christ at the famous 1949 Billy Graham Los Angeles Crusade. The “path to redemption” is the best part of the story, a man who forgave his captors and launched a 60-plus year career as a Christian evangelist. 

“Little Women” is an update of the classic story by the same name. On the 150th anniversary of the release of the novel by Louisa May Alcott, actress Lea Thompson brings the heroine Marmee to life in a 21st Century setting. Ashley Kelly, director of Pureflix Global Strategic Alliances Marketing, shared that “Pinnacle Peak is releasing the first-ever modern retelling of the beloved classic, LITTLE WOMEN, bringing the same sisters to a new generation to celebrate dreams, family, and unconditional love in theaters on September 28. This movie celebrates the lifelong bonds of family, friendship, and sisterhood!” Pinnacle Peak also created ideas and opportunities for women’s ministries, schools and youth groups tied into the release date. 

Hilton Glass hosts a prescreening of “Indivisible” in Baton Rouge shortly after Labor Day, prior to its national release October 26th. It gives real insight into the impact of war on military families and their marriages. The story is for married couples reminding them of the reality that the most important battle they wage is the fight for their marriage.

These are just four Christian-themed movies, all worthwhile and family friendly, despite some challenging real-life themes. Yet these films are without gratuitous violence, profanity or sexual explicitness or even innuendo. It would bless the producers and actors for the body of Christ to flock to the theaters, and no doubt also bless the believers who see the films.

As one of the industry’s biggest stars, T.C. Stallings’ vision is a Holy Spirit led opportunity to take his celebrity and talent to drive the industry to new heights. There is no doubt that he has the charisma, energy and the character to succeed. T.C. prays daily for God to grow him in His purpose and close the doors that aren’t in line with God’s will. 

“I’m just a guy that watches TV and movies,” he said. “I’m burdened by what I see. Rather than complaining about what’s on TV and what’s in films, I just ask God to give me a platform to be a content creator. I don’t want to be at the mercy of other people to get it done,” Stallings added. But he has put action to the words. “I’ve started Purpose Studios. My company is Team TC Productions. We want to look for those who don’t want to compromise their faith and give them an opportunity. There are other people being told ‘no’ and doors slammed shut.” In the future, he hopes to transition to television. 

Stallings is not alone in the concept of real family-oriented programming, not just on the big screen, but also on the small screen in the living rooms of families around the world. One such company is Pureflix.com, the streaming service of Pureflix that offers a variety of programming. Not everything is exclusively Christian. But all films and television programs are family-friendly! It includes a lot of the old standard television series from the 60s and 70s. 

The future looks promising for Christian-cord cutters to find pay-per-view alternatives to Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming providers. There are intriguing opportunities for Christian programming because streaming takes it beyond American households and opens up worldwide access. For the fulfillment of the great commission, Christian television and films represent an amazing, if a little daunting, chance to reach into tens of millions of households. The key then becomes how to get potential viewers to tune in to this type of programming so that they might be impacted by it.

For generations, the American film and television series distributed internationally created a paradigm of American life. Value-based entertainment from Christian-themed organizations might similarly shape the views and touch the hearts of peoples around the world. Streaming means more people may be reached for the Kingdom in a matter of minutes than through years of grinding missionary work. Moreover, it is likely these programs could make the work of missionaries a little easier, possibly softening the non-believer or even the unreached to be more open to Christ in their face-to-face time spent with the people taking the gospel around the world.

Marketing and promotion of movies has become effective and popular in reaching a broader audience.
“Beautifully Broken” was released in August and continues to garner attention.
Michelle S. Duffie, CEO of D3 Entertainment Group has structured marketing strategies generating 1.3 Billion in revenue. Some of the movies promoted include #1 ‘War Room’, ‘I Can Only Imagine’, ‘God’s Not Dead’ and ‘The Shack’ among many others. Her latest, ‘Beautifully Broken’ was released August 24th. More about Michelle in our continuation of ‘Christian Media Gains Momentum” in our next edition.
The movie “Little Women” will be released later this month.
Hilton Glass of Movies Ministries Outreach
Fred Townsend

Fred Townsend is the husband of Beth Townsend, Publisher of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine. His 45-year career in marketing is an eclectic collection of work in everything from political campaign consultant to television producer and executive positions at two Fortune 500 Companies. 

Creative LIFE, September 2018

Creative Life

Creative life, Seek and Ye Shall Find

Gail Barber Lloyd

#Selfie #Bff (Gails daughter and one of her best friends)

Q: Please share your journey as an artist:
A: As a child, I was encouraged in my artistic endeavors. My uncle on my mom’s side was a full-time artist and there were musicians on my dad’s side. I remember as a young girl, my mom speaking positively about one of my drawings to someone. It was through those types of experiences that I gained confidence in my artistic abilities. Throughout my primary education, I enjoyed success in art classes and competitions. In high school, I was involved in advanced placement art class which gave me a good foundation regarding artistic elements like line, value, and color theory. I chose to pursue a degree in “commercial art” as it was called in those days and minored in art history. I never finished college, however, I met my mate during those years, so I did acquire a “Mrs.” We began having children and I enjoyed those years of educating and raising my four kids. During those years, I was blessed to use my gift and passion by teaching art and art history to a group of homeschooled students. When my years of raising children came close to an end, I spent a lot of time conversing with the Lord about what I should do next. What did He have in store for me? I believe art is the gift I was given and that I am to share it and that is what I continue to do each day. My husband is very supportive and encourages this calling in my life.

Q: What are some of your favorite paintings?
A: My Word portraits are my favorite. Years ago I prayed about what kind of artistic present I could give to a dear friend who had been a Titus 2 woman in my life. A Titus 2 woman trains younger women in Biblical, simple-to-measure, Spirit-empowered, love-based living. So I decided to create a portrait made out of descriptive words that personified my friend — her interests, character qualities and her life. Although I have seen words used in art, I had never seen a portrait made up of words that are biographical and meaningful about the person. Word portraits are still my favorite to create because they honor the life of the person depicted and it is not just about their appearance. After I complete these portraits, I stand in awe of our amazing Creator because of each person’s individuality and uniqueness.

Q: Do you believe creativity is a spiritual gift?
A: As a Christian, I believe the indwelling Holy Spirit gives every aspect of my life spiritual significance. As a parent, it is delightful to watch our children enjoy their specific gifts and see them grow. I believe it delights our Heavenly Father when we use those gifts he has given us. Art does draw me closer to Him because it is something He has given me.

Q: What is your favorite book of the Bible or Scripture and why?
A: Psalm 139 has always been one of my favorites. The cry of the human heart is to be loved passionately and unconditionally — for someone to know every part of us, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and love us anyway. To me, Psalm 139 is a declaration. Lord, you know all of me. You formed me in the womb. You know my innermost parts and you see me as valuable and lovable. What is most powerful about this psalm is that he wrote “all the days of my life.” So when life seems a bit confusing or tragic, I find peace that He is not surprised. He is the author of my life. Each stage of life is like turning the page of a book. I can trust Him with the plot, the players and the outcome.

Q: Where can readers find your work?
A: The best place to find me is on my art Facebook page: Gail Lloyd Art . You can see my art at
gaillloydart.com and fineartistgroup.com, which is an organization that connects businesses with artists who create custom art for corporate spaces. Recently, I have been accepted into the Associated Women in the Arts. One of my paintings was featured in August at Elizabethan Gallery.

Q: What else would you like to share about your personal life?
A: In my home, I have a beautiful studio, but the opportunity presented itself to paint around other creative types and to be surrounded by seasoned artists. It has helped me learn and develop as an artist. Every day, I am so thankful to be doing what I love and painting around others who share the same passion.

Louisiana Times
Look What I Found
Gail Lloyd Self Portrait
Artist Gail Lloyd
Creative LIFE, July 2018

Creative Life, Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow

Kenneth Drake
Musician and Music Minister

Q: When did you first discover your musical talent?
A: Music was always in my home. My mother taught piano and was minister of music at our church into my high school days. Therefore, I was inquisitive and interested in music and piano for as long as I can remember. After I began studying piano around 8 years old I began receiving positive feedback in competitions. My mom, one of my greatest mentors musically and spiritually, “threw me in the fire” at church having me play for assemblies and worship services at a very early age so I learned to sight read well early on. In the eighth grade, she sent me kicking and screaming to a piano audition at Furman University to be accepted into their college prep program. I was accepted and studied piano there throughout high school and attended Furman for college. My mom’s insistence set the course of my life. I received a degree in piano pedagogy with minor studies in church music which then brought me to LSU for a master’s degree in piano performance, accompanying, and doctoral studies in pedagogy.

Q: Describe your experience as music director at Chapel on the Campus and Chapel in the Oaks (alongside your wife Kathy) and a few memorable moments that come to mind.
A: Years of memories are flowing as I ponder this question. Tears are flowing as well as I recall how instrumental Pastor Donald Tabb, the Pastor Emeritus of the Chapel on the Campus, was to myself and Kathy. We were so saddened by his recent passing but so blessed to have ministered with him for almost 20 years. Honestly, I wish Kathy and I had kept a count of how many funerals we played and sang when Donald was officiating. That God would grant us that opportunity … there is no way to put into words all that dear man meant to us, what he invested in us biblically and spiritually, and just living life as a married couple. In 1983, Kathy and I were asked to organize a music ministry, but God had so much more planned. In Donald’s presence, we were like the two men on the road to Emmaus with Jesus. “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”  Oh, the days of ministering and working with that remarkable man! Praise God we were blessed with that opportunity so many years ago.

Recently, 80-plus choir members gathered to sing at Donald’s memorial service. Even amid our grief, it is a sweet memory due to all the choir members that surfaced over 31 years of ministry to pay their respects. To look out and see so many familiar faces, literally thousands, I was overcome at the lives he touched.

 As for memorable worship services, we orchestrated moving Christmas musicals, cantatas, and pageants that dramatized the full life of Christ. Kathy had a vision of incorporating all aspects of the arts into the church and the purpose was to reclaim the arts for God’s glory. We sought to incorporate this plan all the way down to the “Hallelujah Little Ones” and the preschool choir. For me personally, YMAD, the Youth Music & Drama Group for middle and high school, was a tremendous blessing. This group attracted the unchurched youth because it presented Broadway musicals with a biblical theme. We are still seeing the fruit today from that ministry. What a joy!

Q: What advice would you give to other music directors, and what wisdom did you gain?
A: Seek God in every decision. When it comes to selecting music, it is important to ask how this will help people grow spiritually in worshipping God from a Biblical perspective. People are placed in our path daily, so I would encourage one to be a pastor, not just a music director or worship leader. Kathy and I have been blessed ten-fold by those who we just sat and visited or ministered to in a time of need.

 Q: What are you learning in your role at Community Bible Church?
A: The richest blessing Kathy and I have experienced since joining this church body is that we are part of the body. We are worshippers and not just leading worship. One of the church’s core values is to provide a worship setting for a multigenerational congregation, so we are working on this desire daily. Since I have been there as part of their music ministry, I would have to say this past Christmas was amazing. We presented an inspirational musical/drama and dance including 60-plus voices, representing eight churches. Pastor Steve Foster has been a great mentor and friend and yes, I am now serving 30 hours a week at the church.

 Q: Tell us about your family.
A: Kathy and I will soon be celebrating 39 years of marriage. She has been my wife, partner, best friend, mother, grandmother, teacher of the Word, amazing singer, worshipper, best voice teacher, and interior designer. She is so full of grace and beauty … what more can I say? In our first year of marriage, we took off for Salzburg, Austria to study at the Mozarteum Conservatory. Kathy had received a Rotary Scholarship for post-graduate study there and we thought we would seek musical careers in Europe. Yet we were led in another direction. We joined a little Baptist mission, the only church we could find that offered services in English, and through John Linderman, a young mentor in our lives, we joined a weekly Bible study with a group of internationals. God opened the scriptures and His heart to us in deeper ways than either of us had experienced before.

God has also blessed Kathy and me by giving us two daughters who are both talented, gifted artists. Can you imagine being with four artists in one household? I am outnumbered since I am the only male, but I would not trade it for anything.

Maggie is a visual artist/painter. She teaches art, and at the same time, is a wife and mother to her two daughters. She perseveres with her crazy schedule and is doing well in Greenville, South Carolina with her own paintings and classes. Spencer, her husband, is very supportive. Mary Elizabeth lives in New York, is pursuing a career in musical theatre, and has been cast in two shows and a nationwide tour since moving there in 2015. I am so proud of both daughters and their desire to grow in the Lord is still a very big part of their lives.

I appreciate the readers’ prayers for them as they continue to hone their talents and pursue their careers as Christian artists! They have very different and unique personalities and to watch them operate in their gifts is a joy to see unfold daily. Praise God!

 Q: Do you have a favorite book of the Bible or scripture?

The Psalms are just gorgeous and steeped with what it means to worship in spirit and in truth. In 1985, I had the opportunity to attend a conference, and it was there that I was introduced to the Psalms written by musician/choral writer Don Wyrtzen, whom I greatly admired. God certainly had His hand on Kathy and me and a specific plan and direction for our life! The life verse that I hold closely is Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) and it’s what I seek daily as a husband, father, grandfather, worship pastor, musician, and friend.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Q:  What else you would like our readers to know about your personal life and journey as a creative person?
I haven’t talked about my piano teaching, but I do love that one-on-one with my students. The ones that impress me are those who do not have the most natural musical instinct or talent but have the drive to learn. Finding students who have the time and/or make the practice time needed to succeed at the piano or any instrument is rare in these challenging days.

Seek ye first His kingdom and His righteous and all shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6: 33)

The Chapel’s production of Les Miserables from 2009 featured a spiritual message
Ken leads Sunday morning worship with the Worship Team and Chorale at Community Bible College
CBC’S 2017 Christmas musical included drama and dance, and represented eight churches
The late Donald Tabb and his wife Mary joined Ken, Kathy and The Chapel Choir at one of the choir’s retreats in the fall of 2013.

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, LA., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. The earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of the Lake Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales, and public service since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at sharon@brlcm.com

Creative LIFE, June 2018

Creative Life, Erin Landry, M.S. Live Healthy from the Inside Out

living healthy- inside and out

Erin Landry, M.S.

Q: What drew you to the art of making beautiful soaps?

A: Truth be told, I never thought I would be making soaps that were appealing to the eye. I wanted each soap to serve a purpose. The artist rose out of me to my surprise. When creating, my scientific background took the forefront and my goal was to help those dealing with skin issues.

 

Q: What is your artist statement and why do you enjoy creating soaps with healing properties?

A: My artist statement is simply this: “There’s a science behind it.” I say this because though my soaps may appear to be decorative, they actually do contain ingredients with healing properties. I have products for eczema and psoriasis, and products to help strengthen the vasculature that breaks down in rosacea. I have facial bars for oily skin, dry skin, and even combination skin. My latest formulations are for a skin care line for those suffering from Malassezia yeast. My line makes it hard for the yeast to survive and it’s therefore unable to grow in unbalanced proportions.

 

Q: Do you feel that you are using a spiritual gift?

A: I know this ability is an anointing from above. Prior to making these soaps, I had worked in education for a little over five years. One day, I just knew it was time to make a change. God is the creator, healer, comforter, and holds all things together. My desire is to help heal those who have skin issues. I know this gift came from the Lord because my heart’s desire was to always educate, but now I am also healing the populace. To me, healing comes from divine intervention and I feel God’s guidance while educating myself and by using my hands and tongue in a positive manner.

Q: Tell us about your faith journey. How has the Holy Spirit touched your life?

A: My husband led me to Jesus. I remember kneeling together beside our bed and saying The Sinner’s Prayer. The next thing I knew, I was waking up on my side of the bed. I had fainted as far as I could tell and awoke the next morning. Over the next year, I began to pray and get into The Word. I started following Kellie E. Lane on Facebook. She does Bible study and prayer on a daily basis. I also have a very good girlfriend who has been a prayer warrior for me since the beginning of our friendship in 2012.

With all of this encouragement, I began pressing in, praying, and fasting. But there was suddenly a road block. Nothing was moving. Everything had come to a standstill, a wilderness in a sense. I was invited to a three-day women’s conference at a local church as a vendor. At this point in my life, I was searching for someone to baptize me. I belonged to a church, but there seemed to be so much ceremony involved around their baptisms. They were only done on certain Sundays. Well, as I was sitting in the conference, I heard a church member say in passing, “Our pool stays full.” And a light bulb went off in my head. I pulled the member aside and asked what I had to do to be baptized right then and there. And her answer was simple: “Let’s go call the pastor.”

So, I was baptized on Saturday, February 16, 2018 and with that act of obedience, doors began to open, both in the natural world and the supernatural. The morning of Sunday, February 17, I awoke under a supernatural attack on my physical being. I’d had a sore throat the day before, but this morning I was stricken with fever, no voice, and body aches. Within the next two weeks my temperature remained between 101 and 103 degrees. No doctor was able to pinpoint the cause of my ailments. I was tested for strep, pneumonia and influenza. All tests returned with negative results. It was not until I called on help from my sisters-in-Christ and my own voice returned that I was able to pray and convalesce. This experience made the concept of faith very concrete, almost tangible … it strengthened my relationship with the Lord.

Q: What is your favorite hymn or scripture?

A: It may not be considered a hymn, but my favorite Christian song is Reckless Love. My favorite scripture is found in 2 Chronicles, chapter 20 when King Jehoshaphat was surrounded in battle and the Lord says to him, “Do not be afraid or dismayed by this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” These words bring me great comfort. For any God who will “leave the ninety-nine” to chase after the one, is truly a God to be worshipped and praised. Any God that will take on the enemies of his loyal servants is one who is truly not just good, but great.

 

Q: What is the name of your business and how can one order your products?

A: My business is Thomas Therapeutics, LLC. No, my last name is not Thomas nor was it my maiden name. I named the company for my maternal grandparents who have passed. My maternal grandmother had a huge hand in raising me and my siblings. Being the first black full-time teacher at Baker High School, she was able to instill in me that we are “made from sterner stock.” I have been sharing my soaps at events like Live After 5 and will continue to research places I should be set up in the fall. My favorite quarterly market is Sugar Plum Market held in the Mall of Louisiana. I also enjoy the markets held in Denham Springs, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

 

Q: What else would you like to share with our readers?

A: I enjoyed educating my classes at the college level but wondered if it were possible to get to students before they had the preconceived notions of being “good in math,” “a bad reader,” or “bad at science.” Ever the scientist, I decided to test my hypothesis and became certified in middle and high school education. I figured if I enjoyed seeing the light bulbs go off in college kids, I would love to see it in 6th to 8th graders! And I was correct. Students would inevitably come to me and say they were bad at math or science, and I would answer, “You’re twelve. You’re not old enough to be ‘bad’ at anything.” Though I am now creating soaps with medicinal properties, I miss the classroom in many ways, but feel this new direction has given me an opportunity to educate.

This journey really took off in 2014-2015 when a friend said to me, “Let’s make soap for Mother’s Day.” My reply was simply, “Who makes soap?” Well, later I discovered … I make soap.

For more information, visit Https://www.sootheurskin.com or on Facebook, go to Thomas Therapeutics/Erin’s Eromatics. On Instagram, see @thomastherapeutics_llc.

Erin Landry, right, with Makeva Armat, Miss Black Louisiana 2018



Landry’s Soaps are artistic and made with natural ingredients 

Landry’s booth can be found at many events around southeast Louisiana

BRCL Sharon Furrate Bailey
Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at sharon@brclm.com.