Saturday, November 17, 2018

ACE #444: When a Deferred Dream Becomes Reality

More than 20 years ago, when I was doing my student teaching, I taught a unit on "A Raisin in the Sun". I used Langston Hughes' "Dream Deferred" as my introduction into the unit. As a 22-year-old young adult, I thought that life was going to be easy and all of my dreams would be realized...and quickly.  I didn't know that "life" would actually get in the way. I had it all figured out about what, I thought, would be the American Dream.
  • I would be a millionaire by 40...I'm 44...and not.
  • I would have 2.5 kids naturally...and that is not the case.
  • I would live in a $1.5 million mansion...not quite, but someday...maybe...if I can afford a housekeeper because I despise cleaning and I am allergic to dust.
  • I would be married to the man of my dreams; he looked more like Denzel Washington...but my husband is kinda cute and walks with a Denzel swagger...or so I'm told.
  • I would have the bomb dot com career; I was destined to become a White House staffer...then there's that Olivia Pope thanks.
  • I would have celebrity friends who were movers and shakers in the entertainment industry.
But I am a witness that God does all things well. This is what I actually got:
  • A good paying job with benefits, health insurance, and a retirement plan.
  • One healthy, brilliant, beautiful daughter...not naturally at any means.
  • A beautiful home that is decorated just like I like it in a cozy neighborhood with cool neighbors.
  • A husband after God's own heart who ministers to the sick and shut-in and preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ like nobody's, but everybody's, business.
  • A modest career in education working with children everyday.
  • Very few friends who I can call for anything, but those few can intercede for me at the drop of a dime and encourage me behind the scenes, yet expect nothing in return.
And, now, I just published my first book with seven stories from women who have struggled with this very thing we call "life", but held on to their faith in Jesus Christ to become better for His glory. We've conquered depression, rejection, abandonment, grief, suicidal thoughts, identify confusion, infertility, and even addiction. 

From the beginning, I was built for ministry. It was always inside of me, but I had to surrender to God's will and His way. When I gave up MY will for God's will over my life, my deferred dreams became reality.

I want to encourage you today that if you have an unrealized dream, wake it up!  Dig deeply inside of who you are and examine the things you really want to be...and be all of them!

I invite you to read, From the Test to the Testimony. I promise, it will bless you.

Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore--
And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?
Jeremiah 29:11-13 New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Available in paperback and e-book.

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

ACE #443: From the Test to the Testimony

Robert and Charliese Lewis Ministries Inc. Releases From the Test to the Testimony: An Anthology of Women’s Faith Stories

Three-Year Project Comes to Life

LEXINGTON, Ky., Nov. 1, 2018 – Charliese Brown Lewis never thought she would finish a project after two years of letting it sit on the shelf literally.

From the Test to the Testimony: An Anthology of Women's Faith Stories chronicles the journeys of seven different women of various ages who depended on their faith in God to see them through the most difficult circumstances. Each woman tells a very specific story that takes her from the test to the testimony.

“Three years ago, I was led to some very specific women to ask them to share a reflection story for a special project I had in mind,” Lewis said. “These stories were very personal, so I had to deal with them with care because I was asking these women to revisit some tough places, both emotionally and spiritually, from their pasts.” 

Lewis admits that life got in the way of moving the project forward initially, but she also had to recall some painful memories of her own in order to be transparent for other women who could be going through a similar situation. 

“The stories are personal, intimate, and real,” she said. “As an editor and a writer I had to replay their situations and my own throughout the entire process from draft to finished product. There is a true fight for each of us to move from struggle to triumph primarily through our faith.” 

This collection deals with many issues common to the everyday woman from managing chronic illness, depression, and suicidal thoughts to finding purpose, peace, and the power of forgiveness.
Lewis stated, “I wanted to make sure that the stories would be read, but also that the readers could truly relate to the issues that we each dealt with. At the end of each story is a series of questions to assist the readers in self-reflection with hopes of helping them heal or, at least, encouraging them to get help to heal.” 

Contributors include Stephanie Chisley, Doris Coffey, Ashley Edwards, Marietta Finkley, La’Tonsia Howard, Jacques Watkins and Lewis. 

From the Test to the Testimony: An Anthology of Women’s Faith Stories is available on Amazon as an e-book (preorder) and a paperback (Nov.30). It is the company’s first independently published book.
Paperback cover price: $12.99; E-book: $5.99

CHARLIESE BROWN LEWIS is an educator, writer, and speaker.  She is the editor and co-author of The ‘After Church’ Experience blog and president of Robert and Charliese Lewis Ministries Inc., which she co-founded with her husband. Charliese and her family reside in Kentucky.