I thank my God upon every remembrance of you
Today is Thanksgiving Day 2019, and this blog is the last segment of my 4-Part series on giving thanks.
On today I am giving thanks to the two men that God used over this last decade to not only propel me into my purpose, but also move me into a new career path. Let me explain.
In 2002 when I left Verizon in pursuit of my dream to become a published author. I wrote "Memoirs With Seniors" in a journal I had with all of my plans for the next chapter of my life, and put the notebook away. This turned out to be a prime example of that often-quoted scripture in Psalm 37:4, “He will give you the desires of your heart.” First, God gave my heart what to desire, then He gave that desire to me.
Nine years later, I received an invitation to a senior living facility through my Uncle Sonny (Felix Nicholson pictured here) shortly after the publication of my first book of poetry, A Time To Write. I was invited to conduct a poetry reading on Wednesday August 31, 2011 at Elm Terrace Gardens Retirement Community in Lansdale PA.
Ever the poetic historian, to the surprise of several of the attendees, I mixed in some readings by Early American and Modern Poets like Helen Steiner Rice, Ben Burroughs, Maya Angelou, and Frances Ridley Havergal. The evening was a total success, but as much as I enjoyed reading poetry to the seniors that day, I was very hesitant to seek out another, closer facility, or even to contact that same facility again. After that night in Lansdale, I taught a poetry workshop at a recreation center for inner city youth and I recited poetry at several open mic events, but it would be another two years before I would find myself working with senior citizens again, this time by way of another invitation.
On March 6, 2013, I received an email from a close acquaintance of mine named Frank Falzone. At the time he was the Enrichment Coordinator at Yardley Commons Senior Living & Retirement Community in Voorhees, N.J. He was looking for programming ideas for the residents and invited me to conduct a book signing and lecture. I spoke on the topic "My Life in Rhyme: Nine Writers Who Moved My Heart and Pen." Needless to say, the event was a success, and I was asked to come back quarterly to continue reading poetry to seniors.
Over the next three years my presentations transitioned from quarterly poetry readings to a monthly poetry writing class. Then, in 2016, Frank asked if me could teach a memoir writing class. I said yes right away and on June 23, 2016, fourteen years after I wrote it down in my journal, Memoirs With Seniors was born.
This blog is a huge “Thank You” to my Uncle Sonny and my friend Frank Falzone. God used both of them to help me achieve something that began as a dream back in 2002 and is still going strong today. Because from those two invitations, God moved me into a new career as a book editor. To date I have assisted in the publication over one dozen memoirs, poetry collections and short stories mostly written by senior citizens. (Click on the Books/Current Titles tab for more information).
This was a fulfillment of the scripture that says, "For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." (Habakkuk 2:3)
As I close out this series on Giving Thanks, I encourage you take time out to thank the people behind the scenes in your life that God used to help you accomplish your goals, realize your dreams, and propel you into your purpose. They deserve it.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
During this month, I am giving thanks to some of the people that God used to push me into my purpose, help me meet goals and plans made over a decade ago, and were instrumental in my new career paths.Today I want to share an open letter of thanks to Author JoAnn Schehr Fashina. i also wish to extend my thanks to Shawn Morrison and Angella Middleton.
God used Shawn Morrison, member of the gospel group The Spiritual Souls, to cause our paths to cross in 2013 when she organized TAPS, The Apostolic Poets Society’s. We had an event in Boston, MA. You had a book signing, I taught a writers workshop, and together we mentored the young poets that were in attendance.
But before we even met, I went online and purchased your first book, My God, My Song, My Praise. I was in awe of your testimony, your gift, and your work as an author. You agreed to be a guest on my radio show and read from your three books, plus the fourth one that you were working on at the time.
To say that you were a real life hero in my book would be an understatement. Woman of God, mother, grandmother, retired teacher, poet, and Christian author. I soaked up everything you shared, both during the interview and at the event in Boston later that year. You encouraged me during that session and afterwards. I shared with you that I had several manuscripts of poetry that I had yet to publish. You told me how God had blessed you to publish one book per year since your retirement, and that if you could do it, so could I.
I left the conference energized to get back on the wheel and continue my assignment from the Lord. That was 2013. Once I got back home, I tried to follow the advice you gave me on how to do it, but at the time I couldn’t understand the online website you told me about (CreateSpace). I was so embarrassed and disappointed I let defeat win and promptly gave up. "I can’t" became my inner motto.
Two years years later, my daughter Angella Middleton, had finished writing her book, Life Lessons I Learned in Law School, and used the same website you told me about. When she said, "Mom you can do it", it was like everything you told me came back to my mind, and I said to myself, ‘Yes, I can do it’. I went back online to the CreateSpace account that had laid dormant for the past two years and got to work.
That was January of 2016. By November of that year, I had uploaded my sixth book to CreateSpace.
JoAnn, God used you to encourage me and to remind me that I can indeed, do all things through Christ. Your example of sharing your road to salvation in your preface/foreword still gives me chills to this day. It was a stark reminder to me that in all that I do, never forget to share the gospel. Since then, I have followed your example and each of my books includes the message of the gospel and God's love for humanity.
Shawn, thank you for your vision. It brought us all together. You are the epitome of the example that our purpose is never just about us. JoAnn, thank you for the seeds you planted. Angella, thank you for the watering you did. And most of all, God, I want to thank You for giving the increase!
And thank YOU for visiting. Stayed tuned for Part 4 of this month's blog series, A Time To Give Thanks.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.
During this month, I am giving thanks to some of the people that God used to push me into my purpose, help me meet goals and plans made over a decade ago, and were instrumental in my new career paths. Today I want to thank another such person, Deacon Dan Murphy. We grew up in the same church, Greater Refuge Church in Philadelphia, PA, and years later he was instrumental in God propelling me into the world of radio broadcasting.
As I've shared in previous blogs in this series, after almost 21 years at "Ma Bell" (Bell of Pennsylvania/Bell Atlantic/Verizon) in early 2002, I put in my papers, took an early buy out package, and resigned on April 13, 2002. I was ready to begin “Life After Verizon.” In addition to my dreams of becoming a published author, I two other other dreams. One was to have a poetry radio show. I even had a name for it: “Voice the Vision” (a spin on the name of my publishing company at the time, “I Write the Vision”). I wrote the down the dream about the radio show in a journal, put it away, and shifted my focus back to my dreams of becoming an author. Later that year I opened an online store with CafePress, Inc. and created a line of poetry products including calendars, post cards, greeting cards, and journals.
In 2006 I began looking for a part time job because I needed supplemental income. Wherever I went I always had resumes with me (I kept them in my car). By that same time, I had relocated to New Jersey and moved my church membership from Philadelphia to a church in Camden, New Jersey that several of my former church members also attended, including Dan Murphy.
One Sunday we were all congregated in the parking lot after church just talking like saints do, when I mentioned that I was looking for a part time job. Dan perked up and said, “My manager is looking for someone to work a shift on Saturdays at the radio station.” You see, Dan had been working at 800 AM WTMR “Where the Master Reigns”, a local religious radio station for years. I gave him one of my resumes, and the next Sunday he told me that his manager said whenever I was ready, I was welcome to join the team!
Eventually I said I was ready and began training right away. Lo and behold, Dan was my trainer. During the evenings, after my full-time job, I would stop by the station for training to be a board operator. It was very challenging for me because although I had been behind the mic practically my whole life, I had no former training on the technical side of broadcasting.
I will never forget the night I came home from work and fell to my knees in prayer crying to God because I just couldn’t seem to retain what I was being taught about the studio equipment, the board, which knobs did what, etc. I was crying out to God in frustration wondering if maybe I had made a mistake. Maybe this vision wasn’t for me. I asked God what I should do. He spoke right back to me and said, “I opened the door.” That was all He said, but I knew what He meant. He had opened the door, my job to walk through it. And walk through it I did. I returned to the station determined to succeed. And with God’s help, I did just that.
This blog is another trip down memory lane, and “Thank You” to Dan Murphy. God used him not only to give my resume to his boss, but also to train me for that job. God turned my dream of having a poetry radio show (where I would have to pay for the air time) into having a job at a religious radio station as a board operator where I had the freedom to create and host any kind of Christian programming that the station manager approved. From 2006 to 2015 I created and hosted several shows, including three poetry/spoken word shows. I interviewed and showcased many Christian poets, spoken word artists, authors and even a few singers.
Dan, thank you for being the brother in Christ, co-worker and friend that you have been down through the years. God truly used to to answer a prayer that was "exceeding and abundantly beyond what I could ask or think." And even though He has now moved me into a new chapter, my time in broadcasting will never be forgotten. And neither will you. God bless you my brother!
Stay tuned for next week's blog on Giving Thanks and thank YOU for visiting!
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Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
During this month I will be thanking unsung heroes who God used to propel me to my purpose, People who pushed me past my comfort zones, who helped me meet goals and plans made over a decade ago, and who were instrumental in new career paths. The first person is my dear friend and Sister in Christ, Sue White.
Three things have always been constant in my life: my family, my faith, and my poetry. This blog is about faith and poetry. With the exception of a Christmas party at work in the mid 90's and online poetry group in the early 2000's, church was the only place I shared my poetry.
In 2005 a dear friend of mine (Sue White), who happened to be the Program Director of a transitional home for HIV+ homeless women, asked me if I would come read poetry to the residents during one of their group sessions. I quickly declined.
The next year, 2006, when she asked me again, I had a change of heart. Mostly because of how much she believed in me. She would say things like, “You can do it. Your poetry heals. They’ll love you.” I had written her wedding poem and her confidence in me was stronger than my own. I finally said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
To say that I was terrified is an understatement. At the time, all I had was a common knowledge of HIV/Aids and even less knowledge about homelessness. I felt very inadequate. But then I remembered everything that poetry had been to me, and its benefits to mankind throughout history. From poetic Psalms, to Shakespeare, to the Early American Poets, to the Harlem Renaissance, to the Beat Poets of the 60’s, to the influence poetry had on the birth of rap and hip hop, to the powerful Spoken Word Artists of the new millennium - poetry has inspires people of all ages and all backgrounds.
With all of this in mind, I got ready for my first poetry reading outside the four walls of the church. This was four years before I published my first book of poetry, so at the time, all of my poems were typed and organized by subject into 3-ring binders. I grabbed one of the binders and headed out. When the reading was over, I was on cloud nine. I remember whispering a little prayer right there in my car on a little side street in South Philadelphia, “Lord, if I could this every day for a living, I would. Lord, I would even do it for free!”
That was the beginning of me connecting my gift of poetry with volunteering and community service and I have never looked back. I stayed at that facility until 2008, and after that, I looked for a new organization volunteer with each summer. I still accepted engagements within the church but I was always careful to carve out some time for poetry readings in the community as well. Thank God I never have to sacrifice one for the other.
I am forever grateful to my friend Sue for allowing God to use her to bring me in to her facility. It was the push I needed to launch out into the deep, to go beyond the four walls of the church, and to truly, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15). I just happen to do that through poetry.
I encourage you to seek God for direction on how to share the gospel through your gift in your community. You may not sing, preach, or recite poetry, but there are nine fruit of the spirit - pick one and share it with your community today!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this month's series on Giving Thanks and thank you for visiting!