Three Gifts Guaranteed to Give You Christmas Cheer…

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Since Christmas is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” if your eyes aren’t twinkling like they are Christmas lights, if jingle bells aren’t attached to your ankles or you aren’t burping up eggnog, you don’t possess that sometimes seemingly elusive Christmas cheer…

I know that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” but can I be honest? Sometimes even knowing that isn’t enough to dredge up that Christmas cheer that everyone is supposed to be cloaked in like an expensive heavy coat that you only wear on special occasions….

Still despite the manufactured Christmas cheer that retailers will lead you to believe can only be bought, I have discovered there are three gifts, not 12, not enough for your whole family or all your network, simply three that will stoke the furnace of genuine Christmas cheer within you…

wise menI don’t know if it is the example of the three Wise Men or because God is the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit or at the suggestion of my favorite author Catherine Marshall, but in my 20s, I decided that in addition to the gifts I would give to my friends and family, I would also give three gifts to Jesus…

Now, how does one go about giving gifts to Jesus? Although I feel His presence with me, I have never seen nor touched Him physically…So how was I supposed to do that? I was led to these three verses as I came up with a way to give three gifts to Jesus…

 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:30

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:3-4

 So what do these three verses mean?

1. I was give without expectation of receiving anything back.

2. I was to give to people and or organizations that served “the least of these.”

3. I was to give in secret and not tell a soul.

I have never revealed what I have done before, but since I am writing a post about this, let me share some of the gifts I have given over the years as a testimony to how God has blessed me with authentic Christmas cheer as a result….

There was once a homeless man that I saw every day as I walked from one location to another in downtown Atlanta…All of the store owners on the street were kind to him, and I could see why…He was kind and mannerly and even funny sometimes…I don’t don’t why he was homeless, but he seemed content to live on the street…I thought that since he seemed like he wanted to be on the street, I could at least help keep him warm…I tried to figure what what size pants the man wore and bought him a pair of jeans (he always had on jeans) and a blanket…When I handed him the wrapped up gift, he seemed not to know what I was handing to him until I explained it was a Christmas gift…Then he smiled…That simple smile made me glow on the inside…

Another year, I decided to volunteer one Saturday at My Sister’s House at the Atlanta Mission…I helped hand out supplies to the women and children that were staying at the shelter…At that particular time in my life, I pretty much hated my job and the fact that I was too poor to move out of my parents’ house…But spending just one Saturday at the shelter showed how much I had to be grateful for…My mom has always told me if you want to feel better, forget about yourself…

black dollAnd finally another one of my secret three gifts was the doll I gave to a Christmas toy drive one year…although I am not a girly girl, I have always LOVED dolls…I wanted a new doll every Christmas for years and years…in fact, I used to worry that as a fifth grader, someone at school would find I still played with dolls and I would be teased…So one year I decided to give the prettiest, most girly, luxurious hair-having doll I could find and afford to a toy drive…I don’t know what girl was the recipient of that doll, but if I have learned anything about God, “every good and perfect gift” comes from Him…I’m sure that the girl who received that doll was the very girl that wished for and deserved that gift…

Although Christmas is a week away as of tomorrow, there is still time to give (and get) Christmas cheer…

Any thoughts?







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Are You Wearing Your Black to Church Today?: #BlackLivesMatter…

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In solidarity with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and the Church of Christ, my husband and I are wearing black to church today to demonstrate that all of God’s people need to pray and organize efforts to stop black men from being victimized by police and the criminal justice system altogether…To read the an article about #Blacklivesmatter and these churches, please go to Churches Ask Congregants to Wear Black on #Blacklivesmatter Sunday in The Washington Post

Yesterday, peaceful protests took place in our nation’s capital, New York City, Boston and San Francisco all dedicated to heightening awareness about the victimization of black men by police and the criminal justice system…

May God guide us as we continue to work for justice and equality for all…

Any thoughts?

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Watch “Marry Us For Christmas” Tonight/My Interview With Malinda Williams

Hello World, Marry Us For Christmas - Final Key

I must admit since I got engaged two years ago in December, not only is this month a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, I also reminisce about how Robert totally surprised me by proposing to me. So when I heard about the movie “Marry Us For Christmas,” I knew I had to write about it on this blog…

Below is the official description –

In the sequel to last year’s popular UP Original Movie “Marry Me For Christmas”, its a year after Marci Jewel (Malinda Williams) and Blair Kirkland (Karon Riley) declared their love for each other and decided to tie the knot.

But as the big day approaches, Marci is so consumed with work that she’s had no time to plan her wedding.  To make matters worse, she may have to team up with former assistant/fake fiancé Adam to win a project shes been vying for – a little tidbit Marci has held back from Blair.  But Blair, as it turns out, has a secret of his own.

Thanks to years of doing pro bono work for financially-strapped clients, he quickly is running out of cash and might have to accept an offer to work for his longtime nemesis, Marci’s manipulative cousin Preston (Carl Payne).  Meanwhile, Marci’s mother Stephanie Chandler Jewel (Victoria Rowell) is making some rather bold moves of her own with her sexy salsa teacher, Antonio Simpson (Marques Houston), who is more than a little smitten with her and about 20 years her junior.

Will there be a wedding for Christmas?  Better yet – whose wedding will it be?   Naturally, the festivities wouldn’t be complete without family, including Marci’s Uncle Donald (GregAlan Williams), Aunt Myra (DeEtta West), Aunt Elizabeth (Chrystale Wilson), Charlene (Dawn Halfkenny) and Antonio’s uncle Lawrence Simpson (Kristoff St. John).

“Marry Us for Christmas” comes on tonight at 7 p.m. EST/ 6 p.m. PST on UP!

I interviewed Malinda Williams about being a part of this movie and her journey in the entertainment industry.

malinda karon

1. When I think of all of the roles you portrayed from Tracy ‘Bird’ Van Adams in “Soul Food” to Casandra in “The Under Shepherd,” I think my favorite role of yours is Young Alicia in “The Wood” which you portrayed as an adult. I loved that movie because the movie captured a time period that people in my generation can appreciate. How do you stay looking so young?

I’ll tell you something. My grandfather is 104 years old. And he is still completely healthy. He can hold a conversation. He probably remembers every grandkid’s birthday. I guess I have to say first and foremost: I just have really good genes. And then I do what I can to maintain that. I’m not not super healthy. Sometimes I indulge myself. I drink a lot of water I do know that. But I think it’s mostly just my genes.

2. How did you get into the entertainment industry in the first place?

I’ve been acting since I was 10 years old, doing television commercials, modeling. It was something extracurricular that my parents got me involved in. But I thought my actual career would be cosmetology, but because I had this other skill – this acting thing – I moved to Los Angeles. But I only came here because I hadn’t gone to a university or a college so I hadn’t left home. So I said to myself, ‘I gotta get out of this house.’ I thought of all the places I could move to where I could make a living. I thought I could do hair in L.A. and if I needed to do a television commercial or modeling, I could do that there to. I said, “I’m going to L.A. for three months, and I’ll see what happens.’ I got my first gig within two weeks and really haven’t stopped working since.

3. So do you still do hair at all? And I’m guessing that because you can do hair, you are the one that came up with your signature style – short and sharp.

For the most part, I really just do my own. But I do have some friends who will be like, ‘I’m coming over for a cut or for a blow out. I need you to trim my hair.’ But I don’t do it for a living or a side hustle. I did for many years work in a salon when I was out of high school and out of cosmetology school. It is definitely a passion of mine.

And as far as my style is concerned, I don’t think I decided. It decided for me. I grew up with very long hair down my back, and people would say you have such pretty hair. When I was in my 20s as an actress, I didn’t want to be identified as the pretty girl with long hair. I know that sounds crazy. But I wanted people to value me for my work not just how I looked. What is very interesting to me now is the very thing I tried to avoid by cutting my hair off was the thing I’m identified for now. I’m partly identified by the way I look. So I stopped running from it and I owned it.

4. How did you get involved with “Marry Me for Christmas” and “Marry Us for Christmas?”

I have done some projects with Swirl Films before. They produced both movies. They do lots of projects for UP television. Eric Tomosunas [CEO of Swirl Films] is a good friend of mine, and he called me and said, “I’m doing this movie, and I would like for you to do the lead.” When I read the script, I thought it was a sweet movie and it was well-written. Rhonda Baraka wrote it. And then my talk show was on ASPiRE, the sister network to UP so I thought it was all in the family. Plus I had never done a holiday project so I thought it would be fun.

victoria kristoff5. “Marry Us for Christmas” is the sequel to “Marry Me for Christmas.” What is different this year?

We have new cast members. Kristoff St. John who plays “Neal” from “The Young and the Restless” is in the movie. And Victoria Rowell is in the movie again so people get to see Neal and Drucilla from “The Young and the Restless” back together again.  Marques Houston, who is a singer and was on “Sister, Sister” is in the movie. He’s got the comedy. Karon Riley, who I absolutely adore and plays my fiancé, is back. He’s the husband of one my dearest friends which made it little bit awkward.(laughter)

6. As you mentioned earlier, in addition to being an actress, you are also one of four co-hosts on the talk show “Exhale.” How did that happen?

That is a very interesting story. I actually befriended a young woman on Twitter. She sent me a direct message. I sent her a direct message. She was asking me for advice and one day I gave her my e-mail address. I said, ‘Listen, there aren’t enough characters here for me to tell you what it is I need to tell you.’ So we started corresponding electronically. I kind of thought I would be a mentor to her because she wanted to get into the entertainment industry.

And then one day, she texted me and she said, ‘I am working with someone who is casting a talk show and they are looking for an actress, would you be interested?’ I said, ‘Of course I would be interested.’ And I said, ‘Wow, here is someone that I would mentor, that I thought I was helping, and she was actually helping me.’ And we still have a relationship. It was really random. I don’t respond to everyone in that way on Twitter, but for some reason, I was feeling in my spirit that I needed to respond to her. And now I know why.

7. Finally,  to what do you attribute your longevity in the entertainment business?

Well, I attribute it in part to having such a youthful glow. (laughter) I definitely think that has a lot to do with it.  The longer you can stay looking youthful, the longer you can play young. The longer you stay looking middle aged, the longer you can play middle aged. It just kind of stretches everything out in my opinion. That’s one thing.

I think another thing is I kind of try to keep it pretty classic. I don’t tend to do things that are trendy. Or of this era. I try to do projects that are classic that stand the test of time. “Soul Food” is about family. It’s about love. It’s about relationships. And those things don’t go away. That helps to make my character, the Malinda Williams character, if you will, almost synonymous with something that is timeless. I didn’t necessarily start out with that effort in mind, but that is how it played itself out. That is partly why I’m still here.

Below is a video snippet from “Marry Us for Christmas.”

Any thoughts?

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