Fiction Dynamo Kimberla Lawson Roby Releases Revealing First Nonfiction Book ‘The Woman God Created You to Be’ (INTERVIEW)

Hello World,

With the emergence of COVID-19, Women’s History Month has gotten lost in the shuffle of navigating this pandemic. But nevertheless, I wanted to end Women History’s Month on a positive note. Kimberla Lawson Roby is making history in her writing career as she penned her first nonfiction title The Woman God Created You to Be: Finding Success Through Faith — Spiritually, Personally, and Professionally after penning 27 fiction titles! She has sold nearly 3 Million copies of her books, and they have frequented numerous bestseller lists, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Essence, Upscale, Black Christian News, AALBC.com, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, The Dallas Morning News, The Austin Chronicle and many others.

Below is the synopsis for The Woman God Created You to Be followed by my interview.

ARE YOU THE REAL WOMAN GOD CREATED YOU TO BE? HAVE YOU WANTED TO BECOME HER—SPIRITUALLY, PERSONALLY, and PROFESSIONALLY?

Kimberla Lawson Roby admits that for years, she wasn’t being the real woman God created her to be. Yes, she has always loved God and tried her best to honor Him, but what she eventually discovered was that building and maintaining her own personal relationship with God—and making Him her top priority—was the key to finding joy in all areas of her life.

Now, in The Woman God Created You to Be, Kimberla has bravely—and transparently—written about her flaws, fears, and failures, as well as her faith, courage, and successes. From experiencing divorce to marrying her soulmate of twenty-nine years…from hopelessly searching for the perfect job to becoming a New York Times bestselling author…from suffering in silence with anxiety to concentrating on self-care…from struggling with the loss of her mom to finding strength, comfort, peace. and understanding—Kimberla takes you on a journey that will help you do the following:

● Become the Best Spiritual You (Seven Days Per Week)

● Become the Best Personal You (Mentally, Emotionally, and Physically)

● Become the Best Professional You (Without Jeopardizing Your Faith)

Kimberla reminds us that when we trust and depend on God—heart, mind, and soul—He will empower us to do more than we ever thought imaginable. He will help us see that we are more than enough, and that He has already given us everything we need to become the women He created us to be—spiritually, personally, professionally…and beyond.

1. In your latest title “The Woman God Created You to Be,” your first nonfiction title, you reveal so much. You reveal that you wrote your last seven fictional stories “in misery,”  that you didn’t meet your biological father until you were an adult, that you were touched inappropriately as a child, that you’ve been married before and more. Why reveal all of this now after cultivating a career in writing in which you have kept your personal life to yourself?
 
That is a very, very good question, even one that I sort of had for myself, and the only answer that I have is what the truth is: This is not necessarily the book that I wanted to write. But it is a book that God laid on my heart, and one that just wouldn’t go away. First of all, the idea of just writing a nonfiction book, and also the idea of writing a book in which I am so transparent. But as I continued to pray about it and move forward with it, I decided, ‘Okay, yes, Lord, I hear you, and I am going to write this book.’ Especially if it is going to help women. I also had to come to the understanding that the only way I was going to do that was to share my own experiences whether they were the successes and the accomplishments that God has allowed me to have, as well as the fears, the flaws, and the failures.
 
2. You said you wrote your Rev. Curtis Black Series so that readers would pay close attention to who their church leaders are. Do you feel you accomplished this goal?
 
I do. From when the very first title in the series ‘Casting the First Stone’ was released in January 2000, I’ve heard many, many stories from readers in cities and states throughout the country. So many people have said to me, ‘It made me take a look at my pastor. It made me take a look at my church leader.’ I heard them say that it wasn’t something they’d thought to do, and that it really made a difference in their lives, so that was my whole point. I also mentioned in the book that I love God too much to have written that particular series to criticize or ridicule the church or pastors. I would never do that, and my hope was that people would come to realize that it’s not about worshiping another human being who is standing in the pulpit, but it is absolutely about making sure your own personal relationship with God is intact.
No one is perfect, but what do you feel that people should look for in a church leader, particularly for those who are sour on church as you mentioned in your Church People chapter?
 
I think people should certainly look for a leader who is following God and then also one who has great integrity. I speak very highly of my own pastor because those were two of the things that Will [her husband] and I looked for when we began looking for a different church several years ago. And that makes all the difference – looking for a pastor who not only does what he says he is going to do but that you can see that he is doing it. And you can feel that he cares, not just about himself but that he cares about people in general.
 
3. In your chapter The Comparison Game and Pretending to Be Someone You’re Not, you write about writers who have often said they want to be like you with a wonderfully successful writing career without realizing that if that were true, they would have to be like all of you – which includes still grieving the loss of your mother after she passed away 18 years ago and having anxiety attacks. Why do you feel that this is an important message for writers?
 
I think that it’s a very important message because especially in this day of social media, so many times, people are scrolling through timelines and they’re looking at the next person, thinking, ‘Wow, I wish I could trade places with them,’ or ‘Wow, there’s no sense in me following through with the purpose that I know God has given me because someone else is already doing it.’ That’s what I believe really gets us in trouble. The best advice I could give to anyone, and this is across the board, is to just be who God created you to be. Focus on what your own passions are. Pray and ask God to show you what your purpose is so that you can begin walking in it. One of my lines that I like to say is, and it’s not brand new, but I really believe in staying in my own lane. I just suggest that everyone do that.
And for some writers, you are a New York Times bestselling author, but for some authors, their writing path may not include that kind of accolade. What do you say to that?
 
My thoughts have always been to focus on what God created you to do. Maybe He has brought you into this world to bless 20 people versus 20,000 or 20 million. But we have to be okay with that. We have to do what God has assigned to our lives.
 
4. In your chapter Friends, Friendly Enemies and the Mean Girl Syndrome, you wrote about some female authors who shunned you while male authors were kind to you. Why do you feel that women tend to be like that, and how did you eventually find female authors whom you could trust?
 
I really don’t have an answer for that. That’s something that I would love for someone to tell me and explain to me why that happens. Why do you come across some women who just can’t be happy for you if you’re doing just a little bit better than they believe they are? And with men, it’s something totally, totally different. I really don’t have an answer for that. I can only tell you my response to it, and that was to totally walk away from everybody at that time. And then as time went on, I eventually met new authors, and I became a lot more careful. And then when months and years started to pass, and I saw they really had not changed, that they were genuine, and that they cared about me as much as I cared about them, I just discovered who those people were.
And from what I read, it looked like you had to find your own way in your writing career. Did you ever find a mentor, or did you just have to take things step-by-step in establishing your writing career?
 
I had to take things step-by-step. I, honestly, till this day, I really don’t have another author, other than the two authors who I mentioned in the book, who really stepped up and said, ‘This is what you should do next,’ ‘This is what you should be doing,’ or ‘Great job! Keep doing that!’ And those authors are E. Lynn Harris and Eric Jerome Dickey. Those were the two, at the very beginning, who I learned so much from during those first couple of years of my career.
 
5. In your chapter Everyone has a Soulmate –  Even if She Hasn’t Met Him Yet, which is a controversial title, you reveal that you believe that every woman has a soulmate. Why do you believe that?
 
I do. I believe it, I think, because of my experience with Will and being married before and ultimately meeting Will and just knowing, “Oh my gosh, this is a connection that I’ve never experienced in my life even throughout my years of dating.” Will and I came together, and I don’t want to say how because I don’t want to give so much away from the book. But I just believe that everyone has a soulmate. My controversial statement in that chapter is ‘even if you’re married to someone else’ that’s not your soulmate, you still have a soulmate out there.
And you also advise women to not just be looking for a doctor, attorney or corporate executive but also  to be on the lookout for the man who delivers your mail, works for the electric company or  works at a fast food restaurant. Do you feel that is an issue for women in their search for love?
 
Many times women are looking for not just necessarily their soulmate or the man who will treat them well or the man who will love them or be faithful to them, they’re looking for a certain type of lifestyle. I think that can really cause problems for women in the end.

There are many more questions that I could have asked of Kimberla regarding her book The Woman God Created You to Be: Finding Success Through Faith — Spiritually, Personally, and Professionally, but I don’t want to reveal it all. Hopefully, I’ve given you enough for you to want to pick up your own copy which you can HERE!

Kimberla’s books deal with very real issues, including women empowerment, sexual harassment, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace, problems within the church (and the consequences),  Christian/family/moral values, drug and gambling addiction, marriage, infidelity, single motherhood, breast cancer, infertility, sibling rivalry, domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse, mental illness, and the care-giving of a parent to name a few. In addition, Kimberla’s books offer a message of redemption, forgiveness, and the realities of everyday life.

Kimberla resides in Illinois with her husband, Will.

For more information about Kimberla, please visit her website: kimroby.com.

Any thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

Associate Pastor Khristi Lauren Adams Releases ‘Parable of the Brown Girl’ in Time for Black History Month! (GIVEAWAY)

Hello World,

As you know, I.LOVE.BOOKS! And I’m a sucker for an intriguing title so when an email about an upcoming release Parable of the Brown Girl: The Sacred Lives of Girls of Color showed up in my inbox, I knew I had to share with you my dear After the Altar Call readers! And if you are intrigued, you can win a free copy of this timely book! Below is a synopsis followed by my Q&A with Kristin Lauren Adams, author and associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, New Jersey. (My Greenleaf folk know I love a female pastor as well 🙂 )

The stories of girls of color are often overlooked, unseen, and ignored rather than valued and heard. In Parable of the Brown Girl (adult nonfiction), readers are introduced to the resilience, struggle, and hope held within these stories. Instead of relegating these young women of color to the margins, Adams brings their stories front and center where they belong.

By sharing encounters she’s had with girls of color that revealed profound cultural, historical and spiritual truths, Adams magnifies the struggles, dreams, wisdom, and dignity of these voices.Thought-provoking and inspirational, Parable of the Brown Girl is a powerful example of how God uses the narratives we most often ignore to teach us the most important lessons in life. It’s time to pay attention.

1. Where did you grow up and live now?

I grew up in East Brunswick, NJ. I have lived a few places; California, Washington, D.C, Virginia. Now I actually both live and work in Pottstown, PA at a boarding school called The Hill School. When I’m not at The Hill, I’m back in NJ with my family in East Brunswick. So, I like to say I live in both places; East Brunswick and Pottstown.

2. What is your education/career background?

I went to Temple University for my undergrad. There I majored in Advertising because I had big hopes of becoming an advertising exec and working on Wall Street. While I was there, I explored my faith much more and got involved in campus ministry. I decided I wanted to go into ministry during that time. I went to work as a youth specialist for my church’s Community Development Corporation for 2 years after college and then applied to seminary. I only applied to one seminary, which was Princeton Seminary where I wound up going.

I obtained a Master of Divinity from there and upon graduating went back to my church (First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens), but this time to serve as a Youth Pastor. I stayed there 3 years and then moved to Southern California and accepted a position at Azusa Pacific University as an Associate Campus Pastor for Preaching and Spiritual Programming.

After 4 years there I moved back to the East Coast and took a position at Georgetown University as a Chaplain in Residence and an Interim Protestant Chaplain at Georgetown Law Center. I loved DC, but eventually moved back to NJ to help out at my home church as an Associate Pastor for a few years and then wound up getting the position I’m currently in as Firestone Endowment Chaplain and Instructor of Religious Studies at The Hill School. I recently got into a Masters in Clinical Counseling program with Capella University that I plan to start in the Spring. I think it makes sense that I get a second Masters and look towards becoming a licensed clinician, particularly since a great deal of my work is in the emotional and spiritual health of youth and young adults.

3. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write?

I used to enjoy writing plays and poetry when I was in college. I enjoyed seeing writing come to life on stage. I never thought about writing books until my Pastor (Buster Soaries) wrote his first book and one day said to me in casual conversation, “You know you should write a book.” I remember telling him that I didn’t have anything to write about and didn’t feel like I was an expert in anything. He said, “You write about what you know.” That stuck with me. At the time I didn’t think I knew anything, but I realized that I know what I know from my own experiences. It wasn’t long after that conversation that I wrote my first book.

4. What inspired your book?

My inspiration is the dedication to my book: “For all the black girls who courageously shared their story, their wisdom and their truths with me. Society may put you on the margins, but you are at the center of God’s heart.” The book is written for the black girls who have been unable to give voice to their lived experiences. I say this because I have had many conversations and crossed paths with many black girls who have so much to offer the world, but the world refuses to listen to or see them. I promised myself that if I were ever given the platform, I would place these girls at the center.

5. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

I was amazed by how consistent many of their struggles are with the stories I have heard from other black girls and women inter-generationally. I recognize their struggles and experiences in my own life. As I walked through the Smithsonian African-American History Museum and read about the lives of other black women and girls dating back to the 1500s, the cultural similarities were astonishing. Young black women in contemporary society are confronted with similar issues as many of those who have come before them.

6. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I love to spend time with family and friends and playing with my dog, Daisy. I used to love training for and running half-marathons. I haven’t had a chance to train since I started working at The Hill School, but I’d love to get back into that at some point. Right now, I work out at a gym called Corefit and I like to do strength training a few times a week there.

7. Do you have a bucket list? What are some of the things on it?

I want to eat pizza in Italy. I’d like to go back to West Africa. I want to meet Oprah. I want to go to Essence Music Fest. I want to be a guest on Black Girls Rock. That about sums it up 🙂

Khristi Lauren Adams is the Firestone Endowment Chaplain, instructor of religious studies and philosophy, and co-director of Diversity at the Hill School in Pottstown, PA. Previously, she worked as Interim Protestant Chaplain at Georgetown University Law Center & Georgetown University, Associate Campus Pastor for Preaching & Spiritual Programming at Azusa Pacific University, and former Director of Youth Ministries at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, NJ. Khristi is also the Founder & Director of “The Becoming Conference” that began summer 2017, which is an annual conference designed to empower, educate & inspire girls ages of 13-18.

Khristi is a graduate of Temple University with a degree in Advertising and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary where she obtained a Master of Divinity. Khristi is also currently an Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens. Her ministry and youth advocacy have been featured on CNN and her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Off the Page, and the Junia Project. When not in residence at The Hill School, she lives in East Brunswick, New Jersey.

For more information about Kristi, go to khristilaurenadams.com.

The first person to comment on this blog post will receive a free copy of Parable of the Brown Girl! Once you comment, I will comment and ask you to email your contact information to me!

Any thoughts?

All Love is ‘Struggle Love’ – Breaking Down the Humans of New York Instagram Story of Bobby & Cheryl Love…

Hello World,

As the week of love begins today with Valentine’s Day on Friday, I thought I would write about something that has been brewing in my mind ever since I heard the term “struggle love” a few years ago or so. According to the Facebook page “Just Say No Struggle Love,” ” below is the definition of “struggle love” –

And last week, I heard about the curious case of Bobby & Cheryl Love whose love story was featured in an 11-part Humans of New York Instagram Post…The gist of the story is that before Bobby Love was a husband to his wife Cheryl for 40 years, he was a criminal named Walter Miller. After Walter Miller escaped from prison in North Carolina, he traveled to New York where he began going by a different moniker and he married Cheryl, who knew nothing of his past. Bobby Love seemingly became a different man, having and raising four children with his wife and named a deacon in their church to boot.

This charade went on for 40 years until the FBI showed up at their doorstep on morning, and his secret was revealed to Cheryl and his new family. Bobby Love went to jail, but his wife advocated on his behalf, sending letters to the governor, testifying for him, getting testimonies from others who knew Bobby Love not Walter Miller including church members and children he coached. Luckily, he was only in jail for a year as Cheryl’s advocacy worked. After he was released, Walter Miller officially changed his name to Bobby Love, and Bobby and Cheryl are still married today.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

(11/11) “I got to work. I wrote letters to the governor. I wrote letters to Obama. I gathered testimonials from everyone that Bobby ever knew: all the kids he used to coach, all the people at our church, all of our family members. I testified on his behalf. I didn’t know a thing about Walter Miller. But I told them all about Bobby Love. And the parole board took mercy. After a year in prison, they let him come home. The day after he was set free, I sat him down and asked: ‘What is it? Are we the Loves? Or are we the Millers?’ And he said: ‘We Love. We Love.’ So I had him change his name legally. And now we’re moving on. I still have my resentments. When we get in a fight, I’ll think: ‘This man better appreciate that I forgave him.’ But the thing is– I did forgive him. And when I made that decision, I had to accept all the territory that came with it. I can’t make him feel that debt every day of his life. Because that’s not the marriage I want to be in. The whole world knows now. We’ve got no secrets. But I think this whole mess was for the better of things: better for me, better for the kids, and better for Bobby. He doesn’t have to hide anymore. He can look at me when I’m speaking. Not only that, he’s hearing me too. My voice is heard. I used to walk on eggshells. I used to just go along. But I told him one thing. I said: ‘Bobby, I’ll take you back. But I’m not taking a backseat to you no more.’ Because I got my own story to tell. I can write a book too. I might not have escaped from prison, and started a whole new life, and hid it from my family. But I forgave the man who did.”

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

It was a fascinating love story of forgiveness that is worthy of a book and a movie…While Veronica Wells of Madame Noire writes that Bobby and Cheryl’s love story was “beautiful,” she notes the love story is not “romantic.” She also writes,

“And while I certainly appreciate the story, the fact that they were able to work things out, and that Bobby is a free man. I want the Black community to place it in the proper context. It’s not relationship goals. And honestly, while Cheryl and Bobby seem happy together, I don’t think Black women should be applauding this type of narrative. Women shouldn’t have to deal with not only liars but emotionally unavailable men for decades. They shouldn’t have to marry men who are harboring life-altering secrets. Secrets are a trope in the Black community.”

Veronica Wells did not use the term “struggle love,” but based on the definition above, I would imagine that the writer of these “Just Say No to Struggle Love” Facebook posts would probably put Bobby & Cheryl’s love story in this category. But I would like to submit that all love is struggle love. Yes, I will admit that I would not sign up for Bobby & Cheryl’s love and this is an extreme case of the struggle love, but in all love, there are struggles. I know of another fascinating love story of forgiveness that I also wrote about the Sunday before Valentine’s Day in 2011…I wrote about Betty T. Smith’s story that she wrote about in her book, “Nothing Wasted: When Evil Befalls You, Know That God Keeps You Standing.”

See the description below –

When her husband announces that he has been unfaithful and asks for a divorce after twenty-eight years of marriage, it appears to Betty that her dream has died. However, in the midst of her pain, God gives her a promise of restoration. Clinging to that promise, she chooses to stay faithful until her husband’s return, however long it may take. With candor and courage Betty Smith shares her highs and lows, from the courtship, to the birth of her children, to seeing the man she loved walk out the door, and how she weathered the storm by standing on the promises of God. “Nothing Wasted” is a love story, not just between Betty and her husband, but also between Betty and the God who was always there, always faithful, and who never let her down.

Her husband Bob left her in 1978, and it wasn’t until 2008 when he was sick and about to die that the two reconciled. He revealed to her that he had never stopped loving her and asked for her forgiveness, and Betty confessed her love as well. But secretly within, she grappled with other emotions…

“I had waited thirty years to hear those words, but they came from a broken man, and I never wanted that. I wanted my strong, virile Bob to knock on my door, confess his undying love, sweep me off my feet, and then we would have many more years of wedded bliss. But we were running out of time.”

Bob died days later…After the funeral, Betty went to the cemetery to take fresh flowers to his grave. Mysteriously, one faded yellow rose lay on his grave.

“I took it home with me, for I recognized its name: Acceptance with Joy. My Lord retrieved for me one yellow rose as confirmation that He does not waste anything. He kept every promise and gave me a happy ending.”

Betty dedicated her book to Robert Lee Smith, “her soul mate.”

To me, that story is a “struggle love” story and is a white woman’s story. Truly, I’m not envious of Cheryl Love nor Betty T. Smith, and I hope that I don’t ever have to be in a love that requires that amount of struggle and forgiveness. Though all cases of “struggle love” may not be as extreme as these two cases, trust and believe that if you endeavor to love someone, there will always be a struggle…(Even self-love requires a struggle, but that is another post for another day…)

In the love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, it is stated that,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

If love is not supposed to be “struggle love,” why does love have to be “patient?” If love is not supposed to be “struggle love,” why does love require not being “easily angered?” If love is not supposed to be “struggle love,” why can’t you keep a “record of wrongs? And then at the end, it is said that love “perseveres.” By definition, to persevere means to struggle…

And in traditional marriage vows, where “better” is mentioned so is “worse,” where “richer” is mentioned so is “poorer,” where “health” is mentioned so is “sickness.” And then at the end, staying together until “death” is mentioned. Staying with someone until they die is a struggle…

I understand that by coining the term “struggle love,” it is meant to keep black women from making stupid choices in love. And there are stupid choices to be made. I understand that Lori Harvey is having fun with Future right now, and I get that as a young woman on the scene to be seen…But chile, please don’t make him your future and become one of his baby mamas…

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

But I don’t care if you marry Barack H. Obama, there will be a struggle or struggles…Now, every love story won’t require what was required of Bobby & Cheryl Love or Bob & Betty Smith, thanks be to God who sits on High but yet looks Low, but if you aspire to be in love, know that a struggle will be required…All. love. is. “struggle love.”

With that being said, Happy Valentine’s Day, LOL?

 

Any thoughts?