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.

 

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(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.”

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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…

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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?

 

 

Ciara & Russell Wilson are Pregnant With Baby 3!!!

Hello World,

It’s official!  Future Zahir, 5, and Sienna Princess, 2, have a little brother or sister on the way! Today on Instagram, Ciara announced that Baby 3 is coming to join the Wilson Family on an Instagram post. Russell Wilson took the amazing photo…It looks like a beautiful pregnancy so far…

 

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Number 3. 📸: @DangeRussWilson

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It says in the Word that, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him” in Psalm 127:3. The Wilsons are definitely being rewarded!

Congratulations to them!

Any thoughts?