Three Gifts Guaranteed to Give You Christmas Cheer…Even During the Coronavirus Crisis!!!

Hello World,

Hello World,

I’ve said this before, but I will say it again: Christmas is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year!” So if your eyes aren’t twinkling like they are Christmas lights, if jingle bells aren’t attached to your ankles or if you are not burping up eggnog, you obviously don’t possess that sometimes 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…especially during the coronavirus crisis when you also have to wear a mask “everywhere you go.” (To the tune of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”)

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…

I 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 below 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 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 out 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 who 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…

And 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 out 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, I know that “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 the Christmas countdown has begun,  there is more than enough time to give (and get) Christmas cheer…

Any thoughts?

‘Greenleaf’s’ Jacob aka Lamman Rucker To Star in OWN Original Christmas Movie ‘Cooking Up Christmas’

OWN Celebrates the Holidays With Three Original Christmas Movies Premiering TONIGHT

Hello World,

If you’re missing some of your favorite stars from OWN’s “Greenleaf” like I am, we can at least see Jacob very soon!

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network will continue its holiday tradition this season with three new original Christmas movies coming to the network Tuesdays at 9 p.m. starting TONIGHT! “A Christmas For Mary,” starring Vivica A. Fox and Jackée Harry, will premiere on December 8; “Cooking Up Christmas,” starring “Greenleaf’s” Lamman Rucker and Meagan Holder, will premiere on  December 15; and “Har,” starring Idara Victor and Tonea Stewart, will premiere on  December 22.

“Following the overwhelming success of our inaugural holiday movie slate last year, we’re excited to  announce all-new movies with heartwarming storylines the whole family can enjoy,” said Tina Perry,  president, OWN. “We hope that viewers will continue to make watching our movies together a part of  their ongoing holiday traditions.” 

About the Holiday Movies: 

“A Christmas For Mary” premieres Tuesday, December 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT Vivica A. Fox stars with Jackée Harry and Morgan Dixon (“Being Mary Jane”) in a holiday tale of  rediscovery and renewal when up-and-coming journalist Lena Jones (Dixon) is tasked with delivering  a story by Christmas that will wow her boss, magazine editor Vivian Vaye (Fox), who is dangling a  promotion to head writer over Lena’s head. Intrigued by a portrait of a mysterious woman painted by  her late grandfather, Lena journeys to the small town of Pineville, where with her mother, Deborah’s  (Harry) blessing and support, Lena uncovers a long-ago forgotten tale of young love that not only  uncovers cherished memories of the past, but also inspires Lena to follow her heart and find her own  true love … and her perfect Christmas story. “A Christmas For Mary” is produced for OWN by Hybrid and executive produced by Vivica A. Fox in association with Harpo Films. 

“Cooking Up Christmas” premieres Tuesday, December 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT Meagan Holder (“Pitch”) stars in this family-centric holiday story as Chloe, an Atlanta-based chef at a  fine dining restaurant who gets fired just weeks before Christmas and reluctantly takes a job with pro  baseball player Donovan Jackson (OWN’s “Greenleaf” star Lamman Rucker), who is a single dad of  three needing a live-in-chef to get him through the holidays with the kids. Chloe only takes the job in  order to save up enough capital to live out her dream of opening her own restaurant, but soon finds  herself caught up in the ups and downs of the Jacksons encounter during her residency.

Throughout  the holiday season in the Jackson household the importance of family and Chloe’s good Southern  cooking are two constants that remain. As Christmas comes to an end, Chloe discovers that her lifelong  dream might finally come true… and that her heart has a mind of its own. “Cooking Up Christmas” also  stars Jen Harper and Laparee Young from OWN’s “Greenleaf” and Lindsey Amani Blackwell from  OWN’s “David Makes Man.” “Cooking Up Christmas” is produced for OWN by MarVista in association  with Harpo Films. Executive produced by Roger M. Bobb, Lamman Rucker, Megan Ellstrom, Larry  Grimaldi, Hannah Pillemer and Fernando Szew.  

Below is a snippet of an OWN interview in which Lamman Rucker discusses “Cooking Up Christmas” and more:

“First Christmas” premieres Tuesday, December 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT 

Given up for adoption and placed in foster care at a young age, writer Halle Downing (Idara Victor,  “Alita: Battle Angel”) receives the blessing of a lifetime when she is invited to spend Christmas in New Orleans with the biological family she never knew she had – The Moores. Halle’s grandmother  “Memaw” (Tonea Stewart, “A Time to Kill”) welcomes the young woman with open arms, completely  overwhelming Halle with emotion at the significance of finally finding her family. Extremely excited to  meet her twin siblings Tiffany (Samantha Smith, “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins”) and Glenn (Mason  Beauchamp, “NCIS: New Orleans”) along with younger brother Drew (Peyton Jackson, “Nobody’s  Fool”) for the first time, Halle soon faces the hard reality that finding her place in this close-knit family  is going to take longer than she thought, something that becomes particularly evident when she  witnesses Tiffany’s apprehension about introducing her new girlfriend Paris (Amanda Tavarez, “Queen  Sugar”) to the family for the first time.

However, as Christmas approaches, Halle begins to gain  perspective on the Moore family dynamic and ultimately comes to embrace and celebrate her first family  holiday with a special gift that tells her she is right where she is supposed to be. “First Christmas” is  produced for OWN by MarVista in association with Harpo Films. Executive produced by Tia Mowry,  Tiegen Kosiak, Todd Y. Murata, Larry Grimaldi, Hannah Pillemer and Fernando Szew.  

I’m so excited about these OWN Christmas movies! What about you?

Any thoughts?

New York City’s Songbird, Gospel Artist & Pastor Michele Sweeting Rings In The Holidays With Bilingual Rendition of ‘Oh Holy Night;’ Taps Raymond Diaz, Producer of Mariah Carey & Enrique Iglesias

Hello World,

One of the best ways to celebrate the season is sitting in front of a roaring fire, sipping on sparkling apple cider and listening to Christmas classics playing in the background. Gospel artist and gifted songstress Michele Sweeting loves the spirit of the holidays, especially the celebration of the birth of the Savior. The consummate vocalist and graduate of the Big Apple’s renowned Music & Art High School is known for her rousing performances including her first single, a rendition of “Center of My Joy,” which launched her career and took New York City by storm. Now, the pastor of The People’s Church and the anointed worship leader has just added a brand new holiday favorite to the Christmas collection with the release of her new single, “Oh Holy Night.” The song is currently available on all digital outlets.

“Oh Holy Night,” penned in 1847 by Adolphe Adam, regularly tops the list of best loved Christmas carols. But few of those renditions are in English and in Spanish. That was a unique twist that Michele gave her memorable interpretation of the hymn, “Oh Holy Night/Oh Noche Santa.” “I always knew that when I recorded the song, I wanted it to have that larger than life sound,” shares the songstress. “Raymond Diaz, who has worked with Mariah Carey and Enrique Iglesias, and who I know through Sanctuary Church with Rev. Dr. Raymond Rivera, produced the song and gave it a brilliant orchestration; he incorporated a beautiful string arrangement capturing exactly what I wanted.”

The track is already receiving love online and Michele is hoping that believers and non-believers alike will be moved by its life-changing message. “‘Oh Holy Night’ has always grabbed my heart because it’s about the Savior’s birth,” says Sweeting. “During Christmas, many are focused on the popular culture of the holidays instead of being focused on the Gift on the Tree.” The song is also special to her because she heard it at home as a child. She says, “When I was growing up, I remember my mother playing a number of versions of ‘Oh Holy Night’ by artists from The Carpenters to the Temptations to Barbra Streisand to Gladys Knight. So many artists have recorded the song and I wanted it to be part of my musical tapestry as well.”

Listen to Michele’s “Oh Holy Night” below:


Michele has released a number of songs that have become part of her musical tapestry. Her first release, Center of My Joy, spawned the single – of the same name – and saw the artist peak on the New York Gospel charts for 6 weeks at the top spot. Center of My Joy was followed by Lamb of God, a sophomore release which solidified her standing as a Contemporary Gospel Recording Artist. That project was followed by her single, “Only By Grace,” which dropped in the summer of 2019. Her latest single, “Only See You”, peaked at #43 on the Billboard Gospel 100 Chart. Michele has been seen singing her songs on Christian TV, appearing on programs such as Babbie’s House, Atlanta Live, Hour of Harvest and Bobby Jones Presents. She’s traveled the world singing God’s praises in places like Russia, Egypt, Trinidad and Barbados.

Known as a pastor, psalmist and educator, she recently launched The People’s Church, a ministry birthed through COVID-19 under the covering of her Bishop, Rev. Dr. Raymond Rivera, founder of the Council of Holistic Christian Churches and Ministries (CHCCM). She, her husband, Rev. Louis DeCaro, Jr., Ph.D., and their son are the founders of Loaves and Fishes Ministries as well. “Professor Michele,” as she is affectionately known, is also an adjunct professor at The City College of New York and John Jay College, where she teaches English and Literature. In addition, Michele is a Ph.D. Candidate (ABD) at Walden University and a two-time co-author of the anthologies, It’s Possible! Living Beyond Limitations, and recently, Crystal Clear Sisters: Walking in Purpose. For more information about the music ministry of Michele Sweeting, go to Connect with her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Any thoughts?