A Family Empire

“We were children who still volunteered at hospitals and shelters; who still shopped at Old Navy and ate at chain restaurants. We put up more money than we spent and had to make sure we tithed ten percent to our church.” – Brelyn Michele Clover

I love the TV show “Empire”. Most of us dream of building our own someday. What I love about my new YA series, The Clover Chronicles, is that it Chronicles the life of the Clover family, namely the four children and their journey being a part of a wealthy family. When I started this idea back in 2013, it seemed far-fetched to me.

Not because I didn’t believe I could write a story about an African-American family having a billion-dollar business, but because I wasn’t sure how I could bring it all together and not make it sound like something that was far-fetched (or now, with “Empire” being such a huge show, something that wasn’t already being done). The truth: everything in entertainment has been done before, regardless of the format it’s in.

What I love about the family empire I’ve built is that the family’s foundation is built on their Christian faith. I also chose to have Papa Clover, the family’s patriarch, inherit his grandfather’s winery, which was already worth billions before he was even born. Every family story will have its ups and downs, but it’s the characters that people fall in love with that makes the family real to the reader or viewer.

The Clover family has three key things that makes them who they are. This is also why readers will love them:

  • No matter what they face, they pray together and they stay together
  • They don’t compete with each other. They encourage each other, oftentimes, forgetting about themselves in the process
  • They give more than they receive. This isn’t literal, but their values are built on a strong work ethic and caring for others. Each character’s passion for people shows through in the story.

Of course, in book one, you will get to see this mainly with Brelyn. As a teenager battling Lupus, her compassion to see Saith, her crush, is all based on a moral foundation she got from her parents. She doesn’t just want to help him because she likes him. In fact, she pushes against her feelings for him for quite some time. She helps him because seeing a boy her age in a wheelchair doesn’t sit right with her.

What are some things that you would like to read (or see) when it comes to family sagas? Do you feel like there is a void in entertainment (publishing, TV/film) as it pertains to shows that embrace family values?

To read an encounter between Brelyn and Saith, click here.

Struggling – The Things We Can’t See

“How could I call myself a Clover when my sickness had branded me as some weakling, while my parents and siblings seem to grow stronger every day?” – Brelyn Michele Clover (taken from my new book, Battling Brelyn)

Brelyn finds herself struggling throughout Battling Brelyn. Namely, with the disease Lupus. But there are other struggles that she faces. Most of her struggles are internal. Oftentimes, when life hands us lemons, we’re told to make lemonade (yes, Bey. We feel your pain.) What I find interesting is that life often squeezes us to see what comes out. I mean, how else are we supposed to develop character or the fruit of the Spirit?

How often are we in trouble in life and can’t seem to find understanding as to why something happened? Could it be that our understanding will come after you’ve gone through the experience set before you?

In my opinion, a struggle will only last as long as we want it to (in most cases). God asks us to trust Him and while it’s not always easy, it is definitely something that makes the struggle a little easier. Seasons of struggle are the perfect chance to unleash a strength that you may not realize you have. A strength that only God can give you during that particular season.

Even in a struggle, there’s some fight left in you. I often find that struggle makes us fight harder than we would’ve fought had things been the way we wanted them to be. No matter how uncomfortable you feel during that time, remember that going through it is what will help you grow through it.

What are three key things that you do during a season of “struggle”?

Here are mine:

  • Pray and pause – not only do I pray, but I wait to hear what God has to say
  • Stay joyful – from smiling at my neighbor who always looks mean or killing the customer service rep with kindness, I go out of my way to stay joyful
  • Bless someone else – I’ve been at the movie theaters and turned to pay for the person’s ticket behind me. It not only shares the light of Christ, but it lets Satan and his dark forces know that I won’t be moved by my circumstances.

To find out more about my new character Brelyn and her family, sign up for updates here.

Brelyn’s Battle with Lupus

“It all started the day I went to open my toothpaste. My finger locked and I couldn’t even get it open.” – Brelyn Michele Clover (the first line from my new book, Battling Brelyn)

My new young adult series touches on a lot of themes that I believe many of us face today. The one theme that is essential to the book is that of Lupus. My main character, Brelyn Clover, is diagnosed with Lupus at the beginning of Battling Brelyn (the first book in the series). As a teenage girl who loves health and fitness, you can imagine how hard this blow is for her.

May is Lupus awareness month. Even though the month is over, the fight for Lupus will never be over. I felt compelled to write a story about a character with Lupus because I believe this disease affects more people than society may realize. I’ve had friends and friends of family members that have been diagnosed with Lupus. Some have battled with it for years. I also lost an aunt to Lupus.

When I first got the idea, I had no clue where the story would go. Three years later, after outlining, working on the character bible and making sure the pieces were in place, the story was finally completed last month. Reading it over during a month where many organizations, namely Lupus.org, are bringing more awareness to the disease, I realized one thing – it’s such an important time for everyone to understand the impacts of Lupus and how you can support a family member or friend dealing with it.

One key thing that stands out in Battling Brelyn – her family never left her side during times where she was confined to the hospital or to her room. They banded together, even when there was tension between them. Support can be anything from prayer, to keeping a loved one company, to giving an encouraging word – or even sneaking them an occasional milkshake (which Brelyn’s older brother does for her) – anything to see a smile on their face.

The important thing is to help them with whatever they need to stay healthy and take their doctors orders seriously. Either way you support, just know the fight for Lupus has only just begun. For those who don’t understand what it is, how it affects the body or how you can support, visit www.lupus.org for more information.

To sign up for exclusive first chapter excerpts from my upcoming series, The Clover Chronicles, click here.

The “Good” Fight

I wrote an article back in 2013 titled “Meagan Good is all Good”. You can find it here:

http://www.iwritelife4u.com/2013/07/meagan-good-is-all-good.html.

It was in reference to the way the church judges people, primarily their own, meaning other believers.

Just last month, the issue came up again when DeVon and Meagan were speaking at One Church LA, headed by Pastor Toure Roberts, and a woman decided to say flat out “So, we gone cover up, right?”.

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Image courtesy of Meagan Good’s official website

Of course, what preceded this was the woman saying she pushed past all judgement to come to the event, even after seeing Meagan Good with her breast out on the cover of a magazine. It started off good – she was giving Meagan her props.

But she ended on a bad note. I say a bad note and not a wrong note because I don’t believe the woman meant it in a malicious way. I do believe that we as the Body of Christ need to remember something:

John 7:24 (in the Message translation) says this: Do not be nitpickers. Use your head and heart to discern what is right, to test what is authentically right.

Now, of course in context, in this verse, Jesus was speaking of people talking about the miracle He performed on the Sabbath. We are so quick to say what should and shouldn’t be done, that we forget about taking a look a person’s heart. How do you see it? By listening to them and not looking at them.

I was judged harshly as a teen while growing up in the church. From my hair and nails being done every two weeks to me wearing nice clothes (nothing sleazy or showing skin). I was just judged because I was different.

So my heart is always tender for women in the church who are attacked – especially when we attack each other publicly. As believers, my prayer is that we will learn to not tear each other down at all, but especially publicly, where non-believers are watching. They already feel the church is hypocritical. Let’s not add fuel to that fire.

 

Sex Crazed in a Scarred World

Why is sex always the answer when the question is pain?

It doesn’t matter where we are or where we go, sex is everywhere. It’s trending on a daily basis, on every social media platform, every television station and somehow, it has leaked its way into the most sacred of places – our hearts.

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Image provided by Digitalart

I say our, because we’re all accountable. I remember being victim to my own body, not caring how someone perceived me or my actions because it was the life I wanted and knew how to live. But no matter how I roll the dice, if it keeps coming back to the same number, then there’s a deeper rooted issue.

“But it’s just sex,” people say. “Everybody is doing it,” others spew. “And, what’s the big deal?” says many of America’s teenagers.

Nobody said it was a bad thing. But I think it’s safe to say that a large portion of the world is seeking to fill a void with sexual behaviors, sexual illusions and worldly impressions that doesn’t leave much to be desired. Instagram is now a place for pinups and exposed body parts (men included).

But the problem isn’t the person – it’s the scar that they haven’t dealt with. I was exposed to too much at a young age and the vulnerability that I had, left me open as a little girl in a big world. I made decisions and own every one. But the lasting spiritual effect that many of my sexual decisions had on me can’t compare to anything physical that I may have experienced in my life. I dealt with the question (pain) and the solution was only found in Christ. The solution was only found in internal peace, joy and wanting more out of life than an instant moment of fun.

Sex is always the answer because everybody hides behind their pain, calling it “desire”, “fun” and “YOLO”; sex is always the answer because people enjoy saying “I had that”, and “the opposite sex gets away with it, why can’t I?”; sex is always the answer because the question is one that requires you to look in the mirror and admit that you are attempting to rid your life of a pain that no physical act can ever heal; it requires you to submit to a higher level of understanding about how sexual soul ties hinder growth in every area of your life.

Is sex bad? No. Am I judging you if you’re having sex? Absolutely not. Am I asking you to take a deeper look into reasons why you may be having it carelessly? Yes. Please do. And ask God to heal you.