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Ever wonder where Emily was being courted by all her suitors? Well, I recently learned episode 4 was shot at ROSEWOOD TUCKER’S POINT, Bermuda’s premier luxury resort. Lucky girl. I think her trips were some of the best of the entire show for all seasons.

Wine Room (1)

Remember the candlelit wine cellar romantic one-on-one date? That was shot at The Point, the resort’s fine dining restaurant. 

Also shot at Rosewood Tucker’s Point was a group date at the private beach club, overlooking one of Bermuda’s most stunning stretches of pink sand.  Rosewood Tucker's Point Club - Aerial View

Offering breathtaking views of Castle Harbour, Harrington Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, Rosewood Tucker’s Point is an exclusive, 240-acre residential and resort community that routinely makes the most prestigious rankings of the world’s great resorts, from Condé Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure to Elite Traveler and Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report. Among its exceptional amenities are the acclaimed 18-hole Tucker’s Point Golf Course, tennis courts, and a croquet lawn.

Tucker’s Point is also home to Bermuda’s newest luxury hotel – the first to open in 40 years, Manor House Suitewith 100 exquisitely decorated guest rooms, a 12,000-square-foot spa and a fine dining restaurant.





Television & Radio Personality Jawn Murray Launches New Entertainment & Lifestyle Site

Television & Radio Personality Jawn Murray Launches New Entertainment & Lifestyle Site

Respected television, radio, and digital media personality Jawn Murrayhas launched a new entertainment and lifestyle website called  The veteran entertainment reporter and lifestyle journalist decided to flex his entrepreneurial muscle and launch his own online portal after receiving some encouraging words from Hollywood mogul Tyler Perry.

“I was in Los Angeles for the premiere of ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’ just days after resigning from AOL Black Voices last year,” recalls Murray.  “Tyler and I were two of the first people to arrive at his after party for the film and we had a moment to chat privately.  He challenged me then to consider launching my own site because he told me that people respected my journalistic approach because I’m fair and honest, and because he felt we needed an alternative to the abundance of negative blogs online.”

Murray, who has become a go-to guy for entertainment perspective and pop culture analysis for television networks like CNN, HLN, MSNBC, Fox News, TV One, VH1 and others, is no stranger to digital media.  The Washington, DC-based journalist penned AOL Black Voices’ most successful and longest running column “BV Buzz” ( from September 2004 until he left the company in April 2011.  Prior to his stint at AOL Black Voices, Murray wrote the widely popular “Jawn’s Juice” entertainment column for the Electronic Urban Report ( from February 2002 until March 2005.

“I know from my previous experience working at a number one website that even in the age of the blogosphere you can generate an audience and be successful with real journalism, insightful interviews and accurate reporting,” offers Murray. “I intend to apply that same approach to  The site will provide readers quality journalism, exclusive access and content that is intriguing with substance.”

The soft launch of has already proved to be successful, as the site has surpassed half a million hits since going live on Independence Day.

Go to to check out the site’s entertainment and lifestyle coverage.  For additional information on Jawn Murray, please visit:

About the Jawn Murray: Jawn Murray is a veteran entertainment journalist, lifestyle reporter and pop culture expert.  He’s been named by Ebony magazine as one of the “30 on the Rise” to watch in the industry, and the NAACP recognized him as one of “40 Power Players Under 40.”  On radio, he spent five years offering entertainment coverage on the nationally syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show.”  On TV, he's become a regular contributor on networks like CNN, HLN, TV One and MSNBC, and has also appeared on international networks like BBC UK, Canada’s Sun News and Dutch TV.  Murray has also been featured on NBC’s “Today Show,” “Access Hollywood,” “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” and “Our World with Black Enterprise.” As a pop culture expert, he’s been featured in and/or quoted by National Public Radio (NPR), The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, MTV News, CNN International, New York Post,, among others.  In 2011 Murray partnered with EMI Gospel for a digital music competition called "Untapped."  He then executive produced the partnering compilation CD titled, "Jawn Murray presents Untapped" that was released in September of 2011.

(Please note, I did not write this. Merely posting what his great publicist sent me cuz I liked it so much. Enjoy!:)

Ketel One Vodka Offers $100,000 for Men Everywhere to Answer "A Gentleman's Call" Nationwide Search to Find One Idea Worth $100,000


"The idea of a gentleman is one of awareness, confidence and compassion. Helping to support an initiative that is based on those ideals is an honor and I look forward to seeing the evolution of this quest reach its full potential." Ian Somerhalder, Actor and Philanthropist

Ketel One is offering today's gentlemen the awesome opportunity to showcase their game-changing ideas with "A Gentleman's Call: In Pursuit of an Idea that Matters."

A Gentleman's Call is a nationwide search to invest behind one original idea that champions the lifestyle of the modern gentleman. Ketel One is looking for substance and style within an idea, inspiration or endeavor that will raise society's behavioral bar.

Get involved at, where the five projects best exemplifying a higher standard of thinking and living will be selected. The Grand Prize Winner chosen by consumers across the country.

Ketel One will then invest $100,000 to turn the winner's idea into a reality.

To lead this nationwide call-to-action, Ketel One has enlisted the mentorship of three men that embody the essence of a modern gentleman: Ian-Somerhalder-the-vampire-diaries-tv-show-8779555-925-1222

Actor and philanthropist IanSomerhalder

Adam_Garone-Web_lo-resCo-Founder and CEO of the Movember Foundation, Adam Garone and Lightened Carlos Poncecelebrated actor Carlos Ponce (who is forever imprinted in my mind now as the crazy, sexual banana hanger wearing yoga teacher from the Vince Vaughn & Jon Favreau film, Couples Retreat! LOL) 

These cultural counselors will be defining the values of the ultimate gentleman's competition through their day-to-day lives. Don't forget - Get involved at, where the five projects best exemplifying a higher standard of thinking and living will be selected. The Grand Prize Winner chosen by consumers across the country.


CEO Michael Crowley's actual letter to his former employees per Snopes. It's still good reading.:)

I hate it when this happens, but according to Snopes the original Michael Crowley letter isn't from him at all, but was attributed to him erroneously.

What I found interesting though, is Snopes printed the actual letter he supposedly has written as a response to the original one which is just as fascinating in light of this current business climate.

I can't figure out how to copy it from Snope and am providing the link directly back to their letter in case you're interested:

Enjoy the read! Next up is fun fashion stuff for guys, I promise!:)

A Real Letter: To All My Valued Employees - A Must Read!

 (Saw this on Facebook and it's too good not to share. "This is a REAL LETTER and it's GOOD! Some lessons about big government and capitalism.......the "Occupiers" need to take notice!")

"There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn't pose a threat to your job. 

What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country. Of course, as your employer, I am forbidden to tell you whom to vote for - it is against the law to discriminate based on political affiliation, race, creed, religion, etc. 

Please vote for who you think will serve your interests the best. However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interest. First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a back story. 

This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You saw my big home at last years Christmas party. I'm sure all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life. However, what you don't see is the back story. 

I started this company 12 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living space was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn't have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business -- hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. 

Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting Nordstrom's for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the Goodwill store extracting any clothing item that didn't look like it was birthed in the 70's. 

My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business --- with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had. 

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9 am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5 pm, I don't. There is no "off" button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, ****, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to me like a 1 day old baby.

You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden -- the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations... You never realize the back story and the sacrifices I've made. Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail out all the people who didn't.

The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for. Yes, business ownership has its benefits but the price I've paid is steep and not without wounds. Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why: 
I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don't pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my "stimulus" check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch. 

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check? 

Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country. The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you'd quit and you wouldn't work here.. I mean, why should you? That's nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don't understand .. to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn't need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now. 

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don't defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the mud of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. 

Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep. So where am I going with all this? It's quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child's future. Frankly, it isn't my problem any more. Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. 

You see, I'm done! I'm done with a country that, (with the help of the press,) penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship. 

While tax cuts to 95% of America sounds great on paper, don't forget the back story: If there is no job, there is no income to tax. A tax cut on zero dollars is zero.. So, when you make decision to vote, ask yourself, who understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn't? Whose policies will endanger your job? Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of saving your job. While the Main stream Liberal media wants to tell you "It's the economy Stupid" I'm telling you it isn't. 

If you lose your job, it won't be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the Constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me in the South Caribbean sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about. 

Signed, Your boss,

Michael A. Crowley, PE 
Crowley, Crisp & Associates, Inc. 
Professional Engineers 
1906 South Main Street, Suite 122 
Wake Forest , NC 27587 

Michael A. Crowley, PE is the owner of Crowley & Associates, Inc. and was President and an owner of Crowley, Crisp & Associates, Inc. and Michael A. Crowley, PC. As President of Crowley & Associates, Inc., Mike is a lead designer of water supply, treatment and storage projects, regional sewage lift station design, and residential and commercial site development projects and is responsible for the management of the firm. Mike’s industry background includes over 20 years experience in the civil engineering field inclusive of executive level responsibilities in Marketing and Project Management. Prior to founding Michael A. Crowley, PC, Mike held positions with several engineering firms in North Carolina and Maine. Mike holds a B.S. Degree in Civil Engineering from University of Maine and a Master of Business Administration from Boston College. Mike is a member of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and holds professional registrations in North Carolina , South Carolina , Virginia , Maryland , Arkansas , Texas , Arizona , New Mexico , Indiana , Maine , Tennessee , Australia , and Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies . Mike is a native of Norridgewock, Maine. The Crowley family resides in Wake Forest."

My Interview with Atlanta-based @ShopBellaBag Founder, Cassandra Connors - may surprise you!

By Joy A. Kennelly

Recently, I was approached by an Atlanta-based online designer handbag business called Bella Bag to attend their new bricks-n-mortar retail store launch happening here in Atlanta.


I've never quite understood the lure of a designer handbag and took advantage of the opportunity to interview the founder, Cassandra Connors, with very interesting results. 

She answered all my questions, even though I know some were kinda naive, which you also might find enlightening because you may have been wondering the same thing privately!:) 

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Bella Bag, here's the official description: 

"Bella Bag is one of the most regarded spots on the web for buyingselling and authenticating pre-loved, vintage, rare, and limited-edition designer handbags and accessories.

With years of experience in genuine-only luxury goods, including high-end brands such as Louis VuittonChanelGucciHermes and more."

With the launch of their retail store here in Atlanta, now you can "shop, trade and sell your handbags and accessories in person!" (Exclamation point per the publicist.:)

The address, for those of us lucky enough to live in Atlanta and experience this store in person, is: 650 Miami Circle Atlanta, GA 30324. The store is currently open to the public Monday thru Friday from 9am to 430pm or by appointment only. If you wish to sell your bag, you can do so at the store on Thursday from 10-2pm or by appointment only. Otherwise, you can do so online any time!


"Cassandra Connors and The Bella Bag Team’s mission is to create a secure, simple, and exciting shopping experience.

The Bella Bag team has created a straightforward authentication process to banish the worry associated with typical Internet luxury purchases. They believe that every woman should know the feeling that carrying a fantastic accessory creates the perfect ensemble...and that every woman should be able to do it authentically.

Learn more about Bella Bag at"

So, without further ado, here's the questions I presented to Cassandra and her very thoughtful, insightful answers. Please pay special attention to number 9 because I was surprised to learn this fact and it made me rethink my attitude towards fakes tremendously!

1. How did you get started in this business? Did you ever expect it to be so popular?

CaseyI started my business as a hobby really.  I had some designer items myself (not just bags), and I was just a broke student at that time, so the only thing I could think of to do was to sell what I had and earn a little extra money to pay the bills…

Within time, some friends asked me to do the same for their extra stuff and then eventually I started reaching out to their networks too.  It was always something that was just fun, and a great way to make a living. 

What I did realize, from the beginning of doing this, is that there was a hole in the market.  Women not only wanted to sell some of their older valuable but they also wanted a place to buy their newest pieces too.  The problem was that there really wasn’t a place for them to do so safely online…a place where they would be guaranteed their latest purchase, although pre-owned, was still the real deal. 

No, I never knew it would be as popular as it is today, but I did know that the concept was necessary and had tons of potential. 

 2.      Why Atlanta? Why not a bigger city to launch your retail store? Or even online business? What is the draw for you as a fashionista to Atlanta? Just curious since it’s not generally known as a style city, but totally is.

Prior to moving to Atlanta, I had been living in Florida.  My fiancé and I made the decision to move to Atlanta as we felt it was a place that was fully of culture, food and art. 


I’m from the NY area originally, and of course love NY…maybe one say we’ll open another boutique there.  One can dream!




3.      What handbag is the must-have this summer season? Any fall trends popping up now too?

At Bella, we’re not about trendy items.  We are all about classic staples that hold their value.  Usually that mean Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermes, but this year, we are seeing a lot of customers wanting Gucci and Balenciaga too.  Ba03front These are great bags that are a bit more edgy, and will still never let down on second hand resale value.

 4.      Can you elaborate on “The Bella Bag 13 Step Authentication Process” and how you came up with this testing standard?

The 13 Step process is a system that takes into consideration all the different pieces that add up to an authentic bag, across all brands.  The 13-Step is the initial authenticity check we do with every single bag that comes in the door.  It’s the cornerstone of Bella. 

However, its not the end all and be all, and counterfeiters are getting smarter everyday… We do everything we can to keep up to date on the new scams and schemes. 

If a bag doesn’t pass the initial 13-Step, it’s not getting listed for sale.  Shop_bella_bag_LV05dolly Even if it does pass the 13-Step, many times we do further spot checks and scrutinizing anyway.  We want our customers to know that they are only getting the real deal when they shop with us.

 5.     Do popular designers ever go out of style? Or do they just go in and out with the season?

Oh yes, definitely.  We see many handbag designers come in and out.  For example, we used to sell tons of Marc Jacobs, now you will hardly find one in our store.  Personally, I love them, but they just don’t sell anymore the way they used to 5-7 years ago.  We’ve seen that happen with many brands.  The good news is, that as quickly as popular designer go out of style, they usually come back around too!

 6.      Why would a woman buy a handbag and never use it? I don’t understand the concept of such frivolous shopping.:) Please explain.

I’ve had tons of my clients make impulse purchases at a big store, because they saw a friend with the same item or even a celebrity.  Its not a rare thing that a woman gets that bag on her own arm a few days later and finds out that it just doesn’t fit her (body or personality).  Celebrity-Colorful-Designer-Bags

Just as you will often hear people talk about the clothes that best flatter someone, handbags definitely are the same way.  We spend lots of time with customers helping them to find not only a bag, but the right one. (Click on this article for more information "How to Choose the Purse for your Body Type.") 


7. I’m new to this whole concept of designer hand bags. Does the value of a handbag increase similar to a piece of art? Please explain to those of us who are uneducated in this realm.

Sometimes.   It depends on which bag and which style.  At Bella, we try to carry the items that will hold their value or grow in value.  If you choose a classic piece or a rare piece, then you are pretty safe, especially when shopping with our staple brands, like LV, Chanel or Hermes.  Chanel bag Its when we buy the trendy or of the moment items that we see a value drop later on.

 8.      Why do women buy designer hand bags? Is it competition? Status? Society approval? Reward?

Hmmmm…I think it is a myriad of reasons.  I don’t feel comfortable speaking for everyone, however in my opinion and personal experience, I think everything you mentioned is valid. 

But, mostly, I would say Reward and Confidence. In my opinion, nothing feels better than carrying an awesome accessory that you are proud of. 

Similar to the way many men feel about their watch, I think women cherish handbags in the same way.  They see it as their mark of style, their investment piece…and to be able to afford one takes a lot of hard work, so they should be proud!


9.      Tell me more about what the anti-counterfeiting organizations including the CACP, do to protect designers and the public?

 There are many agencies out there that are very helpful, like the CACP.  The biggest benefit of one of these agencies is that they are constantly educating the public.  Many women initially think that buying or not buying an authentic bag is all about price…and maybe a designer’s integrity.   


And, while it’s definitely about those two things, it’s also about the anti-American activities (such as child pornography, drug trafficking, terrorism) that the proceeds from counterfeits support.  It’s a huge industry.  The money goes somewhere.  Other entities aren’t simply producing counterfeit fashion for the heck of it.  The CACP truly helps people to understand the bigger issues at hand.

This concludes my interview with Cassandra. I hope you've enjoyed the read and learned something in the process.

Now go shopping!:)

I plan to post something for my male fashionistas soon.

Be patient!:)

Philip Stein, the perfect summer luxury watch for the discriminating woman.

This just in for all women seeking the ultimate summer watch. Per their publicist, enjoy the read!

"Philip Stein has the perfect summer watch for any barbeque, cocktail party, or summer wedding. The all-white Philip Stein watch complements every summer outfit. The dual time zone feature helps you keep track of what time it is back home and at your vacation destination. On the hottest summer days, the ceramic white case and strap, available in ladies and oversized, have a light cool feel. 

Stars like Oprah Winfrey, Selena Gomez, Madonna and Dakota Fanning have been spotted wearing Philip Stein watches.

1CW-MW-CW copy


Ceramic White Case

Mixed White Dial

Integrated Ceramic White Bracelet

Dual Time Zone

Retail Price: $1595

Philip Stein watches also feature Natural Frequency Technology, which provides many health benefits including better overall well-being, increased focus, and improved sleep.  Natural Frequency Technology in Philip Stein watches is based on key frequencies which are embedded on a metal disk found in every Philip Stein watch. Customers around the world have reported better sleep, more focus, and an overall improved well-being. (I like this!)



Readers can visit to find their closest Philip Stein retailers.

Christian living according to M. Scott Peck and me, an imperfect Christian

By Joy A. Kennelly

Man, I must really be in an introspective, sharing mood because I feel like writing about something personal again because it's on my heart.

My friend and I often joke there's a real epidemic of the "Christian Ghetto" which is very prevalent in Christian circles. I'm all for "fellowship" (Christianese for hanging out together either at church, Bible Study, fun activities, or whatever) and enjoy it on occasion myself as it's Biblical. We're encouraged to spend time together to build each other up.

But when that's the only people you spend time with, I can't do it.

Did it growing up, and now...

I grew up with a strict Christian father who believed in us attending church 5x a week - three times on Sunday, Bible Study on Wednesday and a social activity with Christian church friends on Friday. Christian Missionary Alliance and Baptist background too, so you fully grasp the religious foundation my life was built upon through my early years.

I see right and wrong very clearly as a result. Life was black and white and being grey is still something I seek to achieve. As a result of my upbringing, when I left for a year of Bible school I admit, I felt guilty at first when I skipped Sunday evening services, but also free of the religiosity of it once and for all.

Ironically, it was also in Bible school where I had my first drink of wine, and witnessed my first affair. I was so sheltered growing up I felt completely inequipped for the real world for many years after and made lots of mistakes. Everyone does, but when you're naive and so sheltered, it's not good.

I feel my dating a non-Christian, pot smoking, alcoholic boyfriend for three years after that time was simply the rebellious acting out other people experience in high school. 

My adolescent rebellion was just delayed.:)

That said, I know I was also protected from a lot of mistakes I saw friends make because of my sheltered background. I've never fought alcoholism, drug abuse, porn addiction or any of the things that are visible as societal ills. My issues are more covert and common place. Doesn't mean I'm perfect though. Far from it!

I try to work on myself every day through scripture reading, prayer and discussions with Christian friends. Doesn't mean I always get it right, but I'm getting better at it slowly, but surely.

Progress not perfection, right?:)

That's why when I see so many Christians out here spending all their time with only other supposed Christians and only doing Christian activities, I don't have much in common and wonder if they even know there's verses in the Bible that state:

1 Corinthians 9:19-23, especially in the paraphrased version of the Bible, coming from The Message, "Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized-whoever.

I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ-but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!"

Romans 12:2 also says "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

There's such a thing as choking on Christian fellowship when we're called to be "fishers of men" (more Christianese, I know. Weird, right? It's in the Bible though: Matt. 4:19 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men.")

However, my favorite verses are these:

Matthew 5:13-16 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

The irony of Christianity in CA, one of the most liberal states ever, is that those who attend church really believe in it and want to live a better life. It's not because all their friends are doing it, it's a social good time, or it's easy to be Christian out there. It's hard.  

According to statistics, only 18% of people profess Christianity in CA vs. 48% here in GA.

Living a Christian life in CA is as counter-culture as you can be. It's not sexy, fun or cool like it can be out here in GA. It's a life-defining relationship that requires devotion, discipline and constant effort to live a blameless life because you're surrounded by so much heathenism it's easy to succumb.

I know. I've succumbed.:)

But I've also repented and gotten out of it with great effort and support of other Christians to pursue a more Godly life too. 

You really do know Christians by their walk. You can't hide it. You either are a Christian, or you're not.

Out here in GA, it's a little easier to hide since everyone goes to church and then lives however they want. There's no societal pressure to live to a higher standard because as long as you're hearing Andy Stanley's sermons and participating in Christian activities, everyone assumes you're pursuing a Godly life.

There's basically no difference between being Christian and not. No accountability unless people actively seek it out which happens rarely, if ever.

This kind of religious lifestyle has its good points and its bad. It's like the old saying though, standing in the garage doesn't make you a car. Or the verse that says, "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth."

Christian living is living a life that's different even if it means not sleeping with your boy/girlfriend though it feels so good. It means not getting drunk even though that also feels good. It also means not gossiping about other people because it's a fun, social activity everyone's doing and if you don't, you're kinda out of the loop.

M. Scott Peck has written two books I highly recommend reading. For those of you not familiar with who he is, Peck "was an American psychiatrist and best-selling author, best known for his first book, The Road Less Traveled, published in 1978."

I've always been an avid reader since a child. I even won a reading contest in elementary school for reading the most books in my grade. I tested at the 17th grade reading level in the 3rd grade and received 40 out of 40 in a comprehension test then too. Also as a child, I memorized the most Bible verses in order to win a trip in a bi-plane.

Can you tell I'm competitive and like winning?:)

When I attended college I was able to get out of taking a class because I'd already read the 20 books assigned on the topic. I choose a topic or author and then read everything until I'm bored. Then I move on. 

Thus, I read M. Scott Peck's first book, The Road Less Traveled, after high school which I related to and enjoyed. It deeply impacted my life, as have all the books I read. There's a saying, what you read today will be who you are five years from now. It's also been shown millionaires read an average of one book a month.

Just thought you'd like to know.:)

Here, according to Wikipedia, are the basic tenets of Peck's first book:

"In The Road Less Traveled,[6] Peck talked of the importance of discipline. He described four aspects of discipline:

  • Delaying gratification: Sacrificing present comfort for future gains.
  • Acceptance of responsibility: Accepting responsibility for one's own decisions.
  • Dedication to truth: Honesty, both in word and deed.
  • Balancing: Handling conflicting requirements. Scott Peck talks of an important skill to prioritize between different requirements -- bracketing."

I just had to read his next book, after the deep perspectives I found in this book on spirituality and psychiatry. The concepts I read have carried with me throughout my life.

Here's the description of People of the Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil

"With his classic best-selling book, The Road Less Traveled, Dr. M. Scott Peck has introduced over three million readers to an integration of the deepest insights of psychiatry with those of religion.
In People of the Lie, an absorbing and equally inspiring companion volume, Dr. Peck utilizes the same approach to probe brilliantly the essence of human evil. People who are evil attack others instead of facing their own failures. Peck demonstrates the havoc these People of the Lie work in the lives of those around them.
He presents, from cases encountered in his psychiatric practice, unforgettably vivid incidents of evil in everyday life. This disturbing, fascinating book offers a strikingly original approach to the age-old problem of human evil."
You can read more about him and his books here:

Now the part of the book I related to the most was his description of spiritual development based on his practice and knowledge of human nature which is copied below:

"The Four Stages of Spiritual Development

Peck postulates that there are four stages of human spiritual development[12][13]:

  • Stage I is chaotic, disordered, and reckless. Very young children are in Stage I. They tend to defy and disobey, and are unwilling to accept a will greater than their own. They are extremely egoistic and lack empathy for others. Many criminals are people who have never grown out of Stage I.
  • Stage II is the stage at which a person has blind faith in authority figures and sees the world as divided simply into good and evil, right and wrong, us and them. Once children learn to obey their parents and other authority figures, often out of fear or shame, they reach Stage II. Many so-called religious people are essentially Stage II people, in the sense that they have blind faith in God, and do not question His existence. With blind faith comes humility and a willingness to obey and serve. The majority of good, law-abiding citizens never move out of Stage II.
  • Stage III is the stage of scientific skepticism and questioning. A Stage III person does not accept things on faith but only accepts them if convinced logically. Many people working in scientific and technological research are in Stage III. They often reject the existence of spiritual or supernatural forces since these are difficult to measure or prove scientifically. Those who do retain their spiritual beliefs move away from the simple, official doctrines of fundamentalism.
  • Stage IV is the stage where an individual starts enjoying the mystery and beauty of nature and existence. While retaining skepticism, he starts perceiving grand patterns in nature and develops a deeper understanding of good and evil, forgiveness and mercy, compassion and love. His religiousness and spirituality differ significantly from that of a Stage II person, in the sense that he does not accept things through blind faith or out of fear, but does so because of genuine belief, and he does not judge people harshly or seek to inflict punishment on them for their transgressions. This is the stage of loving others as yourself, losing your attachment to your ego, and forgiving your enemies. Stage IV people are labeled as Mystics."

When I read it back in college, I was still in Stage 2, but now feel like I've continued to evolve in my faith to a different level. I don't "need" Christians to know my faith. It's part of who I am and I've studied it, tested it, and lived it. My dependence on God is complete and full. I don't need to prove anything to anybody because I know who I am in my faith.

I do enjoy hanging out with Christians, don't get me wrong. I just can't handle hanging out only with them! LOL

I love all kinds of people and artists especially. That includes filmmakers, musicians, fine artists, graffiti artists, fashion designers, models, actors, and anyone who expresses themselves creatively. They see the world through different eyes and reflect it back to us in ways we may not have considered.

If I had to give up hanging out with all the quirky, funky unusual people you find in a creative environment, I would die. I love them!:)

That's why I may not always be found in Christian circles, part of Christian groups on Facebook, or disecting my faith online with other Christians. Been there, done that. It's not who I am, nor who I want to be any more. 

I remember the admonition Ann Landers quoted by Eleanor Roosevelt in one column oh, so long ago: "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

So, if you care to engage me a discussion of politics, ideas or anything other than who's dating who, who's saying what about whoever, what the Bible says about men and women's roles, then I'm all ears.

I may even hang out with you or your group more.

But if not, not really interested. I've got too many other interesting people I want to get to know and learn from who are open-minded, truth seekers, and growth-oriented. 

And with that, I'm off to Passion City Church to learn from spiritual people I admire and respect. Next week I'll be with other kinds of people and looking forward to it!:)

My thoughts on friendship and other thoughts on life in Georgia this holiday week.

By Joy A. Kennelly

I don't know if other writers do this, but I compose what I want to write in my head before committing to print. I organize my thoughts, explore the topic mentally as I walk or drive to figure out what it is I'm trying to express. Then, I sit down and write it all out.

If I don't blog, then it bothers me until I do express the thought. Sometimes it takes awhile to pull together the over-riding theme, but then once I do, I just add to it piece-by-piece until it's a coherent whole.

One time I was so caught up in my mental transcribing I drove right past my exit on the freeway. Maybe I'm the only one, but to me, figuring things out in my head is the first step to actually writing.

Thus, when I woke up this morning and my mind was filled with thoughts of friendship and what it means to me, I knew I had to write it down to make my mind stop whirling endlessly on this topic.

I've been taking care of a good friend ever since her surgery on Monday and as a result, we've been through things together on a more intimate level than spending time at fun events that don't require much thought or care, just companionship.

It's at times like these it's easy to feel helpless, out-of-control and beyond the inner strength normally drawn upon to keep it together. Completely natural. I have experienced times like that too and am always grateful I have quality friends I can count on who have my back when I need it most.

Fortunately, we managed to pull it all together and got home eventually to rest, but even then, trying to figure out five different prescriptions prescribed to counter-act the allergic reaction when you're stressed out, exhausted, emotionally and physically drained with no help from your physician is exasperating beyond belief.

I am a very strong person having lived through so much in my life, but even I began to falter due to lack of sleep and the effort of being strong for someone else who needed me. I had to call my mom for advice because I was so sleep-deprived and didn't think I could manage to do what was right for my friend and stay.

I needed my mom's objective, caring insights to make the right decision as only a mom can do.

Fortunately, having been through numerous surgeries herself, she assured me I needed to stay there and be there for my friend even if I felt I didn't have anything to offer, because my friend still needed me.

I'm glad I did. We both were able to finally rest and now she's on the road to fully recover finally.

As a single person without many commitments or responsibilities beyond myself, it's easy to become selfish and self-centered like I see so many other singles become unknowingly. I never want to be like that and with my parent's training and example of selfless giving, have tried to live a life of service even though I'm the first to admit, I haven't always succeeded.

That's why I knew, in that moment of time, my mom was right. I needed to be there for my friend even if it meant foregoing time with social friends, skipping the fireworks, BBQ's, and other festivities surrounding the 4th of July because being there for my friend in her time of need meant more than any holiday fun.

Holidays come and go, but true friends are rare and special. Hang on to them tight and cultivate them lovingly because as a single person, friends are your family and life support. It's better to be "inter" dependent than independent I'm learning. It's ok to admit you need help and can't do everything on your own. Just be careful who you share this part of your life with however.

What I found interesting reaching out to friends I've met here for support during this experience is the kind of response I received. One girl, whom I have considered a friend in the past, but more and more see as simply a user, when asked for a ride to participate in an event she invited me to yesterday, totally blew me off as she usually does.

It used to hurt, but now that I see her for who she really is, it doesn't. I realize this is a fair-weather friend who will always be there if I offer her something for free, invite her to join me for a free dinner I've won, or invite her to a cool special event I've been invited to attend, but isn't willing to give in return unless it suits her, which unfortunately, it rarely does.

As a result, I've stopped doing anything with her for the most part, even skipped her birthday party because I don't need this "Southern" friendship any more. I feel sorry for her actually because a life of selfishness will ultimately catch up. Once her children are grown and out of the house she'll be left with nothing but herself to deal with. 

It's so easy to avoid introspection when you're constantly filling every free moment with activities and church, but the rubber hits the road when all you have is yourself and God. Since losing my car in a terrifying accident which left me unharmed, but killed my car, I've had plenty of time alone to think and grow in who I am as a woman and as a friend.

When friends you think are friends turn on you when you're helpless due to an injury and lack of transportation in a city like Atlanta, it really makes you pull back and consider who you allow into your life more carefully. I never had this issue in CA, but here in the South it's much more common to feel guarded because of the false veneer of politeness that veils every interaction and friendship.

People are much more passive aggressive and dishonest about how they feel about you because it's how this culture has been cultivated and taught to behave. Never reveal your true feelings, never act like anything is wrong, and remember, life is always wonderful.

It's lovely, isn't it? 

Well, sometimes it's not. Sometimes life is hard, difficult, stressful, frustrating and real. And it's in those hard times when you really see who is real and who is not. Who is a real friend, and who is not. And it's in hard times when you realize what is important in life and what is not. 

It's not attending events, being seen, taking pictures doing charity when you're not living it, or simply having fun with someone, it's sharing your life on a deeper, more meaningful way that makes all the difference in the world.

It's being there for someone when your whole being wants to be somewhere else, and then once you make that decision to stay, realizing you're so much happier and content being right where you are because it's right.

That selfish friend aside, when I reached out to other friends here for help and support, they responded kindly and were available if needed which was comforting. God has been throughout this entire recovery experience and we know it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I was pleasantly surprised my friend felt good enough to go see fireworks after her new pain meds kicked in and we drove close by to a park celebration which was perfect. We ended up parking in someone's drive, watching the fireworks from a distance, and what was cool, became a gathering point for other people to stand and watch with us.

One couple had the most amazing white lab named Winston who was so mellow despite everything going on around him, it calmed my friend as she was able to love on him and ignore her situation for a little while. Then a family joined us who had run the Peachtree race in the morning and just wanted to chat. Another woman who had been tearing up the street after her dog got away, joined us later after capturing her to spend time with us too.

We all enjoyed sharing the moment knowing this is what you do on holidays. The most amazing thing too, was learning two of the women were nurses. My friend was able to ask questions about her condition which eased her mind and helped her know what else to do to aid in her recovery.

That was the God shot we both needed.

It was great and why I love the 4th so much. Sharing time with people you'll probably never see again, but because of your bond as an American, this holiday is special regardless and we're in it together.

For one day a year, politics, religion, and race don't matter. We are unified as a country to celebrate the uniqueness and independence we all cherish as one America.

I love that.

I'm coming up on my one year anniversary of living in Atlanta, GA and feel I've grown through this new life experience in many ways. I don't have a false perception about the reality of my life out here, nor expect anything from anyone any more, but am always happy when I'm surprised by grace.

I also own the fact I made this life choice and it's up to me to make the best of it. Friends have always told me you need to give a new place a year to feel comfortable and know how you really feel.

I'm still sorting my feelings out, but know this year has been special and something I will always remember. If I leave, I will carry friendships with me I will cherish forever.

It's not the place, the life experiences, the car you drive, or the place you live, but the relationships in your life which make a place a home, a life worthwhile and a quality memory.

That's all. Just felt like sharing.

Hope you're enjoying your week too. God bless.