{ an unlikely tribe }

FullSizeRender (1)I recently attended a meeting at work with two judges, one prosecutor, one defense attorney, and two probation officers. They were telling the federal offender population I serve about a Second Chance program which offers them a support team comprised of the aforementioned individuals who would meet with them every two weeks for about a year and provide guidance and resources to aid their reintegration into society after incarceration. Their allies would be composed of unexpected people.

At first mention, the offenders were suspect of the group members. Afterall, aren’t they the ones that pointed the finger, convicted them and locked them up? Well now, that’s a matter of perspective. This is where we would have to throw our biases out the window and take a risk. If we play the blame game and refuse to budge, we’ll probably rule out potential supporters.

We can choose to surround ourselves with folk who will propel us forward or with those who will say what we want to hear and remain stuck. We need people that will challenge our faulty thinking and steer us in the right direction. We need a fellowship of people that believe in our capacity to change and succeed.

And if we want real and lasting change, we need persistence. We need accountability. We need good examples around us. Especially if we’ve been going around in circles for a long time.

We need people who will teach us that sometimes we have to face the consequences and that it won’t be pretty. We need cheerleaders who will encourage us to keep going even if we get snagged, veer the wrong way or just plain fall flat on our face. We need people who will not give up on us when we’re giving up on ourselves.

And once we’re strong enough and become who we hope to be, we must become part of a tribe for someone else. We owe it to each other. Because along the way, we’ve all crossed paths with people who have lifted us up, who have shaken us awake, and who have loved us hard.

Let’s pick an unlikely tribe to walk our journey with us and if we’re feeling adventurous, we’ll let them pick us. Either way, it’s really not about what we want, it’s about what we need. And let’s not be quick to rule people out of our inner circle. When you expect the unexpected you invite a secret array of colorful people to surround you. That is your tribe.

Letter to a Friend

Tree SwingDearly BELOVED friend,

I decided to stop what I was doing to encourage you.

You’re not alone. Even when it doesn’t feel like it. Even when there’s no one physically beside you. Even when you haven’t talked to any one for days.

I’ve been there. I know.

It was when the space around me felt so frigidly empty, that I was filled.

When all my friends scattered like wind-blown leaves, He was the deeply rooted tree that sat beside me; sheltering me.

His silent presence filled the empty space that burdened me. He was there. I could feel His warm breath whispering life to my naked and battered soul.

When I stopped filling my hands and stood empty-handed, He came.

It was when everything was stripped from me, that He gave me all of Him.

Don’t let your eyes fool you, my friend.

Close your eyes tightly to the reality around you and you’ll know the TRUTH.

You’re NEVER alone.

Loving you hard,

Ibelisse

Isn’t it Time for a Coffee Break?

CoffeeBreakIsn’t it Time for a Coffee Break? Author Amelia Rhodes undeniably thinks so. Her debut book by the same title challenges women to seriously consider making time for friendships with other Godly women as part and parcel of living life.

Rhodes offers a smooth and aromatic read you can visually gobble up in a few hours. This pop art-esque designed book offers a handful of spiritual seeds you can sow in order to reap a rich and overflowing brew of friendship.

Using a coffee metaphor skillfully woven throughout, Rhodes expands on the essentials of love, honesty, encouragement, prayer, generosity, hospitality, forgiveness, and unity. The author also graces the pages of her book with personal anecdotes harvested from her journey through friendship.

With discussion questions at the end of each chapter, this book is perfectly suited for a women’s Bible study or book club. It’s a wise handbook for women who desire to be more intentional in their relationships with other women.

As I read the book, I instantly thought of a particular friend God has blessed me with this past year. She’s a kindred spirit. It’s hard to imagine life without those types of friendships.

Purchase this book through Amazon!

Book Review: Same Kind of Different As Me

Denver Moore is a homeless man who grew up as a modern-day slave in a plantation in Louisiana. Ron Hall is an international art dealer with preconceived notions about homeless people. Debbie Hall is the tenacious woman who brought these two men together. It is an almost unbelievably true story about the impact one life can have on another.

By telling their own story in this memoir, Moore and Hall share significant aspects of their lives, demonstrating a jarring contrast as they are juxtaposed chapter by chapter. Worthy of noting is Denver Moore’s authentic, engaging, and down-to-earth writing style and voice, reminiscent of the language of some of Flannery O’Connor’s characters.

What I found particularly interesting was the way Denver Moore taught Ron Hall nuggets of wisdom through their friendship. Societal expectations would place Hall as Moore’s benefactor, so to speak. Not in this story. God uses the despised of this world to teach the world His wisdom.

This book brings to the fore the ever present issue of homelessness plaguing our country and the many individual lives that are overlooked on a daily basis. As for me, it is a call to action as much as it is a story about friendship, faith and love. If you want to be inspired to live a life that matters, then pick this book up. It has already garnered a place as one of my favorites, not because of any literary laurels received, but simply due to the applause my spirit has given it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”