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By Evelyn M. Bingham
      In today’s impersonal world, it is so easy to lose the ability, desire or effort needed to communicate. Ideally, the art of communication should begin in the home, especially between families. If the spouses are not talking, planning and working together, there’s no way that they can demonstrate or teach their children to communicate and interact with one another within the family unit, let alone their peer group, classmates or other outside interests!
     We are responsible for helping them to learn the social skills which will last them a lifetime. As they are learning to speak, and before, we must be mindful, as adults, to speak to each other in as respectful and pleasant a manner as possible, realizing that although a baby cannot speak, we may have already taught them something about communication from our tone or body language!
     As they are learning to speak, we must be very careful to teach them to speak clearly and distinctly, using proper diction. We should not allow baby talk to become our way of speaking. Using profanity and slang should both be avoided, as bad habits and other negative behaviors are learned fast enough!
  We need to realize that our communications are not always verbal, our children, like us, learn through visual communication, not just auditory. Every parent alive, has, at some time or another, used eye contact or some other you’d better listen to me, communication that each kid can decipher. Communication may be different for each one and each circumstance.
     Every one of us learns a way to communicate with others, everyone we interact with, requires that we use different tactics and ways depending upon that person and the circumstance. According to the dictionary, communication is the act of transmitting. A giving, or exchanging of information, signals, or messages by talk, gestures, writing, facial expressions etc. This is only a minute portion of the definitions for communication. But for our purposes, this one will suffice. 
     Our entire lives will be guided and fashioned by our communication, it’s effectiveness, or the lack thereof. We learn through trial and error from infancy what works with one person or another, learning to adjust automatically to attain the desired results.
     Children learn ways to communicate between themselves, often involving manipulation or aggression, for they have not learned the skills to use their voices and cooperation to get their position heard and respected.
     Adults tend to use the more negative or aggressive forms of communication as a backup, when reason, persuasion, and or intimidation fail.
       One of the most valuable lessons and gifts a parent can give a child is to teach them communication skills. When you start the verbal interchange between you, the children unbeknownst to them, will be learning the foundation for a lasting, trusting bond between parent and child. Years later, when the teenager or young adult has personal problems or questions regarding life, love and relationships etc. they will be confident in their trust in their parents, knowing that their strong bond of communication is solid and dependable, thereby, teaching them to strive to be the same.

Activate faith. Deactivate fear.
By Evangelist Barbara Colbert
     Fear and trepidation are foolproof tools of the Enemy to keep mankind in a state of frenzy and spiritual bondage. The two combined, will inevitably lead to discouragement. Be it a troubled marriage, health issues, or financial woes. When discouragement sets in, hopelessness and despair are bound to follow. Yet, contrary to what Satan would have you to believe, there is hope. If you can only look beyond your circumstances and upon the Lord, you'll discover the real hope and better future that only faith in Him can and will provide you.
     So, for those who wish to be overcomers thru Christ and live a life free of fear or worry, here are some daily practices you can implement in your life, to boost your spiritual health and overcome discouragement:
     Pray. God already knows how discouraged you feel, but He wants you to talk to Him about your feelings and listen for how His Spirit guides you. Honestly vent your frustration to God and keep in mind that He cares about what you're going through. Ask God to open your eyes spiritually so you'll be able to see your circumstances from His perspective and pray for deliverance from circumstances that aren't God's will.
     Remember Who God is. Shift your focus from your discouraging circumstances to God Himself. Remember that He is love and that He is all-powerful. Trust that God will help you. Why? Because that's consistent with His character.
  Refill your spiritual energy tank. Identify what's causing your spiritual energy levels to run low, write down the problem, establish a prayer partnership with a few people you trust who can join you in prayer about it, develop a clear strategy for solving the problem (daily prayer, embracing the Scriptures that address the problem) and take action. Remember: The race is won by the one who perseveres with patience.
  Take care of your physical health. Giving your body the care it needs will help you feel less discouraged. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
  Give to people in need and share your faith with others. Reaching out to help other people will prove encouraging for you. It helps take your mind off your own troubles and give you the joy of knowing that God has used you in significant ways and will remind yourself of how God has worked in your life.
  Resist Satan's efforts to discourage you more. Remember the Bible's promise that if you resist Satan, he will flee from you. Every day, pray for the spiritual strength you need to fight the evil attacks that you'll encounter in your day-to-day life and when Satan tempts you to doubt God, choose to trust Him. When Satan tries to deceive you and you feel confused, pray to discern the truth. When Satan promotes divisions between you and other Christians, make every effort to keep the unity of the Holy Spirit through the bond of peace. Keep in mind that God's power working in you is greater than any of Satan's schemes and, in Christ, you have the spiritual authority to defeat Satan's work and emerge victorious.
  Choose faith over fear and never give up! Recognize that God is always with you - even in the middle of the most discouraging circumstances. Keep holding on to God’s promises and remember that God may not change your circumstances when you'd like Him to, but He will always give you the strength and encouragement you need to deal with them, as long as necessary!!

Belts for sagging low rider pants
By: Marie Zenon
     I am a single woman who raised two handsome sons and one beautiful daughter who has a daughter, “My beautiful little Autumn. All are adults now and my sons are married with children, my grandchildren! Believe me it was not easy, especially raising the boys to men. Their father was out of the picture. I did my best to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, while providing the basic needs. There were lots of dysfunctional behaviors, struggles, lack, and job instability that we endured. I also had issues of my own. I love my children, and it was hard during that part of my life. The best is yet to come. I was a firm believer in education and they had to graduate from high school and then college. I had to practice what I preached. I went back to school at fifty-six years old and graduated with two degrees.
    I was pressed on ever side with rebellion problems that my youngest son was exhibiting. When he turned twelve years old he turned into Dr. Jackal and Mr. Hide, very smart, but interacted in negative energy. He did things behind my back that I refused to believe. He was my darling little boy, and He caused me pain, stress, and hurt trying to keep him on the right path. I still love him and want the best for him and his family. My other two children did well. We made it through by the Grace of God.
  Yea Lord! When my youngest son attended high school he was a very popular guy. I was sick and tired of the girls chasing after him, and he loved the chasing. I thought he had too many friends. He had gotten too mannish for his pants. He picked up a habit that I really hated; He test wearing his pants off the waist as to a sagging look. I called it the drop down low riders without a belt on the thigh. I would like to meet the person who started all this. Did it come from the prison system or the young rappers? I pray for the return of the norm. Uh! The reality fashion show!
  I do not care to see this ridiculous style that the young boys and men are portraying. I thought they would be tired of the same old way, but it’s on the rise. Does wearing your pants without a belt to the knee makes you feel macho or does it attract the young ladies to you? I am curious to know. You may tell me to mind my own business, and that is OK, I can handle that, but I feel a need to get it off my chest. Do not allow the truth to hurt you, but change the habit. I hope you would think about the supernatural gifts that are laying dormant within. Stir-up the gifts! Instead of this horrible day view. Be understanding and have a change of heart. I am watching and deeply concerned. We all need help in some areas of our life and we are never too old to learn.
  I gave my son a shocking scare of his life. I was buying his clothes and shoes and he was not going to wear them slouchy. Sometimes I was able to buy him name brand outerwear and shoes. I made sure he had his belt on and pants properly on his waist before he left home. You know looking presentable. But that would change when my back was turned. I visited his school unexpected one day and saw his pants hanging down. I literally told him I will whip and embarrass him in front of all his friends if he didn’t pull his pants up the way they supposed to be worn. I practically lived at his school because of behaviors problems. His teachers knew me on a personal level. Of course he never wanted to be embarrassed so he abided by the rule. I can remember the expression of those friends who heard me. They probably wished their parents would do the same. Today, he is a good man and a hard worker and he dress very nice with his belt holding up his pants in the proper perspective. Tough love works for some. I am proud of him! He asked me one day if I really would have shamed him at school and I told him “You better know it!
  I have done quite a bit of traveling in my days and I see the young and old men wearing their pants almost leveled to the ground. What’s up with that? Yea! Yea! I know it’s your prerogative, but you have made it a public spectacle, so I have an opinion and I am at liberty to ask questions about what is going on in your head. It is your choice to not answer. You are better than that! I pray and believe in you.
  I have lived a hard life on this earth and I have made many foolish choices that cost me setbacks, and I only got the slow flow of God’s blessings, but you live and learn. I know without a doubt that prayer changes things. I did not tolerate the sagging in my house. My sons respected my authority, although I was such a strict and domineering mother. I would like to say that it has paid off for them. If they are holding a grudge against me I pray for their healing. That is another story.
  I believe that the appearance of a man should represent a Taylor made distinguished gentleman, who is spirit-minded, intelligent, handsome, well groomed, strong, and a hard worker. I know that you are out there and you aren’t wearing your pants below the knees. Too much copycat is going on. Not only are blacks doing it, but white men and boys are also participating in the festival. The style appears to be well favored only among those who are obvious. I would say it looks weird as a clown. I am not impressed looking at your layers of underwear. Take no offense! The attraction is not appealing nor is it a masculine exercise. Pick up your pants; they are too low. The waistline is crying out “Do me right”
  Everything happens for a reason. We do things and sometimes we don’t understand why we are doing it. Motives and intention may seem confused. Could it possibly be boredom, low self-esteem, laziness, or perhaps because most of the fellows, and now the little boys are in the in-crowd. Help me to understand. Have I missed out on something at my age! Beautiful women and young ladies speak to the men and boys; do not tolerate the outrageous poor taste of the drop down on the thigh look. The swag is better. I enjoy looking at a man’s cool step instead of walking in slow motion as if he is carrying a heavy load between his legs. You are better than that! God created you to enjoy life’s best, even to the point of wearing your clothes neatly. You are good and handsome; believe it for yourself.
  You supposed to represent your creator who made you in his image. Women do not think about wearing your pants like that; it’s not lady like! What are you thinking when you are seen in public with your man dressed like that. I was in church recently for a convention and a tall handsome stocky guy with his woman or wife; was dressed very nice in a sky blue outfit, looking good, but when he stood up his pants were sagging below the waist. I was surprised. I realized that it’s what in the heart that matters, but I believe that the impression of the outer appearance speaks too. Respect yourself! Pull it up! 
  We have dominion over God’s creation; men supposed to set an example for the boys and be head of the household, be good providers, and become men of valor from better to best and “Yes You Can” Your pants belong on the waistline with a belt holding them up and not on the thighs or knees. Your appearance will look so right and attractive. Who says so? I do!
  Ladies set the stage; you can have some influence in this bizarre custom. If you agree say “Amen” Lets help the men out with the low riders! Tell them it’s not appropriate. Hype up the low riders with a belt. Preachers teach about it in the church. Grooming is healthy! It looks and smells good! If the outfit does not fit; it’s not for you! Peace with God.

Being Saved
​By Autum Lake

I want to change, I know…
I know I can’t be two people at once.
      Either I’m going to be spiritual or like the world.
                            It’s hard to change because I easily get influenced by the world.
                             I don’t want to die, I want to live forever. I try to do my best and try not to be shy…
stand on my feet and testify.

                        You told me I shall never fear of what’s going on, far or near.
                           You are always by my side and trying to save me before I die.
You healed my heart and my soul and you kept me from the ditch
When I see the saints praise the Lord, it make me want to go ahead and lean forward.
Please forgive me, Lord, and give me strength…
and take me from being low to a much higher length.
I understand that your Word is not a game…
I try to figure it all out and try my best where to aim.
Lord, I know I can always count on You…
You love me, and I love You too.
Autum Lake is a 12-year-old poet