I hope everyone’s summer is off to a great start. It is a race to get everything done during these summer months. Vacation, relaxation, chores, and activities… a lot to do and so little time to accomplish it all.
Sound a little too familiar? Well, let’s take our thoughts much deeper and engage in a discussion about the race that we are all in but sometimes tend not to realize what it will mean for us if we complete and cross the finish line.

Hebrews 12:1 King James Version (KJV)says:
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”

Looking at this verse, there are personal reflections and identifiers that we all need to stop and address:
1. Lay aside your weights- What is keeping you from moving forward? When you are burdened and tied down with your personal weights, whatever they are in your life, you can’t move right or leftat all.
2. It also says for us to lay aside- get rid of the sin which so easily binds us. We all know those sins that keep us from being able to run the great race of faith – people, things, habits…we all have them in our life. You know when you really want to move but you allow the road blocks to keep you in your tracks. Sometimes you have to climb the mountain you created to get where you need to be.
3. So, in order to make it to the finish line as victor, you have to run. Yes, run! Run past those sinful activities, and sinful people, too. Our time is limited, but we act as if there is not even a race to run. We are idle, just walking aimlessly without our road map, to the finish line.

How to do we get to the Finish Line?

Hebrews 12:2(KJV) tells us how:
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We must know where we are going by choosing to “look” to Jesus who is the start and finish of our faith, but only if we allow HIM to be. He endured for us to have the opportunity to cross that finish line where He is waiting for our entrance home.

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”Ephesians 5:20(KJV)- Being thankful as we are running this race. Yes, it is hard when we are in the midst of it all, but Galatians 6:9 tells us to be encouraged: “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”Ephesians 6:11(KJV)- We have to put on the “whole” armour of God; part is not enough to be able to stand against the worldly issues that we combat daily. We have to be all in.
“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” Philippians 2:16(KJV)- So running requires that we be fruitful and successful in our work. Not just working to work, but purposeful.

Believe it or not, the path that is set before us does have a finish line, have you started yet? Exercise your Faith!
By: Jackie Warner
Career Development
Facilitator
“Impact, Engage, Grow”

I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by. We hear it over and over again. Enjoy them while they are young because it goes fast. Yes, we know it is true but so hard for us to embrace our children’s journey to the next phase of life. The key to helping your child make the transition should start way before 11th grade, but if you are just getting started or have been preparing for the last few years, allow me to share some helpful tips for those college road trips this summer.

Spring Break and summer of junior year is when most parents hit the road to start making those final selections for the perfect college or university. The goal is to get a feel for the school beyond all those brochures that have been arriving daily in the mail for the past year. Your child will need to make in-person visits to get a true feel for the campus atmosphere. They should talk with current students, professors, coaches, admissions officers, etc. As a parent, you should also accompany your child on these visits so you can get a feel for the campus as well. After all, you want your child and, of course, you to feel safe.

College Questions you need to ponder?
1. Will the school of choice be commuter or residential?
2. What is too close and what is too far from home?
3. What is the real financial contribution from family, and what is the expectation from the student? (Having a real conversation is important or there will be trouble when the acceptance letters arrives)

Get the Facts
Find out the admission requirements for the school such as GPA, SAT & ACT Scores. Review the scholarship offerings, and know the costs associated with attending. Attend college fairs and financial aid events.

Choose the Dates Wisely
The ideal times to visit colleges are the spring of your child’s junior year and/or the fall of senior year. Go ahead and have your child complete a college visit day request so that any absences from school will not count against them. If you are planning your visits in the summer, think about incorporating college visits during a family vacation. The best days to visit are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Map it out
It makes sense to map your route, minimizing the travel time in between each school. Pick an area or region with several schools you’re interested in so you can visit multiple colleges over the length of your trip. Plan your route ahead of time, so you’ll know each location you’d like to visit and the travel times in between.

Setup Appointments/Interviews
Be sure to call ahead and check on tour times, dates offices are closed, and visit/interview policies. Have your child to schedule the visits. If your child wants to participate in an official campus tour, interview with the admissions office, coaches, professors, etc., or stay overnight in a dorm room, he/she will need to make appointments in advance; don’t chance a walk-in appointment.

Take notes
If you’re visiting multiple colleges one after another, it may become hard to keep straight what you’ve learned about each school, so taking notes on how you felt while being at each school is important. Take lots of notes, and then review them all to assist with your final decision.

Until Next Time, Be Sincere, Kind and Intentional
By: Jackie Warner, Community Outreach Specialist
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Check out upcoming events: Website: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com/

This past weekend I was invited to take part in the Alabama-Mississippi District Meeting for the Junior Optimist Club. It was such a rewarding opportunity to speak with the large group of youth who have made the commitment to be Optimist Club members. I shared with them the importance of starting with self and thinking critically about their pathways to success, with a reminder that each of them are unique and must define their path, not getting caught up following someone else’s plan of action.

I emphasized the fact that a step in the right direction meant truly realizing the right course of action for successful future growth. The students’ weekend was full of activities that exuded the purpose of the optimist club, and I have to say I was very proud to be amongst our Junior Optimist Club members.

Last year was my first involvement with the Athens Chapter of the Optimist Club. I was so impressed by the work of our Athens Chapter that I became a member. If you are not familiar with the work of the Optimist Club, then you must take a moment to find out more. It is a wonderful organization serving youth in the community. Be a member or a contributor; you will truly be blessed!

As I concluded my presentation with the youth at their district meeting, I called to their attention the following:

  • Develop a plan of action based on you and not others. Everyone’s plan is unique in it own way.
  • Establish and execute smart goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, & Time based).
  • A step in the right direction is purposeful and intentional for long-term success.
  • Alignment and Preparation makes the steps easier to see.
  • The key is to VALUE the step… Don’t just step…

As an Optimist Club member you are to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

The Optimist Club Mission: By providing hope and positive vision, Optimist bring out the best in youth, our communities and ourselves. Website: http://www.optimist.org/ClubDetail.cfm?club=29004

We are constantly working on our outward appearance making sure that we have it all together. Flawless is our goal for our hair and make-up. And let’s not forget the name brand items we have to have for that polished and sophisticated look. Well, we can dress the part and we can look the part, but it doesn’t change who we really are on the inside. I am reminded of the scripture in Matthew 23: 26 “…cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter that the outside of them may be clean also.”

How quick we are to start with the outside, without real regard for our inner appearance. Yes, it is easier to conceal the inside, keeping it all behind our so-called flawless look; we are apt to think if we don’t tell it or share it and just keep it to ourselves, then no one will know those internal thoughts, struggles, stresses, aches, and pains.

Little do we realize how it seeps through and in some instances, those inward parts of us we tucked so deeply within are actually glaring to those around us. Who are we really fooling?

True beauty, true peace, and true self-love starts in the innermost part of us. Self-love is introspective, in-the-moment, and cultivated without interruption. It has nothing to do with those we try to impress.

Look closely, shine a light within, and then the clean-up – or better yet the clean out – can start. Our mental closets are full of old stuff that needs to be thrown a way. We let it sit there knowing that it is taking up valuable space from that which has purpose for our journey through life.

The Mental Diet:
1. Reduce mental noise. Shutting down mental noise means inner peace. Stop thinking on matters that do not add anything to your life.
2. Never spend more than 10% of your time on a problem, but spend at least 90% of your time on the solution.
3. Negative thoughts may knock, but you don’t have to let them in.
4. “Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
5. “Pack Light!” By Erykah Badu, Vocalist

“Bag lady you gone hurt your back, Dragging all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you, All you must hold onto, is you, is you, is you”
By: Jackie Warner

This month, I yield to my daughter, Raven. She participated in the Limestone County NAACP MLK Essay Competition. Enjoy an excerpt from her essay!!

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote a letter titled “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In this letter, he said, “It is wrong to use corrupt means to attain moral ends….it is just as wrong…to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.” How does this quote relate to advancing the dream of freedom and justice in America? “It is wrong to use moral means to attain immoral ends….it is just as wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends…”

During the time of Martin Luther King, Jr. and still today, the fight for the dream of pure freedom and justice in America is the same. For example, the sit-ins and peaceful protests of the Civil Rights Movement to motivate leaders to desegregate cities, encourage equality, and brotherhood can easily be compared to the modern-day protests, social media outreach, and the refusal of people to conform to rid America of issues such as police brutality, the targeting of minorities, and outright racial bias. As mentioned before, Dr. King’s quote says it is both wrong to use moral means to attain immoral ends and to use immoral means to attain moral ends. One may be preferred over the other, but each situation has one key word: immoral. How can the dream of freedom and justice in America turn into a positive reality if the fundamental steps are based on immorality and corruption? The answer is simple. It cannot.

Through his powerful quotes and his influential actions, it is obvious that Martin Luther King Jr. was a strong advocate of advancing the dream of freedom and justice in America for everyone. Concerning the aspect of actions, Dr. King believed in peaceful, non-violent ways of demonstrating his displeasure with the issues he and racial minorities faced during his brief but truly phenomenal life. With this approach, he changed the mindsets of several people in leadership roles, continuously advancing the dream of freedom and justice. However, today, although some still utilize Dr. King’s methods, several others have disregarded how successful his approaches and techniques were. Dr. King mentioned 3 steps before the last step of direct action concerning non-violent campaigning: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive, negotiation, and self-purification. If people were to follow through instead of disregarding all four steps and turning to things such as violent protests, an example of immoral means to attain moral ends, the American dream would progress much faster, causing the nation to thrive.
By: Raven Warner

“Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life.” Proverbs 22:6

We gave them a bottle, then we watched as they started crawling. Before we knew it, tears were forming in our eyes as we watched them put their hands on the steering wheel for the first drive after getting their driving permit. Oh, how our little ones have grown up so fast! Yes, it is true; we must enjoy them while they are young because they don’t just grow up fast, they grow onward. We want the best for our children and try to do almost any and everything to help them to be successful. Sometimes we do it to a fault but we say “That’s my baby!”

As they grow, we offer detours for the roadblocks ahead and fluffy cushions to help give softer landings when we know they will fall. We even take up for them when what we really should do is let them suffer the consequences of their well thought out wrong doings.

Yeah parents… We try so hard and then they disappoint us, and believe it or not “WE” then try even harder for them! Strange, isn’t it? They should be trying harder for us.

As time passes, I am realizing that we can only take them so far and then we must let them start to find their own way. We start the release. A major part of our love involves assistance with development of their exit plans, releasing our tight grip to a loose supporting hand. Our new gifts are consistent: tough LOVE, guidance, and constructive feedback, training them up for Life Preparation Avenue.

“Above everything, love one another earnestly, because love covers over many sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

“He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” Proverbs 13:24

“He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity” 1 Timothy 3:4

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Have you ever had that person come into your life who perhaps did things a little differently, who made you think and dig a bit deeper inwardly to see where they were coming from? Their walk was sure and their goals were set, and they exhibited incredible action in executing those goals in order to achieve success. Well, I have experienced this at many levels in my life, but there is one person in particular I choose to share with you as you read my article this month.

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I can’t remember the exact date, but I do remember it was a kind and welcoming first meeting. She was professional, very business-like but most definitely friendly. As I reflect on our meeting, I think about what Maya Angelou said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

11-18-2016-3-07-25-pmOur next meeting was when I dropped off my daughter to attend a cupcake decorating class and my new friend was the instructor. This time I felt so drawn to really get to know her. You could see her business-savvy character shining through, and her intentional concern and care for her students. I am not sure when we met again, but when we did, we began a work of service in our community. There were many things I learned from her. She was truly all about business, sprinkled with kind words but allowing no nonsense when it came to our purpose of work. She would always say to me “Iron Sharpens Iron.” She was so right! When you know your purpose and you are doing purposeful work with one another, you build, motivate and cause the other to grow.

Over the last four years, she has been my business colleague, resident New Orleans Chef at The Bridge, event setup and breakdown partner, my personal accountability mentor, but most of all the “Iron” that I needed. You don’t know what you don’t know until you open up and allow knowledge to be received. It was an honor to work with her these past years, and I have been deeply saddened by her passing. I will miss her oh so dearly.
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10-21-2016-2-51-07-pmLive simply that others might simply live. ~Elizabeth Ann Seton

I recently celebrated my birthday and it was such a blessing to just be able to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of this life. Our purpose in this life, I believe, is to serve and I enjoyed moments doing what I love and spent precious time with my family and community. No, I did not go anywhere fancy in most people’s eyes but rather chose to spend much needed time at home enjoying being off from the hustle and bustle of the workday. Often, we get so caught up in the day to day routine of work and paying bills that we miss out on what we truly have (Our Life- In This Very Moment). I took time to breathe and take in the cares of this world seeking to understand how best to impact in the most positive way looking beyond myself. I benefited from time to be thankful. Thanking God for allowing us to have another day to share his word with others.

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I used time to walk outside and enjoy God’s masterpiece, the space we occupy. A friend invited me to go on a walking trail and, oh, how serene and calming it was for us to just walk and talk without interruptions of cell phones and the busyness of life.

I took time to love on my family and give them a since of Hope that only comes from Him who truly sustains us and allow us to thrive if we so desire. 1 Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Yes it was definitely restful and it was peaceful. It was quiet and I enjoyed every second.

“Time waits for no man” we have heard, but living in the moment and enjoying the time we are in makes life so much more exciting and fulfilling. It is hard to imagine we are less than 75 days to the end of 2016. How have you spent this year? As we look at our lives in “Rewind” mode, what are the real impacts to those around us?

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
Jackie Robinson

Until Next Time, Be Sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Community Outreach Specialist
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Check out upcoming events: Website: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com/

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9-16-2016-10-54-07-amRecently, I was getting ready to hang out with a friend and was taking a moment to pick out my wardrobe. As I decided on what I would wear, thoughts from my friend entered my mind. I recalled a few months ago she had said to me in a serious but caring tone to stop layering my outfits. She basically told me to stop hiding behind my clothing. I thought about what she said, and true enough, I was again picking out an outfit that I was going to layer with a jacket or another blouse, covering myself up. I could still hear her saying stop covering up and be who you are.
This really got me to thinking about life and how at each stage in our life, we add layer on top of layer. We layer so much, we lose sight of who we really are. We get lost in chaos, people, things and life events taking on so much that we seldom get to experience the life that was truly meant; the life we were born to inhabit.

In order for us to get to who we are and begin to enjoy life, we must shed (purge) ourselves of the layers that keep us from our core, which is where we will find our real, authentic self. We cover up using all sorts of stuff whether it is clothes, make-up, accessories, people, or things and then after a deep look in the mirror, the yield is haziness. Until we are determined to identify and then release those cover ups, we neglect the authentic self – yeah, the real you and me.

I leave you with quotes for uncovering and removing those layers that so deeply encompass us:

• This above all: To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man. – Hamlet, Shakespeare
• That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity. So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something. – Meredith Monk
• The closer you stay to emotional authenticity and people, character authenticity, the less you can go wrong. – David O. Russell
• The authentic self is soul made visible. – Sarah Ban Breathnach
• Everything will line up perfectly when knowing and living the truth becomes more important than looking good. – Alan Cohen
• We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity. – Barbara de Angelis

Retreat, Release, and Simplify to Self-transparency!
Until Next Time, Be sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Career Development Facilitator

The Bridge “Where Community Matters”
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Checkout our events: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com
By: Jackie Warner

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8-19-2016 8-47-06 AMHelping your child to be successful is pretty much at the top of most parents’ to do list. As I was pondering my topic for this month, I decided to jump right into what we as parents and grandparents need to know to be effective when assisting and preparing our children for academic success. There are so many new programs for our students to choose from, but most of all we must take a moment and consider all options before signing our kids up and deciding to ask questions later. Research now, and ask all your questions so that your child makes an informed decision about their future.

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The classroom curriculum has changed, and the how in solving problems and answering questions is very different from when we were in school. This has made it tough to help with homework and provide advice on strategies to ace the exam. It sounds like we as parents need a crash course in academic success mentoring “remixed” to impact success.

Here are a few tips to get this school year off to a great start for your students:
1. Parents, don’t do their homework for them. Guide, review, and allow them to think on their own.
2. Teach them organizational skills. Purchase a planner and have them to write down important dates such as projects, tests, trips, and extra-curricular activities. Review it at least weekly with them so as to stay on top of what’s going on.
3. Parents and students should attend any scheduled school meetings. Stay in the know!
4. Both you and your child should visit their school’s website and to see what’s going on.
5. Most teachers provide students with a syllabus for the year. Make copies. Post and review them frequently. Add a copy to your child’s planner. There should not be any surprises when it comes to what they will be graded on and how.
6. Communicate via email with teachers. Let them know you are interested in making sure your child is progressing so if issues arise, they can be dealt with quickly.
7. When students get home from school, allow them time to slow down with a snack and beverage before jumping right into the homework. Allow for about 15 – 20 minutes for them tell you about their day and eat their snack, but then it’s time to jump back in and get it done. Waiting until after 5 or 6pm is too late. Provide structure and consistency.
8. Remember, reading is fundamental and makes a huge difference when taking achievement assessment. Set a rule for your child to check out a minimum of at least 1 – 2 books per month to read from the school or local community library.
9. Free study tools are available for the taking. Get off Facebook and Instagram and look at sites like quizlet! Have your child to research study tools for each subject/book they have this year. Visit these sites.
10. Set high standards for your children to meet. If a “C” is not the best your child can do, then don’t accept it. Accountability is the key to their future. Set the bar high, and don’t waver!
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