Saturday, June 27, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

Finally after about three months or so, if not longer, I am finished reading Three Cups of Tea. It was a good book, but for me a slow read, and especially slower due to school, wedding planning and a million other things that placed the completion of this book on the back burner. But school is done for the semester, I am married and the ‘million other things’ have taken care of themselves in one way or another.

When I first saw the book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble a year ago, I was immediately intrigued by it because of its title: Three Cups of Tea. For anyone who knows me, I absolutely LOVE tea. I drink it all of the time, even in, as my husband says, 100 degree weather. I do not know why I love it so much but sometimes I think that I should have been born in England where whole meals are designed around the drinking of this great obsession.

Anyhow, shortly thereafter, one of my teachers recommended it due to its content. I found myself asking for a copy for Christmas and at what seemed like a reasonable time, launched into it. As I mentioned before, it started off a little slow speaking of the authors mountain climbing adventures in the Middle East which I was not the least bit interested in. Yet, I was determined to keep reading it because I just knew that it would be a great book because my teacher told me so and I trusted his opinion. And it was! I appreciated the author, Greg Mortenson, and his approach to fighting against terrorism, not with guns and war, but by building schools and providing a solid education to at-risk children throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan. I say ‘at-risk’ because without the schools that he provided, children who desired an education would have no other option but to surrender themselves to madrassas, schools that force its adherents to oblige to a strict form of Islam in support of Jihad.

I am in favor of Mortenson’s less conventional approach. He addressed the roots of terrorism, instead of fighting against its symptoms. He understood that without education, people do not have much say over their future and will submit themselves to whatever opportunities emerge. He also understood the value in educating girls, something that prior to his building, was not heard of. For him, if a girl could reach even the fifth grade level, the rate of maternal mortality and child mortality would decrease, addressing 2 of the 8 Millennium Development Goals ending global poverty by 2015.

If I were you, I would check it out.
Also, if you are not familiar with them, find out more about the Millennium Development Goals at

Friday, June 26, 2009

10 Great Places in the Twin Cities to Write a Book

1. French Meadow Café on Lyndale- Great food and ambiance.

2. Wild Roast Café in Northeast Minneapolis- comfy chairs, wi-fi soup…need I say more

3. Dunn Brothers on E Lake Street near St Paul- also comfy chairs and wi-fi

4. Your Local TCF Bank (note: you must be an employee for this to work)- During the time that I worked at TCF, I probably wrote half of my book

5. Barnes and Noble in the HarMar Mall- they have Starbucks and books, but unfortunately they lack free wi-fi

6. Panera Bread in Brooklyn Park- just a great place and its close to where I live

7. North Central University’s Classrooms- I went to college here and sometimes when the class lectures got a little boring, I wiped out my notebook or started pounding a way on my laptop. If you’re not a student, it might be a good idea to become one. Guaranteed to get some good material in one of those systematic theology classes and oh, you might learn a lil too!

8. Caribou Coffee in Highland Park- Can we say nice, warming fire place sure to get you comfortable through the Minnesota winters? Although I do not like their coffee or tea as much as I do Starbucks, still a really good place to write.

9. The Tea Garden in Uptown- Simply because I like tea.

10. My home- its comfy, relaxing, and I get some great inspiration there, plus I get free tea and kisses.
I hope that you recognize that it is not as important where you write, but it is important that wherever it is, it is a sanctuary for you and a place that will enable inspiration. For me, the café atmosphere is where it’s at but that may not work for everyone. Some people need it extremely quiet and secluded, some need more inspiration. I encourage you to try a couple of places around town to see if they fit and then post your own top ten list on this blog.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

75 Target Card

Do you want to win $75 Target Card?

Of course you do, who would not want to! Personally, I love the store as it is a one-stop shop of groceries, beauty products, kitchenware, book shelves, and well, the list can go on.

If you are like me, and you love the store, here is how you can get it:

I am looking for TWO good reviews of my book Dancing on Hot Coals. That's pretty much it, its very simple. If you can submit me a good review by July 15th, I will send you the card. Hopefully, you've read it or you own it. If not, please visit to order your copy.

Oh yeah, you are probably wondering where to send your submission to. Email it to:

For more information on Dancing on Hot Coals, go to

Follow me @ebonyjohanna

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Voice

I’d prefer to drown my sorrows in something that will make me laugh and forget about tomorrow’s reality that looms on the horizon despising humanity.

Such attempt is not easy as on every occasion that I turn on the TV. I see war and strife, hatred and shame. The exploitation of the poor and the empowerment of the famous ones taking more and more, giving less and less of the resources to help the dying, though they hear the crying, they excuse themselves by shifting the blame, pointing their finger accusingly, declaring “This man is the reason for your pain”.

And do they go after, in hopes of eradicating a disaster mistakenly blowing up the wrong man, shooting who they thought was the strong man, who ironically was their only means of salvation. The cycle continues as brother attacks brother, and mother the fathers, intertribal conflicts abound, neighboring nations kill one another in hopes of justifying their own causes, not really interested in the well-being of the people, for in fact they despise and kill the people.
It all makes me sick!

I flip to another station but the image I just saw haunts my imagination as I can’t seem to figure out why we do this to one another. Why we hate so much on one another, why we are so jealous of one another. It’s not just the black race destroying their own, though they use guns; others use systems to keep their people in prison in fear that if they break free, they too might do the same thing.

They fear being taken advantage of and so instead of waiting for that opportunity they one up on the other, stripping them of their land, stripping them of their pride, stripping them of them of their mind, attempting to brainwash and reshape their thinking. That is until they those they wished to oppress begin to fight back. Now their rebels, now their renegades, now their terrorists cuz they weren’t down with your charades, refusing hunger and poverty, they too want to be somebody and reach for the stars, becoming that somebody that their mommy told them they could be.

What we fail to realize is that our humanity is bound up in the other, dependent on one another. When we sell our women and children just so we can get a fix or perhaps make those ends, we sell ourselves, we lose ourselves to the same horrors that we demanded them be submitted to.
When we slander the good name of someone else to puff ourselves up and stick our chests out, we in fact destroy not only them but our destiny as well. As now our conscience bears witness against us and is seared with shame, we can no longer go forward in good faith, now we must run amuck paranoid and disillusioned, lest someone wiser uncovers our foolishness.

Where did this all begin? I’ll tell you, right outside the garden. Right outside paradise, when Cain decided to take his brother Abel’s life because he felt threatened by his successes and ashamed of his own transgresses against the one who created him. Instead of getting his own mess right, and figuring out what he needed to do for his own life, he took the easy way route and laid his brother out. And when God has the audacity to ask where he was, he answered asking “Am I his keeper”. Well yes Cain, in fact you are your brother’s keeper. You are your brother’s, your mother’s, your father’s, your sister’s your neighbor’s, your enemies’, your leader’s keeper. Nothing has changed; all that was then back then is still the same. We are humanity’s keeper!

Visit or to check out my latest release, Dancing on Hot Coals.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Orajel- The Oral Pain Relief for Toothaches

Never say never. That's all I can say, at least this is now all I can say. Never is what I told my dentist about a month ago when she told me that I had to get my wisdom teeth out. Never is what I told my friends anytime they complained about their teeth hurting them as mine never posed a problem. I knew that it was necessary but as long as there was no threat, for me getting them removed was never a reality. At least that is the way it was until...Friday.
Friday April 24th, it started off as such a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and even though the circumstances surrounding me were not too bright, I was in the right state of mind. Driving to work with the windows down, I was in a realm of peace and it felt great. That was around 9 o'clock. Around 12, my teeth began to bother me just a little bit. It did not really hurt but was absolutely annoying but I did not think anything of it and thought that as quickly as the annoying pain came, it would just as soon go away.
It did not.
Friday turned into Saturday. By mid-day, I'm getting really ticked because no amount of tylenol will shake this thing. Its all I can think about. Although I supposed to be kicking it with my girls, thanks for the wonderful party again ladies, in the back of my mind I'm disturbed because I cannot get comfortable with this agonizing pain that is my teeth. Now I understand why teething babies are cranky, because its all I can keep from doing from going off on somebody.
Now its Saturday night, with another group of friends and still the pain persists. Someone suggests Orajel, the magical wonderful medicine that will numb my pain so that I cannot feel it anymore. Yeah! I'm excited to hear a solution and rush over to Walgreens on my way home to pick up my new best friend. I get home, rip off the safety label and apply that sucker on my teeth like there was no tomorrow. I felt the numbness beginning to kick in...for all about 3 minutes. After that, the pain was still there. What the heck was going on? This was not how it was supposed to be. I was supposed to be in peace, not this.
Needless to say, I did not get much sleep that night. Saturday turned into Sunday. After much complaining, my fiance suggests that I call the dentist to see if I can go in on Friday and get these demons extracted. Monday morning, before my feet can even hit the floor, I'm on the phone dialing the teeth people's office asking them when can they fit me in. Tuesday? No, I have to work. Friday? Yeah, that will do.
I hang up the phone, overjoyed because now this pain can go away. In the meantime, I pop Tylenol like its candy and Orajel like its red kool-aid. Together they work pretty effectively at numbing this pain for like 2 or 3 hours. But they are not permanent, they cannot really get at the root at why the pain is there and they cannot cure it either. The permanent solution? Undergo a painful surgery and get those things out!
What are you using to numb your pain? Like Orajel and Tylenol, it wont get at the root causes of why the pain is there and will only cover it up temporarily. Maybe yours lasts more than 2 or 3 hours, but no matter how long it cannot really satisfy or cure the brokenness. In my life, I've used the pain numbers of shopping, t.v., relationships, eating, exercising, and so much more. At the end of the day, whenever that anesthetic wore off, I was still hurting. I had to deal with the root causes of those things and come out, no matter how painful that extraction was, so that I could live pain-free.
Today, I asked my boss if it would be ok if I took Friday off to deal with this. Without hesitation she said yes, saying that if I did not deal with it now, it would only get worse. I charge you, whatever yours is, deal with it now. Suffer the pain of surgery and coming up under the knife of healing now, and live tomorrow free as a result.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

1000 in 5- The First Day

For those of you who have not heard, I am pursuit of a goal...a big goal. But you can help me reach it. My goal is to sell 1000 copies of my book, Dancing on Hot Coals in 5 days, just 5 days. The reason, loan sharks are after me and if I don't come up with the money they will take my life! Ok, no really, that's not it at all. But the reality is that times are a lil' tough and you gotta make it in any "legit" way that you can. This is my way. Here is how you can help:

If you have not had a chance to purchase a copy of Dancing on Hot Coals, purchase it at . The new price: $15. If you want to get a snip-it at the book, visit

Secondly, tell all your friends about it. Blog about it, update your facebook status, twitter about it, I'm recruiting you!

Thirdly, celebrate with me when I reach my goal. Only 5 days. On your mark, get set, go!


Dancing on Hot Coals...

...when life gets rough, just dance

It is a must read for women young and old alike. Although men and women are both created in the image of God, women have been blessed (or cursed depending on how you look at it) with a unique disposition that allows us to see and experience things differently. Dancing on Hot Coals will encourage women to acknowledge their sensitivity, vulnerabilities and weaknesses as points of strength rather than moments of destruction. It will encourage women to move past pain and embrace healing through the pain. It will encourage women to wrestle with their faith and the questions of life without answers but resting in that place of ambiguity as a result of God's great love. Ultimately it will draw them into a deeper understanding of who they are in light of who God is.

Click Here to Purchase Your Own Copy

or email me at and I will deliver it to your front door!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Train Station

In effort to say all of the things that I wish to say, that I cannot say on leaving and cleaving, I have crafted a short story. Though it is fictional, it is a representation of some themes present in my life and the new journey of life and love that I find myself on. Enjoy!


As Maylee waited in the station, counting the minutes and hours that lay ahead, she carefully pondered all that she would be leaving behind. She recalled images of family and friends that unmasked a deep gray past full of pain and broken promises again and again. She remembered a crimson-stained history of concealed secrets that if let out had the potential of exposing individuals but because they were kept inside destroyed her family. Divorce and depression and unforgiveness kept her family ensnared but that was all they knew and all they were ever willing to know so as such they abided not understanding that they too could be free.

They cautioned her, 'life would be no better where you're headed'. Though she had never seen it, Maylee knew different. She read in story books of where peace existed, she overheard her neighbors once say that joy could really be attained. Rumors circulated in her town of wholeness and unity and freedom that could exist and that she wanted for herself. Though her family pleaded with her to stay, to reside in dysfunction and hopelessness, she packed her bags and left knowing that a better life awaited her on the other side of the tracks.

She packed all of her belongings and precious memories of childhood and youth. Though not many, she would cherish them and cling to them as one would to rare precious jewels. She carefully wrapped her fragile possessions, placing them in delicate cloths that would promise to last through her journey. When she was certain that everything was in its proper place, she slowly closed her suitcase but as she did scarfs of bitterness caught her eye.

Frightened, she frantically threw open her suitcase and noticed that along with bitterness lay royal garments of anger, hatred, and resentment too! These she did not want, they she would leave behind. Carefully, Maylee removed them from her things and placed them to the side. That's when pain caught her eye; at first Maylee thought to remove that too, btu she realized that she would need it. Not so that it would continue to pierce and destroy her as did the other things but to serve as a reminder of where she did not want to be.

She gathered her suitcase, walking out of her room, and then out of her house for the last time. No one was present to bid her farewell so there were no goodbyes. Although it made her sad that no one had come around, she had to keep moving forward. She walked down the dusty and broken cobblestone road for two miles until she reached her destination, found a seat and sat, waiting for her train to come.

Minutes passed by. Minutes turned into hours, hours turned into days, days into weeks, weeks into months. People came by consistently, jeering and accusing her of being insanne but still she sat knowing that one day her train would come. They told her it had been over 20 years since a train pulled into that station but still she was determined to sit. She was determined to sit, she was determined to pray, and she was determined to receive everything that was promised to her.

Finally after months of waiting, Maylee's train pulled into the station. "Ma'am are you sure this is the train you want"? "Yes, sir", Maylee responded. "Can you pay the fare"?. "Yes, sir" Maylee replied.

Standing for the first time in months, Maylee grabbed her suitcase and walked slowly to the doors. After going up one step, she placed her suitcase down, exhaled and turned around to behold the world that she was leaving one last time. Was this what she truly wanted, was this what she truly deserved? Doubts began to overflood her mind until before long Maylee was drowning in a sea of them. She began to recall all of the things that her family said, and maybe they were right; maybe family and peace and joy liked she longed for didn't truly exist and were only fit as fairytales for children's books.

At the moment when Maylee seemed she would be overtaken, she remembered where she was and who she was. At the moment she considered forsaking her destiny, she remembered that she, herself was living proof that it was real. The train was there, wasn't it? Though people told her that it would not come it was here and she was standing on it!

She did not know what the future held if she stayed on that train but she was for certain what it would mean if she got off. Though unpredictable, the future that lay ahead of her looked much more promising. She would have to work and she would have to roll up her sleeves and fight, but she was beginning to understand that success and happiness did not come easy- only failure and misery did!

"Ma'am, are you ready to leave, the train needs to pull out"? "Yes, sir", Maylee responded for the last time. She ascended the remainding three stairs, paid her fare adn took her seat. And as the train pulled off, Maylee knew that she was finally free.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Out of my kitchen window stands these tall trees that stretch up into the sky and pierce the clouds with their many leaves and branches. I am not sure how many are out there, a mere glance tells me at least a hundred but I am just not sure.
What is certain is that they are there, coloring the canvas of my mind with elegance and grace. Minor differences are present but they are all pretty much the same. Not one stands out from the other as they are all laden with beauty and all covered the same; same bark, same branches, same nakedness as for now they have been stripped of their leaves. They are uniform and not very distinct but they are trees, systematically planted and lined up in quaint little rows so as to diffuse any argument that might occur among them about who is the best tree, or who is the tallest tree, or who is the thinnest.
What if people were like these trees. Not all trees but these specifically. What if we were all beautiful and what if we were all tall, what if we were all uniform, what if we were all the same. What if we all wore the same clothing, and all had the same accent, and spoke the same language, and believed God exactly the same. They there would not be wars and rumors of wars as there would be nothing to fight about. Then there would not be any competition- jealousy and rage would cease to exist as we would all look the same and consist of the same stuff. We would all be of the same political party; whether we would all be Democrats or Republicans I am not sure, but maybe it would not even matter because we would all think the same things and believe the same things.
Though this sounds fanciful, it also sounds, I don't know, a little boring to me. Although there would be no fighting, no strife, no conflict, no dying, no competition, no crying there would also be no distinctness, no me-ness, no separation from where you start and where I begin. There would not be variety, color, a sharpening of the minds and intellect, no creativity, no innovativeness, no need for a Savior (as trees don't need a Savior) as we would all be the same and look the same and act the same and live the same.
Perhaps the question then is not how I make you more like me but how you can remain who you are with all of your wonderful distinctions while being in relationship with me, coming forth with all of mine. to me, this is the greater miracle of unity and harmony and reconcilation in the world- how people of different faces and different races can still come together and become one!


In their pain and inability to cope appropriately with their stress, hurting people often respond by hurting other people.
Often they turn toward the people closest to them and push them further and further away until one day they are no longer there.
It's sad but it's true. Just think about the single mother who decides to lash out on her innocent child because it seems like her burdens are to heavy to bear. Or the husband who desists from responding to his wife because the demands at work are too much and refuses to share them with her.
Or the sister, the brother, the father, the mother, the cousin, the friend who turns toward another in hopes to afflict them with the same curse that has been placed on their shoulders. Although they don't truly wan the other to suffer, they want the pain in their own hearts to go away and fade into the darkness.
So they continue to provoke, they continue to heap, they continue to push, they continue to divide until there is there is even more emptiness...
The void enlarges, the anger grows but now there is no one there but themselves, staring at themselves, no longer able to blame the world because in fact they have eradicated it, themselves now the only persons to blame. No one present to help bail them out, the cycle continues until they defeat themselves. Hurting people hurt people, but in the end they only hurt themselves.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

February Blues

After months of anticipation and waiting, I cannot believe its finally here. I don't know why I always do this to myself, every year its the same ol' thing and yet I act as if its something new and something unbelievable. But its believable and its real. Spring that is, its so real that I can almost taste it. I smell the beautiful lilacs on the horizon, I hear the new born birds, I cruise the town with my windows rolled down and deep in my soul I know that it is finally before me. Yet in the middle of February, caught in what seems like an endless list of blizzards, it seemed hardly like it would come. At that moment my focus was getting home and keeping my body warm. But I longed for the Spring sunshine more than anything. And now its here. Why do I do this to myself?

You know what else I do to myself? I stress myself out unnecessarily. Partly because I get so worried and anxious about things I cannot control, when I should be trusting God instead. Partly because I pack my schedule so tight that I start to complain that I never have time to do anything. Its all really quite funny, or at least I thought it was until two different medical issues within weeks of each other come back with the same report, signifying that stress was taking control of my being and attacking my body.

Only then did I begin to take seriously the Lord's exhortation to not worry, only then did I really start to consider what it means to sit at his feet instead of being bothered about the things that really will end up taking care of itself in the end. But its quite difficult to see that when the list of things that need to get done never ever shrinks down in size but instead continues to grow.

I pray that I learn my lesson this time. I pray that I learn to focus on the most important thing and let the other stuff go for another time. I pray that I learn to trust more, not myself and what I can do in my finite understanding, but that I learn to trust, rely, depend, and wait on God instead.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Resting Place

So many different things on my mind, so many things that need to get done.
A million and one different tasks that need to get completed and rest just is not one of them.
I need a place, a secret place where I can dwell.
I need a place, a dwelling place where I can lay my head.
And be still.
And block out the cares of this world.
I need a place where I can unveil my concerns and not have any one judge me.
A resting place.