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.