Simply Ari: Simply Me
The Inspired Thoughts of a Ready Writer
"My tongue is the pen of the Ready Writer"
I am in pursuit of steady progression toward my goals spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about and emphasis on ,“self-care.” For me, that starts with doing spiritual heart checks. Does my spirit, my body, my emotions, my mind and my heart line up with what the Word of God says about me? Or am I striving to meet the world’s standard of how I ought to live? God requires truth in the inward most parts of us, and if I am being honest, though my heart desires to do the will of God, sometimes my flesh is weak. Apart from the Lord, I can’t do much, but I know that through Him I can do all things. With that said, this summer, I am recommitting my mind, my spirit, and my body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit to the Lord and I am on a get right mission to be holistically healthier and learn to love myself at every stage of this process. In addition, each month during the summer (June-September), I will be fasting from one thing and for something.
I am dedicating the month of June to Spiritual Growth and Development
Bible Study: Leap Into Love by Havilah Cunnington
Fasting From: Dairy, Negativity Directed Toward Self
Fasting For: Weight Loss Management
If you’d like to join me on this Summer Fast From, Fast For Challenge, leave a comment below and let me what you’re fasting from and fasting for. I want to stand with you in prayer. Let’s do this together!
"God Will Put You Back Together So Well That You'll Forget You Were Ever Broken."
Seven years ago (2012) almost to the day, I was in a very distant place spiritually. I felt like I was going through the motions of what Christians are “supposed to do”, but I wasn’t experiencing freedom and I wasn’t experiencing breakthrough. I spoke with my spiritual mentor and described that season as if I were walking into a forest and the foliage was so thick and plush, that I could not see where I was going. There was no light to help me find my way out. I would speak to God and there was no answer. I would wait on the Lord and minutes quickly turned to hours and hours turned into days…so eventually, I stopped. I felt so lost and disconnected from the Father and I had no idea how to get back to a place of communion with Him.
I was a Resident Assistant on the Faith Community Floor in undergraduate school at the time, and I can remember thinking, “How can I encourage the faith of my residents, if I can’t find the strength to do it for myself.” I grew more and more frustrated with where I was because I felt like the state in which I found myself was not beneficial to anyone. Eventually, I got back to praying, but out of habit, not from a place of faith. That year, I signed up for the spring retreat that my school’s Campus Ministry department was hosting. I felt like that was my last resort. When we got into small groups, I remember the girls, some older, some younger than me saying that they never heard Jesus talked about as a friend before. I genuinely felt like I had lost contact with my best friend. I just wanted to have Him back and I didn’t know how to get back to Him.
The heaviness in my heart and spirit was almost unbearable and I was desperate for an answer. The retreat was 3-days and I cried my way through most of it. Then on the second day, I was in my room and I cried out to the Lord with all of the faith and strength that I had left in me, and I saw a vivid image in my spirit of Jesus sitting on a rock with His arms outstretched toward me. I heard a gentle voice in the deepest part of me say, “I have always been here, and I will always be here. I’ve been waiting patiently on you.” I was reminded of a few verses in scripture found in Isaiah 54:7,8 and 10, “For a small moment I had forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy redeemer. For the mountains shall part and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” A rushing peace flooded over me that day, and that was the beginning of my breakthrough.
On Easter of that same year, my family and I went to watch my older sister minister through dance at our home church. The song she and the other dancers performed to was, “Don’t Cry” by Kirk Franklin. As they danced, there was video footage from the movie Passion of the Christ playing behind them on a large screen. I watched each scene, Jesus being beaten and scourged, Jesus being nailed to the Cross, Jesus dying on the Cross, and Jesus being raised from the dead. I began to weep and an overwhelming sense of God’s presence and love rushed over me and I heard the Lord say “I did it for you.” My life forever changed that day, because I saw with the eyes of my spirit and was made to understand by the Holy Spirit the love and sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf. He personalized it for me in that moment. Since then, Easter has and will forever be my favorite holiday. Truly, “There is no greater love that to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:3
In honor of His Resurrection, here is a personalized playlist that reflects the joy and true meaning of this day and season:
1. Gracefully Broken- Tasha Cobbs Leonard
2. The Hill- Travis Greene
3. Worth- Anthony Brown
4. Don’t Cry- Kirk Franklin
5. Jesus Saves- Tasha Cobbs Leonard
6. Never Been a Moment- Micah Tyler
7. Gave It All- Travis Greene
"Until God Opens Another Door, Praise Him in the Hallway."
In a season of darkness, the only thing that you can hold onto is the hope of light breaking through your fog. After dealing with a four-month bout of depression, and worshipping my way through the extreme sadness and heaviness that I was experiencing. I am finally on the other side of it and I am now learning to two-step my way into a pathway of praise. Praise is an expression of thanksgiving for what God has done in our lives. I have so much for which to be grateful. Even in my mess, God saw me here. In this place, free from fear and anxiety, resting in Him, and moving confidently in the direction of my destiny. He is helping me to create an even greater message with my life that goes beyond anything I could begin to fathom for myself.
In my post, A Tangible Heaven, I shared some worship songs that the Lord had me listening to. He was faithful to give me a soundtrack for this new season of my life too. These are the songs on my playlist that are in heavy rotation:
Middle children have a particular knack for being slow to speak, quick to listen, patient and uncannily observant. As a middle child myself, I was intrigued by the title of J Cole’s new track. I thought, “Finally, a song from our perspective.” He surpassed what I thought a song like this had the potential to sound like.
The true mark of artistry is when you are able to be an observer of your craft and come back with a message that is spot on. With his new single, “Middle Child” J. Cole like many times before, didn’t miss a beat. His clever lyrics address the climate, and the state of the music industry as it stands now and reflects his hope to bring back something that he feels is missing.
I believe that what fans appreciate so much about Cole’s music is the authenticity of his lyrics, his respect for the artists that came before him, his innate desire to not just say anything, but to say something with meaning and substance, and his willingness to share insights with those who are coming up behind him. What I believe they respect the most is that he leads with humility and is a master of his own lane.
Some of the most poignantly written rhymes in this song are found in the refrain:
“The real ones been dyin', the fake ones is lit. The game is off balance, I’m back on my sh#%.”
I am of the opinion that every real artist feels this way at some point, some are just more consistent with their efforts whether they are in the spotlight or standing just outside the glow of it. It is an inner grit to do more not for the sake of relevancy, but for the sake of relatability.
Cole comes back in verse one making what seems to be a declaration, regarding his personal standard for music and making his intentions clear to his listeners and haters alike:
“Back when the rap game was prayin’ I’d diss, they act like two legends cannot coexist. But I’d never beef with a n---- for nothin’ If I smoke a rapper it’s gon’ be legit. It won’t be for clout, it won’t be for fame. It won’t be ‘cause my sh#% ain’t sellin’ the same. It won’t be to sell you my latest lil’ sneakers. It won’t be ‘cause some n---- slid in my lane. Everything grows, it’s destined to change. – This year gon’ be different, I set my intentions I promise to slap all that hate out your voice.”
In verse two, he chose to speak directly to individuals he has helped along the way and the state of the black community. He makes a promise to them in the latter part of the verse saying,
“I’ma make sure that the real gon’ prevail.”
Music lovers want to hear the real in what artists are saying. What’s “on trend” for the moment doesn’t fool them. They can see past the smokescreen of a tight beat, if there is no heart behind the words being recited or sung, then at best, they are just letters strung together.
Lyricists like J. Cole are a rarity these days. They are the ones whose music defines the times and creates the soundtrack for generations.
This one is a hit and I’m very much looking forward to Cole’s future projects.
Lyrics provided by: https://genius.com/J-cole-middle-child-lyrics
"With joy you will draw water from the well of salvation."
A new year signifies a new beginning, a fresh start and endless possibilities. It is a time of excitement and anticipation of what is yet to come. My prayer for 2019 has been for the Lord to use me in greater ways for Kingdom purposes. I want Simply Ari Media to be a platform that serves as beacon of light, of hope and of encouragement to its growing community and that it would be a reliable source of Biblical truths and a guide for practical implementation. I sense by the spirit that this year will be one that provides a greater depth of knowledge of the Lord for those who desire to know Him more deeply and more intimately. I got before the Lord recently during my time of devotion and He spoke so clearly to me saying, "So many people want to go deeper in Me, but they don't want to put in the work it takes to reach Me. My well runs deep. The work that it will take those who desire real relationship with Me, who want to glean from the wealth of knowledge that I have to offer, will have to be willing to be diligent in their pursuit, patient during the process, and strong and determined in their efforts. I am requiring them to reach for Me. They must put in the work and I will pour into them fresh waters that will overflow and nourish their lives in ways they know not of.
Beloved, be encouraged to get into the flow of God's spirit. It will never steer us wrong. Let's make a concerted effort to drink from the well that never runs dry, put in the work to build real relationship with our Heavenly Father and stay long enough in His presence for Him to do the transformative work that is necessary to bring us to the place that He has called and destined us to be.
Blessings to each of you and Happy New Year!
"Make generosity part of your growth strategy."
Community enrichment and outreach is one of the pillars of the Simply Ari brand. Brands and Organizations that have a heart for community are ones with which I enjoy being connected. Some of my favorites do not only produce quality products, they also DO GOOD in the communities they serve domestically and globally. As Simply Ari continues to grow it is my hope and desire to collaborate and partner with these special brands and organizations on a larger scale. I want to use this platform that God has blessed me with to be a blessing to others in my own backyard and around the world. Take a look at their stories and if you feel in your spirit to get involved by volunteering or donating, I encourage you to do so!
The WAAE Organization
We Are All Educators “provides participants with information, experience and exposure to resources that foster fulfillment of their professional goals.” The mission of the WAAE Organization is to “provide youth with professional tools, knowledge, mentorship, experience and exposure to make informed decisions about their future careers.”
Here are the “WAAE”’s You Can Get Involved:
Visit Website: wearealleducators.wixsite.com/thewaae
Numi Organic Tea: The Numi Foundation’s Together for H2OPE
The Together for H2OPE program helps to “bring clean drinking water to farming communities around world.”
Sip with Purpose. Here’s How You Can Help:
Visit Website: https://numitea.com/together-for-h2ope/
Prince of Peace Ginger: POP Foundation
The P.O.P. Foundation is a “non-profit that helps abandoned and disabled children around the world.” Their heart is to “care for orphaned children with special needs, provide care for them and promote enrichment for adoptive families and advocate for international charity advancement.”
Read More About the POP Foundation and how you can volunteer here:
Nature Nate’s Raw and Unfiltered Honey: Honey Gives Hope
Founder of Nature Nate’s Honey, Nate’s Sheets says of his company, “The Lord has blessed us so we can be a blessing to others.” The Honey Gives Hope, “is committed to the betterment of families and communities across the United States and abroad.”
Check out How They’ve Been Touching The Lives of People Around the World
Burt’s Bees: Greater Good Foundation
The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation, “promotes and aids grassroots initiatives that support human and honeybee health.”
Read More About Their Global Outreach Initiatives
Black Opal Beauty: Malaika: Empowering Me
Every time you purchase Even True products from the Black Opal Beauty line, you are helping to support Malaika a “non-profit organization that provides the best possible education to Congolese girls in the southern Democratic Republic of Congo.” 25% of the proceeds go toward this cause.
To Learn More Visit:
Denzel Washington said it best, "At the end of the day, it's not about what you have or even what you've accomplished...it's about who you've lifted up, who you've made better. It's about what you've given back."
I think this is a pretty good place to start.
"Worship isn't an event to attend it is a lifestyle to be lived."
I am in a season of rebuilding. If I am being completely honest with myself I am meeting this new season with some reservations. I am not quite sure how to navigate it or even where to begin. I had become comfortable with the routine that I had developed for myself and begun settling into a life that I thought I wanted, but God is doing something right now that is calling me away from what had become my norm. I was scared to be back in a place where I didn't feel like I had a handle on my own life. However, what I am learning is that when life is unsure, there is a peace I found in the deepest parts of me that whispers, "Everything is going to be alright." even when I can't see how that can be in the natural. Every day I am choosing to trust that peace.
Faith is a powerful thing and so are the words we speak over ourselves and to others. One of the ways that I am maneuvering through this valley is by beginning my day in worship. Worship removes us out of the equation and puts focus and reverence on Who God is. It extols His many beautiful characteristics and causes us to posture ourselves in humility. Worship for me has always been my safe place, when the circumstances of life seem to be heavily weighing on my shoulders. The presence of the Lord is the best place that I know and worship is the avenue that I most often take to tangibly reach Heaven. With different seasons there are different songs that really minister into my situations. Right now my playlist consists of a lot of different artists but the common thread in each of the songs touches on the characteristic of the Lord as a restorer of those things that are lost and a mender of the things that are broken. Lately, that overarching message has been such a comfort to me.
Ari's Worship Playlist:
What helps you get through your valley seasons? Write in. I'd love to hear from you!
"Makeup is Art.
I started wearing makeup during my last two years of high school. In that time, I learned a few important lessons. One, color can be fun, two, every feature on your face cannot have a moment, and three, makeup should only accentuate your natural beauty, not make you look like someone else. Now as an adult, I am on a journey to find makeup products that make me feel the most like myself and achieve a seemingly effortless look. Over the summer, I had a lot of fun shopping around for products that were healthy for my body and gentle on my skin. Through a lot of trial and error, I have found what I like to call my "holy grail" system that helps me achieve my beauty goals.
For My Skin:
I have always had really sensitive skin so I have to be very particular about the type of products I put on my face. For me, natural products work best. Below is a list of the soaps cleansers scrubs and moisturizers that I use to keep my skin supple, clear, soft and beautiful.
I am so pleased with the makeup products I am currently using. They are a great base for any occasion and the best part is that they are inexpensive! Beauty on a budget is the key.
What are your favorite beauty products and helpful tips? Be sure to share them in the comment section. I want to hear from you!
Traditionally, mentorship has been defined as a stint of time during which a pupil receives guidance by an experienced person in a particular field or educational setting.
Webster defines a mentor as a trusted counselor or guide.
I have had experience with mentorship both on the giving and receiving end.
One of my fondest memories in high school was the day I was accepted into the Peer Ministry Program going into my senior year at Bishop McNamara. The application and interview processes were lengthy, grueling, and highly selective, but I knew that the passion I had to minister to youth and young adults alike was put in me for a reason and I wanted to explore those reasons. I was overwhelmed to the point of tears when I got the letter in the mail that I had been selected. Now was my chance to be transparent about hard lessons that I’d learned and through my sharing, provide a space where my mentees were comfortable enough to do the same. I took my job as a Peer Minister very seriously. The accompanying class, the lesson plans and retreat planning were all added bonuses. The reward for me came years later, when one of my former mentees expressed that he was going to attend the same college as me because I had inspired him and when another mentee reached out to me over Facebook and told me how much my efforts to stay in contact with her after I graduated had meant to her.
During my time as an undergraduate, I was blessed work closely with the campus ministry department. I was often called upon to minister [through music] to incoming classes and had the opportunity speak at a few retreats during my time at Mount St. Mary’s University. I was a Peer Minster there as well along with a few others and together we aided the campus’s Resident Assistants with faith-based programming. During my second semester of sophomore year, I applied to become an R.A. as a junior. By God’s grace, I was selected and became the women’s Resident Assistant for Faith-Development. I was in charge of about 36 residents. It was during this stint of time that I was able to pour into my girls. I was able to share some insights that I had learned as a fellow college student, but most importantly as a Christian living in a carnal world. I really wanted to give them substantial information that could potentially last them a lifetime.
Most recently, I was approached by a former teacher and close friend about being a part of a non-profit organization that he had developed called WAAE (We Are All Educators). I am now a proud member and serve a mentor to a recently graduated high school student. Over the past year, it has been an incredible opportunity to seed into another person and watch her grow and develop as a writer and watch her passion for the field grow and develop. It has been such a rewarding experience to be a part of this organization and give back in this way.
Now what about my mentors?
There have been some very special people in my life who over the years who have imparted wisdom and sage advice to me. They have guided me through countless conversations and prayer and helped me refine my ideas into attainable goals and actionable tasks. It was my late grandmother, Erotida “Lilian” Ponce Gaskill who told me, “Ariel, you can’t just love what you create, you have to learn to love the process of creating.” It was my first communications teacher Mr. Shealer who shared on the first day of class, “Everybody has a story. It is the job of the journalist to find that story and to tell it well.” It was my mom who first told me, “Ari, you can’t be a good writer, if you are not first a reader.” For a long time, what she was saying didn't register in my mind and heart. Now I get it. As a writer it is essential to foster your creativity, gain new perspectives, pull from your personal experiences, tap into the emotional impact that other people's stories have had on you, and have faith to believe that God will grant supernatural insight, understanding and wisdom of those new ideas. All of that fuels the inspiration of the #ReadyWriter.
I have also had so unconventional mentors, people whom I’ve never (or not yet) met, but they have inspired me so much with their knowledge of the industry. Namely radio personality, Nessa Nitty, Entertainment Journalist, Gia Peppers, Media Personality and Talk Show Host, Wendy Williams, retired journalist at Dallas Morning News and National Association of Black Journalists co-founder, Norma Adams-Wade, Radio Personality and TV Host, Ryan Seacrest, Radio Personality, DJ Tony Redz, TV Host, Lola Ogunnaike, Authors Havilah Cunnington (Eat, Pray, Hustle and The Good Stuff) Ann Shoket (The Big Life), Aliza Licht (Leave Your Mark), Jordan Raynor (Called to Create) and Brittany Hennessy (Influencer).
What I am learning is that mentorship does not have to look a certain way to be effective. In my experience, it has been a tool that God has used to confirm my purpose and keep me moving forward as His Holy Spirit leads.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.