Losing My Religion

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Turning Pain Into Laughter Since 2011

Judge not lest you be judged. Meaning do not judge unfairly or selfishly. That’s what the bible says right? Yeah, it’s right there in Matthew 7:1…I just read it. So why do so many Christians specialize in being judgmental? For example, on a Saturday outing with my mom and aunt, my aunt asked if she could ask me a question. My reply, “sure, if I can answer honestly.” Before we get into that question, let’s take a little trip down memory lane. I grew up as Baptist the first few years of my life and then as a Jehovah’s Witness from the age of 9 until I was 18. I never really accepted all of their beliefs, always having questions but never speaking my mind. For example, when someone makes a mistake [sins] they are shunned. Forget the fact that everyone sins daily, consciously and unconsciously, because we know bout YOUR sin…because YOUR sin is public knowledge, we’re painting the scarlet letter on your chest until WE think you have redeemed yourself. What happened to ‘come as you are’? Everyone makes mistakes?

Back to my aunt’s curiosity…her question, “Did you not like serving Jehovah?” My response, “I still serve God, why would you ask me that?” She looks me in the eyes and says, “No, I mean Jehovah.” “Wait…you mean the same God you serve?” She says, “People aren’t always referring to Jehovah when they say God.” “Well I’m talking about the SAME God you’re speaking of. The bible calls Him by many names so YES we’re talking about the same God. Did you think I was talking about this ice in my cup. You think I’m worshipping ice sculptures now?” I asked her why she thought I didn’t like serving God. She said because of the activities I partake in and the fact that I have separated myself from that particular religion. “Soooo you mean since I’m out here freestyle sinning, I must have put God on the back burner?” She pretty much said, “Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.” Ha…wow. Never mind the fact that she’s being extremely judgmental right now…I’m a SINNER in her eyes.

Am I a bad person because I’m not connected to a church? Why do I need to be affiliated with a church or a religion to prove that I believe in or serve God? People attend church for a number of reasons:

  • They feel the need to be connected to other like-minded people
  • It’s part of their faith
  • To get and stay close to God
  • For spiritual guidance
  • Or because they were brought up that way

For me, it started out because that’s how I was brought up. Living in the house with my grandmother and watching her go to church every time the doors opened, naturally I thought that’s what you were suppose to do. I mean, how else was I going to avoid going to hell? It became a habit, a part of this thing we call life on earth. It then became a means to stay close to God. How could I be close to and have a relationship with God without being in church? As I got older I attended church because that’s what my circle of friends did. I wanted to be around them and if they went to church, I went to church too…monkey see, monkey do.

Once I realized that I didn’t have to be in church to have a relationship with God, which is the most important thing, I actually started focusing on my relationship with Him more. Like me show you what that looks like if that doesn’t make since to you. When I attended church on Sundays and Tuesday, I often waited until then to fall into worship and talk to God. I depended on the preacher to guide me into prayer, to hype me up to give Him praise. Like I couldn’t do it on my own. The preacher had to tell me what I should be grateful for and motivate me to tell Him thank You.

I lost interest in attending church a long time ago. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t bring myself to get up every Sunday morning. I don’t party much so I wasn’t staying out late every Saturday night, so being too sleepy or tired wasn’t the issue. The last time I attended church was Easter…pretty cliché of those non-church going people. You know, the Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day attendees. While I resided in Memphis I was a regular Sunday morning worship, Tuesday night bible study, Thursday night singles ministry member. But I realized that it wasn’t church itself that I was drawn to. It was the company I kept at the church that drew me in. I made some pretty awesome, lifetime connections. If it weren’t for my ministry group, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been in attendance on a regular basis. Once I moved back home I searched and searched for the perfect church. I couldn’t find what I had in Memphis and that’s when I realized that my main reason for attending was because of my friends. I struggled to find that same connection. I was looking for friends, like-minded people…not religion. I wasn’t searching for God. I talk to God everyday, not just when I’m at church. It finally hit me that I was losing my religion, thank God. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Until next time Laughers,

~Keep Laughing

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Kitta is a blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Kitta believes in healing pain through the power of laughter.

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From The Streets To The Pulpit: Pastor Broderick Connesero

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Turning Pain Into Laughter Since 2011

I first met Pastor Broderick Connesero in 2007 at the University of Memphis. I was a student who was missing home and feeling a little out-of-place. I didn’t know anyone. I went to class, work, and straight to my room, occasionally making a stop at the library. If my sissy (best friend) wasn’t in town for a weekend visit, I didn’t have a social life. I was desperately searching for something to connect to make this college journey a little easier. That’s when a classmate told me about an on-campus weekly bible study and I decided to check it. On my first visit there weren’t that many people in attendance, and when I saw the pastor leading the group I was a little taken aback. He didn’t fit the bill for a pastor, at least not any I’d seen. He was in street clothes and fit the description of what some would consider a thug. Despite my hesitation, I stayed and found myself attending this bible study every week, and eventually joining the church of which Pastor Connesero was youth pastor. He became one of my mentors and the big brother I never had.

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As a drug dealer, Broderick lived a very prosperous, and what he believed was a good life. While running drugs from California to Memphis, he was able to maintain living quarters in two different states and generated a large amount of money. Life was good, until the city of Memphis experienced a drought–a drug drought that is. A sudden turn of events also left Broderick faced with a big question from God, “What are you going to do with your life?”

Born in Bellflower, California and raised in Compton, Broderick had dreams of being in the entertainment business. Growing tired of the liars in Los Angeles and Hollywood, he made his way to Memphis, TN and enrolled at the University of Memphis. His attempt to be a college student left him financially frustrated and depressed. He soon sought relief in what he was familiar with, selling dope.
Selling drugs between the U of M and an apartment complex located in Whitehaven, Broderick began to experience the life he was accustomed to. Always having money at his disposal, Broderick lived what most would consider a good life. Fortunately for him, and others around him, this good life was short-lived. During the drug drought, mentioned above, he was unable to get drugs in or out of Memphis. Everyone he sent to make drops or pick ups got arrested…Broderick saw 7 of his associates go to jail because of him. Broderick began living off of money he’d already made and stashed away. But he soon saw a break in the drought and was able to finally get a package through. This break came during the holiday season, so his workers were excited about the opportunity to make some money for Christmas.
While in the apartment he worked out of, after the drugs has been broken down and all the work was finished, him and one of his associates sat and had conversation. This associate casually asked to see his gun. Feeling comfortable with this person and not giving it a second thought, Broderick handed his gun over to this man…the man then turned the gun on Broderick. He stripped him of all his clothes, hog tied him, and placed him in the bathtub. When he pulled the trigger the first time, the gun jammed. He pulled the trigger a second time and was again unsuccessful and fled the apartment. For the next 2 months, Broderick was on a mission of revenge. He spent that time looking for the man who tried to kill him with his own gun and looking for anyone he could rob for some money. In a desperate attempt to make some money, Broderick actually took a ‘job for hire’…he was hired to kill someone.
On the day that he was supposed to carry out this mission of murder, his plans were halted. Him and a friend set out, on a rainy day, to follow and kill a man, but ironically the car they were using kept stalling. By the time they caught up with the man, he was surrounded by too many people, and they were unable to complete the job. At that point Broderick began to analyze his life. After helping his sister through a financial crisis, along with his continued lifestyle of partying and blowing money, the man who once had money at this disposal, found himself broke and homeless. He ended up living with a friend, who shared a two bedroom apartment with your boyfriend and their child. On his first night there the friend prepared dinner for all of them. Never really experiencing hard times, Broderick was shocked at the meal they shared that night…a pack of Ramen noodles for each of them and one Tostino’s pizza. Now one grown man could eat all of that by himself, imagine having to split that between four people.
Broderick had reached his lowest point. Crying out to God for help, he began the process of ‘change’. He took a job at an apartment complex where he picked up and shoveled others people’s trash into the trash dispenser. As you can imagine, this was a humbling experience. Even though he was now making an honest living, he became angry and upset at the turn his life had taken. But in this moment of humility and anger he finally started listening to God, attending church and bible study on a regular basis. Six months later he got a job offer that took him out of the trash cans–he became a case specialist for the Department of Human Service. Eventually his walk with God would lead him to New Direction Christian Church, where he became the youth pastor and leader of the college and singles ministry. Almost being killed, taking a job to kill someone and becoming homeless led Broderick to finally realize that God would never let him be happy without Him…he’s been riding with God ever since.
I’m so glad that I looked pass Pastor Connesero exterior and listened to his message at that first bible study. He has a tough exterior but a soft heart when it comes to reaching and helping others. He’s made incredible strides in helping develop the youth in the city of Memphis. It’s heartwarming to see how much his ‘children’ love him…he leaves a permanent positive mark on all of the kids that have the opportunity and pleasure of experiencing his mentoring.  I can honestly say he was instrumental in helping me connect to New Direction and becoming more than just a church member, but a volunteer as well. Broderick is currently a pastor at Living Hope Church-Vollintine Evergreen. He is now happily married, raising three children, and still riding for God, mentoring and touching the lives of the youth all over the city of Memphis.
You find Pastor Connesero on Instagram @Six45 and Facebook.
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As Always…Keep Laughing!

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Kitta, a native of Jackson, TN, is a blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice.  Kitta believes in healing pain through the power of laughter.

Kitta, a native of Jackson, TN, is a blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Kitta believes in healing pain through the power of laughter.

Suppose Jesus Said No?

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Turning Pain Into Laughter Since 2011

“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” ~Matthew 26:39

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Have you ever wondered what this world would be like if Jesus said ‘NO’? If He hadn’t went to Calvary? If He hadn’t died for our sins? That’s a terrifying thought and one that has honestly never entered into my mind. How often do we say this prayer: “Your will be done, not mine.”? Do we really mean it? I can honestly say that I’ve prayed that prayer, wanting God’s will to be done but still wanting very much to do want I want to do. What if Jesus was more concerned about Himself and not the will of God? What if He threw them deuces and was like, “Nope! I’m not dying for y’all!”. What if He was just as disobedient as we are when it comes to carrying out God’s will and walking in our purpose?

‘Suppose Jesus Said No’, which started out as a song and transitioned into a play, was written in 1976 by Russell Morrow. Mr. Morrow is the pastor of Forest Heights United Methodist Church of Jackson, TN and the founder and executive director of New Generations Ministries. While at Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, OH, Pastor Morrow wrote the play as his graduate project. The play didn’t make its’ first debut on stage until 1988 in Brookhaven, MS. The upcoming date of April 3, 2015, will make only the 4th time the play has been presented to the public.

Pastor Morrow explains, “The play explores the experiences of Lisa and Imani, two young women who grew up in the church as they struggle with life changing decisions. Life changing decisions that have the potential to lead them down a dark and troubled road, one, because of selfish ambition and the other, because of love. Through drama, laughter, music and personal reflection, we follow them through their personal struggle with self-denial to their joyful experience with the power of gratitude.

Pastor Morrow is hoping to draw in a lot young adults with this play. Pastor Morrow’s objective with this play is to have it speak to people in a compassionate, loving, and truthful way, versus condemning the victim. Many times people go to church and instead of being loved and welcomed they are victimized and mistreated. He feels that the church has a major responsibility of reaching those who are broken. Pastor Morrow’s hope is that through drama, laughter, personal reflection, and music people will ask themselves, “Am I putting Christ first or am I saying no to Him?”, “Do I love things or persons to my detriment when I should be loving God?”. Pastor Morrow hopes to eventually develop a traveling ensemble to perform the play in different cities and states.

Now I don’t know about y’all but I will definitely be seeing this play. I mean don’t you want to see what could possible happen if Jesus said no? I do! And what’s even better is that a portion of the proceeds from this play will be donated to Keep My Hood Good, WRAP – Wo/Men’s Resource and Rape Assistance Program, and Martin Housing Authority Learning Center. How awesome is that! And y’all know I love to give back in any way I can. So you get entertainment and the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping support some of your local community organizations. The play takes place Friday April 3, 2015 at 6:30pm at Liberty Technology Magnet High School in Jackson, TN.

For more info or tickets to the play visit their Facebook Event page ‘Suppose Jesus Said No?‘ or contact Ms. Betty Lyons at (731) 668-5209, Monday – Thursday 9:00am – 1:00pm or you can even contact me for a ticket. Convenient right? 😉 I hear a lot of people say there’s never anything to do in Jackson. Ok, I say that a lot too but I’m happy I have plans this weekend to see this play. Start your Easter weekend right by taking your entire family to see ‘Suppose Jesus Said No’

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As always…Keep Laughing!

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Kitta, a native of Jackson, TN, is a Laugh Coach, blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now? This Traveling Media Personality is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice.  Kitta believes in spreading joy, one laugh at a time.

Kitta, a native of Jackson, TN, is a Laugh Coach, blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now? This Traveling Media Personality is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Kitta believes in spreading joy, one laugh at a time.