The Bridge KickBack: An Organic Authentic Worship Experience Outside the Four Walls of Traditional Church

On my journey to experiencing God through fellowship with His people, I have come to learn about different Bible studies, church services and events with the purpose of drawing people nearer to our Creator. My calendar is full of prayer calls that happen over the phone, evening Bible studies and the different times church services start for Sunday morning service.

There are recurring events that happen every other week or monthly that I plan to go to but I sometimes lose track of time or get the event days mixed up. This was certainly the case with the catching up with The Bridge KickBack, a millenial-led church service that takes place at Nancy’s Pizza in Atlanta, Georgia every other Monday at 7 pm.

I discovered this service after first falling in love with the gospel trap music artist named Glo and his album, “Trapping Out the Church”. I absolutely loved every song I heard (and added to my Lit for the Lord playlist on YouTube) but my favorites are “On the Water” and “By the Twos”. I had to post part of a song on my instagram page and found GLO to tag him. I was excited to learn that he lived in metro Atlanta and actually did a song, “Worship for The Hood”, that shouted out my old neighbor in Riverdale, GA. After doing a little bit more investigating, I saw that he was a part of a movement called The Bridge KickBack where young people gathered together to have praise and worship and uplifting words about Jesus Christ after playing some fun games and having some gut busting laughs.

Last week, they also had a very unique online event called the Unapologetically Me Conference that included panel discussions, testimonies and inspiration from different people from various races, backgrounds and lifestyles. They discussed your identity in Christ and image versus reality among other things starting on Instagram and leading to Youtube for the full video. I was blessed by this insight and appreciated the testimonies shared! This made me vigilant about keeping up with and catching the date for the next bi-weekly event so I can finally experience this event in person.

My youngest sister is a bonafide millenial and I immediately thought of her when I saw the clips of people talking about their experiences with the Holy Spirit during this unadulterated, unique encounter with God. I was excited to plan to go to this event with her. My children came as well. My daughter enjoyed dancing to the familiar gospel trap music and my son dominated the Connect 4 table. We also enjoyed some authentic, delicious Chicago-style deep dish pizza that didn’t break the bank!

I was beyond excited to experience the spirit-filled altar call where the ladies gathered and were encouraged to embrace, pray with or intercede for each other. There was a real sense of sisterhood and family in the room as we all lifted up the name of our Lord together. I was on mommy duty with my baby girl but God still afforded me an opportunity to pray with a lady in the back of the room. She was eventually encouraged enough to go to the front of the room and join the altar call.

There was a round table discussion and a panel discussion on different spiritual topics like insecurity and identity in God. I was amazed at how the Holy Spirit came in as we Milly Wopped and did the Running Man for the Lord. I am not easily impressed but my expectations were definitely exceeded as I didn’t expect the move of God to be so strong. I listen to gospel rap a lot but I now know that the Holy Spirit will visit any place where it is welcome. I love praising, worshipping, glorifying and loving on the Lord and it felt good to be in the company of so many people who were on the same accord. There was no judgment, negative vibes or quenched spirit in this place…Praise God! I totally recommend this event to anyone who wants to invite someone to church but know they won’t show up to an actual church building. It is clearly an awesome alternative to Bible study that will keep you engaged, entertained and energized! I am grateful that the folks at The Bridge KickBack for allow themselves to be a great representative of what the church should be, people who bring God WHEREVER they go and are unapologetic as they do it!

This is a blurry picture but I was excited to take this selfie with my favorite local gospel trap artist, GLO! I had an absolute blast at The Bridge Kickback! I look forward to the next event and invite anyone in Atlanta who would love to experience the spirit of God OUTSIDE the 4 walls of church. Be sure sure to check out my homeboy and brother in Christ, GLO. Follow him on Instagram @Gloman1. Make sure you stay tuned to find out about the next event by following @TheBridgeKickback at Nancy’s Chicago Pizza located at 265 Ponce De Leon Ave NE A, Atlanta, GA 30308. Hope to see you soon! Follow me on @SayuriSmith to learn about unique positive events in Atlanta and beyond! Be Blessed!

All Rights Reserved ©Sayuri Smith LLC.

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Reclaiming My Time: Fighting Procrastination

There is a viral video of U.S. representative for California’s 43rd congressional district Maxine Waters where she is requesting an answer to a specific question and when the answer was not given, she repeated the phrase “Reclaiming my Time” over and over again. As I watched her speak, it made me think of all the times I have allowed others to waste mine and I realized I need to be more like Auntie Maxine.

When working at the club, I was extremely efficient in spending the appropriate amount of time with a customer to maximize profitability. If a patron was not paying me to talk, I was being paid to dance. If I wasn’t being paid to dance, I was getting paid somewhere else. It was simple but unfortunately life isn’t that cut and dried. *sad face* I am currently working on a fictional novel based on my life, Dancability, which has me reflecting on how I have spent my time. This is mostly the result of having a huge issue with procrastination.

I remember working with ladies who would come to work with astronomical nightly quotas because they had a bill due in the next few days. They needed to make $800 that night or their rent would be late or would be in jeopardy of getting a visit from the repo man. I watched these ladies and made a point to slowly save up my money to avoid adding anxiety to the already stressful job of dealing with drunken men all night. Ugh. Because I planned some things and avoided certain issues, I could not see how I was procrastinating in other areas.

As a part of my new lifestyle, I have implemented a new way of living which starts with the concept of reclaiming my time. There are so many different things God has shown me I must accomplish but I keep finding “good reasons” to put them on the back burner. I am an ex-exotic dancer who has been out of the game for 2 years but still consider myself to be in transition because of the many changes I still need to make to be the new and improved me. After working in the strip club for so long, I have become accustomed to fast money. I could wake up with $60 and go to sleep with $600. There was no waiting for pay day or a pay check. I got cash in my hand after dancing my heart out. I could put off working all week if I wanted and still pay my bills on time. I would have to rest up in order to work so hard so what some people called procrastination, I called getting rested. Procrastination has taken a different form now that I do not dance anymore and it has been hard to pinpoint. I balance so many different items on my plate, I see I have to really manage my time and not stretch myself too thin because procrastination can come in looking like juggling. When you juggle, you have to divide your attention and when you look away from something, you have to set a date to return to it. When you don’t, it won’t get done and you will start a bunch of projects and finish none. You may sign up to help someone when you need that time for yourself. You will need to reclaim your time.

I hated to admit my issue with procrastination and my inability to properly prioritize my time. There are so many things I would like to accomplish that I now see that it is very important to strengthen this weakness to be victorious in my own life. In the back of my mind, I put things off just knowing they will get done (just like knowing my bills would be paid when I worked at the club). Working at the strip club empowered me to have complete control of my time which ironically hindred me from making the most of it because I always mismangaged it. Not working to a set schedule and being able to work whenever I wanted fed into my procrastination of taking care of less desirable tasks.

I find that the more I talk to God, the more focused my thoughts are and waste less energy. When your steps are ordered by God, you can do more with less.

“The steps of a [good and righteous] (wo)man are directed and established by the Lord, And He delights in his or her way [and blesses his path]. PSALM 37:23 AMP

Setting goals and deadlines for myself is essential to marking things off my to-do list and pushing procrastination out of the picture. I foucs on this scripture that tells me to seek guidance when I get off track and reminds me to get back on task. My list “counsels” me about what I need to be doing.

“Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm], But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.” PROVERBS 11:14 AMP

“Let us test and examine our ways, And let us return to the Lord.” LAMENTATIONS 3:40 AMP

It is important to know that taking baby steps are the way to accomplish your goals. In the Focusing on Goals and Purpose chapter of Scriptures for Strippers, there is a place to list short term and long term goals. If you need a indepth plan of action, turn to page 289 and get busy filling in your overall goals, supporting goals, the action taken and the result. Whenever I am having issues with prioritizing projects, I ask God. He answered with this.

“But all things should be done with regard to decency and propriety and in an orderly fashion.” 1 Corinthians 14:40 AMPC

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I hope this blog post has blessed you in some way. Please feel free to leave comments below or contact me with any question or suggestions for the blog.Get your copy of Scriptures For Strippers from the official website or from Amazon. Click the link below. https://www.amazon.com/stream/ref=nav_upnav_mobile_C_SearchAW

Follow on FB and IG @SayuriSmith #ScripturesForStrippers May God continue to bless and keep you.

All Rights Reserved Sayuri Smith LLC.

 

The Sacred Society Soirée: A Night of Engaging Encounters of Inspirational Women

I was sitting here reflecting on my week and I am in awe of what God is doing in my life. I think back over my life to a time where I was in darkness, with very little hope of a bright future and running from my past as a stripper. As a dancer,  there was very little sisterhood and cooperation amongst the women I worked with. There were girls who ran in cliques and it seemed like an counterproductive and ineffective strategy to maximize the time spent in the club. Every relationship seemed to come with a sense of competition. Bittersweet friendships ended with blindsiding betrayal that started with bickering over dollar bills. I adapted well to the concept of being a Lone Wolf because at the end of the day, working in a strip club as an exotic dancer does not require teamwork and I enjoyed working alone. But as I transitioned out of the club, I had to learn that no man (or woman) is an island. 

The Bible says: 

Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up.” ECCLESIASTES 4:9‭-‬10 AMP

I fought depression and anxiety hard to go out and socialize. Going to networking event and conferences was distressing at first and made me uneasy but I became more comfortable each time I pitched my business and introduced my services to strangers who could potentially help me.  

 As I started to become comfortable with networking and making connections to build my business as an entrepreneur but I discovered that same clique mentality when attending some conferences that promised “empowerment” and “sisterhood”. I really didn’t realize how all of my years as a stripper allowed me to see the signs of the fake and phony folks before situations fully manifested. I avoided some interactions, confrontations and potential business disasters but was becoming a little discouraged by the weak-willed who attempted to prey on women with passion for their mission. 

I took a break and went into consecration and asked God to redirect and connect me with people who were supposed to help me with the assignment the Almighty gave me which is to build His kingdom through empowerment of the knowledge of His Word. Shortly after coming out of consecration, I was connected to different women. Women who were driven, confident and successful and wanted to bring other women onto their level of spiritual knowledge and soulful success. 

Last month, I found out about an event called Meet the Authors that will take place October 14, 2017 in Atlanta, GA and contacted by blogger, entrepreneur, and author, Zeta Joel of IAmZetaJ.com, to see if I could participate. She promptly contacted me and I was informed of an opportunity to speak! I felt the faithfulness of God in this news and I thanked Him for answering my prayer. But something else happened.

Visit Eventbrite for ticket information

I have been involved with events before where people met, spoke, sold their wares and went home. The facilitator of this event did something I have never been a part of. I was invited to dinner by Zeta J at Two Urban Licks located in Atlanta, GA. The menu was superb, offering exquisite fare from the popular Salmon Chips to Scallops and Grits. 

I was super, duper, turbo excited to meet her and a few other women who were also invited to what I learned was The First Sacred Society Dinner. I was pleasantly surprised by the positivity and electric chemistry that sparked between the 9 female strangers who were enterpreneurs, authors and bloggers. We discussed topics ranging from how to cope with the issue of lack of support from family and friends in business to what should be the requirements and qualifications of a good spouse. There was no immaturity, rudeness or grandstanding which was always prevalent in many of the previous social events I have observed. Everyone contributed to the conversation and we all immediately followed each other on social media to ensure we support each others’ movements and endeavors. 

(from left to right) Shanna Jefferson, Daneisha Smith, Sayuri Smith, Quionah Wingfield, London Bridges, Zeta Joel, Tinzley Bradford, Ashleigh Guide, Precious Fraizer

It was refreshing to be in the presence of women who were eager to learn from each other and seek real collaboration. I was absolutely dazzled to converge with such dynamic divas who understood the struggles of being vulnerable to exclusions of network cliques which only breeds unhealthy and unhelpful competition and not compounding our efforts in collaboration. The Sacred Society Dinner allowed me to experience a night of sisterhood and celebration of each woman’s success thus far. As we all talked, we each expressed the importance of having a connection with the Creator. I appreciated this night so much because of the sincere desire and effort to be authentically connected to each woman, her vision and her upcoming projects and events.

Zeta Joel’s enthusiasm about connecting was contagious and led me to share the details of each woman who were in attendance of this magical night. I’m look forward to the next dinner!  Follow all of these phenomenal women on Instagram and visit each website!

~Zeta Joel has a blog called Get Inspired, the author of 2 books: “Parenting with No Bra” and “Like Father, Like Son”. Follow her on IG @IAmZetaJ

~Quionah Wingfield is founder of Cool Moms Dance Too Inc., publisher and health and wellness advocate. Visit http://www.Coolmomsdancetoo.com. Follow her on IG @CoolMaqui

~Ashleigh Guice is a speaker, life coach, author of “How to X Your Ex” and writes a blog called “Single Woman Chronicles. Visit her site http://www.SingleWomanChronicles.com and follow on IG @SingleWomanChronicles

~London Bridges is one half of The Ceo Goddesses where she is a beauty entrepreneur specializing in glam make up and virgin Brazilian Hair. She is located in Norcross, GA. Follow her on IG @LondonBridges4You_Hair and @TheCeoGoddess

~Daneisha Smith is a certified payroll professional and contributes to Zeta J’s blog, Get Inspired, as a lover of fashion and beauty blogger. Follow her on IG @OfficiallyChic

~Tinzley Bradford is a media influencer, radio host, relationship coach and author of “The Settle-Free Dating Method for Women.” Her book is available online at Barnes and Nobles and Amazon. Follow her on IG @Tinzl

~Precious Fraizer is a wellness expert, women’s empowerment movement pusher and business blogger. Visit http://www.linktr.ee/rockyourreality. Follow on IG @RockYourReality

~Shanna Jefferson is a psychotherapist, life coach, speaker, blogger, entrepreneur and author of “33 Tools For Success”. Visit http://www.ShannaJeffereson.com. Follow her on IG @ShannaJefferson. She is also the other half of @TheCEOGoddess

~Sayuri Smith is an entrepreneur, blogger and author of A.Stray and Scriptures For Strippers. She is also the Care Team Coodinator for http://www.4Sarah.net, an organization dedicated to helping women transition out of sex work and assist victims of sex trafficking. Visit http://www.ScripturesForStrippers.com and follow her on IG @SayuriSmith

The Real #Traphouse Ain’t Pink

In the winter of 2003, I went to visit a friend who had moved in with her boyfriend. We worked at the same strip club and had become close over the course of a few months. She told me she had grown up Muslim but that didn’t stop us from being cool with each other. She had recently been in the hospital and I went over to see if she was OK.  I had visited this place about 3 or 4 times before. I went during the early evening, around 6pm. 

She lived on a side of town where there was a lot of drug activity. There were always at least 4  random dudes just hanging out at his place and I wondered how she could feel comfortable living there with all those strange guys. Her boyfriend had just moved to Atlanta from Chicago and immediately started selling drugs out of his newly renovated duplex. I didn’t know he sold drugs and wasn’t sure if my friend knew but we found out for sure on this night. 

We laughed, talked and smoked together.  I got the urge to leave but I just assumed this grade of marijuana made me paranoid.  We were in a back room and suddenly someone busted in and told us to get on the ground with a silver gun drawn.  I immediately thought it was the police and they were busting the whole house in a raid.  Maybe one of the guys had a warrant.  Maybe the police had run up in the wrong house to lock up some suspects who had recently moved.  I knew one thing was for sure,  I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  

I attempted to go into my pocket and throw the marijuana on the floor so I couldn’t get a possession charge. He immediately reprimanded me and told me to keep my hands up. My friend ran into the closet,  screaming and tearing down the clothes attempting to hide.  I was confused as he changed his mind and told us to come out of the room and come with him.  

As he led us down the long hall,  we saw the guys who hung out at the house being beaten and stripped all in different rooms. We walked passed a room that I’ve never been in. The door was always shut and locked.  But as we walked by,  I now understood why. There was large black trash bags full of marijuana and cash stacked to the ceiling. There were men in there bagging up everything quickly as the violent chaos happened all throughout other parts of the house. 

When I looked forward,  there was an unmasked young man, standing at the front door holding an AK-47. He was a puny young dude, almost like a teenager and the gun was almost bigger than he was. By the time, we got to the living room I realized this was not a raid but a robbery! Everyone was laying face down on the floor and the man who walked us down the hall forced us to lay face down next to her weeping boyfriend. He passed the time playing violent video games where he practiced shooting up intruders and cursing at the TV screen as he smoke blunt after blunt. Now, he and all his “tough guy” friends had been stripped, robbed and laid out on the floor scared of what would happen next.  

As soon as I laid down,  I began to pray and I felt a blanket or sheet gently cover me.  I held my friend’s hand and the wrist of her sobbing boyfriend.  I remembered that my friend didn’t believe in Jesus but still prayed for God to protect us. A man was standing over us with a gun pressed against my back, yelling at him to be quiet.  I turned my head to him and sternly said,  “Be quiet! “and he stopped wailing only sniffled from time to time. If her boyfriend made this guy mad enough to pull the trigger, the bullets would enter my body, not his. I started back praying and imagined myself going home.  Something told me I would go home and my life would not end. The gun was no longer pressed into my back but I kept praying. 

Some of the robbers had left the house to go upstairs to where his sister lived.  He had recently sent for her and her new baby from Chicago.  We heard footsteps overhead and then a gunshot. Again,  my friend’s boyfriend became hysterical, bawling uncontrollably and writhing in pain for what he thought had happened. We heard the intruders run down the stairs and run to their car.  I had left my purse in my car so I didn’t have my phone or anything on me. 

Everyone got up and attempted to wrap their heads around what had just happened. My friend was in her boyfriend’s arm and they cried together.  She later discovered that her purse had been ransacked and she was missing $600 cash, probably a whole night’s pay. I got home safely that night and thanked God for sparing my life. His sister and her baby was safe too!  Thank God! 

I knew there was a bigger plan for my life.  A couple weeks later, when I celebrated my 21 birthday, I reflected on the fact that I almost didn’t make it and was so grateful to God that I made it out of the trap house.  I have never been back to a traphouse and pray that anyone who is is covered, protected and will someday look to God to redirect them. Years later. I pray that God will give them another chance to tell the goodness of God. In Jesus’name name Amen! I found that friend on Facebook and saw that she posts scriptures on her page and thank God for the conversion. 

If you or anyone you know needs prayer, wants to pray or learn how to pray,  I can be reached via email at ScripturesForStrippers@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter, instagram and facebook @SayuriSmith. To get a copy of your very own devotional, you can get a copy from Amazon. There are two covers available but the inside is the same.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s?k=scriptures+for+strippers