By: Joy Le Page Smith, MA, BCC

Years back Gary and I hired a man with great tree expertise to trim the trees about our home. We chatted frequently and he became a friend while beautifying our trees. He told of his “past life” as an executive with an o ce in a high rise within a big city. While sitting at his desk one day he looked from his 7th floor window and saw a tree-trimmer at work. He thought, “That’s the life I want to live.” So after studying how best to do this earthy art, he started this new endeavor of trimming trees–and became superbly good at it.  Then a disabling accident found him depending on a doctor’s prescription for pain medications. He functioned well although everything about life was hard for him.  Then came the time when opioids gained national attention due to their overuse by millions of people whose doctors were not closely monitoring the use of them. Many doctors, as well as our friend’s doctor, started warning their patients, as much as possible, about their prescription usage.


Our friend, now living on a “minimal amount” of the opioids as compared to what his doctor had permitted previously, found it far from adequate for managing his constant, agonizing pain. He called me, “Joy, I think as a chaplain you may be able to answer a question for me. What do you think God will do in my case if I take my life?”


I felt tremendous compassion for his plight.  en, without hesitation I told him that we have a merciful God, a loving God—and added that I believe we are to see our challenges on earth as opportunities to grow in our strength and through God’s help to be able to handle them. Yet, there are instances wherein a person has formidable pain and their back is against the wall to the point they can no longer tolerate living and breathing here on earth…some do make that final, momentous choice to end their life. Who can know if in that veracious moment the person takes his or her cause to the throne of God in prayer. I would like to believe that our Creator comprehends all and that person who is so sick goes straight into the loving arms of God. Yet, life is such a gi . And all judgment belongs to God. Our friend was one who talked with us frequently about his love of Christ and of his prayers to be faithful. We prayed with hearts brimming with concern for him. Two years passed when we received a call informing us that our friend had ended his life.

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October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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