Between the two of them they experienced the deaths of four immediate family members, over a five year period. Their marriage began to swim in the sea of trouble. They would attend marriage counseling, in search of the two people they both fell in love with initially.
Faith started her own business and was the Executive Director and CEO of her company Partners Into Action. Faith had it all: a magnificent 6,400 sq. ft. home, situated on one acre of land, with a manicured lawn, tastefully decorated and fully furnished, expensive automobiles, jewelry, designer suits, and a healthy bank account. When the storm came raging, and all Hell broke loose, she had a stroke and would undergo a strenuous rehabilitation process. She wasn't prepared for what was about to happen next and was knocked completely off her square. She would lose everything and for the first time in her life was faced with homelessness.
While serving God and standing strong on her faith, she will discover how to overcome trials, tribulations and setbacks in life. The storm would take her by surprise as she goes from the top of her game high in the sky, to the bottom on the ground. "Now with God fully in my life, it feels like waking up everyday to Superman. What a wonderful change has come over me. Thank you Lord for saving me. You are "The Source of My Strength".
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The Source of My StrengthTriumph Over Tragedy
By Faith Whyte
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Faith Whyte
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Foundation
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2 KJV)
Born and raised in the urban city of Camden, New Jersey and the oldest of six children, I was mature and was one who understood the true meaning of family. Some would say I was a little grown or sassy as a child. My memory recalls I was never disrespectful, on the other hand extremely opinionated, and always looking out for the best interest of my younger siblings. I thought of myself as the Gate Keeper or the Protector for my family. No one, and I mean no one, was going to harm my family physically or verbally without answering to me.
I wasn't a muscular kid, tall, or chubby. Everything about my stature growing up as a child was average with the exception of my mouth. If I had a disagreement with someone and was trying to argue my point of view, or if I felt like you were taking advantage of me or my family during an argument, my voice would expand to the size of the Empire State Building. As I demanded your attention to get my point across, it didn't matter the size or stature of my opponent because I knew and understood very early in life fear is not the spirit of God and I am not to fear any man.
Although I was born within the city limits, I didn't experience hard times and struggle as many inner city youth often do. If there were any issues or concerns within our household or within the marriage of my mother and stepfather; they both worked very diligently to demonstrate good character before their children. As they created a healthy and stable living environment for our family, they made sure our foundation was strong and firm, yet loving.
My parents were hard working, career minded, family oriented individuals. They worked together collectively to provide a awesome living arrangement for their family. They were strong disciplinarians and we were only allowed to play on our block. We were not permitted to go off our block for any reason at all. When the street light came on at dusk we were expected to be in the yard playing until our parents called us in to retire for the evening. As we laid in bed, we would be upset listening to our friends and other neighborhood children still playing outside. I realize now that our parents were keeping us safe.
Even within the family structure if any of the children were having problems with each other, as siblings often do, our parents would call us together. They would address the issue at hand, resolve it, and remind us we were sisters and brothers. In spite of what goes on around us, every one of us has a voice and a responsibility to each other. We can and all will be heard one at a time, we may agree or disagree, but in doing so we are to love one another and never let the sun go down on our wrath.
There was always something going on at our house because we had such a large family. It could be a birthday party, holiday party, bar-b-que, social gathering, or a quarter party. A quarter party was a a monthly event at our house. My parents would move all the furniture from the living room into the basement. They would charge all the children a quarter to come and dance to the soulful sounds of Motown and other artists from the '70's. My parents would serve hotdogs, chips, pretzels and punch at these parties.
The neighborhood children loved our parents and would hang out at our home quite often. Mom who was (and still is) an excellent cook would have the neighborhood smelling of her tasty soul food pouring from the windows of our kitchen. Yup, you guessed it, my stepfather loved to eat. No matter what was going on, dinner was served every night at five o'clock. Mom was from the old school and we all would gather around the table to eat dinner together as a family.
Dad ate so much, after awhile as he got older it was harder for him to work off the pounds he gained around his mid section. That's when his children affectionately gave him the nickname Big Belly. Mom on the other hand seemed to maintain her figure so we never had a nickname for her, but in due time she would adopt the nickname Lenny which was created by her best friend Poochie.
Our parents were good judges of character and had great friendships with all walks of life. Their friendships were long lasting and true. They would only end if someone was called home to be with the Lord. Of course you know this would be a temporary separation because they all had plans of meeting and seeing each other again in glory to rejoice in heaven.
Even if a couple moved out of state, separated, divorced, or remarried they all would remain friends because a friend is someone who loves at all times. Now I'm not saying our house was made of glass and was perfect. My parents did have disagreements every now and again but they always worked together to resolve the issue, and find a solution to the problem, instead of accusing each other of being the problem.
The family was raised up in the church. While Big Belly who was a Regional Bus Driver and often on the road, Lenny was the one who made sure the family attended service. Big Belly would attend church when his schedule permitted but the times were few and far in between. No one in my immediate family was clergy within the church; we were lay members.
Lenny was the choir director and head of the youth department. Of course she made sure all of her children sung on the choir and participated within the youth department.
Now the entire family could sing and I mean SAAAANG with the exception of yours truly, how did you guess, yes me! Although we were singing unto the glory of God, I could not hold one note. God didn't bless me with the gift of song as He did the rest of my family. If someone had to be led to Christ off of my solo, the church would be empty as the saints would vacate the sanctuary one at a time until empty. I was encouraged by my family and other choir members when I wanted to give up, to stick it out. As long as Lenny promised while she was choir director I would never have to perform a solo, this gave me comfort in knowing I would not embarrass myself, or my family for that matter.
Verse to Remember
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he his old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 KJV)
Words of Wisdom
Children are like sponges-very absorbent
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication (1Thessalonians 4:3 KJV)
It was the summer of 1989 and it was hot. Too hot. Camden had to be the hottest place on the planet. We didn't have central air in our home. In fact I don't think anyone in our neighborhood did. To be quite honest, a home being equipped with central air during this time was almost unheard of in the hood. We did have a window unit in our living room. Lenny would only run the air every now and again. Because it was so hot to me, it seemed like the air was off more than it was on. I was 15 years old and would return to school in September as a Sophomore.
I wasn't permitted to date or have a boyfriend until I was 16. Since I was getting good grades in school and helping my parents out a lot with my much younger siblings, they made an exception and granted me permission to start dating. After all, my birthday was fast approaching and that November, I would be 16.
A few months earlier while hanging out with Tracy and her date Aaron, he introduced me to his friend R.J. He was a few years older than I and had already graduated from high school. I later discovered he was much older than me. After school and on weekends we would all hang out and socialize. Grab a pizza, go bowling, or we would kick it at the skating rink on Friday nights which was dance night, or Sunday evening for the hip hop skating session.
R.J. and I were becoming quite an item and we were spending a lot of time together and eventually we started dating, or as some would say, going steady. Lenny approved of me dating R.J. On the other hand, Big Belly who was working the majority of the time, really wasn't a fan. I guess the thought of his daughter dating really didn't sit too well with him. Although he permitted us to see each other he let it be known he wasn't thrilled about the situation.
I was in the kitchen preparing hotdogs for lunch for my siblings and I. When I took the second bite of my hotdog, I began to vomit all over the kitchen floor. Oh my Lord, it was a lot and I could not control it. We had a bathroom just off the kitchen, but with the summer heat and the vomiting, all I could do was stand still. My sister Destiny, the tattle tale, ran into the living room to tell Lenny I was sick and throwing up all over the place. Lenny entered the kitchen and asked if I was okay, as she began to clean up the mess. I replied, "I feel much better. I don't know what came over me."
A few days later Lenny had me accompany her to the doctors. We pulled into the parking lot of the OB/GYN office. I asked Lenny why was she being seen. Immediately she replied, "I'm not being seen by the doctor. You are." I really didn't think much about the visit. Actually I was glad we were here after all. What's the worst that could happen?
I was sexually active and neglected to inform Lenny. While in the doctor's office I began to think to myself, "Someway, somehow Lenny has figured out I'm sexually active, and has brought me here for my first pap smear and some form of contraceptive (birth control)." Lenny approached the information counter to complete the intake forms and provide my insurance information. She knew the ladies in the office really well, after all she delivered three of her children through this practice and remained a patient for her annual pap smears.
The nurse instructed me to follow her to the exam room. As we walked, she informed me there was a bathroom in the exam room. Upon entering the exam room she handed me a hospital gown and a cup. She took my vital signs and asked me a series of questions. Then she told me to undress from the waist down and to provide a urine sample. I completed the urine sample and placed it in the box located on the outside of the door. As she exited the room she informed me the doctor would be in shortly. I completed all the tasks and was patiently waiting to be seen by the doctor.
The doctor entered the exam room and introduced herself as Dr. Ross. She informed me she would be performing a pap smear today and after the exam we would discuss contraceptives. The exam was completed within a few minutes. She then told me to get dressed and she would be back in a few moments to speak with me. Dr. Ross entered the exam room for the second time and stated, "I got some good news and I got some bad news." "The bad news is, it is too late for birth control. The good news is you are 7 weeks pregnant and your due date is March 27, 1990."
I broke out into tears as Dr. Ross sent for Lenny who was sitting in the waiting area to join us in the exam room. Now Lenny wasn't a violent or physical person but she was extremely verbal and highly opinionated at times. When she spoke she demanded your attention and could be very stern. I began to think to myself I would never make it out of the doctor's office alive. Lenny is going to beat the living hell out of me if she don't kill me. The thoughts of a baby being born would be a mission impossible.
By this time Lenny entered the exam room. Dr. Ross began explaining to Lenny what she already told me. I was so embarrassed all I could do was stare at the floor in disbelief. As I thought to myself, "Oh my God I have sinned and I am now a statistic of a baby having a baby and I have brought shame upon my family." Lenny took in all the information from Dr. Ross. To my surprise, Lenny wasn't surprised like I expected her to be. She then indicated she knew I was pregnant the day I vomited all over the kitchen floor.
The truth is something that cannot be hid. Although it can be obscured for a time, whatsoever is in the darkness will be brought to the light. Our parents have lived upon this earth longer than we have. To think we can fool or outsmart our parents would be foolish. They are blessed with wisdom beyond our years. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 NKJ)
As we drove home from the doctor's appointment, Lenny began to ask me a multitude of questions. Not too long before I popped up pregnant, my parents granted me permission to officially begin dating. My parents knew I was exclusively dating R.J, so he had to be the father. My family is saved and practiced Christianity as our form of religion therefore, Lenny firmly stated abortion was not an option.
However I did have two other options presented to me. Option One: I would remain at home with my family, give birth to my baby, and my parents would help me raise the child. Option Two: Give the baby up for adoption.
Once I reached home I called R.J on the telephone to brief him with the news of the day's unfolding events. Of course he was not surprised and welcomed the fact we were now about to embark on a new chapter in life as parents. I remember thinking to myself, "This fool must have lost his natural born mind. I am only 15 years old and still in school."
I worked 3 summers in a row and earned my own money prior to me becoming pregnant. This money was all deposited into a joint savings account with me and Lenny's name on it. I thought of myself as "Miss Independent" but boy did I have a quick reality check still living under my parents roof with no high school diploma, no formal education and no real job. I quickly understood I was not "Miss Independent", just a child with no idea of where to begin in regards to parenting. Far as I was concerned, I was a ship without a sail. R.J. was gainfully employed while still living at home with his mother Ms. Sadie, who was a widow.
I informed my parents of my decision which was option one. I would remain at home with my family, give birth, and my parents would help raise the baby. Although he never verbalized it, I knew Big Belly was extremely disappointed in me. I was a smart young lady (not too smart- here I was 15 and pregnant) and did well in my academic studies. I was physically and emotionally fit and enjoyed running track. I had a passion for writing and was really good at it.
While attending middle school I was voted, " Most Likely To Succeed" and "Miss Congeniality". This was featured in our school yearbook. When I completed high school I planned to go away to college, obtain a degree in journalism and broadcasting so that I could land a position as a writer or news anchor woman. So I guess you could now understand why Big Belly was so disappointed in me.
After all, as the oldest of six children, my younger siblings watched closely as my life unfolded like some reality television show. However I'm happy to report none of my siblings followed in my foot steps as teen parents. They all waited beyond their high school years before any of them would have children.
I wish you could have seen the look on Big Belly's face when Lenny told him I was pregnant. It cut like a double edge sword. I felt like he was an MRI or Cat Scan Imaging machine with the ability to look right through me. I could not handle the despair as I stood before him. I could feel the tremble in my legs and my knees weakened and buckled towards the floor. I wish he would have said something because that look was so cold it made me wish I was dead. On the other hand my siblings were thrilled and awaiting with great joy and anticipation for the birth of my baby. It would take some time for Big Belly to grasp hold to the whole concept but eventually he too came around and now the entire family was on board.
The months would go by fast as I continued school in my sophomore year, prenatal care visits with Dr. Ross and began to prepare for the birth of the baby. I lost a lot of my childhood friends during this period of my life. Their parents felt I was a bad example to be hanging out with their children and they didn't want my friends to get any ideas. I wish the parents along with their children would have embraced me and encouraged me to continue school and remain positive. You know the saying "It takes a whole village to raise a child"? I really believe in that saying. Instead of having that experience, I was alienated which placed doubt and shame upon me.
Excerpted from The Source of My Strength by Faith Whyte Copyright © 2010 by Faith Whyte. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
I. The Foundation....................1
III. The Unexpected....................15
V. Touch Down....................39
VI. Spread Your Wings & Fly....................49
VII. The Foundation Cracks....................55
VIII. Two Become One....................61
IX. A Family Tragedy....................69
X. The Fight of My Life....................81
XI. The Job Experience....................97
XII. Homeless & Bereavement....................107
XIV. Up Close & Personal With Faith Whyte....................125
XV. Hindsight is 20-20 Vision....................127
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Source of My Strength by Faith Whyte is an AWESOME book. I highly recommend this book. I am an avid reader who enjoys a good book and this is definitely a good book. The writing is excellent. It's not too long or too short, it's just right. The author opened up her life in a way that completely captivated me. I couldn't put it down. Actually, I was so motivated and inspired by this book that I read it three times. I commend Faith Whyte for her willingness to share some of the most tragic times of her life with her readers. This book will truly make you understand why there are quotes like "When life gives you lemons make lemonade.
I highly recommend The Source of My Strength by Faith Whyte. It is a well-written, easy read that you won't be able to put down. If you're going through something, I especially recommend this book because it will motivate and encourage you to work your way out of whatever your situation is.