Archive | January 2012

Foundation Works to Build Bridges Between Christians and LGBT Community

If you’ve seen this picture before it’s probably because it has been circulating around the social media world of Facebook and several others like it and there’s a good reason why. For as long as I can remember the GLBT community has expressed their bitter resentment at Christian Institutions and what the church’s stance is on same sex relationships. While everyone is entitled to their opinion the church’s stance on these relationships has given some Christians the idea that based on Biblical principle it is reasonable to exile those who choose to live their lives as such. Such thought processes have instigated protests, rejections, and abusive behaviors by those who have called themselves Christians. While many Christians have not agreed with this sort of behavior…very few have taken a stand against it or have taken action to create harmony. That is, until recently.

The Marin Foundation in an attempt to promote healing, forgiveness, and unity wanted to show those within the GLBT community, during Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade, that many Christians are indeed regretful for all the hurt and pain our brothers, our sisters, and we have caused. Theirs message was simply, “I’m sorry” that was displayed brightly in white lettering on a black t-shirt. A message that was recieved with much tears.

Andrew Marin, founder and president, of the Marin Foundation discusses the mission of the organization quite simply on his blog as a:

“[n]on-profit organization that works to build bridges between the LGBT community and the Church through biblical and social education, scientific research and diverse community gatherings. Their unique approach strategically partners with both religious and LGBT organizations to make a sustainable difference in today’s religious and secular cultures. The Marin Foundation is also conducting the largest national scientific research study ever done in the LGBT community regarding spirituality and religion. Andrew has appeared on various national radio and TV programs, and his sermon Homophobia and Bridging from within the Evangelical Church—given on Capitol Hill the night before the Inauguration of President Barack Obama in January 2009—is archived in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. Andrew blogs daily at and is the author of the award winning book, Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Communtiy (InterVarsity Press, 2009), which has has won more awards than any other individual book in the long-standing history of InterVarsity Press. He and his wife, Brenda, live in the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago.” (

Andrew’s Facebook Page                 The Marin Foundation Facebook Page

I offer a high Kudos to Andrew and his foundation for taking some significant steps to change and healing. For far too long we have concentrated on the variations of skin color, political stance, religious beliefs and the like with disregard for the fact that in this all we are all still human. Living and breathing human beings who crave love and acceptance. For those of us who are Christians and those of other beliefs…even those with no religious affiliations….the message of Jesus Christ is universal “…Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31) Marin explains the mission of the Marin Foundation below:


Tyler Lynne Fago: Spoke to Many Hearts Without Ever Saying A Word

On January 19, 2012, the earth lost one of its little angels. On January 23rd his family had a viewing for those who wanted to say their last good-byes to Tyler. There were so many people that it literally took almost three hours to get through the line to his casket. The following morning at 11:00am. there was a funeral service celebrating the life of this sweet boy. I walked in with my son and since we were a few minutes late we decided to take a seat in the very back where churches usually have their “overflow” benches. After we sat down…we listened. We listened to Tyler’s children’s ministry leader speak about how much Tyler and the Fagos had taught him…about unconditional love, patience, and understanding. He said that he was happy to know that Tyler was no longer broken and walking with Jesus. You see Tyler Fago had Cerebral Palsey. He did not have just a mild case either….Tyler’s case was probably as severe as it can get. He could not speak, he could not walk, he could not eat on his own, and as far as I know…his ability to think was limited or not at all.  Then his father Dale took the podium. He told everyone that when Tyler was born he struggled with the fact that his son had this disability. He also told us that once he decided to release his struggles over to God that everything just naturally took its course. However, his main message was not one of despair or pain but of rejoicement. He celebrated his son and the lives that he touched and the people that were a part of it.

How does a child that has no way of communicating with others carry the ability to touch so many lives? I think the pastor described it best when he said (paraphrasing)…”Tyler’s purpose was to touch the lives of others…to teach them about selflessness, unconditional love, and the value of life…especially his parents: Dale and Melissa…and his siblings: Corey and Halle”. God used Tyler to mold them into the people they were meant to be and in doing so fulfilled his purpose without ever saying a word. However, as he spoke I realize that Tyler was about to touch the lives of others now…in his death as much as he did in his life. See, the Fagos and my family share a love for sports arriving at the eventual fact that Corey and my son were able to play on a baseball team together. I had watched Corey and Halle for years in their carefree playful spirit and how extremely opposite it was to how I grew up….in a much more conservative home. At that very moment while I was in the church I suddenly realized why…its because Melissa and Dale learned to appreciate life so much more than I did. They understood that life is precious and all the horseplaying and monkeying around was a celebration of that life….a life that their son Tyler would never be able to enjoy in the same manner as his siblings had. So as the tears rolled down my face I realized how little I really knew Tyler yet the message of his silence and broken body touched me to the depths of my soul. I realized that suddenly I was changed and everything I thought I knew…I really knew nothing at all. And so, today I dedicate this post, not just to Tyler, but to the entire Fago Family….it is your faith in the Lord that has carried your loving light through to the hearts of your family, your friends, and your community.

January 24, 2012

To my dearest family, some things I’d like to say…
but first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
I’m writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with God above.

Here, there’s no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy just because I’m out of sight.
Remember that I’m with you every morning, noon and night.
That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through,
God picked me up and hugged me and He said, “I welcome you.”

It’s good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone.
As for your dearest family, they’ll be here later on.
I need you here badly; you’re part of my plan.
There’s so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man.

God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.
And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.
And when you lie in bed at night, the day’s chores put to flight.
God and I are closest to you….in the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years
because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.
But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.
Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.

I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.
But if I were to tell you, you wouldn’t understand.
But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is o’er.
I’m closer to you now, than I ever was before.

There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;
but together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and I’d like it for you too…
that as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody who’s in sorrow and pain,
then you can say to God at night……”My day was not in vain.”
And now I am contented….that my life has been worthwhile,
knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low,
just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go.
When you’re walking down the street, and you’ve got me on your mind;
I’m walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.

And when it’s time for you to go…. from that body to be free,
remember you’re not going…’re coming here to me.

Ruth Ann Mahaffey (author)
©Copyright 1998

A Message from the Friends of the Fago Family

A message from Melisa Loftis Pouleris:
The Tyler Fago Memorial Fund The “Friends of the Fago Family” are pleased to announce the establishment of a memorial fund honoring the life and legacy of Tyler Lynn Fago. This fund has been established to assist Dale Fago and Melissa McClenney Fago with any medical/final expenses related to the care of their son Tyler. “Friends of the Fago Family” have founded the fund, however, Nansemond River …Baptist Church is the “account holder”. Therefore, checks must be made payable to NRBC, with “The Tyler Fago Memorial Fund” noted in the memo section. Checks may be mailed to, or dropped off at, NRBC located at 2896 Bridge Road, Suffolk, Virginia 23435. This is our opportunity to give back to a family that has so graciously and selflessly given of their time serving others in the community. Thank you for your generous support of the Fago family. I encourage each of you to share this with your friends and family. God Bless♥

The Raven Maria Blanco Foundation: Guardian Angel…Raven’s Song

So, when I first decided to initialize this blog I decided that I wanted to share stories of people who not only shined but allowed the beauty within to expand out…something that went past just the surface. So, when I started blogging for the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation I knew that at some point I would have to speak about the wonderful people who have dedicated so much of themselves to this cause.

Let me start by giving you some background on who Raven Maria Blanco was. Raven was a beautiful 8 year old little girl who loved life and her family. As all children must do as one point or another, it was time for Raven to see the dentist.  Well, I’ll let those from the RMBF, Inc. tell you:


On March 9, 2007, 8-year-old Raven Maria Blanco passed away unexpectedly, leaving family and friends with the challenge of learning to live in a world dimmed by her absence. Raven’s passing was devastating, especially to her parents. In an instant, the world cracked, swallowed joy, and the little angel disappeared. Imagine a room of bright lights, glittered streamers, laughter bouncing off the walls, star-lit ceilings, and music dancing in the air – then darkness and silence, disorientation and pain. There are no words to express the void we have in our hearts. Raven’s short, spirited life touched so many people; we are truly blessed for each and every moment we had in her presence.

Raven died under conscious sedation during a routine dental procedure. The autopsy showed Raven had a blood concentration of 24 mg/L of chloral hydrate — three times the average range — which the medical examiner considered lethal.

After the loss of Raven, her mother Robin clings to her daily routine as a way of somehow maintaining normalcy. She constantly adds items to her to-do list; staying busy is a band aid to the wound that never heals. Robin also helps her other two children deal with the loss of their sister. Raven was the oldest, the one they looked up to. Now when they miss her, they look to the Heavens to feel the sun rays of her heart and the glimmering stars of her curiosity. Robin also devotes her time to making a difference in the lives of children.

Mario, Raven’s father, watched his world crumble after the death of his first born child. He left living, lost somewhere in the limbo of grief. He could not move in the fog. For a little over a year, Mario spent his day’s sitting by his daughter’s gravesite and writing to Raven on her website every day. One day, love and chance gave Mario the strength to pick himself up. Thus begun the RMBF, Inc..


In all honesty, I can’t imagine a world where my children don’t exist…none at all where they were taken away from me unexpectedly. So to think that this family, still grieving in a pain that never ceases, decided to use the pain of their loss to help others…well I can’t think of a brighter light than that.  RMBF, Inc. is dedicated to the education and advocacy of Pediatric Emergency Preparedness.  Mario and the rest of the family believes that perhaps had the office been prepared to handle the situation his daughter, his angel, Raven Maria Blanco, would still be here with us today. Over the years there has been several deaths of children due to similar causes and the foundations provides resources for Dental Health Professionals, Educators and Parents to become better prepared and aware of the preventative tools available.

While RMBF, Inc has worked extremely hard to get the word out to individuals that can make a change…there is still so much work to be done. So RMBF, Inc. representatives participate in several dental forums and conferences a year trying to advocate their cause. However, never did Mario Blanco think that he would just happen to meet Grammy Award Winning composer/producer Michael “Magnedo7” Crawford and much less that, after telling Raven’s story, Michael would want to write a song in her dedication.  But it did happen! In fact, Michael Crawford’s wife Shameia honored them all by singing it live at the RMBF Masquerade Ball.

Guardian Angel “Raven’s Song” was later re-recorded by the Dream Little Dreamers Foundation as a tribute to all the lost “Angels” of this earth. To read the full story and to hear more about the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation click on the Inspire the Nation, Save the Child Project

Here’s a sneak peek into the live re-recording:

Project Title: Inspire the Nation, Save a Child

RMBF, Inc. would like to offer their deepest thanks and appreciation to all those who participated in this project!

Written by: Shameia Crawford | Purchase Michael & Shameia’s version on iTunes Original Composer/Producer: Michael “Magnedo7” Crawford | Purchase Michael & Shameia’s version on iTunes

Executive Producer: Alisha “M’Jestie” Brooks | Purchase Dream Little Dreamer’s version on iTunes Mixing Engineer: Paul Arnold “The Bodega” Musical Production: Courtney Beard “The Bodega” Performed by: Dream Little Dreamer (see artist names below)

Arielle Hromada Cabell Jones Caleb & Jada Bright “Graesin Rayn” Brownell Kadance & Keshaun Sawyer Hosea “Legit” Sawyer Romel Brown Natalie Moreland Morgan Miller Chardonnay Hawkins Elisha Barnes Marki Mitchell Dontrey Fields “Shaun Strings” Ingram Madeline Smith Tedra Ballard Mercedez McCullers Kirsten Daniels

Music Legend Etta James Passes Away at 73

Etta James, born Jamesetta Hawkins,  has passed away at 73 years old. She was an American songwriter who, with her beautifully sexy and sultry voice, sang classics such as At Last, Dance with Me, Tell Mama, Henry, and I’d Rather Go Blind. She  is the winner of six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. Rolling Stone ranked James number 22 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number 62 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

James was hospitalized in January 2010 to treat an infection caused by MRSA. During her hospitalization, her son Donto revealed that James had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2008, and attributed her previous comments about Beyoncé Knowles to “drug induced dementia“.She was diagnosed with leukemia in early 2011. She became terminal and succumbed to her illness on January 20, 2012, just five days before her 74th birthday, at Riverside Community Hospital in Riverside, California. The man who discovered her, Johnny Otis, had died just three days earlier. (

Rings of Light would like to send her family, friends, and fans our deepest condolescences but her music will live on in the hearts of thousands. She was truly a light in the world of Rhythmn and Blues and Jazz. Live on Ms. Etta….live on!