Ballack days at Chelsea

It will not be known until just before kick-off whether Michael Ballack will start Tuesday evening’s match against Chelsea but whatever the decision of his manager, the former Blues midfielder is anticipating an emotional return toStamford Bridge

The Bundesliga runners-up last season have arrived in London ahead of the opening Champions League group game but their manager, Robin Dutt, is not revealing publicly any details of his team until just before kick-off.

Ballack, who turns 35 later this month and left Chelsea in in the summer of 2010, has played two of Leverkusen’s five league games this season that have taken them to fourth in the table, including an hour of their win on Friday. Whether he starts or not, he will receive a presentation from Chelsea before the game.

‘When I first saw the draw I was really happy for me personally and for the club,’ Ballack says.

‘For me personally it is a very big, very important match, but also for the club it was a very nice draw. I played at Chelsea for four years and it is very nice to be back in London for the first game in the Champions League.

‘The presentation is a very nice gesture and it will be a very emotional moment for me tomorrow. There are still a few players there and some who left in the meantime who I am still friends with and whom I am still in touch with, and also a few of the staff.

‘When I moved to Chelsea it was a big, big challenge and experience for me at the time to play with so many good players. If I look back I had a very good time. I feel always welcomed by the fans and the club. They treat me always very well and we had success.

‘It could have been a few titles more,’ he notes, ‘we missed a few chances, but we had some successes and I will remember this always and it is a big part of my career.’

Choosing one moment that sticks in his memory more than the others is an impossible task for the former Germany captain, but he can narrow the choice down to three.

‘My injury right at the start because in the end I missed seven months and it was quite a difficult period for me.

‘The second memory is the Champions League Final with the penalty shoot-out that will haunt all of us for ever.

‘The third was winning the League and the Cup in the last year. After trailing to Man United for three years, winning two titles in the last year was great.’


Turning his attention from the past to the near future and Tuesday’s game, Ballack acknowledges that he has a big part to play in preparing what is a generally young and inexperienced Leverkusen team.

‘It is just a game of football although we are aware there are some big names on the other side,’ he says. ‘We will have our chances.’

‘Chelsea have not started like last year but you can’t start every year like last year. Especially in the last game against Sunderland they looked in a good shape, very strong and confident, so that makes it not easy for us.

‘They have great individual players but as a team it is maybe not the worst thing to play them now because the season has just started, but we will know more after the game.’

Leverkusen manager Dutt will make a decision on the fitness of midfielder Lars Bender after his final training session. He is expected to play. On the Ballack choice Dutt says:

‘I have already decided and I have told Michael but everyone will have to wait a bit longer to find out.

‘He is very experienced and it would be foolish not to use that experience, and he has shown in the Bundesliga that he is in very good form, but I want to leave a bit of doubt for the opposing manager.’

That manager in opposition is of course Andre Villas-Boas whom Ballack is not surprised to see in the job.

‘In my time at Chelsea I had a few coaches and sometimes they changed them maybe a little too quick but what is surprising is he is a very young coach,’ says the German.

‘When people talk about him they talk most of the time about his age but he showed his quality when even in this young age he won with Porto a European trophy which is unusual.

‘It is not surprising that Chelsea had their eye on him always, he worked there before in the background and he did a lot of important stuff for Jose Mourinho. Now he is in a main position as a coach and when he is talking you can see he is totally accepted by the club and the players and that is the most important thing.’

Chelsea demand explanation over Fernando Torres ‘slow’ comments

Torres was on the bench for Chelsea’s win over Sunderland on Saturday
Fernando Torres has been told to explain an interview in which he seemed to criticise Chelsea team-mates.

Torres, 27, spoke to the website of Spain’s Primera Liga last week, with a translation appearing on his personal website which quoted him as saying the club’s older players were “very slow.”

The striker has insisted he was misquoted in the English translation.

However Chelsea, who are seeking an original Spanish version, are unlikely to fine the player.

Torres’ interview was authorised by the club – had it not been he would have faced heavier censure – but he is still set to have to explain the contents to manager Andre Villas-Boas.

While the English translation carried the direct criticism of team-mates, a Spanish version on his site carried a line that translated as saying the team “play very slowly”.

Keen to get an original version, Villas-Boas said: “We are going in-depth to regain the tape of that interview.

“We’ll see if things play exactly as they are in that interview.”

Asked what action would be taken if the translation proved accurate, the Portuguese said: “We’d just talk. Just talk to share opinion.

“If it was unauthorised, I’d fine him, of course. Anyhow, it’s one player’s perspective.

“I don’t think it’s a perspective that the manager shares. I don’t have to share my players’ ideas sometimes.

“I think we have competence, apart from the ‘age problem’, which for me is not a problem.

“Maybe we just have to speak about that situation and he has to see our view as well.”

In the original interview, Torres admitted that it had taken him longer to settle at Chelsea than he would have predicted.

Despite becoming the most expensive player in British football when he completed a £50m move from Liverpool in January he has since scored just once in 22 club matches, was not involved in Spain’s Euro 2010 qualifier against Liechtenstein last week and found himself restricted to a late cameo in Saturday’s Premier League win at Sunderland.

Continue reading the main story
I think any player who’s not part of the squad or the selected players is not happy
Andre Villas-Boas
Chelsea Manager
Declining to say whether Torres was in line for an immediate recall for Tuesday’s Champions League opener against Bayer Leverkusen, Villas-Boas said he hoped being dropped could add as extra motivation.

“I think any player who’s not part of the squad or the selected players is not happy,” he said.

“I’m glad because maybe you can stimulate them to go one step further, or motivate them a bit more.”

R.I.P Andy Whitfield; Spartacus, the bringer of Rain

Andy Whitfield, the Welsh-born actor who played the lead role in the TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has died at age 39.

Whitfield died on Sunday in Sydney, Australia, 18 months after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, manager Sam Maydew told the Associated Press.

“On a beautiful sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18-month battle with lymphoma cancer,” Whitfield’s wife Vashti said in a statement.

“He passed peacefully surrounded by love. Thank you to all his fans whose love and support have help carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband he was.”

Whitfield was born in Wales and took up acting after moving to Australia, but was still a relative unknown when cast in US cable network Starz TV series Spartacus, in the lead role made famous by Kirk Douglas in the 1960 Stanley Kubrick film.

The new version of the story of the Roman slave revolt, with its graphic sex and violence, proved a hit for Starz and was recommissioned for a second series.

Whitfield appeared in all 13 episodes of the first season that aired in 2010 and was preparing to shoot the second when he was diagnosed with cancer.

While waiting for Whitfield’s treatment and expected recovery, Starz produced a six-part prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena that aired earlier this year with only a brief voiceover from the actor.

But in January after Whitfield’s condition grew worse, Starz announced that another Australian actor, Liam McIntyre, would take over the role.”We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield,” Starz president and chief executive Chris Albrecht said. “We were fortunate to have worked with Andy in Spartacus and came to know that the man who played a champion on-screen was also a champion in his own life.”Whitfield’s previous credits included appearances on the Australian TV shows All Saints, Packed to the Rafters and McLeod’s Daughters.In the UK, Spartacus was first broadcast on Living before switching to Sky1.

Siasia again, now with Enyeama

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has confirmed that they are not aware if Super Eagles Coach, Samson Siasia has accepted the apology rendered by goal keeper, Vincent Enyeama following his omission from Nigeria’s last two games against Madagascar and Argentina.

Enyeama was dropped by Siasia after he raised concerns about the team’s travel arrangements to Antananarivo for their 2012 Africa Nation’s Cup qualifier against Madagascar.

The Lille keeper however apologized unreservedly on Friday saying he was completely misunderstood.

“My concerns were over safety, comfort and a better treatment in team’s preparation,” Enyeama said.

“What I said and how I went about it probably didn’t go down well with some people – but that was me.

“I raised a very sensitive issue, a selfless one in the best interest of the team, but was told of its bad timing.

“I felt it was something that was dealt with in-house (but) unfortunately it has been blown out of proportion in the media.

“I apologise to the coach, officials and to my colleagues, in particular, and to the nation in general for all that has happened,” the shot stopper concluded.

Quizzed on whether Siasia had accepted the apology of Enyeama, spokesman of the NFF, Ademola Olajire said he was not in the know.

“My brother, you will need to ask (Siasia) that (question). He has not said anything to us in that regard so I think he is actually in the best position to answer that question,” Olajire said.

However, Siasia was less than willing to speak on the subject. The gaffer reacted angrily when he was quizzed on the subject.

“I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it at all,” he said.

Siasia has a history of falling out with high profile players with well documented cases involving Chelsea’s John Mikel Obi and Osaze Odemwingie.

He also had a misunderstanding with Dickson Etuhu which forced the Fulham man to declare that he would never play for the Nigeria team as long as Siasia remains in charge.

Torres left out by Spain due to poor form with Chelsea

Spain boss Vicente del Bosque has made it clear that Fernando Torres must perform better for Chelsea if he wants to earn a recall to the national team.

Torres has struggled since joining the Blues from Liverpool for £50million at the end of the January transfer window, scoring just one goal for his new club.

He has been an established member of the Spain side for a long time but Del Bosque has insisted the 27-year-old will not be treated as a special case.

Del Bosque always picks his teams based on club form and, having left Torres out of the starting XI for Tuesday’s 6-0 Euro 2012 qualifying victory over Liechtenstein, he has told the Chelsea man to improve his performances if he is to get back in.

“There were ten players who didn’t play,” said Del Bosque.

“He (Torres) is an important player, but the people selected for the national team are those who do well for their clubs, not the other way round.”

Negredo backing

Alvaro Negredo scored twice against Liechtenstein to take his international goalscoring record to five in seven games, and the Sevilla striker has nothing but respect for Torres.

“He came down to the dressing room after the game and congratulated me,” said Negredo.

“I’m not going to enter into whether he was annoyed or anything – it was a great gesture to congratulate me for the goals.

“It isn’t much fun to come and not play a single minute, but he is a great colleague and is one of the captains of the team.”

Emotional Intelligence in Relationships

Relationship Advice: Improve Interpersonal Communication Skills

Effective communication is key in assisting in the longevity of a relationship. Building emotional intelligence skills boosts people skills and enriches relationships.
Having love, happiness and success depends on the ability to create and maintain good relationships.

At the onset of a relationship the best foot is forward, attire is impeccable, the hair is kept perfect, controlling negative emotions and going out of the way to do things for the potential life partner is the norm. However, later on down the road that best foot forward gets tripped and complacency sets in. This usually occurs because there is a breakdown of emotional intelligence.

A satisfying and healthy relationship requires a unique skill set. These skills do not come at birth, they are learned. Due to unresolved emotional “baggage” from upbringing or unresolved issues from traumatic life events in adulthood, many people will not be able to be as effective in learning these skills as those who have cleared their past emotional troubles. Sturdy emotional development will help in building emotional intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, control and properly communicate personal emotions and to recognize and respond accordingly to the emotions of others.

Having a solid emotional foundation helps to build lasting relationships. These skills assist individuals in having the patience and understanding to deal with life stress factors as they influence the partner, themself and the relationship. Emotional intelligence helps in understanding personal motivations, feelings and needs which is crucial in understanding how to communicate effectively to a partner. The ability to accurately read others, defuse arguments and repair wounded feelings are all components in this skill set.

Emotional intelligence provides a person with the ability to understand the difference between damaging and effective communication. It also allows opportunities to transform conflict into an opportunity for relationship building.

Quickie Emotional Intelligence Relationship Quiz

  • Are you attentive when listening to your partner or are you easily distracted?
  • Are you comfortable when there is silence during communication?
  • Do you judge or critique your own emotions or feelings?
  • Do you listen to your gut feeling when making an important question?
  • Can you calm yourself down effectively when you are stressed?
  • Are you able to use humor to mediate through rough times?
  • Are you able to deal with differences and disagreements?
  • Answering usually to most of these indicates that you have a positive start toward emotional intelligence communication in your relationships.

Five Step Program to Success
#1 – Managing Stress: Stress shuts down the ability to feel and think rationally. It impedes with the capability to be emotionally available to anyone else. This can cause damage. Learning to regulate stress is important in being able to be emotionally available.

#2 – Manage Emotions: Emotional exchanges are the adhesive in communication. Interactions are triggered by a host of emotions such as sadness, happiness and anger. In order to effectively engage another in conversation, being cognizant of internal feelings and how these feelings influence the choice of words and actions is key.

#3 – Nonverbal Communication: Nonverbal communication is powerful. Eye contact, facial expression, posture, gestures and touch can convey more to another person than words. When someone is speaking and the “receiver” is not making eye contact or walks out of the room, this is potential trouble. Nonverbal communication consciously or unconsciously sends either a positive or a negative signal to others.

#4 – Humor: The ability to integrate humor into life provides many advantages. Humor can help in taking hardships in stride, smoothing over differences, to lighten up on events that are not life-threatening or morally wrong or to simply have a good time.

#5 – Conflict Resolution: Choosing how to respond to differences and disagreements can create hostility and serious damage or it can initiate trust and strengthen a relationship. How a person manages their stress will determine how easily conflict resolution can be achieved. Finding resolution is not always easy, but it can be achieved when emotional intelligencer skills prevail.

Being honest and self-awareness are important factors in attaining a healthy level of emotional intelligence.

How to Get the Relationship You Want

We tend to think of finding the right relationship as being a hunt for another person, and it is. But it depends first of all on being ready yourself. The best way to do this is to develop your emotional intelligence skills. It’s all about relationships and emotions, after all.

You could meet the most “right” person in the world, and still not be able to make it work. In fact in some cases, if you’re dragging around the past, you wouldn’t know a good partner for you if they appeared in shining light.

So what can you do?

1. Know yourself completely and what you want. 2. Increase your emotional intelligence competencies. 3. Be sure the past is past. 4. Use your emotional intelligence in the early stages of the relationship (and of course thereafter!)


Clients ask me this, and I hear people asking other people when they are about to meet a new man of woman, “But I don’t know how to act.” When you’re meeting someone new, the answer is to just be yourself, but of course this is easier than it sounds! We’re nervous and want to make a good impression, so two parts of emotional intelligence are important: self-awareness, and being able to manage our emotions. When you have developed your emotional intelligence skills, you know who you are, and what you want in all areas of your life, and you know what you are looking for in a partner. You also are better able to manage your emotions (and those of others).

In fact one of the competencies is called “Intentionality.” This means saying what you mean, and meaning what you say, and then doing all you can to make it happen.

Getting to know someone else is always full of surprises, and the older you get, the more “history” you will have to relate to each other. Bear in mind that it is always easiest for us to handle our own “problems” emotionally, than those of others.

You may have endured a bankruptcy or the death of a spouse as part of your life, and to someone else this might sound insurmountable. They may wonder what shape you’re in, emotionally, and what this has “done” to you. For instance, they may know someone who hasn’t coped well with one of these situations, and may be thinking this would apply to you as well.

My mother used to say, “If all our problems were hung on a line (clothes line), you would take yours, and I would take mine.”

So the emotionally intelligent thing is to introduce what we’ll call “new material” slowly.

Of course everyone puts their best foot forward in the early stages of a relationship, and that’s appropriate. But as you increase the intimacy and start getting to know one another more deeply, you will be talking about the battle scars, the things that make you who you are. We all have them! Remember that yours may sound much “bigger” to the other person than they actually are.

Don’t rush into this part of the relationship, telling of all those times you missed the mark, or had things happen to you that altered the course of your life. Begin by showing your wonderful, positive strengths and the qualities that have allowed you to be resilient through the rough seas of life.

Think about someone showing you a house for sale. They wouldn’t start with the repaired foundation and the 15 year old HVAC system. They would begin with the spectacular view, the stunning master suite with the oversized Jacuzzi, the top-of-the-line appliances in the kitchen, and the exceptional landscaping on the acre lot. There will be plenty of time to get to the foundation (along with the warranty papers) and the HVAC system’s age (which can easily be replaced, and you’ve reduced the price of the house to accommodate). But why start with those things? It just isn’t emotionally intelligent.

12 Ways to Think Differently By Dave Pollard

The Idea: Twelve methods that will exercise parts of your brain that rarely get it, and make you more creative and better able to understand the world.

Our minds are like our bodies — fail to exercise them and they atrophy and break down. We live in an age of specialization, where we are encouraged to narrow our interests and our activities, to focus and limit ourselves to doing things at which we are very competent. So parts of our brain get a lot of exercise and other parts very little. What’s worse, this can actually narrow our comfort zone, the range of things we enjoy doing or thinking about and are competent in. Many of our cultural activities and artefacts: political debates, win/lose competitions, hierarchies, laws, religions, ‘best practices’, systematization, uniforms, and monolithic architecture and design — all tend to reinforce ‘one right answer’ thinking that discourages and ultimately excludes and prevents us from thinking differently. Even the mental exercises we do as we get older are designed to stem the loss of analytical skills and memory rather than broadening our thinking or our thinking ability. We live in a world of stultifying sameness and uniformity: physically, ideologically, intellectually. There is little motivation, little day-to-day need, to exercise the parts and processes of our brain that rarely get a workout.

So how can we learn to broaden our thinking, to think differently? This is not just a matter of critical thinking, creative thinking, ‘outside the box’ thinking. It is about opening up our minds to the world and all its possibilities. This is one of the essences of the Four Practices of Open Space, (opening, inviting, making room, acting/realizing). But it is not at all easy. Our brain structures are actually formed as we grow, to reflect and accommodate the analytical and ‘one right answer’ thinking that constitutes most of what we are taught when we are young. Broadening our thinking therefore requires us to consciously will ourselves to think about things, and think in ways, that we are not comfortable or familiar with. It is counter-cultural, more of an unlearning than a learning process. It is kind of like the agony that runners who do not regularly do ‘loosening up’ exercises must go through to stretch the muscles that have tightened (shortened, atrophied) in response to the running routine.

From my own experience, some research and a couple of recent conversations, here are twelve mental ‘stretching’ techniques that can enable you to think differently. Before you consider them, you might want to ask yourself whether you need them. They are unlikely to make you happier, though they will probably make you more creative, and more understanding. Remember, I’m the guy who lives to foment dissatisfaction, so be forewarned. In no particular order, and with some likely overlap:

  1. Meditation: Or whatever ‘stand still and look until you really see’ attention techniques work for you. Anything that can still the noise of the machine in our heads, anything (like Getting Things Done) that can empty the detailed minutiae of your life from your memory and make room for something new. Because the better you are at paying attention, the more likely you are to be able to see and appreciate other perspectives.

  2. Reconnect With Your Senses: Do exercises that increase your awareness and the sensitivity of your senses. Most of what you learn is perceptual rather than conceptual, and you can learn an astonishing amount by just becoming more aware of nature, and of yourself, and of the connection between your senses and the senses of all life on Earth.

  3. Reconnect With Your Intuition: We are taught to distrust it, but for three million years it informed us about the world and how to deal with it successfully and happily. It’s all there encoded in your DNA — how to live, how to handle any situation, what to do. The perspective you can get when your intuition provides one viewpoint on a situation and your ‘book learning’ another is remarkable. It’s like suddenly seeing stereo when all your life you’ve only seen with one eye. Instant depth perception.

  4. Analogies and Metaphors: “Science is Metaphor” said Timothy Leary. Analogies and metaphors allow you to ‘re-see’ something abstract as something concrete, something conceptual as perceptual. Lakoff points out that “We cannot think just anything – only what our embodied brains permit”, and analogies and metaphors permit us to think things we probably otherwise couldn’t. My recent “If the Shoe Were On the Other Foot” article was an example of this.

  5. Conversations and Interviews: A wonderful enabler for thinking differently is the shared context that comes from conversations and interviews. Several of my most popular articles have been conversations with myself or with other people, because they help people understand my thought process much better than analytical discourse. Like everything natural, they are inefficient but extremely effective. Interviews work the same way. Face-to-face and recorded conversations and interviews, if they are natural and probing and improvisational, are even better, because you learn more of the participants’ worldview from the vocal nuances and body language.

  6. Synthesis, Distillation and Restatement: When you recapitulate and condense what you’ve read or heard, you force yourself to use your own words to say what they had to say. You can learn as much from this about their way of thinking, and your own, as you can from the reading or listening experience itself.

  7. Reading (and Writing) Fiction: The most important character in stories is the narrator, not the protagonist. While empathy with the protagonist will keep you reading, it is from understanding the perspective of the narrator, and contrasting it with your own, that you learn the most. Here as an illustration is an excerpt from Mark Haddon’s wonderful book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (thank you to the reader who recommended this book to me) — told from the point of view of an autistic child. And then I thought about how for a long time scientists were puzzled by the fact that the sky is dark at night, even though there are billions of stars in the universe and there must be stars in every direction you look, so that the sky should be full of starlight because there is very little in the way to stop the light from reaching Earth. Then they worked out that the universe was expanding, that the stars were all rushing away from one another after the Big Bang, and the further the stars were away from us, the faster they were moving, some of them nearly as fast as the speed of light, which is why their light never reached us.

    I like this fact. It is something you can work out in your own mind just by looking at the sky above your head at night and thinking without having to ask anyone. And when the universe has finished exploding, all the stars will slow down, like a ball that has been thrown into the air, and they will come to a halt and they will all begin to fall towards the centre of the universe again. And then there will be nothing to stop us from seeing all the stars in the world because they will all be moving towards us, gradually faster and faster, and we will know that the world is going to end soon because when we look up into the sky at night there will be no darkness, just the blazing light of billions and billions of stars, all falling.

    Except that no one will see this because there will be no people left on Earth to see it. They will probably have become extinct by then. And even if there are people still in existence, they will not see it because the light will be so bright and hot that everyone will be burned to death, even if they live in tunnels.

  8. Psychoactive and Other Drugs: They work for some people, and have for thousands of years. Nope, don’t have any on me.

  9. Learning a New Language: Linguists say all human languages are so similar than an alien would see them as indistinguishable, but anyone who doesn’t see how a language entrenches cultural preconceptions, ideas, and ways of thinking probably has never mastered a second one. The vocabulary, the syntax, the way in which it is ordered, the nuances of meaning, all push you to new ways of thinking.

  10. Learning Something Outside Your Comfort Zone: If you’re an artist, learn about String Theory. If you’re a scientist, learn about the aesthetics of music. The more novel and uncomfortable and strange it is, the more it will liberate your calcified brain.

  11. Do Impulsive and Serendipitous Things: Any activity that won’t let you plan or anticipate, but which instead forces you to perceive and learn quickly and pay attention and react and live in the moment, will get you outside the centre of your own universe and help you see and think differently. And if you can’t get yourself to do impulsive and serendipitous things, then at least read impulsively and serendipitously. Free the genie.

  12. Collaboration: Not just coordination or cooperation, true collaboration. When you have produced a truly collective work-product, you have in many ways got inside the heads of your fellow collaborators, and that will change you forever.

Courses in lateral thinking try to teach you how to identify and set aside the obstacles in your own head (biases and preconceptions, inability to concentrate or imagine, entrenched ways of thinking, fear, conservatism, ignorance) that prevent you from thinking in truly novel ways. These courses offer more exercises to show you how to train yourself to think differently. But ultimately, like any difficult and important skill, the only way to achieve mastery is to practice, practice, practice. The twelve techniques above are, at least for most of us, fun and engaging ways to do that.

By Dave Pollard.

AMIDST STORMY WATERS By Renee ‘keji Akinlosotu

Very often, we encounter challenges in life, the kind that shakes us to our roots and leave us wondering what life is all about, most often, we give up, we give in to pressures, we give in to situations without even realising it.

Numbers 21:4-9 tells the story about the Israelites who sinned against God and God sent serpents to bite them. They realised what happened and they called unto Moses who called unto God on their behalf. Do you know what God told Moses?  He said “Make a brazen serpent and set it on a pole, and whoever is bitten by a snake should look up to it and live’’. Interesting, isn’t it? God only wanted to teach these people a lesson. God could have sent the serpents away or make the serpents non-poisonous. God could tell the situation in your life to disappear as He called the wind and the wave to order (Matthew 8:23-27) but He needs you to focus on Him. He needs your attention, He wants your heart. He wants to be the love of your life, He needs you to fix your eyes on Him and let your gaze remain there.

My dear friend, I encourage you to let God be the focus of your life today. Do not be distracted by the worries of this world, or the riches, or the troubles (Matt. 6vs 25-32). A famous man sang, when all is said and done, the only thing that would matter is whether you lived your life for God or for yourself. God says to you to seek Him first and every other thing would be added unto you. (Matthew 6vs 33-34).

Are you saying you have fixed your eyes too long and nothing has showed up? I want you to know God never comes too late.  I know that from experience. He’s trying to prepare you for something or prepare something for you. Just keep focusing.

Please, say a short love prayer unto God now. He wants to hear from you. It is well with you and all that concerns you.

Love you!!!

Sunday Best’s Le’Andria Johnson has a Testimony by Bob Marovich

Whenever you think you can’t do something, read Le’Andria Johnson’s story and reconsider.

The season three winner of BET’s Sunday Best has weathered enough of life’s challenges to give Job a run for his money. And like Job, she is now reaping her reward.  Her CD, The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson, is due September 6 on Music World Gospel.

Johnson was born in Orlando, Florida.  One could say she was born to sing, because she began her career (unofficially) at age two by delivering a public performance of the Williams Brothers’ “I’m Just a Nobody.”

As she got older, her musical influences included the late Rev. James Moore, Dorinda Clark Cole, Fred Hammond, John P. Kee, the Winans, and Commissioned. Still, it wasn’t until she was a teenager that she realized that she might be able to sing for a living.

While she served as praise and worship leader for her father’s church, her big break came at age seventeen, when she sang in front of an audience of 8,000 at Pastor Shirley Caesar’s annual conference. “That was my first big platform, and I was shocked at the positive response by the people,” Johnson recalled.

But the road ahead wasn’t easy. Twice divorced with three children (two boys and a girl), and a succession of family tragedies and setbacks, Johnson found it difficult to ignite her dream.  For example, she saved money to enter the studio and record, but in the end had little show for it but more frustration.

She had been a fan of BET’s American Idol-style Sunday Bestcompetition since its inception, but it never entered her mind to audition. It was her best friend, Barbara Fields, who ultimately persuaded her to participate.

“Barbara was with me when I lost my house to foreclosure,” Johnson reflected, “and she encouraged me to try out. She was persistent, like a gnat around food! She kept saying, ‘You gotta go, you gotta try out!’ I finally got up the nerve, but it wasn’t easy preparing for it. I didn’t have any money, I didn’t have a car, I didn’t have any way to get to [New Orleans], but by God’s grace I got there. It was wonderful and it turned out to be something great.”

As Johnson got closer to the finals, she thought it would end up a tie between Elder Goldwire [McClendon of the Savettes] and her. “He is such a phenomenal singer, and he was pressing really hard. He memorized songs and he kept up with us young folk. Here I am, in my twenties, and he’s like 80! I have so much respect for him. So in the end, I was very shocked and surprised when I won, but I am very grateful at the same time.”

A special treat for Johnson was when her children saw her on television and got to be part of the live audience. “I didn’t think that they would remember it, or be into it as much, but when we finally got some alone time together, my daughter started singing one of the songs I did on the show. They were calling me the ‘Sunday Best Queen!’ Now I can start a song and my three-year-old son can finish it. I thought, ‘They’re listening, they’re paying attention. That’s good!’”

Today, life is different. She picked up 15,000 followers on Twitter in three weeks’ time.  She is recognized in public and receives encouragement and suggestions from her musical inspirations, such as Dorinda Clark Cole and John P. Kee. She said that Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Kim Burrell and Fred Hammond have given her “pep talks: they tell me to keep my head up.”

The singer explained that the theme behind The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson is simple. “Live and not die. I tell myself that: you shall live and not die. Always remember that the ‘yes’ inside of you is the ‘yes’ for somebody else.”

The response to the album’s first single, “Jesus,” has been positive. “Team Le’Andria has been going crazy, helping to promote the single,” she said.

Johnson also singled out the opening song, “Cast the First Stone,” as carrying an important message.  “It is about not judging others. We need to keep our brothers and sisters lifted up.  Work on yourself and keep your mind focused on what you need to do, not what others think you need to do.”

The Sunday Best champ and her children are now in an apartment but her desire is to eventually get back into a house. “I don’t know when, but I know it will work out in its own time. God has a very unusual way of blessing you when the time is right. I’m grateful that I’m even in an apartment.”

What advice can she give aspiring gospel artists?  “Believe in yourself, no matter what,” she said. “Go humble before the people. Always remain humble. Give glory to God and He will bring you up. Allow God to use you.”

She added: “If you know that you can do something, or if you have a dream, know that you can. But also know that there will trials and tribulations, and they will make you strong. You are going to have to go through to get to. I’m a witness.”

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