Chapter One

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"Will your heart and soul say yes?" — Shekinah Glory


Geez I don't know why I still always get nervous about this. I've been doing this all of my life and I still can't seem to shake these butterflies. I clasped my hands in front of me as I heard track seven play and walked slowly out into the middle of the sanctuary of my father's church. I looked to the audio booth in the bottom of the balcony signaling the sound guy to turn the song up.

I closed my eyes shutting the congregation out of my mind and focused on God as much as I could as I began my praise dance to Shekinah Glory's "Yes". As I danced across the sanctuary floor I thought silently to myself how ironic it was that I'd get nervous before each time I had to dance. I'm not intimidated by people and I never was.

I guess you could say I just wanted to dance well to please God. A couple minutes into the dance I heard a few members of the church holler out "Daaaance Jelissa!", and I just chuckled on the inside a little, holding my facial expression.

A few tears ran down my face while I outstretched my hands nearing the end of the song as I felt fire beneath my feet. "He says hear my voice... he says seek my face. The day you hear my voice, harden not your heart."

The words repeated themselves as I made my way slowly to the door on the side of the alter and eventually I was in the hallway thanking God silently in my head as I wiped my tears away. I changed in the girls dressing room and sat on my phone for a few minutes when a knock came to the door and in walked my older sister Janessa. She smiled as she took me into a really tight hug as I pretended to gasp for air.

"Jelissa you play too much! But you were great out there hun." She said as she took a peek at herself in the body length mirror that hung on the wall beside the door. "Thanks Nessie. I'm thinking about going home are you staying?"

Janessa's head whipped around so quickly I was a little afraid it would pop off. She gave me a once over, "You got somewhere to be ma'am?" She asked as she screwed her small post earnings in. I sighed, "No where but home unfortunately. I just want to make sure I have all of my assignments together you know? I always seem to get forgetful around this time of year."

"You mean at the start of the school year?" Janessa chuckled, "Well are you sure it can't wait? If you leave now I'll have to ride with daddy and that woman." She rolled her eyes and I just shook my head as I stood, picking up my all white praise dance outfit.

"Nessie that woman is our mother and we have to respect that. You should be the one telling me this, you're the oldest sibling anyway. See you at home." I gave her shoulder a pat as I brushed passed her and walked out of the church's back door. Our dad would always reward his children for having good behavior and good grades. And because I kept straight A's last year he got me a car at the beginning of the summer. I wasn't about to give this up either so I had to rush home and make sure my assignments were in order.

No, we weren't rich. We were no where near rich. But we were very far from poor I'll tell you that much. I looked at the family picture that hung on the wall near the door as I'd finally made it home. My older sister Janessa, 32, and myself and my twin Jacob Jr., 16. I always wondered why there was such a huge gap between our ages. It didn't make since, after sixteen years you decide to have another child.

I smiled as my eyes drifted to my father's picture. He'd give up anything for his kids. Now our mother on the other hand was a different story, I thought as my eyes drifted to her in the family photo. I made my way to my bedroom to see my summer project still spread over my bed. My neon pink poster board was nearly complete. All's left to do is glue a few pictures on there and I'd be good to go.

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