Category Archives: NYC

“Do You Know How That Feels? To Be Part Of A Community?”


Turning Chaos Into Theater, With a Cast of 200

Tempest in the City:

A new Public Theater production

of Shakespeare’s

“The Tempest”

debuts on Sept. 6

and features more than 200 actors,

only 6 professional.

New York Times

N. Y. / Region Section


“’The Tempest,’

which will be at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park on Sept. 6-8,

is the first production of Public Works,

an effort by the Public Theater to open its stages to New Yorkers

who may feel excluded from the theater world.

Tickets are free, first come first served.

The cast includes more than 200 people from five community organizations

and seven independent performing groups —


a gospel choir,

(My sister’s choir:

Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir, 

based in New York’s East Village)

 Mexican folk dancers,

Japanese taiko drummers,

a gypsy brass band

and a bubble-blower.

On this day,

the second rehearsal,

the room looked more like an exercise in fear.

Dancers on this day,

more than 90 of them,

are former offenders,

nannies, teenagers, children and senior citizens

from five organizations in all five boroughs.

The production,

which will also include six professional actors,

is an experiment in community,

said Oskar Eustis,

the Public Theater’s artistic director.

Public Works began two years ago,

out of a series of conversations

between Mr. Eustis

and the director Lear deBessonet.

‘She has a missionary zeal,’

The production has some unique concerns.

Some cast members had unstable housing or health problems.

Nannies’ employers needed them to work during rehearsal times;

cellphone numbers changed

and phones went dead.

“When I wake up in the morning, my list begins,

‘Does everyone have a ride to rehearsal?’ 

One of the dancers said

he couldn’t wait to get to rehearsal.

‘From where I came from to now,

it’s totally different,

like darkness to light,’

he said.

‘You have people from all walks of life,

but we’re all as one family.

I’m not looked at

because I come from the Fortune Society

(which provides support for former prisoners)

and have a criminal record,



stay away from him.

I’m looked at as a regular human being.

I look forward to coming here, man.

I look more forward to this than anything.

And that’s what I love about it.

Do you know how that feels?

Do you know how that feels,

to be a part of something that is a community?'”


It feels like God’s love!

To read John Leland’s entire news article and to see the video, go to:



 Feel Depressed???


Got Shackles???




Praise the Lord!!


Be Free!!


Put on This Song…


And Dance!!




It sure is hot out here…

Ya know?

I don’t mind though…

Just glad to be free!

Know what I’m saying?



Take the shackles off my feet, so I can dance…

I just wanna praise You!

(What’cha wanna do?)

I just wanna praise You!

(Yeah, yeah)


You broke the chains, now I can lift my hands…

(Uh, feel me?)

And I’m gonna praise You!

(What’cha gon do?)

I’m gonna praise You!


In the corners of my mind…

I just can’t seem to find a reason to believe…

That I can break free…

‘Cause you see I have been down for so long…


Feel like the hope is gone…

But as I lift my hands, I understand..

That I should praise You through my circumstance!!


Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!

I just wanna praise You!

I just wanna praise You!


You broke the chains, now I can lift my hands!

And I’m gonna praise You!

I’m gonna praise You!


Everything that could go wrong…

All went wrong at one time…

So much pressure fell on me…

I thought I was gonna lose my mind!!


But I know you wanna see…

If I will hold on through these trials…

But I need you to lift this load…

‘Cause I can’t take it no more!!


Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!

I just wanna praise You!

I just wanna praise You!


You broke the chains, now I can lift my hands!

And I’m gonna praise You!

I’m gonna praise You!


Been through the fire and the rain…

Bound in every kind of way…

But God has broken every chain…

So let me go right now!!


Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!

I just wanna praise You!

I just wanna praise You!


You broke the chains, now I can lift my hands!

And I’m gonna praise You!

I’m gonna praise You!


I’m gonna praise You!

I’m gonna praise You!

I’m gonna praise You!


Take them off!!

What’cha gonna do?



Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!

I just wanna praise You!

I just wanna praise You!


You broke the chains, now I can lift my hands!

And I’m gonna praise You!

I’m gonna praise You!



Go Ahead…


Get Rid of the Shackles..


Praise Him!


Feel His Joy!


And Dance!!



Jesus, You’re The Lover Of My Soul!!


“Jesus, Lover of My Soul”
Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir
Tina Cernero, solo (My sister!!)
music by Bach/Wesley
arr. P. Williams-Jones
To learn more about Middle Church visit:

Lyrics to the old hymnal, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” by Charles Wesley, pub. 1740

  1. Jesus, lover of my soul,
    Let me to Thy bosom fly,
    While the nearer waters roll,
    While the tempest still is high.
    Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
    Till the storm of life is past;
    Safe into the haven guide;
    Oh, receive my soul at last.
  1. Other refuge have I none,
    Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
    Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
    Still support and comfort me.
    All my trust on Thee is stayed,
    All my help from Thee I bring;
    Cover my defenseless head
    With the shadow of Thy wing.
  1. Wilt Thou not regard my call?
    Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
    Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—
    Lo! on Thee I cast my care.
    Reach me out Thy gracious hand!
    While I of Thy strength receive,
    Hoping against hope I stand,
    Dying, and behold, I live.
  1. Thou, O Christ, art all I want,
    More than all in Thee I find;
    Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
    Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
    Just and holy is Thy Name,
    Source of all true righteousness;
    Thou art evermore the same,
    Thou art full of truth and grace.
  1. Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
    Grace to cover all my sin;
    Let the healing streams abound;
    Make and keep me pure within.
    Thou of life the fountain art,
    Freely let me take of Thee;
    Spring Thou up within my heart;
    Rise to all eternity.

“The lyrics speak of a personal and intimate relationship with Christ.

Revealing Jesus as Lover, Protector, and Provider.

Do you know Jesus that intimately???

Are you filled with His Love???

Can you feel His Protection???

Do you rely on Christ’s Provision???” *

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Hymnal Bible Verse References:

“Praise be to God

 and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 the Father of compassion

 and the God of all comfort.”

 2 Corinthians 1:3

  “…and from Jesus Christ,

 who is the faithful witness,

 the firstborn from the dead,

 and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

 To Him who loves us

 and has freed us from our sins by His blood…”

 Revelation 1:5

 “You have been a refuge for the poor,

a refuge for the needy in their distress,

a shelter from the storm

and a shade from the heat.

For the breath of the ruthless

is like a storm driving against a wall…”

Isaiah 25:4

 “Truly my soul finds rest in God;  

my salvation comes from Him.

Truly He is my rock and my salvation;   

he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

Psalm 62:1-2

 “My salvation and my honor depend on God;    

He is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;    

pour out your hearts to Him,    

for God is our refuge.”

Psalm 62: 7-8

 “Praise the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits

who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Psalm 103:2-5

“For the director of music.

Of David the servant of the Lord.

He sang to the Lord the words of this song

when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies

and from the hand of Saul.

He said:

 ‘I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,   

my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,    

and I have been saved from my enemies.'”

Psalm 18:1

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“Jesus is the lover of my soul

Jesus is my only refuge.

Jesus Christ fulfills all our needs and wants.” *

My Lord is the lover of my soul!


For more history about Charles Wesley go to:

Ya Gotta Love New Yorkers…And The Way They Welcomed The Oreo!!


What’s Not To Love, Love, Love!!

In honor of the Oreo taking over Manhattan…

I’m going to share my Frozen Oreo & Ice Cream Cake recipe…

I got it from a policewoman who works at the local college in town…

She shared it with me after I told her about my Frozen Ice Cream Sandwich Cake recipe…

That I got from the lady from “19 Kids And Counting” on TV!!

I love these two recipes, because there’s no mixing or baking…

And kids can help!!

We use them to reward kids each semester at school!

The class starts out with a jar of chocolate chips…

They need to keep all the chips…

Or earn them back, if they’ve lost them for misbehavior…

Really works!!

Home Ec. teachers know…

Kids will do anything for chocolate chips!!

Frozen Oreo & Ice Cream Cake: 

1.  Pick a gal. of any flavor ice cream, and a large container of Cool Whip, and let them thaw 

2.  Use a rectangular brownie pan

3.  Crush a regular size package of Oreos in a plastic Ziplock bag with a rolling pin, or mallet

4.  Layer half the amount of Oreos onto the bottom of the pan (save the other half for the top)

5.   Spread the thawed ice cream over the Oreos

6.  Spread the thawed Cool Whip over the ice cream

7.  Sprinkle the rest of the crushed Oreos on the top 

8.  Cover with a sheet of wax paper, and foil, and freeze

Variations:  The policewoman made hers in a fancy, deep, glass, see-through bowl…must have been beautiful…you should try it!!  But I was feeding lots of drama team kids and needed to make a lot!!  You can also use chips and syrups of any kind…most kids don’t like nuts and raisins…but they do love sprinkles!!

Frozen Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

1.  Pick a large box of any flavor ice cream sandwiches

2.  Let a large container of Cool Whip thaw 

3.  Use a rectangular brownie pan

4.  Layer half the ice cream sandwiches to cover the bottom of the pan

5.  Spread half the Cool Whip over the ice cream sandwiches 

6.  Sprinkle any kind of chips over the Cool Whip (milk or dark chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, etc.)

7.  Squirt any kind of syrup all over the chips (chocolate fudge, butterscotch, caramel, etc.) 

8. Now layer the other half of the ice cream sandwiches, the rest of the Cool Whip, more syrup, more chips (and whatever else you like!)

9.  Cover with a sheet of wax paper, and foil, and freeze!


“A cheerful heart is good medicine…”  Proverbs 17:22

“…that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  Ephesians 6:3

I Woke Up This Morning With Freedom On My Mind…


Freedom For My Soul…

In Jesus Christ!

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“Now the Lord is the Spirit,

and where the Spirit of the Lord is,

there is freedom.”

2 Corinthians 3:17 

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“In my anguish I cried to the LORD,

and He answered

by setting me free.”

Psalm 118:5

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“The LORD lives!

Praise be to my Rock!

Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!

He is the God who avenges me…

who sets me free from my enemies.” 

2 Samuel 22:47-49

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“Jesus said, ‘You will know the truth,

and the truth will set you free.'”

John 8:31-32

Sunday morning April 14th, 2013…

Is a bright and shining day…

At Middle Collegiate Church in NYC…

Where soloist Tina (my sister!)…

And choir director, John… 




And Freedom…

To the congregation.

Minister Jacqui…

  And all the members of the church…

Are on their feet…

Rocking and swaying…

To the beat of…


So can we all with Jesus!!

“Love Lifted Me”


This is my sister singing the first part of this powerful song at the Christmas Eve Concert at Middle Church.

She dedicated the song in memory to our Dad,  since “Love Lifted Me” was his favorite hymn!

I could listen to her sing Gospel music all day!

My Dad would be so honored and proud!

My Mom would be singing right along, too!!

Love Lifts All of Us!!


“Love Lifted Me”
Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Choir
To learn more about Middle Church visit:

My Beloved Jersey Shore, No More???


I receive a daily email from…

Focus On The Family

Today’s e-mail was titled…

“An Attitude Of Gratitude”

Here is the e-mail…

We Floridians can certainly relate!!

“Dear Friend,

Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving, a time to gather with family and friends to specifically thank God for the many blessings we enjoy each and every day. But there are also people who don’t see a lot to be thankful for because of their circumstances: Maybe they’ve lost loved ones, homes or property—possibly even all those things at once. As many people on the East Coast who have been struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy can tell you, it’s a difficult thing to see the good amid difficult circumstances.

My friend Len Deo, executive director of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, spoke with Stuart Shepard recently about this on the latest CitizenLink Report.

Sandy was nothing short of horrific. Residents of New York and New Jersey spent weeks trying to get back to some sense of “normal” afterward. Food and gas were running low, the power was out, trees were uprooted and schedules were awry.

Despite those circumstances, some chose to have an attitude of gratitude for the little things they did have. In fact, Len Deo and his team paraphrased the 23rd Psalm to keep their perspective right. Their version reads:

‘The LORD is my shepherd, and shepherds have it rough right now. He has no place to make me lie down but muddy pastures; He leads me beside troubled waters. He is giving my soul a lot of unusual work. He leads me in the paths of perseverance for a purpose I really don’t see. Yea, I am walking through the aftermath of a hurricane and You are still prodding me; Your rod and Your staff, they are uncomfortable. You have filled my house with my children all day long; You anoint my head with cold showers; my impatience runneth over. Surely the good times went out with the lights, and I will dwell in my dim house for yet another day that feels like forever.’

Of course, we know that’s not what the Psalm really says—but the New Jersey team knows that the Word of God is powerful to provide comfort and solace. The point is simply this:  A sense of humor is a gift, and gratitude is a choice that we can always make, regardless of our circumstances. God does not stop being good just because our circumstances become difficult; we can trust Him through everything. And can’t we all be grateful for that?

For faith and family,

Tom Minnery
Senior Vice President, Government & Public Policy”

We’re from NJ…

My sister lives in Brooklyn…

Aunts, Uncles, & Cousins live in South Jersey…

And at the Jersey Shore…

Many of my cherished summertime memories…

Include the Jersey Shore…

Loved the Boardwalks!!

And the rides!

Family vacations in Wildwood and Cape May when I was young…

Trips with friend’s families to Long Branch…

Teenage drives to Seaside Heights, Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, Lavallette, Sea Girt, and Brielle…

Yearly vacations to a Bed & Breakfast in Spring Lake…

Later, when I taught, Teachers Convention at Convention Hall in Atlantic City…

Walking and shopping on the pier…

We have friends living in Pennsylvania, Maryland, North and South Carolina…

Everyone was affected…

I’m praying for the entire East Coast!

We, in FL know recovery is a long haul…

We also know that God is faithful!!

It will take time, but folks on the East Coast are resilient!

They’re survivors!

They will rally…

They will unite!

And this email gives me Hope…

That they know God is with them!!

My beloved Jersey Shore will rise again!!


9/11 Emergency!!


I want to remember 9/11…

We were having our house built here in FL, but we were still living in NJ at the time.

The day started like any other…

I was at work already teaching at the middle school.  I had a class first period, then I had a planning period.

As usual, at the end of class, I planned to grab my cup of coffee and walk upstairs to make a phone call, check my teacher’s mailbox in the office, use the restroom, chat with anyone in the teacher’s lounge, and return to my classroom for third period.

Nothing out of the ordinary…

Until my teaching partner came back from her planning period to tell me that she just heard in the office that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center!


My mind is racing…how can an airplane not see the Twin Towers????

That’s all she knew!

So I start down the hallway…shouted out “Hi!” to the English teacher in his classroom, who was listening to the radio on his break, and he said,

“Come listen to this!!  Another plane has hit the other Tower.”

I’m shocked by now, because I realize that it’s not a freak accident…two planes have deliberately rammed into the Twin Towers!!

We don’t know what we need to do…we’re quite a distance from NYC, so we weren’t worried for our safety, but my sister lived in Chelsea at the time…so I’m beside myself for her…

I’m trying to calm down…think rationally…continue my routine…

So I go to make my phone call, which is to my dentist, as I planned…

But, when I get the secretary on the phone…

She’s screaming…

“Oh, don’t you know what’s happened???  Doctor’s family lives in NYC, he’s left to go there…he’s frantic…I can’t talk right now, I have to leave this line open!”

So by the time I got to our school office…everyone was in an uproar…

I went straight to the teacher’s lounge where I found one of our teacher’s aides on the phone with her husband.  He works in NYC, and is calling her every few minutes…letting her know one tragedy after another…

We can’t believe what she’s telling us!

“Plane crashed in Washington DC…plane crashed in PA, one tower down, two towers down, firefighters lost, police officers lost, medical people from all over swamped with injured people, people walking the bridge to come over to NJ…”

We all go to the library where there’s a TV, and all I can see is a representative of the terrorist…explaining why this happened…


My mind isn’t working…I rush back down to my room…try to call my sister…can’t get through…try to e-mail her…don’t get a response…I’m praying so hard for her by now…

And praying for all the other teachers, also…

Since, I start hearing colleagues say, “My brother and his wife work at the World Trade Center, my friend’s brother is over there, my cousin’s friend’s fiance was in the City…

We’re getting bit and pieces of the news…

My son attends school here , so I know he’s safe, but my husband’s been home all morning watching this unfold on TV…

So after he hears about the plane crash in PA, he comes racing over to school to pick up my son!

I see him in the office when I’m on my way to lunch…

And my heart stops because I think he came to tell me something happened to my sister…

He tells me he’s tried calling her all morning, but he can’t get through…

And that he wants my son to come home now!

Many other parents thought the same thing!!

So I go upstairs to the lunch room and quietly explain to my son (a 6th grader at the time), that  he’s safe, but Dad was here to take him home…

That something happened in NYC, and for him to pray that his aunt was safe, too!!

I’ve never felt more helpless in my life!

I called my church, and my pastor said that our church was going to be open all day for prayer…

I told him I was very concerned for my sister, and we prayed.

I kept trying her phone and e-mail…

And finally by the end of the day…

She responded to my e-mail…

She was devastated by everything…

But she was fine!

Praise God!

She said she was just about ready to leave for work, when she heard it on the news…so she stayed home…

Thank God!

She later found out that her boss’s brother was missing…

She and her co-workers, as soon as they could, posted fliers, searched hospitals, shelters, etc., but…

He was never found…

My colleague’s brother and sister-in-law, who worked at the World Trade Center…

Were never found…

We later went to their memorial…

Without bodies to mourn…

My colleague’s friend’s brother was never found…

My cousin’s friend’s finance was never found…

My cousin’s daughter was on her way to the City by ferry from NJ, but was sent back after the first plane hit…

She’s fine…Praise God!

I left school in a daze…I headed over to my church…I plopped myself in a pew…

And just breathed a deep breath…

I thanked the Lord for sparing my sister, and my cousin’s daughter…

I prayed for those who lost loved ones…

I prayed for those in harm’s way…

I prayed for NYC…

I prayed for our country!!

So many people…firefighters, policemen, EMS workers, doctors, nurses, etc…

And civilians…

Not military…not warriors…

Just going to work that ordinary day…

A day that turned the City into a war zone.

Though we were miles from NYC, Washington, and PA…

We felt the impact of the 9/11 attack…

It impacted us right on our doorstep…

When I see the beautiful 9/11 Ground Zero Memorial Fountains on the site now…

The majestic, flowing waters bring peace…

And I think it’s appropriate that every person’s name is forever engraved there.

May God heal our wounds…

But, may we never forget…

Those who gave the ultimate sacrifice…