WHOLE Spotlight: Tiffani and Tanya Phelps, Part 2

By Carmen Miller

Check out Part 1 of our interview with Tiffani and Tanya here.

5. What challenges do you see young women facing these days in terms of body image and overall self image?

It is prevalent within media – through music, television, dance, etc.– to de-value young women and give the impression that their value is based on physical features.  We at   Fly-Chicks, Inc. reject the notion that beauty is only skin deep.  In fact, we’ve chosen to make a bold statement:  Beauty is not determined by the length or texture of your hair, the fairness of your skin, or the width of your hips.  True beauty comes from within. It is the “stuff” that cannot be sized (36-24-36) or covered with make-up.   True beauty is doing and feeling your best from the inside out.  True beauty is looking in the mirror and knowing your worth. True beauty is finding the strength to stand up for yourself.  True beauty is being real with your friends and taking a stand for what you believe in.  True beauty is being comfortable in your own skin — no matter the shape, size, color, or condition of it!

6. What encouragement can you give to women who feel the need to share their stories, whether through speech or the written word, but have fears about disclosing information about their personal lives?

This is an excellent question because it is something that we encounter quite often.  Our goal is to get women to understand that there should be no shame or condemnation associated with their personal testimony.  In fact, we firmly believe that it is through the sharing of our testimonies that we can further be set free – and most importantly – help to set others free. The most prevalent reason that women feel inhibited about sharing their stories is fear.  Fear of the consequences associated with sharing.   Thus, our goal is to create a safe environment wherein women feel comfortable sharing their stories.  This includes giving them the ability to do so under a pen name or sharing their story anonymously.  Stories are told in a myriad of ways – auto-biographically written, through letters, poems, voice recordings, or words of wisdom that focus on the message rather than the “messenger”.  Something that is key to point out, however, is that every woman whom has participated in this experience has encountered a “freeing” within her own self that allows her to not only move past personal pain, but often acts as a catalyst that allows them to foster avenues of growth and empowerment within themselves that they may not have known was needed.  They have now agreed to continue to write and even act as mentors to young ladies that need guidance and direction on a more personal level.  It’s been a wonderful experience for everyone – and they would not have found this reward without having first overcome their inhibitions by pulling back the first layer of their own personal truth. Revelation 12:11 confirms that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.   We’ve found this to be true in every aspect of the Fly-Chicks, Inc. storytelling journey.

7. Who has been a significant influence in your life and ministry?

Tanya: Aside from my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, my mother has been the biggest influence in my life and ministry.  I grew up in a single parent home with a mom who had a long history that I didn’t know much about until I was a young adult.  Through my relationship with my siblings, we were able to gain strength from the sharing of what we knew about our individual pasts and how our mom’s example influenced our lives in ways that we didn’t even realize.  What a wonderful revelation!  She’d be surprised to know that every aspect of her life story – her struggles in particular – shaped us into the intelligent, strong, and resilient adults that we are today.  My mother has always been a woman of faith, and even in her darkest hours, she instructed us to always maintain our own intimate and personal relationship with God.  I believe that principle alone saved my very life.  If she’s given me no other gift – she has certainly given me the gift of faith, leading by example along the way.   

Tiffani: I completely agree with Tanya. Aside from God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, my mother and father have been very influential in my life and this ministry. I see so much of myself in both my mother and father. They have seen me through the good and the bad. When you’re younger, it’s funny how you don’t think that your parents understand or even care about all of the feelings that you have bottled up inside, but they do care. Sometimes, it’s just hard for them to start the conversation. For that reason, I wish that I had been more open with them as a teenager. They have so much wisdom about life and they have helped me to see situations and people from different perspectives, over the years. They’ve helped me to see the value in keeping the lines of communication open, and that communication is not one-sided, but involves both sharing and listening.

8. What have you learned from your relationship with Christ and how has it impacted your relationship with others and if you could share one message with today’s modern young women, what would you tell them?

What we’ve learned from our relationship with Christ is that, though we fail Him daily, His love never fails.  What a gift.  That is true, unconditional love.  That is an amazing love.  No better love exists on this planet.  This challenges us to love others in the same way – unconditionally and without judgment.  

If we could share one message with today’s modern young women, it would be this:  

You need to understand your own identity, value, and worth.  If you do not know your own value, then you will allow someone else to define it for you – and that would be a travesty.

9. WHOLE Magazine is dedicated to helping women and young girls discover healing, restoration and wholeness in Christ. And our ministry was inspired by Matthew 9:22. During your seasons of brokenness what scripture/s did you find helped you through your healing process?

 Jeremiah 1:5 is our anchor scripture and it reads: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.  Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” (NLT)  Essentially, this says that we were chosen by Him before we were even conceived.  He already knew our path, and deemed it so perfect that he appointed us to be His own mouthpiece.  We all have something important to say…something worthy to be heard.  Wow.  How special is that!

 Another one of our favorite scriptures is Ecclesiastes 3:11, which reads: “He has made everything beautiful in its time…no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (NIV)  We interpret this as the epitome of the scripture “all things work together for the good of those that love God”(Rom. 8:28).  There is nothing too dark in your life that will keep you hidden.  He makes ALL things beautiful in its time.  We may not understand why things happen when they do, but eventually we will come to realize that His hand has never left us or forsaken us during the process.  If we hold steadfastly to Him, he will indeed make our paths straight and reveal every aspect of our journey to be a very valuable one.    

10. What are your goals for Fly Chicks for 2013, and any special events coming up?

The key mission of Fly-Chicks, Inc. never changes.  Our goal is to always promote transparency through conversations about real-life situations that we’ve all found ourselves in.   One of the things that is most important to us is the personal connection that we are able to establish with young ladies through face-to-face contact via our “Real Life, Real Talk” chat sessions & workshops and exposing them to cultural activities & events.  All of these activities are created to help bridge the communication gap and help them discover their “authentic” selves.  As a bonus, women acting as volunteers & mentors in the program also tend to discover their own “authentic selves” along the way! There is a special gift that comes from being able to communicate thoughts and feelings effectively, and we like to use all avenues possible in order to help young ladies do that.  There is such a dire need for this to occur that we welcome additional volunteers and mentors to become a part of this important goal. 

On November 3rd we will be at Studio 11 Films (http://studio11films.com/in Atlanta, GA.  This is an acting workshop with Christopher Pearman, father of Raven-Symone, who will take the young ladies on a journey to discover how to tap into their deepest “dream quotient” and live fearlessly in pursuit of their dreams.

On November 8th we will have the opportunity to expand our reach through the launch of our very first National Conference Call.  We are very excited about this and invite young ladies and women of all ages to dial in and become a part of this very important conversation.  We have a surprise special guest with an AMAZING testimony! More information regarding the dial-in number and time can be found at http://www.fly-chicks.com/upcoming-events/  

More exciting announcements are to come, so check the website regularly for details!