Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons (Hardcover)

Finding the Lord's Lessons in Everyday Life

by Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith


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You’ve read the title, and now you’re scratching your head, wondering if this book is for real, right?

It is. Yes, the authors are bona fide Mormons. And hilarious, too! They call themselves Sistas in Zion.

Did we mention they’ve got enough faith to move mountains? Well, they haven’t moved any mountains just yet, but that’s not stopping them from keeping right on praying and believing and knowing that the gospel of Jesus Christ is worth it.

Their unique perspective on their own diary entries will have you laughing one minute and exclaiming “Amen!” the next. They talk about personal experiences and lessons they’ve learned about relationships, sisterhood, standing up for what you believe, embracing diversity, and dealing with adversity—what being a Christian is all about.

The Sistas’ humorous and poignant outlook on life will strengthen your faith and remind you of the joy to be found in living a Christ-centered life. You’ll soon realize that the authors aren’t mad-mad—they’re crazy-mad, funny, and inspiring!

Zandra and Tamu throw open the windows and let fresh air blow into our church culture. The beautiful basic truths of the gospel stand fast in the breeze. In fact, truth seems even more evident when separated from the expected descriptions. The sistas will make you smile, chuckle and even laugh out loud at times. They'll make you glad they're your sisters in the gospel--and most of all glad for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
—Virginia Pearce

WOW! Absolutely delightful! It wasn’t what I was expecting but once underway the Sistas in Zion drew me in as few things have. It has been years since any book, even those I’ve helped write, rested so easily in my hand. Take a copy home and settle in and let gentle humor speak Gospel truths in manageable bites.
—Darius Gray

"In a day full of tip-toeing and guarded talk it's such a breath of fresh air to have two 'Sistas in Zion' who just tell it how it is. No sugar-coating. No beating around the bush. Just the truth as they see it, that sets us free. In their "Diary of two Mad Black Mormons" Sista Laurel and Sista Beehive will have you pounding your leg in laughter one minute, and nodding your head 'A-men' the next. Their perspective on the Gospel different and quite unique, which is what makes this book a must read."
—Bryan Kehl

Product Details

  • Size:  5½x8
  • Pages:  240
  • Publisher:  Ensign Peak 2014
  • ISBN:  978-1-60907-839-3

About the Author

Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith are popular multimedia personalities and the authors of the online blog -SISTASinZION.com. Zandra (Sista Laurel) and Tamu (Sista Beehive) also host a weekly online radio program, Sistas in Zion Radio. Their media identities, which focus on humorous aspects of faith and Mormon culture, seek to uplift, inspire, bridge religious divides, and create healthy dialogue.

Zandra and Tamu are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter—day Saints. They enjoy the fact that their Christian values and their work coincide.

Their lives are blessed by amazing family and friends. Zandra is thankful for her boo, the love of her life. Tamu enjoys spending time with her husband of twenty years and their six wonderful kids.

Check Yo'self Before You Wreck Yo'self

Usually we don’t write in our diaries one day and then read what we wrote the next. Some time usually elapses between when we record and when we look back. But we should evaluate our lives regularly and be performing spiritual background checks on ourselves. Spiritual background checks can give us a wealth of information. And unlike the world’s background check, this history shows so much more. It shows change, growth, where we have gone off the beaten path, how we got where we are today, and even how we can get where we need to be tomorrow. More importantly, it shows us how the Lord has been working in our lives and what He is trying to teach us.

In real life, nobody has a clean record. We all have made mistakes, we all have struggles in our lives, but like they say, “The struggles make us stronger, but changes make us wiser.” God puts things in our path not just to strengthen us but to help us learn from them and choose to change to become more like our Savior.

Some of us may have an aversion to running a background check on ourselves. Shoot, it’s daunting enough when the world runs one on us. Believe us, we have wondered why anybody needs to know all our business like that. Bosses are so nosey! Our spiritual history shows us the blemishes on our records so that we can have the opportunity to clean them up. With the world’s background check, our errors are there, usually forever. Even when we change, they are still available for viewing. But because of a loving Savior, we can change direction and be forgiven. Our history will now record our good.

In life we should look for the lessons and acknowledge the blessings. There are times when our actions force us to repeat a lesson, but we have the ability to look back, jog our memory, and brush up on the course. When we don’t learn from our experiences, we keep repeating the negative. We often acknowledge the good things, but then we carry the negative in a more prominent place in our life.

We must be willing to look at our lives and be honest about what we find there. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).

As we’ve looked back in our diaries, we’ve encountered the hopelessness and the fear that we recorded while going through our dark moments, and we were able to realize that where we are now is so different from where we were then. In times when we didn’t think we could go on, suddenly there we were living, breathing, and experiencing moments of joy. What had changed? What was different in our lives? What did we know now that we didn’t know then? Who had delivered us?

As we recognized the lessons, the triumphs, the changes of heart, and God’s hands in our lives, we realized that our diaries weren’t just a record of trials and tribulations. They were books of blessings. Today we can see how the Lord was with us in times when we didn’t even think He was there. Like they say where we’re from, “Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self.”

Hallelujah Holla Back,

Sister Beehive and Sister Laurel

Background Check

Everybody has a record. It might not be the kind you can pull at the courthouse, but trust us, we all have one. In life, when we catch a case,*...

Check Yo'self Before You Wreck Yo'self

Usually we don’t write in our diaries one day and then read what we wrote the next. Some time usually elapses between when we record and when we...
I was pleasantly surprised

by  Stephanie  -   reviewed on  May 12, 2014

Ok, so when I was given this book to review I knew, just knew, that I wasn't going to like it. I'm not good at keeping a diary. I'm not mad. I'm not even black. The only thing it had going for me was the fact that I was a Mormon. So, it was with much hesitation that I cracked open this book and began reading through it. Imagine my chagrin when the very first sentence said "Oh, so y'all are just gonna judge our book by its cover!" Hahaha.... You got me! So, I read on and I was pleasantly surprised by the lessons to be learned from from the "Sista's in Zion." Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith a.k.a Sista Beehive and Sista Laurel met as members of Genesis. Genesis is an official auxiliary of the Latter-day Saint Church and serves as a support group for African American members, their family and their friends. Fast forward to today and now Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith are popular multimedia personalities and the authors of the online blog -SISTASinZION.com. Their radio show focuses on the humorous aspects of faith and Mormon culture, seek to uplift, inspire, bridge religious divides, and create healthy dialogue. This book is written as journal entries either by one sister or the other and often both. They use personal stories and experiences and relate them to gospel principles in a way that leaves you laughing and inspired. Their way of speaking is translated into this book using terms like "check yo'self" and "holla" and their method of delivering their message is very real.

Enjoyable and inspiring!

by  Heidi  -   reviewed on  May 14, 2014

What a delightful book! With selections that are both insightful and charming, Sista Beehive and Sista Laurel share the lessons they have learned about the Lord and the gospel in everyday life. Sharing both thoughts and experiences about a variety of topics, Vranes and Smith provide both an entertaining and learning experience for the reader. Topics covered include: repentance and soul-searching, standing for the right, faith, service, and relationships. I especially appreciated their openness in sharing some not so pleasant experiences and mistakes they've made, this can be hard to do without being defensive, but they do it very well. One thing that they talk about that especially touched me was how so many people find Jesus in jail. And not just the official kind. It's so easy to make choices that put us in our own 'cells' so to speak and the only way out is with Our Savior's help. It's especially sad when we walk into these sort of consequences knowing that what we are doing is wrong or committing the same sin over and over. But thanks to the Savior who can open those cell doors, we can become free again. It's up to us whether we remain captives or not. And so the authors recommend conducting regular 'spiritual background checks' in which we look at our past and the good and bad things in our lives and make the changes that our needed, with the Savior's help. Not only an enjoyable read, but an inspirational one as well.

Loved it!

by  Melanie  -   reviewed on  May 21, 2014

I've heard the Sistas radio show before so when I saw they had a book out, I knew I wanted to read it. I wanted to see how their humor would translate into the written word. Let me tell you, they are just as funny in their book as they are when you listen to them! They start by sharing their pseudonyms of Sista Beehive (Tamu) and Sista Laurel (Zandra) and I laughed at their explanation for neither of them going by Sista Mia Maid. ("Nobody was interested in being Sista Mia Maid 'cause with maid in their name, they might get mistaken for the help.") They realize that God has taught them a lot of lessons over the years and that he's been with them through their darkest hours. The chapters are broken down into small sections, and the diary entries are written by them individually and together. There is guaranteed laughter to be found in each chapter. The Sistas put themselves out there and their goal is to encourage others to search for and recognize the lessons and blessings in life. I love their attitudes and would love to hang out with them! They do also show a more serious side, which still manages to come across as fun. Even their "Shout Outs" (aka Acknowledgements) made me laugh. I love the advice they give at the very end and I hope there are more diary reveals from them in the future!


by  Shauna  -   reviewed on  May 09, 2014

FUNNY! REAL! "FINDING THE LORD'S LESSONS IN EVERYDAY LIFE!" And I LOVE the lessons they find! WOW! Here's one: It's hard to stay mad once you realize that you're too blessed to be stressed." Personal diary entries and fun blurbs of wisdom bring together their views and teach us with humor and love. Like this lesson: "For some of us, sometimes life gets rough enough that it feels like we're doing hard time. Each of us with a personal prison of our own, serving separate sentences, but still the same Savior. What we've learned is that you can put yourself in lockup, but God never throws away the key. Ask. Seek. Knock. He'll unlock the lessons. Check out some of the chapter titles: Mic Check- Is This Thing On? Background Check Check Yo'self Before you Wreck Yo'self Slippery Slope Set Your Standards High So You Can Fly God's Got Your Back Got A Little, Get A Lot The First Fish Fry Service Makes Me Nervous Dysfunctional Families Are Forever Hot Mess-Ipe Bringin' The Pepper To Salt Lake Don't Save The Drama For Mama and a whole lot MORE! LOVED. LOVED. LOVE. IT! DON'T MISS OUT ON THIS ONE! You will soak up every word and rejoice in the Lord with a big "Hallelujah!"

H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S! Real situations with a bunch of humor!

by  Cindy  -   reviewed on  April 07, 2014

"Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons".......from pink slippers to front porches, this book is hilarious! The Sistas had me laughing out loud! The experiences they share are down to earth, real experiences and the details have you laughing, and relating to them at the same time. Some experiences were difficult, but they put humor in it. Wouldn't it be amazing if we looked at all of our trials with a little bit of humor. What a happier world this would be. They are true examples of standing firm in their beliefs and standards. Stories they shared are simple truths we all know of, from telling the truth, honoring thy parents, and keeping the word of wisdom, and how to keep our relationships strong. I absolutely loved this book! There was a connection as I read that made me feel like we truly are sisters living in Zion together, sharing the same trials and triumphs as others do, and they shed light and humor making me realize that we aren't alone in our trials. Others experience them too. This was also an eye opener that I need to do better, well lets say, start up on my journal writing again, so I will have stories of strength and faith to share with others. Can't wait for book two! There will be a book two, right? Cuz I'ma sure there's more "business" to share that we can learn from. Love Ya Sistas!

Fun inspiring

by  rhonda  -   reviewed on  May 09, 2014

5 STARS I did not know what to expect in this book. It is a fun, different and full of good advise. The stories are personal, funny and inspiring on different subjects like Faith, prayer, service, family relationships. They learned from their parents, grandparents, teachers, and even their children. I loved their personal stories, and examples they shared. It is a easy to follow book. Some of the terms are a little different but good and fun to learn. It is inspiring too. I would read more books by Zandra Vranes & Tamu Smith based on this book. I was given this book to read and asked in return to give honest review by Net Galley and Ensign Peak 2014

Hallelujah Holla Back

by  Erika  -   reviewed on  April 13, 2014

"God's recipe for healthy relationships is 1 part love and 70 times 7 parts forgiveness, so don't try to blame it on Him if your relationships are extra salty and gotta whole lotta beef." To say that I loved this book would be an understatement! I LOVED this book! See what I did there? My love is more pure when it is in all caps. There was so much that I took away from this book! The first is that these ladies are HILARIOUS! And they are spiritual rock stars! Also I really, really would love to be their friend. Can I be a Sista, please?! So I will write a couple of my favorite parts below but if you have an hour or two don't you dare deprive yourself of this book! I'm pretty excited to share it with everyone...oddly enough the first person I instantly want to send it to is my own sister! Leishy Lou this one is one you will be reading...no options given...it's a must! ;D Thank you for such a fun book my dear Sistas'!! Hallelujah Holla Back, Erika

Speaking to the LORD like HE speaks to me....all up in my FACE!

by  Dianne  -   reviewed on  April 10, 2014

Thank you Tamu and Zandra for putting your experiences on paper...where us normal folks can relate. I related so well to the writing style as God speaks to us all but I know he speaks to me differently...HE has already told me I am going to have "a POTMENT outside of heaven". He has to have special conversations with me while I am 'checking' in all of the righteous folks. He talks to me on a daily basis...and I love it!! This is why your book was so "REAL" and plain...like the lessons the LORD sends us on a daily basis. If we just 'listen' and 'look inside ourselves' we can have a good relationship with the Master. Your book was another testament to those relationships with the Master. The book was a delightful, interesting and captivating read. I purchased several copies for friends and they have not been disappointed.

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