“You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb.” Judges 13:5

“The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him…” Judges 13:24-25

I’ve been thinking about Samson lately. His story has become interwoven into my speech these days and I can’t stop talking about him. Seems like God continues to use the life of the legendary strongman to bring fresh revelation into my own. When the subject originally came to me, it was more of a caution: don’t be like Samson! Many of us can recall the story of Samson and Delilah and how she betrayed him to the Philistines. He, in turn, destroyed a vast number of them with his superior strength. As I dwell on his life now, I see how Sampson contributed to his own downfall, ending with his spectacular death. He took down his enemies with him in a real blaze of glory, worthy of a hero.

But Sampson wasn’t the smartest cookie, plainly, when it came to love as evidenced by his choices. He was gifted with supernatural ability and dedicated to God from the womb. But on the love front, he often made poor decisions. He first chose a girl of the Philistines, enemy and oppressor of Israel. At their wedding, Samson made a foolish bet. If the guests couldn’t answer his riddle, they’d owe him thirty outfits, and vice versa. (I’m thinking he wanted to be sharp, LOL! Then and now, a person’s wealth could be judged on the quantity and quality of clothing.) His wife then sold him out to the angry townspeople to save her own skin. Samson’s ego was damaged when she told her neighbors the answer to his riddle. He had to pay up now. Samson was so upset with them for acquiring the secret of his riddle that he paid the debt grimly by accosting thirty men and stripping them of their clothing.

A pattern began to emerge. Although Samson is listed as a judge of Israel, he chronically lacked good judgment. His actions were more like those of a spoiled, denied child. You could pretty much preface any display of strength with, in his anger …. Samson was ever re-acting, having tantrums instead of behaving like a great man of God. His epic strength was not accompanied, alas, by wisdom. Still, as my kids would say, God rocked with Samson. God’s gift was not predicated on Samson living a perfect life. The job of the judge was to deliver Israel from their oppressor. Repeatedly, the Bible says the Spirit of the Lord came over Samson, giving him the power to defeat his enemies. Even down to the end, God restored Samson’s strength, which enabled the shackled, defeated judge to destroy more Philistines in death than in life.

So many lessons I’m gleaning from the life of Samson but this morning I saw his life through fresh eyes. Samson was born different. Entered this world to be different. Was never supposed to fit in. Never meant to assimilate. He would always be a big fish in a little pond, ever misunderstood. When your greatness is evident that doesn’t mean you will be revered.  Reviled, more likely. It occurred to me, Samson may have reached for a Philistine wife because that may have been his way of trying to find his place in the world. Did he even have a friend? Where did he belong? In one instance, when he left off killing the Philistines, he was found dwelling in a cave. The enemy came a knocking and his own people turned him in, again to save their skin. Samson promptly destroyed more of the enemy. But he had no focus or direction, never a carefully laid out plan, only in response to something done to him. Imagine if that power were channeled and purposely used? Might he have been an even greater champion?

Do you ever question where you are in life? Why are you the way you are? Feel like you don’t fit in? Have you ever felt mistreated because you don’t belong? I know I have. But until recently I didn’t understand why. Samson’s story answered my questions at last. When you’re born to stand out, (to paraphrase my brother) people won’t know what to do with you. Simple as that. Because they don’t understand you, you’ll be rejected. Your differences, your quest to just be true to you will make others uncomfortable. That’s because some folks spend their entire lives trying to be like everyone else and have what others have. You don’t. And that challenges your family, coworkers, and neighbors, even your sisters and brothers at church and makes them wonder if they are doing all they can to live up to their calling. Your life judges them. Your very presence disturbs them. It screams different. And so, people actively do things to disturb you, to shake your peace because they don’t understand your drive to use every gift you have and be everything you can be. Rather than discover that journey for themselves they want to force you to be more like them.

And so, my lesson this morning is still: DON’T BE LIKE SAMSON! LOL! Don’t let your potential die with you, unfulfilled. Sure, he took a lot of people with him but as a judge, he should have led people to more than their deaths. He was supposed to lead a nation. Maybe like David, he could have developed an army, created more fearless warriors like himself and really done some damage. Instead, he died alone, with no wife to mourn him, childless and no legacy for the nation of Israel other than that he died well. Don’t let others cause you to react and live your life on their terms. When you allow other folks to direct your actions, they become your puppet master. Don’t be afraid to be you, unmistakably and undeniably, and let others deal with their own discomfort. Perhaps you will set such an example as to inspire them to live a more authentic life. Perhaps not. Folks won’t make it easy. Just remember the first two syllables in beautiful are your key to a life well lived and full of supernatural feats of your own: Be you. Know that it’s ok to be different. You weren’t designed to fit in.

Be blessed,


The Children’s Bread

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. But Jesus replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Matthew 15:25-27

I recall a conversation I had with my sister some years ago when Puff Daddy (I believe this was before his P Diddy incarnation) was taken to court for child support. Some folks held the opinion that the mother of his children was asking for a lot, far more than she needed. But my sister said, summing up the matter nicely:

“If Puff Daddy rides around in a limousine, so should his children!” In other words, if my father eats caviar (never tasted the stuff, looks unappetizing, LOL!) so will I! That seemed like sound reasoning to me.

When my siblings and I were young, we went through what most children did of our time. You ate what mom cooked. Much of the time, MaDear indulged us and cooked what we wanted, our short order cook and waitress all in one. But I still remember the standoff she and I had over greens – I didn’t want ’em and she was determined I would try them. They were a cold congealed mess when I finally touched the fork to my lips, but try them, I did. I admitted they weren’t bad and I’ve eaten them ever since.

And then there was the showdown between MaDear and my little sister over chicken. (It was epic, on the scale of the Everybody hates Chris episode when Tanya refused to eat the surplus sausage.) The youngest, being the baby, could normally get away with murder although she never did perform anything so heinous. But our MaDear clearly wasn’t having it that day. She stood her ground and informed her baby that she would sit there until she finished that fried chicken leg. My sister wailed and insisted she couldn’t because of a phenomenon we’ve all experienced at one point or another. You know – when you bite into the drumstick and see that ugly red vein protruding – ugh. Even I, whose stomach is not so tender, must admit its appearance can be off-putting.

You will eat it, MaDear insisted, even if you have to sit here all night! 

But my sister couldn’t. Unlike with me, our mother relented when she saw her daughter was genuinely repulsed by that particular cut of meat. For years afterward, she would only eat only the breast, as it contained no obviously offending veins. This brings me to the next well-known tradition in many households, also ala EHC – Daddy gets the biggest piece of meat! The breast belongs to him! But, notice, we ALL ate chicken. If he received steak and gravy, concurrently, so did we all. And my father was a big fan of this notion. It was his habit to purchase gallon sizes containers of ice cream daily during the summer and personally see to it that we joined him in polishing it off. Sometimes I was cajoled into partaking in one of his down-home delicacies, say cornbread and buttermilk (yucky, btw) because he insisted that we eat what he ate. To feed us from his plate was his delight.

Recently, it occurred to me that this analogy held true with the children’s bread. See, my rambunctious Rottweiler Rocco, could not, nor should he, receive everything I eat. (Some of it he wouldn’t even appreciate, being a dog.) But my daughter can. And never does she have to qualify for the privilege or prove her worthiness. She eats what I eat, simply because she is my daughter. I offer it up freely; it is my pleasure. To care for her, even though she is grown, brings me joy.

Today, I thank God for this revelation because I’ve struggled most of my life with whether or not I deserved my blessings. Could I ever earn such a thing, or would I ever be good enough? My life has been a series of failed experiences in proving my value to the world. I’ve spent a good portion of my time creating accomplishments to justify my worth to man. This has been an unsuccessful effort because, mainly, the problem lay with me. I didn’t believe myself worthy. But now I know, my blessings have nothing to do with my worthiness. He is my Father. My value lies in the fact that I am His child. I get what He gets, have access to the things He has access to and I eat what He eats. Maybe He still gets the big piece of chicken, LOL! But in true Father fashion, I am allowed to eat from His plate, sup from His bowl, simply because He wants me to enjoy what He has. I don’t have to do a thing to deserve it, other than be His. Can you imagine a baby deserving a meal? Crazy, right? Think about it – a mother’s breast will excrete milk in response to her baby’s cry. We are hard wired and designed to give to our children, provide for, and respond to their need.

It has been said by some that healing, based on the context of our scripture, is the children’s bread. But I say, let us not stop there. It’s all ours! Everything God has belongs to us. Consider this: Would any of us withhold provision of ANY sort from our children? Is there any advantage we wouldn’t want to give them? And if they asked, or we saw their need, who among us wouldn’t give MORE than enough according to our ability? My children are welcome to anything and everything I have because they are mine. And so it is with God. I’m walking into this new year secure in the knowledge that my Father’s bread, is MY bread. Whatever He has belongs to me. Yes, all the cattle on a thousand hills and more are MINE.

“If you then, imperfect as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11

Happy New Year,


Don’t be afraid of the Dark

Are-You-afraid-of-the-dark-1024x552“When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.” Edward Teller

It’s time to take a leap of faith. Again. Launch out into the deep. Get out of the boat. ARGH! Why can’t things ever be easy? The unknown is a dark, murky place. And I’m afraid of the dark! I’ve always been “scary,” ever since I was a child. I grew up watching one too many Creature Feature movies. (And Svengoolie – it’s a Chicago thing!) My brothers didn’t help matters by always trying to scare me. Spooky stuff happens in the dark. It’s the place of “what if?” and all sorts of horrible things that could possibly occur. Nothing good ever happens there.

I had cause to rethink that assumption after reading a little blue book, The Secret to Success. It made me see that on the other side of that fear – that very thing you don’t want to do or go through – is where your success can be found. Maybe you’ve tried once before and were defeated. That should’ve been enough to stop you but it merely curtailed you. It slowed you down, yes. But also, it made you more hungry and determined to succeed after you’d gotten back on your feet. We go through and persevere, not because we are unafraid, but because our fear of what many NEVER happen, what we may NOT be able to achieve if we don’t go through it, is greater than our reluctance to tackle the unknown. This thought alone is enough to propel me forward.

Fear can be so debilitating. My son recently shared with me a nugget of wisdom gleaned from a friend who broke it down thusly: Everything falls into one of two categories, familiar and unfamiliar. Things that are unknown to us, we fear. BUT, and here’s the good news, once you’ve done that unfamiliar thing there is no longer any need to fear it. You have conquered it and can quite reasonably move it over to the things now familiar to me or “known” silo. It loses it’s power to terrorize you and you can expect that the next time will be easier. For example, the process of writing a book once frightened me, but no longer. God has enabled me to do it twice and now, we’re working on book three. The thought of book signings used to make me want to hide somewhere! But after doing several events, I have a handle on them now. I am not fearless when it comes to such things but I push past the fear because what I’m trying to accomplish is on the other side. I can’t NOT do it.

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matt 14:29

We know from many stories that Peter was brash and bold. He could be cocky at times. But he was a regular person like you and I. His faith could fail. I think any confidence he had was owed to his association with Jesus and not naturally occurring. To step out of the boat required great faith, true, but he was relying on Jesus. When the disciple took his eyes off the Master, he began to sink. Looking to Jesus in the midst of that storm allowed Peter to walk on water. He became his own miracle. Any confidence I have to work miracles or do great things comes from my relationship with God. 

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4

Peter, like us, could become discouraged or disheartened and give up. But, as in the second scripture example, encouragement from the Lord was all it took to get Peter to try “one mo’ gin.” After a night of fishing and catching NOTHING, Peter obeyed the command and caught more than humanly possible. Jesus is our constant source of encouragement. In His power, we can do more, be more. He stands before us saying: Yes you can. He prods us to go a little bit further.

To walk in the dark is to be aware, more than ever, of the presence of, and need for light. Even as a pinprick, it will be evident in it’s display and proof of existence. When light is all around us, more light is hardly a necessity. It is in the darkness that light is made more brilliant and more needful. We lean on it. Search for it. Look to it for illumination and for guidance. Move towards it. Oh, how we need it then!

When things are dark and hopeless is when I need Him most. He IS the light and His Word a lamp unto my feet. When I’m struggling with how to move forward, I know I can look to Him to show me the way. I can depend on you, Lord, to help me work my miracle, too. I’ll leave you with the words of a song I learned as a child which encourages me to this day:

When you walk through a storm, keep your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm is a golden sky and the sweet silver song of the lark.
Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone.

So, don’t fear the destructive power of that storm, I say to myself. Yes, it will tear up some stuff and leave you heartbroken with your loss. But, and here’s the important thing to remember, you will recover. Don’t be afraid of the dark, or the unknown. Though your steps may falter, walk with the sure knowledge that God is with you. Get to the other side where the air, heavy with moisture, smells like fresh rain and vegetation. And you just know all of that rain is a harbinger of good things to come. It is sustenance for the soil, preparing the earth to bring forth new things. Likewise, our storms may be meant to bring to fruition our vision of better days ahead.

Be blessed,



“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” Oprah Winfrey

I came across a picture of my daughter and I among my FB memories that made me smile and reflect. So much ugly has been going on in the world, it’s been all too easy to become distracted from my purpose. It’s the goal, or should be, of every Christian to somehow be in this world but, not of it. To know that we are but travelers and should not find ourselves so easily ensconced in the intrigues of this society. But we do succumb, despite our best efforts. It’s what happens when we walk by sight, instead of by faith, by what we see and what’s in front of us, instead of what we believe. 

I recently had an episode where I wound up in the hospital for a few days. It was nothing major, or at least, not something that couldn’t be aided with fluids delivered intravenously and emptying the contents of my gut – an evacuation order which my stomach willingly obliged. It was scary at the time, but simultaneously, not. I think it helped to clarify some things for me, helped to put my life in perspective.

My daughter always accuses me of being overly dramatic when I am sick (a few others may have agreed with her, lol!) but I made my peace with the idea of this being the end, just in case. Yes, I saw a white light – but my brother assures me that was merely in the process of fainting. No, my life didn’t flash before my eyes but my purpose did. I thought of my latest novel and how it wasn’t complete. Not now, Lord! I thought of my children and what leaving would do to them. I needed to tell them I love them. Then, I realized that this is the moment we Christians are supposed to be joyfully awaiting, preparing for this very event – to be absent from this body and present with our Lord. 

Today, a week later, life is back to normal. Obviously, I survived the ordeal with very little harm and a new respect for medications. I probably received the much-needed break and medical attention that I had put off for so long. It’s not what I wanted to happen but I see how the entire episode worked to my benefit. But that’s not what I’m reflecting on today. I heard a song by Brian Courtney Wilson, Worth Fighting For which stirred to remembrance in me:

Eyes haven’t seen, ears haven’t heard, all you have planned for me …

And when I had reached the end of the song I was near tears. Maybe God isn’t finished with me yet. But more than that, I saw what God had already done. This is the day that my life flashed before my eyes. I was suddenly grateful; I am ashamed to admit, as I had never been before. This life is not what I expected. But it has been so worth it, worth living and worth fighting for. No, I didn’t see myself divorced before I turned forty but neither had I seen myself married either. That was an unattainable dream. I knew I wanted marriage but for some reason, I didn’t think it was in the cards for me. Same with children – never saw motherhood for me but I’m so glad God made me a mother. My children remain my constant motivation and are the great joy of my life.

On this day, I realized that even though I didn’t see these things for myself, I couldn’t conceive of it, but God did. Oprah said words to this effect – God’s plan for you is far bigger than anything you could ever imagine. I see now that I have lived a 

blessed life. I can sing as Smokie Norful in Dear God:

It may not be all that I’d hoped for and every dream has not yet been realized

but to see you face one day God I know it’s all gonna be worth it

Lord, so I thank you for … my life

I appreciate every single bit of it – even the bad – because it made me who I am. And it didn’t kill me, it made me stronger, resilient, able to bend but not break under pressure. That’s what this life has done for me. Today, I recall my purpose – to live as a traveler, enjoying what this world offers like one on vacation, knowing all the while that’s it’s nice to visit but I don’t want to stay. I’m keeping my eyes on the prize and wearing this world as a loose garment. I’m resolving to be moved by faith, not by sight. I mean to press onward toward the high calling in Christ Jesus – that calling that invokes in me the desire to utilize all the gifts I’ve been given to His glory. I’m able to enjoy the miracle that Jesus himself didn’t live to see, nor was he meant to – the joy of being a parent. Not only despite my travails but because of them now, I am thankful.

Be blessed,





Brother, Brother …

biden and obama“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

President Obama, in one of his final acts before leaving office, made a touching gesture to his good friend and partner of eight years, VP Joe Biden. Bring on the tissue, sniff, sniff! But what came afterwards was even more of a tear jerker. Biden thanked Obama and said he didn’t deserve the Medal of Freedom (with Distinction). He gave Obama the credit, listing the accolades of his good friend, just as Obama had previously listed his. The story that stuck with me and spoke to me this morning was when Vice President Biden wanted to sell his home to afford care for his son (see, even the VP can experience such issues, none of us are immune!) President Obama urged him not to do that, stating instead that he would give his friend the money. Not loan. Give. But this message isn’t about President Obama’s generosity. I believe at that moment, because he reached out to VP Biden at a time when his family was hurting and reeling emotionally, offering support, at that moment the true friendship was solidified as one for the record books. That was when they moved from being good friends to being brothers in arms, in the struggle, bonded together, forged in fire. Their relationship was elevated to more than just mere friendship. Watching their evolution has been one of the great pleasures of their tenure. They have become an example to us all.

Friendship is a great thing – mutual admiration of each other, enjoyment of one another’s company, a buddy to attend events with or a confidante to share your secrets – that’s all good. But there is a defining point in a relationship where you can say, “This person is FOR me. They love me.” That’s the next level. The day you realize your friend is pro-YOU is a wonderful day. They are on your side, demonstrably, no matter what. That day came for me recently when my good friend came to a book event with me. I can’t even begin to describe all the ways she helped me at that time. From talking to people while I was otherwise engaged, to taking money (cuz the sales were coming fast and furious, thank God!), making her own sales, running errands – she was simply indispensable. I could not have had the measure of success enjoyed that day without her help. She became an extension of me. I trusted her to speak for me. I loved her before but I loved and appreciated her so much more after that. An occasion such as this will cause you to know who is more than just a mere friend. I was then, and am now, ever grateful for the people God has placed in my circle. He is always showing me the gifts he has placed around me.Viola Davis

Then there was the time another friend offered me a wonderful opportunity to sing before an audience where the incomparable Viola Davis was to be the keynote speaker. He trusted me to be his go-to person. Or, the time a friend went to toe to toe with a supervisor for me (in my absence) so hard that the next day, said supervisor was mad at me! That’s still funny because I hadn’t actually done anything to her. She just picked the wrong person to talk about me in front of, LOL! Those are the moments when you realized that someone outside of your family was undeniably FOR you. They have proven to be more than just friends. They become accepted as family, and are accorded as such.

So, there are stages to relationships. The Bible refers to us as His servants, then friends and lastly, adopted children who are grafted into the family with full rights and privileges of one naturally born. Abraham began as servant but was elevated to friend (Isaiah 41:8), as was Moses (Exodus 33:11). But Jesus went to the highest level. He declared the disciples to be more than servants and his friends but He also referred to God as “Our Father” meaning, they (and thus, we) had become family. My brother has said to me often, regarding my walk: “You reach a point where you move from servant to daughter.” That is my goal. God is calling us to higher relationship with Him. As we grow in love and grace and wisdom and His Word, that’s kind of the point. There are different levels to each position. A servant is not actually a bad thing, it’s just not the highest level. A good and faithful servant can be trusted with the things that are important to His Master. Friendship can be a fickle thing at times, depending on how you feel. Even Jesus found that out in the Garden of Gethsemane. Although they were his friends, self-preservation kicked in and they ran. The Apostle John was more than servant, more than friend. He stayed and saw things through until the end. Jesus even entrusted John with the care of Mary. John had proven that no matter what happened, he was pro-Jesus.

meet the fockers

Family is something altogether different from even the highest phase of friendship. Family doesn’t run. They stand by you even if that’s all they can do. To be associated most intimately with God is the level for which we’re striving. My family helps me in my endeavor to build my business (and I, them), not only because they believe in me but because they love me and want to see me prosper. Family can be counted on to not talk about you when your house is dirty; they’ll even help you clean it! It is the highest level, like that “circle of trust” in Meet the Fockers. May we all be counted worthy to enter in.

” … but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  Proverbs 18:24

Be blessed,



Dream Girl

97783352d77225c4b0e06ce8b98c0fdd“I am chan-yang-yang-yanging!” Effie White, Dream Girls

“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

“It’s time for that new year, new you, B.S.,” said my coworker with a cynical sneer. It was the assertion of someone who had tried and likely, failed in her various efforts. How sad, thought the eternal optimist in me. While a new year cannot magically give you the impetus to suddenly leave off doing certainly behaviors, it certainly is a great place to be inspired enough to try.

I found encouragement this morning in a song from Dream Girls, I Am Changing. I’m of an age where I can recall the original version, but both Jennifers did it justice. Usually, the resolution that most people make at this time of year is to lose weight. I find it noteworthy that these women were able to make a huge change in their dietary habits to become the person they’ve always dreamed of becoming. They started out as big girls and then empowered themselves to change. They are shining examples of what we can do, with our weight and otherwise, if we just persevere. We can do it! This is our year! We can go the distance! If this song doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will. For me, it did the trick.


I am changing, trying every way I can.
I am changing, I’ll be better than I am.
I’m trying to find a way to understand.
But I need you, I need you, I need a hand.
I am changing, seeing everything so clear.
I am changing, I’m gonna start right now, right here.
I’m hoping to work it out and I know that I can.
But I need you, I need a hand.
All of my life, I’ve been a fool.
Who said I can do it all alone?
How many good friends have I already lost?
And how many dark nights have I known?
Walking down that wrong road, there was nothing I could find.
All those years of darkness can make a person blind.
But now I can see…
I am changing, trying every way I can.
I am changing, I’ll be better than I am.
But I need a friend, to help me start all over again.
Oh, That would be just fine.
I know it’s gonna work out this time.
Cuz this time I am, this time…I…am


I am changing, I’ll get my life together now.
I am changing, yes, I know how.
I’m gonna start again.
I’m gonna leave my past behind.
I’ll change my life.
I’ll make a vow.
Nothings gonna stop me now…

Let this song inspire you, as it did me, to become that person of our dreams and the best version of ourselves. Let it become our anthem when we suffer setbacks and disappointments. Let it become a constant source of encouragement when a voice tries to tell us differently. Let us shout it with a deafening roar, if we must, and drown out the voices that would remind us of the times we’ve failed because it only takes ONE TIME to succeed. Let us drill it into our minds until we instill it in our hearts and this new year is a great place to start. Now is as good a time as any other. Lord, renew our minds with purpose, help us to recommit and rededicate ourselves to our cause. Let us open wide our mouths and sing loud with our tonsils showing: I AM CHANGING!
Be blessed,

The Christian in Christmas

1482417289141I would leave off the Christian,” was the advice I was given regarding my books. Christian fantasy adventure is the genre, more specifically, and young adult fiction. Honestly, I’ve pondered the same thing for a while. Not because I’m ashamed to own Christ and proclaim myself a follower,  mind you. I’ve given it some consideration because the term Christian has taken on a negative connotation these days. To say I’m Christian may, in the eyes of some, automatically align me with those who also claim to follow His teachings, even though we may differ greatly in our beliefs and practices. It could be a turn off for some. You know, guilt by association.

We’re supposed to be all about love, right? But devotees are often anything but. To paraphrase Bon Jovi: we give love a bad name! Even still, I am persuaded that the world needs to hear more about Jesus, not just about his followers (who are flawed), so I can’t abandon the effort. I believe that God, since the Touched series was his idea, will give aid to my cause and make this successful despite the negative publicity.

I would, though, implore my fellow Christians to do as Christ urged so that the world would know us by our love. Love our brother who is made in His image, like we say we love our Father. Let  us endeavor to do more than put Christ in the holiday greeting and squabble over the Christmas message on the Starbucks coffee cups. How about we strive to do what he called us to do? Love one another. Simple.

And while we’re at it, I’d like to address another topic that can gnaw at Christians during this season: the tree. What’s that about? Isn’t it part of pagan celebrations? It doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas, right? Therefore, we think that means we shouldn’t have anything to do with that part of the holiday.

I’ve got news for you. If not for the attachment of Christianity onto the then existing pagan celebrations, I doubt the message would have become so widespread. It really was brilliant marketing on the part of the Catholic church in its embryonic stage. Pure genius, inspired thinking, you might call it. See, the masses were not atheists for the most part. They believed in a higher power and were more likely polytheists. So what you wanted was a transference from one worship experience to another. How do you get people to do that? Give the day another name. Introduce new traditions with added significance until the holy day takes on a new meaning.

So while we may want to reject the pagan aspects of Christmas, we cannot deny the impact they had in spreading the Gospel and making it known throughout the world. Paul actually set the example for conversion when he came to Athens. The people there served many gods. But Paul was determined to get through to them by any means possible. So he proclaimed that he’d come to them on behalf of a god they already knew: The Unknown God. He took advantage a concept they were already familiar with to introduce some basic tenets of our faith (Acts 17:16-34). And so did the early church, piggy backing on things that were already set in place. That was just plain smart.

“But that doesn’t matter … the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.” Philippians 1:18

I said all that to say, be at peace with your traditions even if they come from celebrations that predate Christ. As long as it brought you to the knowledge of Jesus, it’s all good. What’s more important is that Jesus and the miracle of his birth, life, death, burial and resurrection is preached. And that the world know that his love and salvation is accessible to all, providing a way for us to be restored to our right relationship with God the Father. In this, the ends have justified the means. Now, isn’t that good news? You’re welcome, lol!

Merry Christmas!


P.S. And don’t even get me started on the day we chose to celebrate! EVERY day is a day that the Lord has made. It all belongs to Him! Let all hearts be clear 🙂

Love Unmasked

As a Libra, I’ve been told that we can hold a grudge for a long time. But I don’t really believe in zodiac signs all that much. My kids however, can attest to my ability to hold on to something and just not let it go. It’s sad really. So, God has been dealing with me lately about love. Real love, not that fly by night stuff that depends on your feelings. Love that is lasting, that believes all, suffers all. Yep.

See, I always thought if you love someone you’d act a certain way. Treat that person right and all that. Some people have fallen short in my eyesight. They didn’t quite treat me the way I felt they ought, if they indeed loved me. But then I realized, they were not the only one who came up short. When you love someone, it should mean more than mere words. And I think I’ve been paying lip service all this time.

There resides in all of us, another person, an ugly individual that we hope no one ever sees. A good friend will understand, forgive, and excuse such behavior. Even make you feel good about it. Some of my best memories are of friendships where the love continued after my ugly side had been displayed. One girlfriend brought me to tears, and freed me, by these words: There is nothing you can do to make me love you any less. I’m getting misty eyed just thinking about it now. That kind of acceptance of me and my flaws just floored me. Truly brought me to my knees, y’all!

But what of when I am required to do the same? All this time, I’ve been thinking that I’ve been capable of that kind of love when I’m not. Sure, I put up with another’s alter ego for a while but eventually, I decide that I’ve taken enough. The ugliness makes me flee because I felt if they truly loved me, they wouldn’t do certain things. I thought about what they should have done versus what they did and what my response should be. There was a limit to my patience and therefore, my love.

Where is the real love in that? And I pride myself on not being reactionary, normally. Maybe I need to just be more like: “I love you, friend, but you’re crazy asl! I still love you, tho!” Real love carries on DESPITE how badly we behave. It doesn’t run.

The only folks in my life that I know for sure I love beyond any disagreement, poor judgement or bad behavior are my immediate family. But God is calling me to more. When I say I love someone, to really love them. Even the ugly in them. Or to at least stop bandying that word around. It becomes meaningless if you base your love on conditions.

I heard a pastor put it like this: Love is perfect but we administer love from flawed vessels. The person we see and love is just a facade which hides that person who believes themselves unlovable at their core. So our love must go deeper than the surface, to the person they truly are and are trying so desperately to hide. My endeavor and my assignment is to love, really love, and to mean it.

So why this message of love right before Christmas? At this time of year, we dwell on it as much, or more than on Valentine’s Day. Peace on earth, goodwill towards men. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son. This season was made for love. This is also the time of year that we don’t reach out to our own loved ones and friends, all because of a disagreement or infraction. But this is the time when, likely, they need love more than at any other time. Your mission is to love someone, really love them and trust God, trust love to work out the kinks in your relationship. For it is the love of God that reconciled us to him, despite our sins. Love won. And it still does.

Love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:12

Be blessed,



Stir It Up!


There are some things that should never be stirred. Like a pot of burning food, especially when all the liquid evaporates out of that pot of greens or beans you’ve been cooking. Don’t stir! It’s the worst thing you could do, per my mother, unless you’d rather render the entire dish unsalvageable. Stirring will only bring the burnt taste from the bottom and have it completely permeate the contents.

On the other hand, you do want to stir your coffee or tea after adding sweetener. Or that big pitcher of lemonade. Stirring, in this case, will release the goodness of the sugar. Instead of settling in the base of the container, you’ll get sweetness with every sip. Ah yes!

You can make a wonderful gravy out of pan drippings if you let your grease sit for a bit after cooking. Upon cooling, those lovely pieces of meat and browned flour will settle on the bottom, allowing you to pour off the grease and get to the good stuff. Try that too soon and you’ll lose some of your best flavoring. Now once you add your liquid, you’ll want to stir, stir, stir until you have that base throughout your gravy. These images, the possible benefits and disadvantages of stirring, came to mind when I thought of this scripture:

“For this reason I remind you to stir up the gift of God …” 2 Timothy 1:6

Recently, I have been extremely busy promoting my books, which is a good thing. It seems that as I do more to advance myself as an author, I see more ways I can further my cause. I’m meeting people who can help me and finding ways I can help myself. My actions are stirring up something in the spirit. I see the atmosphere now as being cluttered with opportunities. The air around me is churning with them, somewhat like a sky is full of hubris during a tornado. I’ve never sat thru one so I have no idea what that looks like up close (terrifying, I’m sure)! But in my mind, I picture it the only way I can, like the object ridden sky in the Wizard of Oz. All kinds of things were stirred up by the winds, for good or bad – in Dorothy’s case, good, but not so much for the Evil Witch.

In Timothy’s case, Paul reminded him that gifts were embedded in his DNA, passed down from his mother and grandmother. He couldn’t let them lay dormant. Several versions put it thusly: Fan your gifts into a flame! Picture ash covered coals, dying for lack of tending or purpose, suddenly being called into action! USE THEM, the Apostle urged the young disciple, knowing these gifts were given to Timothy for a reason. And don’t be fearful or timid about it! Go forth with conviction and confidence. God has called you into service. Preach His Gospel unashamedly, boldly. Stir up the smoldering embers which were entrusted to you until it has become a full-blown fire!

A lot of us enjoyed smoked turkey on this past Thanksgiving. My brother in law made his version, injected with jerk spices. YUM! It came to mind, just now, how impossible a feat this would have been without a good fire, tended and stirred occasionally, for just this purpose.

And so it is with God and my fortunes right now. The air and the sky are full, rife with promise, just waiting for me to take advantage of them. As I recommit myself to my purpose, stirring up the gift that was bequeathed to me by those who came before me, God is meeting my efforts and redoubling them. Gifts and blessings are like that sugar in the bottom of your jar of ice tea which does no good if sweetness is not distributed throughout. It cannot lie fallow if it is to be effective. Or like the fire on your grill which needs careful attention if it is to remain active. You can’t let it die out if you want to enjoy the smoky, succulent meat. Lord, I pray that you would continue to bless me, let opportunities swirl and collect about me, so dense I cannot help but see what you have made available to me. Let me pluck them out of the sky and use them to benefit me, my family and even the world. And let the fire of your purpose continue to grow hot in me.

Be blessed,


Morphin’ Time

technology-1695332_1280It’s my usual practice to check my tablet and phone first thing in the morning, to see if I missed anything. This usually leads to trolling Facebook which is pretty addictive. Lately, I’ve been challenging myself to do more with my early morning, put down the tablet and seek Him. But one morning, He pulled FB into my morning devotion. How many of us know that when God wants to speak to you, he will? And He will utilize any means necessary, from the ridiculous to the sublime. So I saw this video posted of creatures coming out of their shells. I recognized the crab and probably, a lobster. The rest were indistinguishable to me.

Then I saw a snippet of a gospel concert. I LOVE gospel singers, normally. I even purport to be one, at times. But the concert reminded me of everything that is wrong with Christianity, church and myself right now. A note of it didn’t ring true. Maybe I’m just disillusioned and jaded. She sang His name over and over and it seemed powerful, artfully crafted, but was it truly influenced by Jesus?

Besides being churched out, I am pretty fed up with Christians and I dont know how to fix how I feel. Our hyper involvement in an election, in a world that we are merely traveling through, I just don’t get. And the lengths that some of us, staunch Christians, went to in steadfast support of a man who remains inconstant (at best, or clearly governed by the devil, depending on who you talk to), I just don’t understand. Where is your righteous mind? This election we voted our fears and it became a debacle of the highest order. We have become the laughing stock of the world. How can you say God and Trump in the same sentence? They don’t go together. It recalls to mind a scripture about the last days where the people would be lead astray by a powerful delusion that could deceive, if possible, the very elect.

A friend shared a video with me once about mega churches and how they raise money but don’t give back to their communities. At the time, I defended the church. Tithing is what we do. But, and it goes against the grain to say this, I realize it doesn’t make sense to continue to give money to a system that gobbles up your money like a tic tac and next Sunday asks for more. Greedy and never satiated, they siphon money from the rich, but sadly, also the poor to sustain themselves. It becomes an endless money pit from which you seldom see benefit, except occasionally, in a shining new edifice. The members may find some benefit to themselves but what about the world around us? Would you keep pouring money into a business or house that gave similar returns? A venture that continually drained but never gave back? I think not, for that would be insanity.

After six days Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. (Matthew 17:1-3)

Over the last few months, I’ve had much time to think, but I hadn’t. I kept getting a nagging sense that something was not quite right with me. Like I was missing something crucial. I didn’t know what it was then. But I think I’ve figured it out. Stepping free from the confines of this world, I choose to follow you, Lord. And all that entails. Not the crowd. I’ve been riding in a sinking ship, bailing water the whole time. I don’t need Iyanla to fix my life, I need you, Lord. I saw the creatures in the first video, discarding their previous covering and stepping out brand new, transformed, and realized, just like that, I was changed, too. I’ve outgrown that shell, the one that would defend the church and Christians. It no longer fits me. What I thought was a crisis of faith is really me no longer believing in the system. I can’t buy into the foolishness, so I’m casting aside what doesn’t serve me or make sense.

There comes a time when a one size fits all life doesn’t fit you anymore. Your spirit, YOU cry out for more. And that’s where true change begins. On the mount of transfiguration, Jesus met Elijah and Moses in their glorified forms. No longer bound by earthly shells and the chains of this world, they were free. But it wasn’t death that set them free, for as far as we know, Elijah did not die. They both had in common their relationship with God.

I said to God that morning, I want you, stripped down. And that’s where the worship began, my morning devotion, as I thumbed through my news feed. The words came to me and escaped with fear and awe because I wondered what new trials it would bring. But I also realized that if God led me to this place, it’s where He wants me to be. I am morphing, changing, transfiguring, through relationship with Him. Thank you, Lord, for taking me higher so that I can be closer to You. Be blessed.