I am not a clinican, therefore I can’t provide citations or cases to confirm my beliefs however I’ve found that its helpful to remind myself of the champions of my spiritual journey. My champions are people who were willing to engage in spiritual warfare and defend the right for the existence of persons like myself (including those uniformed and spiritual soldiers who died before I was born). As challenging as it can be today, our champtions faced the unthinkable and did so without the promise that anyone would remember their names or faces.
As we know, Memorial Day is a day to remember those who paid the ultimate price in service to this nation. This Memorial Day, I honor every woman who gave her life in service of this country. I honor them for sacrificing their lives for a country that in some cases never recognized them, their worth or their efforts. To this day, some women who serve face opposition and harrassment, yet they keep fighting, keep serving and keep striving to ensure the next generation can serve, free of fear. If the women in your family died in service to this country, please speak their names and salute them, honor them and remember them.
I also honor women of faith who didn’t give up or walk away from the draw by the Divine to them. I honor those who were endured every vile name thrown at them because they knew the Divine loved them and empowered them. It is because they were willing to endure: ridicule, opposition and oppression that persons such as myself can operate a bit easier in our offices and placements. I salute you Mothers, Evangelists, Missionaries, etc.. I honor you and remember you.
A while ago a series of devotionals, dominated the landscape. It seemed as if there was a “soup” for everyone. I can’t help but wonder in our age where we increasingly rely on fast food for physical meals, are we doing the same thing spiritually?
Please don’t misunderstand me, in no way am I claiming that I never enjoy fast food; sometimes I crave it but I’m also keenly aware that too much fast food over a prolonged period can have consequences that I don’t desire. Spiritual fast food can meet a temporary need but after a while can leave us longing for more than sound bite theology, overly sugary praise tunes and an undisciplined spiritual digestive track.
The thing about soul food, natural and spiritual, is it takes a while to prepare. Some things have to be marinated, others need to simmer, others require soaking and still others take a while to bake. There is no substitute to marinating on spiritual principles (Jos. 1:8). Allowing your mind to be transformed requires thought over time (Rom. 12:2). Not every part of our journey is easy; some requires us to be drenched (time and time again) in prayer (1 Thess. 5:17).
What’s your spiritual diet? Mine includes a daily intake of scripture with generous portions of prayer that’s been infused by worship, tall glasses of grace and heaping servings of mercy.
Moms are superheroes. My mother showed me how to: be an active part of your child’s life; hold down a career while moving up the ladder of success; be a real person of faith (one whose walk matched her talk); obtain a degree as a working adult; have a vision for your life and work your vision; we a wife; start your own business and operate it on your own terms; change careers; change churches (while keeping your integrity and friendships intact); care for your aging parents and retire while you’re young enough and healthy enough to enjoy it.
As I celebrate my queen and you celebrate (or remember) yours, I encourage you to also celebrate, and model, her faith. Mothers hear the declaration to kill their sons and build a shelter to protect and preserve their lives (Exodus 2:3). Mothers hear angelic pronouncements about the future (Luke 1:28 – 38). Mothers love when hope doesn’t seem to be an option (John 19:25-27) and mothers won’t stop until their children get what they need to thrive (Matt. 15:22- 29). Today my sister-queens is for the Mom’s and everyone whose put on the pumps as a mom. Although every day we recognize your work, on this particular day we celebrate you just a little more and say thank you for everything including the gift of faith.
Can you imagine if April 15th were a person? I can imagine April was going about her life; she probably had tons of friends and was well loved by the other calendar named women. Sister April was not bothering anyone when Congress decided she would become the due date for filing federal income taxes. The day before, April was probably out buying shoes and getting ice cream with her friends and the next day she went into hiding.
Have you ever had someone else’s actions seemingly mark your life? If so, rest assured my sister. You are valued and valuable. You are a woman of destiny and determination. You are a woman of intellect and integrity. You can reclaim your life and you can, once again, walk with you head held high.
How? Well, in my preacher voice, I’m so glad you asked.
1. Know your life isn’t accidental (Esth. 4:14). Every part of you was intentionally formed and nothing in your life, no matter how painful, was without purpose. Some purposes are beyond us. Sometimes what we go through is so we can help someone else who without our help wouldn’t get through it on their own.
2. Know you don’t have to walk alone (Jos. 1:9). I’m as guilty of shutting down as anyone else. Thankfully, I have a support system of the Divine and people who walk the face of the earth who refuse to let me walk alone. When I’m depressed, they give me space while letting me know they have my back.
3. Know what is and what is not your responsibility (Rom 14:12). We are not accountable for the actions of others. Stop beating yourself up over what you could not control. We are responsible for our response to them and, when needed, for seeking healing from them.
The other day I read something akin to “A real queen knows how to adjust another queen’s crown without letting the world know”. Can we take a few moments to unpack that profound saying? In order to have our crowns adjusted we have to:
1. Wear our crown. Sometimes our crown is visible but more often than not, it’s a mental state. No matter how challenging the situation may be, we cannot allow it to define who we are; our definition is from a much, much higher source (Heb. 13:6).
2. Be secure enough to have other competent, intelligent and qualified people surrounding us. Sometimes the only people who can understand what you’re facing are those who are facing or who have faced it as well. Surround yourself with them; learn from them and allow yourself to become someone else’s teacher and role model. (Proverbs 27:17)
3. Be appreciative. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my queenly crew it is private crown correcting is a gift that is not given by all. Those who check you privately love you; those who need to do it publically may be using your dilemma to promote their own agenda (Matt. 18:15).
“Hold still” while I adjust your crown my sister queen. We haven’t come this far in vain. There is a Kingdom that needs the words, insights, skills and gifts the Divine has placed in us.
Don’t Be Fooled
I’ve never been one to “go all in” on April Fools’ Day. Is it because I think it’s unspiritual, NO. Laughter, joy, merriment and fun are all positive things in the Bible. I think the Divine gives some people wonderful senses of humor and love being around them. So why don’t I “go all in”? Honestly, I’m simply not creative enough to think of anything that would be interesting enough to fool people.
The fun of April Fools’ aside, there are some things that I refused to be hoodwinked or fall for the “okey doke” on. Falling for them can have serious consequences. What are they?
1. Deceptive words from deceptive people (Eph. 5:6) – its been said that the deepest wounds are from those who are closest to us. Their words slide like new socks on a freshly cleaned hardwood floor and they are just as dangerous.
2. Easy money (Prov. 13:11) – here’s the truth of the matter, very few of us have ALL the money we want ALL the time. Who else knows to question when someone says they have a sure thing or they can “hook you up” with another $5 or $10k with very little work? In the words of our ancestors, all that glitters. . .
3. Love without commitment (John 15:13) – I hate to break it to you but cheap and easy love isn’t love, its emotional indigestion. You feel full but after a while, it will pass and leave a stench. Ask the Divine for someone who not only loves your body, but who loves your mind and your spirit woman. For someone who can walk with you into your destiny while being able to catch you if you fall.
No fooling around.
For the most part, I’ve worked for and alongside of great people. People who genuinely cared for others and who wanted others to succeed. They were and are people whose integrity and sense of service made it easy to join their team. After a few decades of secular employment and working in other arenas, I can count on 1 hand the number of people who treated leadership as a weapon and those who they led as resource to be used.
In his work on “Servant Leadership”, Robert Greenleaf, developed a program to help leaders become better people and create a better world. Servant leaders, according to Greenleaf, place the needs and desires of those they lead ahead of their own. Can you imagine what the world, what our communities and what our families would look like if we loved people enough to put their needs first? I can and I have a word to describe it . . . kingdom. The kingdom I’m referring to is nothing like what we see modeled by some current leaders; it is one where love rules. Kingdom love includes: children, orphans, immigrant, widows and the impoverished (James 1:27; Psalm 68:5; Job 29:12; Psalm 10:4). Kingdom love and extends itself in service. Kingdom love builds bridges to unite people and it does not flaunt itself to belittle others (1 Cor. 13: 1 – 13). Kingdom love lights the way because Kingdom love is a leadership tool.
I remember watching, but being too young to fully understand, the humor of the television show “Love, American Style”. In the event you don’t recall it, within each episode were multiple comedic sketches about relationships. I wish I could honestly say 1 particular sketch or artist stood out in my mind, but as mentioned, I was very young I didn’t understand most of the humor. For me, it was a bridge show, one of those shows that came in-between 2 others than I enjoyed watching.
I’m glad to say I am grateful for and enjoy love, spiritual style. Although I didn’t “get” the sub-context of the writing in “Love, American Style”, I am paying very close attention to the messages, sub-context, and life lessons given to me by the Divine. Love, spiritual style, is personal. You have your relationship with the Divine and I have mine. The Divine molds you in the manner selected that’s best for you and I’m molded in the manner selected that’s best for me (1 Cor. 12:6). Although it’s personal its’ also consistent. There was a sacrifice for each of us. Why is that good? Because it means we’re all equal (Gen. 1:37 & Gal 3:28). Each of us messed up and all of us needed restoration. Restoration for all of us was secured in the same manner (1 Peter 3:18). There was not a different restoration because of our race, gender, nationality, denomination, socio-economic status, etc. All of us are seen in the same light and are extended the same love. Love, spiritual style.