Operate from Purpose, Not Pain

If god dwells in me, with me, He should be evident in what I say and do. I must remember that He dwells and give Him free reign to respond for me, to say and do what I should say and do. Sometimes that’s hard when people have hurt me. My focus can be on the pain, responding to it instead of the present issues regardless of their merit. I know I’m not alone.

We can take this habit into all our relationships, including parenting, and the pain response only complicates issues. I explore this further in my latest EEW column, which begins below:

I recall only one painful moment at the hands of my parents, my mother actually. She called me snotty. I don’t remember what I had done, but I remember the crush in my spirit when my mom called me a name. There may have been other times, but they haven’t stuck with me.

Overall, my parents encouraged me, provided materially well for me and gave me a good moral foundation. They were good parents. My dad has since passed and was only able to see me parent the first of his grandsons. My mom has seen my husband and me in action, up close this year for the six months she lived with us. Without going into detail let me just say she has tried to impose her parenting methods on me, and some of her comments have been painful. She has even caused me to question my parenting skills.

I can only imagine what impact the pain on those of you who grew up with abusive parents has had on your psyche and all your relationships, including your parenting one. I empathize with you; my childhood painful moment still stings a bit and my adulthood painful moments are still fresh. But in all of your pain and mine, one thing remains true: Jesus died to set the captives free. This is more than us being loosed from Satan’s bound but includes us being loosed from our broken hearts, our setbacks, and our letdowns (Isaiah 61:1-3). We know Jesus is the remedy for all our pain, helping us to parent out of purpose instead of pain. Read the rest here.

My One Thousand Gifts List

Faydra Deon responding so quickly to fixing my website
Tyora responding to fix my site according to our previously worked out conditions
Christen being here to care for the children while I resolved my website issue
Going on a double date with Nicole and Jeremi
Jeremi wanting to preserve the moment with a picture
Attending and covering the EACH Resource Fair
Working with Ruby Bailey
Seeing Charyse flow in her gift on the EACH artists’ stage
Brother Joe telling me how proud he was of me contributing to Your First Year of Motherhood
Seeing LaSonjia and Sterling volunteer with EACH

Remember God’s Word

My big boy sighs, snarls really, at the thought of studying the 10 Commandments. He’s 10 and they’re old, Bible material for the uninitiated. When his younger brothers repeat the first commandment–Thou shall have no other gods before me–Joshua glances around, hoping to find something relevant, something challenging, for him. Then I say to him: “Name all the commandments and give them to me in order.” He misses two commandments and gives all but one out of order. He recognizes he still needs this lesson, that the initiated sometimes seem like the uninitiated because we soon forget.

Sunday my pastor challenged us about forgetting that we are the initiated and acting like the uninitiated. To rid ourselves of spiritual apathy he had us glean from Revelation 3:3 where Jesus commands believers: “Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief” (Revelation 3:3–NLT).

So when we find ourselves spiritually satisfied but our memories fail and actions betray us, let us go back to what we heard and believed: God’s word, the gospel of salvation that saved us from a literal hell; let us hold to it firmly, the gospel that is sufficient for keeping us from a life of hell; repent of our strong black woman and other know-it-all ways; and return to God, the author and finisher of our faith. We don’t know it all but know the one that knows all.

Let us then remember that we never

    1. outgrow God’s word
    2. outsmart God’s word

With these we will always thirst for and seek God’s word. In it we will always find God, who is really all we need.

My One Thousand Gifts List

Mama hugging and thanking me, with tears in her eyes, for not judging her
Mama being mama-proud of my contribution to Your First Year of Motherhood and my Cooking with Rhonda video
Nate reaching to hug Josh when his eyes were stinging and Justus running to join the hug
Justus giving high fives back and forth between Flynn and me
Justus diving under the high chair to get away with Nate’s spoon
God’s grace for taking care of the children mostly all day every day this week
Awakened at 4:30 am to finish writing a message
Writing a blog post that I liked even though I had no idea what it was going to be when I sat at the computer
Hearing God direct me to make chili pizza for the boys and them loving it
Deleting my website and from my reaction seeing the areas of growth I still have (patience, anger)

Developing Mini-Me’s

As a woman constantly seeking God for strength and wisdom, I am passionate about my call as an older woman to pour God’s strength and wisdom into women younger in the Christian faith. If I am not careful, and there have been times when I wasn’t so careful, I confused my teaching and telling. Instead of teaching the younger women how to be strong and wise in God, I would largely share the prescriptions given to me to be wise and strong. In some cases, this isn’t always wrong; some of the ways I received were good general directions that all Christians should employ. But the times when the teaching and telling got confused was when I told the ladies I was leading how I did something and expected them to do it JUST LIKE ME. Perhaps the way I handled a situation was biblical, but confusion would come when I would expect the women to follow ME, not necessarily follow me as I follow Christ. I unwittingly was creating mini-me’s instead of creating biblical mini-me’s. God wants us to reproduce others in His image and not our own.

This can happen to us with anyone we’re leading. As strong black women seeking to operate according to God’s strength, there may be several in our circle looking to us for direction. The challenge always will be to lead them so Christ is formed in them and not we ourselves (Galatians 4:19). In my latest EEW column, I discuss in detail the challenge to develop our children into biblical mini-me’s and not just mini-me’s. The column begins below:

The other day on Facebook I saw pictures of these little girls that looked like little women. The cutline on the pictures asked readers if they would dress their daughters in those pint-sized heels, highly decorative stockings, high-rising skirts and bejeweled earrings and necklaces. Of course the answer for many Christians would be ‘definitely not,’ but some of us get pleasure out of seeing our version of a mini-me. We may not want our children physically-fashioned like us, but we may marvel that our children may not only look like us but also cut a look like we do, respond sharply as we do and otherwise behave in our undesirable ways. We may laugh and accept what we see, simply saying, “She is just like me.” Though some of the mini-meism is genetic, some is environmental, learned from observation or from being intentionally taught. Either way we know that our children learn from us. Our job is to make sure that what is caught and taught is biblical, that we are biblically-fashioning mini-me’s.

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1—ESV). This is what our attitude should be as we seek to help our children to mature. We should only want them to be like us if we are being like Jesus Christ. And as Jesus Christ grew he “. . . became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). So, just as Christ grew, we have to help our children grow spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Read the rest here.

My One Thousand Gifts List

Listening to Roy Hargrove
Having a sufficient amount of leftovers
My books arriving
Selling three of my books
More spectacular items for my message
A visit from Hilda and Christian
Getting a quick prescription for Joshua’s pink eye
Not having to take Joshua to the doctor
God’s timing for allowing Joshua’s pink eye to manifest when I had a doctor in my home to be able to diagnose and prescribe Joshua’s prescription
Being able to edge my mom’s hair

How to Labor (When You Really Just Want to Rest)

For the most part I planned to rest today, take a break from my labors, after all the government has designated this day in the United States as Labor Day. This is the day off from jobs in recognition of American workers. While I don’t work outside the home, I have a workload that is heavy: home education, writing, counseling, business development, and homemaking are just a few of my duties. I planned to do a little work on my curriculum and fold a few clothes and just spend time with my family. But I got a counseling request—an emergency—and I knew I had to take the request. This was God’s will for me on what I had declared my day of rest. I had been summoned to work on behalf of God in speaking biblical wisdom into this person’s life. I had a God assignment on my designated off day. To rest, the way I wanted to rest, was not God’s plan for me. I had to do what He told me to do on my day of rest.

Remember the woman who had a spirit of infirmity for 18 years and the man with the withered hand that Jesus healed on the Sabbath day, the Jewish day of rest (Luke 13:10-17, 6:6-10)? The ruler of the synagogue after the woman was healed said “with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, . . .‘There are six days in which men ought to do work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” In this passage Jesus called the man a hypocrite, noting that he and others lead their animals to water on the Sabbath. And in the other passage Jesus said, “I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?” And with these words God sets them and us straight, tells us when we are to work: when you have the opportunity to do good and when you have the opportunity to save life. In other words, if someone is in need and you have the ability or capacity to give, then you work.

Every need is not our need to fill, but that doesn’t mean no need noticed on our day of rest is for us. We must seek God and He will tell us what He wants us to do (Jeremiah 33:3). If God tells us to work, then we work. If our working brings God glory, then we work (1 Corinthians 10:31). Whatever day of rest we choose, even this Labor Day holiday, remember that God is the Lord of the Sabbath, the day of rest, therefore He controls what that day looks like for us (Luke 6:5). And whatever He gives us to do will still feel like rest: “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet] for your souls (Matthew 11:28-29—AMP). Our true rest, the one we should always seek, is in Jesus.

My One Thousand Gifts List

Flynn cooking lentils to supplement the meal
Justus going to sleep a second night in the row without being nursed
Reading with Nate under the dining room table with a flashlight
Amazing points to my message for LIFT
Missing sleep so I could hear from God in the morning quiet
An impromptu visit with Ruth, Hank and Rianna
The kids running, laughing and being carefree
My much needed chiropractic adjustment
A big branch falling in the backyard when we weren’t around
Justus climbing on my lap so I could kiss him

Responding to Homosexuality

As you know, the wave of interviews for my son, the Lemonade Kid, have been many. Though I have been grateful to God for the chance to share Joshua’s story of how the power of prayer led him to the idea to raise money for the City of Detroit, the round of media interviews has been tiring. But I was reenergized by the potential of one: a guest appearance on Ellen. Find out in my latest EEW article, which begins below, why I was excited and how I believe we can use my moment to talk to our children about homosexuality.

When a reporter for a national black magazine asked Joshua what he thought about people around the world knowing about his popcorn and lemonade fundraiser for the City of Detroit, he matter-of-factly said, “I’m international.” For Josh, it wasn’t arrogance. He was just telling the reporter his current reality. He’s had pretty much the same nonchalant attitude when news outlets in Canada contacted us and even when he appeared on the biggies, like CNN and ABC World News Tonight and in Time Magazine. I was in awe of God’s move with these, but the one that really made me excited was when a producer from Ellen, as in Ellen DeGeneres, called. Though I don’t watch her show often, I LOVE Ellen.

After talking with us three times the producers decided not to go forward with having us on the show. (Maybe there was too much Jesus talk in the interviews. That would be my fault.) While we awaited their final decision I was excited about the possibility of going to meet Ellen, an incredibly generous, kind and hilarious woman, and to share with her the love of Jesus. Some of my friends thought we would turn down the invitation to appear on Ellen because she is a lesbian. Ellen’s character traits and her being a lesbian were the reasons I wanted to meet her. I may not be going on Ellen, but I think a kid-friendly version of what I planned to say is what we could use to help our children respond to the national and calculated move to normalize homosexuality. Read the rest here.

My One Thousand Gifts List

The boys showered and in bed before 9:30
A warm shower with lavender soap and vanilla body wash
Clean pillowcases
The boys being dressed and fed before 11 a.m.
A call from Sharon for her and her kids to hang out with me and my boys
Taking the kids to the library
Boys on bean bags
Justus on the computer
Finishing my blog post a day early
The edited cooking video