Friday, December 30, 2005

New Year, New Choices


Grace and Peace,

I hope this post finds you all in good spirits. Below is a piece that I’ve been working on since October that has been fighting me for direction. The title has gone through the gamut of “Deferred Dreams”, “Being Disabled”, “Choices” and now to finally end with “New Year, New Choices”. The ease with which I sailed through its completion today, indicates to me that maybe the struggle wasn’t about the title, or even the content, but about the timing:

October 12, 2005, 2:35 p.m.

I’ve just returned from a very nice wake. That’s right. I said “very nice wake” as in dead body, weeping and wailing. In this instance, it was less traumatic, at least for me, because there was no body. His ashes were in a lovely wooden box with his pictures on it as well as items placed on the table which were relevant and important in his life.

As Gina, my co-worker, bravely read her husband’s eulogy, I womanfully tried to hold together the sobs that wanted to break loose from my chest. I told myself that it was her husband, if she could hold it together, then so could I. I was pretty successful at this task, until she got to the part where she stated,

“In our twenty-eight years together, Mark and I had many dreams and fulfilled many of them. Though Mark had a physical disability, it did not incapacitate or limit him in any way. He knew no boundaries and felt everything was within his reach or attainable. He dared to dream with me and we did our best to fulfill our dreams.

Two of the first movies we saw together were Rocky and Superman. I remember thinking that neither of them could hold a candle to Mark. Little did I know in 1977 that throughout the coming years he would continue to surpass them, as he was truly a quiet hero who repeatedly beat insurmountable odds. He never wanted, nor asked for help since he felt he could do it himself. His independence and desire for people to see and accept him for who he was, were core to his existence.

As a result he lived a full, productive life, and touched many. It would be presumptuous of me to try to encapsulate all that he did or was into “one favorite memory.” Mark was passionate about life and people. One example was when he recently became a MedEvac Outreach Volunteer and it was his hope he could finally help the flight crew. A drunk driver hit Mark in 1971—there were no air ambulances at that time, therefore, he did not have the benefit of the “Golden Hour.” I believe that by his desire to contribute to MedEvac, he felt he would in some small way help other accident victims survive.” This is why his realization of that particular dream stands out in my mind.”
At this point, all suck-it-up bets were off and I proceeded to do what I do best--emote! I vaguely remember being handed a tissue by some benevolent hand as my thoughts raced and I equated the abuse I suffered as a disability that had been forced upon me.

Mark had refused to acknowledge his limitations, much less operate within said limitations. I, on the other hand, had given into the perceived reality of my circumstances without a whimper, my dream of being a writer and teacher, deferred indefinitely as I struggled to just—live.

I pondered why? We’d both been around the same age, him, seventeen, and me, eighteen, when we became disabled, yet Mark had chosen to fight tirelessly and endlessly to retain his status quo, whilst I floundered around for years, going from one mishap to the next. It seemed as though I had the words “perpetual victim” tattooed on my forehead.

Then one day I realized that instead of working towards healing, I was doing more wallowing than anything else. I blamed my circumstance, my parents, my job, oh and we can’t forget God—He got His share of the blame as well.

Then in one of those unexpected conversations with God, He dropped into my spirit that yes I’d been victimized, yes I’d continually been hurt, but I am still alive and able to learn from those situations and exercise the greatest gift He had ever given me “free will” or choice. Choice? Yes, choice. I could choose not to be a victim, I could choose forgiveness, I could choose healing…heck…I could choose Him!

What will your choice be for the New Year?

Also see closely related post Endings and New Beginnings:
Saturday, December 24, 2005

My Way of Saying Thanks!

Springboarding off of Guppyman’s idea to have a Christmas sale for the rental of space on his blog, I've come up with my own way of saying thanks to my all my renters of 2005 and especially my TOP six renters!

Thanks to BE’s wonderful stats. I can tell who's rented my blog and how often. I'm going to tally up the stats of the six blogs I have listed at BE and the top six renters will be featured in my sidebar as "Blog of the Month" right above the "Blog of the Week" spot from BE for the month of January, 2006.

I will post and notify the owners of the top six blogs. I will also rank my blogs in order of performance from most traffic/unique hits/clicks to least traffic/unique hits/clicks so that the top ranking blog will go to the top renter and the second ranking blog to the second frequent renter and so forth.

And to all other renters you will each be mentioned in my recap of the year post due out by 12/31/05.

Thanks again, it was wonderful having you all as tenants!
Thursday, December 15, 2005

Holiday or Christmas?

Acting Balanced

I try my darndest to stay away from all things political, I really do, but in this instance, it seems as though the political arena is trying to enlarge its sphere and encroaching on God's territory.

Evenso, I was still sticking my head into the sand, like the ostrich I can be or trying my hardest to be the invisible woman, but alas...it was not to be. This I realized when I opened an email from a friend this morning and beheld its contents.

It was one of those lengthy forwarded emails I delete regularly, but considering the source, and the pretty pictures, I read on.

Although I understood the original author's pride in being an American (a thing of beauty), I edited* some of his** harshness in order to draw your attention to what I consider to be the main concern--Holiday or Christmas?

This is a Christmas tree.




It is not a Hanukkah bush,
It is not an Allah plant,
it is not a Holiday Hedge.
It is a Christmas Tree.
Say it with me now...




Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!
There is a debate going on in America, about taking Christ out of the Christmas Holiday. To wit, Christmas would universally become "The Holiday Season," thus making it a secular holiday instead of the religious holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus the Christ.

Under the guise of promoting diversity (and their bottom line) many stores have already jumped on the bandwagon and begun to eliminate any words that pertain specifically to Christmas.

It is important for each and every one of us to do our part to preserve the Christmas season, so that our future generations will know the same joy of Christmas that we have known.

For the few who complain about being offended at the words, "Merry Christmas," I suggest you visit other countries to see how unlikely they are to comply with your complaints. America was founded on the basis of Christianity, schools were erected, not to learn math and english, but to learn how best to serve God.

An intrinsic part of being an American, and right up there with apple pie and baseball games, is the celebration of Christmas. My concern is that we have deviated from the original intent or mission, if you will, of our founding fathers:
--"One Nation Under God"
--"In God We Trust"
In addition, all other religions retain the designated names for their religious symbols.
I have not proposed to change the name of the menorah to candle holder.
I have not changed Hanukkah to Dedication.
Neither have I renamed Kwanzaa, nor have I told you it's an insult to celebrate family, community or culture.
Sorry, I can't sit quietly on this subject.
To that end, I walk out of stores wishing others a Merry Christmas very loudly.
Or I pass Christmas jokes and love wherever I can!
To all who believe in the love and take our religous rights seriously as Christians, I say, "Just because the stores do it doesn't mean you should stop saying God Bless you or Merry Christmas to each other and to all you encounter.
Stand tall and with all the love in your heart do wish one another a Merry Christmas or a Blessing of God!" 
Similar articles:
DEE'S NOTES:
*I must admit I was quite zealous in my editing endeavors, if you care to read the contents of the email as it stood originally, click here.
**The gender of the original author is merely an assumption on my part
Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Cookies vs Apples

Here’s a little chuckle for the day:

At a Catholic gathering Mother Superior stacked a pile of apples on one end of a table with a sign saying. “Take only one apple please – God is watching."


On the other end of the table was a pile of cookies on which a student had placed a sign saying, “Take all the cookies you want – God is watching the apples.”
Sunday, December 04, 2005

Change is a Coming

Good Morning Folks,

Hope this post finds you well.  Just a quick announcement to advise that I’ve changed subscription service from Bloglet to Feedblitz.

Not only does the Feedblitz poll more than once a day, (which gets your updates to you on a more timely fashion), but it also retains most of the formatting so that your feed doesn’t appear as one huge paragraph, (which I personally find off-putting).

It also doesn’t pull my drafts and sends them out before I’ve completed my thoughts and edited my post (as it did to me on Friday past…arghhh).

Another difference is that Feedblitz’s email arrives with an attachment and would appear as follows:

FeedBlitz          [FeedBlitz] There are 2 new posts in "Divine Perspective"

If you have any problems receiving your updates, please do advise and have a blessed day!

Peace,
Dee
Monday, November 28, 2005

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Revisited

Hello Folks,

As you may or may not know, I'm a former bookstore owner who didn't have a backup plan for 9/11. Between leftover inventory and my personal collection…I've got waaaay too many books lying around my apartment and storage room, just gathering dust. Looking at my bank statement and looking at the shelves of books, I decided that it made no sense to hold onto them. So welcome to my clearance sale!

Just to get the ball a-rolling, I've listed a mixture of old, new and in-between items at Amazon.com with prices ranging from $0.20 to $39.50. These items will also be listed on a new blog I'm in the process of creating.

Why a blog and Amazon.com you ask? Well, I utilized Amazon for its quick uploading and wide customer base. Unfortunately, said ease of loading and wide customer base comes with a cost: $0.99 per item sold, as well as a 15% commission on the sale price.


The way I see it, although the blog will take longer to upload the items, when all the work is said and done, it will be a better proposition from your point of view, because the prices of the items will be 15% lower.

Take a look around, if you see anything you like, email me or post a comment. Let’s see if we can help each other out.

Btw...did I mention that subscribers will receive an additional 10% discount? Yes, you will!

In addition, to offset my angst at the inconsistencies with which we celebrate the season (imho), on top of my customary tithe, I'll be donating an additional 10% to my church's Mission Fund.

If you see something you like, be sure to share the good news with a friend...

Peace,
Dee
Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Look What I Found!

No...not another NaNoWriMo gadget. A blog award just for women! I read about it in Eph2810's feed. So actually, it would probably be more accurate to state, Look What Found Me!

My thoughts ran the gamut of, why we gotta have our own contest, we quitting? I'm not a wuss, I can and have competed with guys all my life! Which was quickly followed by...yup, and that's probably why you're up at 5:14 a.m. writing a post for your blog!

For the many excellent blogs there are out there written by men and women--there just aren't enough awards to go around. Rewards, in the form of a life saved, a captive freed, hope renewed, maybe...but how can the reward occur if no one knows they are there? (The Blogs, that is).

So while the latent, competetive, tomboy in me thinks, we don’t need no stinking separate award! The spirit of Malcolm X whose motto was "By any means necessary" reminds me that in the process of voting for the blogs, they must be read which is the reason they're written after all. Therefore the award becomes another avenue through which I can spread the message of Love.

So, without further ado I present:


The 2005 Blogs of Beauty Awards


Created by Sallie of TwoTalentLiving.com in an attempt to equalize the playing field for Women Bloggers with content of quality who might otherwise be overlooked in the 2005 Weblog Awards. (Nominations close November 26, 2005)

The nominations for the 2005 Blogs of Beauty Awards will close on Tuesday, November 29, 2005, at 8:00 p.m. EST. If you'd like to nominate a blog as reader or author, for detailed instructions click here.

I [nominate Dee] could [nominate Dee] never be [nominate Dee] crass enough [nominate Dee] to suggest, [nominate Dee] nay beg [nominate Dee] that you [nominate Dee] nominate me [nominate Dee], but I'm [nominate Dee] not averse [nominate Dee] to subliminal [nominate Dee] messages. LOL.

Seriously though, do use this opportunity to put in a plug for your favorite blog.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Women In Ministry




"Here I am!

Send me!"

By Kenneth Aveirls, Sr.

The issue of Women in ministry has long been one of controversy. This subject can be so heated and intense at times, that it has caused relations between Christians to be strained, congregations to be at odds with each other, Churches to "split", and denominations have been fractured.

If you look around, you will notice that God is settling this debate for all. "He who has ears to hear, let them hear!" There is an incontestable fact that the Living God is choosing to lay claim upon the lives of an ever-increasing number of women and charging them to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, in season, and out of season. Daily, women are being asked by the Lord, "Whom shall I send?” with the response being, "Here I am! Send me!"

If you glean the scriptures closely, you will find that our Lord prepared women for ministry. Jesus welcomed women into his itinerant seminary, held deep theological discussions about the nature of God and the character of true and high worship with a Samaritan (Black) woman at Jacob's well. . .Who once became a changed person from the inside. (Note - You can look like a million dollars on the outside . . . but if your heart is nasty . . .all you have is a Rolex watch on a dirty greasy wrist!)

Her Trial Sermon was "Come See a Man. . .;" He commended Mary of Bethany for choosing to learn the truths of God at His feet, and transformed women mourners into women messengers at the site of the empty tomb. Commissioned by no Bishop, no Moderator, no Deacon, no Steward, no Pastor. . . but commissioned by a risen Savior to proclaim the resurrection.

Here we are, over two thousand years later, blessed with the spirit of some, "Daughters of Thunder". From Jarena Lee, to Dr. Teresa Fry-Brown; From Bishop Vashti McKenzie, to Prophetess Jaunita Bynum; From Prathia Hall Wynn, to Dr. Ella Pearson Mitchell; From Dr. Suzan D. Johnson, to Dr. Cynthia Hale; From Carolyn Ann Knight, to Dr. Renita Weems. . . and the list goes on and on. . .

In conclusion, understand that accepting the call as a female preacher, was not, is not, "ain't gunna be" easy. You see, sometimes we as a people, forget what it was like to be in bondage. . . how our ancestors built this country under "Massa's Whip", and we still prejudice our own sisters!

We may not be chained physically. . .but some of us are being held slaves in our own minds. These women, even as they struggle today, even as they uttered the words "Yes Lord!", knew what Jeremiah once said. . .they learned that to refuse to preach is to experience a fire in one's bones that can be quenched by nothing less than faithful, obedient preaching.

Besides, is there anything too hard for God?

Think about it. . .

(c) Copyright 2005 by Kenneth Aveirls, Sr a/k/a Saukrates

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Little Christian Humor

Jesus and Satan were having an on-going argument about who was better on the computer. They had been going at it for days, and frankly God was tired of hearing all the bickering. Finally fed up, God said,

"THAT'S IT! I have had enough. I am going to set up a test that will run for two hours, and from those results, I will judge who does the better job.

So Satan and Jesus sat down at the keyboards and typed away.

They moused.

They faxed.

They e-mailed.

They e-mailed with attachments.

They downloaded.

They did spreadsheets!

They wrote reports.

They created labels and cards.

They created charts and graphs.

They did some genealogy reports.

They did every job known to man.

Jesus worked with heavenly efficiency and Satan was faster than hell.

Then, ten minutes before their time was up, lightning suddenly flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, rain poured, and, of course, the power went off.

Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld.

Jesus just sighed. Finally the electricity came back on, and each of them restarted their computers. Satan started searching frantically,screaming "It's gone! It's all GONE! "I lost everything when the power went out!"

Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the past two hours of work.

Satan observed this and became irate. "Wait!" he screamed. "That's not fair! He cheated! How come he has all his work and I don't have any?"

God just shrugged and said, "JESUS SAVES".
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

It Couldn't Happen to Me!

You are quite sure, it’s
someone else’s story.
Maybe the women you
counsel at church, or the women you visit at the shelters, a co-worker or two, but definitely not you! After all, you are the First Lady,* you commiserate, console, and pray for or with others, and not the other way around, at least not for this! Maybe this is just a bad dream from which you have yet to awaken?

How can the man you see with your very own eyes, heal the sick, give hope to the downtrodden, contradict himself so—by coming home to use those same healing hands to pummel you?

Sister**--Abuse doesn’t care who you are, what you look like, what job you have, what friends you keep, in what neighborhood you live or even which gender you are. Yes, it is obvious that your spouse needs help, but at this point in time, the best way to help him is to help yourself!

Get out--get help!

Then from a safe distance, you can see that he gets help. But the primary concern at this point in time—is you. No it’s not selfish. You need to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. In other words, realize that your love alone cannot cure him. God’s love has the ability to cure him, but he has to submit to assistance from one of the many tools God has provided for his assistance. We call them—counselors.

*That’s church talk for the Pastor’s wife
**Not a racially motivated statement. If you have the necessary biological equipment, then you are my sister.
Friday, October 07, 2005

Adversity: There is a Silver Lining




"I don't quite see
dead people as
yet...but a few
more months of
this and I'll be one
of them!"
Adversity is defined as a state or condition contrary to one of well-being or an instance of misfortune. Well...that sounds about right. I just seem to have used up my quota-- and that of a few friends and family members as well.

The scripture states "All things work together for good for they who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose." Until recently I had issues with that scripture because it just didn't make sense to me. My thoughts ran the gamut of, I'm almost homeless and that has a purpose? I don't quite see dead people as yet, but gimmie a few more months of this and I'll be one of them...this has a purpose? My fiance is about to become a father, and I'm not pregnant, umm...still searching for the purpose.

Sometimes it may be that we’re not in the right location, and we know it but we’re reluctant to move. So God allows the circumstance that causes us to move to where we’re supposed to be.

Sometimes, we may need to be cut off from all our tasks, duties, jobs, entertainment, so that we can spend time by ourselves and hear the voice of God.

Sometimes we may take credit for the gifts of God, so God allows the downsizing, the voice loss, the carpel tunnel, and so forth so that we may realize, that we of ourselves can do nothing with out Him.
But before we can find the silver lining in our adversity, we need to give into it. Give into it? Yes.

Sometimes we're so busy striving against the adversity we don't pause to examine the purpose. Oops, I said the "P" word didn't I?

Ah well, it can't be avoided. Pausing the struggle takes our eyes off of the circumstance long enough so that we can see the underlying message. After coming out of two years of poverty and depression, I can now say that I truly understand that adversity is a tool that shows us exactly who we are so that the necessary process that leads to refinement can continue. So, no He doesn't want or will bad to or for you or me, but when He allows it, I’ve learned three things:
  • He doesn't allow more than I can bear, so I take comfort in the knowledge that my God has confidence in me!
  • Even when it breaks me down till I'm weakened and torn. I take courage in the knowledge that at my weakest His strength I'll secure.
  • Even when it seems to go on and on. I remind myself that although He never seems to come when I think He should, He always manages to be right on time!
Thursday, September 29, 2005

Cheating: Is It Ever Okay?




"What if

he's treating

her right?"

I was reading a book yesterday as I waited for the bus. The main character, a blonde Georgia peach, had just broken up with her fiancé.

While she was out fundraising, he had cheated on her with a newly hired co-worker, someone Ms. Georgia Peach considered to be loud, scandalously dressed and improperly made up. Someone who although she hadn't all the advantages in the world, still spoke her mind and was comfortable with her sexuality. In fact, this woman was someone she, herself, had never dared to be.

O...k.

That's the point where Ms. Georgia got me. That's the point where we connected. Because I could remember my best friend in high school. She didn't have much...not much hair, not much clothes, not much looks, (at least not compared to me). But darn if she didn't have some smarts, some great dimples and some sex appeal. Whoooooa. (In fact that's how we met, but that's another story you can read here).

Anyway, Ms Georgia peach decides to be daring, picks up a fabulous looking pilot who is in Chicago for his friend's wedding, (Why is it that the only pilot I've met had a paunch, sparse hair and bad breath?), and they head back to her apartment.

In the aftermath discussion, she mentions to Mr. Pilot that her breakup would be such a disappointment to her mother. Why? Not because her mother wanted her happy, but because she'd be breaking the mold.

How so? Well, her mother had knowingly accepted the same behavior from her father for years, how dare Ms. Georgia Peach act like she'd not been taught better? Trying to act like she was superior to her elders!

Didn't she know that as long as he was taking care of business in the bedroom and was providing the bankroll, all she had to do was make like Queen Elizabeth and smile and wave?

  • Have we become complacent with regards to what constitutes "right" treatment?
  • Have we settled for legalized prostitution?
  • He's late repeatedly, but if he brings a little bling, it's all forgiven?
  • I'll up your allowance if you up your "ig" factor?

What say you ladies?

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Butterfly Principle

By Christopher Donaldson, Sr.

The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. ~ Exodus 14:8
Overprotective parents do their children a great injustice. The caterpillar that lies inside the cocoon will never become the beautiful butterfly if someone cuts open the cocoon prematurely. It is the struggle itself that allows the butterfly to emerge as a strong, new creature of nature.

God understands how necessary this process is. That is why we are allowed to experience difficult, often life-changing events. He even orchestrates them-all for our benefit. What the Israelites thought was a cruel joke when Pharaoh sent troops to pursue them after they had been freed and penned against the shore of the Red Sea became the stage for the most publicized miracle of all time-the parting of the Red Sea. Generation after generation has heard this incredible story of deliverance. God puts us against the "Red Seas" in order to show His power in and through us. If we do not know God can deliver, then we can never learn to trust Him. Circumstances that go beyond our capabilities of solving them place us at God's complete mercy.

This is how He likes it.

Do not fear the calamity that comes your way. If you are faithful to Him in the test, you will see God's power manifested like never before. Just as the Israelites were able to sing a song of deliverance, you too will have your own testimony of the Lord's faithfulness; and you will be able to recall it for others to build your faith and theirs.

Copyright (c) 2005 by Christopher Donaldson, Sr.
Saturday, September 24, 2005

Practicing Abstinence


"So, does

abstinence

mean that

we can't

take care

of each

other...in

other ways

...you know..."

I'd never really paid much attention to the words abstinence or celibacy till about the year 2000 when God came a-calling. I've been a Christian all my life, but I've recently come to realize that baptism, attendance at Sunday School and Sunday morning worship, ushering, singing in the choir, and participation in any of the various offices to be had in the church do not constitute or replace one-on-one time (read: relationship) with God.

In 2000, I was on the fast track at work. I was in a middle management position, making a good salary for someone with a degree--in my case, a great salary for someone without one. I had also begun a business in my "spare" time. At church I was the choir president and director of the Youth Choir. On the home front, my daughter was away at boarding school, my mother's health was stable, and my fiancé and I were busy tussling over wedding arrangements. All was well with my world.

In the midst of this, God began speaking to my heart and my situation. The message was simple: "You know you wrong." I was like, "What? Oh you mean that...but we're getting married next year!" Silence. "But...we've been doing this for twelve years and now, now you want me to stop?"

I tried to shrug it off, but it seemed as though every sermon for the next three months was directed at me! Forget stomping on my foot, the Pastor was stepping on my whole leg! She preached about the body being a temple, she preached about fornication, she cited examples of officers laying up in bed the night before and coming to church the next morning, carrying on business as usual. I actually did look around the sanctuary during that sermon, wondering who she was talking about, because I just knew she wasn't talking to me...cause I never, ever had sex on Saturday nights.

After another three months of this, I couldn't take it anymore. I spoke to my fiancé about the cessation of intercourse until our wedding in six months. You know that went over as well as Bush's election in New York and Pennsylvania, right? I mean how do you convince someone, when you're reluctant yourself, that something you've both been doing for twelve years needs to be stopped... for six months?

Anyway, I gave it a shot. It entailed weeks of discussion back and forth. Finally, although he couldn't resist the urge to warn me that I was putting a strain on him and on our relationship, he agreed to give it a shot. Strain? Heck, we'd weathered so much in twelve years I was confident that, though those six months would be a mild to moderate annoyance, we'd be alright. I had faith enough for both of us. After all, we were doing the right thing...

Week one was a gosh-durned struggle, but with reassuring phone calls three to four times a day, we were alright. Week two, the coaxing and questioning reasserted its head. Oh don't play; you know what I'm talking about. "So, does abstinence mean that we can't take care of each other...in other ways...you know?" For once in that relationship, I held firm. I actually said no. Why? Although I daily endured physical symptoms of frustration, something strange was happening to me mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

I began seeing things more clearly than I had in years. In fact, I began seeing my fiancé, myself, and our relationship with more clarity than I had in years--or perhaps more than I ever had, period. I realized that he manipulated my emotions to avoid discussions, to provoke guilt, to win arguments etc, and I had been unaware of it. Well, not unaware--I just thought he didn't realize that he was doing it. But with my newfound clarity, I realized that it was a deliberate act. Wow...

I also began to realize that I, in part, had helped to create my monster. I had begun to treat him as God, and he had taken to the roll better than any Academy Award winner ever could. So now I was taking away his God-like authority without warning, and he didn't know how to react to my new purpose or my burgeoning self-confidence.

At that point, abstaining no longer became a reluctant obedience, but a necessity. I wanted to discover what else I'd been blinded to...unfortunately, I found out.

###

The Bible is clear that fornication is a no-no, and that the body is a Temple, a house for the indwelling Spirit of God, and should be treated as such. Just as we enter the Temple with reverence, ready to worship, the same should be upheld for our bodies. Powerful thought.

However, in what I call God’s sense of humor, He gives us the end result but not all the little steps in between. Some call it faith building, which it is, but sometimes to me it’s just plain funny. Why? Because there surely isn’t a chapter that tells you how formerly married folk are supposed to abstain.

With long-term abstinence staring me in the face, I decided to do what I usually do when I want to know something: find a book about it. I looked up some books online. Of the few that caught my eye, I bought three. Well let me tell you, what a waste of money! I wasn’t expecting much from the Caucasian authors but the sistah, she just plain let me down! By the time I got through reading her book, I was checking my Christian membership card to make sure I was still a member of the body of Christ. I was like, these people lying! Where’s the angst? Where’s the keeping it real stuff? I could write something better myself!

A light bulb went on, and I began to do just that. (Don’t be too surprised if this is an excerpt.)

In questioning friends and acquaintances, I began to realize that the word “practicing” was really apropos. Folks seemed to be practicing abstinence until they could get it right, myself included. There is a program for teens wherein a teen is fitted for a silver ring that will symbolize a commitment to sexual abstinence until marriage; so right off the bat, they have a support group. No such thing for adults in the secular world or in the body of Christ.

I know in the body of Christ we’re supposed to be able to talk these things out, but I’ve been in church all my life and I’ve never been a member of a congregation where I could call someone up and say, “Girl! It was close last night!" or “Girl, pray with me, so I don’t end up with my drawers on my head saying, 'What’s my name again?'”

So what’s my point?

  • We can’t be so busy playing church and putting up fronts that, when we hit upon a sensitive area where we need the support of the body, we have no where to turn.


  • Although practice makes good, surrender is a better thing. Surrender it to God. He can take it from you, but He waits on your surrender; for in your surrender, you obtain His strength to deal.


  • Realize that nothing worthwhile is ever a popular or easy choice.


  • The tenets of AA still hold true. Stay away from people, places and things that will encourage your addiction (in this case sex), and replace them with positive things (not that sex is not a positive thing--it’s just not a positive for you, outside of matrimony). So, dinner at his/her house…? NO.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Infidelity: Where Does It Begin?

I dreamt about my ex-husband last night. Disturbing? A little, since we’ve been divorced for over fifteen years. But in my defense, I will mention that before I fell asleep, I was reading a copy of “Grown Folks Business” by Victoria Christopher Murray, which deals with infidelity. The husband didn’t actually commit a sexual act, but he fell in love with someone else, a man.

Some folks would disagree and say that the main topic was homosexuality and the down low trend, which I’ve been aware of since the eighties, but is just now coming to light in the mainstream world. And they’d be right. In fact we both would, because there are many issues being touched in this story and since matters of importance are subjective, and this is my blog...I’m going with the infidelity issue this morning…lol.

Merriam Webster defines infidelity as unfaithfulness to a moral obligation : DISLOYALTY marital unfaithfulness or an instance of it. The protagonist’s husband, Quentin, is clear to point out that although he’s in love with someone else, it has nothing to do with sex and although he doesn’t come out and make a bold statement, by the author’s skillful wording, his very tone comes through loud and clear and you get the idea that he feels confident in, and maybe even takes pride in the fact that he has not been unfaithful.

Which segues nicely into the question: Where does infidelity begin? How is it defined? Does it begin the moment we entertain thoughts about others beside our spouse and refuse to squash those thoughts? Or does it begin only when we proceed to act out our thoughts?

(Now if you've taken note of my skillful wording, you should have figured out which way I'm leaning...lol)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Unexpected Death

It seems that since April of this year, everywhere I turn, death ups and smacks me in the face. First a member of our congregation, my brother-in-law's dad passed away. (I had the honor of doing his obituary and singing at the services).

Then I visited a church in August (around my birthday 8/15) and ran smack dab into another death. A young woman in the congregation was shot to death by her boyfriend. She was just 24 years old and left behind a 4-year-old daughter and some angry/grieving parents. A fairly young Christian herself, convicted by her recent study on "a Life of Purpose" she began making new/different choices, one of which was to break up with her boyfriend--that choice cost her her life.

Then Katrina in all it's grim, poverty stricken, political, religious, just-not-going-away glory rolled in. I was assailed with stories of dead bodies floating by and I couldn't even begin to envision myself in that situation. Eventhough I cared, and contributed, and exhorted others to do the same. A constant barrage of the same information, can create a desensitization, if you will, and I quickly approached the "enough already" zone.

So just as I was about to get comfortable, pat myself on the back for my "Christian" contribution, and get on with my life, I got to work on Monday, just past, and was greeted with the news of the death of a co-worker in a car accident. I began bawling over someone I couldn't even describe if given a million dollars. (Although for a million, I would at least make a stab at it).

So...how do you deal with death? What do you say to the family and friends of the bereaved? How do you handle your grief?

If, like me, you never know quite what to do with yourself, besides hope it will go away, the following posts might be of some help to you:

Dealing With Death - Part I
Dealing With Death - Part II
Dealing With Death - Part III

Have a blessed day all!

Peace,
Dee
Thursday, September 15, 2005

Voices: Black Writers for Relief

Voices: Black Writers for Relief

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Book auction at 5:30 p.m.

Reading begins at 6:30 p.m.

Brookdale Community College Performing Arts Center
Lincroft, New Jersey campus.

Please see Web site (www.brookdalecc.edu) for info and directions.

Reading will feature:

Constance Bridges
Jericho Brown
Ross Gay
Amaud Johnson
Yusef Komunyakaa
Dr. Elaine Olaoye
Tim Seibles
Tracy K. Smith
Rodney Snell
Rasheda Young

Funds raised will go to the Black America Fund for families who have taken in other families in the crisis.

For more info, contact:

Laura McCullough, Chair, Visiting Writers Series, at 732-224-2053

Rodney Snell, at 732-224-2393 or rsnell@brookdalecc.edu.

For more information about relief efforts and fundraising events of particular interest to writers, please visit www.pw.org/katrina/.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Found below info on The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) WebPages

Help After a Disaster: Applicant's Guide to the Individuals & Households Program
http://www.fema.gov/about/process/ Downloadable guide in pdf format
http://www.fema.gov/register.shtm Register on line or FEMA Telephone Registration:

If you would like to apply for Federal Disaster Assistance by telephone, you can contact us at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or for the hearing/speech impaired at TTY: 1-800-462-7585. The current days and hours of operation are 8:00 am EDT - 8:00 pm EDT, Monday through Friday.

Katrina - Locating Your Loved Ones

If anyone is searching for a loved one...text messaging seems to be the best way to get through.

There is also a new site www.katrinacheckin.org or you can go to the Forums on www.NOLA.com

Katrina Aid - Brooklyn, NY

Out of the population in New Orleans affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, 85% were African-American. People lost everything. This clothing drive is to aid the families
as they try to rebuild their lives.

Please give whatever clothing you can new or old, but in good condition.

Drop off locations:



Just Hair Barber Shop
794 Nostrand Avenue
btwn St. Johns & Nostrand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11216
&
177 Quincy Street
btwn Nostrand Ave & Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11216

Please contact Camille at 347-526-8373 for further info or you can contact your local RED CROSS at 1-800-HELP-NOW.

Katrina Aid - Memphis, TN

This information was posted by a group member in Memphis:

In light of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the City of Memphis is working with the business and non-profit communities to provide assistance for people in our city. If you know of anyone that evacuated to Memphis and will have to remain here for a while, please pass this number along to them (1-901-543-5300).

We are opening shelters and our schools to those who will have an extended stay.


Thanks for your assistance in seeing that this number gets into the hands of those who need it most!

Peace,
Dee

Assist KATRINA Victims

This is a quote from an acquaintance who is actually there in the trenches, so to speak:

"...it is truly devastating here. There is water everywhere, no electricity in some places, people dead and floating in water. There are no words to explain. I left early enough and went a little north to Baton Rouge, my daughter's house. We experienced loss of power and lots of wind. Where I actually live (Laplace) there is just loss of power. However where I lived all of my life (until two years ago), New Orleans it is like a war zone. We will not be in livable conditions for several months...we all need prayers...thanks for being concerned. "
Okay people, this is where we get the opportunity to demonstrate the compassion we've been feeling for the Katrina victims. Choose one (or all of the following agencies, farbeit for me to limit your generosity). There are also more agencies listed under the how you can help section below. Were I alone in this endeavor, I'd probably be overwhelmed by the magnitude of my undertaking, but thankfully, I can have confidence in the fact that together we can make a difference.

Peace,
Dee

AMERICAN RED CROSS
www.redcross.org
1-800-435-7669 or
1-800-HELP-NOW

AMERICA's SECOND HARVEST
www.secondharvest.org
for hunger relief
1-800-344-9338

CATHOLIC CHARITIES
www.catholiccharitiesusa.org

CHURCH WORLD SERVICES
www.churchworldservices.org
1-800-297-1516

SALVATION ARMY
www.salvationarmyusa.org

Related Links:

How You Can Help
IMAGES: Damage from Katrina - 8.31.2005
VIDEO: David Murphy's AccuWeather Forecast
Hurricane Katrina Satellite
Hurricane Katrina Rain Forecasts
Hurricane Katrina Severe Weather Warnings
StormTracker 6 Maps
INTERACTIVE: Learn about hurricanes
Complete Hurricane Katrina Coverage
Friday, August 26, 2005

Overcoming All Odds

By Christopher Donaldson, Sr.

..."Because you have prayed to Me...." ~ Isaiah 37:21
Have you ever had your back against the wall so badly that if something didn't happen to change your situation, you were sunk? King Hezekiah was one of Israel's greatest godly kings. One of the greatest challenges to his reign came when the king of Assyria threatened to attack Israel and wipe them out. The Assyrians were the local bullies of the region and had wiped out all other enemies in their region.

They mocked the idea of having a God who could save them.

Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you! Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, "The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria" (Isaiah 36:14b-15).

The workplace is full of "Assyrian kings" who mock the idea of a living God who delivers. Without God's help, Israel would not overcome. Their backs were against the wall. They would be destroyed.

King Hezekiah saved Israel because of one act. He prayed; and because he prayed, God moved on his behalf. In fact, God moved so powerfully that Hezekiah did not even have to fight the battle.

Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning, there were all the dead bodies! (Isaiah 37:36)
The king of Assyria was even murdered by his own sons. Imagine seeing your enemy totally destroyed without one hand raised in battle!

God wants to act on behalf of His children if they will call on Him. One of the motives Hezekiah had in seeking God's help was "so that all kingdoms on earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God" (Is. 37:20). This is what happened. God was glorified.

God wants to let your workplace know that God is a living God. He can deliver. Seek Him today for the crisis in your life. Keep your motive pure and God will surely answer.

Copyright (c) 2005 by Christopher Donaldson, Sr.
Thursday, August 18, 2005

Love: In Search Of

I attended a bittersweet worship service on Sunday. My family and I didn't travel to New York for services as is the norm. Instead we visited a Lutheran church here in Pennsylvania. We were invited by my nephew's best friend, Xavier. (Isn't it wonderful when nine year olds feel comfortable enough to desire to worship together?)

We were told to arrive by eight thirty a.m. if we wanted to have a seat for the nine o'clock worship service. I was unsure of what to expect, but ready to worship and tickled pink that I wasn't traveling all the way to New York that day. Better yet, I was tickled at the fact that I was "off duty" that day.

The sanctuary was modern in style, a scaled-down version of mega-church architecture. No plush chairs, no stained glass and definitely no organ with pipes.

The worship service began just the way I like it. It was like a mini-concert. The musicians played in harmony, not competitively, and the worship leader had the gift of oratory, which combined with the anointing of the Holy Spirit was quite effective. In addition, the signing ministry was an act of praise all in itself. I assimilated these facts even as I worshipped, and as I continued to worship, I saw hands begin to raise, heads begin to nod and bodies begin to sway. I felt at home in the presence of God.

After the lengthy praise and worship session ended, the Pastor came up to the front of the church. His appearance was unassuming. The only reason I knew he was the pastor was the fact that his picture had been displayed on the overhead projectors when I'd entered the sanctuary earlier. He was dressed informally and sat on a tall stool. Just as I began to think, Hey, this is a really informal service, he apologized for the fact that there were no outlines for the morning message. And then said,

"I'd like to read something to you this morning."

He opened what looked like a diary and proceeded to read.

"Thursday, August 11, 2005:

“I need to be driven by the concept of Eternal life with God."

He then closed the diary and sat there silently for a moment.

I'll admit I was a little confused. I wondered what that excerpt had to do with the morning service. I looked to my right at my neighbor. She looked pensive, but not confused. I glanced surreptitiously over my left shoulder--the folk back there looked sad, but not confused either. Just as I was about to shrug my shoulders to say "It must be me,” the pastor resumed speaking.

"As you know, last Sunday, I preached about the purpose-driven life. Erin, one of our members, a young Christian, took it to heart. She broke up with her boyfriend earlier this week; the entry I just read to you was the last entry she made in her diary at work Thursday morning. She was shot and killed later that evening by her former boyfriend. She was twenty-four years old. She leaves behind a four-year old daughter and her parents. Her former boyfriend was also considered a Christian."

Although stunned by the announcement, because I hadn't even seen it coming, I was holding up okay--until the lights were dimmed and a single white candle was lit and placed on the stool vacated by the pastor. Before I could even appreciate the symbolism, the pianist began to sing a slightly revised version of "Candle in the Wind” by Elton John and it was sooo over for me.

At this point my copious tears caught the notice of the woman next to me, and she passed me tissues and patted me on the shoulder. Running through my mind were many thoughts--What a waste... It's so unfair... Just as she started making different choices--and alongside them a renewed urgency in my spirit to reach women and young women with the message of "choice."

As I cried, I identified with Erin and so many other women who have at some point in time made poor choices. Women who, like Tamar, became impatient waiting for what was promised, for what was rightly theirs; who decided to take matters into their own hands and play the harlot, so to speak, in order to obtain, sustain or retain a man.

As I cried, I guiltily, silently thanked God that I'm still here. But for His grace and mercy, the name on the pastor’s lips could have been Dee.

As I cried, I thought about the young teenage girls I see hanging outside my building, already putting up with and at times encouraging the disrespect of the young boys with whom they hang.

As I cried, I thought about the great commission to go tell--not to exhort people to come to me so that I can tell--but to get out of my comfort zone and actively seek out candidates to tell about the love they seek. The love they are in search of can only be found in Jesus the Christ. He is the only one who can make us complete. As the prime example of perfected love, our love relationship with Him primes and prepares us for a love relationship with others.

As I cried, I resolved to live up to my motto: “Reaffirming the bonds of sisterhood, one sister at a time!”

Sisters, we have the right of choice. A good or bad relationship begins with the choice made. Let’s give that right due consideration when it comes to who we choose to allow into our lives, our hearts, our minds, and our bodies.

And please, please, please don't let a gunshot or one last beating be part of your obituary. You don't need anyone to tell you that you're in an abusive relationship. You already know it, but maybe it's your pride that stops you from admitting it--because in all other areas of your life, you've got your act together and you're making the cheddar. Or maybe it's been your reality for so long that you're scared of change, because at least this way you know what to expect, and if you just do everything just right... Sister, that's called denial.

How do I know this? Because I've been there. No, I'm not a small woman and no one would think to lay his hands on me, but abuse doesn't always have to be physical. Carter G. Woodson said it best when he intimated that, if I can be convinced that I'm still a slave in my mind, then there's no need to physically enslave me, because I will continue to act like a slave.

I remained in a relationship for years with a man who said that he appreciated my intelligence, my wit, and my beauty. He said he trusted my opinion above everyone else's. However, before a thought was fully out of my mouth, it was challenged for supporting evidence. I began locing my hair and he had a coronary. I'd predict certain occurences in his job situation so that he'd be prepared and he'd "pooh pooh" what I said and do what he wanted, then tell me two months later that I was right.

I think the beginning of my wake-up call occurred one Thanksgiving when, in front of my family, he commented in an audible whisper on the brevity of the amount of food on my plate. Although my elder sister (my second mom) "didn't forget him and gave him good," as we say back home in Trinidad, I was mortified and thought to myself, When did I get here? Is this the message I want to send to my daughter?

I've said all of this to say, denial: don't get caught up in it.

Choose you...click, read, email or call!

To be continued…
Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Love: Introduction


I'm a Christian. I haven't always understood what that really meant, but as I grow older I'm beginning to get a handle on what being a Christian means.

I've learned and now understand that God loves me! An important point, because if there's one thing in this world we can all agree on, it is the need we all have to love and be loved. However, it is also important to point out that as much as we all want and need love, the message of love gets skewed time and time again--through circumstances beyond our control or the mores of the society in which we live. As a result of this:
  • We have women who believe that abuse is a demonstration of love;
  • Teenagers who have learned (erroneously) that indiscriminate sex is an expression of love;
  • Children who have experienced incest, starvation, beatings, enforced pornography, prostitution and a host of other unmentionable acts at the hands of people who love them.

It's important to know that God is love, because the more we realize that God loves us unconditionally, the more we realize that we are worthy of love. Not the kind we've experienced heretofore, but love that is patient, kind, longsuffering, slow to anger, always ready to make up, holds no grudges and never ends.

My part in all of this? To share what I've learned about God, to share what He's done to and for me, and to celebrate the fact that at forty, I’m still here!

Why do I celebrate being alive at forty? I celebrate the fact that despite suicidal tendencies, which began around fourteen with the onset of bi-polar disorder and several traumatic experiences, God saw fit that I should still be here. Maybe because He knew that someone else who is wallowing in the guilt and torment of being a Christian struggling with thoughts of suicide would need to read this post and feel His total love.

Maybe you're not suicidal but a friend or family member is touching you inappropriately?

Maybe you're dating someone who gives you an occasional slap but is apologetic right afterwards?

Maybe you and your date/boyfriend were alone and things got out of hand? You said stop but he kept on going? Now you blame yourself because his argument is that he loves you so much he couldn't stop? That's not love, that's date/acquaintance rape and needs to be reported.

This doesn't negate your faith, it just means you need a little assistance to work out your situation, or get out of it altogether.

Take it from a bipolar, incest survivor, date-rape survivor, prescription drug addiction survivor, and ex-pornography addict. I know that life is not going to be easy, but I've learned to love the me God says I am, and I'm confident in the knowledge that I have the tools to make it through.

  1. Faith in God to move my mountains.
  2. Wisdom to know that prayer changes things.
  3. Spirit of Praise that illuminates my blessings.
  4. Obedience that will ensure that I receive my blessings.
  5. Pen and voice to show and tell exactly how good God is, by personal experience.

So--love you, get help.

Peace,
Dee

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Ability Versus Availability

by Christopher Donaldson, Sr.

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love. ~ Psalm 147:10-11
Do you ever feel so skilled in what you do that you require little help from others? Perhaps you may feel that you are more skilled than any other in your field. Does God need your skills and abilities in order to accomplish His purposes on this earth? The answer is NO.

One thing God does not need is our skills and abilities. However, He does give us the privilege to exercise our gifts and abilities for His service. That service may be as a computer technician, a secretary, an ironworker, or even a lawyer. God calls each of us to our vocations to work unto Him. To believe that He needs our skills to accomplish His mission on earth would be to lower our understanding of an all-encompassing and all-powerful God. The psalmist tells us that His pleasure is not in our strength and ability, but His pleasure is in the attitude of the heart. It is what we find in the heart that helps determine whether ability is translated into availability. You see God is looking to and fro throughout the earth for a man or woman who is fully committed to Him. A man or woman who is committed to fearing the Lord and placing his hope in His unfailing love is the person God seeks to support. "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him" (2 Chron. 16:9a). When our agenda becomes His agenda, we can expect God to fully support all that we do.

If we want to see our skills and abilities multiplied a hundredfold, then we must make them completely available to His service. Where are the opportunities in which God is calling you to be available to Him? Next time someone asks you to be involved in some activity, before you say yea or nay, make sure you check in with the Master of our decisions to ensure that your gifts and talents are being used, as He desires.

Copyright (c) 2005 by Christopher Donaldson, Sr.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Song A Day

Did you ever notice that sometimes, only a song will do?

Not many of us realize the power of the written word, put to music, that is commonly known as a song. Music has the ability to creep into the dark, dank and hidden recesses of our minds and hearts wherever needs soothing the most.

As far back as I can remember, singing, listening or dancing to music, has always been a part of my life. It comforted me when I felt lonely, celebrated with me when I felt victorious, assured me I was okay, when I doubted my sanity, protected me when I was scared, instructed me when I was confused and most of all it planted a seed of hope that kept me going when all roads pointed to the end.

I shared this love of music with my daughter, and I hope also to share it with you by way of the links to lyrics and/or music below that will uplift, guide and comfort you as well.

A song a day, will help keep the gloomies away!

Peace,
Dee

All in All
Battle is the Lord's, The
Healing
His Eye is on the Sparrow
Saturday, July 30, 2005

Put On the Garment of Praise

Today I exhort you to put on the garment of praise so that you can enjoy God in the spirit of happiness, victory, peace, and prosperity.

What does it mean to put on the garment of praise?" So glad you asked!

Praise is defined as: a) the radiation or aura that surrounds the body; b) the quality of mind that eulogizes (which is to say it extols or raves about) the good; one of the avenues through which spirituality expresses itself; c) an expression of admiration or appreciation.

The purpose of praise is to clue us in to the awesomeness that is God. We, not God, are changed by prayer and praise. The mental attitude that praise sets up quickens our ideals, whirls them into action, and finally establishes them in our character.

We increase whatever we praise. One can praise a weak body into strength, a fearful heart into peace and trust, shattered nerves into poise and power, a failing business into prosperity and success, want and insufficiency into supply and support. All of creation responds to praise, and is glad.

The law of praise is put into action when we give thanks always for all things, recognizing that “to them that love God all things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28).

Praise is essentially a response to God, who meets us through revelation. Revelation makes us aware of who God is and of His qualities. The natural response to God’s self-revelation is not only faith but also praise. In praise, we reflect back to God those facets of Himself which He has revealed to us by expressions of our admiration and appreciation.

Praise may be expressed in private or public worship, in words or in song. Some models for praise are found in the psalms, hymns (see Rev. 4:11; 5:9-10, 19:1-8), and prayers recorded in Scripture.

Psalm 145 shows us many of the characteristics of praise:

• It is addressed to God
• It contemplates His works and His character, and
• It blesses God and His name--that is, it expresses appreciation to God for who He is by nature.

In the process, the psalm not only ascribes worth to God but deepens our innermost sense of what He means to us.

Praise springs from our fellowship with God and the joy His goodness toward us brings (Ps. 107:8,9). Praise is a characteristic of those who follow God, even as the absence of praise marks the lost (1 Pet. 2:9, compare Rom. 1:21) or those out of fellowship with the Lord.
Friday, July 29, 2005

Overcoming Our Past

by Christopher Donaldson, Sr.

Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah. ~ Judges 11:29a
We've all heard stories of individuals who have overcome extreme hardship during their childhood years. Children of alcoholics, orphans who never have parents, loss of parents to a fatal crash, childhood disease – these are all difficult circumstances to overcome.

Jephthah was a man who overcame his obstacles and refused to allow his circumstances to prevent him from becoming great in God's sight. He was born to Gilead, a result of his father's adulterous encounter with a prostitute. Gilead's wife, who had bore more sons, decided to reject Jephthah, and drove him away from their home saying, "You are not going to get any inheritance in our family because you are the son of another woman." Imagine the rejection this young man felt as he was cast away from his own family.

This experience taught Jephthah to become a hardened warrior. Today he probably would have been part of a street gang. As he got older, his reputation as a warrior became known to those in his country, so much so that when the Ammonites made war on Israel, the elders of Gilead went to Jephthah and asked him to be their commander. Jephthah had to fight off those feelings of rejection from previous years.

"Didn't you hate me and drive me from my father's house?" he responded. He overcame his hurt and pain, and responded to the call God had on his life.

It is said that if we were to help the butterfly remove itself from the cocoon, the butterfly would not be strong enough to survive. It is the struggle that prepares the butterfly to become strong enough to fly. Without the struggle in the cocoon, it could not survive as a butterfly.

The Lord prepares each of us in similar ways. Some of our childhoods seem to have been harsh and born from a seemingly unloving God. However, the Lord knows our struggle and will make our life an instrument in His hand if we will follow Him with an upright heart. He does make all things beautiful in His time if we are willing to be patient.

Copyright (c) 2005, by Christopher Donaldson, Sr.
Thursday, July 28, 2005

Issues: Life's Equalizer

"Manageable unresolved teenage issues become potentially explosive adult issues."

Around age 14, I remember battling with thoughts of suicide. As a recent transplant from the Island of Trinidad & Tobago in the West Indies; I combated homesickness, family dysfunction, social dysfunction and the onset of bi-polar disorder (a/k/a manic depression).

Being a product of the West Indies, hard work was expected, dysfunctional family situations accepted, superstition prevalent and mental illness overlooked or attributed to witchcraft.

Add to that the strong-black-woman mentality, habitual silence, the Christianity quandary and the result was a conflicted, suicidal teenager.

In retrospect I realize that everyone has issues...some folk take them in stride, others allow their issues to become a crippling force in their lives and others deny their existence.

I have tried all of the above at some point in my life. And come to the realization that they won't go away unless I face them, learn about them and seek help and/or assistance for what is above my capability to assist or handle by myself.

If you feel as though you're going down for the third time without a lifeboat in sight, I've provided a short list of hotlines and websites so that you may either find the support you need or the information you need. No need to go it alone, reach out, click and latch onto what's yours for the taking.

Peace,
Dee
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

When God Seems Far Away

by Christopher Donaldson, Sr.

Why, O Lord, do You stand far off? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble? ~ Psalm 10:1
One of the great mysteries of God is His ways. Some of His ways almost appear to bring us into the most difficult places, as if He were indifferent to our circumstances. It would appear that He is turning His head from our sorrows. These events in our lives have a particular objective to perform for us. That objective is to bring us to the end of ourselves that we might discover the treasure of darkness. "Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness" (Job 30:26).

When we are taken into these dark periods, we begin to see light that we never knew existed. Our sensitivities become heightened and our ability to see through spiritual eyes is illuminated. Unless we are taken into these times, our souls never develop any depth of character. We do not gain wisdom, only knowledge. Knowledge is gained through understanding; wisdom is gained through the experience of darkness.

After we go through these periods, we discover that God was, in fact, with us throughout the entire time. It does not feel or appear that He is there when we are in the midst of the dark periods. However, He is there walking with us. He has told us countless times that He will never leave us. However, when we are in those dark periods, it does not feel like He is there because He does not rescue us from the circumstances. He does this for our benefit in order that we might become more like Jesus. Jesus learned obedience from the things He suffered (see Heb. 5:8). What does that say about how you and I will learn obedience? Embrace the dark times and gain the wisdom that God intends for you from these times.

Copyright (c) 2005 by Christopher Donaldson, Sr.
Monday, July 18, 2005

10 Things You Never Hear in Church

Taken from Beliefnet.com

10. Nothing inspires me and strengthens my commitment like our annual stewardship campaign!

9. Pastor, we'd like to send you to this Bible seminar in the Bahamas.

8. Since we're all here, let's start the service early.

7. I love it when we sing hymns I've never heard before!

6. Forget the denominational minimum salary. Let's pay our pastor so he can live like we do.

5. I volunteer to be the permanent teacher for the Junior High Sunday School class.

4. I've decided to give our church the $500 a month I used to send to TV evangelists.

3. Personally I find witnessing much more enjoyable than golf.

2. I was so enthralled; I never noticed your sermon went 25 minutes over time.

1. Hey! It's my turn to sit in the front pew!

Christian One-Liners

Taken from Beliefnet.com

  • Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited - until you try to sit in their pews.
  • Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisers.
  • It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.
  • The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes come close.
  • When you get to your wit's end, you'll find God lives there.

Bulletin Bloopers

Taken from Beliefnet.com

  1. The Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
  2. Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.
  3. The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.
  4. Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
  5. The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth Into Joy."
  6. A songfest was hell at the Methodist church Wednesday.
  7. Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.
  8. The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The Congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
  9. Thursday night Potluck Supper. Prayer and medication to follow.
  10. The rosebud on the alter this morning is to announce the birth of David, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Adams.
  11. Tuesday at 4 PM there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.
  12. A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
  13. At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.
  14. Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use the large double door at the side entrance.
  15. Mrs. Johnson will be entering the hospital this week for testes.
  16. Please join us as we show our support for Amy and Alan who are preparing for the girth of their first child.
  17. The Lutheran Men's group will meet at 6 PM. Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread and dessert will be served for a nominal feel.
  18. The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours."
  19. Our next song is "Angles We Have Heard Get High."
  20. Don't let worry kill you, let the church help.
  21. For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
  22. This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.
  23. The service will close with Little Drops of Water. One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.
  24. Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
  25. The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

All in All

From Modern Worship Soundtracks

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all

Seeking you as a precious jewel
Were I to give up I’d be a fool
You are my all in all

Chorus:
Jesus, Lamb of God
Worthy is Your name
Jesus, Lamb of God
Worthy is Your name

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame
Rising again I bless Your name
You are my all in all

When I fall down You pick me up
When I am dry You fill my cup
You are my all in all

Chorus:

If you’d like to hear it, click this link and choose a version.
Sunday, July 17, 2005

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Why should I feel discouraged?
And why should the shadows come
Why must my heart feel lonely?
And still long for heaven and home
Since Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He’s watching
He’s watching me

Chorus:
I sing because I’m happy
And I sing because I’m free
God’s eye is on the sparrow
And I know He’s watching
He’s watching me
(2x)

To listen, click here
Saturday, July 16, 2005

Healing

Originally recorded by Richard Smallwood

Don’t be discouraged
Joy comes in the morning
Know that God is nigh
Stand still and look up
God is going to show up
He is standing by
(repeat)

There’s healing for your sorrow
Healing for your pain
Healing for your spirit
There’s shelter from the rain
Lord send a healing
For this we know

There is a balm in Gilead
O there’s a balm in Gilead
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the soul

There’s healing for your sorrow
Healing for your pain
Healing for your spirit
There’s shelter from the rain
Lord send a healing
For this we know

There is a balm in Gilead
O there’s a balm in Gilead
There is a balm in Gilead
There is a balm in Gilead
O there’s a balm in Gilead
There is a balm in Gilead
O there’s a balm in Gilead
There is a balm in Gilead
O there’s a balm in Gilead
There is a balm in Gilead
O there’s a balm in Gilead
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the soul

Healing for your soul
(8x)

To listen, click here, and then click on demonstration.
Friday, July 15, 2005

The Battle is the Lord's

Originally recorded by Yolanda Adams

There is no pain Jesus can’t fix
No hurt He cannot heal
All things work according to His perfect will
No matter what you’re going through
Remember God is only using you
For the battle is not yours it’s the Lord’s

There’s no sadness Jesus can’t feel
And There is no sorrow that He cannot heal
For all things work according to the Master’s Holy Will
So No matter what you’re going through
Remember that God is only using you
For this battle is not yours it’s the Lord’s

Lead: It’s the Lord’s
Choir: It’s the Lord’s
Lead: yes, it’s the Lord’
Choir: it’s the lord’s
Unison: Hold your head up high, It’s the Lord’s
Lead:
It’s the Lord’s
Choir: It’s the Lord’s
Lead:
No matter what
You’re going through
Remember that God’s only using you

No matter what
You’re going through
Remember that God’s only using you

No matter what
You’re going through
Remember that God’s only using you

For this battle is not yours
You cannot handle it all by yourself
This battle is not yours
The Lord is only one who can fight
He wants to use you
So be open to Him
The battle is not yours…It’s the Lord’s!

To listen, click here, and then click on demonstration.
Thursday, July 07, 2005

London: 9/11 Revisited?

Self-employed at the time, I was in my little home office in Queens, NY, happily uploading books to my website, while just 25 minutes away, people were losing their lives.

My daughter, away at boarding school in MA, was frantically trying to call to make sure I was all right and of course, the lines were tied up.

My response, upon hearing her question my safety, was “Why wouldn't I be fine?”

"Mom, turn on the TV, a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!"

Jarred from my little happy cocoon, I did so to see uncut footage of people jumping from windows 50 stories high. A sensitive soul, this was not one of my better moments.
My sister also worked in Manhattan, so the frantic phone calls to her job began. She turned out to be fine, had walked to her boss' Manhattan apartment.

To get home, she had to walk over the Williamsburgh Bridge from Manhattan to Queens. Not a walker by any means, she later testified of an angel walking and talking her through the long haul, then disappearing from sight.

A bright moment during a horrific happening. I pray that those in London encounter their guardian angels as well.

Peace,
Dee

Been There, Done That

I've been having a funky week since Tuesday, vacillating between up, down, and around. Feeling the kind of desolation some say a child of God shouldn't feel.

To them I say...Bah humbug! It's that train of thought that traps us into walking around pretending we've got our act together, while slowly splintering inside. Been there, done that...writing the memoir.

I'm here to tell you today that there's nothing wrong with your spiritual walk if you feel lost, alone, afraid, abandoned or whatever your feeling of the moment may be. As long as you're on this earth, you and I are privy to all the emotional fallouts that assail the good, the bad, the ugly and yes--the Godly.

But, unlike the ungodly, we have promises just for these moments in life:

Sad?
Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

Stuck?
There's a time and purpose for everything under heaven.

Abandoned?
When your mother and father forsake you, the Lord will take you up.

Scared?
Lo, I am with you...always.

Threatened?
No weapon formed against you shall prosper.

Inadequate?
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Questioning?
All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose!

I don’t know about you, but I'm starting to feel better already.

Have a blessed day folks!

Peace,
Dee
Monday, July 04, 2005

My Prayer Today

by D.S. White

If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.

Love is patient and kind.

Love is not jealous

or boastful

or proud

or rude.

Love does not demand its own way.

Love is not irritable,

and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
~1 Corinthians 13:3-5 (NLT)

Gracious and Almighty Father
I just want to thank you for life, health and strength
You've been Provider, Comforter, Visionary, Friend
Your tender mercies just never end

When I act up
Your love is constant
When I give up
Your strength sustains me
When I’m afraid
Your love protects me
When I’m confused
Your mind instructs me
In all my phases
You’re there to bless me

As I go about my daily tasks
Help me to look beyond the masks
Of the hurting, afflicted, oft worn down husks
Lord help me not to betray your trust

Let my steps be in order
My tongue be for praise
My hands be for good works
And my thoughts aligned with yours
When pricked by impatience
Let kindness reign,
Overshadow envy, pride, rudeness, and anger
With your abiding love
This is the prayer I pray today
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen

Copyright (c) 2005, D.S. White

Music Ministry

Articles:
Put On the Garment of Praise
Song A Day

A Prayer Guide

1. Our Father (Who is GOD to you? Relationship)
2. Which art in heaven (Where is HEAVEN?)
3. Hallowed be THY NAME. (HOLY is YOUR NAME)
4. Thy Kingdom come. (SOVEREIGN DOMINION)
5. Thy Will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (EVERY THING)
6. Give us this day our daily bread. (YOU LORD ARE OUR SOURCE - PRAY HERE FOR YOUR NEEDS)
7. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Pardon us as we pardon others)
8. Lead us not into temptation. (Build a fence around us)
9. Deliver us from evil. (Transform/Change us from wrong thought and action)
10. Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever. Amen. (DOMINION POWER, AND GLORY, EVERTHING IS FOR YOU LORD)

PRAYERS GOD LOVES TO ANSWER:

Praying for the Kingdom of God
Praying for the Will of God
Praying for the lost (that they might be saved)

Singles Ministry

The Gift of Aloneness

The Gift of Aloneness

In Rev. Hale's essay below, she gives us her take on this worrying topic. (At least for us singles). I'm working on my take/response to her point-of-view and my opening begins:

Aloneness: A Gift?

Does it come with a gift tag?

Okay people talk to me...my take will be posted in a week.

Peace,
Dee

The Gift of Aloneness

"You are single, but you aren't sure you want to be. You have read or heard the Word as recorded in Genesis 2:18, where God said, "It is not good that the man [or woman] should be alone." But the reality is, you are alone.

As singles, we struggle with being alone. Some of us hate being alone, going out, coming home, and eating alone. We can't stand being alone. But while we may be alone, we don't have to be lonely. Loneliness is an attitude; it is a state of mind. We can be lonely even in a crowd. Loneliness is decision; we can choose to be lonely or not.

When we are lonely, it may mean that we have not yet learned to enjoy our own company. We have not yet realized the gift of aloneness.

Everyone needs time to be alone. Aloneness is an investment. It is time to recharge one's emotional and spiritual batteries; a time to think and pray; a time to gain insight or find a solution to a pressing problem; rest after a battle or a long day; time to find grace to deal with life and all of its challenges; and time to hear from God.

Jesus took full advantage of His singleness and moments of aloneness or solitude.

Mark 1:35 says, "In the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed."

It is when we are alone and still that God can speak to us most profoundly. Did He not tell the psalmist as recorded in psalm 46.10. "Be still, and know that I am God"? We all need moments of aloneness to hear from God, reflect, meditate, and recreate."
Read Genesis 2:18, see also Mark 1:35; Psalm 46:10

-C. Hale
Women of Color Study Bible

Single Parent of 2...Ages 19 and 74

I may sound a bit facetious, but bear with me, it's my way of coping. I mean, how do you handle the responsibility of being parent/guardian/caregiver to your own parent? I could mention the gutwrenching fear I experienced, when I first noticed the first signs of forgetfulness, or the increasing reliance on my opinion or decision making/problem solving abilities. I could also mention the fact that between work, Bible School, and elder sitting, I feel I no longer have a life. Or I could take it one day at a time, knowing that all things work together for good for they who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose...

Screeech...this is keeping-it-real-for God blogspot...so that's what I'm going to do.

I was bogged down in guilt, thoughts flashing through my mind at my inability to cope and the all time favorite, "There are six of us alive, why me? I'm the baby!" The one time when I figure being the baby should work for me...and it doesn't.

Like a lifeline to a drowning man, going down for the third time, I was hipped by a co-worker, during one of my rants, to an agency that exists just to assist people like us. (Don't act like I'm the only one). The agency is called Area Agency for the Aging. They provide assistance, (monetary), guidance (one-on-one in-home consultations) and referrals (to nearby senior homes for activities and Agencies that supply home attendants).

For those who thrive on it...a support group or two might be found posted at your local library or on the web. In addition, I found this nifty little article from AARP. Although geared to Maine residents, it addresses the situation nicely...

As for me, I prefer to sing, write or rant about it. I'll eventually get around to praying about it. We always (and I say we, because it helps to have an inclusive feeling when I know I'm dead wrong...lol) leave the best for last...don't we? When in essence "we" know we should fret about nothing and pray about everything.

Peace,
Dee

Women's Ministry

Curious Dee

Being the youngest of eight, I have always been considered precocious and inquisitive, a curious Dee, if you will.

The information found on this Women's Ministry page is the result of research on some of the burning questions I have had. The information has been floating around in my head doing nothing of importance...until...lightbulb...why not share?

I know as a child of God I'm unique, but there exist some commonalities in all of us and curiosity is one of them.

Becoming a child of God didn't stem my curiosity, in fact, my questions then became more focused on what I considered inconsistencies and inadequacies in being a part of the Kingdom of God.

Thank God for grace, mercy and divine perspective. For thirty-two years later, what appeared at seven to be abandonment by God, I now see as molding exercises for the woman I am today.

So please browse, read, share and feel free to comment.

Sincerely,
Dee

Issues: Life's Equalizer
Stop the Pain!- Part 1
Stop the Pain!- Part 2
Sunday, July 03, 2005

Alphabetized

I've provided a short list of hotlines and websites below so that you may either find the support you need or the information you need. No need to go it alone, reach out, click and latch onto what's yours for the taking. Whether you're victim or perpetrator isn't it time to stop the pain?

American Art Therapy Association
888-290-0878
www.arttherapy.org
info@arttherapy.org
Refers you to the association's chapter in your state, which will provide the names of local therapists.

American Association of Pastoral Counselors
703-385-6967
www.aapc.org
info@aapc.org
Provides online listing of pastoral counseling centers accredited by the association that offer counseling and psychotherapy services. Also gives phone referrals to pastoral counselors in private practice and other settings.

American Dance Therapy Association
410-997-4040
www.adta.org
info@adta.org
Provides information on dance therapists.

American Music Therapy Association
301-589-3300
www.musictherapy.org
info@musictherapy.org
Provides referrals to music therapists.

American Red Cross
877-272-7337
www.redcross.org
Primarily a disaster relief organization. Provides various types of assistance to people in response to emergencies.

Breaking the Cycle
http://www.breakingthecycleinc.com/
Offers domestic violence and sexual assault seminars and workshops for social service agencies, health care professionals, mental health professionals and community organizations.

Child Abuse Hotline
800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453)
www.childhelpusa.org

Child Advocacy Center
334-432-11-1
A multi-agency facility in Mobile, Alabama, that provides comprehensive services for children and teens who have been sexually or physically abused.

Child and Adolescent Protection Center
202-884-4950
Provides physical and mental health services for children. Located at children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse Resource Center
415-206-8386
Provides ripe cr4isis services, including SANE exams, for children and youth up to 17 years old. Located at San Francisco General Hospital.

Children's Hospital Boston-Division of Emergency Medicine
617-355-6637
One of the largest emergency/trauma centers in New England

Emergency Contraception Hotline
888-NOT-2-LATE (800-668-2528)
www.not-2-late.com
Provides information on emergency contraception and a national list of doctors and health care organizations that prescribe emergency contraception.

Grady Rape Crisis Center
404-616-4861
Provides rape crisis services, including forensic exams, for adults. Located at Grady memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

Help for Offenders
http://www.atsa.com/
Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers--An organization founded to foster research, information, and further professional education and standards for those who treat offenders.

Justice for Children
800-733-0059
www.jfcadvocacy.org
info@jfcadvocacy.org
Provides legal advocacy for abused children, court watching, and community resource referrals. Intervenes on behalf of abused children when child protection agencies and courts fail to protect them. The book Long and Mature Considerations: A Legal Guide for Adult Survivors of child Sexual Abuse is available for purchase by calling the Washington, D.C., chapter at 202-462-4688.

National Center for Victims of Crime
http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/Main.aspx
Provides sustained victim advocacy support, referrals, information for emotional, physical and financial concerns, legal assistance, safety planning and shelter.

National Crime Victim Bar Association
202-467-8753
www.victimbar.org
victimbar@ncvc.org
A network of attorneys and allied professionals dedicated to facilitating civil actions brought by crime victims. Refers crime victims to civil atttorneys in their local area.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233)
www.ndvh.org, ndvh@ndvh.org
TTY: 800-787-3224, DEAFHELP@NDVH.ORG

National Hopeline Network
800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433)
www.hopeline.com

National Mental Health Association:
http://www.nmha.org/
Resource Center - More than 340 affiliates nationwide. NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans, especially the 54 million people with mental disorders, through advocacy, education, research and service. Referrals to community mental health services and information on medications, treatments. Website features an online help desk for specific questions.

National Organization for Victim Assistance
202-232-6682
800-TRY-NOVA (800-879-6682)
www.try-nova.org
Provides referrals to state compensation boards, state bar associations, crisis intervention, and sexual assault programs.

National Organization for Women (NOW) Legal Defense and Education Fund
212-925-6635
http://www.nowldef.org, info@rainn.org

National STD/HIV HOTLINE
800-227-8922

Office for Victims of Crime Resource Center
800-627-6872
TTY: 877-712-9279
WWW.OJP.USDOJ.GOV/OVC/OVCRES/WELCOME.HTML
askovc@ojp.usdoj.gov
An information clearinghouse for victimization issues that provides referrrals to victim assistance and compensation programs by state.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America
800-230-PLAN (800-230-7526)
www.plannedparenthood.org
Through its more than 850 health centers in 49 states and Washington, D.C., offers low-cost women's health care, including emergency contraception and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Rape Crisis Advocacy Project
434-244-2630
A student organization at the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, Virginia, that provides legal advice for survivors.

Rosa Parks Sexual Assault Crisis Center
323-751-9383
Provides counseling, advocacy, and other services for children and adults. Located in Inglewood, California

Self-Defense
http://www.awsda.org/
American Women's Self-Defense Assoc.--Rape prevention/Rape awareness courses for groups, high schools and colleges in the New York metro area. Nationwide referrals.
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