The Proverbs 31 Perfection

16 Oct

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with aspiring to be a good woman. But for all the chatter I keep hearing about the Proverbs 31 woman in the church, it only serves to annoy me, instead of being inspiring.
The typical Outlook seems to be that all “good”women in the church should reach for being a Proverbs 31 woman. It feels a little likes cult,actually, when it becomes the meaning of and the reason for everything. The reason your spouse was unfaithful. The reason your kids disobey. The reason you’re still single. If you aren’t a perfect wife with perfect kids, dinner on the table by six and always looking fabulous, forget it.

I wish churches would do what they’re supposed to do: be the light of the world, bring the lost to Christ, be a refuge for the hurting. Perhaps this should be the plan, not perpetuating Christian family stereotypes that no one can live up to.

God isn’t concerned with our perfection.

Blogsurfing! | Teetering on stilettos with courage and virtue

21 Aug

The following is an entry posted on the Blog “Black, Divorced and Virtuous: Walking through brokenness to healing, one inch less on the stiletto every mile”. Visit at:


can’t we have the fairytale?

This weekend, I found out that
two of my friends marriages were ending. I was not happy. I encourage all of my
married couples to make sure they have done all possible for the success of the
relationship before ending it. My counsel is to seek wise counsel – pray
together; and then get into counseling. Fight for your marriage. Don’t let the
enemy win.

When I heard about my friends marriages, I just wanted to ask
God why. Why can’t we have the fairytale? Why wont you let our marriages

It seems so unfair that our children have divorced parents, and
go through the heartache of mom and dad separating physically, emotionally and
spiritually. It seems so unfair that after loving each other enough to commit to
a lifetime together, a number of years have equated to enough.

I know
that these friends have loved enough, forgiven enough, fought enough, cried
enough, tried enough, survived enough, prayed enough, and even stayed enough
that they should have been guaranteed successful marriages, the same as I
should. Where else do you give all of yourself to another person and a cause for
10-15 years and then end up severed from that person? Eventually you return to
stranger status. Where does that happen?

But life does not work like
that. Even as I was asking God why, He was reminding me that His ways and
thoughts are higher than ours, and our limited love is much different than His
unlimited love. If some relationships do not last for a lifetime, it is not the
end of the world. Nor is it the end of the story.

The further I grow into
this divorced person that I am, trusting God with each new step in the process,
the more I realize that I still have to pray for my ex husband and care for him.
He is not a stranger. He is the man that I loved enough to take a journey that I
would not with another man.  I loved him enough to have his children and support
his dreams. Really, that love does not disappear, it is just redirected. A lot
of times it turns into bitterness and anger, if we do not understand that God
has given us the imperative to love beyond reason.

I sometimes think my
ex husband is the most frustrating person walking the face of the planet earth.
I wonder why he is still speaking in the same atmosphere in which I am living.
But I still have the capacity to love him beyond his faults and pray for his
needs. I am not a saint, and I will tell him what I think of his best laid plans
that are all for naught faster than I can remember my Godly purpose is to love
past pain, which is temporary, and into life, which is empowering.

I am
still hurt that my friends marriages are suffering, and maybe ending in divorce.
I want them to survive. I want the enemy to lose at all cost. I want my own
failed marriage to be an anomaly, not the norm. I want to pray for them with a
power that wins. But in the end, I want them to be able to love each other
beyond pain. Love beyond their normal capacity for love – like Jesus did.

‘The Help’ discourse only brightens spotlight

20 Aug

I’ve seen a fair amount of discussion–and complaining–about Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. I tell you right up front that I’ve never gotten around to reading it, probably because both times I picked it up in the book store it felt like it weighed fifty pounds and I recalled too many bad memories of those heavy Prosser & Keaton law school books. That said, I won’t talk about the merits of the book or the film, since I haven’t seen it yet either.

I was originally going to see the film, though I don’t usually do that–see films before I read the books they’re based on–but decided not to right away after I read two movie reviews that were less than complimentary. Sitting through a two and a half-hour movie is brutal enough without said movie being good. I decided it might be on my Wait for DVD list. But what is rather curious to me are the varying opinions of what Help’s fame–or, infamy, depending on which side of the fence you’re on–means to black and brown people, whether they’re writers, actors or just regular people.

Reading the book and film synopses, I get the feeling that the book makes Jim Crow more palatable which I lament. Perhaps that’s the nagging feeling of dislike–that a white author might choose to rosy up that era and what it was like for black maids. I could be wrong. I also feel a little sticky that especially now, as many types of films fight for funding in Hollywood, this one seemed to skyrocket to the big screen in front of our eyes, when many stories that were–and are still–worth telling won’t ever have a chance. How sad I was the other day to find out that there is an independent movie trying to be made about Helen Baylor’s life and it probably won’t make it to the theater, and if it does, probably not outside of major “black” markets. But then again, I have been accused of being a pessimist.

Perhaps one day I’ll read the book and maybe I won’t. I’m not moved either way. Nonetheless, I hope it fizzles soon, because I’m starting to wonder why it’s worth having daily debates about.

Myself or someone like me

14 Jul

So, yesterday I read that Kate Middleton has made the shiny “sheer” eighties era hosiery fashionable again. The person who made the good old Leggs in the weird egg dispenser must surely be sitting somewhere saying, “I told you they’d be back …” Now, I won’t be a hypocrite and say I’ve never followed a trend, but I don’t live by them, either.

I like me. I really do. And to toot my own horn a bit, when people get to know me, they think I’m pretty fabulous. But seriously, the older I get, the less tolerant I am of chameleons. Above all, “to thine own self be true” ever appeal to anyone anymore?

“But people really wouldn’t like me if they knew the real me … People wouldn’t talk to me if they knew …” Find new friends.

A shortcut to misery is trying to be something you’re not. We’re all uniquely created. Be you and be you well. Own whatever you are–quirky, geeky, shy, introverted, life of the party … whatever. Then watch the weight of fake lift off you.

Snuffing out thoughts

24 Apr

“The time span of your thought is determined by how much attention you give to them.” – Dr. Frederick Price 

Most people know I love to cook. Even so, I’ve never really been able to master that big, scary thing that usually sits on patios and decks: a grill. I think there is a reason that this intimidating piece of metal is nicknamed a “man oven” because it seems that handy males are the only ones who can master them. I’m sure there are a few women out there who can turn a grill out. Whatever … you’re just lucky. It’s totally for men! Seriously, grilling is a whole other art of cooking, to say the least.

I remember the last time I tried a charcoal grill (I haven’t been too great with gas, either … Can we say the word “burned”?) I put too much lighter fluid in it. You see, I didn’t understand that you have to soak the coals and let them work up to getting hot. I also didn’t understand that grilling didn’t mean fire! Luckily my mother knows a thing or two about grilling and wisely advised putting more coals in to snuff out some of the fire.

Have you ever had thoughts like that? You think about it and ruminate so much that the little spark becomes a burning flame out of control? Been there, done that. You gotta snuff it out and quick. Whether the thought is, “I’ll never amount to anything, just like my family said” or “My teacher was right–I’ll never be a doctor” or whether you think you can’t make a difference because you’re overweight … whatever it is, snuff it out. Refuse to give those thoughts attention.

It’s amazing how many of us get derailed by someone else’s impression of us, someone else’s opinion of our future or, often, our own skewed perceptions of who we are. Once that seed is planted, we allow it to germinate and grow into a big weed. If you’ve ever had a garden, you know weeds are a hassle, big time. Some of them laugh at spray weed killers and even creep up through the mesh, mulch and rocks we lay down to control them. The key is to disallow the weed to take hold. As such, we have to get control of our thoughts.

We must first start by refusing to let other people tell us who we are. We have to believe God’s word about ourselves which is the only truth we can rely on. Change course and think on those things that are “lovely, pure, just … of good report.” We also have to walk out that truth every day. So the next time that spark turns into a big fire, cut off the fuel source. More charcoal, please!

Party of “No”: Re-prioritizing self

19 Apr

Ah, my first post of April! Who knew I’d sacked so much? Perhaps it’s because I’ve been far too busy. I wish I could blame it on burning the proverbial midnight oil writing and finishing my next book. Or, books, I should say. No, I’ve been a yes woman and that way of life must now be put out on the curb like expired cottage cheese.
Being a yes woman was getting old — and exhausting. And I like sleep. Say what you want about the Republicans but I’m taking a page from their book. This party of one has become the party of no.
I’m no longer taking on your projects.
I’m no longer overextending myself.
I’m no longer picking up your slack. No action items over here (but you can hire me as a consultant at market rate).
You are forewarned: you’ll now have to wait in line behind my monthly massage, my quiet time, my fitness schedule and my writing. I’m putting myself first.
Sorry for you, but I’m liking this No. Hello No. Hasta la Vista Yes Woman.

What if …

27 Mar

One of Us

You know that old quirky, infectious tune “One of Us” sung by Joan Osborne? As I started thinking about a new project I’m working on, that song popped into my mind. It’s one of those melodies, especially when you consider the lyrics, that’s hard to let go of. Don’t you hate that, by the way?

Ironically, the song fits somewhat neatly into the scenario of my first Christian fiction novel, Suspended. I remember when the song was first release and people debated about whether the song was promoting God or mocking God. The writer of the song, Eric Bazilian, isn’t religious. He said he didn’t set out to write a song about God, that songs “write you” and the song described what was going on in his life at the time. God is kind of interesting like that.

I feel the same way about books and writing. Often, I set out to write something completely different from what ends up on the page. I don’t consider myself a Christian fiction writer–I’m a writer who is Christian though. I think even though Bazilian didn’t seek God or seek to write a song about God, he did end up writing a song about aspects of belief and God’s character. I didn’t think I’d write in the Christian fiction genre, either. We’ll see what happens, but I’m looking forward to the work.

Depending on your point of view, you can call it inadvertent or you can call it divine.

Another kind of persecution–in the church

23 Mar
Five hundred job applications and one would think, Surely, I’d find a job. Not so for this guy. He’s 37 with a “stellar education and years of experience” in ministry. He’s looking for a job as a pastor. Quite noble, wouldn’t you think? Well, apparently for churches, there’s one problem: he’s single. Unfortunately, this single, (job-) seeking pastor isn’t in high demand since the church overwhelmingly wants married pastors.

Doesn’t seem fair, does it? Well, it isn’t. But it’s legal.

As I think about the leadership of my own church, I can’t think of one person who is a pastor and leading a particular ministry and who is single. I just can’t. Perhaps there is one (or, possibly, two?), but I can’t call it right now. My highly scientific and intellectual conclusion would mean that since I can’t remember, there probably isn’t one.

Which brings me to the point of this whole thing … Why do churches–both black and white, both evangelical or otherwise, both large and mega–prefer married people over singles? I’ve heard over and over again that singles get the shaft when it comes to church. Most of the activities or services revolve around serving families. If you’re single and you happen to attend church, there probably won’t be much for you to involve yourself in socially, though there will be volunteer opportunities a plenty. People may disagree with me, but I say this from experience and if you’re apt to be cynical on this point, think about your own church. How many services or accommodations are there for children and kids or for married couples and families? Now, consider singles. See much of a difference? Probably. If not, your church is doing a fantastic job in handling its single congregation. The truth is, most aren’t, and sometimes, singles feel unwanted in the church. Well, perhaps not unwanted, but sort of like … well, misfits.

As long as churches continue doing the same old same, more singles–especially men–will leave the church and the ambivalence meter shall only get higher.

The new labor movement

1 Mar

The battle in Wisconsin has been publicized frequently and fervently by the media. In fact, we’re still watching, and the latest news is that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) is threatening even deeper cuts and to lay off those who dare to strike. Here in Ohio, we’re having another labor versus Governor movement of our own.

The question you may be asking is, If I’m not union, should I care?

As a person who has worked in both the public and private sector, union and non-union, my answer is that you should. Regardless of whether you think public sector workers get too many raises, too many days off and can’t be terminated but for hoops and tightrope walking, you should still care. And, for the moment, put aside any queasy feelings you have about the unions being money-making machines and power brokers. First of all, remember why unions were founded and came to power. Unions first began to hold corporations accountable. We can all recount stories in our history wherein the working class was expendable and subject to working in dangerous conditions; we’ve read many true stories about how women were underpaid and underserved at work. It takes integrity for a company to hold itself accountable and this has to happen at all executive and management levels.

Secondly, you’ve heard the accusation: “This isn’t about unions …” and that this sudden focus on busting up labor is about weakening labor rights. Now, I’m not one to say whether there is a big conspiracy to break down the middle class (is there still one out there?) but it is rather interesting that this is suddenly a big topic of discussion. I know many states are in budget crises all over the nation, but did the budget guys in the gray suits not scratch their heads at some point and say, “You know, I’m not sure paying police officers 80% of their salaries with 100% immediate vesting and throwing in free health care in retirement is such a good idea.” You mean to tell me that no one asked whether or not such measures could be afforded?

With all that said, the times we’re in, we all need to share the responsibility of our addiction to debt and credit, our blind eye to deregulation and free trade if we’re to get the bus rolling again. Why is it a crime to ask teachers to pay for more than 10% or so of their health care expense? Why is it such a bad idea to eliminate automatic step-up pay increases on top of a merit raise each year or at some predefined interval?

My point is that we all need to be logical. Not greedy, not selfish but logical. And I’m all for logic as long as it isn’t

Photo Credit: Progress Ohio

taking food out of people’s mouths.

Barred from marriage due to HIV status?

14 Feb

I found out that if you live in Chechnya and you’re HIV positive, there’s no way you’re getting hitched. It’s not simply because the dating pool is small or for any of those reasons, but it’s simply illegal. You won’t get a marriage license. Taking the completely opposite stance, India has founded an entire marriage bureau just to link up HIV positive partners.

So, I found myself asking the question, Should people who have a positive HIV status be allowed to marry?

My short answer: I don’t see why not. My long answer: People should be blood tested. Frankly, I don’t know that if I met someone and I’ve known them for … let’s say, a year or so, and we’re madly in love (I hear it usually starts out that way, at least), I don’t know if I’d just trust a yes or no checked off on some application. Now, that’s not to say that everyone’s going to lie like the heartless and duplicitous David  Gutierrez (Sidebar: I think 8 years isn’t long enough …), but how would someone know unless he or she was tested before–or, of course, has never done “the deed” which, by the way, is the greatest form of protection in this over sexed world.

Really, it’s about honesty and information. If those two things are there, they should have the right to marry like anyone else. Hopefully Chechnya will change its tune at some point.