What We All Need

Determ_

Everybody has them. You know, those days, sometimes weeks, months and even years when the things you hope for, wish for, pray for and even work for, just don’t seem to happen.

Recently I have been involved in an employment search. I am graduate level educated; I have not only skills, but experience; I have sent resume after resume and received rejection letter after rejection letter. Truth is, there are days when I simply would prefer quitting, giving up and being done with the search for that place where I can do great work and make other folks lives better. During these moments, as during other moments in my life, the one thing that keeps me hanging on is “DETERMINATION.”

We all need it, especially when losing heart is presented before us as a viable option and the intensity level of the discouragement we feel nearly overwhelms us and sweeps over us like an ocean wave.

Where does determination come from? Where do you get it? Usually for me it involves:

Hunger/Desire

When we are hungry enough for what we are reaching for, determination becomes more powerful than discouragement and we press on, we move forward with every ounce of strength we can muster. Hunger/desire will take shape differently depending on the person, but for me, during this job search it means improving myself while I wait – reading, listening to helpful audio, cultivating my writing skills, and of course continuing to send apply for jobs. There are some things that I desperately want in life, so I keep going and also look for different strategies and approaches to take to get me where I need to go.

Faith/Trust

I realize that not everyone who will read this shares my Christian faith tradition. If you don’t perhaps for you it is important to tap into whatever source of strength and hope that is a part of your faith practice. For me, God is everything – life, breath, hope and strength that far surpasses my limitations. Looking to the God of all creation and trusting this Gods’ accessibility and provision is what helps me continue during tough times.

Self Awareness

The truth is that we all have something(s) to offer the world. The truth also is that we all can be better versions of ourselves. Taking time to assess strengths and the specific areas where we need to grow is all part of the determination process. Need a class? Need to read a book or article? Need to connect with folks who know differently than you know? Growth is ALWAYS an accessible option – even with limited financial resources, there is always a way.

So, when all else fails keep holding on. Even when you claim strength, take a risk and then fail, and it causes you to doubt your strength/capability, and entices you to give up and refuse to try again; cry if you need to, regroup, get back up again (whether on your own or with the assistance of some friends), dust yourself off and keep trying.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact some days are just plain hard and make you want to throw up both hands and just scream! But after you do that, keep pushing forward – be determined!

It Could Have Been Me…

“It could have been me, outdoors, with no food and no clothes; or just alone without a friend, or just another number with a tragic end.” Hawkins

But what do you do when it is you? Ever wonder what homeless folks do all day? If you were homeless what would you think about? Where would you go? How would you care for your basic hygienic tasks (especially as a woman)? Who would you talk to? What would you talk about? If you were looking for a solid job, where would you prepare your resume? Where would you get dressed to prepare for the interview? What address would you put on your application? If you have a medical condition that requires medication, how will you pay for it?

 

I’ve heard many sing the lyrics of the song that I mentioned above, heck, I’ve sang them myself. But as a person who is nowhere close to wealthy or even close to being financially comfortable, I can’t help but pay attention to the reality that not only could I be next, but there are people right now – tons of them, who have no place to live.
Poverty has no respect for what season of the year it is – Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall. It has no regard for how your body will feel outside unprotected from the elements. If your money is gone, and your support systems are nonexistent, and the prospects of employment are nil, you are stuck!

 

Twice a week I make a journey to classes that require me to enter a well known Midwest highway. At the immediate entry point of the highway I look to my right and there are bags, clothing, and a host of additional items spread throughout different spots on the grass. At first I simply wondered what was going on and figured someone must have been setting up for an event or something. But each time I passed this way I saw the same items scattered in various places. As I looked more closely I discovered that the items I was seeing belonged to people – but not just any people, people who have no place to call home.

 

Too often we fail to actually “see” those living in poverty. Some shake their cups for spare change, hold up signs saying “homeless, please help, God bless you,” and most folks who are not homeless simply hold our heads down, roll up our windows, and make every effort not to make eye contact with people in need. Certainly, there are some who run game and hustle. But we must not forget that some are legitimately in need. Even if we are not able to tangibly assist them, perhaps we can acknowledge their humanity by making eye contact and referring to them as “sir” and “miss” when we encounter them.

 

Every homeless person has a story. Every homeless person is human – with feeling, thoughts, desires. And in the US, there are ample resources to go around. There is enough for everyone to have basic needs taken care of, yet poverty still exists. Could it be because of greed or injustice of some other kind?

 

By no means am I attempting to be a killjoy regarding expressing appreciation to God for your blessings. However, to stay at a place of rejoicing over what we have without consideration and care for those who do not have is misplaced and misappropriated gratitude.

 

Just rambling and thinking out loud…

 

Race is not an issue beca…

Race is not an issue because I talk about it. I talk about it because race is an issue. If we stopped discussing it, it wouldn’t disappear. – Toure

Coming Out!

For those of you who clicked on this link wondering if this writer was herself coming out as a same gender loving individual, I am sorry to disappoint you. You’re here now, so hopefully you’ll keep reading.

LGBTQ folks are not the only ones who “come out.” Coming out has a variety of implications and applications for those who have been silent regarding societal issues, subjects, and beliefs. Fear of negative reactions and rejection from friends stands in the way of honesty and transparency. Conversations with individuals who are now unashamed to speak boldly and courageously regarding their sexual identities has informed me of one reality – “coming out” is not easy!

Yet there comes a moment when we must decide to live by our personal convictions rather than be guided or controlled by other people’s opinions of us.

Over the last year or so I have felt compelled to “come out.” No, I did not come out as a lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender individual. Rather, I needed to “come out” as an ally and voice for a segment of society and even of the Christian Church that is often ostracized, treated as less than valuable, and excluded from participation in the life of local churches. I had to come out regardless of what people would think; I had to come out of a place of silence and begin to speak up and speak out in love for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who have been hurt by the Church. We’ve done some serious damage to individuals and inflicted emotional pain that will not be healed by inflicting more pain – it will be healed by unconditional and radical love. We can and must do better, and I “come out” as a voice that says that we must do a better job of loving all people in the name of a Savior who shows us how to do that well.

I do not know the experience of being a same gender loving person, but I have been in far too many situations where I felt as though I needed to beg for acceptance and space, whether it was because I am a woman or because of my race. I’ve been there, done that, and don’t want to do it anymore. However, because of my familiarity with what it feels like to be an “outsider” – as a woman, and as an African American, it makes me more sensitive to the needs of others who are yet being ousted and shunned by the “majority.”

Recently I had the privilege of taking a seminary class on the topic of Sexuality and Spirituality with instructor Bishop Yvette Flunder. For some, it is problematic that I even allowed myself to be instructed by an openly same gender loving Christian leader (as though she has nothing of value that she can teach us).

It is imperative that each of us, regardless of where we stand on the topic of sexual identity, be willing to listen to one another and even learn from one another – whether they are individuals whose views are similar or different from the ones we hold. Willingness to take the course was a form of “coming out” for me.

This course was relevant in that it provided much needed dialogue among people of faith. I walked away with many insights and what was most impressed upon me was the need for transparency. In many communities of faith a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” regarding sexual identity is real. Cultures of shame and secrecy abound and thus fosters environments where people find it more safe to live life on the down low.

  • Who does this help?
  • Has closeted living really helped anyone?
  • When individuals do come out, do our negative reactions help or do they fuel hostility and push folks back into the closet and further encourage a culture of secrecy?

Perhaps it is time for all of us to “come out” and honestly discuss what we believe and why we believe it. Maybe it’s time for each of us to “come out” and come clean regarding bigotry, hatred and an unwillingness to listen and learn. Maybe it is even time to “come out” and question long held assumptions.

The Black Church, Obama, and Gay Marriage

I am about engaging with conflict and being ok with disagreement. I am about diverse and vast views of the Bible while still maintaining my spiritual journey with God. And I am about the spiritual ethos laid out by Billy Graham at the 1996 inaugural luncheon of then President Bill Clinton when a reporter asked him why he was in the presence of an obvious “sinner” such as Clinton; Graham stated: “It is God’s job to judge. The Holy Spirits job to convict. And my job to love. I’m here doing my job.”  – Dan White Hodge.

Read the entire post HERE.

Think About It…

“The Christian community has only ever known one way to handle same-sex sexual behavior: take a stand and keep a distance. Productive dialogue comes from cognitive insight and can only be accomplished through an [embodied] posture of humility and living as a learner.” – Andrew Marin

 

The Church and The LGBTQ Community.

***This is the unscripted/unedited version of what’s on my mind***

About a year ago I fearfully shared my journey as it concerns the subject of homosexuality. You can read it HERE. Though it is not my tendency to cower in fear and be silent when the occasion calls for speaking, I found myself hesitant. Here I am a year later and the core of my being is moved to a point where silence is no longer sustainable.

I didn’t wake up one day and decide that I want to care about Gay/Lesbian folks. I sincerely believe that what is happening in my heart is the moving of God within me. I care about people – period. I also hold a special place in my heart for groups of people who have historically been marginalized and even ridiculed from pulpits in churches. Preachers have proclaimed messages of “get right because it is wrong” without providing love and support and seeing the LGBTQ Community as human. We can do so much better!

The reality is that caring will cost me. On some level it is costing me now. By caring and being a voice I risk losing friends, having people who KNOW that I love God question my role and calling as a spiritual leader or pastor; I risk being misunderstood, rejected and encountering those who believe that the only role I have as a spiritual leader is to tell the LGBTQ Community that they are living in sin and need to be changed. I believe there is a better way to interact with the LGBTQ Community – some of whom are my Christian brothers and sisters.

Human sexuality and God’s view of it is not nearly as simplified as some lead others to believe. The Church’s silence is at times deafening and our shunning is destructive. I absolutely believe that we not only should, but can do better.

Yesterday, President Barak Obama gave voice to his affirmation that same-sex couples should be able to marry. Members of the LGBTQ Community rejoiced. Some members of the Christian Community were outraged,others agreed with him, and still others were silent (whether because of ignorance, fear, apathy or something else). Whether we believe homosexual practice is a sin or not is really not the point to harp on. At the heart of the matter is the issue of humanness, equal value and learning HOW to love people well.

I don’t have all of the answers, but what I do know is that we need to be open:

1. To authentically enter into people’s stories

2. Listen for the purpose of understanding (not to fix or convince of our perspective)

3. To thoroughly think through what we say we believe & why we believe it

4. To consider that whether right or left, Christian or not, Gay or Straight, we each are capable of being right or wrong

More to come on this subject in future days. In the meantime I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments or privately.

It’s Not About the Hoodies!

Photo Credit - Flickr_bMethe

My first post on this topic was filled with so much pain and emotion that my thoughts were incohesive, and I believe that is ok. Though my heart is still broken, hopefully this one will be clearer.

This past Sunday many churches and groups across the nation held what they referred to as “Hoodie Sunday.” Individuals stood in solidarity with Trayvon Martin’s family through this action. I commend churches and others for supporting the family in such record numbers and celebrate it as a great thing. But if we stop at making it about hoodies and skittles we fail!

It’s trendy to get in on this by wearing a hoodie, and make claims to care (and perhaps all involved actually do); but what will we do after this “big” case? People of color are being profiled, targeted, discriminated against and even slaughtered every day. These are individuals who will never make front page of a paper, be a blog post, cnn video or protest rally. And the silence prior to Trayvon has been somewhat deafening. And yet, rather than be too cynical I consider that maybe this situation is what we need to put a little fire under us and move us to a place of saying enough is enough. Let’s hope so. Here are some observations to consider that flow from the current situation at hand.

Unanswered Questions
There are questions in this tragedy that remain unanswered. Did Trayvon confront Zimmerman (the 911 tapes indicate that Zimmerman followed Martin)? Did Zimmerman feel threatened by Martin? Why did Zimmerman deem it necessary to shoot and even more importantly, why did he deem it necessary to shoot to kill? Why have the Sanford police department delayed arrest for a month? There is much that we don’t know….
What we do know is that Trayvon Martin is dead and his family and loved ones are experiencing intense grief. We also  know that death did not have to be outcome. We know that George Zimmerman is eleven years older than Martin was and weighed approximately 100 pounds more, and pursued Martin when instructed not to. The 17 year olds death was  unnecessary and avoidable – still it happened.
We know that the Sanford police department made certain that Martin’s system was checked for drugs and alcohol (even though he was the one dead), and failed to do the same with Zimmerman. Seems absurd to me!
Systemic Racism
As an African American woman I am intimately acquainted with racism. It is not an individual challenge, it is systemic. There are structures and power dynamics that work against people of color (not solely African American) in this nation called the US. And the truth is that systemic racism is more difficult to eliminate. People do not give up power easily. For those who make people of color feel as though we are somehow imagining that racism still exists, the disproportionate prison rates, reactions from dominant cultural groups when race is mentioned, and even educational institutions provide ample evidence that we are not naive and overreacting. It matters not whether individually we are the ones who put the structures in place, what matters is that we take responsibility for eradication of systems and structure that are oppressive to people groups.
Cultural Callousness
I hate that Trayvon Martin, an innocent teen is dead! And I wonder if perhaps this is one of the incidents that can be used to move society from a place of apathy and cultural callousness to a place of cultural sensitivity. Trayvon is not the first African American teen to be the recipient of violence. This type of thing happens all the time and we fail to care deeply enough to act and say enough is enough or even more importantly to engage in preventative measures. It’s time to change!
Societal Biases
It matters not how spiritual or not spiritual one is, all cultural groups have their biases, preferences and affinities. This is normal, natural. The trouble arises when we move beyond biases to a place of disregard and disdain for those who differ from us. Biases are not license for hatred, discrimination and violence. I do not often take things personal, however in the middle of the Trayvon case and all of the emotional pain it causes, I read an article and tweet reactions to the popular Hunger Games and admittedly it sent me over the edge. The overt racist comments by not just one, but many nearly took me by surprise. Perhaps this is because most racist individuals I have encountered are not as blatant.
I then read of another hate crime towards an Iraqi woman and became even more baffled by the audaciousness of any cultural or racial group to see themselves as somehow greater than another. We’re better than this aren’t we? In the depths of my being I believe that EVERY individuals is precious and valuable because of our Creator!
Additionally, there are those who minimize the realities of racism and biases as though we are somehow imagining these things. To deny a person their right to their stories is to insult their equality as unique creations of God. To deny a person’s story is to see them as liars, disrespect them, invalidate their experiences and further exasperate the issues of inequality.We must deny no one the right to have a story!
So, like I said, it’s really not just about hoodies, it goes much deeper than that. And the question remains, what are WE going to do about it from this day forward?  ” Now we must go from wearing hoodies to transforming the hood as we fight for justice! – Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III

Transform the Hood…

“Now we must go from wearing hoodies to transforming the hood as we fight for justice!” – Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III

Who Cares?

Photo from chron.com

Two words have been on my mind for the last couple of weeks – “Trayvon Martin.” I have turned the revealed details over in my head and heart and respond with an appropriate feeling of anger at the apparent injustice of it all. I did not know Trayvon and I do not know his family, causing some to ask why I care. The only response I can muster up to such wondering is “why don’t YOU care?”

I have deeply spiritual and human reasons for caring. My heart aches as I wonder what it might have been like for Trayvon to journey from the store to his dad’s home only to have the entirety of his being filled with fear as he peered down the barrel of George Zimmeran’s gun, never anticipating that his trip to the store might be the last trip, the last pack of Skittles, the last bottle of iced tea.

In the Martin, Zimmerman case, it is difficult for me to believe that the “Stand your ground law” in Florida is designed for people like Zimmerman – based on the 911 calls, Zimmeran was following Martin even though instructed not to do so. Zimmerman is about 100lbs heavier than Martin was. Zimmerman was armed and Martin was not. The mere reality that Zimmerman followed this teen because, according to his perceptions, he looked suspicious is cause for the law being in place for people like Martin – who really seems to be the one whose life was in danger and threatened? And even if Zimmerman was in danger (which I doubt), did he need to shoot to kill?

Assumptions regarding racial motivation on the part of Zimmerman (whether false or true) serve as a reminder of the yet existent pain of racial inequality in the US. Being Black in America still means encountering individuals who will view your very existence as a threat and see your skin pigmentation and way of being as “suspicious.” In many cases “looking suspicious” only means I look different than you, have different mannerisms, hair texture, and wardrobe.

Social stereotypes still exist – can’t even where your hooded sweatshirt when it’s raining, especially if you are an African American male. And rather than focus on the injustices surrounding Trayvon and other “Trayvons” of society, we still have individuals like popular TV personality Geraldo Rivera spouting nonsense that suggests that Trayvon’s death was as much his own fault because he was wearing a hoodie. But as Eugene Cho says

Hoodies don’t kill just as short skirts don’t rape. Focus on the injustice and not the wardrobe.

The stark reality is that even without the hoodie, Trayvon still lived in his brown skin.

I love my lighter brothers and sisters – sincerely, but the subtle hints that we are overreacting and simply reading into things when we insist that racism and racial profiling are the real experiences of the African American race is an insult that only causes the societal realities to continue. We are not yet a post-racial society as some would suggest, therefore more work is yet to be done.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s quest for “Strength to Love” reminds me to continue to love others even through the experience of anger and outrage – and this love is to be for all.


The question in all of this is will we care enough to be disturbed to the point where inaction is nearly impossible?

Do You Have a Process?

Image“What’s Your Leadership Development Process?”
I believe that every church needs a process for developing leaders. Without it, we miss the opportunity to cultivate the gifts of potentially great leaders. Many local congregations adopt the haphazard approach and I am fully aware of that. I realize that leadership formation is not a linear, cut and dry process such as take these five steps and presto, you are a leader, yet still there are practices and processes that can be put in place to help people move further along the path of service and live into their purpose as part of the body of Christ.
Here are some questions I believe that current leaders should ask themselves for starters.
  1. What are 3 to 5 qualities/character traits that you desire to see/expect of leaders?
  2. What is your ministry’s vision/mission/goals? What tasks need to be done to move you forward?
  3. Who do you need to accomplish those goals and fulfill your mission? What skills are needed?
  4. What needs to get done? Why does it need to get done? Who can do it besides you and the normal faithful few?
  5. What type of mentoring, and training is necessary?
  6. What types of administrative systems would help?
  7. What leaders are already in place? How are they developing leaders?
  8. What types of evaluative tools will you implement to keep people developing?
  9. What are some tools you can use to provide off-site training for leaders (blog, twitter, facebook)
Asking these and other questions will prepare you to start moving in the direction of developing a quality leadership culture.
Once you begin the process of creating a leadership culture, remember:
  • Assume that prospective leaders are in your church (even if you haven’t spotted them)
  • Recruit specifically rather than generally
  • Provide training/development and ongoing support
  • Delegate authority along with delegating tasks – be willing to give up control
  • Shepherd/care well for those leaders who commit to investing their time and energy
  • Invest in leaders by encouraging and supporting growth – fund a training, buy a book
  • Let leaders “catch” good qualities and practices from you – let them experience you leading them well so that they too can lead others well
  • Use technology to your advantage – training/development does not always have to happen on-site, in a meeting. Make the best use of a leader’s time
Creating a leadership culture is not a linear, regimented process, it is sometimes organic. However, haphazardness usually impedes progress forward if it is not balanced out with a plan, steps and structure of some kind. Church leadership is not about one or even a few “stars,” it is about a collective group of individuals serving and accomplishing what God has uniquely positioned a ministry to do
Remember, people are not shaped or developed overnight and character development is just as essential as skill development, and it is all a process.

10 Things I Know About Depression

Today was one of “those days.” Because it was one of those days, I found myself thinking about Major Clinical Depression and what I have learned and still continue to learn about the disease. This post, though random and unedited is the product of what’s on my mind today.

Here are some of the things I have discovered about “The Big D”

1. It respects no one – you can be young, middle age, older, intelligent, naive, religious, atheist, or whatever and struggle with this illness.

2. Just when you think you have it beat, sometimes it strikes again from somewhere out of no where and the battle continues

3. There is hope and those who live in depressive prone bodies can get through it and overcome

4. Some folks need medication and others do not, but all who face major clinical depression need some form of help/support

5. Cloudy, rain filled days are just plain HARD! [Hot Chocolate is necessary for me on those days]

6. Sometimes people won’t know something is wrong unless you tell them

7. Many Church communities are the worst places for those battling depression & still other Church communities are the BEST places to walk through this difficult struggle.

8. Major Clinical Depression is complex and multidimensional. Everyone will have a different experience and a different path toward wholeness

9. Prayer, great Christian psychotherapy, self care strategies, supportive/listening/patient friends (and if needed, medication), are a powerful combination on the journey through depression.

10. Silence and isolation can be deadly, courage to speak up and reach out for help is life giving.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional, clinically trained counselor. If you are in need of help, please contact your physician immediately.

Be Inspired?

Photo Credit - Unknown

Over the last 6 months I have known of at least 3 men who have passed away in their forties – a sibling, a pastor, an artist. All fairly young, all from every outward appearance healthy, yet they took their last breath and left those who loved them awestruck, disallusioned, wondering, confused, glad that they had the opportunity to know these individuals.

Recently artist known as Heavy D died suddenly at the age of 44 years old. His last tweet on his Twitter account simply said –
Surely he did not know that those two words would be his last two words spoken online to fans, friends and family, and yet they were. It got me thinking about the words we speak – whether verbally or in writing. Sure, none of us are able to ensure that our last words will be positive, life giving, and inspiring, but it should at least cause us to at least:
Pause Before we speak
Speak enough positive, life giving words that it’s what we are known for
Live every day as if it may be your last
Aim to live our lives to benefit others not only ourselves
Truth is, life is an extraordinary gift, often taken for granted, misused and abused. And yet for some it is a gift that is valued, used to inspire and spur others on.
How are you living your life? Did you inspire anyone today? If you see tomorrow, how can you inspire someone tomorrow?

Child Abuse in the Name of Discipline

WATCH this VIDEO: CHILD ABUSE IN THE NAME OF DISCIPLINE.

OK, this post will be completely unedited and won’t say nearly as much as I need to – I am pretty sure about that. I saw the above video on a friends wall and was outraged at what I observed as I watched the video.

And in case you are wondering why I refer to what takes place in the video as Child Abuse. Here’s why:
– The father swears at his child
– The father never looks the child in the eye, rather he stands over him & talks over/behind him
– The father shaves the boys head in an obscene manner to embarrass him and even shaves off his eyebrows
– The father subjects his son to public humiliation by sending him to school with his eyebrows removed
– The father seems supportive of the grandparent sending the child to school looking ragged as punishment for bad behavior
– The father does all of this in addition to whipping his son with a belt

And yet as I write expressing my disapproval, I already know that many will disagree with me and give a hearty “amen, do what you got to do to keep your kids out of jail” in response to the video. The truth is that the high prison rate in the African American community and high criminal behavior is carried out by some of those same kids who grew up having the life beat out of them. OK, I have more to say, but I read a friend’s response to the video and as a parent I think she says it better than I can say it in this place of utter outrage that I feel after watching the “father” in the video. Here is what she says:

I think this is ridiculous!!! It is one thing to discipline your children…and I believe in discipline. It is another thing to humiliate and embarrass your children!!! We are called to discipline our children but this was cruel and unusual punishment. My husband and I have never had to “whip” our children (masters whip slaves to get them to obey). Parents do not whip their kids to get them to obey. However, we do discipline our children and we use a number of ways to teach them right from wrong without having to beat them with belts. Belts are used for holding up your parents, not for beating your most prized possession. And…you can tell from the video that it is not working. He beat him on Monday…and he did it again. I was whipped as a child and the only thing it taught me was to be sneaky and do a better job at not getting caught. It did not teach me to change my behavior. It is time for our community to renew our mind and get rid of the slave mentality and beating our children. My kids are phenomenal. The are A students. My daughter plays the viola; my son plays the cello. They play tennis and do martial arts. I homeschool and both my husband and I are actively involved in the lives on our children. There is a reason why this boy is acting out…and beating his a$$ is not getting down to the root of the problem. I know a number of black men in prison right now…and it is not because they didn’t get beat when they were kids!!! Something is missing in the father/son relationship.

And for all you Bible quoting…wanna be scholars…spare the rod spoil the child is not a commandment from God nor does it give you the right to beat your kids until you are tired!!! The Bible says…”He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” The Hebrew word for rod means that of a scepter or staff and it represents authority!! It tells us that as fathers we are called to exercise parental authority over our children and that if we love them diligently we should instruct and correct them. We are called to instruct and train our children…not to beat them. Our heavenly Father does not beat us into submission; he does not beat us as a form of correction. He loves us (His love covers a multitude of our sin; His love draws us into obedience). In the O.T. the shepherd would not beat the sheep. He would use his rod to drive out the wolves. The rod is not to beat our children. It is a symbol of authority and leadership.

This father does not know how to be a father to his son, and that is sad. This video and the words used in addressing his son will not make him a better man. This entire thread makes me sick to my stomach!!! And…I BET HE ABSOLUTELY WILL DO IT AGAIN…AND MORE!!!!

The statement above are uttered from an African American parent, who is also a pastor, raising three young children in an urban area. Though she does not use the tactics used by the “gentleman” in the video nor does she use the discipline techniques used by her parents or many parents – particularly within the African American community – her children are turning out alright, they are well behaved, excelling academically and respect their parents (not because they were beat into submission, but because their parents were wise enough to realize that there are a multiple ways of disciplining your children when they misbehave.

Some of what I believe we need to learn about discipline is:
1. Discipline does not = Beating with a Belt or Switch
2. Discipline takes on many forms and should be done with specific purposes/goals in mind
3. Discipline should not be practiced for the sake of dominating and embarrassing children
4. Discipline is designed to direct children in the way they should live and behave
5. A careful study, not a mere quoting or misquoting of Proverbs 13:24 should take place (I would love some folks to join me in that study)

6. Just because your parents practices worked for you doesn’t mean that if applied to your children will also work well for them. EVERY child is different and one sized fits all forms of discipline is NOT effective and will not produce the desired results
7. If discipline is carried out when a parent is angry and out of control it is more harmful than helpful

That’s all for now. What would you add to the list?

Photo Credit: Photo is from V103 Chicago Buzz Report

The Sound of Silence

Does silence have a “sound?”

Silence is the sound of peace that has replaced tumultuous storms.

Silence is the sound of televisions turned down, cell phones muted, and inboxes closed

Silence is the sound of a mind at rest

Silence is the sound that makes space for other sounds to enter that we are normally unable to hear.

Silence is the sound of tranquility and inner strength and peace

Silence is the sound of birds tweeting, wind blowing through trees, and water glistening with the rays of the sun

The sound of silence enables me to pay attention well enough to get a glimpse of a rainbow that appeared for a brief moment of time and then disappeared after having the chance to capture camera shots

Silence is the sound of a God who is present though seemingly absent

The sound of silence is being captivated by the beauty of the sun rising and setting

Silence is experienced as I pause to glance at sun kissed trees swaying gently in the wind.

Silence is the ability to hear God’s voice above the noise of the world and the chaos of our own souls

Silence is the sound that my soul experiences now….